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Monday, October 7, 2013

Scores Dead as Opposing Factions Commemorate Egypt’s Role in the Yom Kippur War

At least 51 people were killed in clashes in Egypt amidst celebrations of the country’s role in the 1973 war with Israel, which is viewed as a victory in the country despite a stalemate that largely favoured Israel. One faction of protesters, backing ouster president Mohammed Morsi, filled the western part of Cairo and used the occasion to protest against the military coup that led to his downfall. They were met by bullets when they attempted to enter Tahrir Square, then being occupied by protesters favouring the military government of General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. “It was three groups of armed people – police, army, and residents – attacking helpless protesters, who didn’t even do much to fight back. Today’s march was made up largely of families, lots of women, lots of children. Sometimes marches take things into their own hands, start trouble, break something. But today’s march was really remarkably peaceful until the police just shot at them without any kind of trigger”, said Mosa’ab Elshamy, a photographer at the scene. Clashes were also reported in the other areas of the capital and around the country, although most cities remained peaceful.

UK Government Launches ‘British FBI’, Opposition Says ‘Don’t Believe the Hype’

The UK has launched the National Crime Agency (NCA), labelled as the “British FBI” and tasked with tackling the country’s most serious crimes. It replaces the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca), which was criticised for not putting enough gangsters behind bars or clawing back their assets. “No one is beyond the reach of law enforcement or beyond the reach of the NCA”, said its new director, Keith Bristow. “Those people involved in the most horrible activities can expect the most comprehensive and robust response”, he added. The NCA will be divided into four units, tackling organised crime, economic crime, border policing and child exploitation and online protection, alongside a National Cyber Crime Unit. It will have an annual budget of £463 million. Shadow policing minister David Hanson said the NCA’s capabilities did not match the government’s “hype”. “Most of the NCA is just the rebranding of existing organisations such as the Serious Organised Crime Agency, but with a substantial 20 percent cut imposed by the Home Office in their overall budget”, he said.

Cabinet Knew Nothing About Spying Programmes, Says Former Minister

Former energy and climate change minister Chris Huhne, who was in cabinet for two years until 2012, says the UK government was unaware of the existence or the scale of the data-gathering programmes run in tandem by the US National Security Agency and the UK GCHQ until they were disclosed by files leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden. “The revelations put a giant question mark into the middle of our surveillance state. The state should not feel itself entitled to know, see and memorise everything that the private citizen communicates. The state is our servant”, he said. He said that he expected to have been informed about these programmes as a cabinet minister and as a member of the UK’s national security council. “The cabinet was told nothing about GCHQ’s Tempora or its US counterpart, the NSA’s Prism, nor about their extraordinary capability to hoover up and store personal emails, voice contact, social networking activity and even internet searches”, he continued.

US, Russia Laud Syria’s Progress on Chemical Weapons Destruction

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met on Monday on the sidelines of an economic summit in Indonesia to review Syria’s progress in reaching the terms of the deal that would lead to the inspection, cataloguing and destruction of its chemical arsenal. “I think it is extremely significant that yesterday, Sunday, within a week of the resolution being passed, some chemical weapons were already being destroyed. I think it’s also credit to the Assad regime for complying rapidly, as they are supposed to”, said Kerry. His counterpart Lavrov said the Russian government would do everything to ensure that the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad abided by the agreement, including the establishment of a plan for a political transition in Syria, but added that rebels should come to the talks in Geneva and “speak with one voice”.

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