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The Pacific Leatherback Sea Turtle is in serious danger of becoming extinct, after being around for 150 million years. Scientists trying to raise awareness for the plight of the creatures claim that only 3,000 turtles are alive in the wild today versus 91,000 only twenty years ago. Tourist resorts built on many of the turtles’ important nesting beaches, especially in Mexico are playing a big role in the decline. Poaching and increased commercial fishing along the coast are also major factors. The turtles can be nine feet long and weigh 2,000 pounds.
The city of Toronto will host the World Youth Day conference July 18-28, organized by the Catholic Church. This event will be the largest gathering ever held in Toronto with over half a million Catholic youth delegates expected from over 150 countries. Pope John Paul II started the conference, which takes place in a different country every two years, in 1984. The Pope himself, despite appearing to be struggling with especially frail health lately, is planning to visit and lead a Papal Mass on July 28.
In a quick turn of events, President Hugo Chavez, was removed from power by the army. Two days later, however, the replacement government collapsed and Chavez was put back in charge. He originally got in trouble for violently trying to crush national strikes and protest rallies opposing many of his radical policies. When his security forces and supporters ended up killing a dozen protesters and injuring scores more the military took control. Forty-eight hours later a smiling Chavez was back promising to rethink the policies that caused the protests.
As expected, French President Jacques Chirac was reelected in the presidential elections that take place every seven years. The big surprise was that candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen, known for his racist political views, came second out of sixteen presidential hopefuls. Le Pen seemed to connect with voters concerned with rising crime, unemployment and a loss of the “French identity.” He blames most problems on France’s large and growing immigrant population, mostly of African descent. Protest rallies were held by voters opposed to Le Pen’s views.
President Robert Mugabe, 78, has won another six years as president in an election many observers say was unfair and flawed. Over the years he has encouraged removal of land from white farmers at gunpoint, thrown his political opponents in jail and banned foreign journalists from the country. The British Commonwealth, which includes African superpowers Nigeria and South Africa, suspended Zimbabwe from their “club” in punishment for Mugabe’s policies. Average citizens meanwhile face AIDS, poverty and food shortages.
Outspoken Rome-based cloning specialist, Severino Antinori (featured in Issue #5 of Faze), is claiming that he knows of three women that are currently pregnant with cloned humans. Two of the women were in Russia and one was in an “Islamic” country. Which means, avoiding any unforeseen complications, these women will be giving birth to the world’s first human clones later this fall. Other scientists doubt the claims or caution that these experiments are still too dangerous for trials on humans.
The occupied people of Palestine are rebuilding after the Israeli army stormed through its towns this spring. Aiming to root out weapons and terrorist groups, the deadly violence and massive destruction that resulted have enraged the entire Arab world and will make for a very tense summer. At the time, Israel rejected strong demands to cease the invasion issued by the United Nations and the United States, which supplies weapons and billions in cash to Israel. A peaceful end to the fifty-year-old conflict still seems a long way off.
On May 20th, this small territory officially became a nation. A United Nations team handed control over to the newly elected president and national hero, Xanana Gusmao, a former guerrilla leader and political prisoner. 450 years ago Dutch and Portuguese colonists split the tropical island of Timor into West and East. When Portugal finally gave up control in 1975 neighbour Indonesia invaded and claimed the territory as their newest state despite international outrage. After years of revolt and U.N. intervention the brutal occupation ended in 2000.