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Friday, December 14, 2012

U.S.: Gunman Kills 20 Children at Connecticut Elementary School

Twenty children and six adults died today in Newtown, Connecticut, in a shooting at an elementary school. The suspected gunman, identified by various media reports as Adam Lanza, also died. The 20-something man suffered from Asperger’s syndrome and personality disorder, according to his brother Ryan Lanza, and there is speculation his mother worked at the school as a teacher. As protesters gathered in front of the White House to demand tougher gun control laws and petitions to address the issue accumulated on the White House’s web site, a visibly moved President Barack Obama offered his condolences and promised “meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.” It is not the first time he has promised to work on stricter gun laws, but he has consistently failed to follow through. “The country needs [Obama] to send a bill to Congress to fix this problem,” said New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is also the co-Chair of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. “Calling for ‘meaningful action’ is not enough. We need immediate action.”

Sword Fights and Cars Afire as Demonstrations Continue in Egypt

Protests continued and turned violent in Egypt today as the nation prepared to vote on a Constitution draft backed by President Mohamed Morsi’s Islamic supporters. Morsi’s opponents, in large part the liberal, secular, and Christian communities, held rallies in Cairo, Alexandria, and other cities. Clashes began mostly around Mosques when demonstrators handed out flyers to the faithful as they came in or out for Friday prayers. In Alexandria, rival groups fought with knives, clubs and even swords while a few cars were set afire. Two days ago, the opposition called to vote “no” on the draft Constitution, which they say focuses too much on Sharia law and not enough on rights and freedoms for Egypt’s citizens.

U.S., NATO Deploy Anti-Missile Systems to Turkey

The U.S. will send 400 military personnel and six anti-missile Patriot air defense units to Turkey in order to help strengthen the nation’s forces against a possible spillover of neighboring Syria’s civil war. Turkish authorities have grown concerned that Syria’s army could fire missiles in its direction after Syria’s army bombed rebel positions on the border and fired into Turkish territory, which has now become the home of 100,000 Syrian refugees. The U.S.’ decision was announced today by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta after talks with NATO, and the Patriot systems will be under NATO control.

UBS’ Libor Deal to Include U.S. Charges Against Bankers

The U.S. will bring charges against several bankers at Swiss bank UBS involved with the manipulation of the Tokyo Interbank Offered Rate (Tibor). These would be the first charges filed by the U.S. Department of Justice against individuals in the benchmark rate-rigging scandal that involves the London Interbank Offered Rate and its Japanese and European equivalents. The news comes a day after it was leaked that UBS will probably pay a fine over $1 billion dollars to the U.S. and the U.K. authorities to settle an investigation into its role in the Libor-rigging scandal.

World-Wide Life Expectancy Rises as Malnutrition, Infectious Illnesses Recede

Life expectancy rose around the world in the past 20 years as malnutrition and contagious illnesses receded, a new study shows. The researchers, whose reports were published in The Lancet, pored through censuses, death certificates, records from hospitals and police stations to identify the causes of death and study life expectancy since 1970. They found that initiatives against infectious diseases have been effective and should be maintained, but deaths from chronic, non-contagious illnesses such as diabetes and cancer are on the rise.

Weekend Read: Battleground Law

In the wake of Trayvon Martin’s death earlier this year, Jill Lepore wrote on U.S. gun laws. In The New Yorker.

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