Bangladesh amends war crimes law

Bangladesh’s parliament meets the demands of protestors by amending a law that allows the state to appeal any verdict in war crimes trials that it deems inadequate and unaligned with public opinion. Tens of thousands of people gathered in Shahbag Square in the capital, Dhaka, on Sunday for the thirteenth day of demonstrations, burst into cheers as the assembly approved the changes. The protestors have been demanding the death penalty for war crimes after a tribunal this month sentenced a prominent Jamaat-e-Islami leader, Abdul Quader Mollah, to life in prison for murder, rape, and torture during Bangladesh’s 1971 war of independence from Pakistan. Demonstrators are demanding capital punishment for Mollah. The amendment sets a timetable for the government to appeal against Mollah’s sentence and secure a retrial. However, supporters of Jamaat have held rallies questioning the war tribunal’s neutrality and political motivations, demanding the Jamaat leaders be tried under the auspices of the United Nations. 

One Billion Rising

In more than 200 cities around the world last Thursday, people gathered in the streets to dance as part of the global One Billion Rising campaign to end violence against women and girls. Global actions included marches, rallies, flash mobs, workshops, dancing, and the performance of The Vagina Monologues, as demonstrated right here in Sackville. One country at the forefront of the global movement was India, where mass protests had previously erupted across the country over the gang-rape and murder of a young women on a bus in New Delhi. Hundreds joined the movement in South Africa where, on the same day, the girlfriend of Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius was killed. Pistorius is facing a single charge of murder and will appear on trial this week. 

Meteorite in Russia

In Russia, hundred of people were reportedly injured when a meteorite shot across the sky and exploded. Most injures were minor and resulted from shattered glass from the shock wave. The unforeseen event came just as the world was preparing to witness the close pass of a fifty-metre asteroid known as 2012 DA14. Although unrelated, the near miss and surprise of last week’s event focused global attention on the ever-present threat of asteroid impacts. 

Foreigners abducted in northern Nigeria

Over the weekend, seven foreigners were kidnapped and one security guard killed by gunmen in northern Bauchi, a province of Nigeria, from the compound of the Lebanese construction company Setraco. Foreigners, frequently abducted by armed groups for ransom in Nigeria’s oil-rich southern delta, have become increasingly targeted in the country’s north as the violence has grown. 

EU and US free-trade talks

The European Union and the United States have begun formal talks on a free-trade agreement, paving the way for the biggest trade deal in history. A deal would eliminate trade barriers between the two biggest economies in the world. US President Obama claimed that a comprehensive trade deal would boost American exports and support American jobs. It would bring down remaining tariffs and other barriers to trade and standardize technical regulations and certifications. Free trade between the US and the EU has been under discussion for several years, and the negotiations are assumed to be very complex and timeconsuming. The economic crisis in Europe, along with the emergence of China as an economic power, have been suggested as major factors encouraging the US and EU to unify in order to remain economic leaders.

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