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Friday, August 16, 2013

Egyptian ‘Day of Anger’ Turns Violent

Supporters of ousted Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi defied emergency orders from the country’s military and took to the streets of the country’s major cities on Friday to mark a “day of anger”. The army deployed armoured vehicles in the capital and around northern cities, increasing tensions with the protesters. “Sooner or later I will die. Better to die for my rights than in my bed. Guns don’t scare us anymore. It’s not about the Brotherhood, it’s about human rights,” said Sara Ahmed, a 28-year-old business manager. Witnesses reported four dead in Cairo and another 12 in northern cities, with most being killed by gunshot wounds. Meanwhile, a video circulated by Cairo-based journalists showed protesters jumping off a bridge in the city to avoid the crowds and gunfire, falling onto the street below.

NSA Broke Privacy Rules Thousands of Times

Documents revealed by The Washington Post on Thursday revealed that the US National Security Agency broke privacy rules thousands of times since being granted broad powers by Congress in 2008. Most infractions involved the surveillance of Americans or foreigners in the US, which is prohibited. An NSA audit obtained by the newspaper from US intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden shows that there were 2,776 incidents in the year up to May 2012 of unauthorised “collection, storage, access to or distribution of legally protected communications”, some of which were due to mistakes by NSA staff, such as confusing the area code for Washington D.C. (202) for the international dialing code for Egypt (20). In response to the Post’s findings, the NSA said it attempted to identify problems “at the earliest possible moment, implement mitigation measures wherever possible, and drive the numbers down”.

Ecuador Approves Amazon Oil Drilling

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa announced on Friday that his government will open up part of the country’s rainforest to oil drilling after he could not persuade rich nations to back a conservation plan that would have paid the country not to explore the area. The initiative had been launched in 2007 and aimed to protect the Yasuni basin, in the Amazon rainforest, with the receipt of some US$3.6 billion from the international community, half the value of the oil thought to be in the area. “I have signed the executive decree for the liquidation of the Yasuni-ITT trust fund and through it, end the initiative”, said Correa during a televised address. ITT refers to the oil blocks in the region: Ishpingo, Tambococha and Tiputini.

China to Phase Out Harvesting Organs from Executed Inmates

Huang Jiefu, the official in charge of China’s transplant programme, said the country would end the practice of taking organs from executed prisoners from November and would adopt a nationwide voluntary donor system. By the end of 2012, about 64% of transplanted organs in China came from executed inmates. The figure has dropped to under 54% this year, according to Huang. “I am confident that before long, all accredited hospitals will forfeit the use of prisoner organs”, he said. A potential problem is that a trial run for the country’s voluntary system showed very few people were willing to donate organs, with only 659 people at 164 participating hospitals donating 1,804 organs. Some Chinese do not believe their organs will be used in the right way. “I am not sure whether the organs will be used on the people who need them”, said a young Chinese woman.

Man With Learning Difficulties Ordered to Have a Vasectomy

A man with learning difficulties has been ordered by a UK court to undergo a vasectomy because he could not make that choice himself and that he could suffer “psychological harm” if he fathered another child. The man, a 36-year-old identified only as DE, had a child with a long-term girlfriend that also suffers from learning difficulties in 2010. The child is taken care of by his maternal grandmother because DE, who has a mental age of between six and nine, cannot take parental responsibility. “In my judgment it is overwhelmingly in DE’s best interests to have a vasectomy. That being said the court does not make such an order lightly, conscious as it is that for the court to make an order permitting the lifelong removal of a person’s fertility for non-medical reasons requires strong justification”, said Mrs Justice Eleanor King.

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