Headlines & Undercurrents

A brief survey of recent news stories from major U.S. and global media outlets. Updated each Monday and Friday.

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WORLD: South American Union, madrassas sex scandal, Taiwan votes

WAR CRIMES: Hamas sued, Israeli soldier on trial, tribunals for Serbian, Cambodian leaders

PUBLIC HEALTH: Childhood cancers, cell phone health studies

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Inspired by the European Union, packing enormous economic potential and fraught with regional financial woes, 12 countries agreed to form a new South American Union. This will ultimately involve merging the major regional trade blocs, eliminating trade barriers and creating a common currency.

In Pakistan, the Islamic theological seminaries known as madrassas are facing the latest round of sex-abuse scandals. The 500 claims of abuse are down from 2,000 last year. There have been no successful prosecutions. A governing council of madrassas promises full cooperation, but some Islamic leaders were angry about the abuse report.

Potential gains by Taiwan’s pro-independence party are predicted to raise tensions with China. But the leader of the party says a win will lead to groundbreaking negotiations with the mainland.

South American leaders to set goal of EU-like union
Knight Ridder Newspapers, December 9, 2004

South American plans for single trade bloc need investment
December 8, 2004

Madrassas hit by sex abuse claims
BBC, December 10, 2004

Taiwan predicts win to alarm China

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An American teenager killed in a Hamas terrorist attack has resulted in damages of $156 million against Muslim charities linked to the organization. David Boim was shot and killed by Hamas members while waiting at a bus stop in the West Bank.

In Israel, a soldier is on trial for killing a 13-year-old Palestinian girl. The trial has “shaken public confidence in the armed forces,” according to Agence France-Presse. A doctor told the news agency that Iman al-Hams’ body had 20 bullet holes, including five in the head.

A U.S. envoy said Serbia has offered “zero cooperation” in handing over accused war criminals such as Ratko Mladic to a tribunal in the Hague.

In Cambodia, the U.N. said that $57 million was needed to fund the final trials of Khmer Rouge leaders for the death of 1.7 million people during the Pol Pot regime.

Damages tripled in Hamas slaying
International Herald Tribune, December 9, 2004

Israeli commander on trial over slain Palestinian schoolgirl
Agence France-Presse, December 9, 2004

U.S. envoy slams Serb PM on war crimes handovers
Reuters, December 6, 2004

U.N., Cambodia to thrash out Khmer Rouge trials
Reuters, December 8, 2004


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Survival rates are steadily increasing, but so are rates of childhood cancer in Europe. The disease is rare, but has been climbing by about 1 percent per year since the 1970s, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Some of this has been attributed to the Chernobyl nuclear reactor accident.

In England, the Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research project is funding ongoing investigations into the health effects of cellular telephones. issues of concern include cancer risks, headaches, nausea and hormone levels. Advocates of the research say there is a dearth of information on cell phone health effects. Industry groups and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration maintain there’s no link between phone use and ill health.

Childhood cancer rate rising in Europe
HealthDayNews, December 10, 2004

Cell-Tower emission risks probed
December 6, 2004

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