(CBS News) German satire magazine "Titanic" announced intentions on Thursday to publish a cover depicting an angry Muslim about to stab former German First Lady Bettina Wulff, and the publisher wouldn't say in an interview with a leading German publication whether or not the Muslim is the prophet Mohammad.
The news comes fresh on the heels of a French satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, publishing new cartoons of Mohammad amid violent protests in the Muslim world against an anti-Muslim film produced in the U.S. by a Coptic Christian immigrant.
Some conservative Muslim clerics insist any depictions of their prophet - satirical or not - are so blasphemous that the person who publishes or creates them deserves to die. A small portion have acted in retribution for those perceived insults, with sometimes deadly consequences.
That can leave publishers with a weighty decision: If potentially Mohammad-mocking material could further inflame tensions with possibly violent consequences, is it fair to question their calls to publish that material?Continue »
(CBS News) The French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo has been down this road before. In November 2011, its offices in Paris were firebombed following the front page publication of a cartoon of the Muslim prophet Mohammad saying "100 lashes if you are not dying of laughter."
At the time, the paper's then-editor-in-chief, Stephane Charbonnier, told the BBC: "This is the first time we have been physically attacked, but we won't let it get to us."
Perhaps being true to his word, the paper has planned another series of cartoons of Muhammad, including, according to Reuters, "nude caricatures." The paper is due to hit newsstands Wednesday.Continue »
(CBS News) Chinese activists have in recent years brought to light the grisly solution for a complex problem some local officials have imposed on women under the country's strict One-Child Policy for most families.
Forced abortions in China are not new, but the issue has again become a heated topic after a macabre photo depicting a woman lying in bed next to what appears to be an advanced-stage fetus made the rounds on China's equivalent to Twitter, Sina Weibo. Activists said the photo depicted 27-year-old Feng Jianmei, who had allegedly been detained in north China's Shaanxi province and forced to abort her 7-month pregnancy.
While it's impossible to confirm whether the photo was staged, the local government said in a statement that a preliminary probe found the case to be "basically true," Agence France Presse reports. While the statement doesn't say who exactly is to blame, local investigators have recommended the perpetrators be punished.Continue »
(CBS News) As Japan continues to clean up after the deadly earthquake and tsunami that killed nearly 16,000 people on March 11, 2011, one thing is clear: something went really wrong at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, and the people who lived nearby will suffer for decades as a result.
The airborne radiation levels in parts of Fukushima prefecture are expected to remain at or close to dangerous amounts at least until 2022, according to a new government report written about in the Japan Times. Government officials project annual radiation dosages to exceed 50 millisieverts in the towns nearest the plant, a level which the government has said makes areas off-limits to the thousands of affected evacuees.Continue »
At the upcoming Summit of the Americas on April 14 and 15, it appears a new crop of Latin American leaders may press the Obama administration for an open and new kind of discussion on the war on drugs.
Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina reflected the new tone among many in Latin America on the drug war in a recent op-ed for the Guardian: "Knowing that drugs are bad for human beings is not a compelling reason for advocating their prohibition. Actually, the prohibition paradigm that inspires mainstream global drug policy today is based on a false premise: that the global drug markets can be eradicated. We would not believe such a statement if it were applied to alcoholism or tobacco addiction, but somehow we assume it's right in the case of drugs. Why?"Continue »
That tolerance no longer seems to be there, and the main resistance to coup takeover bids is coming from a new place: African leaders themselves.
Last Thursday, mutinous soldiers in Mali upset over the government's apparently bumbling response to the festering Tuareg rebellion spontaneously rioted and seized control of the state television and radio stations, as well as the presidential palace. Leaders of the mutiny declared a coup, and the relatively popular (and democratically elected) president, Amadou Toumani Toure, has not been seen in public since.Continue »
(CBS News) As traditional African society lurches its way slowly into a halting embrace with the modern world, few arenas create more tension than gay rights.
Across the continent, being gay doesn't just mean a constant struggle for acceptance. It usually means a constant struggle to stay out of jail or away from the lynch mob. While there are many modern thinkers on gay rights in Africa, their voices are often the quietest, and they rarely if ever hold positions of power. Even the most progressive African leaders have been known to hold views on gay people that would give Rick Santorum pause.
In an interview with The Guardian, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf defended her nation's laws which makes the committing of homosexual acts - "voluntary sodomy" - punishable by up to one year in prison.Continue »
(CBS News) A new U.N. report accuses the Islamic Republic of Iran of widespread human rights violations, specifically taking Iran to task over political prisoners, election fraud and their widespread use of capital punishment without consistent demonstrations of due process.
In the report (PDF), by Ahmed Shaheed, U.N. Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, it states bluntly that "the cooperation of the Islamic Republic of Iran with the human rights mechanisms has been found wanting."Continue »
(CBS News) Trailing in opinion polls to his main opponent in the upcoming presidential election, France's current President Nicholas Sarkozy took a sharp turn to the right Tuesday by declaring that France has "too many foreigners," the BBC reports.
"Our system of integration is working more and more badly, because we have too many foreigners on our territory and we can no longer manage to find them accommodation, a job, a school," Nicolas Sarkozy said on Tuesday, according to Al Jazeera.
Sarkozy, the son of a Hungarian immigrant, is trailing in polls to the Socialist candidate, Francois Hollande, and may therefore be competing to draw votes away from infamous anti-immigrant and perennial presidential also-ran Marine Le Pens.Continue »
As the crisis in Syria intensifies, so too does the international community's involvement there.
More than 60 countries calling themselves "Friends of Syria" are holding a series of meetings to discuss the path forward for the international community. The name "Friends of Syria" is a bit of a misnomer, however, as they could better be described as "Opponents of the Assad Regime," even though not all of them are calling for the Syrian leader to step down right now.
There is no doubt that an overwhelming majority of countries in the world are in favor of the immediate end of the current Syrian regime, but Syrian President Bashar al-Assad still has some friends who are trying to influence the outcome of the current crisis.
Complete Coverage of the Syrian Conflict
While many countries, both in the Middle East and beyond, will be affected by what happens in Syria there is a small group of countries with special interests and outsized influence on the crisis. The key players in Syria are the U.S., Israel, Turkey, Russia, Iran and the Arab League. While there are countless others - China, France, Britain, and Iraq, to name a few - who will be involved in and affected by the crisis moving forward, those five appear at this time to be the ones who will have the largest interest and involvement.
While WikiLeaks has provided no details about how it obtained the emails, Stratfor announced in December that the hacker collective known as Anonymous had breached its servers.
WikiLeaks is promising that "the material contains privileged information about the US government's attacks against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks and Stratfor's own attempts to subvert WikiLeaks."
For its part, Stratfor executives seemed unconcerned at the time of the initial breach of its servers.Continue »
A secret NATO report relays long-held fears that members of the Pakistani security services have been helping the Taliban in Afghanistan, despite repeated official denials to the contrary, the BBC reports.
The secret report leaked to the BBC is based on material from 27,000 interrogations with more than 4,000 captured Taliban, al Qaeda and other foreign fighters and civilians, and truly undermines an already damaged relationship between Pakistan and NATO allies, especially the U.S.
While the accusations may be nothing new - the former NATO chief, Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, said in 2009 that Iranian and Pakistani spies were assisting the Taliban, to name one of many instances - any proof behind the accusations has never been laid bare before.Continue »
While the West struggles with the questions of if and how to enter into negotiations with the Taliban in Afghanistan, that country's leaders are not waiting around for an answer.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai now plans to hold direct talks with Taliban leaders in Saudi Arabia in an effort to jump start peace talks, the BBC reports.
Taliban leaders had already announced plans to open an office in Qatar as part of their expressed willingness to engage in direct peace talks with the U.S.Continue »
A Saudi Arabian official attempted to undercut one of Iran's most potent threats to the world community Monday when he said in an interview that his country would make up for any oil production shortfalls caused by Iranian actions.
As international pressure on Iran over its nuclear program increases, the Islamic Republic has threatened to blockade the Strait of Hormuz, through which 17 million barrels of oil passed per day in 2011, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency.
Speaking to CNN, Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said his country could boost production enough to meet that potential shortfall, and he also expressed doubt that Iran could succeed in closing the strait at all.Continue »
The late African music legend Fela Kuti was an unapologetic and very vocal agitator against Nigeria's rampant governmental unscrupulousness. It was a position that often got him in trouble, and, according to one of his songs, led to a military raid on his family compound that eventually killed his mother, who was herself a prominent feminist and voracious anti-corruption protester.
That agitator strain has apparently been passed down to his kids, of which there were many. One in particular, however, has taken center stage in the growing fuel protests currently spreading across Nigeria.Continue »
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