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WORLD NEWS - Dec 1sth, 2012


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Here is the news in Special English. I’m Christopher Cruise in Washington.

Israel will build 3,000 homes for its settlers in the disputed part of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Israeli officials who refused to be named told reporters about the plans on Friday. They said the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had approved the plans. They appeared to be an answer to a vote on Thursday in the United Nations General Assembly. Members there voted to recognize the Palestinian Authority as a non-member observer state. The Obama Administration said the decision to build the homes is, in its word, counterproductive. A spokesman said the move would make it more difficult to restart direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. The Palestinian Authority has said it will not return to peace talks until Israel stops building settlements in disputed areas. The homes would be built in an area that the Palestinians believe should be part of a Palestinian state.

Syrian activists say military forces launched a major offensive in the capital Damascus near the nation’s international airport early Friday. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported intense clashes near a main road leading to the airport. Reports say 2 people were wounded after Syrian rebels destroyed army vehicles near the airport. It was not immediately clear if the airport was open. However, on Thursday, Egypt Air and Emirate Airline suspended its flights to Syria.

Egyptians gathered near

Tahrir Square
in Cairo on Friday for an eighth day of demonstrations against President Mohamed Morsi. The protesters were angered by the president’s order increasing his powers. They are accusing him of acting like a dictator. On Thursday, an Islamist-controlled group approved Egypt’s new proposed constitution. Egyptians must now vote on the measure in a special nationwide election. Several Christian and liberal members boycotted the Constitutional Assembly vote. The assembly agreed to keep the values of Islamic Law as the main source of legislation. The group moved up the vote in an effort to pass the constitution before Sunday. That is when Egypt’s highest judicial power is expected to rule on whether to break up the assembly.

President Obama is trying to create public support for his plan to avoid a crisis over government spending and tax policies. He spoke to workers at a toy factory in Pennsylvania on Friday. He said he thinks he can reach an agreement with lawmakers to avoid $600billion in spending cuts and tax increases which are set to take effect January first. But he said reaching a deal will not be easy. “All of us are going to have to get out of our comfort zones to make that happen. I’m willing to do that. I’m hopeful that enough members in Congress in both parties are willing to do that as well.” The speaker of the House of Representatives Republican John Boehner said the president’s plans are not a serious attempt to end the dispute.

You are listening to the news in Special English from Washington.

A United Nations report for World AIDS Day says there has been a 50% drop in the rate of new HIV/AIDS infections in 25 low to middle income countries. More than half of those countries are in Africa. UN Aids, a United Nations group, says of the 34,000,000 people with HIV in 2011, most of them lived in countries south of the Saharan Desert in Africa. Almost one in every 20 adults was living with the virus in that area. UN Aids also reported that AIDS-related deaths in sub-Saharan Africa have dropped by one-third over the past six years. And many more people are receiving medical treatment. Many countries with the highest number of AIDS cases have made the most progress.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, rebel forces were expected to withdraw from the eastern city of Goma on Friday. The M23 rebels have said they will move to a position 20km from that provincial capital. They say they plan to leave about 100 rebel soldiers at the airport. Gabe Joselow who is VOA’s reporter in Goma says the rebel group has been moving around its ammunition and weapons. But he said he does not see a change in the number of rebel fighters. Gave Joselow adds that the political leaders of M23 say the group is in the process of withdrawing. The rebels seized Goma last week after fighting with the Congolese army and United Nations peacekeeping forces. Separately, Britain has suspended $30,000,000 in aid to the country of Rwanda. The move follows reports that Rwanda’s government is supporting the M23 rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

And finally at this hour:

Thieves in the West African country of Benin have entered more than 100 graves near the capital Porto Novo. In some cases, body parts were stolen. Officials began investigating the crimes in the village of Donbul after a stone worker at the cemetery there called the police. A reporter for Benin Television told VOA that the robbers stole the heads of some of the bodies. The reporter said the robbery was the first of its kind in at least five years. He also said police do not yet know why the robberies took place although Benin has a strong tradition of Voodoo, a belief system that uses bones in some of its ceremonies.

And now, briefly, here again is the major news of the hour read to you in VOA Special English.

Israel says it will build 3,000 homes for its settlers in the disputed part of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Syrian activists say military forces launched a major offensive in Damascus near the nation’s international airport early Friday. And a United Nations report says there has been a 50% drop in the rate of new HIV/AIDS infections around the world.

And that’s the news at this hour in VOA Special English. I’m Christopher Cruise in Washington.

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