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Friday, January 4, 2013

Fatah Holds First Rally in Gaza since 2007

Hamas allowed supporters of rival organization Fatah to celebrate it 48th anniversary in Gaza for the first time since 2007, when Hamas ousted Fatah after a 2006 election. This comes a month after Hamas supporters celebrated the birth of their movement in the Fatah-led West Bank. The moves suggest a reconciliation between the two factions of the Palestinian cause, possibly accelerated by the United Nations’ implicit recognition of the Palestinian Authority’s statehood in November. Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in Gaza, carrying Fatah’s yellow flags and photographs of Mahmoud Abbas, their leader. While Fatah has been committed to finding a political solution to the conflict with Israel, Hamas has favored violence, earning it the label of terrorist group by the U.S. and other western countries. “Hamas and Fatah are no longer inciting against each other, Hamas and Fatah are no longer accusing each other, but the big issues have not been tackled yet,” Mkhaimar Abusada, a political scientist at Al Azhar University in Gaza City, told the New York Times.

Sunni Protests in Iraq Pose Problem for Shi’ite Government

Thousands of protests continued in Iraq as the nations’ Sunnis rose against Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki‘s Shi’ite government. The demonstrators demanded the release of Sunni prisoners and an end to policies they see as sectarian. “We will never relent. Enough of Sunnis living in Iraq like outsiders. This time it’s do or die for us,” said Tribal Leader Jamal Adham. The situation is potentially explosive for Maliki as the civil war in neighboring Syria, where the insurgency is led by Sunnis, could spill over and destabilize his government. While there is real frustration among Iraqi Sunnis, Islamic leaders are pushing for an autonomous Sunni enclave to be created in Iraq, similar to the Kurdish region in the north of the country, Sunnis and Kurds have said.

U.S. Congress Passes $9.7 Billion Aid for Sandy

The U.S. Congress passed today a $9.7 billion aid bill for the victims of Hurricane Sandy in northeastern states, three days after the Republican-led House scrapped a much larger $60.4 billion package approved by the Senate last week. The delay in vote caused anger among local elected officials, including Republicans Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey and U.S. Representative Peter King of Long Island. The legislation adopted, which is the least controversial portion of the package, will help cover insurance claims by people whose homes were lost or damaged in the storm. Speaker of the House John Boehner said the remaining $50.7 billion will be put to a vote on January 15.

U.S. Economy Adds Jobs, Not Enough to Accelerate Recovery

The U.S. economy added 155,000 jobs in December while the unemployment rate held steady at 7.8 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said today. While the number of new hires was higher than economists expected in the midst of fiscal talks, it lends credence to projections for a slow, two-percent economic expansion in 2013. It is also not enough for the U.S. Federal Reserve will be in a position to reverse its asset-buying program, despite indications that some members of the central bank’s Governing Council have raised questions about its effect on the financial market. Still, the U.S. has completed its third year of job gains, and the report shows higher-than-expected wage increases and a longer workweek, suggesting more consumer spending in months to come.

Church of England Says Gay Clergy May Become Bishops

The Church of England (CofE) said today gay clergy in civil partnerships may become bishops, so long as they remain abstinent. The move is sure to incense traditionalists as the issue has been the subject of contentious debate since 2003, and evangelical Anglicans said they will fight back. In 2005, the CofE agreed to ordain celibate gay men in civil partnerships as clergy, but stopped short of extending this rule to bishops. The decision was made by the House of Bishop, a small section of the General Synod.

Weekend Read: The Rise of DIY Abortions

With the increase in anti-abortion policies across the U.S. and the availability of abortion drugs online, the number of pregnancies terminated at home has almost certainly risen. What are the medical and legal risks? In The New Republic.

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