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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

PLO Cancels Planned Peace Talks Over Shooting Deaths

Palestinian authorities have canceled a planned round of peace talks with Israel after Israeli security forces fired on a crowd in the West Bank town of Qalandiya yesterday, killing two men including U.N. employee Rubin al-Abed. Spokesperson for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Nabil Abu Rudieneh, condemned what he called “criminal acts” and suggested the infusion was part of a broader effort to sabotage the landmark peace talks. He asked the U.S. administration to “thwart the collapse of the negotiations.”

President Abbas is said to have met with U.S. security envoy General John Alan and U.S. peace envoy Martin Indyk yesterday, seeking assurances that the U.S. continued to back the peace process.

New Mexico Judge Legalizes Same Sex Marriage

New Mexico Judge Alan Malott has ruled that New Mexico’s state constitution prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and ordered the Bernalilo country clerk to begin issuing marriage certificates to gay and lesbian couples. New Mexico does not have a law banning or prohibiting same-sex couples from obtaining marriage licenses, and indeed recognizes the validity of those issued in other states. In 2004, Sandoval County Clerk Victoria Dunlap issued 66 such certificates before the state’s then-attorney general, Patricia Madrid, opined that such certificates might be invalid.

Today’s ruling was brought about by a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Jen Roper and Angelique Neuman, who were asking New Mexico to recognize Neuman as Roper’s wife on Roper’s death certificate. Roper has terminal cancer. But after a speedy hearing where the state offered no objections, Judge Malott went one step further. “Gay and lesbian citizens of New Mexico have endured a long history of discrimination,” wrote the judge. “Denial of the right to marry continues this unfortunate, intolerable pattern and establishes irreparable injury on plaintiffs’ part.”

Fernand Claims Thirteen

Tropical depression Fernand killed at least 13 people in Veracruz, Mexico yesterday. Governor Javier Duarte announced each death on television, saying they “were caused by landslides in the hills above their homes.” Hundreds of people were evacuated prior to Fernand’s landfall, but the Mexican government had discontinued all coastal warnings earlier in the day. The U.S. National Hurricane Center believes the tropical depression will produce 4 to 12 inches of rain in states of Veracruz, Hidalgo, Puebla San Luis Potosi, and Tamaulipas. The center counseled that Fernand’s deadly effects have not yet been fully felt, saying “These rains could cause life-threatening flash floods and mud slides.”

U.N. Peacekeeping Forces Attack M23

The recently deployed U.N. Intervention Brigade took action against with M23 fighters near Kibati, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, breaking a short lull in the 20-year conflict between the rebels and the Congolese government. An anonymous U.N. officer said, “We are supporting the [Congolese] army in their operations but have not ourselves engaged the rebels at this stage. U.N. air strikes have hampered M23′s ability to hold territory, but a spokesperson for the group said reports suggesting horrible loses on their part were “nonsense”.

Earlier this week, the U.S. state department expressed alarm at the resumption of hostilities and urged restraint from all parties. This summer’s peace talks, which saw the rebels withdraw from the captured city of Goma as a sign of good faith, broke down when rebels found evidence the DRC police were arresting civilian supporters of M23.

Malala Yousafzai Wins Peace Prize

Malala Yousafzai will receive the International Children’s Peace Prize for her campaign to bring girl’s education to Pakistan’s tribal areas. In 2009, Yousafzai began blogging for BBC Urdu, detailing her education under the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), despite a Taliban ban on girl’s education. After heavy fighting forced
Yousafzai and her family into refugee camps, Yousafzai continued to drum up international support for her cause and was awarded Pakisan’s National Youth Peace Prize. Following her rise in prominence, leaders of the TTP ordered her assassination. The then-15 year-old was shot in the head last year by a Taliban gunman in the Swat Valley, but since recovered and has gone on to attend Edgbaston High School in Birmingham, England, this March.

While she had been nominated in 2011, Malala Yousafzai was the only nominee this year. The Dutch KidsRights Foundation which award the prize hailed Yousafzai as “a brave and talented child who has demonstrated special dedication to children’s rights.”

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