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Monday, November 18, 2013

Chile’s Election Results in a Run Off

Michelle Bachelet handily won the first round of Chilean presidential elections this weekend with more than 47 percent of the vote, but as she did not attain a majority of the vote, she will face a runoff election against conservative candidate Evelyn Matthei (who garnered only 25 percent of the vote). Upon hearing the news of her limited success, Bachelet suggested she would win the second round decisively allowing her party to push forward significant social reforms. Saying, “We’re going to have a decisive and strong victory that backs up the transformation program that we have been building.”

Meanwhile, the Matthei campaign indicated it was excited for a one-on-one race against the progressive candidate. A jubilant Matthei told media, “Going into a second round is certainly a triumph.

Important Syrian Rebel Leader Slain

Followers of Abdulkader al-Saleh, commander of the Liwa al-Tawhid, perhaps the most effective and organized of the sects attempting to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, announced that al-Salah, more popularly known as Hajji Marea, has succumbed to mortal wounds sustained in a government attack on a meeting of rebel leaders outside Aleppo last Thursday. Hajji Marea “was the first to organize peaceful demonstrations in Aleppo and then the first to attack the bastions of Assad’s gangs,” the opposition National Coalition said in a statement. “He became a living symbol in the hearts of the Syrians,” the statement added.

His militia, which under Saleh’s tenure swelled from 4,000 to 10,000 fighters, initially fought under the banner of the Free Syrian Army. In September it joined an alliance of Islamist groups which included among them ISIS, the al-Qaeda sect in the area. This contrasted with the vision Saleh himself articulated to the New York Times: a pluralist postwar Syria. Charles Lister, an analyst from IHS Jane’s, said of al-Saleh, “”He came from a humble background, was outwardly religious but was very open… and he maintained extremely good relations with almost all groups of all different natures.” Lister added that the death would be “a very significant blow” to the opposition.

CAR Rebels Attack Cameroon

Cameroonian armed forces announced that militia from the Central African Republic (CAR) entered the country, but were repelled after six gunmen, an army officer, and a villager were killed. The defense ministry said in a statement, “For the moment the situation is under our total control, and order, peace and security has been restored in the attacked village.” According to the BBC, roughly 400 people from CAR’s Democratic Front of the Central African People (FPDC) group assaulted the tiny village of Gbiti in an attempt to free their leader, Abdoulaye Miskine. Miskine, once part of the Séléke collation which ousted former CAR President François Bozizé, was arrested in Cameroon in September on suspicion of planning to use it as a base to attack the CAR.

Workers Extract Fuel Rods from Fukushima

Workers at the troubled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant have begun removing radioactive fuel rods from the damaged Unit 4 reactor. The delicate maneuver is “an important step toward decommissioning Fukushima Dai-ichi, which would take 30-40 years,” TEPCO President Naomi Hirose said in a video message on the company’s website. According to officials, it will take roughly two days to remove the first 22 fuel rod assemblies, but more than 1,500 such assemblies will need to be removed in the next year. The fuel rod assemblies are more than 150″ long tubes filled with pellets of uranium. Authorities are unsure if any of these rods have been damaged.

After their extraction, the fuel rods will be deposited into a secure storage pool with a cooling system. Government spokesperson Yoshihide Suga said he hoped the operation would go as planned, “We hope that this [procedure] will be conducted in a manner that will not disturb local residents, and that the removal will be done on schedule, properly and safely.”

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