International / National / News / April 15, 2010

News Briefs: April 8-15

NEBRASKA—Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman signed two laws on Tuesday that will place two new restrictions on abortion within the state. The first law, the fetal pain law, prohibits abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy. While the law was passed partly based on some doctors’ research that fetuses can feel pain, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists say there is no evidence to support the claim for fetal pain. The second law states that any woman seeking an abortion in Nebraska must undergo testing for mental health problems or other “risk factors” that the woman might endure because of the abortion. These laws mark a huge change in the reasons for limits on abortion, being the first to cite fetal pain. (

LA PAZ, Bolivia—Coca leaf growers in Bolivia have begun production of Coca Colla, a soda product mostly based on the coca plant. Sold in liter bottles, the drink is also wrapped in a red label, much like soda giant Coca-Cola. The name of Coca Colla is based on the Colla people of the Bolivian highlands. The coca leaf is a stimulant that many people in the Andean region of South America use in teas, cooking or simply for chewing because of its believed health and medicinal benefits. Coca is also the raw ingredient in cocaine and has caused debate in the U.S.-led drug war. Coca-Cola has not yet responded to the new drink. (

QINGHAI, China—A 6.9 magnitude earthquake killed 589 people Tuesday and injured over 10,000. Several aftershocks, one as high as a magnitude of 5.8, hit soon after the quake. As the citizens have no equipment to aid in rescue, people have been trying to clear away rubble by hand to rescue injured people from underneath rubble. (

POLAND—Polish President Lech Kaczynski was killed in a plane crash this past Saturday, April 10, along with 95 others including his wife and several top military officials. President since 2005, Kaczynski was on his way to Russia to commemorate the massacre of thousands of Poles during World War II on the orders of Stalin. The meeting was thought to be an indication of thawing relations between the countries. The crash is thought to have been caused by heavy fog, which the pilot tried to land in despite warnings from air traffic controllers to continue on to Moscow. In the wake of Kaczynski’s death, controversy has arisen over where to bury the body – the government, Catholic officials and the president’s family had arranged for Kaczynski to be buried in Wawel Cathedral, but some people argue the crypt, usually reserved for Polish heroes, is not appropriate for a president who appeared unlikely to win reelection. President Obama is expected to attend the funeral. ( 

FLORIDA—Meinhardt Raabe, who played the coroner in The Wizard of Oz, passed away on Friday, April 9 at the age of 94. One of the last surviving Munchkins, Rabe was a yearly participant in Oz-Stravaganza, the yearly festival of L. Frank Baum’s (the Oz book’s author) hometown and has been honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in conjunction with six other actors who played Munchkins. ( 

ROME—The Vatican is currently under fire for remarks made by its secretary of state Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. While visiting Chile, the cardinal referred to homosexuality as “a pathology” and claimed psychologists had shown a link between homosexuality and pedophilia. The comments have drawn harsh criticism from the French government and numerous gay rights groups; condemnation of the remarks has also arrived from some in Italy. The remarks come on the heels of recent cases of alleged sexual abuse by several Roman Catholic priests. ( 

GREAT BARRIER REEF, Australia—The Chinese ship Shen Neng 1, a coal carrier, ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef on April 3 and remained stranded there for nine days. The ship, which was removed from the reef on Monday, left a scar on the reef estimated to reach widths of over 250 yards over a distance of three kilometers. Engines from the ships leaked an estimated two tons of oil. Coral also experienced heavy damage from the ship’s toxic paint. Three members of the crew, including the captain, have appeared in court under the charge of taking an illegal shortcut at the time of the incident. (

Annie Zak

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