Egypt’s Morsi Calls in Army, Withdraws Decree
As protests continued in Egypt, President Mohamed Morsi revoked on Sunday most of the provisions contained in a November 22 decree that gave him sweeping powers until the ratification of a Constitution for the country. Contrary to his opponents’ demands, however, he refused to delay a contested referendum on a draft for the nation’s new legislative framework. He also signed a new decree giving the army the temporary power to arrest civilians in order to preserve the voting process on Saturday. Opposition groups, which called for more protests, were still discussing whether to call for a boycott of the referendum or a “no” vote on a Constitution draft they see as an effort to impose an Islamic vision on their diverse nation.
Italy’s Monti Resigns as Berlusconi Announces Political Comeback
Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Monti announced over the weekend he will resign early after his predecessor, the disgraced Silvio Berlusconi, said he will return to politics and Berlusconi’s party withdrew its support from Monti’s policies. Berlusconi, who is being tried for having sex with an underage prostitute, said he reluctantly decided to run for a fifth term because the measures created by Monti’s government were sure to send Italy into a recession. European leaders rushed to urge the next government to maintain Monti’s direction. Spanish Finance Minister Luis de Guindos warned that debt problems in Italy could spill over into Spain. “Italy can’t stall at two-thirds of the reform process,” said German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle. “That wouldn’t cause turbulence for just Italy, but also for Europe.” Elections will take place in February.
Israel May Be Behind Leaks on Iran Nuclear Program
Israel may be behind a series of leaks on the details of an investigation by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) into Iran’s nuclear program, according to Western officials. Israel’s intention may have been to increase international pressure on Iran to stop its uranium-enrichment activities, but the officials say the leaks may have compromised the investigation itself. A report by the IAEA published in November triggered a new set of sanctions against Iran in the European Union (EU) and the U.S. The leaks, which analysts say betray Israel’s impatience with the international community’s attitude towards Iran, make it even more difficult for IAEA inspectors to access information and communicate with Iranian officials. “Whoever did this has undermined the IAEA’s credibility and made it harder for it to do its work,” said David Albright, a nuclear expert at the Institute for Science and International Security.
Russia Retaliates on U.S. Human Rights Legislation
Russia’s parliament proposed today a bill to forbid entry to the country to Americans who violate the rights of Russian citizens. This is in retaliation to a piece of legislation that passed the U.S. Senate last week that would prohibit Russian human rights abuser from entering American territory. “The American initiators (…) must understand that their actions contradict the tasks of deepening the collaboration between Russia and the United States,” said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Both bills include provisions to freeze the assets of those under suspicion. The “Magnitsky Act,” which U.S. President Barack Obama said he would sign into law, arose after the 2009 death in prison of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who became a symbol among those who criticize Russia’s government.
New Treatment for Leukemia Uses HIV Cells to Reset Immunity
A seven-year-old girl who suffered from lymphoblastic leukemia has been in complete remission for seven months after a novel treatment “rebooted” her immune system to fight cancer cells. This new type of gene therapy, developed by the University of Pennsylvania, uses deactivated HIV (the virus responsible for AIDS) cells to transport cancer-killing genes into T-cells that were previously removed from the patient’s blood. The modified T-cells are then reintroduced, and they multiply to attack B-cells, which become malignant when cancer strikes. When the process begins, the patient struggles with intense fever and chills, symptoms that must be managed so that they won’t cause death. This finding could open new avenues for drug research and the Swiss company Novartis has promised to invest $20 million on a research center at the University.