"When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but in the end, they always fall -- think of it, ALWAYS."
-Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
Horn of Africa in the Grip of Thirst
Suffering from the area’s worst drought in 40 years, people in southern Somalia are beginning to die of thirst. Surviving on just three glasses of water per day, with temperatures soaring to more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, Somalis are being forced to beg for water along roadsides, according to the aid agency Oxfam.“
The situation is as bad as I can remember,” said Abdullahi Maalim Hussein, a Somali village elder. “Some people are dying and children are drinking their own urine because there is simply no water available for them to drink.”
People are trekking as much as 45 miles in search of water because all surface water has dried up, and bored wells are running dry. Somalia’s lack of a functioning central government and poor transportation are inhibiting relief efforts, which include schools and local groups raising $100,000—a huge sum to the impoverished country.
The United Nations estimates that more than 11 million people will require food aid for the next six months in the region that includes parts of Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Tanzania and Burundi. According to the World Meteorological Association, the Horn of Africa will remain in the grips of the drought until at least April.
Post-election Violence in Haiti
Tens of thousands of people, mainly from Haiti’s poorest slums, partook in demonstrations after a recount of votes in last week’s presidential election found that Rene Préval had not won the required majority of votes. “They told us to come to vote in peace and we did,” said Pouchon Pierre, one of the protestors in support of Préval. “Now they want to steal the election from us. But we will not let them.”
When the votes were recounted, Préval’s earlier tally of more than 60 percent shrunk to 48.73 percent—just shy of the 50 percent needed to win. Soon after the new results were broadcast, waves of people marched into the city’s main thoroughfares, where they set tires on fire and smashed the windshields of cars that tried to pass. One protester was shot and killed in the commotion, allegedly from a clash with the United Nations, a charge that the United Nations denied.
Mr. Préval addressed the nation the Tuesday following elections and demanded that final election results be withheld pending a review—“a political solution to a political problem that was necessary because of the widespread fraud that threatened to undermine the election and the will of the people.”
After lengthy negotiations, leaders of Haiti’s interim government to retabulate the votes finally reached a deal on Thursday, Feb. 16, and declared Préval the winner of the election. Apparently, electoral authorities had recovered a large number of missing ballots that were believed destroyed or stolen, and those ballots, estimated at 8 percent of all ballots cast, were overwhelmingly in Mr. Préval’s favor.
Opposition Swells Over Australian Ruling on Abortion Drug
In a bold move last Thursday, the Australian parliament took away regulatory control of a controversial abortion drug from the country’s conservative health minister, and thereby ended the nationwide ban on RU486. The Therapeutic Goods Administration, which already regulates the use of other drugs and medical devices, replaced current Health Minister Tony Abbott—a staunch Roman Catholic against the use of RU486—as overseer in decisions concerning the drug.
Since Thursday’s vote, contrasting views have been expressed regarding the drug’s safety and the morality of its use. Supporters argued RU486 “was a cheaper and less invasive method of abortion than surgery.” Moreover, the decision was described “a winner for Australian women and their families, and also a winner for the House of Representatives,” by Senator Lyn Allison, one of the bill’s co-authors. Health Minister Abbott railed against Sen. Allison’s comment, calling it an “unutterable shame” that there were up to 100,000 abortions a year in Australia and that some women saw this as “a badge of liberation.”
The issue split Prime Minister John Howard and his heir-apparent, Peter Costello. Howard opposed the bill, saying parliament should have control over the drug, while Costello lent his support to the decision that relieved the health minister of his drug regulatory powers. “I have no doubt that the law should not have prevented such a choice—that the law should allow a choice, whether physical or mental health of the woman is at risk,” Costello said.
-While in college at the University of South Carolina, Bush’s Chief of Staff Andrew Card managed a McDonald’s. He discovered someone was stealing money, but none of the employees would admit to it. His solution? He fired everyone.
-A Hummer H2 SUV could be driven around the world 244 times on the excess calories Americans consume each year.
-Sixty-eight percent of people believe they have met or seen the Devil.