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Friday, November 22, 2013

Curfew in CAR

The Central African Republic’s President Michel Djotodia announced a countrywide curfew, aimed at curbing militia violence, from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., in a presidential decree read on state radio late Friday. The Séléka rebels, which ousted former president François Bozizé and swept Djotodia into power, have all but repudiated Djotodia’s leadership, especially after the newly ensconced president formally dissolved Séléka.

The former members of Séléka have since been accused of raiding the countryside and starting firefights with security forces in the capital. Earlier French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius warned the former French colony is “on the verge of genocide“. Today France announced its intention to send hundreds more troops to the CAR in an attempt to quell mounting violence. The U.N. Security Council is also considering a resolution that might allow a coalition of African and European armed forces to intervene in the country. Though whether the international coalition will reinstall François Bozizé, or attempt to work with Michel Djotodia, remains to be seen.

CIA Linked Pakistani Doctor Charged with Murder

Shakil Afridi, a Pakistani doctor who is credited with assisting the CIA in finding Osama bin Laden, has been charged with murder over a fatal appendectomy he performed on a boy in 2006. Afridi is currently imprisoned, as he was convicted of “conspiring against the state” in May of last year, but is awaiting a re-trial. His conviction is ostensibly related to allegations that he gave money and provided medical treatment to anti-government Lashkar-e-Islam rebels in Khyber, not for helping the CIA kill bin Laden.

According to Afridi’s lawyer, the deceased boy’s mother Nasib Gula filed the complaint, which alleges Afridi was not authorized to operate on her son because he was a physician, not a surgeon. The boy died from complications following the surgery, which took place in Pakistan’s remote Khyber tribal area. The trial for this murder charge is slated to begin before the end of year.

Chinese Oil Pipeline Explosion

According to Chinese state media, a Sinopec crude oil pipeline in Qingdao exploded earlier today, killing at least 35 people and causing an oil-fed inferno that took several hours to bring under control. “Early investigations showed the spilled oil flowed into the municipal grid, which caused the explosion,” the local government said. Power was down in the area for roughly two hours. While the Qingdao Environmental Protection Bureau said fiery oil reportedly spilled into the Jiaozhou Bay and the Yellow Sea, a port official told Reuters, “The port was not affected by the pipeline blast, but tankers were told to sail away from the port as a safety precaution.”

Massachusetts Chemist Guilty of Faking Evidence

Annie Dookhan, a chemist at a Massachusetts drug lab charged with faking test results in criminal cases, pled guilty today and was sentenced to three to five years in prison. Prosecutors alleged Dookhan marked as positive drug samples she had never tested, tampered with evidence, forged signatures, and lied about her credentials to burnish her standing in court as an expert witness. Authorities believe her actions have cast a pall over more than 40,000 drug samples involving thousands of defendants.

Massachusetts government agencies have spent $8.5 million this year coping with the fallout of Dookhan’s actions. The Legislature has set aside an additional $30 million for Dookhan-related expenses. “This ends one chapter in this situation, but the story goes on for the thousands of individuals whose lives have been affected by the conduct of Annie Dookhan,” said Anthony Benedetti, chief counsel for the Committee for Public Counsel Services, the state’s public defender agency. “There are millions of dollars more that will be spent and a lot of time spent by a number of people in the criminal justice system trying to deal with the fallout of what happened in that lab.”

Weekend Read: Trials

Hugh and Chris Hempel’s twin daughters were diagnosed with Niemann-Pick Type C, a fatal genetic disease. The Hempel’s were determined to proactively seek whatever treatments might save their children. Amy Dockser Marcus chronicles their story in the Wall Street Journal.

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