This Week in the World: February 6th 2014

Syria peace talks end badly

 

A week-long conference in Geneva between the Syrian government and the opposition failed to produce an agreement. According to the BBC, the conference is rumoured to have ended with the two sides trading insults. A UN representative said that there was a small amount of progress made, and that he had seen some common ground, and more talks have been scheduled for Feb. 10. The two sides discussed possible ways to end the violence, and well as humanitarian issues. There had been agreements made on ceasefires to allow access for humanitarian workers; however, a ceasefire in the city of Homs has not been honoured, and no aid has gone through. This city has been besieged for over eighteen months, and some of the residents of the city have said that they are eating grass to survive.


Amanda Knox refuses to return to Italy

 

Amanda Knox has been convicted for the second time for the murder of British student of Meredith Kercher in 2007 when the two girls were roommates together studying in a small Italian town. Knox is fighting her second conviction, saying that she will not willingly return to Italy to serve her 28½-year sentence. For the past seven years, Knox has said that she and her boyfriend at the time are both innocent, and has said that she has not been given the chance to mourn the death of her roommate and friend. Her sentence, along with the twenty-five year sentence of her ex-boyfriend, will not have to be served pending further appeals. Reuters suggested that a prolonged legal battle is likely.


Man thanked for stopping suicide

 

Jonny Benjamin of London, England, finally got the chance to say thank you to Neil Laybourn, the stranger who talked him out of a suicide bridge jump. Six years ago, the two men only spoke for twenty-five minutes, when Laybourn stopped on his way to work to stop a stranger from committing suicide. These twenty-five minutes saved Mr. Benjamin’s life. Last week Benjamin finally got the opportunity to thank Laybourn, after searching for his mystery man for the past six years, eventually putting out advertisements. Laybourn’s fiancée knew what had happened, and the meeting between the two men was set up. Benjamin told The Telegraph that he is not trying to romanticize his story or suicide, but wants to emphasize that there is always support, and that having someone to listen can make all the difference.


Archbishops criticize anti-gay laws

The Anglican Archbishops of Canterbury and York have written a public letter to the presidents of Nigeria and Uganda, saying that homosexuals are loved and valued by God, and that homosexuals should not be victimized. Nigeria and Uganda have both passed legislation targeting gays. In Nigeria, a bill has been signed that bans same-sex marriages, LGBT groups, and public affection between two people of the same sex. In Uganda, a bill allowing more severe punishments for homosexuals has been passed by Parliament, but blocked temporarily. These laws have been criticized by LGBT rights groups, as well as human rights groups. The archbishops have said that homosexuals are children of God, and should be respected and loved.


Children humiliated by cafeteria staff

Parents in the state of Utah are outraged after lunches were taken away from thirty elementary students after money on their food accounts ran out. Erica Lukes and other Utah parents have urged the school district to start an investigation after their children’s lunches were taken away and thrown out. The Associated Press reports that the school’s principal said that after the lunches were given out, they should never have been taken away. Parents had been told that their children were behind on their lunch payments, but had not had the standard time to be able to pay the fees; some parents were even told that their warnings had been a mistake. The school district has apologized and started an investigation into the situation.


Food crisis in South Sudan

The United Nations has said that approximately 3.7 million people are in dire need of food in South Sudan following the civil conflict. The UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator told the BBC that USD 1.3 billion was needed to deal with this food crisis, which has come after violence broke out in the country on Dec. 15. The civil conflict started as violence between rival army factions, leading to thousands of deaths and 860,000 displaced peoples. Approximately a third of South Sudan’s population is now in need of food. Some civilians have stormed warehouses was aid was being kept in order to get food. A tentative ceasefire was announced last week, although violence has not ceased entirely. The BBC reported that over two hundred Doctors without Borders staff were forced to flee into the bush due to fighting.

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