Riots Strike Iran Over Currency Instability
Shopkeepers and consumers alike took to the streets in Iran’s capital city, Tehran today to protest the continuing slide of the rial, Iran’s currency, against world currencies. The rial is down 80 percent of its value against the U.S. Dollar since this time last year and 17 percent since last Friday. According to witnesses police in riot gear entered Tehran’s currency exchange district, rapidly arresting illegal money changes while ordering all licensed exchanges to close. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stated in a press conference preceding the protests, that the rial’s slide was not particularly alarming: “Everyone is aware that foreign trade and commerce don’t have a very high share in the Iranian economy. But the figures are being used in the psychological war for a greater effect on the markets. The number of US dollars being exchanged in our country is not that big.” A special unit comprised of police chiefs and government economic officials had been created, according to the head of the national police Esmail Ahmadi Moghadam, “to combat those perturbing the currency market.”
Four Deaths in Meningitis Outbreak
Fungal meningitis has killed four and infected at least 22 others, in Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, Florida, and North Carolina. The common vector of infection seems to be spinal injections of steroids, commonly used to treat severe back pain. “I don’t think we’ve identified all the cases that will be identified,” said Dr. David Reagan, the chief medical officer for the Tennessee Health Department. At a news conference yesterday, Tennessee state health officials said some of the patients were recovering, but others remain in critical condition. So far, all patients were infected due to injections received between July 30th and September 18th. Given an incubation period of one to four weeks, more cases of meningitis may yet surface.
Minors in Egypt Face Blasphemy Charges
Two Coptic children were charged with blasphemy in Egypt last night. A local sheikh says the boys urinated on Qurans and threw them at a mosque in Beni Suef. The children aged nine and ten deny the charges. Insulting Islam or the Prophet Mohammed is considered a crime in Egypt under Article 98(f) of the Penal Code. The Arabic Network of Human Rights Information says, “blasphemy charges need to be reconsidered; they should be replaced with articles against hate speech that is accompanied with inciting violence. These articles should not be used to try people’s ideas.” But at a U.N. speech last week, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi defended the penal code: “Egypt respects freedom of expression…[but] not a freedom of expression that targets a specific religion or a specific culture.” Indeed the case of the young boys is only the latest in a series of blasphemy cases that Egyptian prosecutors have pursued, including another against a man who ripped up a Christian bible.
Leaked Report Says Most of Europe’s Reactors Need Repair
Nearly every nuclear reactor in Europe is in need of significant work. According to a leaked draft-report by the European Commission, those repairs will cost $13-32 billion. Of the 134 reactors surveyed, 111 are within 30km (18.6 miles) of villages with combined populations of 100,000 or more. Ten reactors in countries including Spain, France and the Czech Republic do not have adequate equipment to detect earthquakes. Stress tests performed at reactors in Finland and Sweden on behalf of the European Commission found that if the cooling systems failed or there was a loss of electric power, the operators would have less than an hour to restore safety functions lest catastrophic damage occur. The main finding, the draft says, is that there are “continuing differences” between the safety regimes of member states.
Clashes in Streets of Bahrain after Prisoner Dies
On Tuesday, thousands in Bahrain attended the funeral of Ali Ahmed Mushaima, a 23 year old who died while in police custody. Officials attributed the cause of death to unpreventable complications of Sickle-Cell Anemia, a genetic disorder common on the island kingdom. Mohammed al-Maskati, head of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) an opposition group active in last year’s uprising, disagrees: “Due to his medical condition, his lawyer had tried more than once… to ensure adequate medical attention for him, but the prison authorities failed to provide such attention.” After the funeral many took to the streets of Manama, the capital, to protest Mushaima’s death. Molotov cocktails and stones were thrown at police when government officials tried to disperse the crowd at the Pearl roundabout, the staging sight of last year’s anti-discrimination & pro-democracy protests. Mushaima had been in jail since March of 2011, when police arrested thousands of protestors. At least five others have died in police custody since the uprising ended.