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Monday, October 7, 2013

Protests, Clashes and Attacks Continue in Egypt

Dozens of people were killed, hundreds injured and hundreds arrested yesterday, as pro-Morsi protesters clashed with the police on the 40th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War. The Anti-Coup Alliance called for more demonstrations this week – specifically, on Tuesday – to protest “these continuing massacres.”

Today saw three attacks against state targets: unidentified gunmen killed six soldiers in a drive-by shooting in Ismailia; a suicide car bomb struck the security headquarters in El-Tor; and assailants fired a rocket-propelled grenade through a Cairo satellite station that broadcasts state television. North of Cairo, police arrested 38 Muslim Brotherhood members carrying molotov cocktails, fireworks and masks.

Russia to Monitor ‘All Communications’ during Sochi Olympics

The Winter Olympics will feature some of the “most invasive and systematic spying and surveillance in the history of the Games.” Russia’s FSB security service plans to ensure that no communication – by athletes or spectators – goes unmonitored. Newly-installed technology will allow the FSB to internet any telephone or data traffic and even search for specific words and phrases in e-mails or on social media. In an effort to prevent the violence in Chechnya from spilling over into nearby Sochi, Russia has also banned meetings and limited movements around Sochi for one month before and one month after the Games.

At the launch for the Olympic torch relay, President Vladimir Putin claimed the Games will display Russia’s “respect for equality and diversity,” apparently not taking into account the country’s new law on ‘homosexual propaganda.’ In an enjoyable coincidence, the Olympic flame has gone out twice since reaching Russia.

Security Forces Occupy Rio de Janeiro’s Favelas

As part of an ongoing effort to neutralize the city’s drug gangs ahead of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, hundreds of security officers backed by armed vehicles and helicopters have occupied 12 of Rio’s largest slums. The so-called Police Pacification Units (UPPs) will likely remain for another two weeks.  The authorities say they plan to spend another  $225 million to improve the quality of living.

Official statistics show a sharp fall in murders and gun-related incidents, but the number of missing persons has also shot up 33% and many suspect the UPP as the cause. Most recently, the UPP was found to have tortured, killed and “disappeared” a construction worker in Rocinha, Rio’s biggest favela.

Maldives Political Turmoil

The Maldives Supreme Court annulled the results of the first round of voting in the country’s presidential election today, agreeing with third-place candidate Qasim Ibrahim that the election was flawed. Four of the seven judges ruled that around 5,600 votes were tainted. A new vote has been scheduled for October 20th, in time for run-off vote between the top two candidates on November 4th.

Additionally, masked men set fire to a pro-opposition TV station today, in the second attack there in two years. There are no suspects as of yet, although the TV station publicly backs ousted leader Mohamed Nasheed and current government has been sufficiently upset with the station’s coverage that it is banned from covering government events.

Pakistani Taliban Target Polio Vaccinations, Malala

A bomb exploded near anti-polio campaigners in Pakistan’s hard-hit Peshawar province, killing 6 people. As a result of the Taliban killing health workers and banning immunization teams, hundreds of thousands of children have missed vaccinations and Pakistan is one of only 3 countries in the world where polio is still endemic.

Today, the Pakistani Taliban also vowed to re-attack Malala Yousafzai, the schoolgirl whom they shot in the head for going to school.  In her first interview since the attack, 16-year-old Yousafzai said that the Taliban needed to be brought to the table for there to be peace.

In more uplifting Pakistan news, on Sunday hundreds of Muslims formed a human chain outside a church in Lahore to protect the Christians praying there.

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