Three things you must know this week…

1) According to security sources in the Middle East and United States, Israeli warplanes carried out a strike near Damascus on Wednesday morning. There is confusion about what was actually […]


1) According to security sources in the Middle East and United States, Israeli warplanes carried out a strike near Damascus on Wednesday morning. There is confusion about what was actually hit, however American officials told The New York Times that they believed the target was a convoy carrying sophisticated anti-aircraft weaponry, which was intended for the Hezbollah Shiite militia in Lebanon. The Syrian State Media denied that a convoy had been struck, and called the attack an act of arrogance and aggression. The strike has coincided with Israel’s fears that Syrian missiles and chemical weapons could fall into the hands of Lebanon’s Hezbollah, raising concerns that the Syrian civil war is spreading beyond its border. Syria filed a formal complaint with the United Nations on Thursday against Israel, stating that the country reserved the right to defend itself.

2) On Wednesday, President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt rejected opposition leaders’ calls to form a national unity coalition government as a way to halt violence in the country. Though the secular and Islamist groups attempt to cross a wide ideological gap to end violence, Morsi has said that the government is stable. Escalating conflict has contributed to the sense of  Egypt’s overall detoriating socioeconomic situation, as President Morsi declared a one month state of emergency on Sunday, and a curfew in three major cities along the Suez in response to protesters’ violent clashes with the police. The declaration of a state of emergency is a remnant of one of the most unpopular tactics of President Hosni Mubarak’s regime because it suspends ordinary legal processes.

3) On Wednesday, the Chinese government put in place emergency measures to combat a thick smog, twenty times higher than a safe level, which had engulfed Beijing. Action taken included temporarily suspending production at more than 100 factories and ordering one third of the 5.17 million vehicles in the city off the road. These steps were taken after two days of ‘hazardous’ air, rated such by the standards of the United States Environmental Protection Agency. They warned the population not to venture outdoors. In January Beijing had the most polluted air days on recent record, and even the Communist officals and the state news media have been reporting more openly about air quality issues. Prime Minister Wen Jiabao said that efforts should be made to promote energy saving and emission reduction, deviating from the party’s earlier attitudes to promote industrial growth at all costs.

 

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