Deadly clashes leave 11 dead, at least 150 injured

In the deadliest outbreak of violence in weeks, at least 11 protesters were killed and at least 150 wounded early Wednesday outside the Defense Ministry in Cairo in clashes with civilian attackers, putting Egypt’s presidential election and already-fragile democratic transition in further turmoil.

Several Islamist presidential candidates announced Wednesday that they were suspending their campaigns – some for 48 hours and some indefinitely – in response to the violence and the military-run government’s apparent unwillingness to stop it. Officials also canceled the first presidential debate, which had been scheduled for today. Egypt’s presidential election is May 23-24.

Gen. Sami Anan, the chief of staff for the army, attempted to reassure protesters, appearing in the late afternoon and pledging that the military, which has ruled by decree since the ouster last year of former President Hosni Mubarak, would give up power immediately after the election.


Drug war failing, former president weighs legalization

Former Mexican President Vicente Fox on Wednesday labeled the global war on drugs “useless” and an “absolute failure,” saying it’s time to consider legalization as an antidote to the violence ravaging his country.

Fox, who governed Mexico from 2000 to 2006, said his successor’s 5-year-old offensive against drug trafficking groups had failed to reduce the availability or consumption of illegal drugs and led only to more bloodshed and mayhem. More than 50,000 people have died since President Felipe Calderon launched the crackdown in late 2006.

Fox said his country, caught between drug producers in South America and a sea of users in the United States, was paying an unfair price for U.S. laws criminalizing drug use.

“The country that imposed the prohibition, the country that has punishments and considers drugs a crime is the country that uses the most drugs in the world,” Fox said during an hourlong meeting with foreign correspondents.

“We must end this useless war,” he said.

– From news service reports