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Last September, Abu Sayyaf militants threatened to behead two Canadians and a Norwegian whom they had kidnapped from a marina on southern Samal Island of Southern Phillipines if a large ransom was not granted. Last Monday, the decapitated head of John Ridsdel, one of the Canadians was found. Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada was outraged by the news and asked that they condemn the captors as a nation without any reservations. He further stated that this act of animalistic brutality would not go unpunished and that the Canadian government was working with the Philippines and other international partner to see that justice is metted out.

The Abu Sayyaf, a group of Islam extremists in the predominantly Roman Catholic nation and a sub-cult of the infamous Al Qaeda group, emerged in the early 1990’s and began intricate large-scale abductions very early in its career. According to intelligence reports, about 400 militants from the Abu Sayyaf group were involved in the kidnappings. The abductions highlight the security problems rampant in the southern parts of the Philippines, a region blessed with bountiful resources and cursed with lawlessness, poverty and decades-long grunges from the Muslim community and communist insurgencies.

In light of these occurrences, both the United States and the Philippines have listed the Abu Sayyaf group as a terrorist organization. Back in September, the Abu Sayyaf posted militant videos online for ransom demands. John Ridsdel, a fellow Canadian Robert Hall, Filipino Marites Flor, a woman who was kidnapped for being in the wrong place at the wrong time were shown sitting in a clearing, and Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad which military experts think may have been Jolo in the Sulu province. The video depicted several heavily armed militants standing behind them with twin black flags hanging against a backdrop of foliage. In some of the released videos, a militant was seen positioning a long knife on Ridsdel’s neck. According to the Chief Supt. Junpikar Sitin of Jolo police, two men fled after placing a plastic bag with Ridsdel’s head on the street near Jolo town. Prime Minister Trudeau expressed his deepest sympathy to the deceased’s family and friends and urged the nation to mourn and support them in their time of need.

 

Cg6K7deWgAIGEjwMore than 30 years after the incident, fears remain that Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion, which sent a cloud of radiation that reached the UK and has been labeled the world’s worst nuclear disaster in could still trigger cancer and more deaths. The explosion initially killed at least 28 people before the area was evacuated. According to later consensus by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations and the World Health Organization, the total death count from cancer the accident is projected to reach 4,000 for people who were exposed to high doses of radiation, and another 5,000 deaths for those who were less exposed to the fallout.

The initial accident happened on April 26, 1986, when an explosion occurred in reactor no 4 during a routine test. The explosion destroyed reactor No. 4 at the plant in Pripyat, Ukraine, which was then a part of the Soviet Union. Those closest to it died instantaneously while other succumbed to radiation poisoning more slowly. The reactor was later enclosed in a steel and concrete sarcophagus with the aim of containing the radiation, but it soon started leaking. A new cover for the reactor is to be completed in 2017. The horror has yet to die as thousands of Chernobyl children still suffer from severely compromised immune systems even generations after their parents were exposed to the fallout.

The government of Ukraine believes that the Chernobyl problem is a thing of the past and that the biggest health risk now are inaccurate media reports. At the same time, there are several organizations that say there is currently no evidence of higher-than usual death or unusual illnesses among the 5 million people still living on what is considered contaminated ground. On the contrary, some scientists and health workers who live in the region insist the death toll is far higher, more along the lines of 1 million, although they acknowledge that it is difficult to separate natural rates of cancer and illness in the general population from cases that could be attributed to Chernobyl. They accuse authorities of downplaying or outright ignoring the ongoing impact. The Belarus health ministry did not reply to repeated requests for public health data.

 

museum-fire-759National Museum of Natural History in India’s capital New Delhi suffered a massive fire on Tuesday. The state-run natural history museum featured thousands of displays local and exotic on plants, animals and mineral wealth. It took firefighters and thirty-five fire engines more than four hours to douse out the fire, which according to New Delhi fire official Harinder Singh, started on the top floor of the six-story museum. The flames had managed to gut the entire building and damages are currently being assessed. Fires are common in Indian buildings due to a lack of safety standards however an investigation had been ordered to uncover the cause of the fire.