Must-Reads from Around the World

Child labor remains a problem in India, information about soil pollution is a state secret in China and thousands of Colombian coffee growers have gone on strike

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AP Photo / Boris Kaulin

Alexander Babin, rescuer of Chelyabinsk Airlines injured by glass window broken by a shock wave from a meteor explosion rests after getting a medical care in Chelyabinsk, Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013.

Russian Meteor – Astronomers from the University of Antioquia in Medellin, Colombia, have traced the origin of the meteor that hit central Russia earlier this month, injuring about 1,000 people, writes the BBC. They used the numerous amateur videos that were taken when the meteor hit the city of Chelyabinsk to piece together the meteor’s route through the Earth’s atmosphere. Camera phones, CCTV and car-dashboard cameras, and traffic footage with date stamps were used to track the trajectory of the meteor that blew out windows and rocked buildings across the Russian city. U.S. space agency NASA has estimated that the meteor’s mass came to between 7,000 and 10,000 tons, with a size of about 55ft.

Indian Child Laborers — In India, child labor remains a problem even though a law that mandates all Indian children between the ages of six and 14 to be in school will be fully implemented in two months, notes the New York Times. Although the central government has laws prohibiting child labor and dangerous working conditions, each state is responsible for enforcing them. An estimated 28 million children are working in the South Asian country because of poverty, poor law enforcement, corruption, decrepit schools and absentee teachers, writes the daily.

China’s Soil PollutionBloomberg Businessweek reports that information about soil pollution in China remains a state secret. Data from the National Soil Pollution survey are “state secrets,” according to the provisions of Article 14 of the Open Government Information Regulations, notes China’s Legal Daily newspaper. Compared to air and water pollution, soil pollution has received relatively limited public attention up until now because problems in the soil cannot usually be detected with the naked eye. Environmentalists said the overuse of fertilizer in pesticides in farmland and the seeping of heavy metals into the soil threaten the safety of China’s food supply.

Methamphetamine Production — The production of methamphetamine is a growing concern for West Africa, reveals a new report by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC). Most of the synthetic drug made in West Africa, also a hub for cocaine trafficking, ends up in East Asia and South Africa. Experts said that methamphetamine appeals to drug producers in West Africa because it’s easy to make and generates a “remarkably high” income.

Colombian Coffee Strike – Staying in Colombia and thousands of Colombian coffee growers have gone on strike demanding the government provide greater support and subsidies after coffee prices plummeted on the international market last year, notes the BBC. As the protesters took the streets of towns and cities across the country, clashes broke out with security forces. President Juan Manuel Santos has called for a halt to the protests, saying it was “unnecessary and inconvenient,” while the opposition has urged the government not to “criminalize” the protestors. Coffee is one of Colombia’s biggest exports with more than half a million families reliant on the crop for survival.

Chinese Vow to Taiwan – Incoming Chinese president Xi Jinping has said it is the duty of the new Chinese leadership to pursue “peaceful means” in reunification efforts with Taiwan, reports Aljazeera. According to China’s Xinhua news agency, Xi announced in a meeting with former Taiwanese premier Lien Chan that the new leadership “is aiming to boost cross-Strait exchanges and cooperation (…) in both the Chinese mainland and Taiwan.” China and Taiwan have been ruled as separate nations since the end of the civil war in 1949.

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