Geopolitics

Syria's Future, "Gay-Free" Sochi, John Paul II's Blood

French electro duo Daft Punk got lucky at the 56th Grammy Awards
French electro duo Daft Punk got lucky at the 56th Grammy Awards
Worldcrunch

SYRIA TALKS TO FOCUS ON TRANSITION
Talks about Syria’s future are due to continue today in Geneva and will focus on the thorny issue of power transfer, amid reports that the Israeli air force bombed a Syrian base in the town of Latakia. Yesterday, both parties agreed to let women and children leave the besieged city of Homs, where humanitarian aid should arrive soon, government officials told Al Jazeera.

UKRAINE’S JUSTICE MINISTER WARNS PROTESTERS TO LEAVE MINISTRY

  • Ukrainian Justice Minister Olena Lukash warned EuroMaidan protesters who have been occupying her ministry since last night that she would call for a state of emergency if they do not leave the premises, describing acts of vandalism inside the building, Interfax reports.

  • Protests in Ukraine have spread to the center and western parts of the country, after opposition leaders refused President Yanukovych’s offer of the prime minister and deputy prime minister posts Saturday. Read more from AFP.

  • In a letter published by Voice of Russia, a riot police officer complains of “fabricated” reports in the media, portraying the Berkut as “fascists,” and describes how an 18-year-old officer was “crucified” by the protesters without it being reported.

THAI ELECTION SHOULD BE POSTPONED, SAY ELECTION OFFICIALS
Thailand’s Election Commission recommended that the early election, planned for next Sunday, should be delayed for at least a month, Reuters reports. This comes after violent clashes erupted yesterday near voting stations, with anti-government protesters blocking access to the sites. One protester died and 12 others were injured. According to The Bangkok Post, a total of 10 people were killed in the protests, since they began in November 2013.

RELATIVES OF KIM JONG-UN’S UNCLE ALL EXECUTED?
All direct relatives of North Korea’s former No. 2 — Kim Jong-un’s uncle, Jang Song-thaek — have been executed, news agencyYonhap reports anonymous sources as saying. Among the people believed to have been targeted are officials such as the ambassadors to Cuba and Malaysia, as well as children.

VERBATIM
The mayor of Sochi, the Russian city where the Winter Olympics will be hosted starting next month, has declared that there are no gay people in his town.

BY THE NUMBERS
Brazil is investing big in Cuba, giving the Communist government credits worth hundreds of millions of dollars to buy Brazilian products and services.

GRAMMY AWARDS CELEBRATE FRENCH ELECTRO
French duo Daft Punk were the big winners of the 56th Grammy Awards. Read about the highlights.

BLOOD OF POPE JOHN PAUL II STOLEN
A relic containing a few drops of former Pope John Paul II’s blood has been stolen from an Italian church in the Abruzzo region, leading to a frenzied police search, Italian media first reported. Authorities believe the theft may have been commissioned, NBC News reports.

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Society

Iran To Offer Master's And PhD In Morality Enforcement

For those aiming to serve the Islamic Republic of Iran as experts to train the public morality agents, there are now courses to obtain the "proper" training.

Properly dressed in the holy city of Qom.

Iran will create new "master's and doctorate" programs to train state morality agents checking on people's public conduct and attire, according to several Persian-language news sources.

Mehran Samadi, a senior official of the Headquarters to Enjoin Virtues and Proscribe Vices (Amr-e be ma'ruf va nahy az monkar) said "anyone who wants to enjoin virtues must have the knowledge," the London-based broadcaster Iran International reported, citing reports from Iran.


The morality patrols, in force since the 1979 revolution, tend to focus mostly on young people and women, particularly the public appearance for the latter. Loose headscarves will send women straight to a police station, often in humiliating conditions. Five years ago, the regime announced a new force of some 7,000 additional agents checking on women's hijabs and other standards of dress and behavior.

A woman in Tehran walks past a mural of an Iranian flag

The traffic police chief recently said women were not allowed to ride motorbikes

Rouzbeh Fouladi/ZUMA

New academic discipline

Last week, for example, Tehran police revealed that they had "disciplined" agents who had been filmed forcefully shoving a girl into a van. Such incidents may increase under the new, conservative president, Ibrahim Raisi.

Speaking about the new academic discipline, Samadi said morals go "much further than headscarves and modesty," and those earning graduate degrees would teach agents "what the priorities are."

Iran's Islamic regime, under the guidance of Shia jurists, continuously fine tunes notions of "proper" conduct — and calibrates its own, interventionist authority. More recently the traffic police chief said women were not allowed to ride motorbikes, and "would be stopped," Prague-based Radio Farda reported.

Days before, a cleric in the holy city of Qom in central Iran insisted that people must be vaccinated by a medic of the same sex "as often as possible," and if not, there should be no pictures of mixed-sex vaccinations.

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