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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

‘Extremely High’ Security Threat Level in Yemen

Unprecedented security measures are being taken around Yemen, especially in the capital of Sanaa, where hundreds of armored military vehicles, tanks and troops have been deployed to protect multiple possible targets of terror attacks, including government offices, foreign installations, and the Bab al-Mandeb straits, which lead to the Red Sea.

Yemeni intelligence services have discovered that dozens of al-Qaeda members have arrived in Sanaa over the past few days, most likely to take part in implementing a major attack. Meanwhile, Interpol released a separate global security alert, citing the al-Qaeda jailbreaks that had freed “hundreds of terrorists” across 9 countries, including Iraq, Libya and Pakistan.

Today, a drone strike killed four suspected al-Qaeda members, while militants shot down a Yemeni military helicopter, killing eight. The U.K. has evacuated all of its personnel; the U.S. has evacuated all “nonessential” personnel.

Bodies Are Being Found Near Rallies in Egypt

Egyptian authorities said that nearly a dozen bodies have been discovered close to Cairo’s two pro-Morsi sit-ins, but there is a debate over who killed them and why. Some, Amnesty International included, say they have eyewitness testimony that pro-Morsi groups have been torturing and killing members of rival groups. The protesters, however, deny having killed anyone.

Given the slew of less credible accusations being thrown at the protesters (e.g. they are not Egyptian), it is possible that the torture claims are state propaganda (none have been caught on film).  Nevertheless, a clear pattern has emerged in the victims – many are vendors, seized after protesters clashed with the police.  Pro-Morsi demonstrators have long believed that many vendors are simply police spies. When one woman went to the sit-in to look for her son, who had gone to sell water and had never come home, she was told “He was a thug.”

Obesity Rates Drop Among Young Children

From 2008-2011, the obesity rate among 2- to 4-year-old children from poor families dropped across 19 states. This is significant, as children from low-income families suffer some of the highest rates of obesity in America. The report released today from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is the latest to find a decline in obesity among school-age children.

The drop in obesity rates, however, remains concentrated among white, middle- and upper-class children and was not consistent across the country. Additionally, the cause of the decline remains unknown, with theories ranging from an increase in breastfeeding to fewer calories in drinks, to greater parental awareness of the risks associated with childhood obesity.

Killing of Soldiers Puts India-Pakistan Peace Talks in Jeopardy

Five Indian soldiers were killed in an attack along the disputed border of India-administered Kashmir. India initially blamed the attack on Pakistani troops, but later said it was perpetrated by “terrorists” who were accompanied by “persons in Pakistani army uniforms.”

Pakistan rejected the accusations, saying no fire had been exchanged along the heavily militarized border, which has already been the cause of two wars between the countries.  The incident has come just days after Pakistan proposed restarting peace talks with India. Pakistan’s foreign minister emphasized this country’s commitment to those talks as well as to the 2003 ceasefire agreement.

Today, In Depressing Anniversaries

Japan marked the 68th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and pledged to work toward the elimination of nuclear weapons. Speaking at the commemorative ceremony, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that as the only country to ever have faced a nuclear attack, it is Japan’s duty.

Hundreds of mourners gathered at a candlelight vigil at the Wisconsin Sikh temple where six worshipers were massacred one year ago by a white supremacist.

It has been 12 years to the day since George W. Bush ignored the daily briefing entitled, “Bin Laden Determined To Strike In U.S.”

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