What in the World?


Read on for your weekly dose of world news!


On Monday, a U.N.-backed war crimes tribunal in Cambodia sentenced the Khmer Rouge’s chief jailer to 19 years in prison. The sentence was originally 35 years, but 11 years were shaved off for time served and another 5 for illegal detention in a military prison. Most human rights supporters find this sentence unacceptable. The commander admitted to overseeing the torture and deaths of as many as 16,000 people, meaning he will serve less than half a day (11 ½ hours) for every person killed at the center he commanded. Other Khmer Rouge leaders will be tried early next year.

Off the coast of the Koreas, the U.S. and South Korea are currently putting on a mine-is-bigger-than-yours display of military might, in part to “practice,” but mostly to send a strong message to North Korea. The allied U.S. and South Korea want to let North Korea know that it’s being watched after a South Korean warship was sunk in March by a reported North Korean torpedo. They’re doing so by running high-profile military drills right off the coast. North Korea, of course, is all huffy, saying that this basically is provocation, and threatening to launch a “sacred war” and a “powerful nuclear deterrence.” Whatever that means. You don’t have a nuke yet, North Korea. … At least, we don’t think you do.

Apparently Japan is the place to be if you want to live a long life. The life expectancy for women — which has topped the world longevity ratings for the past 25 years — has risen to 86 ½ years. Ridiculous. Japanese men have a life expectancy of roughly 79 ½ years, putting them in fifth place in the world longevity ranking (Qatar tops the men’s list).

South America

Things are starting to get tense (or, tenser) in Venezuela, where President Hugo Chavez is convinced neighbor and rival Colombia is planning some sort of military action against his country. He cut off all diplomatic relations with Colombia last week. On Sunday, Chavez threatened to cut off Venezuela’s oil sales to the U.S. if Colombia were to invade (since the U.S. backs Colombia in most endeavors). If Colombia invades and Venezuela makes good on its threat, it would hurt the Venezuelan economy far more than then U.S. oil industry. While Venezuela is the United State’s fifth-largest oil supplier, the U.S. is Venezuela’s top oil customer.

The U.S.

The cap on the gusher in the Gulf of Mexico continues to hold the oil at bay while work on relief wells (the “real fix”) moves forward. There have been recent setbacks, mostly due to storms, but it seems everything is still going according to plan. In other BP news, CEO Tony Hayward is preparing to step down. Which pleases just about everyone, because he sort of came off as an asshole after making some key insensitive comments.

The Middle-East

On Monday, the EU and Canada adopted new sanctions against Iran, targeting the country’s foreign trade, banking and energy sectors. The moves are the latest in a series of measures taken by the international community in an effort to curb Iran’s nuclear program. Iran, of course, continues to deny that it is working on a nuke, insisting that its program is intended solely for peaceful programs. You know, like incinerating the United States.


Monday marked Cuba’s Revolution Day, in which a host of little-known speakers bashed the U.S. for everything from drug consumption to the war in Iraq to its support for Colombia, basically portraying Washington as the big bad wolf in foreign affairs. However, for the first time in memory, neither Castro (Fidel or President Raul) took the podium to speak. Even Venezuelan president Chavez canceled his trip to Cuba ahead of the ceremony. Lame.


Over the weekend, things went awry at Germany’s Love Parade. In the past, officials have handled massive crowds at the festival without a hitch, but that wasn’t the case this year. Twenty young people died after being trampled at the parade, and another 511 were injured, according to police. A criminal investigation has been opened into the deaths, and event coordinators say this is the end of the road for the Love Parade.

Last week in Britain, scientists scouring the area around Stonehenge said they uncovered a circular structure only a few hundred yards from the famous monument. No one is quite sure what exactly it is that they’ve found, but the team that uncovered the structure said it could be the foundation for a wooden version of Stonehenge. Meanwhile, a British archaeology professor believes it’s most likely a barrow, or prehistoric tomb. Either way, the find raises the number of discoveries being found around Stonehenge, which proves just how much there still is to learn about the ceremonial site.

Odd News

On Friday in St. Louis, Missouri, a Kings of Leon concert was brought to a halt. Not by a heavy storm or soaring temperatures. No, because of pigeon droppings. That’s right. Bird poop. There was a “significant” pigeon infestation in the rafters at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, and the pigeons dumped a significant amount of poo on the band — especially bassist Jared Followill, according to the band’s management. After three songs, the band left the stage, and the rest of the concert was soon canceled due to health concerns of the performers (pigeon poo is really dirty, you know).

Naked News of the Week

Okay, so she wasn’t really naked, per se, but an animal rights activist in Jordan caused a stir last week by covering herself in lettuce in attempts to persuade Middle Eastern meat lovers to go vegetarian. She held a placard that read, “Let vegetarianism grow on you.” Police were not amused. But I sure am. I mean, come on, she just wanted Jordanians to turn over a new leaf.


  • Laura says:

    I’m a fan of these weekly round-ups! I struggle watching the news, as it can be downright depressing, but these short, succinct summaries, with a bit of humor added in, makes it much more digestible. Great work!

    • I’m glad you enjoy them! I usually have fun writing them up. I agree with you — the news can be so depressing. Which is why I try to include a mix of both serious and silly news in this round-up.

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