This Week in the World: October 30th, 2014

State of emergency declared in Egypt

Egypt declared a state of emergency in the Sinai Peninsula after over 30 soldiers were killed in two separate attacks. President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi also declared three days of mourning in the wake of the attacks. On Oct. 27, a suicide blast at an army checkpoint killed 28 soldiers;  it was one of two attacks at checkpoints. The suicide blast was the biggest loss of life for Egypt’s army in decades. Egypt has been carrying out an offensive against a group claiming Islamic State backing in northern Sinai and the attacks are suspected to be in response.

Woman hanged despite international outcry

Iran went ahead with the execution of Reyhaneh Jabbari, 26, despite an international campaign urging a reprieve. She was convicted of killing a man she said was trying to sexually assault her. She was arrested in 2007 for the murder of a former intelligence ministry worker Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi. Many human rights groups and state governments have condemned the execution, and the UK Foreign Minister has called on Iran to abolish the use of the death penalty. A campaign calling for the halt to the execution was launched on Facebook and Twitter last month and appeared to slow the process of the execution. She was sentenced to death in 2009.

Japan loosens legal limits on nightlife

Japan’s government has approved changes to a 66-year old law that bans late-night dancing in clubs. This decision is made in hopes that it will help businesses benefit from an expected influx of tourists in light of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Dancing in public venues is illegal in Japan and is only permitted until midnight under a special licence. This law was created traditionally to stop prostitution linked to dance halls. The changes approved last week now allow a new category of clubs where people can dance all night, but there is a new requirement for better interior lighting to discourage crimes and “bad behaviour,” as the Globe and Mail reports.

Soldier killed while on guard in Ottawa

On Oct. 22, Ottawa was on lockdown for the majority of the day after a gunman shot and killed Cpl Nathan Cirillo while he stood guard next to the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. While police confirmed the gunman, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, was shot dead, Ottawa remained on high alert through much of the day. Zehaf-Bibeau was killed after a gun battle inside the parliament building by Kevin Vickers, Parliament’s sergeant-at-arms. Members of Parliament, including the Prime Minister, were on lockdown and had barricaded the doors of the House of Commons. Zehaf-Bibeau’s attack followed another attack earlier in the week by Martin Couture-Rouleau. Couture-Rouleau killed another Canadian soldier, Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, by hitting him with his car. Couture-Rouleau was killed by police in the ensuing car chase.

Same-sex marriage legalized in six states

The U.S. federal government is recognizing gay marriage in six more states. Gay marriage has become legal in Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, North Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming, and federal benefits have been extended to same-sex couples. Earlier in October, five states sought to keep their marriage bans in place, but the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear their appeals. There are now 32 states, plus Washington, D.C., that have federal recognition of gay marriage. Same-sex couples married in these states will qualify for a range of federal benefits, including social security retirement and veterans’ benefits.

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