On the other side of the fence…

NORTH AMERICA

Microsoft announced a $44.6 billion bid to take over Yahoo last week in an attempt to rival market leader Google and to create its own advertising powerhouse. The company is offering Yahoo shareholders $31 per share in cash and Microsoft stock. Yahoo shares have since surged 50 per cent while Microsoft and Google shares fell five per cent and nine per cent, respectively. The United States Congress Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Feb. 8 to determine whether this consolidation would undermine the “principles of a competitive Internet.”

ASIA

Leading Chinese civil rights activist Hu Jia was formally arrested last week after being under house arrest for a month. He expects to face charges of inciting subversion of state power. In an apparent crackdown on dissent heading into the Olympics, Hu’s case has been classified a state secret meaning the government has the right to deny him legal counsel and the trial will likely take place behind closed doors. Both the American government and the European Union have protested Hu’s detention.

AFRICA

Kenya’s feuding political leaders have agreed on a plan to end the political and ethnic violence that has gripped the country since a disputed election in December, former United Nations chief Koffi Annan said Friday. Representatives of both president Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga agreed to a four-point plan which Annan said should see an end to the violence in the next two weeks. Representatives vowed to end the violence and the humanitarian situation as well as to resolve the political crisis and land injustices.

EUROPE

A man accused of smuggling over $520 million worth of cocaine and cannabis into England was sentenced to 26 years in prison Friday. Robert Flook, 45, who is believed to have smuggled the drugs from South Africa to London in garden furniture, was arrested in September 2006 while trying to transport eight tonnes of marijuana over the border.

MIDDLE EAST

Ninety-nine people are confirmed dead after separate suicide bombings took place in popular pet markets in Baghdad Friday. A female suicide bomber killed 62 people, injuring 129, at al-Ghazi pet market, minutes before another bomb exploded in a southern Baghdadi bird market killing 37 and wounding 67. Both women are believed to have been handicapped. These represent the deadliest attacks in the city since the surge in American troops last April.
The Egyptian government arrested 15 Palestinians armed with weapons and explosives believed to have breached the Palestinian border blockade. Allegedly linked to Palestinian militant group Hamas, the men were all carrying detonators and flak jackets. These arrests come as Egyptian government officials negotiate with Hamas to re-establish border controls. Hamas has previously indicated it could prevent Egypt from sealing the frontier if the group is not officially recognized.

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