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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Egypt Faces “State Collapse” if Unrest Continues, Sissi Says

A speech given today by Egypt Defense Minister and Head of Military General Abdel Fattah al-Sissi raised concerns that the unrest led by opponents of President Mohamed Morsi could create enough instability to justify a military intervention. “The continuing conflict between political forces and their differences concerning the management of the country could lead to a collapse of the state and threaten future generations,” Sissi said as he spoke before a group military cadets. The tension “could lead to grave repercussions if the political forces do not act.” His words came after a major military deployment in three cities around the Suez Canal where Morsi declared a month-long state of emergency, imposing curfews that have thus far been defied by opposition protests. Riots have killed at least 52 people and injured hundreds more in the past few days. Sissi, who was appointed by Morsi, affirmed the army will continue to be “a solid and cohesive block” to support the state.

Syria: At Least 65 Bodies Recovered in Aleppo

The bodies of at least 65 men and boys were recovered near Aleppo, Syria’s northern commercial capital, according to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and a group of rebels on the ground. Captain Abu Sada, of the Free Syrian Army later said bodies were still being pulled out of the mud and the count, adding there could be more than 100 bodies in total. The victims’ hands were bound as all died of a single shot in the back of the head or neck. Insurgent blamed the regime of Bashar a-Assad while the government said the massacre was the doing of the Al Nusra Front, a group affiliated to Al Qaeda. The news comes as the United Nations (U.N.) said the number of Syrian refugees soared to 712,000, many of whom fled to neighboring nations, overwhelming camps in Jordan and Lebanon. The U.N. called for more donations yesterday, warning it may not be able to help the millions of victims this 22-month civil war has made.

Obama Backs Immigration Reform Plan

In a speech given at a high school in Nevada, U.S. President Barack Obama welcomed a plan for immigration reform presented yesterday by a bipartisan group of eight Senators. Obama also urged Congress to “get this done soon,” before the debate becomes overly “emotional.” Obama also gave indications that there may already be points of divergence. While Republicans understand an overhaul will be imperative to ingratiate themselves with Hispanic voters, the path to citizenship is conditional to increased border security. For Obama, citizenship is the priority. While he made no mention of it, the White House has also proposed that same-sex couples be treated as heterosexual couples in the process to obtain visas. Should immigration reform pass Congress, economists predict it will boost economic growth as newcomers created companies, pay taxes, and seek housing.

Israel Skips U.N. Human Rights Review

Israel became the first country ever to boycott a United Nations (U.N.) review of its human rights standards and practices. Informally notifying the U.N.of its absence in Geneva, where the 193-country University Periodical Review (UPR) was to take place, Israel asked to delay the review, but didn’t request a specific date. While Israel is not a member of the U.N. Council for Human Rights, all U.N. nations are required to participate. Israel reportedly cut its relationship with the council last March after the 47-country body said it would review how Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory infringe on the human rights of Palestinian. After the U.N. implicitly recognized statehood for Palestine in the fall, Israel’s government gave the go-ahead for plan to build even more housing on disputed areas of Jerusalem.

France Opens Debate on “Marriage and Adoption for All” Bill

French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira opened the debate at the French National Assembly for a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage and adoption for same-sex couples. In an impassioned plea, she firmly inscribed the proposal in the country’s long legal and philosophical tradition of liberty, equality, and fraternity, arguing that opening marriage to same-sex couples would only serve to elevate it as a secular institution and ensure that children of these families are protected and recognized. “We speak of hypocrisy for those who refuse to see the families of gays and lesbians and we speak of selfishness for those who imagine that an institution of the Republic would be reserved only for a category of citizens,” Taubira said. Incensed, far-right parties requested that 5,000 amendments be added to bill, including the legalization of incest and polygamy, in an attempt to torpedo the legislation.

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