Bird Flu Vaccination – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in China and the U.S. are working together in an ambitious effort to develop a vaccine for the H7N9 “bird flu,” according to Bloomberg Businessweek. The collaboration has been made possible by new genomics technology and by notable openness from Chinese health authorities in sharing virus details with international health organizations, notes Businessweek. Scientists at the U.S. CDC in Atlanta are expecting a sample of the H7N9 virus from China in order to continue their research, and ensure they’re prepared in case something widely contagious emerges. The entire vaccine development, clinical testing, and manufacturing process is expected to take several months.
Uruguay Legalizes Gay Marriage – Uruguayan lawmakers voted to legalize same-sex marriage on Wednesday, making the South American country the third in the Americas to do so, after Canada and Argentina, the Associated Press reports. President José Mujica has been championing the bill, which is expected to be signed into law within two weeks, according to the BBC. Despite opposition from the Roman Catholic Church in Uruguay, 71 out of 92 deputies voted in favor of the measure.
Egyptian Military Crimes – Though Egypt’s military leaders publicly declared their neutrality during the 2011 uprisings, a leaked presidential report on revolution-era crimes reveals that the country’s armed forces participated in forced disappearances, torture and killings across the country, according to the Guardian. The report, submitted to President Mohamed Morsi by his committee in January, has yet to be made public, but the Guardian notes that a chapter implicates the military in numerous human rights violations. The excerpt recommends the government investigate the highest ranks of the military to determine who was responsible.
Yemen Military Shakeup – The president of Yemen has ordered a restructuring of the country’s military, removing those loyal to the previous administration, reports CNN. President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi has removed the head of the elite Republican Guard, who is the son of Yemen’s previous president. The Republican Guard and the first armored division will now be absorbed into the country’s Defense Ministry, a move seen as an attempt to unify Yemen’s divided armed forces — which are divided between allies and opponents of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. He stepped down in 2012 after a year of protests against his rule — and placed them under Hadi’s own control, writes CNN.
Bahrain ‘Troublemakers’ Detained — Bahrain has allegedly been rounding up potential troublemakers ahead of next month’s Formula 1 Grand Prix, reports the Independent. Human Rights Watch (HRW) claims that police had detained 20 people in dawn raids in towns near the racetrack. HRW said the arrests raised questions over the government’s commitment to reform. Bahrain, whose disenfranchised Shia majority complains of widespread discrimination under the Sunni monarchy, has seen violent demonstrations since the beginning of the Arab Spring two years ago, notes the daily. During demonstrations before last year’s Grand Prix, police used tear gas on protesters and one man was reportedly shot dead.
E.U. Economy Warnings — The European Commission has warned that Spain and Slovenia need to hasten their economic reform, reports the Associated Press. The two countries were singled out in the Commission’s report on European Union countries with debt and deficit problems. The report states that they must quickly fix their ailing banking sectors and further reform their economies in order to ensure a path towards sustainable growth. Spain, the E.U.’s fifth-largest economy, is in its 18th month of recession, and has received 40 billion euros ($52 billion) in loans from the E.U. for its financial sector, on the condition that it overhauls its banking sector, writes the AP. Slovenia, whose economy is around 29 times smaller than Spain’s, faces a “substantial” risk from high corporate debt, bad loans and deteriorating public finances, according to the Commission’s report.