Our World in 7 Headlines: Sept. 9

September 9, 2013 7:41 am Last Updated: September 9, 2013 7:42 am

Maldives: Cursed coconuts on Fuvahmulah allegedly used to disrupt elections

Coconuts with black magic spells are allegedly being used to sway voters’ political party allegiance and incite confrontations between Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) supporters and police on Fuvahmulah, ahead of Saturday’s Presidential Election.

A ‘kurumba’ (young coconut) suspected to have a ‘fanditha’ (black magic) curse, with Arabic writing and suspicious symbols burned into the husk, was found in the garden of a home located in Fuvahmulah’s Dhiguvaadu ward …

Minivan News

Maldives (A), an island nation in the Indian Ocean. (Google Maps)


Spain: Spain’s ‘adopt-a-student’ plan scares undergrads

A scheme which would see ‘godfathers’ helping out Spanish university students in financial difficulties has received mixed reactions from from within the education sector.

It all started with a telephone call.

In July, the Dean of Spain’s Malaga University, Adelaida de la Calle, received a call from a pensioner offering to pay the course fees of one student.
From there, her proposal took shape.

“Just as it’s possible to ‘sponsor a child’, it would also be possible to ‘sponsor a student’ and pay their tuition fees,” said the dean, who is also head of the Association of Spanish University Deans (CRUE). …

The Local


New Zealand: Overweight chef to pay for own surgery to get residency

A South African immigrant who faced deportation for being clinically obese will have to pay for his own knee operation within the next 23 months to obtain permanent residency.

Albert Buitenhuis said he couldn’t believe the feeling of relief when the letter from Immigration New Zealand arrived last Friday, giving him permission to to stay in the country for another 23 months.

“With that relief comes a lot of fear and stuff because we have to go back to something that’s not there anymore.”

He and his wife Marthie, 47, hadn’t been allowed to work since May 2 and were forced to leave their Christchurch home and move in with Mr Buitenhuis’ sister in Auckland because they couldn’t keep up with rent payments. …

New Zealand Herald


Costa Rica: Costa Rica takes a step toward inclusive tourism

Costa Rica has long been known as a destination for adventure, with thoughts of surfing, hiking through rain forests and tranquil beaches coming to mind, but this iconic image of the country has long been out of reach for Ticos and tourists in wheelchairs or with other disabilities.

Innovative design in all-terrain wheelchairs and a growing social awareness of accessibility issues in Costa Rica, however, are poised to make the country’s national wonders available to people of all abilities and ages. 

Fernán González of Sistemas de Accesibilidad Total, an architecture and consulting company specializing in accessible design, unveiled two unique wheelchairs, perhaps the only of their kind in Costa Rica, during the Expo Travel trade show in San José last week. 

At first glance, the so-called “amphibious chairs” look like something left over from NASA’s Mars rover mission. …

Tico Times


Argentina: Argentine border guards rescue Uruguayan lost during four months in the Andes

Authorities in Argentina say a 58-year-old man from Uruguay has been rescued in good health after spending four months lost in the Andes.The provincial emergency service says Raul Fernando Gomez was found Sunday. It says he had lost about 45 pounds and was dehydrated, and is being treated at a hospital.

Officials say Gomez had been reported missing in May while trying to bicycle across the Andes between Chile and Argentina. They quote Gomez as saying his bicycle broke down and he tried to finish his trek on foot, but became disoriented by two heavy snowfalls.

He told authorities that he lived off sugar and raisins he had with him and food cached in mountain shelters. He also said he ate rats that he trapped. …

Merco Press


Africa: Africa’s Silence On Syria Is a Missed Opportunity to Exert Regional Influence


The relative silence by the African Union (AU) and its member states on allegations that the Syrian government or one of the various opposition groups have been using chemical weapons in the war that is gripping that country, represents another missed opportunity in the continent’s quest to exert itself as an important player in international diplomacy. This is particularly true with regard to disarmament and the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). …

Institute for Security Studies


Japan: Prosecutors decide not to indict anyone related to Fukushima nuclear accident

Prosecutors on Sept. 9 decided not to indict any of the 40 or so individuals who had been targeted in criminal complaints and accusations for their role in the Fukushima nuclear accident of 2011.

Residents of Fukushima Prefecture and citizens groups had filed the accusations in Tokyo and Fukushima district public prosecutors offices. Among those targeted were Tsunehisa Katsumata, who was chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Co. when the accident occurred at the utility’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, and Naoto Kan, who was the prime minister at the time. …