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Monday, December 23, 2013

South Sudanese Army to Strike Rebel-Held Cities

After the defections of General Peter Gadet and Major General James Koang Chuol, South Sudanese rebels control the cities of Bor (the capital of Jonglei State) and Bentiu (in oil-rich Unity State).  The army is now preparing to strike both cities. Former Vice President Riek Machar has claimed that the rebels now holds all of the major oil fields in Unity and Upper Nile States, a claim the government has dismissed as “wishful thinking.”

Fighting has been reported in 6 of South Sudan’s 10 states; at least 1,000 people have been killed and 62,000 people have been forced from their homes. 42,000 of those have sought shelter at UN compounds; UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will ask the Security Council today to increase the number of peacekeepers by two-thirds to better protect civilians. Both rebel and government troops are going door to door, lining up and executing members of the Dinka and Nuer tribes, respectively.


Both Machar and President Salva Kiir have both said they are willing to hold talks, but rejected each other’s conditions for them.

New Party to Form Delhi Government

After stunning the nation by winning 28 of the total 70 seats in Dehli state, the Aam Aadmi Party (Common Man’s Party) has agreed to form government.  This ends days of uncertainty after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which won 32 seats, refused to, when no other political group was willing to offer it support. The Congress Party, which was badly routed and won only 8 seats, will support to the AAP, ensuring a majority.

The AAP was formed solely around the agenda of anti-corruption and is not yet a national party; almost all of its candidates were political novices. Its convener, former tax inspector and activist Arvind Kejriwal, will be sworn in as the city’s chief minister later this week. He has refused police protection, and vowed that his new ministers would not accept the customary perks of their posts.

Factory Owners Charged in Deadly Fire

Over a year after 112 garment factory workers in Bangladesh died in a fire, police have charged the owners and 11 employees with culpable homicide. It is the first time Bangladeshi authorities have sought to prosecute garment factory owners. The fire was caused by shoddy construction and the illegal storage of yarn on the first floor, but the number of casualties is due to the fact that the building had no emergency exits and managers allegedly ordered employees to keep working through the alarms. The owner, who was absolved of blame in a report by the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association earlier this year, will plead innocent.

While the US government has said that federal agencies have “zero tolerance” for using overseas factories that break local laws, government suppliers actually show a similar pattern of legal violations and brutal working conditions.

CIA Helped Kill FARC Leaders

A previously undisclosed CIA covert action program has helped Colombian forces kill at least two dozen leaders of the 50-year-old Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The secret assistance – which is ongoing and funded by a multibillion-dollar black budget – was authorized under President George W. Bush in the early 2000s. It provides substantial eavesdropping help through the NSA, which allows Colombian forces to hunt down individual leaders of FARC and its smaller counterpart, the National Liberation Army (ELN). The program also gives the Colombian government $30,000 GPS guidance kit that transforms a regular bomb into a highly accurate ‘smart bomb,’ capable of homing in on a target even in a dense jungle.

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