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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Foreign Governments React to New Egyptian Government

More than $8 billion in aid has been sent to Egypt by Gulf states today. While the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood backed-Mohamed Morsi has led to suspicion that the interim government (and its SCAF backers) are anti-Islam, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have sent significant sums of cash and much-needed fuel, in a show of support for the actions of the Egyptian military. The U.S. government has committed to continue its usual $1.5 billion in yearly aid to Egypt, much of which is earmarked for the military.

Hamas, the governing group in the Gaza Strip, has been less effusive. While Morsi’s election brought hope for an open border between Gaza and Egypt, that normalization of relations did not occur. According to one official, “there were only small changes. Now there is this, and the mood in Gaza is very dark. We feel we are stranded.”

Bombing in Busy Mogadishu Market

A bomb concealed in a military truck went off, in Bakara, the main market of Somalia’s capital Mogadishu. Al-Shabaab spokesperson Abdulaziz Abu Musab claimed responsibility for the attack that injured at least five people. The onset of Ramadan led to an above average number of shoppers in Bakara, but decisive action by security forces dispersed the dense crowd. While al-Shabaab was driven from Mogadishu by the African Union two years ago, the rebels are still quite capable of launching attack into the capital. Today’s attack follows an attack on a U.N. facility in Mogadishu that saw 22 people killed, and allegations that the Somali government is in talks with some elements of the rebel group.

Spanish PM Linked to Illicit Payments

Evidence has surfaced linking Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to a Popular Party (PP) slush fund, run by former PP treasurer Luis Barcenas, which took donations from people in the construction industry and distributed cash to party leaders. This weekend Barcenas admitted drafting a ledger that suggested Rajoy, among other officials, received a bevy of payments including two in 1998 for 2.1m pesetas (~$15,000). Earlier this year, El Pais published copies of similar documents, but PP officials denied their authenticity. In publishing its evidence to the contrary, El Mundo wrote, “The Luis Barcenas originals published by El Mundo today pulverize that alibi.”

The Popular Party remains defiant, and “reiterates that it does not know of the notes nor their content, and it does not in any way recognize them as the accounts of this political organization.”

NGOs Entangled in Russian Foreign Agents Law

According to Russian general prosecutor Yuri Y. Chaika, 215 nongovernmental organizations would have run afoul of a new law that requires NGOs to register as foreign agents. Russian President Vladimir Putin has suggested that foreign NGOs are instruments of foreign governments with designs on undermining the Russian political system. Last November, Putin championed the so-called “foreign agents law” which requires all nonprofit enterprises to declare themselves foreign agents if they receive financing from outside of Russia and engage in political activities. Chaika’s report concluded that the 215 organizations had, over the course of the last three years, received roughly 6 billion rubles ($180 million) in donations from abroad. Seventeen organizations received financing through foreign embassies. Chaika said all but 22 NGOs have “either suspended their operations or abandoned foreign financing.”

Last year, several large NGO pledged to resist the new law. Moscow Centre for Prison Reform’s deputy director Natalia Dzyadko, decried the policy, “This is so absurd. We will not be part of this idiocy.” The Russian term for foreign agent does not directly implicate the NGOs in espionage, but does suggest unpatriotic behavior.

New Hypothesis for Earth Core

Scientists at the Complutense University of Madrid have published a paper suggesting a novel understanding of the make up of the Earth’s core. While popular understandings of the core, which is more than 3,000 miles underground, hold that it consists of a solid super dense metal sphere surrounded by a molten layer of minerals, scientists are unable to determine the exact composition of either, nor are they able to explain why seismic vibrations differ when they pass through various parts of the core. Maurizio Mattesini and his colleges have compared seismic data as it passes through different molecular arrangements of iron, and they now propose that the core has two hemispheres, which are distinct in their precise composition. While the study has yet to include the effects of other elements in core, seismologist Arwen Deuss, believes “this is a step in the right direction, directly comparing seismology with mineral physical properties”, and that such methodologies will contribute to a greater understating of the origins of our planet.

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