Need to know:
Syria remains defiant in the face of the highest-ranking defection yet. Riyad Hijab, Syria’s Prime Minister and highest ranking civilian in the military regime, fled to Jordan with his family yesterday after, what was said to be weeks of planning. It was still unclear as to whether he in fact left on his own accord or was fired by the Assad regime before fleeing, as Syrian state media claims. Hijab had only held the position for two months.
Hijab minced no words upon his arrival in Jordan. "I announce today my defection from the killing and terrorist regime and I announce that I have joined the ranks of the freedom and dignity revolution," Hijab said in a statement read in his name on Al Jazeera television.
It is still unclear as to what impact the defection will have. Fighting still rages in the northern city of Aleppo with mortars, artillery and bombardment by warplanes.
Want to know:
Standard Charter bank has been accused of scheming with Iran over $250 billion in financial transactions. The bank has rejected those claims, insisting that all their transactions complied with regulations. Well, 99 percent of them.
New York’s top regulator accused Standard Charter of “flagrantly deceptive actions” that left the US “vulnerable to terrorists, weapons dealers, drug kingpins and corrupt regimes."
The news comes at the heels of another scandal involving HSBC, which was fined for failing to prevent money laundering by Mexican drug cartels.
Dull but important:
The shooter in the Sikh temple massacre was identified as neo-Nazi, white supremacist, veteran and rocker, Wade Michael Page. Page was killed by police Sunday after he opened fire in a Sikh temple killing six congregants and critically wounding a police officer.
Page was said to be a frustrated man that was the lead singer in a white-power band that preached racial superiority and anti-immigrant sentiments. The exact motive of the lone gunman still remains unclear.
Torrential rains have forced 270,000 people in the Philippine capital Manila to flee their homes. Persistent rains for over 10 days have killed 50 people. It is estimated that much of Manila is facing nearly 10 feet of water with Hurricane “Haikui” dumping about 12 inches per day on the archipelago.
The Philippine government, eyes squarely on the looming disaster, have been furiously debating a bill that would allow public health officials to provide contraceptives. The move is strongly opposed by the country’s powerful Catholic hierarchy and drew thousands of protestors in front of the parliament over the weekend - assumingly arriving on flotation devices.
Strange but true:
Iranian police found over 130,000 pounds of chickens stashed in hiding places all over the country this week. The Islamic Republic’s staple protein is fetching high prices as sanctions squeeze the country’s economy and criminal organizations that once dealt in Afghan heroin, may now be shifting to illicit poultry. It is said that the chickens were headed for the black market as a part of a chicken smuggling ring that has gripped the country.