9 Circles of Hell! Wednesday: Wars. Threats and Fear Nine Circles of Hell!

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Let’s start 2013 where the US news rarely goes: Africa and especially wars in Africe. Afence France Presse has the latest on Nigeria’s war: “Nigerian troops clashed with militants from the Islamist group Boko Haram in the northeastern city of Maiduguri on Tuesday, in an operation that left one soldier and 13 insurgents dead, the army said.”
AFP gives a little background for the uninitiated: “Violence linked to Boko Haram’s insurgency in northern and central Nigeria has left at least 3 000 people dead since 2009, including killings by the security forces.”

Myanmar’s war is also heating up. The Associated Press finds, “Myanmar’s military has acknowledged carrying out airstrikes against ethnic Kachin rebels in the country’s north and says it captured a hilltop post from where the insurgents launched attacks on government supply convoys.” Sadly, we learned nothing of Aung San Suu Kyi’s stance on the Kachin — or the repatriated Rohingya — when she was on her US media tour recently.

It’s actually worse in Syria than we previously thought. Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, is quoted in the Australian Associated Press commenting on a new UN investigation of Syrian war deaths, “Given 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. The number of casualties is much higher than we expected, and is truly shocking.”
No word on if the dozens killed today in the bombing of a gas station are included in the reports.

Syria’s opposition says they have chemical weapons. Today’s Zaman explains that the political adviser of the Free Syrian Army, Bassam Al-Dada, “told Turkey’s state-run Anatolia news agency on Wednesday that the Syrian opposition has the necessary capability and raw materials to produce chemical weapons.
“He said if Syria’s embattled President Bashar al-Assad threatens the Syrian opposition fighters with chemical weapons, he should know that ‘we also possess them.’
“Noting that they have the ability to put together components to produce chemical weapons thanks to defected army officers who are experts in this regard, al-Dada added that they won’t use them if the Syrian regime avoids using them.”
AFP reminds us that “Last month, Syria’s UN ambassador, Bashar Ja’afari, warned that extremist groups could use chemical weapons against the Syrian people and blame the government. He said the Syrian government is ‘genuinely worried’ that foreign countries could provide chemical weapons to armed groups ‘and then claim they had been used by the Syrian government.’”

Iraq’s warning against protests. Middle East Online tells us, “Iraqi premier Nuri al-Maliki looked to head off protests in Sunni areas of the country on Tuesday with a prisoner release even as he threatened to use state resources to ‘intervene’ to end the rallies.
“The move came as powerful Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr voiced support for the demonstrations and predicted an impending “Iraqi spring” as ongoing rallies blocked off a key trade route connecting Iraq to Syria and Jordan for a 10th successive day.
“Maliki, who is Shiite, ordered the release of more than 700 female detainees, a key demand of demonstrators, the official appointed to negotiate with protesters, said.”

In other threatening news, Agence France Presse tells us of the latest Taliban threats. “Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar vowed in an interview published on Wednesday to kill as many Western soldiers as possible before NATO combat forces withdraw from the country in 2014.
“Hekmatyar, a former prime minister who leads Afghanistan’s second largest militant group Hezb-i-Islami, told Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper that fresh attacks would send a warning to ‘others waiting to invade Afghanistan.’”
They have the always cheery Hekmatyar saying, “Before the withdrawal of invading forces, the Mujahideen would like to witness with their own eyes a scene that will teach the invaders to never think of coming this way again …
“The fact is that the government has failed …
“We might have a dreadful situation after 2014 which no one could have anticipated.”

Measles cases have surged in Pakistan over the last year as suspicion over vaccinations and attacks on aid workers are leading to the deaths of hundreds of children,” according to Channel 4 News. Before the holidays vaccination workers in Pakistan were murdered. These crimes were reportedly based on the suspicion that aid workers were, in reality, spies — like the doctor who helped catch Osama bin Laden through a CIA-faked immunization program.

Ah, suburban fear. The New York Daily News reports, “Students in Marlboro, N.J., returned to classes Wednesday to find armed guards at school buildings — a startling change in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., massacre.” The students are freaking out. Senior Alex Gonzalez says, “I feel safer, I guess, but it’s Marlboro — nothing’s going to happen. It’s one of the safest places ever.” Senior Mitch Belman adds, “It makes it like an armed camp. It’s overkill.” The Daily News wants you to know this situation all came about very democratically: “Town officials voted days after the Dec. 14 school shooting to staff the township’s nine schools with an armed, uniformed police officer on a temporary 90-day basis.”

Guess who else is getting armed guards? The newspaper that published a map of all local pistol permit owners. The Rockland County Times reveals, “A Clarkstown police report issued on December 28, 2012, confirmed that The Journal News has hired armed security guards from New City-based RGA Investigations and that they are manning the newspaper’s Rockland County headquarters at 1 Crosfield Ave., West Nyack, through at least Wednesday, January 2, 2013.
“According to police reports on public record, Journal News Rockland Editor Caryn A. McBride was alarmed by the volume of ‘negative correspondence,’ namely an avalanche of phone calls and emails to the Journal News office, following the newspaper’s publishing of a map of all pistol permit holders in Rockland and Westchester.”

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9 Circles of Hell! Wednesday: Wars. Threats and Fear
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