Must-Reads from Around the World

Four Afghan police are sentenced to 16 years in prison for rape charges, France adopts a draft bill to legalize same-sex marriage and adoption, and China gets set for a leadership transition.

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Christophe Ena / AP

A man dressed as a bird performs during an anti gay marriage demonstration in Paris, Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012.

Gay Marriage Law — The French Cabinet has adopted a draft bill to legalize same-sex marriage and adoption. The bill, if passed, would make France the twelfth nation in the world to legalize same-sex marriage, according to VOA News. CNN writes that, per an opinion poll, 65% of those surveyed support gay marriage, wheras only 52% support same-sex adoption. The bill will likely be voted on next February or March.

Leadership Transition – China began its once-in-a-decade leadership transition Thursday, TIME’s Hannah Beech reports. The Communist Party’s 18th National Congress will determine “a new set of top leaders to the world,” according to CNN. Thousands of senior officials from China have gathered in Beijing to attend the event and begin the transition, which will include “lengthy speeches and jargon-heavy meetings.” But even though the major outcomes from the Congress have been determined through clandestine meetings and political maneuvering in advance, no one understands what China’s new leadership will do once they assume power, CNN reports.  Some claim that new measures will help reshape China’s economic policy while others believe that the army will have a stronger influence amid rising global tensions.

Afghan Scandal — A judicial panel sentenced four police officers to 16 years in prison for raping an 18-year-old woman, the New York Times reports. Though the defendants said they would appeal the verdict, the court decision is seen as a victory for the judicial system in Afghanistan. The family of the plaintiff, Lal Bibi, is also seen as “extraordinary” for its decision to file charges against the police officers, according to the Times, instead of following the tradition of honor killing or settling the case outside the court with their daughter’s persecutors.

Tibetan Immolations — The BBC reports that the day before China’s leadership transition took place, three teenage monks set themselves on fire in Tibet. One died while the other two were hospitalized. Later that day a 23-year-old woman set herself alight in Qinghai province (she died). More than 60 Tibetans have protested against China’s rule by self-immolation, according to rights groups. Beijing denies the allegation that Tibetans have no religious freedom and accuses their leader, the Dalai Lama, of inciting the protests.

Damage Control ­– After President Barack Obama’s re-election victory, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been working to repair his relationship with Washington, the New York Times reports. During the course of Obama’s presidency, the Times says that Netanyahu has occasionally “undercut President Obama,” forged stronger bonds with congress and seemingly supported Obama’s challenger, Mitt Romney. Even though Netanyahu issued a congratulatory message to Obama, many are blaming the Prime Minister for tensions between the two countries, including Israel’s former Prime Minister Ehud Olmer, according to the Jerusalem Post. Olmert addressed a group of Jewish community leaders in New York following the election and said, “The prime minister has a right to prefer one candidate over another, but it would be better, obviously, if he kept it to himself.”  TIME’s Karl Vick called Netanyahu’s response to the Obama victory “tepid,” and representative of the contentious relationship that emerged during the first term.

Austerity Approved – Despite violent protests in Greece over the latest batch of austerity measures, the Greek Parliament narrowly approved these proposals geared at keeping the country in the euro zone, Reuters reports.  The 500-page bill that gave the go-ahead to spending cuts, tax hikes and measures, which make it easier to hire and fire workers, despite a “razor thin” margin, according to Reuters. “A lot of what we’re voting on today are measures we should have taken a long time ago,” Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said while assuring that they would be the last cuts, the New York Times adds.