In a live address at West Point, President Obama outlined his plan for U.S. troops in Afghanistan, adding 30,000 troops and looking to pull all from the country by the end of 2011. He also seeks to pull all combat brigades from Iraq next year. President Obama’s full remarks can be found here.
Today, December 1st, is World Aids Day. In honor, South Africa has pledged to treat all babies under the age of one who are HIV-positive. In the country, 59,000 babies are born infected every year, but the government has in the past avoided treating them because drugs are too costly, BBC News.
The CEO of General Motors, Frederick “Fritz” Henderson, stepped down today from his post after eight months on the job. The company plans to start an international search for the open presidential and CEO positions, NPR.
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has condemned Switzerland for banning minarets, the tall spires with conical crowns commonly found on Islamic mosques. 57.5 percent of the Swiss population approved the ban on constructing new minarets, but Pillay is worried the ban will cause deep division in the country, Voice of America.
Somali pirates have released a Spanish ship after holding it for 6 weeks. There are 36 crewmembers aboard. The pirates told reporters that they were promised a ransom of $3.5 million but the Spanish government would not confirm that a ransom was paid, BBC News. A report from last May follows the trail of ransoms paid to Somali pirates and finds that only a fraction goes to the pirates themselves, BBC News. Transparency International recently ranked Somalia as the world’s most corrupt country, AFP.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened a 3-day summit on Rome on the problem of world hunger. Ban said that 17,000 children die of hunger everyday and more than 1 billion people worldwide are hungry. One success story to come out of the summit is Brazil, which has decreased hunger by 73% in the past 6 years with its “Zero Hunger” program. The program also emphasizes education by giving families food if their children attend school and by feeding children at school, AFP.
New information is out about the motive behind the killing of 4 Iraqi men by 3 U.S. Army sergeants in March 2007. Army interrogation tapes show that the Iraqi men were killed because it was believed that instead of being detained or held in prison, they were would released due to strict Army detention policies. The Iraqis were found in a house with a small weapons cache but there was not enough evidence to hold them in detention for more than a few days. Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Mayo, Sgt. Michael Leahy, and 1st Sgt. John Hatley were convicted of premeditated murder in a military court and are serving their sentences in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, CNN.
Extended coverage on climate change ahead of next month’s UN conference on climate change in Copenhagen, Denmark:
The U.N. will host a summit on world hunger next week in Rome. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation says that over 1 billion people go hungry every day. The world produces enough food, but high prices for commodities such as wheat and rice and unfair trade practices limit access to food for the poor, Reuters. The FAO has called for a world hunger strike on Saturday to highlight the issue, FAO. Follow on Twitter: @faonews. Sign a petition to stop world hunger, 1 billion hungry.
UNICEF has issued a new report says that poor nutrition kills children around the world, CNN International. Report: Tracking Progress on Child and Maternal Nutrition, UNICEF [pdf].
Overweight children in the United States are at increased risk of developing heart disease, CNN.
In an annual state-of-the-union address, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said that he wants to modernize Russia’s economy, Bloomberg. Profile: Dmitry Medvedev, BBC News.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has admitted fault after an investigation revealed that parole officers had met with Phillip Garrido, the registered sex-offender who kidnapped Jaycee Dugard, 60 times in his home without noticing anything was amiss. Parole officers also ignored alerts from a GPS tracking device that Garrido was required to wear, ABC News.
A retired British soldier who trained Afghan police has said that the Taliban has infiltrated top levels of Afghan police forces, Bloomberg. The gunman who killed 5 British soldiers yesterday has been identified as a policeman called Gulbadin and he is reported to be hiding with Taliban fighters, Guardian.
The UN has relocated 600 personnel after an attack on a guest house in Kabul, Afghanistan that killed 5 UN staff members earlier this week, Voice of America.
The UN is calling for Israel to immediately halt all forced evictions and demolitions of Palestinian homes. 26 people lost their homes today in East Jerusalem, including 10 children, bringing the total to 600 this year. Additionally, 60,000 people may be in risk of losing their homes, according to the UN, Xinhau.
At least 10 members of an amateur Colombian soccer team have been found dead with gunshot wounds in Venezuela, authorities said Sunday. 12 players were seized while playing a game in the neighboring country. One escaped and another is unaccounted for, Reuters.
With the deaths of eight more soldiers today, October has become the deadliest month for U.S. troops in Afghanistan since the war began in 2001. The eight were killed by multiple improvised explosive devices (IEDs). An Afghan civilian was also among the dead, BBC News.
The fossilized skull of a “sea monster” has been uncovered on the Dorset coast. The creature is believed to be a pliosaur, which ruled the ocean 150 million years ago. Judging by the skull size, the plisosaur could have been 52 feet from head to tail and weighed 12 tons, Guardian UK.
Colorado authorities say they expect criminal charges to be filed against the family of the six-year-old boy who was reported to be trapped in a runaway helium balloon on Thursday. The incident dominated media coverage and, after the boy was found safe inside his home, questions have been raised about whether the family made the story up, CNN.
Pakistan unveiled an anticipated new ground strategy today, using more than 30,000 troops to attack al-Qaeda and Taliban strongholds along the Afghan border. Early reports say that the troops are “meeting fierce resistance from Taliban fighters,” Guardian UK.
Israel is furious over the UN Human Rights Commission’s endorsement of the Goldstone Report, which accuses Israel of targeting civilians during the December-January conflict. The report also faulted Hamas for firing rockets into Israel, Jerusalem Post.
Violent clashes between drug gangs and police has killed at least 10 people in Rio de Janeiro. Two Brazilian policeman were killed after their helicopter was shot and crashed, bursting into flames, BBC News.