Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Around the World in Five Minutes

Heavy Snowfall kills 16 Afghans

In Afghanistan, at least sixteen people have died and many are missing following heavy snowfall and avalanches in the province of Badakhshan.

Officials say at least 72 houses in one village have been buried by an avalanche, and 7-10ft of snow has fallen in some areas. 

Badakhshan's disaster preparedness director Ihsanullah Amiri told BBC news that blocked roads, combined with a shortage of snow clearing equipment, meant that people in areas worst affected were trapped and urgently needed food and medical supplies.


'Incurable' Tuberculosis emerges in India

A strain of tuberculosis that is resistant to all existing TB drugs has emerged in Mumbai, India. 
There are twelve confirmed cases – three of which have died - according to doctors from the Hinduja National Hospital and Medical.
There are fears that if it continues spreading, TB will become incurable and patients will have to rely on their immune system to overcome the illness. The World Health Organization is urgently organising a meeting to review the evidence and decide what steps to take next.
 Wikipedia blackout today 

Wikipedia plans to take its English-language site offline on Wednesday as part of protests against proposed anti-piracy laws in the US.

The website will be inaccessible from 5AM GMT on Wednesday until 5AM GMT on Thursday as a demonstration against the Stop Online Privacy Act and Protect Intellectual Property Act. 

Critics of the proposed laws say that they impose unfair responsibilities on websites such as Wikipedia to check that no material they host infringes copyright. Under current laws if websites remove pirated content when they are notified by the copyright holder they are not liable for damages.  

Inacurrate Weather forecasters face jail in S.Africa

South African weather forecasters who predict severe storms or gales without permission from the authorities could be punished by up to ten years imprisonment or a hefty fine under new legislation. 

The bill, officials say, is aimed at "protecting the general public against the distribution of inaccurate weather predictions that could cause public panic and lead to evacuations".

First-time offenders face a penalty of up to five years imprisonment or a fine of five million rand ($600,000), while repeat offenders could be jailed for up to ten years or be made to pay a ten million rand (120,000) fine.


  1. Just to say a quick well done to Wikipedia for not getting caught up in the spirit of commercialism that is eating away at virtually everything in our society.
    'Stop Online Piracy' and 'Protect Intellectual Property', two innocent sounding phrases. But the best way of putting across the possible impacts of such Acts if passed is by giving examples of what similar laws have been used to do recently:
    The World Trade Organisation has a similar regulation, The Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) of 1994.
    Under TRIPS, local farmers have been prevented from farming the seed left from last year's produce. Why? Because an interntional company had the patent on the product that they were not even aware of.
    Under TRIPS South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe were all initially prevented from buying cheaper generic versions of HIV/AIDS drugs for their citizens, even though they could not afford the more expensive version. Why? The more expensive version had the patent (ie the intellectual property right), thus you had to buy it as a country whether you could afford it or not.
    Under this new legislation you can no longer simply 'google' to get the information that you need online. Why? You've got it, because all that information will be copyright protected. So you must pay even to learn!

  2. Wouldn't you think that the world's business moguls have made enough from fleecing every day citizens? Do they want to re-institute slavery by keeping us in perpetual ignorance?
    Keep up the defence Wiki, bloggers like me support such 'Fresh-Angles' to the intellectual property arguments

  3. Wow, Dlaw. I wrote the news story but I did not realise its gravity. You have brought home to me the implications of what could happen if the two bills were passed. Thank you so much for the enlightenment. I appreciate ur comments.