The week at a glance ... International


Nairobi, Kenya

Gays fear arrest: Any Kenyan found engaging in homosexual acts will be jailed, Prime Minister Raila Odinga said this week. He said his government would enforce all laws in the new constitution, passed last August, including one that criminalizes “sex against the order of nature.” The remark took Kenyan gay activists by surprise. “The community will now fear,” said Nguru Karugu of the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya. “Fear to go to testing, fear to go to health clinics, fear to get services, fear to go to the police, for fear of being arrested or being harassed.” Odinga’s spokesman said the remark had been taken out of context, and that the prime minister was simply trying to reassure conservative villagers that the new constitution did not legalize gay marriage.


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Rigged elections: The repressive governing party of President Hosni Mubarak claims to have won 96 percent of the vote in elections this week, a scarcely credible result that would leave the opposition without a single seat in parliament. Domestic and international observers, including the U.S. State Department, reported widespread fraud and intimidation by government security forces. Riot police blocked reporters, observers, and even voters from polls, and ballot stuffing was rampant. At least eight people were killed in election-day clashes. “These elections were rigged and invalid,” said Essam el-Erian, a spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s main opposition group. “They are destroying any hope of the people for change by peaceful means.”


Presidential impeachment threat: A movement is growing in Iran’s conservative parliament to impeach President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The president and parliament have been locked in a power struggle since June over control of the budget. Conservative lawmaker Ali Motahari has been circulating a petition to call the president before parliament to explain dubious oil trades by the government and other alleged infractions. Motahari says he has the support of the required one-fourth of parliament members to bring the motion. But last month, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told lawmakers that the president “was doing a good job and should be supported”—which makes it unlikely that Motahari can muster backing from the two-thirds of parliament required to actually remove the president.


Scientists attacked: A prominent Iranian nuclear scientist was killed this week and a second wounded in nearly simultaneous attacks in Tehran. Majid Shahriari and Fereydoun Abbasi were parking their cars in separate lots at the same university when men on motorcycles sped up and tossed bombs onto their cars. Shahriari, who was killed, ran one of Iran’s major nuclear programs, while Abbasi is believed to be a senior official with Iran’s missile programs. The attacks add to a mystery that began last January, when a nuclear scientist with ties to Iran’s reform movement was murdered, allegedly as he was preparing to defect. “Undoubtedly the hand of the Zionist regime and Western governments is involved,” President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said this week.

Nangarhar province, Afghanistan

Afghan cop kills U.S. troops: An Afghan border guard seemed to snap this week, suddenly killing six U.S. soldiers during a training exercise. “I am really puzzled about why this happened,” said Gen. Mohammed Zaman Mamozai of the Afghan interior ministry. “We cannot rule out that he was used by the enemy, but he has been a border policeman for three years, and had been a good boy.” The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying the man had joined the police only to kill foreign soldiers and finally found his chance. It was the latest in a series of attacks by Afghan troops. Last month, two Marines were killed by an Afghan soldier in Helmand province. In July, an Afghan army sergeant killed two U.S. civilian trainers during an argument.


AIDS scandal revisited: A retired health official is appealing to the Chinese government to tell the truth about a 1990s tainted-blood scandal that infected tens of thousands of people with HIV. “Not even one word of apology has been given to the victims, much less those who died,” Chen Bingzhong wrote in an open letter to President Hu Jintao, circulated on Chinese websites. The cover-up occurred in Henan province, where villagers were paid to donate plasma. Officials pooled all the blood without testing it for HIV, extracted the plasma, then reinjected the blood into the donors. Chen, who is 78 and reportedly ill with liver cancer, said 100,000 donors and plasma transfusion recipients had contracted HIV, and some 10,000 died of AIDS.

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