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The week at a glance...International
International
 

Khartoum, Sudan
"Strike on arms factory: Sudan has blamed Israel for an attack on a weapons factory in Khartoum last week that killed four people. Israel refused to confirm or deny responsibility. Citing satellite photos that showed a large number of shipping containers at the factory just before the strike, Arab and Israeli analysts said the strike could have been an Israeli effort to stop Iran from sending advanced weapons by way of Sudan to Hamas in the Gaza Strip or Hezbollah in Lebanon. “Other governments may now once again take the Sudanese regime more seriously as a promoter of terrorism,” said Gill Lusk of the newsletter Africa Confidential, “as they did when it was implicated in the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993.”

Kiev, Ukraine
Vote disputed: The ruling party of President Viktor Yanukovych won Ukraine’s parliamentary elections this week, but he garnered few congratulations from international leaders. Western observers said the vote was marred by unfair media coverage and the jailing of opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, a former prime minister and leader of the Orange Revolution. “Considering the abuse of power and the excessive role of money in this election, democratic progress appears to have reversed in Ukraine,” said Walburga Habsburg Douglas, head of the European observer mission. Still, a new opposition party led by boxing champ Vitali Klitschko made it into parliament. “The opposition is recharged,” said analyst Volodymyr Gorbach.

Damascus, Syria
No cease-fire: Neither side in the Syrian civil war observed a declared cease-fire for the four-day Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha this week. The U.N. had hoped to use the break to deliver aid to thousands of displaced families, but it had time to reach only a fraction of them. “The truce lasted more or less four hours,” said U.N. spokesman Jens Laerke. At least 18 people were killed when government airstrikes obliterated a neigh- borhood in Douma, and another 28 were killed in an assault on the rebel-held town of Maarat al-Numan. For their part, the rebels this week assassinated an air force general in Damascus.

Manama, Bahrain
No spring here: Intensifying its suppression of Shiite dissent, the Sunni monarchy in Bahrain has banned all demonstrations, saying pro-democracy protesters have become too violent. Since the Arab Spring uprisings began, the monarchy has made minor concessions, delegating a few powers to parliament, but majority Shiites are still discriminated against. Many demonstrators and police have been injured in recent months, and two activists and an officer were killed. The regime has cracked down in response, jailing doctors for treating injured protesters and activists for posting on social media. Bahrain, an island off the coast of Saudi Arabia, is the headquarters of the U.S. Fifth Fleet.

Fukushima, Japan
Radioactive water: Japan’s crippled nuclear plant is running out of space to store 200,000 tons of contaminated wastewater. The water was pumped in to cool leaking reactors after the epic meltdown at Fukushima last year. The owners predict that the volume of water—already enough to fill 50 Olympic-size pools— will more than triple within three years, because groundwater is seeping through cracks into the reactor and turbine basements. Nuclear engineer Masashi Goto said that the plant’s water may already be getting into the groundwater. “You never know where it’s leaking,” he said, “and once it’s out you can’t put it back.”

Pauktaw, Myanmar
Pogrom against Muslims: Buddhist mobs attacked Rohingya Muslims in western Myanmar last week, burning entire villages to the ground. Nearly 30,000 Rohingya Muslims fled, joining the ranks of the some 75,000 others who have been driven from their homes in recent months. Several hundred Buddhists were also displaced in reprisal attacks. “Suddenly, we came under attack. Why?” Badu, a 50-year-old Rohingya father, told Reuters.com. “I was born here, my father was born here. This is our home.” The Rohingya have long been discriminated against in Myanmar, which sees them as intruders from Bangladesh and has never granted them citizenship. Some have tried to escape to Bangladesh, but the government there has closed the border.

Ningbo, China
Pollution protesters win: After a week of violent protests, officials in the eastern seaport of Ningbo have agreed to stop work on expanding an oil and petrochemical complex. Thousands of residents demonstrated against the complex last week, saying that even at its current size it generates dangerous pollution and foul chemical smells. Hundreds of protesters clashed with police, throwing rocks and overturning cars, and several dozen were arrested. It was just the latest in a series of environmental protests across China, buoyed by middle-class demands for better living conditions. “The government hides information from the people,” protester Luo Luan told CBC.ca. “They don’t care about destroying the environment or damaging people’s lives.” 

 

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