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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Bus Explosion in Tel Aviv Shatters Bilateral Ceasefire

The possibility of a truce between Israel and Hamas was hindered by an explosion on a Tel Aviv bus which injured 21 people. A spokesman for the Israeli Prime Minister’s office, Ofir Gandelman, took to Twitter to describe the explosion as a “terrorist bombing”. Israel continued its bombardment of the Gaza Strip, killing 11 people, including a child that was killed when an airstrike hit the building housing the offices of the AFP news agency. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton held talks with Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi in Cairo after meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank. She said the U.S. strongly condemned the bus bombing. Meanwhile, a report on Israeli TV station Channel 10 suggested that Israel would declare a unilateral ceasefire on Wednesday, figuring that such a move would force Egypt to pressure Hamas, the Islamic Jihad and other organisations in the Gaza Strip to accept a truce. The channel’s diplomatic correspondent, Emanuel Rosen, said the ceasefire would also contain concessions such as the lifting restrictions for export to Gaza.

Church of England Votes to Reject Women Bishops

The Church of England has rejected legislation that would have allowed women to become bishops. After the vote, Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said that the church would have “a lot of explaining to do” after its decision. “Whatever the motivations for voting yesterday, the fact remains that a great deal of discussion is not intelligible to our wider society. Worse than that, it seems as if we are willfully blind to some of the trends and priorities of that wider society”, said Williams. Reacting to the decision, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron urged the church to “get on with it” and “get with the programme”. “You do have to respect the individual institutions and the way they work, while giving them a sharp prod”, said the Prime Minister. His remarks were directed at the Church of England’s decision-making body, the General Synod, which could take another five years to review the decision.

Congo’s Rebel Movement Pledges to Take Over Power

The March 23 Movement (M23), a rebel Congolese military group, has today stated that it will take over all of the Democratic Republic of Congo, including the capital Kinshasa. “We are now going to Kinshasa, no one will divide this country”, said Col. Vianney Kazarama, an M23 spokesman. His words were greeted by cheering crowds in Goma, a city taken over with no shots fired after thousands of government troops and police officers defected to the rebel group. Another of the M23′s officers, Col. Seraphin Mirindi, said that local police should return to their posts and secure order in the town, promising severe punishment for robbers, looters or rapists. “Since we must work together, we need to love each other”, said Mirindi. “We don’t need to bring up old stories. From today, everything is new.” He also pledged to keep fighting against President Joseph Kabila’s regime and some assume the government in Kinshasa will be forced to negotiate after the rebels have captured the country’s biggest city in the east and most of the neighbouring territory.

Syria Would Need US$60 Billion in Initial Recovery Aid After Conflict

The head of the Syrian National Council, the country’s main opposition, has told investors that it would need at least US$60 billion in aid within the first six months after the downfall of the Bashar al-Assad regime to avoid the country’s collapse. Speaking at a meeting in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, George Sabra said that the money would be needed to “resolve the most sensitive and outstanding issues”, including “housing for people after 2.5 million homes have been destroyed” in the civil war. He also told the AFP news agency that “this is a phase in which the Syrian state must not collapse”. If the state collapsed, said Sabra, it would “lead to security and economic problems”. The meeting, titled “Partnership to Invest in Future Syria”, was co-chaired by the UAE and Germany and sought to study strategies to engage private-sectors investors in rebuilding the war-torn country once the conflict was over.

Boys’ Deaths Shine a Light on China’s Contradictions

Five boys, aged nine to 13, were found dead in a garbage container in the Chinese city of Bijie, in the province of Guizhou, one of the country’s poorest regions. Their deaths were confirmed by the state-controlled Xinhua news agency on Tuesday. It is thought the boys died of carbon-monoxide poisoning after lighting a fire inside the bin in an attempt to stave off the cold. Their deaths have taken over the country’s social media services. One user was quoted by the Wall Street Journal as saying that he thought these were things “that only happened in capitalist societies”. Another blogger, a columnist for the state-run China Youth Daily, wrote that “at a time when we’re crowing about the rise of the nation and the creation of a moderately well-off society, to have five children die while seeking warmth in a trash bin is truly bizarre”. Their deaths came days after the end of the country’s XVIII Party Congress, where new leader Xi Jinping was unveiled.

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