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Death Sentences Confirmed in Egyptian Court Death Sentences Confirmed in Egyptian Court

March 10, 2013- On Saturday, a court in Egypt confirmed death sentences for 21 people who participated in a soccer riot in 2012 that turned deadly with over 70 people killed in Port Said.

The court sentenced the former security chief of Port Said as well, Maj. General Essam Samak to a prison term of 15 years. Samak had seniority amongst the nine security personnel tried for what took place during the riot. Another police official who was a colonel also received a prison term of 15 years. The court acquitted seven others.

The judge read the verdicts inside a courthouse in Cairo and sentenced another five people to terms of life in prison and eight to 15 years in prison. Six defendants received prison terms of 10 years, while two others were given 5-year terms. One defendant was given a term of just 12 months. In all, the judge acquitted 28 defendants.

The ongoing trial has caused some of Egypt’s worst unrest over recent weeks. The country is already trying to tackle the mass protests against the government’s policies and the crumbling economy. After the first 21 defendants received death sentences on January 28, riots took place in Port Said that killed over 40 people, of which most were shot by security forces.

Because of the unrest that took place in January, many worried the same would take place today after the verdicts were read. However, immediately following the reading of the verdicts, the streets in both Cairo and Port Said seemed to be calm.

However, fans from the Al-Ahly club in Cairo stormed the headquarters of the soccer federation and set it ablaze. Fires also blazed in a nearby club for police, but authorities were not sure if Al-Ahly fan started that fire as well.

Relatives and friends of the defendants gathered in front of government offices in Port Said to voice their anger. However, the violence that took place in January had not erupted.

Bin Laden son-in-law captured, will face charges in U.S. Bin Laden son-in-law captured, will face charges in U.S.

March 08, 2013 - A top spokesman for al-Qaeda, who also happens to be Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law, was captured in the Middle East and will be charged in U.S. court with conspiracy to murder Americans. This is according to an indictment that was unsealed on Thursday.

The announcement sparked harsh criticism from the Republicans that said terrorists such as this individual do not belong in the U.S. civil judicial system.

On Friday, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith is due for an appearance in federal court in the state of New York before a judge, according to a statement from the Justice Department and the indictment that outlines the charges he will face.

Abu Ghaith’s capture drew praise from Peter King a New York Republican who is member of Congress in Washington. King is the former chair for the Homeland Security Committee in the House. He said the capture was a significant victory in the efforts of the U.S. against al-Qaeda.

Nevertheless, two other Republicans Senators Kelly Ayotte and Lindsey Graham, said on Thursday that the White House administration’s choice to bring Abu Ghaith to a New York court was incorrect, sneaky and against Congresses will.

Graham said Abu Ghaith is without a doubt an enemy combatant, but should have gone directly to the detainee facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for a period of extended questioning. Abu Ghaith however is to appear on Friday morning in one of New York’s federal courts to face his charges.

Ayotte and Graham released a statement that said the White House administration’s disregard for the wartime detention policy for al-Qaeda members who are foreign nationals and its refusal to interrogate and detain those same individuals in Guantanamo, makes our country less safe.

Thirteen years have passed since Abu Ghaith allegedly was alongside Osama bin Laden during his terror campaign and thirteen years since he spoke publically exhorting on others to embrace the cause of al-Qaeda.

Rebels in Syria Holding U.N. Peacekeepers Rebels in Syria Holding U.N. Peacekeepers

March 07, 2013 - Twenty-one peacekeepers from the U.N. are being held by a group of rebels in southern Syria near the Golan Heights. The rebels said the government must pull its forces from the area before the rebels release their “guests,” according to an activist who is in touch with the rebels.

The rebel brigade, known as “Martyrs of Yarmouk,” said the peacekeepers were in Jamla, a village about one mile from a ceasefire area near the Golan Heights, which is occupied by Israel. The rebel said the guests would not be harmed, but the Syrian army must pull it tanks and soldiers back from the region.

The capture of peacekeepers near the territory held by Israel is just one more sign that the conflict in Syria, approaching its second anniversary, threatens to spill over into other nations that border the country.

Israel has told both sides it would not stand idle if any violence spread into the Golan Heights, which Israel captured during the Middle East war of 1967.

On Monday, 48 troops from the Syrian Army were reportedly killed by Sunni Muslim insurgents in Iraq. Cross-border fire from Syria into Turkey and Lebanon has killed several people over recent months, said government officials from both countries.

Within Syria itself, the U.N. said close to 70,000 people have died since the uprising first began in March of 2011. The uprising first started as a peaceful demonstration against current President Basher al-Assad but spiraled into a full-blown civil war.

The government of the Philippines has condemned the peacekeepers’ capture, which includes three officers and enlisted men. They called the capture a violation of international law.

As Chavez Mourned, Thoughts Turn to Election As Chavez Mourned, Thoughts Turn to Election

March 06, 2013 - On Tuesday March 5, President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela succumbed to cancer after a two-year battle with the disease. The 58-year old former military paratrooper was president of Venezuela for 14 years.

Thousands of Venezuelans took to the streets across the country to honor and mourn Venezuela’s outspoken and flamboyant leader. The outpouring of emotion will last at least through Wednesday, as the leader’s body will lie in state throughout the day.

Chavez’s policies now are unsettled, the future of what he did for 14 years in the country is unknown. He won the adoration of the poorer Venezuelans with his leftist policies but infuriated his opponents who called him a dictator. Now it is up to current Vice President Nicolas Maduro to carry on Chavez’s legacy. He was handpicked by Chavez to succeed him late last year.

The constitution in Venezuela calls for an election within the next 30 days. Maduro, who is a former union leader and bus driver, will likely run against Henrique Capriles in the election. However, it is unsure whether the vote will actually take place within the next 30 days or if the date for the election would be announced within that timeframe.

One poll recently taken, showed Maduro with a big advantage over Capriles, part of that is because of the blessing he received from Chavez as an heir apparent. Maduro will likely benefit from the surge in emotion that is taking place following Chavez’s death.

For years, Maduro has been one of the president’s closest allies and most likely would not make any major changes to policy. Some thought he might try to ease tensions with the U.S. government and investors. However, just hours prior to the announcement of the death of Chavez, Maduro alleged that the U.S. government, Venezuela’s imperialist enemies, had infected Chavez with his cancer and expelled two diplomats from the U.S.

Chavez Suffering from Severe Respiratory Infection Chavez Suffering from Severe Respiratory Infection

March 05, 2013- Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela is having a great deal of difficulty breathing because of a new, severe infection in his respiratory system, said a member of the government of Venezuela. The statement releasing the information described Chavez’s conditions as being very delicate.

Ernesto Villegas, the Communications Minister read a brief prepared statement on Monday night on Venezuelan television. The sobering report was taken hard by the millions of supporters of the charismatic socialist leader, whose health is slowly deteriorating.

Chavez, since he left for Cuba on December 11 for additional cancer surgery, has not been seen or heard from, with the exception of photos that were deem proof of life and released in the middle of February.

Chavez was first diagnosed with cancer in June of 2011 and his surgery last December was his fourth for the still unspecified cancer located in his pelvic area.

Villegas announced Chavez is conscious about what difficulties he is faced with. While giving the statement, Villegas lashed out at what he called the corrupt right in Venezuela for the psychological war they were committing. He urged all supporters of the president, who include many thousands of armed militiamen to be prepared.

If Chavez dies, the opposition could run against a candidate from the government in an election within 30 days. The opposition said that election should have been held when Chavez did not return to Venezuela in time for the swearing in process on his inauguration day January 10, as it states in the constitution.

Even though Chavez is still alive, campaigning has started, although it has been undeclared. Nicolas Maduro, the Vice President was selected by Chavez to succeed him and told his country that if something were to happen to him they should elect Maduro as the president.

It is expected that if Chavez dies the opposition will have Henrique Capriles as their candidate. He ran and lost on October 7 of last year to Chavez in the country’s most recent election.

Fifteen Killed in Election Day Violence in Kenya. Fifteen Killed in Election Day Violence in Kenya.

March 04, 2013 - Authorities announced that machete-wielding groups attacked voters and killed at least 15, as Kenyans stood in line to vote for a new president that they hope rebuilds the image of the country after a poll that was disputed from 2007 started weeks of bloodshed.

Only hours before the start of voting, while people stood in line to vote, nine security guards, in the restive coastal region of Kenya, were hacked to death by attackers using machetes. Six attackers also were killed, said one of the police chiefs in the region. Earlier authorities said the death toll had been as high as 17.

Two separated attacks occurred and police officers put the blame for one of them on a group of separatists, which if the attack were confirmed, would suggest other motives than those that caused the ethnic killing post-2007 and would limit the impact they have.

Impassioned appeals have been made by both candidates and law enforcement officials to avoid the same tribal rampages that took place five years ago after polls disputes erupted and fuelled fighting between rival candidates and tribal loyalists. At that time, more than 1,200 people lost their lives and the incident shattered the reputation of Kenya as one of the most stable democracies in Africa. The bloodshed at that time helped to bring to a standstill the country’s economy.

The presidential race is between two rival candidates – Raila Odinga the Prime Minister and Uhuru Kenyatta the Deputy Prime Minister. Both candidates are depending on heavy votes from the tribal loyalists.

On Monday, one of the attacks by groups with machetes took place near Mombasa, while the other was in Kilifi about 80 north of Mombasa. Police officials said the attack near Mombasa was a separatist movement that had sought but failed to have the vote stopped and a referendum for secession to be held instead.

Kenyans prepared for more violence as storeowners let their stock deplete and some people returned to their tribal homelands prior to the voting.

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