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Mexico: Thousands of march in biggest protest yet
Tens of thousands of people have marched through Mexico City against the government's response to the disappearance and possible massacre of 43 student teachers, in the biggest demonstration yet. A small group of protesters clashed with riot police in the city's central Zocalo plaza. Protesters also drew on chants dating back to the dirty war against leftist dissidents 40 years ago, shouting “They took them alive. We want them back alive”. The students disappeared on 26 September after they were attacked and arrested by municipal police in Iguala and, according to a federal investigation, handed over to a local drug trafficking gang. They have become a symbol for the country's security crisis with countless massacres and more than 20,000 disappearances.
World: Four nations forecast to miss 2020 emissions targets
A UN report says Australia, the US and two other nations will not meet emissions reduction promises. The report by the UN Environment Programme found that Australia, Canada, Mexico and the US needed to do more to meet their reduction targets. The analysis found that Australia will emit 710m tonnes of CO2 in 2020, well above the 555m tonnes – based on a goal of a 5% reducation in greenhouse gases. It also notes that Australia has seen a rise in emissions since the scrapping of carbon pricing in July. Canada also vowed to match the US target of reducing emissions by 17% of 2005 levels, but has set to put a plan in place.
Thailand: Prime minister dismisses Hunger Games salute protest
Thai prime minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha has claimed he is unfazed by people using a three-fingered salute, inspired by blockbuster The Hunger Games, to convey opposition to the country's junta. The salute is a symbol of resistance and revolution against a dictatorial regime in the movies and has been used as an act of defiance against the army's May coup. The military ruler warned that those who used the gesture in public risked jeopardising their futures. His comments come a day after a university student was detained by plain clothes police officers in Bangkok for flashing the salute in front of a poster for the film.
Israel: Destruction of attackers' homes is 'deplorable'
Israel has decided to return to a policy of demolishing houses of terrorists' families following growing tensions since Tuesday's (18/11) terror attack on a Jersualem synagogue. The two assailants were shot dead by Israeli security forces but it has left the city more divided, with the Hamas praising the attack and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu describing the situation as the “Battle for Jersualem”. A return to the policy of demolishing the houses of attackers, which was abandoned in 2005, will only serve to elevate the current situation.
Turkey: Report reveals plight of Syrian refugees
Government-run camps in Turkey are operating at full capacity as more than 1m Syrian refugees have flocked to the country to escape fighting. According to a report by Amnesty International the international community has failed to find sustainable ways to help and so far the Turkish government has spent £3bn on the refugees. Only 220,000 are living in 22 camps which offer food and essential services, while the remaining 1.38m are struggling to survive on their own, living outside the camps along the Turkey-Syrian border. Tension is rising due to the ever-increasing Syrian population in these communities and the Amnesty report states that an increasing number of regugees are being denied access to the Turkish territory, or becoming victims of abuse when attempting to cross.
Pakistan: Husband of Pakistani Christian pleads for pardon
The husband of Christian woman Aasia Bibi, who was sentenced to death four years ago under Pakistan's blasphemy law, has written to the Pakistani president begging him to allow her to move to France. Lahore's high court has upheld the conviction against Aasia Bibi and her husband Ashiq Masih believes his only hope is for an official pardon from president, Mamnoon Hussain. Bibi's case has attracted worldwide attention after Salmaan Taseer, a governor of Punjab, was assassinated for criticising the law and lobbying for a pardon. It is hoped the mother of five will escape execution as Pakistan follows an unofficial moratorium on the death sentence in order to maintain valuable trade connections with the European Union.
Indonesia: Female police recruits forced to undergo 'virginity tests'
Female recruits wanting to join Indonesia's police force are made to undergo 'humiliating' and 'painful' two-finger virginity tests, a rights group has revealed. The 'obstetrics and gynaecology' exam is listed publicly as a requirement to enter the force, and recruits are also expected to be single and remain unmarried until they have been working for a few years. Indonesia's national police website said of the practice: “So all women who want to become policewomen should keep their virginity”. Human Rights Watch said the tests contravene Indonesia's national police principles as well as international human rights policy. Nisha Varia, associate women's rights director at Human Rights Watch, said: “So-called virginity tests are discriminatory and a form of gender-based violence – not a measure of women's eligibility for a career in the police.” JM
US: State of emergency declared over shooting verdict
Missouri governor Jay Nixon has declared a state of emergency ahead of the grand jury's decision over the Michael Brown shooting case. Nixon has called in the National Guard and diminished the role of the Ferguson Police Department as a precaution for potential violence, due to civil unrest in the days following Brown's shooting on August 9. The grand jury is making a ruling over whether to indict police officer Darren Wilson who is accused of fatally shooting unarmed black teenager Brown with excessive force. Last week, Ferguson protestors were planning protests in large groups pending the announcement of the verdict, and there are concerns peaceful protests could develop into riots similar to those in 1992 after the Rodney King decision. The state of emergency will expire in 30 days unless it needs to be extended. AL
Burma: Aung San Suu Kyi presidency ban won't be lifted
Burma's parliamentary speaker has ruled out pre-election changes to the constitution which bars opposition leader and veteran democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi from running for president in the upcoming November 2015 election. The junta-drafted constitution includes a ban on candidates with a foreign spouse or children and Aung San Suu Kyi's late husband, with which she had two sons, was British. The knock-back came days after Barack Obama backed her attempts to change the charter during a visit to the country. Her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), is expected to make big gains at the polls, but has declined to put forward an alternative candidate if she cannot stand for presidency. Speaker Shwe Mann said: “We cannot perform constitutional amendments straight after the referendum”. JM
UK: Church of England approves plans for women bishops
There could be a female bishop in the House of Lords by Easter. The Church of England has finally passed an amendment which will allow the appointment of women as bishops, ending a 20-year battle. In a show of hands at the General Synod, about 30 people voted against the motion out of the 480 present. Women priests were ordained in 1994 but they have not been able to take on the most senior roles. The first women could be appointed by Christmas and there are arrangments to fast-track anyone eligible into the House of Lords. The archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, predicted that half the Church of England's bishops might be women in 10 years time. While supporter Christina Rees said: “We've done a wonderful thing. The nation outside will have seen us and we should be whooping and shouting with joy.” JM
Israel: Four killed in synagogue attack
Four Israelis have been killed and eight injured when two men armed with axes, knives and a pistol attacked a West Jerusalem synagogue. The two Palestinian assailants were killed in a shootout with police and a police officer was also wounded at the scene in the ultra-orthodox Har Nof district. Violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories has increased over the past few weeks, however attacks on synagogues are unusual. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to respond “with a heavy hand” to what is described as the worst such attack in years. US Secretary of State John Kerry described it as an act of “pure terror” before calling on the Palestinian leaders to condemn it. RK
Hong Kong: Authorities clear pro-democracy protest site
Authorities in Hong Kong began clearing part of a pro-democracy protest camp in the Admiralty district on Tuesday morning (18/11). Protesters did not resist as bailiffs tore down barricades at the zone which has been occupied for more than 50 days. The court order, requested by the building's owners Golden Investment, covers access to the Citic building at Admiralty, including two minor roads, but does not extend to the highway which is still occupied by demonstrators. It is not clear how quickly authorities hope to clear the wider area but the taxi and minibus owners have lodged applications for roads to be cleared. The activists have been on the streets since early October to protest against a decision by China to screen candidates for Hong Kong's 2017 leadership election. RK
World: More than 36m people affected by modern slavery
More than 35 million people are trapped in a modern form of slavery, according to a report by Australia-based Walk Free Foundation. The 2014 Global Slavery Index says its estimate of those living in slavery has increased by 23% in the past year due to better data and improved methodology. Five countries – including India, China and Russia – account for 61% of all slavery, but it was found in all 167 countries covered by the report. India remained top of the list with an estimated 14.29 million enslaved people, followed by China (3.24 million), Pakistan (2.06 million), Uzbekistan (1.2 million) and Russia (1.05 million). AL
US: Obama may protect 5m immigrants from deportation
President Barack Obama is reportedly considering a plan to shield around 5million illegal immigrants from deportation. A senior administration official said Obama has pledged to move on the measures by the year's end. The plan will extend deportation protections to parents and spouses of US citizens and permanent residents. The president is also likely to expand his current program that protects young immigrants from deportation. Angry Republicans are already devising ways to thwart his actions.AL
Afghanistan: suicide bombing wounds female MP
A suicide bomber has targeted a prominent female Afghan politician, killing three civilians and wounding others in an attack on a Kabul convoy. Barakzai was slightly injured in the attack on her vehicle as she was heading to parliament. The attacker was in a car that attempted to ram Barakzai’s vehicle. Barakzai, 42, is a high-profile advocate of women’s rights and media freedom. She has been a member of parliament for 10 years and her work has been recognised internationally with a number of awards. The latest incident comes a week after a suicide bomber entered the offices of Kabul's police chief. RK
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