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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Turkey Brands Syria “Terrorist State”, Egypt Says Assad Must Go

Turkish Prime-Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan increased the pressure on the Assad regime by saying that Syria had become a “terrorist state’” by carrying out massacres against its own citizens. “Syria is not an ordinary country to us. We do not have the luxury to remain indifferent to what’s happening there”, said Erdogan at a meeting of his ruling AKP party in Ankara. He said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was “up to his neck in blood” and criticised the international community for remaining indifferent to the murder of Muslims. His words came as the country’s opposition group claimed that the regime had tortured and executed 45 prisoners in the Akramiya neighbourhood of the city of Aleppo. Meanwhile, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi said the Syrian president should “learn from recent history” and step down. “It’s too late to talk about reform, this is the time for change”, said Morsi to an assembly of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo.

First Lady Asks Voters to Reelect President Obama to White House

U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama roused delegates at the opening night of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Charlotte, North Carolina, by asking voters for four more years for her husband Barack Obama. She said the president was more in touch with common Americans than his Republican opponent. “He believes that when you’ve worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you. You reach back, and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed”, said Mrs. Obama, adding that the president “knows the American dream because he’s lived it”. She defended his healthcare reform, saying that the president had done it because “no one in this country should ever go broke because of an accident or an illness”. President Obama will speak at the convention on Thursday when he will accept his party’s nomination for the U.S. presidential election in November.

Quebec Victory Rally Interrupted by Lone Gunman, One Dead

A lone gunman shot one person dead and wounded another in Montreal during a victory speech by Pauline Marois, who had just become Quebec’s premier-elect. The leader of the separatist Parti Quebecois was carried off the stage by bodyguards as the first of the shots rang out at the city’s Metropolis concert hall. According to local police the 62-year-old gunman also started a fire within the premises and a third man was in hospital being treated for “nervous shock”. Witnesses said that the gunman had entered the hall wearing a balaclava and a bathrobe while muttering “the Anglophones are waking up” in French with an English accent. It is thought his phrase was a reference to the “maple spring” of student protests against tuition increases that quickly developed into an Occupy-style movement with anti-capitalist and separatist overtones. Quebec’s new leader pledged to keep the separatist agenda at the forefront of her policies. “We want a country. And we will have it”, said Marois before she was interrupted by the gun shots. The Guardian reports that shootings are rare in Canada and that Quebec’s last incidence of political violence occurred in 1970 when labour minister Pierre Laporte was kidnapped and killed by a radical separatist group.

Striking South African Miners Threaten to Kill Managers

Striking miners at Lonmin’s embattled Marikana platinum mine in South Africa have threatened to kill some of the company’s management staff unless they stop operations at the shafts. News 24 reports that the threat was made by five representatives of the hundreds of striking workers who marched from Marikana to another of Lonmin’s pits at Karee, a platinum mine to the southwest of Johannesburg. They told manager Jan Thiroun that he should close the mine’s shaft, threatening to kill management staff and burn down the premises otherwise. “Violence doesn’t solve anything. It is not in everyone’s interest”, said Thiroun. Police armoured personnel carriers attempted to stop the marchers from entering the mine, but the crowd pushed its way around the vehicles. The miners’ threats in Karee are the latest salvo in a wave of unrest engulfing South African mines since the killing of 34 miners by police at the Marikana mine two weeks ago.

Colombia Announces Agreement with FARC for Peace Talks

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos used a nationally-televised speech to announce that his government and the insurgent Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) had agreed on a road map for discussions towards a peace agreement and to express hopes that it would bring an end to “violence between sons of the same nation”. The talks will be the fourth attempt at peace in three decades, but President Santos said that “any responsible leader knows he can’t let pass a possibility like this to end the conflict”. He says these talks will be different because his administration will not halt combat activities against the guerrilla, already severely weakened by a decade-long campaign carried out with the help of U.S. military aid. The first negotiations will take in place in Norway in the first half of October and the parties will then move to Cuba to continue their talks. Meanwhile, the Attorney-General of Colombia, Eduardo Montealegre, said that all FARC participants in the talks will have their prison warrants void. “It does not matter if the warrants are international or related to crimes against humanity”, he explained.

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