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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Court Rules Israeli Government Not Guilty of Activist’s Death

A court in Haifa dismissed a suit by the parents of 23-year-old U.S. peace activist Rachel Corrie, who accused the Israeli government of intentionally killing her in Rafah, in the Gaza Strip, in March 2003. Corrie was crushed under an Israeli army bulldozer as she attempted to avoid the demolition of Palestinian homes at a site in Gaza. Judge Oded Gershon said that her death was a “regrettable accident”, but that the state was not at fault and that she had in fact been protecting terrorists in a designated combat zone. He also stated that the bulldozer’s operator could not see Rachel and that Israeli soldiers at the scene did their utmost to keep residents and activists away from any danger. Rachel Corrie’s mother, Cindy Corrie, said that her daughter was wearing a bright orange vest at the time of her death and did not believe that the bulldozer operator could not see her. Speaking from the court, she added that “this was a bad day, not only for our family, but for human rights, for the rule of law and also for the country of Israel”.

U.S. Rejects French Calls for Recognition of Syrian Transitional Government

The United States rejected calls by France to recognise a transitional government in Syria as soon as it takes shape, saying such a recognition would be premature in the current fractured situation and that the French call had not been coordinated with other nations. “It’s a matter for them to decide if and when they may be prepared to start naming folks”, said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland. Meanwhile, seven people were reported to have been killed by a car bomb at a funeral procession in the Jarama suburb of Damascus, with Syrian state television reporting that another 48 people had been wounded in the explosion. The funeral was for two supporters of the Bashar al-Assad regime who had been killed in bombings a day earlier, according to the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition body.

Kenyan Police Tear-Gas Youth Protesting the Killing of Islamic Preacher

Anti-riot police in Kenya’s second-largest city of Mombasa fired tear gas at stone-throwing youths in the second day of running battles sparked by the killing of a Muslim cleric accused by the United States of helping Somali Islamist militants. Aboud Rogo Mohammed was shot dead by unknown gunmen on Monday while driving in a private car. Protesters reacted to his death by smashing cars and vandalising churches, forcing businesses to close and pedestrians to stay away from the Majengo area of the city. Rogo Mohammed had recently been placed on a list of specially designated global terrorists by the U.S. government and accused of recruiting non-Somalis for Somalia’s al-Shabaab group. His killing follows a pattern of alleged extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances of suspected terrorists in Kenya in recent months. Al-Shabaab had vowed to carry out an attack on the capital, Nairobi, in retaliation for the entry of Kenyan troops into Somalia to fight them.

Pot-Smoking Teenagers “Risk Lower IQ”

A study carried out in New Zealand suggests that teenagers who routinely smoke marijuana may risk a long-term drop in their IQ. Users who began using the drug after their 18th birthday did not suffer the same effects, but one of the study co-authors said that the main message was that people should stay away from marijuana until adulthood. “For some it’s a legal issue”, said Richie Poulton, a professor at the University of Otago in New Zealand, “but for me it’s a health issue”. The researchers tested the group’s IQ at age 13, before any significant drug use, and again at age 38. Those who started smoking pot before age 18 showed a drop in IQ averaging eight points, while those that began smoking after adulthood did not show any effects. This would show that marijuana is harmful to developing brains and that “parents should understand that their adolescents are particularly vulnerable”, said researcher Madeline Meier of Duke University.

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