Recently in International Category

Senior al Qaeda leader killed by US drone

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A senior al Qaeda leader was killed during a US drone strike Thursday in Pakistan, according to two of the country's intelligence leaders who reported to CNN Sunday.

Sheik Khalid bin Abdel Rehman al-Hussainan, who was also known as Abu Zaid al-Kuwaiti, was killed when missiles hit his house near Mir Ali, a town in a tribal region near the Afghan border, according to Fox News.

Al-Kuwaiti replaced Abu Yahya al-Libi, al Qaeda's second in command, earlier this year after he was killed in a US drone in North Waziristan in June, according to CNN. Fox reports that al-Kuwaiti was a lesser-known leader who was not on the US State Department's list of most-wanted terrorists, as al-Libi had been.

CNN reports that another suspected drone hit a hideout in the village of Tabbi in North Waziristan Sunday, killing four militants.

North Korea announces launch of rocket in December

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Representatives of North Korea said Saturday that they would be launching a long-range rocket later this month, according to ABC News.

North Korea claims that the rocket is carrying a communications satellite, as reported by ABC, and will be launched south over the Philippines and Australia before going into orbit.

This move has caused great upset among the US and its allies, according to the New York Times. Critics claim that this "communications satellite" is a cover for continued testing that may lead to a rocket launch containing nuclear warheads.

The last rocket that North Korea launched in April broke apart and landed in the Yellow Sea about a mile after take-off . ABC reports that after the incident, rumors spread around Pyongyang concerning the sudden disappearance of a couple of rocket scientists.

According to a press release from the US Department of State, the use of scarce resources for the development of nuclear weapons in North Korea will only bring further isolation and poverty to its citizens. It also reports that the US is working with allies and partners concerning next steps.

UN elevates status of Palestine

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Over 130 nations voted Thursday to rise Palestine's status from a "non-member observer entity," to "non-member observer state", according to The Examiner.

While this move was a triumph for the Palestinian Authority and its supporters, it was strongly opposed by both Israel and the US, according to the New York Times.

The victory for Palestine gains them more tools toward legally combating Israel, but there there was little accomplished in reaching their goal of obtaining their own state within the boundaries of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, as reported in the Examiner.

With this new status, The Hindu reports that Palestine will be able to participate in General Assembly debates, as well as apply to sign the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. This could bring trouble for Israel, who will likely be tried for crimes committed against the civilians of Gaza.

Conflict increases as Gaza missiles hit Tel Aviv

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Conflict between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian group in control of Gaza, has intensified as Gaza missiles were fired at Tel Aviv on Thursday for the first time since the Gulf War in 1991, according to Al Jazeera.

Panicked residents took cover as air raid sirens were sounded through the city. Of the two missiles fired, one landed in a commercial region of Tel Aviv, while the other was thought to have landed in the sea, according to the BBC.

Israel's defense minister has responded by calling up 30,000 reservists. Rumors are flying that Israel has plans to gather its army for a ground attack on the Gaza Strip, which would surely bring a dramatic increase in an already alarming number of injured or killed civilians.

According to Al Jazeera, it was clear from the influx of patients at the hospital that the majority of those injured were innocent civilians. Another Gaza rocket was fired Thursday to Kiryat Malachi, a town south of Tel Aviv, and three people were killed. Many Israelis fear that this attack on Tel Aviv signals dangerous capabilities that Hamas has developed, suggesting a longer and more brutal conflict.

Red Cross cannot keep up with emergency in Syria

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Mounting casualties from the conflict in Syria have overwhelmed relief efforts, namely the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), according to the BBC.

"The humanitarian situation is getting worse despite the scope of the operation increasing," said Peter Maurer, president of the ICRC.

As reported by the BBC, Maurer said that there are several areas within the country that are inaccessible, and there are an unknown number of people who are not getting necessary aid. With the constant movement of the conflict, the Red Cross has not been able to plan, but rather has had to operate on a day-to-day basis of providing aid wherever it is needed at the time.

According to the Khaleej Times, opposition forces have recently been stepping up their attacks on President Bashar al-Assad's power base in Damascus. On Wednesday, attacks led to the deaths of 59 civilians, rebels, and soldiers just in the capital alone, and 133 deaths nationwide.

Chinese cafe owner charged with subversion

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The owner of a Beijing internet cafe was given an 8-year prison term Friday, after being charged with subversion for speaking out against China's communist regime and attempting to form an opposition party, according to the New York Times.

Cao Haibo, 27, was charged with "subversion of state power" and sentenced without a hearing, according to his lawyer Ma Xiaopeng. According to news sources, Cao was tried in secret on May 22 after his case was deemed to hold "state secrets", and his wife and father were denied access to the trial.

As reported by Radio Free Asia and the Times, this sentence was given a week prior to a series of pivotal meetings to determine a new set of leaders. In light of this, Chinese authorities have been cracking down on national security, sending right-wing activists to labor camps and forcing lawyers and opponents out of their homes.

Argentina lowers voting age to 16

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Argentina lawmakers passed a bill Wednesday, lowering the nation's voting age from 18 to 16, according to CNN.

The move to lower the voting age comes a year before a key mid-term election in Argentina, and there is speculation that the bill was pushed to bring in more votes for President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who is known to poll well with younger voters.

CNN reports that, while many are happy to see younger people involved in the nation's politics, there are some who are wary of irresponsible youth having the power to vote.

The bill was passed with an overwhelming majority, and it is not the first country to do so. According to The Washington Post, nearby nations like Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador, and Nicaragua have already passed legislation to lower the age.

Sex abuse scandal rocks BBC

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Jimmy Savile was a TV entertainer for the BBC, and an icon for many until his death last year. Now, with over 200 witnesses stepping forward, he is an accused predatory sex offender.

According to CNN, a scandal has erupted with allegations being made the Savile sexually abused mostly teenage girls and boys for decades. Now accusations are flying as to past evidence and accusations that never led to formal investigations.

The allegations made by several women were aired two weeks on the BBC's rival station, ITV, according to Al Jazeera. BBC Director General George Entwistle told lawmakers on Tuesday night that the corporation knew about the allegations last December, but kept them quiet and went on to broadcast Savile tribute shows.

The BBC, a generally trusted corporation, has seen considerable backlash from how they have dealt with the situation, according to news sources. In efforts to smooth the controversy, Entwistle said that the fault was not all on the BBC, pointing to a lack of newspaper coverage.

This scandal brings up the issue of sexism within the male-dominant BBC. Many are wondering about the structure of the corporation that enabled Savile to continually commit the abuse, and who is to blame for dropping last year's investigation.

Hurricane Sandy hits Cuba, approaching Bahamas

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Hurricane Sandy, now classified as a category two storm, wreaked havoc in much of eastern Cuba Wednesday. 3000 buildings were damaged, according to CNN.

As thousands of Cubans assess the damage, the hurricane is quickly making its way to the Bahamas. The country has been placed under a hurricane watch, and Florida has been placed under a tropical storm watch, according to the BBC.

So far, Sandy has brought damage to many Caribbean islands, including Haiti, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic. The storm is estimated to hit the US and mix with colder weather to produce a "super storm" that could travel from Florida to Maine, and even inland to Ohio, according to news sources.

Skydiver breaks speed of sound from edge of space

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Felix Baumgartner, famous Austrian daredevil, has been preparing for five years to fulfill his one goal: to break the speed of sound. He achieved it on Sunday when he jumped from 24 miles above the earth, according to CNN.

Reaching speeds of up to 833.9 mph, or Mach 1.24, Baumgartner eventually reached the ground in southeastern New Mexico on both feet, raising his fists in victory. He successfully broke the record for highest fall, set last in 1960 by Col. Joe Kittinger.

Baumgarter was backed by a NASA mission controller operation that has been underway for the past 5 years, according to the New York Times. The project, named Red Bull Stratos, involved 300 people, including engineers, scientists, and physicians.

But there was no certain guarantee of Baumgartner's survival.

"Trust me, when you stand up there on top of the world, you become so humble," said Baumgartner in an interview with the Times. "It's not about breaking records any more. It's not about getting scientific data. It's all about coming home."

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