International Affairs – January 2013
- At least 61 people were crushed to death in a stampede outside a stadium in Ivory Coast’s main city of Abidjan after a New Year’s Eve fireworks display. The incident took place near Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium where a crowd had gathered to watch fireworks, emergency officials said. Fire Chief Issa Sacko said 61 people were now confirmed dead, with at least another 49 injured. President Alassane Ouattara, visiting the scene and later injured people at a local hospital, called the incident a national tragedy and said an investigation was under way to determine what happened. The incident was the worst of its kind in Abidjan since 2010, when a stampede at a stadium during a football match killed 18 people.
- The US Congress sent President Barack Obama legislation to stop a recession-threatening “fiscal cliff” of tax increases and spending cuts on 1 January night, hours before financial markets reopen after the New Year’s holiday. The bill’s passage on a 257-167 vote in the House of Representatives sealed a hard-won political triumph for the president less than two months after he secured re-election while calling for higher taxes on the wealthy.
- In a landmark ruling, a South Korean court, on 3 January, sentenced a 31-year-old pedophile to 15 years in jail and ordered the country’s first ever-chemical castration. The ruling is the first since the country passed a law in 2011 that allows hormonal treatment or chemical castration for convicted child molesters, who are at risk of repeating their crimes. The defendant, only known by his surname Pyo, was charged with having sex with five teenagers, whom he met through a smartphone chat service, six times between November 2011 and May 2012. Mr. Pyo then threatened to circulate the online video footage of them engaging in sexual acts and nude photos of the minors. He also raped them threatening with deadly weapons The court also ordered that Mr. Pyo’s information be made available to the public for 10 years and that he should wear an electronic monitoring anklet for 20 years after his release from prison. Mr. Pyo was also ordered to undergo 200 hours of therapy to treat his sexual impulses. South Korea was the first country in Asia to adopt this type of treatment, although Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Poland and the U.S. state of California have used it for years. The Seoul court’s verdict came at time when India is debating whether to introduce punishment like chemical castration to check crimes against women in the wake of the horrific gang-rape of a 23-year-old girl in Delhi, who died in Singapore last month.
- China has launched a postage stamp for the upcoming “Year of Snake” depicting a reptile that carries a bright pearl in its mouth in gratitude for the man who saved its life. The stamp is with a face value of 1.20 Yuan (19 cents). The snake is the sixth among the 12 Chinese zodiac signs.
- $100 M First Earthquake-Proof Hindu Temple of the World Opened Near Hollywood
- One among the biggest Hindu temples in US, which is built at an enormous cost of 100 million dollar near Hollywood city, Los Angeles was opened on 3 January 2013. The temple became an attraction for its majesty as well as eco-friendly design ever since it was inaugurated on 23 December 2012. This is the 68th Swaminarayan temple built by Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) by making use of the 35000 hand-carved Italian Carrara marble pieces as well as Indian Pink Sandstone. The temple is also said to be the first earthquake-proof Hindu temple of the world and it is expected to standstill for 1000 years. Making use of the state-of-the-art technology for providing it protection from the earthquakes, the temple includes two huge domes, 122 pillars, five pinnacles, 129 archways and four balconies. The upper portion of the entire complex is earthquake-proof because it is segregated from base with line of 40 base-isolator units. There are 6600 hand-carved motifs which are a depiction of assortment of devotion, dedication and inspiration apart from historical figures that showcase Hinduism. The temple is located on 20-acre site comprising of 91 foot pond that is lotus-shaped, gymnasium, classrooms as well as Cultural Centre. For generating electricity, the temple makes use of the solar power system. The temple in all is said to be an amalgamation of traditional stone art as well as architecture along with modern technology.
- US President clears $633 defence bill
- US President Barack Obama has signed into law a whopping $633 billion defence bill that authorises spending on the war in Afghanistan and enhanced security for American missions worldwide. Obama in a signing statement said that he was doing so to ensure that the US would continue to have the strongest military in the world. The President, who is holidaying in Hawaii, said that he was clearing the bill even as he has strong reservations on several provisions of National Defence Authorisation Act 2013. The White House had earlier threatened to veto the bill. The bill provides the Department of Defence with a spending threshold of $633 billion for 2013, including $527.4 billion for the Pentagon budget and a $88.5 billion for overseas operations.