While the rest of you have spent the last couple of weeks or so salivating over Usain Bolt's extensive limbs and laughing at London Mayor Boris Johnson's hairdo, I've been researching the ways in which the Olympic spirit has once again failed us. Now that the Closing Ceremony is over and accomplished nothing aside from showing the world the extent to which five formerly borderline hot women can dry up before they reach middle age, you can all rejoin me in keeping up with the Olympics of Hate. I promise, it won't be fun.
The one-year anniversary of the UK riots was last week, and despite speculations of more trouble, nothing happened. Instead, the French took possession of the urban rioting torch with more than 100 kids going on a rampage in the city of Amiens. The violence, which centered around a rough-as-my-asshole housing estate in the north of the city, kicked off after locals grew tired of what they felt were overly stringent police spot-checks on traffic earlier in the day. Gathering around 9 PM, the rioters displayed a keen sense of irony by hauling people from their cars, stealing them, and then setting them on fire. They also burned down a school and fired shots at police. Overall, 16 police were injured but no arrests were made as the violence was finally brought under control around 4 AM.
The riot is reminiscent of the chaos that spread all across French cities back in 2005 for pretty much the same reason: hard policing. Still, being one of the 15 most troubled disctricts in the country, the area in question is about to receive extra policing resources. It seems the new socialist government hasn't learned from the mistakes of its predecessors, having vowed to clamp down hard on the rioters. French President Francois Hollande said: "Our priority is security, which means that the next budget will include additional resources for the gendarmerie and the police."
Thousands of Chilean students and teachers took to the streets of Santiago last Wednesday to demand free higher education in the latest in a series of protests that have been going on for well over a year. The demonstration, by the way, had been banned by the government who feared outbreaks of violence. When police moved in to break up the protesting throng clashes began. The cops used water cannons, tear gas, and rubber bullets, to which the students and teachers responded with stones, Molotovs, and a squad of crack riot dogs—Greece, eat your heart out.
Despite his approval ratings plummeting since protests began, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera still refuses to meet with the students to discuss their demands, which means the stalemate and violence are likely to continue.
South Africa makes its entry into the World Peace Update in a doubly gruesome way this week.
On Friday, hundreds of residents of a Cape Town township clashed with police over the lack of services in their neighborhood. Like many townships in South Africa, the area has suffered from a lack of running water and electricity for years, as the government has been extremely slow at connecting these makeshift camps. Sixty-two rioters were arrested while at one point the main road to the international airport was closed with barricades. Riots like these are fairly common in South Africa, but this time the mayor accused the governing ANC Party's youth wing of manipulating the violence for political gain. Which, to me, sounds pretty irrelevant: Deflect responsibility all you want, Mr. Mayor, your people are still dirt-poor and thirsty.
The second attention-grabbing incident took place in a northwest province on Friday, when two rival workers' unions fought at a platinum mine. Members of the National Union of Mineworkers and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union fought over who the mine belonged to, and nine people were killed in the scuffle. The dead included two police officers who were shot after the miners decided to start using weapons. The police responded with more gunfire. According to the BBC, the two rival groups numbered around 5,000 and the situation remains very volatile, with local news stations reporting the miners are barring access to the press while preparing for more battles.
The battle over Aleppo has been raging on for more than two weeks now, and the city has become a thing of nightmares. Neighborhoods are shelled hourly, bodies pile up in the street, and clashes have forced thousands to flee their homes. The rebels' fortunes were dimmed somewhat when they were forced into a tactical withdrawal from the frontline in the Salahadin district, after running low on ammunition and being unable to counter the regime's fighter jets. Even though the rebel Free Syrian Army have made significant gains in the last month, assassinating key members of President Assad's inner circle and taking control over parts of Damascus and Aleppo, according to this Guardian graphic, they are still outgunned.
While confronting regime forces on the ground by knocking out tanks with RPGs and IEDs seems to have worked relatively well for the FSA, it's the air superiority they haven't been able to compete with. Until this week:
On Monday, FSA forces were able to shoot down a regime MiG fighter jet outside the eastern city of Deir Ezzor. This was a first for them, which they surprisingly managed by firing an anti-air cannon at the low-flying plane. It was a huge morale boost to the FSA just when they needed it, but is it enough to bring on the regime's demise?
Follow Henry on Twitter: @Henry_Langston
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