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Hundreds of protesters have begun gathering in the Jordanian capital of Amman to call for reforms a day after the country’s king attempted to deter the protest by dissolving parliament. King Abdullah had also called for early elections in a bid to dissuade demonstrators from rallying. As many as 50,000 people are expected to join the demonstration called for by the Jordanian wing of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Turkey has authorized further military action against Syria as it continued to fire artillery across the border for a second day Thursday in retaliation for a mortar blast that killed five Turkish civilians. Turkish police used tear gas to disperse antiwar protesters near the Turkish parliament, while lawmakers overwhelmingly backed a measure allowing the military to conduct cross-border actions. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said the country was attempting to deter further violence.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan: “Turkey wants peace and only peace in the region, as well as safety. This is our sole concern. We don’t want war, and we never would. The consequence of the wars in the region, in Iraq and Afghanistan, is obvious. The parliamentary authorization of foreign deployment of Turkish troops is intended solely as a deterrent. As you are aware, one of the most important instruments to prevent clashes is deterrence.”
Police in South Africa have shot and killed another striking miner amidst continuing labor unrest. The worker was shot in the stomach with a rubber bullet and died after police moved to disperse protesters gathering near a Rustenburg platinum mine. The killing comes less than two months after police shot dead 34 striking miners at the Marikana platinum mine in the country’s bloodiest security clash since the end of apartheid. The strikes spread outside the mining industry this week as striking Toyota workers forced a plant in Durban to close for four days. The Toyota workers were expected to return to work today after winning a pay raise.
Reports have emerged Iran has been attempting to gather support for a plan to end its stalemate with the United States and its allies over the country’s alleged nuclear program. Iranian officials have outlined a nine-step plan whereby Iran would end work at one of two uranium enrichment sites in exchange for the easing of sanctions that are devastating its economy. U.S. officials, however, have dismissed the plans as untenable. Protests have erupted this week in Iran amidst a worsening financial crisis that saw the collapse of its currency.
Yemeni officials say a U.S. drone strike has killed five people in the southern province of Shabwa. The attack hit two vehicles that were said to be carrying militants with links to al-Qaeda.
Pakistani political leader Imran Khan has vowed to move forward with a peace march this weekend aimed at highlighting the impact of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Activists from Britain and the United States, including CODEPINK leader Medea Benjamin, are joining the march from Islamabad to South Waziristan despite concerns over security.
Presidential candidates in Venezuela held closing rallies Thursday ahead of Sunday’s election. President Hugo Chávez is facing challenger Henrique Capriles in what could be the toughest challenge of his 14-year rule. Chávez, who is recovering from recent cancer surgeries, addressed hundreds of thousands of supporters in Caracas.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez: “You all know that there were several times that I was about to die for being faithful to the Venezuelan people. And that is my path. I will not fail you. I will always be faithful to the Venezuelan people.”
Chávez’s opponent, Henrique Capriles, held a rally in the Venezuelan state of Lara Thursday. In his remarks, he addressed Chávez directly, saying it was time for a change.
Henrique Capriles: “I want to tell you: your term ends. I thank you infinitely from my heart that you, during this campaign, allowed me to see clearly the route we must take — the route of love, not hate; the route toward light, not darkness; the route of love and commitment to the people, not of insult nor hate.”
A U.S. citizen opened fire at a hotel in Israel Friday, killing an employee before being shot dead by police. The shooter had reportedly been working at the hotel in the resort city of Eilat as part of a program that brings Americans to Israel, but was recently fired from his job.
On the campaign trail, President Obama slammed Republican challenger Mitt Romney during appearances in the battleground states of Colorado and Wisconsin. Some had criticized Obama’s appearance in the first presidential debate Wednesday night, saying he appeared lackluster compared to a more aggressive Romney. Obama hit back against his opponent during a rally in Denver, accusing Romney of backtracking over tax cuts for the wealthy.
President Obama: “When I got onto the stage, I met this very spirited fellow who claimed to be Mitt Romney. But it couldn’t have been Mitt Romney, because the real Mitt Romney has been running around the country for the last year promising $5 trillion in tax cuts that favor the wealthy. The fellow on stage last night said he didn’t know anything about that.”
Mitt Romney tried to capitalize on his high marks from the debate as he campaigned in the swing state of Virginia. Some critics noted Obama had failed to ask Romney about his famous “47 percent” comment that nearly half of Americans believe they are victims entitled to government support. During a Fox News appearance Thursday night, Sean Hannity asked Romney how he would have responded if Obama had brought it up.
Mitt Romney: “Well, clearly, in a campaign with hundreds, if not thousands, of speeches and question-and-answer sessions, now and then you’re going to say something that doesn’t come out right. In this case, I said something that’s just completely wrong. And I absolutely believe, however, that my life has shown that I care about 100 percent, and that’s been demonstrated throughout my life. And this whole campaign is about the 100 percent.”
Fast-food chain Chipotle has reached a deal with the Florida-based Coalition of Immokalee Workers to improve wages and working conditions for farmworkers who pick tomatoes used in its products. Chipotle had previously refused to sign a contract affirming its commitment to the coalition’s Fair Food Program, which 10 other companies, including McDonald’s and Burger King, have already joined. Thursday’s agreement comes a day after coalition member Gerardo Reyes-Chavez appeared on Democracy Now! in Denver to discuss its efforts to pressure Chipotle.
Dozens of Walmart workers at retail stores in Southern California launched a one-day strike to protest retaliation against employees who have taken a stand over working conditions. On Thursday, hundreds of workers and their supporters rallied in front of a Southern California retail store. The strike follows walkouts at warehouses in California and Illinois that supply Walmart stores.
The new head of the World Bank has signaled he is planning to unveil major reforms next week during meetings in Tokyo. On Thursday, Jim Yong Kim said he will push for the World Bank to be able to move more quickly and be held accountable for on-the-ground results. Jim Yong Kim helped found Partners in Health with Dr. Paul Farmer and is a former president of Dartmouth College.
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