Globe Trot

Globe Trot 05.23


Egyptians are going to the polls today in the first widely free elections in generations. Egyptian journalist Nadia El-Awady noted in a couple of tweets this morning: "It was odd at the polling station. There were no supporters. No leaflets. No lines. No women pushing. … The complete lack of lines in front of poll stations makes me wonder if the long lines for parliament elections were due to threat of fines." Free elections are no guarantee of justice for all. In Minya, an Egyptian court has sentenced 12 Christians to life in prison and acquitted eight Muslims over religious tensions in the southern province that left two dead last April.

President Obama is in Colorado Springs today to deliver the commencement address at the U.S. Air Force Academy, following the NATO summit in Chicago that largely focused on U.S.-led military operations in Afghanistan. Look for the president to make his case for opposition to the House-led defense authorization bill, i.e., his case for defense cuts. U.S. permanent representative to NATO Ivo Daalder told reporters yesterday he is "confident we will be able to sustain a NATO force in Afghanistan in 2015 and beyond." But he warned that continued cuts to defense spending-by both the United States and its European allies-"will bite into operations down the line."

We want to know more about: Drone wars. Coming off the NATO summit, Turkey seemed to get a nod in its effort to buy armed Predator drones to aid the fight against Kurdish rebels. This is a problem for the Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq, staunch U.S. allies, and for Israel-and Congress may oppose the sale. Turkey has thus far used Predators to acquire intelligence for its military, not for direct attack.

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Iraq also is in the process of using Scan Eagle drones-also unarmed-to monitor oil platforms that move millions of barrels of Iraqi crude oil from the country's inland oilfields to commercial tanker ships in the Persian Gulf.

The huge suicide bombing in the heart of Yemen's capital Monday left more than 100 people dead and hundreds wounded, and delivered a setback to the ramped-up U.S. counterterrorism campaign against al-Qaeda's regional franchise, which has repeatedly tried to plant bombs on U.S.-bound jetliners. Yesterday, a US Airways Paris-to-Charlotte flight was diverted to land in Maine after a woman onboard claimed she had a surgically implanted device, raising fears of a terror attack.

The British government has contributed more than $266 million to fund forced sterilizations in India, many of them resulting in women bleeding to death. The reason? To curb the country's growing population of 1.2 billion as a way to cut down on greenhouse gases, according to documents from the UK's Department of International Development. In a video, one woman in impoverished Bihar state describes 80 sterilizations performed on women in a school in just three hours. "It smells of colonial air. Actually, it smells of racism," said Abhijit Das, director of India's Centre for Health and Social Justice. "You say that the poor are the reason for all your greenhouse gases. This is simply unacceptable."

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