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Friday, September 20, 2013

Tunisian Government Knew Opposition Politicians Would Be Assassinated

According to the Tunisian Interior Minister Lotfi Ben Jeddou, the Tunisian government had been warned by the CIA months before a brace of assassination plunged the country into political turmoil. Opposition parliamentarian Mohamed Brahmi, who was often vocal in his criticisms of the ruling conservative Ennahda party, was gunned down in front of his wife and daughter this past July; thousands of people took to the streets to demand justice in the ensuing days. The suspected assassins responsible for the death of Chokri Belaid a few months earlier, were quickly apprehended, after that attack caused outcry so vigorous Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali was forced to resign.

Jeddou’s office explained that despite the forewarning, there had been a “failure” in the security services’ response. The minister has launched an investigation.

Venezuelan Prison Gang War Claims Sixteen

Sixteen people have been killed in Maracaibo’s Sabaneta prison in western Venezuela since Monday. Fifteen of those perished in the latest skirmish in a year-long prison gang war, which has already claimed 69 people since January. According to Venezuelan Prison Observatory‘s Humberto Prado, the inmates were beheaded or otherwise dismembered.

Sabaneta prison has long been known for its brutal and deadly environs. In 1994, inmates started a fire in an adjoining cell block that killed more than 100 people. The prison was built to house 700 inmates, but currently holds approximately 3,700. Prado estimates that nearly 80 percent of prisons in Venezuela are run by armed inmates, over which the nation’s police and security focus have little control.

AQAP Hits Yemeni Military Bases

Militants allied with al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) used heavy fog in the southern Yemeni province of Shabwa to strike security forces at three military and Central Security posts earlier today. According to Yemeni security forces, 38 people were kissing in the attacks, which come days after authorities had suggested more militant attacks were imminent. Today’s strikes were the largest since a U.S.-backed military offensive routed al-Qaeda forces last year, impeding their ability to control the large swaths of territory they’d held since the battle of Zinjibar in 2011. The attacks belie government claims that AQAP has been dealt with and gives credence to suggestions that the military in its current form is largely outmoded.

Sister Stang’s Killer Imprisoned

Brazilian rancher Vitalmiro Bastos de Moura has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for commissioning the 2005 slaying of environmentalist Sister Dorothy Stang. The Brazilian Supreme Court had previously overturned a similar sentence for Moura, due to procedural improprieties, but the rancher has now exhausted his final appeal.

Sister Stang, an ardent supporter of indigenous land rights, was shot six times in Anapu, Pará, in the Amazon Basin of Brazil, by two hired assassins as she recited verses from the bible. The gunmen and another rancher, Regivaldo Pereira Galvão, were sentenced in 2010 to more than 25 years in prison each. Regivaldo Galvão and one of the gunman have since been released.

Weekend Read: Why Is Zambia So Poor?

Zambia is not like other poor african countries. It has no dictators, no child soldiers, no widespread crime or violence, yet more than half its population lives on $1 per day. Why? Michael Hobbes inquires in Pacific Standard.

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