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Thursday, October 25, 2012

U.K. Gets Olympic Boost to Emerge from Recession

The U.K. economy is no longer in a recession. Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that the economy grew by one percent in the months between July and September, helped by the Olympic Games. Olympic ticket sales alone were responsible for .2 percent of the growth. On a visit to a factory in London, Prime Minister David Cameron said that the country still has “a long way to go and there are still difficulties ahead”, but he believed the figures showed the government was on the right track. Shadow chancellor Ed Balls said the figures “show that underlying growth remains weak“. The ONS can still review figures higher or lower as the date is based on preliminary estimates.

Egyptian President Brokers Ceasefire Between Hamas and Israel

Two days of cross-border violence between Palestinian group Hamas and the Israeli army came to a halt on Thursday after a ceasefire was brokered by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. A Palestinian official speaking to the Reuters news agency said that “the contacts Cairo made resulted in a verbal promise by Hamas to calm the situation down, and Israel said it was monitoring calm on the ground and would refrain from attacks unless it was subject to rocket fire from Gaza”. In a speech marking the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha, President Morsi said that “the blood of Palestinians is our blood, their life is our life and their pains are our pains, however, supporting Palestine does not mean we can declare a war against anybody”.

Benghazi Attack Suspect Killed by Security Forces in Cairo

A Libyan man suspected of involvement in an attack on the US consulate in the Lybian city of Benghazi was killed by security forces in Cairo. Karim Ahmed Essam el-Azizi died after a firefight in the Cairo suburb of Madinet Nasr. The exchange of fire began after he had attempted to lob a bomb at the surrounding officers on Wednesday morning, but it bounced back into his flat. His body was found inside the flat, along with weapons and explosive material. Local emergency services had to rescue other residents of the apartment block because the gunshots and the bomb had caused a blaze. Jon Leyne, the BBC’s correspondent in Cairo, said that el-Azizi might have been in Cairo on his way to the Sinai peninsula, a gathering point for militants across the region.

United Nations Investigators Denounce War Crimes in Syria

United Nations human rights investigators said on Thursday that “crimes against humanity and war crimes” are being committed in Syria. Carla del Ponte, former war crimes prosecutor and one of the members of the four-person team, said she would participate in an investigation to track and document serious rights violations, with a particular focus on identifying “the high-ranking political and military figures” who had committed atrocities. “As a former prosecutor I can tell you, yes, those responsible for these crimes should be put to justice”, said the 65-year-old former chief prosecutor. Del Ponte has previously investigated war crimes in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. The investigators hope to be received by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but have yet to actually gain access to the country. It has so far relied on more than 1,000 interviews with perpetrators and victims of the conflict.

Controversial Governor of Tokyo to Form New National Party

Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara said on Thursday that he would quit his post in order to form a national party. The 80-year-old novelist-turned-politician recently made headlines by suggesting that the Tokyo metropolitan government would buy an island group disputed by Japan and China, called Senkaku by Japan and Diaoyu in China. Shintaro’s provocative move was eventually thwarted by the Japanese government, who decided to purchase the islands instead. During a press conference to announce his intentions, Ishihara said that it was ridiculous that Japan had kept a Constitution drafted by “a conquering army”, referring to the United States, and added that he would reintroduce the draft in Japan to instill discipline amongst the Japanese youth. Ishihara’s party could make an impact in Japanese politics with its platform of combating vested interests and stimulating growth at a time when none of the bigger parties shows a commanding lead in the polls.

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