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Monday, July 8, 2013

Egypt Just Keeps Getting Worse

At least 51 people were killed and hundreds injured when members of the Egyptian army opened fire on a sit-in protesting the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi.

Witness testimony describes the army units standing in front of the Republican Guards’ headquarters firing tear gas and live ammunition over the heads of the protesters, when another unit arrived behind the sit-in. This unit fired indiscriminately into the protesters. Some recall an army officer saying “don’t shoot, don’t shoot”.  He was the first to be shot. The army has said the units were fired upon first as they foiled a ‘terrorist’ attack on the headquarters, claiming that over 200 ‘armed individuals’ had been captured.

The only thing that’s certain is that the likelihood of a peaceful resolution is rapidly diminishing. Opposition leaders called for an independent investigation; the Salafist Nour party suspended negotiations with the government; and the top Muslim cleric who had previously supported the interim government said he might go into seclusion until the bloodshed stops. The Muslim Brotherhood hinted that they may not be able to hold the Islamists back after the massacre, and Islamists immediately proved the Brotherhood correct by calling for an uprising. Meanwhile, 22 members of Al Jazeera’s staff resigned to protest the group’s biased reporting on Egypt.

Leaked Report Details Bin Laden’s ‘Hidden Life,’ Governmental Incompetence

The Abbottabad Commission released its report on the circumstances surrounding the U.S. killing Osama bin Laden, only to have the government suppress it, presumably out of embarrassment. Subsequently leaked to Al Jazeera, the report concludes that bin Laden was able to live in Pakistan undetected for nine years due to the “collective failure” of state military and intelligence authorities, which displayed “routine” incompetence at every level.

The Commission was founded to figure out how the United States could execute a long military mission deep inside Pakistan without the government’s knowledge and why the intelligence community had no idea bin Laden was in Pakistan. It sought to determine whether both failures were due to incompetence or complicity, eventually settling on “culpable negligence.”

For now, in an attempt to sidestep the Freedom of Information Act, all the military files related to the Navy SEAL raid that killed bin Laden have been purged from Defense Department computers and set to the CIA.

Retailers Agree on Plan to Inspect Bangladeshi Garment Factories

In an effort to improve safety standards after the factory collapse that killed over 1,000 people, 70 (mainly European) retailers have signed a code to ensure their factories not only meet minimal fire and safety standards, but also to pay for them to be met. The code is legally binding: the retailers will send the details of what standards must be met to the factories they employ, which will then be inspected in nine months.

Many U.S. companies refused to sign, suggesting a non-binding initiative instead. A group of North American-based retailers will release their proposal Wednesday. While plans were not available, the group claims it includes ”comprehensive and measurable actions.”

After President Obama suspended trade privileges afforded to Bangladesh in June and the EU threatened to follow suit, Bangladesh has promised the EU that it will boost workers rights and inspections. The EU will reallocate funds to aid those disabled by the Rana Plaza collapse, work with Bangladesh to increase the woefully low number of factory inspectors by 200 and pass a new labor law before the end of the year.

Republicans Across the Nation Pass Harsh Anti-Abortion Laws

Despite Wendy Davis’ epic filibuster to prevent the passage of a law containing restrictions largely unpopular with the majority of Texans, it is likely to pass. The proposed abortion legislation would ban abortion at 20 weeks after fertilization and would recognize that the state has a “compelling interest” to protect fetuses in pain. It would require all abortions to be performed in ambulatory surgical centers, even those for which no surgery is involved. The latter point would likely shutter all but five of Texas’ abortion clinics.

In Ohio, Governor John Kasich (R, unsurprisingly) approved a budget that will defund Planned Parenthood, sending the money instead to right wing “crisis pregnancy centers,” defund rape clinics that refer their clients to abortion clinics, force many abortion clinics to close and force women to listen to the fetal heartbeat before being allowed to terminate the pregnancy. Republican governor of Wisconsin Scott Walker (R, also) passed a bill that would force women to unnecessarily have an ultrasound and require their doctors to have admitting privileges in a hospital within 30 miles. Two clinics have already closed their doors.

The ACLU warns that 2013 could be the worst year for reproductive freedom in recent history – states have already enacted over 100 provisions restricting access to reproductive services.

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