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Friday, April 5, 2013

South African Army Withdraws from Central African Republic

South Africa has withdrawn its forces from Central African Republic (CAR) today, after a dozen of its soldiers were killed in clashes with the rebel forces that recently ousted François Bozizé. The South African Army has had around 400 soldiers stationed in CAR since 2007, ostensibly as part of a military training mission. These soldiers will likely be redeployed to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda to serve with U.N. peacekeeping missions there. During a defense meeting discussing the withdrawal, South African Defense Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula responded to accusations that South African forces had killed child soldiers in CAR. “If our soldiers were attacked by children they were correct to defend themselves,” she said. “If a child shoots at you, are you going to wave your hands, give him a sweetie, blow kisses?”

Three National Days of Mourning for Argentine Flood Victims

Today Argentine President Christina Fernández de Kirchner announced three days of mourning for the victims of flooding in Argentina. Over 50 people have died in the floods since the beginning of the week, when fifteen inches of rain fell in a two hour timespan. The most significant damage occurred in La Plata, a city 40 miles southeast of Buenos Aires, where nearly 100,000 homes were destroyed. President Fernández is from La Plata and visited her childhood neighborhood yesterday to survey the damage. While the waters completely receded this morning, 300,000 homes are still without power, and at least 20 people are missing. Looting has been minimal as the provincial government has deployed 750 police officers to the area.

Pope Francis Calls for Action Against Sex Abusers

The newly elected Pope Francis is calling for decisive action against pedophilia within the Catholic Church. In a statement issued today he promised to “act decisively in cases of sexual abuse, promoting above all measures to protect minors, help for those who in the past suffered such violence, and the necessary procedures against those who are guilty.” Allegations that the Catholic Church systematically covered up abuse, and sheltered abusive priests came to light in 2002. Critics say that since then, the Church has not done enough. “Once again, as has happened hundreds of times already, a top Catholic official says he’s asking another top Catholic official to take action about pedophile priests and complicit bishops. Big deal,” responded Barbara Dorris, Outreach Director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). “We can’t confuse words with actions.”

CDC Working on Vaccine for Chinese Flu

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has begun work on a vaccine against the H7N9 flu that has killed six in China since the beginning of the month. A spokesperson for the CDC said the agency is fairly worried about the newly discovered virus, and as a precaution scientists have started working on a seed vaccination. The vaccination will take at least four weeks to manufacture and test. By then, the CDC hopes to have a clearer idea about the lethality of the new flu. As of yet, there have been no cases of human to human transmission of H7N9 reported, and the majority of the known 14 victims are expected to live. Chinese officials culled 20,000 birds today in a bid to stifle the spread of the flu. The World Health Organization (WHO) says the virus is susceptible to typical antiviral drugs like Tamiflu.

Weekend Read: The Mistress and the Narcotraficante

The story of a narco trafficker’s ‘amante’ and how she made do after he was murdered, in the Texas Monthly.

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