Story by Yashowanto Ghosh, Staff Writer
Photo courtesy of Manu Fernandez/Associated Press
SYRIA – The Russian army initiated airstrikes in Syria starting on Wednesday, September 30, claiming to target the Islamic State, amid growing concerns in NATO that they are also operating against opposition parties in Syria who are not associated with IS but only trying to get rid of president Bashar al-Assad’s government.
US Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the Russian action could inflame the civil war. Syria’s state news agency said the airstrikes were being conducted against IS; human rights groups claimed the first day’s airstrikes only killed civilians, reports CNN.
BURKINA FASO – General Gilbert Diendéré, leader of last month’s coup, is in custody, reported The Guardian and BBC News on Thursday, October 1. Diendéré had taken refuge at the residence of Vatican’s representative to Burkina Faso before surrendering at an unnamed diplomatic mission in the capital Ouagadougou.
The coup was launched on September 16 with the Burkinabe autonomous military unit Regiment of Presidential Security detaining transitional president Michel Kafando and several members of his cabinet. The country’s regular army intervened and restored Kafando’s government on September 23.
CUBA – President Obama met President Raúl Castro of Cuba for the second time in six months on Tuesday, September 29, according to a White House press release. The two leaders discussed recent advances in relations between their countries. Obama welcomes the progress made in re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba and emphasized the importance of continuing reforms in Cuba, reiterating US support for human rights.
AUSTRALIA – The government of new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is reversing unpopular policy that led to the ouster of Tony Abbott. Abbott was voted out by his own party last month after two years in office.
New Education Minister Simon Birmingham announced on Thursday, October 1, that the Abbott government’s proposed changes to the funding of higher education, which would have shifted more of the costs to students, would be delayed and reconsidered. Abbott told a Melbourne radio station that he is ‘disappointed’.
SPAIN – Secessionists won a majority in regional elections in Catalonia on Sunday, September 27. Artur Mas, president of the regional government, said he would unilaterally declare Catalonia’s independence from Spain in the next 18 months.
Mas claimed his separatist coalition’s victory, though slim—72 seats out of 135, 47.7 percent of the vote—is a de facto referendum for Catalan independence. Spain’s national government vowed to fight to keep the region within Spain.
COLOMBIA – President Juan Manuel Santos, speaking to the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday, September 29, said his country was on the verge of peace following last week’s progress in talks in Havana with FARC rebels.
The negotiators set a deadline for March 23, 2016, to reach a final agreement for ending the country’s fifty-year-old armed conflict between government forces, left-wing guerrillas, and right-wing paramilitary. The current peace talks began three years ago.
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