Australia to sign Kyoto 2 climate change treaty

Australia has announced that it will sign a the next phase of the Kyoto climate change treaty. Canberra hopes to finalize its commitment at UN climate talks in Doha, Qatar in December. The curent agreement expires this year, and a new globally-binding deal is not expected until 2015. The next phase will effectively act as a bridge deal until the new long-term plan can be agreed to. The Kyoto Protocol was the first international treaty that set emissions reduction obligations on countries.

Obama to become first US president to visit Burma

Newly reelected US President Barack Obama is set to make a historic trip to Burma. There, he will meet Burmese President Thein Sein and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Obama’s trip to southeast Asia will take three days, and includes visits to Thailand and Cambodia. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was previously the most senior American official to visit Burma after a December 2011 trip.

Palestine drafts resolution to become UN observer state

The Palestinian observer mission has circulated a draft resolution to UN member-states that calls for upgrading Palestine’s UN status from an observer to a nonmember observer state. The new status, if ratified by the UN, would give the Palestinian Authority statehood akin to the Vatican’s. No decision has been made on when the draft resolution will be submitted to the UN General Assembly for a vote, the AP said. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said on Thursday that the resolution was a unilateral step that had “broken the rules and crossed a red line.” He also summoned Israeli ambassadors for a meeting in Vienna, where they are expected to lobby European governments to oppose the resolution.

EU, Latin America states end ‘banana dispute’

The so-called ‘banana dispute’ – an international trade battle that started over two decades ago – has finally ended, the World Trade Organization said. The EU and ten Latin American nations agreed to terminate a trade dispute dating to 1991 over tariffs on bananas, the AP said. The agreement was signed Thursday in the presence of World Trade Organization Director General Pascal Lamy. The EU tariffs had favored imports from former European colonies. The new agreement formally ends eight separate WTO cases involving Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Venezuela and Peru.

Ireland to advance EU-wide ban of West Bank settlement products

Ireland plans to use its presidency in the EU Council, set to begin in January 2013, to convince all 27 member-states to implement a joint decision that would ban products from West Bank Settlements, Haaretz reported. The plan was revealed in a letter by Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Eamon Gilmore to the chair of the Irish parliament’s Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, Pat Breen. According to the foreign minister, the plan may fail due to opposition from some EU members.

Another united state: Puerto Rico votes for statehood

While Puerto Ricans are unable to vote in the presidential election, 65 percent of the US island territory’s four million citizens on Tuesday voted in favor of becoming the 51st US state – an action that President Obama said he supports.

Colorado and Washington prepare to face off with feds over marijuana

Colorado and Washington became the first states in the US to legalize the recreational use of marijuana this week, but the win for weed advocates is likely to be challenged by the feds as nation-wide legislation outlawing the drug still stands.

‘Anyone stockpiling nuclear weapons is mentally retarded’ – Ahmadinejad

During a meeting in Indonesia, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejiad said that the era of nuclear deterrence “is over,” and nations that stockpile nuclear weapons are “mentally retarded.”

Thousands take to streets in Argentina to protest economic woes (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

Thousands of Argentineans gathered in the streets of capital Buenos Aires to voice anger against the government of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. The rally, reportedly the biggest in a decade, was organized on social networks.

Arafat exhumation set for November 26 over poison report

Reuters/Reuters – A member of the Palestinian Presidential guard stands beside the grave of late leader Yasser Arafat in the West Bank city of Ramallah October 24, 2012. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman