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When strongmen appear in sunglasses, it is never a good sign

When Egypt's new military leader called for a mandate to fight 'terrorism' this week, he wore sunglasses and filled the world with foreboding.

Fascism mounts a comeback in Italy

ROME — Its hard to avoid Benito Mussolini in Italy these days. Adolf Hitler's Italian henchman is enjoying a revival, 68 years after he was shot by resistance fighters and strung up in a Milan piazza. Mussolini has always had a loyal following among the far-right fringe in post-War War II Italy. But now, even many ordinary Italians are defending the father of Fascism as a good leader with sound social policies and a knack for making trains run on time.

Fast-food chain Nando's uses dead dictators to sell chicken (VIDEO)

Called "Last Dictator Standing," the ad shows a Robert Mugabe look-alike who is throwing a holiday dinner party and remembering good times with dead dictator friends including Muammar Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein.
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Dictators frolic in an ad for Nando's, a chain of peri-peri chicken restaurants based in South Africa and known for cheeky, topical advertisements. The ad, titled "Last Dictator Standing," features lookalikes of Robert Mugabe, Muammar Gaddafi and others. (Screengrab)

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Nando's, a South Africa-based fast food chain, has launched a controversial new ad featuring look-alikes of dead dictators.

Called "Last Dictator Standing," the festive season TV ad shows a Robert Mugabe look-alike who is throwing a dinner party and reminiscing about the good times with dead dictator friends, including Muammar Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein, South African apartheid leader PW Botha, and Idi Amin of Uganda.

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Has the US traded freedom for security in Yemen?

Analysts wonder why US drone strikes against Al Qaeda targets suddenly got more accurate after President Saleh returned to Sanaa defying popular protests against his three decade rule.
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A Yemeni woman holds a sign bearing a doctored picture of President Ali Abdullah Saleh behnid bars with Arabic writing which reads: "Wanted for justice... The one who captures him will be awarded," during a pro-democracy demonstration in Sanaa on October 24, 2011. Saleh welcomed a UN resolution urging him to quit but failed to say if he will comply and resign, according to the state news agency. (MARWAN NAAMANI/AFP/Getty Images)

US drone attacks on Yemen are nothing new. Since Al Qaeda militants rammed a small boat packed with explosives into the hull of the USS Cole as it refueled in Aden, the deepwater harbor in south Yemen, in October 2000, American airpower has been hunting Al Qaeda targets in Yemen’s remote and rugged tribal hinterlands.

The campaign was patchy and fairly hit and miss. In the wake of the failed suicide bombing of a US airliner over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009, the US stepped up its hunt for leaders of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the Yemen-based branch of the terrorist group.

But it was not until last month that, in the public domain at least, missiles from a US drone were confirmed to have taken out a senior AQAP leader, Anwar al-Awlaki, believed responsible for planning the failed Christmas Day attack.

Awlaki’s assassination was swiftly followed by a second drone strike which reportedly killed his son and eight other AQAP members, though key military leaders of AQAP such as Nasser Wahayshi and Qassem Raymi are believed to remain at large.

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Diplomats under attack in Damascus

As US ambassador is recalled over safety concerns, trusted source reveals at least 13 diplomats from five Western nations have suffered assaults at the behest of the regime since Syrian uprising began.
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US ambassador to Damascus Robert Ford had antagonized the Syrian regime with his high-profile support for the demonstrators trying to end 41 years of Assad family rule and last weekend was recalled to Washington over fears for his personal safety. (JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

A trusted source with strong links to the diplomatic community in Damascus has told GlobalPost that at least 13 Western diplomats in Syria revealed in private conversations that they had suffered threats and abuse at the behest of the Assad regime, including kidnap, imprisonment, beatings and even raids on their homes.

The leak comes as Washington pulled its ambassador, Robert Ford, out of Syria citing "credible threats against his personal safety in Syria," prompting Damascus to recall its ambassador from Washington, plunging US-Syrian relations to their lowest ebb since 2005.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Ford was expected to return to Syria and demanded the Syrian government provide for his protection and end what she called a "smear campaign of malicious and deceitful propaganda" against him.

"The concern here is that the kinds of falsehoods that are being spread about Ambassador Ford could lead to violence against him, whether it's by citizens, whether it's by ... thugs of one kind or another," she said.

The US has called for Assad to step down and Ford had antagonized the Syrian regime with his high-profile support for the demonstrators trying to end 41 years of Assad family rule. Ford’s convoy was pelted with eggs after he visited a senior opposition figure in Damascus and the US embassy has come under attack from Assad’s supporters.

Read GlobalPost: US ambassador journeys to heart of Syria’s revolt

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State-sponsored killing in Yemen

US drone strikes kill more Al Qaeda members as Saleh’s troops open fire on massive protest.
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A Yemeni boy suffering from the effects of tear gas is comforted by a relative upon his arrival for treatment at a makeshift hospital in Sanaa during clashes between government forces with pro-democracy demonstartors who were demanding the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh on October 16, 2011.(MARWAN NAAMANI/AFP/Getty Images) (MARWAN NAAMANI/AFP/Getty Images)

Two very different pictures of state-sponsored killing emerged from Yemen over the past few days.

The first, the assassination by remote controlled pilotless America drones of high value Al Qaeda targets. The other, the Kalashnikov-wielding troops loyal to a hugely unpopular president gunning down protestors in the streets of Sanaa and fighting with defectors.

Both attacks have raised the stakes in a nation reeling from political upheaval, economic collapse and a security vacuum.
The drone strikes late on Friday in Yemen’s remote southern Shabwa and Abyan provinces killed nine members of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), said Yemeni officials quoted by AP.

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Fierce fighting in Sanaa, Yemen, ahead of UN vote (VIDEO)

Sanaa was rocked by explosions and gunfire Sunday as troops loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh battled forces that the ruler claims are attempting to overthrow him. 

Mugabe may press Archbishop Rowan Williams on gay priests during Zimbabwe visit

Robert Mugabe has said that if he does meet with the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, in Zimbabwe on an official visit, the Zimbabwean president would ask his stance on gays and economic sanctions.
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