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Friday, October 12, 2012

Nobel Peace Prize Awarded to the European Union

The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to the European Union (EU), which the organising committee said helped transform Europe “from a continent of war to a continent of peace”. While acknowledging that critics might say the award came as the organisation faced its most serious crises of its almost 60 years of existence, Nobel committee president Thorbjørn Jagland said the EU should still be recognised for its work in advancing “peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights”. The committee also highlighted the EU’s work in the reconciliation of France and Germany after World War II, its work in incorporating Greece, Spain and Portugal after the downfall of authoritarian regimes and its role in bringing peace to the Balkans and the on-going accession talks with former warring countries in the region.

U.S. Vice Presidential Candidates Face Off in Spirited Debate

The vice-presidential debate between incumbent Vice President Joe Biden and Republican candidate Paul Ryan was a more spirited affair than the debate between President Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney a week ago. Biden and Ryan sparred over foreign policy and the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Libya, the domestic economic recovery and fiscal policy. In one of the more heated exchanges, Ryan said that Romney had not meant what he said in his controversial ’47 percent’ remark. “I think the Vice President very well knows that sometimes the words don’t come out of your mouth the right way”, said Ryan. Biden retorted that “I always say what I mean. And so does Romney”. Plaudits also went to moderator Martha Raddatz, who was not intimidated by the two candidates and frequently posed incisive questions. Early polls showed no clear winner, but critics suggested Biden’s spirited performance might have made up for President Obama’s lacklustre showing during last week’s debate.

Doctors Accuse the Syrian Regime of Bombing Hospital in Aleppo

Doctors and nurses in one of Aleppo’s main hospitals have accused the regime of Bashar al-Assad of bombing its premises at least 12 times and also subjecting it to artillery and mortar strikes. The BBC’s Ian Pannell visited the hospital and said that doctors understood the army saw it as a “legitimate target” because they treat rebel fighters as well as civilians. The hospital admits more than 100 trauma patients every day, but it has fewer than 10 doctors and a shortage of proper medical equipment. Its upper floors have been completely destroyed by artillery and only two functional operating beds had been left after the bombings. Some of its staff had been detained and executed, according to Dr. Othman, one of the surgeons. “We’ve lost everything; we’ve lost our country, we’ve lost the peace, we’ve lost more than 30,000 people. We have nothing to lose”.

Supporters and Opponents of Egyptian President Clash in Cairo

Supporters and opponents of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi clashed in Cairo’s Tahrir Square after a court acquitted 24 high-profile supporters of former president Hosni Mubarak. They had been charged with organising attacks on protesters during the uprising that eventually led to the downfall of the Mubarak regime. The attacks became collectively known as the Battle of the Camel because horses and camels were used to charge the protesters occupying Tahrir Square. While both camps were united in their rage against the court ruling, they threw stones and bottles at each other. “Down, down with rule by the guide”, shouted Morsi’s opponents, implying that the president took orders from the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Badie. His backers shouted his name in response. Demonstrations also occured in the port city of Alexandria, where Morsi attended Friday prayers.

Switzerland Drawing Up Plans for European Unrest

The Swiss army is preparing contingency plans in case Europe’s financial troubles turn into widespread rioting, leaving the country with a massive influx of refugees in the near future. The country conducted military exercises with European instability scenarios in September and its Defence Minister, Ueli Maurer, said that he would “not rule out that we will need the army in the coming years”. The Chief of the Armed Forces, Lieutenant André Blattmann, is scheduled to reveal plans to deploy additional military police officers to strategic points across the country in December. Switzerland is not a member of the European Union and has maintained relationships with its neighbours through bilateral agreements.

Weekend Read: How A Salafi Preacher Came For My Soul

The Salafi movement won a quarter of the votes for Egypt’s parliament, behind only the Muslim Brotherhood. They believe that the only way back to the righteous path is an almost Talibanesque program of sharia law. In The New Republic.

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