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Monday, July 8, 2013

U.S. to Continue Force Feeding Despite Onset of Ramadan

Lawyers for the U.S. government announced that the current practice of force feeding inmates at Guantánamo Bay would continue, despite the beginning of Ramadan. The ninth month in the Hijri calendar begins today, with it comes the traditional Sawm; during daylight hours adherents are to abstain from food, drink, vomiting, and sex. At least 40 inmates are currently subjected to force feeding twice a day. U.S. officials have made adjustments to the schedule so that feedings would take place pre-dawn or after sunset, in accord with Ramadan tradition.

Islamic leaders and human rights activist world-wide have condemned the force feedings; Ibrahim Hooper, of the Council On American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said, “We believe it’s wrong to force feed at any time but it is particularly upsetting to do it through Ramadan.” After documents describing the precise force feeding procedure in use at the U.S. prison were uncovered, rapper Yasiin Bey unsuccessfully attempted to undergo the procedure to highlight its inhumanity.

Violence in Egypt Continues, SCAF Begins Second Term

At least 51 Egyptians were killed, and more than 400 others were injured in what has been Egypt’s bloodiest day in recent history. Just after dawn, hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood members participating in a sit-in protest were fired upon, as they knelt in a main thoroughfare outside of the Republican Guard headquarters in Cairo. It’s unclear as to whether the army, a sub-sect of the MB protestors, or a third-party instigated the firefight; but fighting quickly escalated from stones and tear gas to bullets and molotov cocktails.

Following this morning’s violence, presumptive Egyptian Vice President, Mohamed ElBaradei, called for an independent investigation, and tweeted, “Violence begets violence and should be strongly condemned.” While Al Nour, the only Islamic party to back Mohamed Morsi’s ouster, has announced that it has suspended its support for the SCAF created interim government.

More than 40 others were killed this weekend nation wide, as Egypt comes to grips with rapidly shifting political realities.

Czech Republic to File Charges Against Former PM

As part of a vast investigation into graft, prosecutors in the Czech Republic have asked Parliament to strip former Prime Minister Petr Necas of immunity from prosecution. Despite coming to power on promises of dealing with corruption and nepotism, Necas resigned from office last month after his chief of staff, Jana Nagyova, was charged with bribery. Nagyova also ordered the Czech intelligence community to spy on Necas’ wife in order to gain material for divorce proceedings. Nagyova and Nagas are believed to have offered lucrative posts at state-owned companies to three members of Parliament who opposed a government austerity plan.

Necas denies the offers were bribes, calling them “political agreements”. “On top of that,” he said in a statement, “there was no agreement on offering posts in return for parliamentary resignations. Therefore it is not clear to me what I should be charged with.”

Prosecutor Ivo Istvan disagrees. “If a member of Parliament does not act in the public interest in order to be awarded a state job, we can speak about political corruption,” Istvan went on, “we need to ask if Parliament is a place where parliamentarians vote according to their conscience or according to what it can buy them.”

Search for Train Crash Survivors Continues

A runaway train derailed and exploded near Nantes, Quebec this weekend, killing at least five people. Forty others are missing after the train’s air brakes were disabled by an engine fire and the train slid down a hill and careened into the center of Lac-Megantic, near Maine.

The train was carrying roughly 2 million gallons of crude oil, some of which was consumed in the explosion. But toxic vapors and an extremely explosive environment have prevented police from beginning search and rescue effort. According to police spokesman Benoit Richard, the spilled oil “is still extremely risky… The fire service decided they could not allow us to go there for security reasons.”

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