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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Taliban Shoots Pakistani Girl in the Head for Championing Girls’ Education

A 14-year-old Pakistani activist who defended education for girls was shot in the head on Tuesday by a Taliban gunman. Malala Yousafzai was sitting on a bus in the grounds of her school in Mingora, a city in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, when she was shot in the head and the neck. Another girl was reported to have been injured in the attack because the gunman could not decide which of the girls was Malala. A Taliban spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan, claimed that the group was responsible for the attack, saying that her activism was an “obscenity”. “This was a new chapter of obscenity, and we have to finish this chapter”, said Ehsan. Doctors at the scene said Malala might be removed to a larger hospital in Islamabad because of her wounds. She rose to fame as the author of an anonymous blog, hosted by the BBC, about the chaos that engulfed the Swat valley during the Pakistani army’s campaign against the Taliban in 2009.

Mass Protests Greet German Chancellor in Greece

Six thousand Greek riot police officers used pepper gas and stun grenades to repeal protesters who were throwing petrol bombs and stones in central Athens during the visit of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. More than 30 protesters were hurt, two with serious head injuries, as well as two policemen. Twelve people were arrested and the Guardian’s correspondent said that there “copious amounts of tear gas wafting above the Athens sky”, forcing tourists to don handkerchiefs to their mouths. The government had declared a ban on protests, but many gathered in Syntagma Square, in front of the country’s parliament building, as the Chancellor’s plane touched down in Athens. Among the banners unfurled by the protesters were “Merkel Out, Greece Is Not Your Colony” and “This Is Not a European Union, It Is Slavery”. At a press conference following a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, Merkel said that she was “not a teacher to give lessons, but I’m here to be informed, I know that changes are difficult to be implemented”. Her visit comes as Greece tries to convince the troika that its €13.5 billion ($17.4 billion) worth of cuts are enough to secure its next aid tranche, worth €31 billion ($40 billion).

U.K. Prime Minister Backs Referendum on Europe

British Prime Minister David Cameron has backed a referendum on U.K. membership of the European Union, saying that it was the “cleanest, neatest, simplest, most sensible way” to get the consent of the electorate for participation in a more integrated, post-Eurozone crisis Europe. Speaking on the BBC Radio 4′s Today Programme, the Prime Minister said that further integration was “right for them”, implying that he saw the U.K. apart from Europe, and that such a move would “open up the opportunity for Britain to get a fresh and a better settlement with Europe, and I’m committed to make sure we do everything to set that out in the run-up to the next election, to get that fresh settlement, then seek fresh consent for that settlement”. Cameron’s comments come a day before he is due to address the Conservative Party’s conference in Brighton.

IMF Warns of Deepening Global Slowdown, Says Policymakers Should Do More

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned that the global economic slowdown is worsening, cutting growth forecasts for the second time in six months and admonishing policymakers that anything other than immediate action would worsen the situation. The warning was published in the Fund’s World Economic Outlook ahead of its biennial meeting in Tokyo, Japan: “A key issue is whether the global economy is just hitting another bout of turbulence in what was always expected to be a slow and bumpy recovery or whether the current slowdown has a more lasting component. The answer depends on whether European and U.S. policymakers can proactively deal with their major short-term economic challenges.”

North Korea Claims Its Missiles Can Strike the U.S.

North Korea has reacted angrily to a missile deal announced last week by the U.S. and South Korea, saying that it had missiles capable of striking U.S. bases in “Japan, Guam and the U.S. mainland” and that the missile deal was “another conspiracy of the master and the stooge to push the situation on the Korean Peninsula to the extreme and ignite a war”. On Sunday, South Korea said that it had tripled the range of its own missile system, putting North Korea and parts of China and Japan within reach. The North Korean statement added that its people were “of the fixed stand that they cannot stop the final battle with the U.S.”. Despite the angry rhetoric, North Korea’s recent tests of its Taepodong-2 long-range missiles have ended in failure.

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