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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Turkey Strikes Targets in Syria, Says Attacks Not Declaration of War

Turkish artillery units hit targets near Syria’s Tel Abyad border town for a second day after a mortar fired from the area killed five Turkish civilians in the town of Akcakale. Turkish state television channel TRT said that the unit began the shelling overnight and continued into Thursday morning. The London-based opposition group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that a number of Syrian soldiers had been killed amidst the shelling. The retaliatory attacks came after the Turkish parliament approved military operations against Syria. The one-year mandate was passed by 320 votes in the 550-seat parliament. Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister, Besir Atalay, said that the authorisation for the use of force was not a declaration of war, but only a deterrent against further aggresions. NATO said it stood by Turkey, one of its member-nations, and urged Syria to stop its “flagrant violations of international law”.

Obama and Romney Discuss the Economy in First Presidential Debate

U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney had a largely cordial first debate in Denver, Colorado. The candidates sparred largely on policy specifics, leaving behind the personal attacks characteristic of the rest of the campaign. Romney defended small businesses, saying that Obama’s “big government” would raise taxes on a sector that creates jobs, calling it a “trickle-down government”. Obama said that the approach favoured by Romney, of cutting taxes in order to stimulate the economy while cutting back regulations, had not worked in the past. In a lighter moment, President Obama used some of his opening remarks to wish his wife a happy 20th wedding anniversary. Romney replied that he was “sure this was the most romantic place you could imagine, here with me”. Polls gave Romney a victory in the debate, with 46 to 47 percent, with Obama trailing with 22 to 25 percent.

France to Introduce New Anti-Terror Legislation

The government of France is set to review new anti-terrorism legislation tightening the country’s laws on the matter and curbing travels by French citizens to train abroad in terrorist camps. Proposed by Interior Minister Manuel Valls, the proposed legislation makes “criminal association with a terrorist group” punishable by a maximum of 10 years and a €225,000 fine, but training in a terrorist camp would not be in itself a punishable offence. The bill comes six months after a shooting spree in the southern city of Toulouse when a gunman killed three soldiers and three Jewish people before being shot dead by police. Mohammed Merah, the attacker, claimed to have ties to Al-Qaeda. Police records later showed he had travelled to the Middle East and Afghanistan, taking part in training sessions near Kandahar.

Shipyard Workers and Police Clash in Athens Over Late Salaries

Approximately 250 workers from a Greek shipyard forced their way into the Defence Ministry complex in Athens on Thursday, demanding months of salary still owed to them. The workers, belonging to the Hellenic Skaramangas company (HSY), entered the building by pulling up shutters and stood in a hallway shouting “we want solutions, not layoffs!”. The head of the army’s general staff, General Mihail Kostarakos, tried to speak to the protesters but was shouted down. The workers alleged to be owed six months worth of salaries because the Greek state had not paid the shipyards’ owner, an Emirati company. Scenes broadcast on Greek TV showed police officers approaching the group and beating them with truncheons in an attempt to make them vacate the Ministry’s premises. The number of protests has picked up in Greece in recent days against austerity cuts agreed by the national government with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

Court Rules Being Gay Not a Valid Reason to Fight Removal from U.S.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruled on Wednesday that being gay was not a valid reason for a Mexican man to fight his removal from the country. Efren Neri-Garcia had argued that he would face persecution if forced to return to his native country, but the court said that, while that may have been true in 1994 when he first entered the U.S., changing circumnstances in Mexico could no longer sustain his claim. The court noted that Mexico City had since legalised same-sex marriages and adoption by same-sex couples, and that the Mexican Supreme Court has required all Mexican states to recognise same-sex unions performed in states where they had become legal. When Neri-Garcia pointed to reports of deadly attacks against gay activists in Mexico, the court said that the Mexican government had taken appropriate measures to curb violence and discrimination. The court also stated that Neri-Garcia could not seek asylum as he had been previously removed from the U.S.

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