Egypt opposition leader calls for boycott
CAIRO — Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei called Saturday for a boycott of parliamentary elections, drawing immediate criticism from some within his movement who said it was a hasty decision.
The dispute showed the fragility of a fairly new opposition front forged after the deeply fragmented movement found little success at the polls since it led the 2011 uprising that ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
Opposition infighting would only help ensure that the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood group remains Egypt’s dominant political force after the next vote.
“(I) called for a parliamentary election boycott in 2010 to expose sham democracy. Today I repeat my call, will not be part of an act of deception,” Nobel laureate ElBaradei, who leads the opposition National Salvation Front, wrote on his Twitter account.
The comment reiterated a frequently heard opposition sentiment that democratically elected President Mohammed Morsi is acting like Mubarak.
NRA using Justice Department memo to accuse Obama on guns
WASHINGTON — The National Rifle Association is using a Justice Department memo it obtained to argue in ads that the Obama administration believes its gun control plans won’t work unless the government seizes firearms and requires national gun registration — ideas the White House has not proposed and does not support.
The NRA’s assertion and its obtaining of the memo in the first place underscore the no-holds-barred battle under way as Washington’s fight over gun restrictions heats up.
The memo, under the name of one of the Justice Department’s leading crime researchers, critiques the effectiveness of gun control proposals, including some of President Barack Obama’s. A Justice Department official called the memo an unfinished review of gun violence research and said it does not represent administration policy.
The memo says requiring background checks for more gun purchases could help, but also could lead to more illicit weapons sales. It says banning assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines produced in the future but exempting those already owned by the public, as Obama has proposed, would have limited impact because people now own so many of those items.
It also says that even total elimination of assault weapons would have little overall effect on gun killings because assault weapons account for a limited proportion of those crimes.
Battle for Syrian airport intensifies
BEIRUT — The battle for Syria’s second-largest airport intensified Saturday as government troops tried to reverse recent strategic gains the rebels have made in the northeast in their quest to topple President Bashar Assad.
Assad’s forces have been locked in a stalemate with rebels in Aleppo since July when the city, the largest in Syria, became a major battlefield in the 2-year-old conflict the United Nations says has killed at least 70,000 people. For months, rebels have been trying to capture the international airport, which is closed because of the fighting.
Rami Abdul-Rahman, director of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights activist group, said the current fighting was focused on a section of a highway linking the airport with Aleppo, the commercial hub of the nation.
The rebels have cut off the highway, which the army has been using to transport troops and supplies to a military base within the airport complex. Rebels have made other advances in the battle for the airport in recent weeks, including overrunning two army bases along the road to the airport.
The rebels also control large swaths of countryside outside Aleppo and whole neighborhoods inside the city, which is carved up into areas controlled by the regime and others held by rebels. Months of heavy street fighting has left whole neighborhoods of the storied city in ruins.
By wire sources