The New York Times has some further reporting on the terrible massacre that took place in the Syrian city of Aleppo, the full extent of which is still unclear, as slain bodies have been found along a river in the Bustan al-Kaser neighborhood. Be fore warned, the article features a photo showing some of these bodies, which is upsetting, needless to say.
The lower house of the Russian Parliament on Friday overwhelmingly approved a measure to ban “gay propaganda” in the country. The bill must be approved two more times and signed by the president before it becomes law, but it has been widely endorsed and its momentum is discouraging.
“We are deeply concerned by this draft legislation,” said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, according to the AFP. “You know how strongly we feel about LGBT rights around the world, how strongly the secretary of state personally feels that nobody should be discriminated against for who they love.”
The so-called gay propaganda bill is a national version of one that has already been adopted by the city of St. Petersburg. Members of the State Duma voted 388 to 1 in favor of the bill, with one abstention, the Associated Press reports. The legislation must go through two more approvals and be signed by President Vladimir Putin in order to become law. Language in the bill denounces “mass media and public events that propagate homosexuality as normal behavior” and says minors cannot think critically and objectively about such information.
Oh boy. We’re in for a fight with this one.
Bad news. Read up on this, all.
In case you haven’t been keeping a close eye on the Mali conflict, The Washington Post’s Max Fisher has an extremely useful guide to what’s going on. “Mali, after all, has long been an obscure country to most Americans, little-known or -discussed even after its crisis began last year,” he explains. “But now that crisis is becoming more important. Some very bad people have taken over the entire northern half of a very big country. This weekend, the French military sent in troops and made bombing runs to halt the rebels’ advance. More countries are talking about getting involved.”
Pakistan’s Supreme Court orders arrest of country’s PM
BBC News: Pakistan’s Supreme Court has ordered the arrest of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and 15 others over corruption allegations, raising fears of a political crisis just months ahead of an election.
Mr Ashraf denies accepting bribes when approving power generation projects as minister for water and power in 2010.
Photo: Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf (C) waves while surrounded by youths during a ceremony to mark the country’s Independence Day in Islamabad on August 14, 2012 (Aamir Qureshi / AFP – Getty Images, file)
PM Ashraf is accused of accepting kicbacks from private energy providers, which Pakistan is very dependent on due to their population outpacing the capacity of their power grid, and using them to finance land purchases abroad.
Rebels in Mali have seized the town of Diabaly and promised to wage an extensive ground campaign against French forces inside the country. More Info:
Al Qaeda-linked Islamist rebels launched a counteroffensive in Mali on Monday after four days of French air strikes on their northern strongholds, seizing the central town of Diabaly and promising to drag France into a brutal Afghanistan-style war.
France, which has poured hundreds of troops into the capital Bamako in recent days, carried out more air strikes on Monday in the vast desert area seized last year by an Islamist alliance grouping al Qaeda’s north African wing AQIM alongside Mali’s home-grown MUJWA and Ansar Dine militant groups.
“France has opened the gates of hell for all the French,” said Oumar Ould Hamaha, a spokesman for MUJWA, which has imposed strict sharia, Islamic law, in its northern fiefdom of Gao. “She has fallen into a trap which is much more dangerous than Iraq, Afghanistan or Somalia,” he told Europe 1 radio.
The UN is already estimating that approximately 230,000 people have been displaced by the fighting in Mali, and the French government has heightened security in many public locations to prevent a possible retaliatory attacks on France’s civilian population. President Francois Hollande was also sure to specify that France’s only goal in Mali is to support the mission of a 15-member group of West African nations which received United Nations support back in December. source
More than 60,000 people have died in the Syrian uprising and civil war, the United Nations said on Wednesday, dramatically raising the death toll in a struggle that shows no sign of ending.
Dozens were killed in a Damascus suburb when a government air strike turned a petrol station into an inferno, incinerating drivers who had rushed there for a rare chance to fill their tanks, activists said.
“I counted at least 30 bodies. They were either burnt or dismembered,” said Abu Saeed, an activist who arrived at the area an hour after the raid occurred at 1:00 PM (1100 GMT) in Muleiha, a suburb on the eastern edge of the capital.
U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay said in Geneva that researchers cross-referencing seven sources over five months of analysis had listed 59,648 people killed in Syria between March 15, 2011 and November 30, 2012.
“The number of casualties is much higher than we expected and is truly shocking,” she said. “Given that there has been no let-up in the conflict since the end of November, we can assume that more than 60,000 people have been killed by the beginning of 2013.”
That’s 60,000 people killed since March 15th, 2011. A truly horrific figure, and one which U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights Navi Pillay admitted “shames us all.”
The State Department made a “grievous mistake” in keeping the U.S. mission in Benghazi open despite inadequate security and increasingly alarming threat assessments in the weeks before a deadly attack by militants, a Senate committee said on Monday.
A report from the Senate Homeland Security Committee on the September 11 attacks on the U.S. mission and a nearby CIA annex, in which the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans died, faulted intelligence agencies for not focusing tightly enough on Libyan extremists.
It also faulted the State Department for waiting for specific warnings instead of improving security.
What lessons can be applied here that weren’t in Benghazi?
This week readers in Latin America get their own cover, promoting our special report on Mexico. America needs to look again at its increasingly important neighbour.
Forwarding to my parents so they don’t freak out about my job options.
Uganda’s infamous anti-gay legislation looks primed to pass
Homosexuality now against the law in Uganda, just as it was for 200 years in the US. It can be done. wnd.com/2012/11/uganda…— Bryan Fischer (@BryanJFischer) November 25, 2012
A dark day for human rights looks imminent in Uganda, as a bill outlawing homosexuality is expected to be passed by parliament sometime in the near future (the parliament’s speaker said they’d pass it as a “Christmas gift” to their constituents). If this sounds familiar, it’s because the bill sparked international attention the last time it was brought forward by its author, MP David Bahati (featured here debating the legislation with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow). Domestically speaking most, but critically not all, voices have condemned the bill, which once provided for the execution of “serial” homosexuals. It’s reported that the death penalty is now off the table, traded for life imprisonment — a truly cold comfort, unless, like Christian fundamentalist radio host Bryan Fischer, one actually cheers this sort of inhumanity, and seeks it on American soil. source
Palestinian children return to school for the first time since Israel’s latest attack on Gaza but not all students made it back. Sarah Al-Dalou had to be excused from class as she — along with 9 other members of her family and 2 neighbors [graphic] — were killed by an Israeli airstrike when F-16 fighter jets reduced their house in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood in Gaza to rubble.
A sign now occupies her seat instead, calling her a ‘martyr’. She is one of over 30 children killed by the Israeli Army during their week-long assault on the blockaded coastal enclave, with 161 Palestinians dead in total.
(Photo source: @mohammednazmi)
Bottom photo: Palestinian children return to school in January 2009 after Israel’s massacre in Gaza, named ‘Operation Cast Lead’, when over 300 children were killed by the Israeli Army, and 1,400 Palestinians in all.
Signs replaced the once-occupied seats at al-Fakhura School in the Jabaliya refugee camp in Gaza; names of victims written under the word in red: ‘Martyr’, 24 January, 2009.
(Photo credit: Anja Niedringhaus / AP)
It’s incredibly difficult to try to see from the perspective of these children — sitting in class with just placards beside them, where friends used to be.
The protest spirit is alive and pulsing as ever in Egypt, where President Morsi’s recent decree granting himself inordinate power above and beyond the limits of the judiciary has sparked ferocious discontent.
A year after Hosni Mubarak’s fall, new round of protests in Egypt: Tear gas filled the streets and 15 were injured in protests after President Mohammed Morsi issued a decree yesterday greatly expanding his own power. The decree shields any of the president’s decisions from legal challenge until a new parliament is elected; protects the Islamist-dominated assembly, which is in the process of crafting a new constitution for the country, from being dissolved; and calls for retrials of Hosni Mubarak and other members of the old guard. 18 liberal and Christain members of the aforementioned assembly recently withdrew from the process, claiming that their input wasn’t being addressed; Morsi’s claims that his decree will only be in effect until the new constitution is drafted. Both pro- and anti-Morsi protesters clashed in Egyptian streets today, numbering in the thousands. source    (Photo credit: Reuters)
After a theoretically democratic election, there should never been a time when the actions of the country’s leader are protected from legal challenge, regardless of the reason why. Not here, not in Egypt, and not anywhere else. It may be cliche to say, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
The New York Times' Roger Cohen, in an Israel-Gaza post-mortem, gives a major shout-out to Egypt's Mohamed Morsi, who proved his weight to the United States in the current conflict.
Speaking of facts, the chief mediator in stopping the latest round of killing was Mohamed Morsi, the Egyptian president who emerged from the Muslim Brotherhood, the parent of Hamas. Until the Arab Spring, the United States shunned the Brotherhood, deemed a band of Islamist extremists. Now Hillary Clinton thanks Morsi for “assuming the responsibility and leadership” that makes Egypt “a cornerstone of regional stability and peace.”
It is amazing what happens when you start talking to people. The beginning of the end of conflict is discovering the humanity that lies behind slogans and barriers.
Pretty much. As the recent conflict was loaded with both slogans and barriers, Cohen’s words resonate.