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UN wives make video plea to Syrian first lady

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The wives of Germany and England's U.N. ambassadors made a video plea to Syrian First Lady Asma Assad asking her to stop the violence in her country, CNN reported.

"Some women care for style, and some women care for their people," the video said.

Huberta Voss Wittig, wife of the German ambassador, explained their motives behind making the video.

"We want to urge Asma Assad to speak out openly for peace and to send a signal, because only if and when she does it other women can follow," told CNN.

The U.N. Security Council will meet on Thursday to assess the success of the peace plan in Syria, according to Sky News.

In the middle of the night, a loud knock on the door is followed by foreign forces barging into your home and searching for insurgents.

Until now, this was common practice in Afghanistan, with U.S. troops often performing the "night raid," Time reported.

The Afghan minister of defense Abdul Rahim Wardak and the American commander General John R. Allen signed an agreement Sunday that will gradually stop U.S. forces from performing night raids and give more power to Afghan forces to perform them, The New York Times reported.

"This is an important step in strengthening the sovereignty of Afghanistan," Wardak said in a press conference.

The U.S. is also optimistic that this agreement will lead to Afghan sovereignty.

Allen said Afghans are now "in the lead on two of the most important issues: capturing the terrorists and ensuring they remain behind bars."

World leaders are skeptical whether the Syrian government will adhere to the U.N.'s six-point plan, but it at least agreed to it on Tuesday, The Guardian reported.

The U.N. released its estimates that the death toll in Syria had reached 9,000 in the past year on Monday, according to The Guardian.

"This cannot be allowed to drag on indefinitely," CNN reported United Nations-Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan said on Monday. "As I have told the parties on the ground, they cannot resist the transformational winds that are blowing. They have to accept that reforms have to come, change has to come, and that is the only way to deal with the situation."

Annan is the author of the U.N.'s plan, which will mainly require the Syrian government to "commit to stop the fighting," "ensure timely provision of humanitarian assistance to all areas affected by the fighting," "ensure freedom of movement throughout the country for journalists," and "respect freedom of association and the right to demonstrate peacefully as legally guaranteed," according to the U.N. Security Council document.

Will the Syrian government follow these provisions? "We will continue to judge the Syrian regime by its practical actions not by its often empty words," Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague told The Guardian.

French authorities still had Mohammed Merah, 23, under siege at his apartment in Toulouse late Wednesday night. He allegedly killed seven people, including a Rabbi, three Jewish children and three French soldiers, in the name of jihad.

Merah told news channel France 24 that he was fighting against France's involvement in the war in Afghanistan, France's niqab (Muslim veil that covers everything but the eyes) ban, and for the "deaths of Palestinian children," The Guardian reported.

Born and raised in Toulouse, Merah was arrested over 10 times for petty crimes and travelled to Afghanistan and Pakistan three times since 2007, according to The Washington Post. Upon his return from these trips, the Interior Ministry's Central Directorate for Domestic Intelligence put him under surveillance.

"His mother said she did not wish to speak to him because she did not believe she could convince him and he would be deaf to her appeals," The Irish Times reported French interior minister Claude Guéant said.

"I never had the impression that he was an individual radically different from the one I knew in the beginning," CNN reported Merah's former lawyer Christian Etelin said. "I always knew him as being someone very flexible in his behavior, courteous, polite, soft and certainly not rigid to the point of being led by a certain fanaticism."

What made Merah change? The answer to come when French authorities finally capture him, which they hope will be alive.

At 2:46 p.m. Sunday, the Japanese people paused for a moment of silence to honor the memories of those dead and still missing from the earthquake and resulting tsunami that hit at that same time a year ago.
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, 54, and Emperor Akihito, 78, led an audience of around 1,200 people at the National Theater in Chiyoda Ward, according to The Japan Times. "We will stand by the disaster victims during these difficult times and work together to fulfill the historic mission of reinvigorating Japan through reconstruction," Noda said at the ceremony.
Over 15,000 people have died and over 3,000 are missing from the quake, according to BBC News Asia.
One of the people still missing is the sister of Toshiko Murakami, 70, whose seaside town of Rikuzentaka suffered great losses. "I can't find peace within myself," Murakami told the Associated Press.
Although it has been a year, there is still a lot to rebuild. In his address at the ceremony covered by the Wall Street Journal, Akihito said, "It's important that we don't forget the memories of this big earthquake and pass them on to our descendants so that readiness for natural disasters is fostered and we can make progress towards building a safer country."

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