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World in brief: 05/06/2014

LIBYA: The International Committee of the Red Cross announced today that one of its staffers had been killed by armed men in the Libyan city of Sirte.

Director-general Yves Daccord said that Swiss national Michael Greub was killed when the men attacked his car after he left a meeting on Wednesday.

Mr Daccord condemned the attack, saying: “We are devastated and outraged.”

 

 

NEPAL: More than 2,000 people gathered in the capital Katmandu today in a bid to set a world record for the largest tree hug.

Parliament members, office workers and even Buddhist monks joined students in the attempt at a park on the city’s outskirts. 

Participants said they were trying to set the record to celebrate World Environment Day by spreading awareness about the importance of trees.

 

 

ALBANIA: A group of 17 sacked civil servants ended their 15-day hunger strike today over what they have called politically motivated firings.

Hunger strikers’ spokeswoman Nertila Qafzezi cited health reasons for the decision to end the protest and pack up a tent camp near Prime Minister Edi Rama’s office in Tirana.

The protesters claimed Albania’s Socialist-led government sacked them last autumn because they supported the main opposition Democratic Party.

 

 

PAKISTAN: The High Court in Islamabad ordered police today to begin criminal investigation of CIA involvement in a drone strike that killed three people on December 31 2009.

Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui told officers to examine whether former CIA Islamabad station chief Jonathan Banks and former CIA general counsel John Rizzo were guilty of committing murder, waging war against Pakistan and offences under the Terrorism Act 1997 for their involvement in authorising the strike.

 

 

FINLAND: Official data showed today that the eurozone’s one-time showcase economy was in its longest recession for two decades as output contracted for the eighth quarter in a row.

The centre-right coalition government has introduced a raft of strict austerity measures but, despite higher taxes and cuts to welfare, national debt has continued to rise, reaching 60 per cent of GDP in 2014 — the limit set for eurozone countries.

 

 

SYRIA: UN humanitarian aid chief Valerie Amos said on Wednesday that the number of Syrians in need is expected to jump “significantly” in the coming weeks.

She said international donations for aid were “way down” this year, with just £268 million received out of a £1.4 billion appeal goal.

The United Nations already estimates that 9.3 million people in Syria urgently need humanitarian assistance and more than 6.5 million are internally displaced.

 

 

BRAZIL: Around 4,000 protesters marched on Wednesday night to the Sao Paulo stadium that will host the World Cup opening match next Thursday, calling on the government to provide more low-income housing.

The march, organised by the Homeless Workers Movement, made its way down a main thoroughfare in eastern Sao Paulo holding aloft banners and blocking traffic.

 

 

INDIA: A minister from reactionary Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party today described rape as merely a social crime.

The political leaders of Uttar Pradesh — the state where two cousins aged 12 and 14 were raped and hanged last week — have faced criticism for their attitudes.

And Bharatiya Janata Party law and order minister Babulal Gaur added to the controversy by remarking that rape was “a social crime which depends on men and women. Sometimes it’s right, sometimes it’s wrong,”

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