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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Three Female Kurdish Militants Executed in Paris

Three Kurdish women, including a founder of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), a group that is asking for autonomy for the region, were shot and killed in Paris. The event could jeopardize peace talks with Turkey that aimed at ending a decades-long conflict, experts say. Sakine Cansiz, who co-founded the PKK, 28-year-old Fidan Dogan, head of the Kurdish Institute in Paris and a representative of the Kurdistan National Congress, and Leyla Soylemez, 24, a Kurdish activist, were executed at point-blank range outside the Kurdish Information Center, according to Paris Prosecutor Spokeswoman Agnès Thibault-Lecuivre. While Kurds blame Turkey for the killings, Turkey attributed them to PKK infighting. The shootings come days after reports of peace negotiations with Abdullah Ocalan, the imprisoned leader of the PKK. Kurdistan is a geocultural region that spans across Eastern Turkey, Northern Iraq, and Iran. The PKK is labeled as a terrorist group by the U.S., Europe, and Turkey.

Pakistan Bombings Kill At Least 115 People

Explosions all across Pakistan killed at least 115 people and injured over 270 in the city of Quetta in the region of Balochistan, Mingora in the Swat Valley, and the port of Karachi. One of the explosions in Quetta targeted a snooker hall in a Shia neighborhood. The Sunni extremist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed the attack. Earlier, another explosion in the market area that made 11 victims was carried out by the United Baloch Army, a separatist group. In Mingora, authorities initially thought a gas canister exploded at a religious gathering. It was later established a bomb had been detonated, killing at least 21 people and injuring 80.

Aggression Escalates at Kashmir Border

Two days after India blamed Pakistan for the death of two of its soldiers, the Pakistani military said today one of of its combatants was killed by Indian fire in the disputed region of Kashmir. “Pakistan Army soldier, Havildar Mohyuddin, embraced shahadat [martyrdom] due to unprovoked firing by Indian troops at Hotspring sector in Battal at 2:40 p.m. (01:40 a.m. PST) today,” Pakistan’s forces said. Meanwhile, the Pakistani military continued to deny its responsibility in the deaths of the two Indian soldiers. Kashmir, which is the object of a boundary dispute between Pakistan, India, and China, has seen escalation of Indian-Pakistani antagonism at the so-called Line of Control (LOC), a fortified and heavily guarded border. The new incidents threaten to derail progress made on negotiations to appease the two nations’ historically tense relations.

Biden to Offer Gun Control Proposals by Tuesday

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who President Barack Obama put in charge of a task force on gun control, said today he will be ready to present proposals by next Tuesday. “The president is going to act,” Biden said yesterday. “There is executive action that can be taken. We haven’t decided what that is yet.” Biden, who met today with officials of the National Rifle Association (NRA), listed a few ideas that were being considered to decrease gun violence, such as universal background checks upon purchase and a ban on high-capacity magazines. “We were disappointed with how little this meeting had to do with keeping our children safe and how much it had to do with an agenda to attack the Second Amendment,” the pro-gun lobby said in a statement. While the NRA said it attracted 100,000 new members after the school killing in Newtown, over 400,000 people joined anti-illegal gun group Mayors Against Illegal Guns in the same period.

Gun Control Activists Should Learn from Anti-Tobacco, Car Safety Campaigns

Framing gun violence as a public health issue may bolster gun control campaigns, a new study says. Approaching the problem not solely as a question of regulation of gun ownership, but also as a social and cultural issue could help change perceptions and increase safety. “Much can be learned from prior public health successes in changing the prevalence, social norms, and cultures of harmful behaviors,” say authors Dariush Mozaffarian, David Hemenway, and David S. Ludwig, citing specifically the campaigns against tobacco, unintentional poisoning and car safety. Measures like taxation, media and educational outreach, standards, safety mechanisms, mandatory training, and more, could do for guns what they did for cigarettes, which used to be seen as a symbol for power and sexuality and are now perceived as signs of weakness and irrationality.

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