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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

South Sudan Rebel Leader ‘Agrees to Talks’

Rebel leader and former South Sudanese vice president Riek Machar has told the BBC he will enter peace talks now that his forces have captured the town of Bor, although his capture of the city has not been confirmed despite a South Sudanese army spokesman claiming that had been a “big fight” in the area. This follows a threat made by the president of Uganda, who said his country’s armed forces would fight the rebels if they failed to agree to a ceasefire by the end of the day. Earlier, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir told the BBC that there would be no power-sharing agreement with his former deputy. “These men have rebelled. If you want power, you don’t rebel so that you are rewarded with the power. You go through the process”, he said.

Chinese Obstetrician Admits to Stealing Newborns

A Chinese obstetrician on the verge of retirement has told the Weinan Intermediate People’s Court that she stole seven newborns for cash, exposing a human trafficking ring. Zhang Shuxia confessed to the crimes at the Fuping County Maternal and Children’s Hospital in Shaaxi province, telling the court that she would tell parents the babies suffered from severe congenital diseases, convincing them to sign papers effectively giving the newborns away. She was exposed when a mother became suspicious of her claims and alerted police, who found that the baby boy in question had been sold by Zhang for US$3,600 and later resold for nearly US$10,000. The child trafficking ring was found to be operating in another three provinces and Zhang could face the death penalty.

Rescue Effort for Stranded Antarctic Ship Under Threat

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has said that fierce winds and snow will prevent planned helicopter flights from rescuing 52 people trapped aboard a Russian scientific ship near Antarctica for at least another day. The helicopter would be operating from the Chinese vessel Xue Long, or Snow Dragon, which is coordinating the rescue of the MV Akademik Shokalskiy. Another two ships, the Australian Aurora Australis and the French L’Astrolabe, have failed to break through the thick ice to aid the Russian vessel, stranded since Christmas Eve. The Aurora Australis backed into open water on Monday for fears it could be “beset by ice itself if it continued to make further rescue attempts”, said Australian authorities. If the helicopter rescue plan fails, the US Coast Guard ship Polar Star is sailing from Seattle and could become another option.

Schumacher’s Brain Pressure Eased After Surgery

Seven-time Formula One World Champion Michael Schumacher’s condition has reportedly improved after undergoing a second operation to treat brain injuries sustained during an off-piste skiing accident in which he hit his head on rocks, reportedly splitting his helmet in two parts. The surgery, which lasted two hours, was carried out to remove a haematoma from the patient’s brain, further decreasing the pressure on his brain. “The situation is better controlled than yesterday. We cannot say he’s out of danger, but today we have bought a bit of time”, said chief anaesthesiologist Jean-François Payen. The chief of neurology, Emmanuel Gay, said that there were “highs and lows”, but agreed that the patient was “a bit better” than yesterday.

Last Read: Does Journalism Have a Future?

“It may one day in the future seem odd that societies had a large group of well-paid professionals whose job it was to select and provide the words and images that people looked at in order to know the world beyond what they could see and hear with their own eyes and ears”. In The Times Literary Supplement.

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