Talon Top Five: Weekly Current Events

The United States Evacuates Embassy in Syria

The United States closed its embassy in Syria in an attempt to escalate pressure on Syrian President Bashar Assad to give up power yesterday, February 6. Along with the United States, Britain recalled its ambassador to Damascus, Syria. This comes just days after diplomatic attempts by the United Nations to end the crisis collapsed.

For 11 months, Assad and the Syrian government has been experiencing an uprising as activists protested the strict restrictions of civil rights Assad placed on them.

Recently, the protests have increased to violence, including the bombing of Horns. In response to this intensified violence, the United Nations attempted to approve a resolution calling for Assad to step aside; however, both China and Russia vetoed the legislation.

China, in response to the onslaught of criticism, has argued that it was forced to veto the vote on Syria because it was called before differences in the proposal were bridged.

North Korea Opens Door to Talks with South Korea

North Korea is open to immediate talks with South Korea under several preconditions, North Korean Policy Department colonel Ri Son Gwon said to The Associated Press in Pyongyang on Thursday, February 2.

In the form of an “open questionnaire,” North Korea laid out several points for South Korea to achieve before it would be ready to open talks. These included ending the United States-South Korean military drills and an official apology from the South Koreans for failing to show proper respect to Kim Jong Il during the mourning period in late December.

However, in a statement released by South Korea’s Unification Ministry, they have called the preconditions unreasonable and stated that they feel no need to offer a response.

Because the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, the Korean peninsula is still technically at war. With the North Koreans finally opening up, this event may finally signal a crack in the North Korean’s stance against talks.

Swedish Supreme Court Rejects Pirate Bay Founders’ Appeals

The Swedish Supreme Court rejected an appeal by Pirate Bay founders Fredrik Neij, Peter Sunde and Carl Lundström to overturn the increased damages ordered at their 2009 trial on Wednesday, February 1. The court’s decision will force the 3 to pay a combined $6.8 million. In addition to the fine, Lundström, Sunde and Neij will serve 4, 8 and 10 months in prison, respectively.

The case, which began in 2008, was filed by various entertainment companies against the group for their violation of copyrights in the form of their torrent site, thepiratebay.se. Ultimately, the group was found guilty in February 2009; however, following an appeal, they had their sentences reduced.

Sunde is disappointed by the Supreme Court decision.

“Sweden speaks well about caring about the Internets,” Sunde said in an interview with torrentfreak.com. “They spend a lot of money and time on helping activists all around the world. But who are these people that they’re so proud of helping? TPB has been one of the most important movements in Sweden for freedom of speech, working against corruption and censorship.”

Romney wins Florida Primary

The Florida Presidential Primary took place on Tuesday, January 31. On the Republican side, Mitt Romney won with 46 percent of the vote. This was far ahead of the second place finisher, Newt Gingrich, who received 32 percent.

Trailing even farther behind was third-place finisher Rick Santorum, with 13 percent, and fourth-place finisher Ron Paul, with 7 percent.

The Florida primary followed the South Carolina Primary, where Gingrich finished with an upset win over Romney. After South Carolina, many speculated that Gingrich would be a serious problem for Romney. However, after Romney’s win in Florida, his lead, while far from certain, seems far more significant.

See full poll results here.

Presidential Candidates Compete in Nevada’s Republican Caucus

The Nevada Presidencial Caucus was held on Saturday, February 4. Following his win in Florida, Romney won again–this time with 50 percent. Gingrich came in second, with 21 percent. Meanwhile, Paul received 19 percent and Santorum received 10 percent.

Nevada continued to solidify Romney’s lead in the race, although all the candidates promised to continue on with their respective bids for president.

The Missouri primary and Colorado and Minnesota caucuses are scheduled to be held today, February 7.

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