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Six In The Morning Wednesday July 10

Egypt Is Arena for Influence of Arab Rivals


WASHINGTON — Two of the Persian Gulf’s richest monarchies pledged $8 billion in cash and loans to Egypt on Tuesday, a decision that was aimed not only at shoring up a shaky transitional government, but also at undermining their Islamist rivals and strengthening their allies across a newly turbulent Middle East.

The robust financial aid package announced by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates came a day after the Egyptian military killed dozens of Muslim Brotherhood members protesting last week’s military ouster of Egypt’s Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi. The aid package underscored a continuing regional contest for influence between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, one that has accelerated since the Arab uprising upended the status quo and brought Islamists to power.

Spanish corruption scandal threatens to unseat prime minister Mariano Rajoy

El Mundo publishes alleged logs of illegal payments to members of Partido Popular

Guy Hedgecoe

 A corruption scandal that has been plaguing Spain’s governing Partido Popular (PP) for months has intensified, with new revelations prompting calls for the prime minister to clear his name or resign.

On Sunday, El Mundo newspaper published what it said were the contents of an original handwritten notebook logging illegal payments made to senior members of the party for years, including prime minister Mariano Rajoy. The document has been handed over to a judge investigating the case. In January, fellow daily El Paíspublished photocopied pages of similar notebooks.

The two newspapers say the documents belonged to Luis Bárcenas, a former senator and treasurer of the PP, who has been investigated in recent years for his part in a massive corruption network. Revelations from that probe showed he had stashed up to €47 million in Swiss bank accounts.

Crisis in Egypt: Mubarak’s Old Guard Allies with Salafists

By Raniah Salloum in Cairo

Egypt’s new interim government has quickly begun planning the country’s future — and appears to have made concessions in the process. Power now lies with the supporters of deposed autocrat Hosni Mubarak, while ultra-conservative Salafists also look set to profit.

Egypt’s transitional government is moving forward rapidly with its plans to restore stability and hold new elections. On Tuesday evening, Hazem el-Beblawi, a liberal economist and former finance minister, was named temporary prime minister, while Nobel laureate pro-democracy politicianMohamed ElBaradei was named vice president. The latter was nearly named prime minister just days ago, but that move was hastily blocked by an Islamist party.

The announcement came less than a full day after the government had announced far-reaching decisions as to how the country would proceed following last week’s removal of Mohammed Morsi, its first democratically elected president. The rules of the transition were defined by constitutional decree, and for the first time, a timetable was laid out. TheAl-Ahram newspaper has even published a scanned version on their website.

Japan warns of China, North Korea threats

July 10, 2013 – 11:01 AM

Tokyo: Japan sounded the alarm on Tuesday on rising security threats in Northeast Asia, warning in a government report of a potential military confrontation with China over maritime disputes, as well as a North Korean weapons program that appeared intent on producing longer-range nuclear missiles.

Japan’s annual defence paper, the first since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office in December, also raised concerns that budget cuts in the United States and a range of other distractions would hinder Washington’s much-touted “pivot to Asia” – a strategic reorienting of US interests from Europe and the Middle East toward East Asia.

Shinzo Abe has been keen to revamp Japan’s military strategy to offset China’s growing military power.

S Sudan faces ‘an increasingly perilous state’

09 JUL 2013 13:34 AFP

South Sudan is guilty of human rights abuses and awash with corruption, warn campaigners on the second anniversary of the country’s independence.

US activists who backed the split from Sudan claimed in a letter on Tuesday that the fledgling country faces “an increasingly perilous state”.

Signatories of the letter, which accuses the new country of failing its own people and repeating the mistakes of previous rulers before independence, include John Prendergast, a former director for African affairs at the White House’s National Security Council.

“Many people in South Sudan are suffering, yet government officials seem to care only about themselves,” reads the letter, also signed by former US State Department officials including Ted Dagne, a former advisor to the government.

“We joined you in your fight against these very abuses by the Khartoum regime for many years,” they wrote in the letter, which is addressed to South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir.

‘Morris for mayor’? Cat’s popularity speaks to Mexico’s democratic woes

Surging violence and reports of voter intimidation in local elections Sunday have dimmed optimism about political openness and reform.

By David AgrenContributor

Results from Sunday’s local and legislative elections in 15 states appeared to bolster the prospects for reform of key state sectors. But the process also raised questions about the direction of Mexico‘s democracy as stories of violence surged along with allegations of vote-buying and voter intimidation – vices that were supposed to be stamped out as the country moved from one-party rule to competitive elections.

The governing Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) won the mayor’s office in eight state capitals and most of the legislative races in play, as more than 900 municipalities and 12 state congresses were contested. The opposition National Action Party (PAN) claimed city halls in five state capitals and several border cities, and led the gubernatorial race in Baja California – where it has ruled since 1989 – until an error in the preliminary vote count system forced electoral officials to order a recount.

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