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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

France Prepares For Violence As Satirical Magazine Publishes Prophet Mohammed Cartoons

France increased security at its interests abroad after a satirical magazine published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. French embassies, consulates, international schools and cultural centres were closed in approximately 20 countries where the government believed they could be targeted. Riot police were also deployed to a variety of key locations around Paris and other major French cities. The French government defended the right of magazine Charlie Hebdo to publish the cartoons, but expressed concerns about the consequences of the publication. The magazine confirmed its website had been attacked through its blog and it was inaccessible on Wednesday. The rector of the Grand Paris Mosque, Dalil Boubakeur, told the Associated Press that the magazine’s content was a “disgraceful and hateful, useless and stupid provocation. We are not animals of Pavlov to react at each insult”. One of the cartoonists, who uses the name Tignous, defended Charlie Hebdo, saying “it’s just a drawing, it’s not a provocation”. A group called The Syrian Association for Liberty filed a complaint against Charlie Hebdo with the French authorities for “incitation to hatred,” the AFP reported.  A small package bomb exploded inside a kosher grocery store in Sarcelles, a suburb north of Paris, in an apparent reaction to the cartoons. Four people were injured and were being treated for wounds to their arms and legs caused by flying shards of broken glass.

Obama Says Romney Was Wrong, Tells Muslim World There Is No Excuse for Violence

U.S. President Barack Obama addressed the controversy caused by comments made by Republican candidate Mitt Romney about his electorate in a scheduled appearance on David Letterman’s late-night show on CBS on Tuesday night. Obama said that Romney was wrong when he said that nearly half of voters thought of themselves as victims. “There are not a lot of people out there who think they’re victims”, said Obama to Letterman, adding that “there are not a lot of people who think they’re entitled to something”. The Democratic candidate for reelection also touched on the violence caused in the Muslim world because of the U.S.-produced anti-Islam film, saying that “the message we have to send to the Muslim world is that we expect you to work with us, to keep our people safe, and as offensive as the video was – and we obviously denounced it, the United States government had nothing to do with it – that’s never an excuse for violence”.

Defector Claims Syria Would Transfer Chemical Weapons to Hezbollah

A Syrian general and defector has told the Times that President Bashar al-Assad’s regime had plans in place to transfer chemical weapons to the Shia Muslim militant organisation Hezbollah. The organisation had signalled in early July that it would defend Syria in case it came under attack from foreign forces. Major-General Adnan Sillu also said that the Assad regime would only use chemical weapons against its own people “as a last resort”. “We were in a serious discussion about the use of chemical weapons, including how we would use them and in what areas. We discussed this as a last resort, such as if the regime lost control of an important area such as Aleppo”, said Sillu. A report published earlier in the week by German weekly Der Spiegel claimed that Syria had already tested chemical weapon delivery systems at the end of August with live fire exercises from tanks and aircraft. The tests were supposedly supervised by Iranian experts.

China’s Xi Accuses Japan of Heating Up Tensions, Tells U.S. To Mind Its Words

China’s leader-in-waiting Xi Jinping used one of his first appearances since he went missing for two weeks to accuse Japan of “heating up” a territorial dispute in the East China Sea, according to reports in the official Xinhua news agency. “Japan should rein its behaviour and stop any words and acts that undermine China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”, said Xi in a meeting with visiting U.S. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta. It was the first time a top level Chinese official made public comments about the controversy over the Japanese government’s purchase of the islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. Xi also asked the U.S. to “mind its words and actions” and “not get involved in issues regarding the sovereignty” of the islands, as well as to “refrain from doing anything that might escalate tensions and complicate the situation”.

Medication Overuse Causes Headaches In One Million Britons

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) issued a new guidance to the National Health Service (NHS) of England and Wales suggesting that more than one million people in Britain may suffer from constant, crippling headaches because of painkiller abuse. While it concedes that common over-the-counter medicines are largely effective against the occasional headache, it estimates that up to 1 in 50 people experience headaches because of overuse and that women are five times more likely to suffer from this abuse than men. Martin Underwood, a general practitioner and professor at Warwick Medical School, said that “patients with frequent tension-type headaches can get themselves into a vicious cycle, where their headaches are getting increasingly worse, so they take more medication which makes their pain even worse as they take more medication”. The NICE hopes the new guidance will help the NHS to detect medication overuse more quickly and aid patients in their recovery process.

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