São Paulo Police Clampdown on Demonstration Against Police Violence
Roughly 90 people were arrested in Brazil’s largest city last night after police cracked down on a boisterous demonstration over the fatal police shooting of 17 year-old Douglas Rodrigues. A number of commuter busses and tractor trailers were torched, and looting was reported in a number of areas throughout the city. At one point, the Fernao Dias highway, a major highway out-of-town, had to be shut down due to obstructions. Last night’s protests, while smaller in size than the protests that have seized Brazil’s major cities earlier this year, were still significantly destructive. Only one injury was reported – a man not involved with the demonstrations was shot in the chest by military police as they “intervened to quell the unrest”. He is expected to recover from his wound.
Polio Outbreak in Middle East
According to a new report by the World Health Organization, an outbreak of Poliomyelitis, which is caused by the Poliovirus and transmitted via contaminated food and water, has been confirmed in Northern Syria. Twenty-two children in Deir al-Zor province were paralyzed on October 17. In 10 of those cases, Polio has been confirmed. Results on the other 12 are expected within days. This is the first such outbreak in 14 years, in an area with falling immunization rates due to the ongoing civil war. Save the Children has called for a ‘vaccination ceasefire’ to stem this nascent epidemic.
Bruce Aylward, WHO assistant director-general for polio, emergencies and country collaboration, told Reuters that the danger of this polio outbreak isn’t limited to a small corner of Syria, saying, “We know a polio virus from Pakistan was found in the sewage of Cairo in December. The same virus was found in Israel in April, as well as in the West Bank and Gaza.” Genetic sequencing of the particular virus currently spreading through Syria is expected within the next days, this will help determine the origin of the outbreak. According to Aylward, “Everything suggests this virus will be linked to the virus that originated in Pakistan.”
There is no cure for Polio, and the only effective way to combat it is immunization. But given Syria’s civil war, the estimated 500,000 Syrian children under five which have not had those immunizations, and the rapid egress of Syrian refugees to Middle Eastern and European countries, this outbreak could quickly metastasize.
Turkey Opens Bosphorus ‘Chunnel’
Turkey has opened a tunnel under the Bosphorus strait linking Istanbul’s European and Asian sides by rail for the first time. The 13.6km (8.5 miles) tunnel includes an immersed tube section which Turkish officials say is the world’s deepest at 60m (200 feet) below the seafloor. Such a tunnel was first proposed 153 years ago by Ottoman sultan Abdoul Medjid, but the era’s technology was not sufficient to accomplish the feat.
The tunnel is part of a larger project known as Marmaray which aims to revitalize suburban commuter rail lines and bring Istanbul’s two halves closer together. The costly project has been championed by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğanan as part of a larger campaign to drastically alter the infrastructure of Turkey. After apologizing to residents in Üsküdar for the disturbance created during the construction work, Erdoğan said; “Every holy birth is painful. We have suffered, but now we will experience this happiness together. You will also thank God.”
Such projects, while ambitious, are not without critics. Erdogan’s opponents, who dub such plans as “pharaonic projects,” symptoms of an increasingly authoritarian style of government, and warn of environmental catastrophes in one of world’s most earthquake-prone nations. Erdoğan’s opponents also accuse him of bypassing city planners and destroying Turkey’s unique history.
Syrian Rebels and Government Conspire to Evacuate Civilians
Rebels in Syria have coordinated with Syrian government forces today to allow roughly 1,800 civilian to flee the besieged town of Mouadamiya, near Damascus. This is the third such evacuation from Mouadamiya, and the United Nations says 3,000 women and children have already left. Mother Fadia Lahham, a nun who helped organize Tuesday’s evacuation, said she was working to rescue all the civilians. “I was living in terror and now I am free and safe with the army, thank God,” a resident of Mouadamiya told Reuters. “There is no food or water. We got out with a new spirit now.”
The Syrian Arab Red Crescent and other civil groups have pushed for open humanitarian corridors to deliver aid to besieged civilians but the Syrian government has not been receptive. It is believed that 12,000 civilians remain in Mouadamiya.
Boer Hate Group Sentenced To Jail
Twenty members of Boeremag, which hoped to topple the South African government and assassinate Nelson Mandela, were sentenced to jail for treason today. The sentences for the 20 defendants ranged from five years to 35 years. A number of the defendants will be released on suspended sentences, while Mike du Toit and others who were also convicted of murder and attempted murder will serve the longest terms. The trial latest more than 10 years, and revealed that du Toit planned to drive South Africa’s 40 million Africans out of the country and into Zimbabwe by lining a major national road between the two countries with food parcels. Boeremag’s plot also involved sending the 1.2 million Indians in the country back to the subcontinent by boat.