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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Political Wing of the FARC Re-Instated

Colombia’s top administrative court has re-instated the political wing of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The Patriotic Union (UP) was first established in 1985 during an ultimately unsuccessful round of peace talks with the administration of then President Belisario Betancourt, more than two decades after the FARC began it’s civil war against the Colombian state. But the party was banned in 2002 after it failed to present an adequate number of candidates. Yesterday’s ruling reflects an acknowledgment of mitigating circumstances that prevented the UP from fielding candidates, namely that more than 3,000 UP members and candidates were slain by various right wing paramilitary groups, often with tacit government approval.

Arrest Order Issued for Muslim Brotherhood Leader

Egyptian state prosecutors have issued an order for the arrest of Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie. Badie is wanted in connection with a burst of violence on Monday which saw at least 50 people slain when a sit-in in front of an army barracks turned violent. A number of other senior MB members have been taken into custody since the Egyptian army ousted Mohammed Morsi from power, including Morsi himself. According to Badr Abdul Atti, a spokesperson for the Egyptian foreign ministry, Morsi is being held in an undisclosed location, “For his own safety and for the safety of the country, it is better to keep him in a safe place. Otherwise, the consequences will be dire.”

Terrifying Rainstorms Plague West China

The worst rainstorms in 50 years have deluged vast swaths of southwest China. Flooding there has already triggered landslides that have buried scores and washed out bridges vital to emergency responders. According to Chinese state media, more than 50 people have died due to rain-related incidents since the rains began last weekend. The worst damage seems to have occurred in the Sichuan city of Dujiangyan, where a mountain sloughed mud and debris, destroying at least 11 homes. Hundreds of others remain trapped in a tunnel under the mountain highway connecting that city to Wenchaun.

Floodwaters have entirely subsumed the city of Qushan, where a memorial to the victims of the 2008 earthquake, which contains the entombed remains of hundreds whose bodies were never recovered from the rubble, is now 23 feet under water. The Oriental Morning Post, urged the government to better protect the memorial area, “If we don’t take effective measures,” the editorial said, “in another 10 or 20 years the ruins might not be there at all.”

Greek Unions Announce Strike

Greek unions, eager to oppose a newly announced round of austerity measures brought on by the Greek administration’s promises to the European Troika, have called for a general strike on the 16th. “Let the government and the troika finally understand that we are people and we won’t become numbers,” said a General Confederation of Greek Workers statement which called for the fourth general strike this year. Despite the often crippling strikes, the Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ administration shows no sign of deviating from its quest to secure the first installment of a $8.7 billion aid deal from the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Local government employees have also staged occupations of city buildings to protest the planned wage cuts and layoffs. By the end of this year, a large percentage of police officers, school janitors, and teachers will be laid off, while another 12,500 public sector employees will be given reduced pay for 8 months and then terminated.

Congress Considers National Space Park

U.S. Representative Donna Edwards has introduced a bill to Congress which would establish the Apollo Lunar Landing Sites National Historical Park on the Moon. The selenic park would be the first extra-terrestrial historical park, and it is not clear that Congress has the authority to establish its historic preservation. The U.S. is party to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which dictates, “Outer space and celestial bodies are not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.” The authors of the bill mean to fortify “the Apollo lunar landing sites for posterity” from encroachment by commercial enterprises and nations that are not signatories to the OST. Currently there are a number of Terran artifacts on the Moon’s surface that would be preserved should this bill be enacted.

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