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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Anti-Morsi Protest Go Ahead in Egypt Despite Compromise on Decree

Tens of thousands of people demonstrated today in Egypt’s capital Cairo, gathering on Tahrir Square, to protest the decree that gives President Mohamed Morsi sweeping powers. Police clashed with demonstrators, even after Morsi said yesterday only his decisions concerning sovereignty issues would escape judicial oversight, and only until a constitution is adopted and a parliament is formed. “The people want the downfall of the regime,” they chanted, the same slogan heard in the streets almost two years ago, when Egyptians demanded the resignation of Hosni Mubarak. Morsi “unilaterally broke the contract with the people,” said Abdel Haleem Qandeil, opposition activist and intellectual, describing “the miserable failure of the rule of the Muslim Brothers.” Morsi’s opponents say their protests aren’t just about the decree, but more broadly, against the Muslim leadership in the constitutional assembly.

Syria: Fighting Continues as Army Weakens Against Rebels

Opposition forces said today the Syrian military, which serves the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, killed 10 children on a playground using cluster bombs. While this information hasn’t yet been verified, it would be a serious breach of the Geneva Convention, which forbids attacks on civilians. The use of cluster bombs, a type of weapon that often causes indiscriminate harm and can continue to explode after the end of a conflict, is also prohibited for nations that ratify the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Meanwhile, Assad’s army is beginning to weaken, according to international observers. As fronts multiply, rebels found ways to disrupt the supply chains for the military, including blocking the highway between Damascus and Aleppo. Assad’s opponents also claim to have shot down one of the army’s helicopters using a ground-to-air missile for the first time.

Rice Fails to Convince GOP Senators on Benghazi Debacle

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice told three Republican senators she had no intention of misleading the American public about the nature of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11 of this year. Her meeting with Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Kelly Ayotte failed to convince them, however. “We are significantly troubled by many of the answers that we got, and some that we didn’t get,” said McCain, who has criticized Rice over the incident. A few days after the assault that caused the death of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three American members of his staff, Rice described it incorrectly as the consequence of a spontaneous protest rather than a planned terrorist attack, a statement she said was based on the intelligence made available to her at the time. Rice is a top candidate to replace Hillary Clinton as U.S. Secretary of State for President Barack Obama’s second term. “I wouldn’t vote for anybody being nominated out of the Benghazi debacle until I had answers about what happened that I don’t have today,” Graham said.

France Will Recognize Palestinian Statehood

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said today France will back the Palestinian Authority’s bid for statehood at a key vote at the United Nations later this week. Fabius said the nation will vote yes to non-member status “out of a concern for coherency,” as France has long supported statehood. The U.K. is also ready to back the bid, on the condition that Palestinian Authority Leader Mahmoud Abbas vows not to pursue Israel for war crimes and agrees to resume peace talks. Senior Palestinian officials said it was in the interest of Europe and the U.S. to support statehood, as not doing so would give Hamas, a militant group that rules the Gaza strip, legitimacy, sending the message that violence is the way to resolve the conflict, rather than diplomacy. The Palestinian Authority rules the West Bank.

U.S. Courts Take on Gay “Conversion Therapy”

Trials in New Jersey and California will challenge gay conversion therapy, which claims to rid men of homosexual urges, for the first time in the U.S. In New Jersey, four gay men and former clients are suing their therapists for deceptive practices under the state’s Consumer Fraud Act, claiming they were made to submit to degrading acts only to be told it was their fault they didn’t change. In California, therapists are seeking to block a new law that prohibits conversion therapy for minors, claiming it infringes on privacy, free speech and freedom of religion. While the American Psychiatric Association (APA) stopped defining homosexuality as a disorder in the 1970s, some conservatives and religious fundamentalists continue to treat it as such. Scientific evidence has led the APA to say not only that conversion therapy isn’t effective, but that it causes “depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior” and “reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient.”

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