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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

U.S. Government Shuts Down

Approximately 800,000 federal workers will be furloughed and more than a million others may be forced to work without pay, as a rash of last-ditch efforts by politicians in Washington D.C. failed to prevent a government shutdown. Such shutdowns are not new, in fact the U.S. government has shut down 18 times: six times in the politically fractious 1970s alone, but this is the first time since the Clinton Administration. Republicans in the House of Representatives had attempted to tie the federal budget to a delay in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, but the Democrat-controlled Senate, backed by the Obama administration, balked at such provisos. The law itself is already three years old and has survived a presidential election and a Supreme Court challenge. As politicians proved unable to avoid the impasse, some expressed frustrations. Republican Representative Devin Nunes quipped, “it’s moronic to shut down the government over this.”

Tunisian Government Steps Down to Prevent Political Deadlock

The mildly conservative Islamist governing party in Tunisia, Ennahda, has agreed to step down after weeks of political deadlock with its opposition. Ennahda will hand over executive power to an independent caretaker government, which will lead the country through a new set of elections next spring. Leaders of Ennahda decided to step down despite resistance from some of its members, as they believe Tunisia’s transition to democracy can succeed only with full political consensus. Tunisia’s former foreign minister Rafik Abdessalam, agreed saying that while Ennahda “is being described as the party of concessions,” he said. “We are not ashamed of these concessions because they are needed by Tunisia and to secure our democratic experience so that Tunisia can reach a safe shore.”

Venezuela Ejects U.S. Diplomats

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced the expulsion of the top U.S. diplomat in the country, and two others, for inciting “acts of sabotage”. The Venezuelan president to the television to announce, “We detected a group of U.S. embassy officials dedicated to meeting the far-right and to financing and encouraging acts of sabotage against the electrical system and Venezuela’s economy.” Maduro gave Kelly Keiderling, the U.S. chargé d’affaires (the senior American diplomat in Venezuela because the United States has no ambassador to the country), Elizabeth Hunderland, and David Mutt 48 hours to leave the country. Opposition leader Henrique Capriles characterized the charges as “pure smoke“.

Woman Stabbed by Mob in Myanmar

As Thein Sein, President of Myanmar, toured the restive Rakhine province, a mob of roughly 800 Buddhists in Thandwe set nearly 100 house ablaze, despite a massive security presence in the city. According to police spokesperson Kyaw Naing, a 94-year-old woman died from stab wounds inflicted by the sword-wielding mob. President Thein Sein spoke to local elders in the state’s Kyauktaw township, saying, “Just military and police control is not enough. These burnings, killings and violence will cease only when you yourselves play a part in controlling this.” Sectarian clashes between Rohingya Muslims and Buddhists have claimed the lives of more than 237 people. Thousands of houses have been destroyed and hundreds of thousands have fled the violence.

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