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Monday, June 17, 2013

Earliest Monsoon on Record Hits Northern India

Dashing hopes that it would boost India’s agricultural sector and slowing economy, the monsoon dumped a record 220 millimeters (8.7 inches) of rain over a 24 hour period, washing away roads and cars and causing flooding, landslides and building collapses. Army and paramilitary troops were leading efforts to rescue people from their rooftops as officials prepared to evacuate those living in the worst-hit districts. 10,000 pilgrims were being helicoptered off a mountain pass after bridges collapsed under landslides, leaving them trapped. At least 26 people are dead and 50 are missing, with casualties expected to rise; it is supposed to keep raining for at least another three days.

Moderate Wins Iranian Presidential Election

President-elect Hassan Rouhani, whose victory prompted nationwide celebrations, promised that his administration would bring moderation back to the forefront of Iranian politics. Among his administration’s top priorities, he listed Iran’s economy, lifting the sanctions against Iran and enhancing “mutual trust” between Iran and the international community. Although he ruled out any halt to Iran’s nuclear program, he promised to increase the program’s transparency and expressed hope that Iran can reach a new agreement with the West through negotiation. Meanwhile, Iran’s outgoing president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, will be summoned to criminal court shortly after he leaves office over unspecified charges lodged by parliament and the parliamentary speaker, Ali Larijani.

Supreme Court Blocks Arizona’s Proof of Citizenship Law

In Monday’s 7-2 majority opinion, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote that the state law was preempted by the federal law that requires states to “accept and use” a federal registration form. The federal form asks “are you a citizen of the United States?” and the prospective voter must  swear under penalty of perjury that they are a citizen.  Under Arizona’s law, the federal form alone was not enough to vote – proof of citizenship was also required in the form of a birth certificate, driver’s license, passport or naturalization papers. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito wrote separate dissenting opinions. This ruling will affect Georgia, Alabama and Kansas – which have similar laws – and prevent any other states from following suit.

Turkey Prepared to Use Armed Forces against Protesters

In a dramatic rhetorical escalation, the government has said it is willing to use the army to quash the protests. This comes on the heels of increasingly violent clashes over the weekend that caused five major unions to call for a one-day strike on Monday in solidarity with the protesters. The protesters included engineers, lawyers, doctors and journalists, many of whom have been targeted by the police over the course of the riots. After being chased from Taksim Square by riot police, the union workers and protesters spread into residential neighborhoods throughout Istanbul and Turkey’s capital, Ankara. Although the protesters grow in popularity, they have yet to seriously threaten Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s domestic position. Countries in the European Union, which Turkey is trying to join, have been overwhelmingly critical, with Chancellor Angela Merkel saying she was “appalled, like many others.”

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