Weekly News Wrap: Thursday, October 31, 2013
Your weekly selection of international law and international relations headlines from around the world:
- Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, has said he is open to peace talks but insisted that they would not go ahead unless foreign nations stopped supporting rebel fighters.
- Reuters has an Insight about starvation being used in Syria as a “war tactic” and Foreign Policy offers a glimpse inside of a Syrian refugee camp.
- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered officials to press ahead with plans to build 3,500 more homes for Jewish settlers, hours after Israel freed 26 Palestinian prisoners as part of U.S.-brokered peace efforts.
- The Pakistani government has been criticized for lowering civilian casualty numbers of US drone strikes to 67, contradicting its past calculations (around 400) and estimates by independent organizations (London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimates at least 300, while Washington-based New America Foundation claims 185)
- Former Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea has denied all charges against him on the last day of a trial for leaders of the Cambodian regime widely blamed for the deaths of some 1.7 million people.
- Der Spiegel has a story on the rising tensions in the Kashmir region.
- The trial of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on charges of crimes against humanity is unlikely to start next month as planned, after prosecutors said they did not object to a delay.
- Congolese government troops have entered the eastern border town of Bunagana as M23 rebels abandoned what was the last significant town they were holding.
- Four Frenchmen held hostage in the Sahara desert by al Qaeda-linked gunmen for three years flew home and were reunited with their families, with Paris dismissing media reports it had paid a ransom for their release.
- European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has warned against nationalism, xenophobia and racism ahead of European Parliament elections next year, when anti-EU and protest parties are expected to do well.
- Turkey has for the first time connected its European and Asian sides by opening a railway tunnel that fulfils a vision first proposed by an Ottoman sultan about 150 years ago.
- Britain approved a new system of regulating its press, a move newspapers said was draconian and threatened freedom of speech but which former victims of press excess described as long overdue
- The UN has said the US has pledged not to spy on its communications after a report showed the National Security Agency had gained access to the UN video conferencing system.
- American and German officials sought to overcome tension between their governments following reports that the U.S. National Security Agency monitored German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone and that Obama officials knew about it.
- Argentina’s Supreme Court upheld a controversial media law that government proponents applauded as an effort to reduce market concentration but opponents viewed as state meddling aimed at quieting dissent.
- In other news about spying, Foreign Policy covers what went down in the world of spying this week, including the NSA hacking Google and Yahoo accounts, the US allegedly spying on the Pope, Julian Assange’s newest tactics and the Russians, teddy bears and G20 leaders.