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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Egypt’s Rushed Constitution May Worsen Problems, Opposition Says

In a move to quell unrest caused by a decree that gives Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi sweeping powers until a parliament is formed and a constitution approved, the nation’s constitutional assembly announced today it may be able to present a final draft tomorrow. While the Muslim Brotherhood, the political movement that propelled Morsi to power earlier this year, sees it as a way to end the crisis, opponents fear a rushed document may worsen the problems in Egypt. They have consistently criticized the 100-member assembly, voicing concern that conservative Muslims may be attempting to impose their views on the country. A number of court cases calling for its dissolution have called into question its legitimacy, and its popularity has been hit as both conservative and liberal members resigned. The Muslim Brotherhood hopes to submit the new constitution to a referendum, as they believe they can rally the majority’s support.

Tunisia: at Least 200 People Injured in Riots

At least 200 people were injured in Tunisia as people marching for jobs clashed with the police. Tunisians gathered in Siliana, an economically-deprived city 129 kilometers (80 miles) south of Tunis, asking for more government investment in the area, the resignation of the region’s governor, and the liberation of 14 imprisoned activists. This is the most violent incident since September, when protests against a U.S.-made anti-Muslim video caused four deaths in the nation. Tunisia is the country that sparked the Arab Spring in early 2011, when a young man burned himself to death to protest the way he was treated by the police.

Israel Loses Ground on Palestinian Statehood

Facing growing support among Western nations for Palestinian statehood, Israel’s stance on the bid shifted from threatening to dismissive. A key vote at the United Nations tomorrow is expected to grant Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas his wish for the “entity” to be recognized as a non-member observer state. Israel initially threatened to end the Israeli-Palestinian peace accord and attack the Palestinian Authority in a failed attempt to dissuade it from pursuing the bid. Israel then hoped to count on the backing of major world powers, but France announced this week it would support the bid, soon followed by Switzerland, Ireland, Norway, Denmark, Spain, and Greece, among others. The U.K. also said it would consider backing Abbas, under certain conditions. The U.S. maintained its position, arguing that the only way to statehood is at the negotiating table with Israel. Israel’s position is now to downplay the effects of the resolution. “It will in no way affect the realities on the ground,” said Israeli Government Spokesman Mark Regev. Both Israelis and Palestinians believed the recent conflict in Gaza gave legitimacy to the Palestinian Authority, which has sought to find a political solution to the issue, contrary to Hamas, which has favored violent military action.

Irish Parliament Votes “No” on Abortion Bill

The Dáil, as the Irish parliament is known, voted today 101 to 27 to defeat a bill that intended to reform the most restrictive abortion legislation in the developed world. The bill, introduced by Clare Daly of the United Left Alliance, aimed to provide a legal framework for the so-called “X case,” in which the Irish Supreme Court ruled that a woman has a right to an abortion if her life is in danger, including if she has suicidal thoughts as a result of the unwanted pregnancy. The debate on legislation became all the more urgent because a woman died last month after being denied an abortion on religious grounds in the Catholic nation. A report published yesterday by a team of experts presented a proposal for reform in Ireland, whose laws do not comply with the guidelines of the European Court of Human Rights, which recently reaffirmed access to abortion is part of women’s rights (the court also found Ireland to be in breach of such rights two years ago). The issue in Ireland is complicated by the fact that improving access to abortion would go against the country’s Eighth Constitutional Amendment, which places a ban on abortion, effectively making Daly’s bill unconstitutional.

Gastric Bypass Is New Hope in Fight Against Type 2 Diabetes

Gastric bypass, a surgical procedure that reduces the size of the stomach, has become one of the best weapons in the fight against type 2 diabetes, an illness that afflicts 25 million people in the U.S. and cost the nation $174 billion in 2007. Traditionally used to help obese patients lose weight by reducing the intake of nutrients and promoting satiety, it has been shown to trigger remission in about 85 percent of type 2 diabetes patients who undergo the operation. Normal treatment for the illness includes a healthier diet and a more active lifestyle, a regimen few patients seem to be able to stick to. But with 200,000 operations a year in the U.S., bariatric surgery (as this type of procedure is known) represents a new hope in the fight against a disease that is a leading cause of blindness in adults under 75, kidney failure and loss of limbs.

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