International Current Affairs 2011

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Current Affairs [March 2011]
Earthquake and Tsunami strike Japan
    • A powerful earthquake of 8.9 magnitude struck Japan on its north eastern coast on 11/3/2011. The earthquake resulted in a massive tsunami that caused wide scale destruction and loss of thousands of lives. Cars, ships and buildings were all swept away by the rampaging waters of the Tsunami which struck about 400km (250 miles) north-east of Tokyo. The port city of Sendai in Miyagi prefecture was one of the worst affected. Ten metre waves struck the city deluging everything that was part of it-farmlands, cars, buildings, houses etc. Fires broke out in the city following the deluge. A cluster of two to three hundred bodies were found in one part of this city alone. This is the most powerful natural disaster to have struck Japan in its recorded history and is considered 8000 times more powerful than what struck Christchurch in New Zealand earlier this year.
      As of March 30th 2011 according to official estimates the death toll now stands at 11,257 while another 16,344 people are still missing. Many of the survivors who have been displaced have lost all their property to the Tsunami. More than 173,200 people are living in the 2000 evacuation centres in the 17 prefectures mostly in the northern side of the country. Among the worst affected prefectures which are Miyagi, Fukushima and Iwate 146,628 displaced people have been housed in close to 1,245 evacuation centres.
Nuclear Crisis
    • The massive earthquake that struck the north east coast of Japan has resulted in a catastrophic situation at the Fukushima Nuclear power plant. When the earthquake struck they switched off the reactor and where about to use the onsite diesel back up power. The tsunami then struck and the back up power also failed. Hence after losing electric power, that system could not be used. Instead the operators are dumping seawater into the vessel and letting it cool the fuel by boiling. But as it boils, pressure rises too high to pump in more water, so they have to vent the vessel to the atmosphere, and feed in more water, a procedure known as “feed and bleed.” Thousands of people residing in areas close to the plant were evacuated. Over the following days there have been many instance of radiation exposure traced in the vicinity. Radioactive water found in and outside reactor buildings is delaying work to restore cooling functions of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Libyan Uprising
    • Having received inspiration from the revolutions of Egypt and Tunisia the next country to vehemently protest against government autocracy is the North African country of Libya. The public are fighting to bring down Muammar Gaddafi’s 41-year rule and are demanding new leadership and democratic elections. What actually began as a series of peaceful demonstrations took ugly turns when Gaddafi’s army tried to crush protests by using force eventually turning into an all out civil war in the days to come. In a matter of days the uprising had spread to other parts of Libya and Gaddafi was having trouble retaining control over many parts of the country. Gaddafi a harder nut to crack than Mubarak has continued to be on the offensive and refuses to give up power in spite of all the diplomatic pressure, much to the chagrin of his own country men. On 19/3/2011 a multi-state coalition began a military intervention in Libya to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which was taken in response to the uprising in Libya. The military operations began, with US and British forces firing over 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles, the French Air Force and British Royal Air Force[ undertaking sorties across Libya and a naval blockade by the Royal Navy. Air strikes against Libyan Army tanks and vehicles by French jets have since been confirmed. The situation is far from peaceful and remains to be seen what would be the outcome of the situation in the days to come.
Elizabeth Taylor passes away
  • One of Hollywood’s greatest icons Dame Elizabeth Taylor breathed her last on 23/3/2011 due to congestive heart failure. The 79 year old actress has been in the public eye for six decades having won three academy awards and has acted in over 50 films. The Cleopatra star's stunning looks, including her famed violet eyes, earned her fans around the globe and her stormy personal life that included eight marriages received as much press interest as some of her best works. She won two Oscars for her performances in “Butterfield 8”(1960) and "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (1966) and a third Oscar for her humanitarian work in 1993. The actress has also battled many health ailments undergoing as much as 20 surgeries during the course of her life. In her later years she was a spokeswoman for several causes, most notably AIDS research.
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