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Thursday, October 31, 2013

25 People Arrested, 26 Injured after Day of Student Protests

Egyptian students continued to protest against the current interim military-backed government on Wednesday, and clashes between students and security officers left 26 people injured. Cities where clashes took place include Alexandria, Mansoura, and Cairo. The most serious of the clashes happened at Al-Azhar university in Cairo, where security forces stormed the campus after protestors had taken over an administration building. 25 were arrested. The Minister of Higher Education, Hoassam Elssa, said that police would not return to university campuses.

Chemical Weapons Facilities Destroyed in Syria

All chemical weapon facilities and manufacturing equipment in Syria have now been destroyed, according to an international watchdog group. The organization released a document to Reuters stating that it “has verified, seen and destroyed all critical production…equipment.” This completes the first stage of the Russian-American brokered deal to disarm Syria of all chemical weapons.  According to Al Jazeera, Syria will no longer be able to produce new chemical weapons by November 1. The next phase of the agreement requires the destruction of the 1,000 tons of existing chemical weapons in Syria by June 2014.

 American Companies Aided NSA in European Spying

The NSA spying scandal continued to provoke outrage this week, after a German news source reported that at least 90 American companies assisted the US government in spying operations around the world. The newspaper also reported that a core group of 30 firms conducted operations for the CIA, NSA, and the US military intelligence. Booz Allen Hamilton was the largest of the firms – the same company that employed Edward Snowden, the source of extensive NSA leaks. Companies that have aided the NSA also include internet giants Google and Yahoo. The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that weak restrictions allowed the US to utilize the tech firms’ data overseas. Google, however, has stated that they were unaware of the program. German political advisers are meeting with Washington this week to discuss recent reports of US spying on German soil.

 Proposed Protest Law Severely Criticized by Human Rights Group

The international organization Human Rights Watch released a statement on Wednesday that was highly critical of Egypt’s new draft protest law, which is expected to be approved soon. The law “would effectively mandate the police to ban all protests” and “to use force,” according to the group. They also said the law legitimizes the use of collective punishment, gives the Interior Minister too much control over the ratification of public meetings, and discriminates against women who wear the veil. The interim cabinet passed the law on October 10 and it now awaits ratification by the president. A political opposition group called the Revolutionary Front held a protest on Saturday evening to denounce the law.

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