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On April 5-6, up to 200,000 students will participate in the 30 Hour Famine to help raise money for starving and mistreated children in underdeveloped nations. The first Famine took place in Calgary, Alberta in 1971 when a group of kids stopped eating for 36 hours and raised $600 for a famine in Ethiopia. Last year, 30 years later, almost $4.5 million dollars was raised and put towards making a difference in the lives of Third World children. Get involved by calling 1-888-8FAMINE or visiting www.famine.ca.
Detroit-based mass retailer Kmart declared itself bankrupt and unable to pay its lenders. This is the largest case ever of a retail chain going broke. Under U.S. bankruptcy law, with the support of its bankers, Kmart will be able to try to restructure itself and take one last stab at making money again. Hundreds of the 2,114 Kmart stores are being closed and thousands of jobs are being cut. Kmart, founded in 1899, has been hurt by its battle with market leader Wal-Mart. Kmart had already gone out of business in Canada back in 1997.
It was a strange winter for much of Europe. January started with some of the harshest winter weather in decades (it even snowed in Saudi Arabia). Turkey and Greece were hit hard by unusual snowfall. Hundreds of people were killed by severe cold or by weather related accidents. Just as everyone braced for a long winter, the storms were then followed by a warm spell that set many all-time records across the continent, from Moscow to Paris to Vienna. The early thaw had flowers blooming in early February and had people out sunbathing in city parks.
A massive explosion ripped through the capital city of Lagos in this West African nation. The blast occurred after a military arms depot caught fire. Over 1000 people were killed, making it the worst manmade accidental disaster in almost two decades. The explosion sent fireballs into the night sky, shattering windows nine miles away. The disaster left as many as 15,000 people homeless. To make matters worse in the city, dozens of people were killed in heavy fighting between two rival ethnic groups while police walked off the job in a major nationwide strike.
After nearly eighteen months of vicious killings, the Israelis and Palestinians finally seem ready to discuss plans for peace. Both the Israelis and the Palestinians are beginning to realize that the escalating game of revenge only leads to deeper and deadlier levels of hatred and violence. Hundreds of people on both sides, many innocent, have been killed in the ongoing struggle by Palestinians yearning to form their own country or, at least for now, gain full authority over their lands which now are ultimately controlled by Israeli military forces.
INDIA & PAKISTAN
Military tensions continue between these two nuclear neighbours. A fifty-year-old dispute over the Indian state of Kashmir remains the key dispute. India and Pakistan have already been to war three times but that was before they acquired nuclear weapons. Both countries have massed thousands of soldiers along their mutual border and sporadic gun battles have been common. Western leaders are working hard to bring the two rivals together to try to resolve their differences. India, however, shows little interest in discussing the Kashmir issue.
American military forces have arrived to help train local soldiers to fight Muslim rebels who are said to have ties to Bin Laden’s terrorist network. The Philippines, once governed by the U.S. (until 1946), has faced escalating attacks and hostage taking by these terrorists over the last several years. Thanks to anti-terrorism training and $150 million in American military aid, the violent rebel group’s days seem numbered. Not all Filipinos are happy, however, with the U.S. military presence and “Yankee go home” protests have taken place.
It’s no secret that people in many Asian countries eat dogs. South Korea, for example, has thousands of restaurants specializing in canine cuisine. However, with the 2002 World Cup of Soccer coming this summer, animal rights groups have been using global media attention to highlight the cruel treatment dogs often receive. Based on a false myth that dogs that are terrified before cooking taste better, many dogs are beaten, boiled or burned to death. A reluctant Korean government is working on laws to ensure more humane methods of slaughter.