U.N. Proposes 12,000-Member Peacekeeping Force for Central African Republic
The United Nations has proposed a nearly 12,000-member peacekeeping force for Central African Republic where sectarian conflict has raised fears of a possible genocide. At least 2,000 people have died and more than 700,000 have been displaced since December amid fighting between Muslim rebels and Christian vigilantes. The European Union is preparing to deploy hundreds of soldiers to join thousands of African and French troops already on the ground.
President Obama’s meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came as Israeli government figures showed Israel initiated more than twice as many West Bank settlement homes last year than it did the previous year. Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics said construction began on more than 2,500 settlement housing units in 2013, compared to just more than 1,100 the year before. Last year’s number is the highest in a decade. In the West Bank’s Jordan Valley, Palestinian residents and local officials say Israel has demolished hundreds of homes.
Ali Ka’abneh, Jordan Valley resident: “The Israeli occupation forces came here on the 29th. They came in the morning, of course, while we were sleeping, at 6:30 with their bulldozers and their soldiers. They gave us 10 minutes to leave the buildings we lived in, and then they demolished them all at once, without any warning at all.”
Arif Daraghmeh, head of Al-Maleh Council: “The occupation has demolished more than 500 structures in the past year alone in this area, and now the Israeli army and occupation is carrying out all these policies in order to pressure the people and drive them out. They have demolished these tents and driven out the inhabitants, and they plan to have exercises in this area and to build more settlements and military camps.”
U.S. border agents are facing new scrutiny for killing migrants, with 21 civilian deaths reported since 2010. The Los Angeles Times obtained a report by law enforcement experts that criticized the Border Patrol’s “lack of diligence” in investigations and found agents deliberately stepped into the paths of cars, apparently to justify shooting the drivers. U.S. Customs and Border Protection tried to suppress the report, omitting key findings when it was released to members of Congress. In its response to the report, the government rejected its two central recommendations: stopping agents from shooting at cars unless someone inside is trying to kill them, and blocking them from firing at people who are throwing things that cannot cause serious injury. Last week, McClatchy reported that in January a border agent shot and killed a migrant in Arizona who appeared to be on his knees. The agent claimed the victim lunged for his gun.
Young people in the United States will now have an easier time purchasing emergency contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancy. The Obama administration says it will allow generic brands of the morning-after pill to be purchased over the counter without age restrictions. Previously, only the more expensive brand-name Plan B One-Step was available without a prescription to people of all ages.