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Mumbai massacre

"Mumbai massacre" Continued...

Issue: "Orphaned no more," July 30, 2011

Deadly increase

The first six months of 2011 were the deadliest for civilians in Afghanistan since the war began in 2001, the UN said in a report released July 14. The country saw 1,462 civilian deaths from January to June-a 15 percent increase on the same period last year. Roadside bombs, Taliban forces, and other militants are responsible for nearly all the uptick, but more Afghans also died from NATO-led air strikes than a year ago.

The report followed the July 12 assassination of Ahmed Wali Karzai, the younger half-brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai (below). Considered Karzai's envoy and powerbroker in volatile Kandahar, once a Taliban stronghold, Ahmed Wali was killed by a close associate of the Karzai family, and the Taliban claimed responsibility. On July 14 a bomb blast during a memorial service in his honor left five dead and 15 wounded.

Circle of aid

The Horn of Africa's worst drought in 60 years has spurred Somalia's militants to drastic action: allowing foreigners and infidels to help. Leaders of the Islamist al-Shabab, an insurgent movement that controls large sections of Somalia, banned foreign aid groups in 2009, saying the groups were anti-Muslim. (Some agencies continued small operations in areas outside the group's control.) But a worsening drought has deepened the catastrophic conditions in war-torn Somalia: The UN estimates nearly a quarter of the nation's population has fled the country seeking food and water.

At least 1,400 Somali refugees are arriving in Kenya's Dadaab refugee camp each day, and 110,000 Somalis have packed remote camps in southeastern Ethiopia. Nine million Africans need assistance across the drought-stricken region. The most vulnerable: malnourished children unable to withstand the grueling treks to refugee camps. Aid workers say throngs of Somali children have died of starvation, yet delivering aid inside Somalia could prove dangerous and dubious: A UN report last year estimated that corrupt contractors diverted as much as half of the food flowing into the country through the UN's World Food Program. Where did it go? The study found that at least some went to groups like al-Shabab-those now asking for more food aid to flow into the country.

Arrested development

"Thank you & goodbye," read the July 10 News of the World front page after owner Rupert Murdoch shuttered the 168-year-old British tabloid over ongoing allegations its journalists illegally hacked phones and made payments to police. But controversy over the controversial news outlet may not go away so fast. After authorities arrested former editor Andy Coulson July 8 on charges relating to the illegal activity, Prime Minister David Cameron, who in 2007 hired Coulson as his director of communications, faced mounting questions over what he knew about Coulson's involvement in the hacking scandal. On July 11 a group of shareholders in Murdoch's News Corp., which purchased the paper in 1969 (and also owns The Wall Street Journal), filed an amended lawsuit accusing Murdoch of "complete failure" to oversee the paper and its journalists.

Sugar high

World food prices approached record levels in June, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The main driver: the price of sugar, which rose 14 percent in just one month following weather-related production slowdowns in Brazil. Offsetting declines in prices for cereals and oils kept the FAO's Food Price Index from topping a record high hit in February. Overall, the June index was up 39 percent from a year earlier-and while world cereal prices dropped slightly, they remain 71 percent higher than a year ago.

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