Palestinian Statehood – The U.N. general assembly will vote on Thursday whether to recognize Palestine as a sovereign state, writes the Guardian. It is expected that the change of the Palestinian status from “entity” to “non-member status” will pass easily through the general assembly. The U.S., Israel and a few other member states are planning to vote against the campaign which has been led by the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas. The President has focused on lobbying wealthy European states for support with more than a dozen European nations already planning to vote in favor of the change. U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton has called the move misguided, saying that efforts should focus on reviving the Middle East peace process.
China’s HIV/AIDS Cases – In China, the number of new HIV/AIDS cases increased by nearly 13% in the first 10 months of 2012, compared to the same period last year, notes Reuters. All told, official statistics from the Health Ministry indicate that 492,191 people were living with HIV/AIDS as of the end of October, reports the state-run new agency Xinhua. “China’s government was initially slow to acknowledge the problem of HIV/AIDS in the 1990s and had sought to cover it up when hundreds of thousands of impoverished farmers in rural Henan province became infected through botched blood-selling schemes,” writes Reuters.
Acidifying Oceans – Al Jazeera reports that the Earth’s oceans are absorbing increased amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, which dangerously acidify the waters. Ocean acidification, whose pace is 10 times faster today than it was at any other time in history, “raises the specter of extinctions of coral, algae and shellfish — key cogs in the global food chain — with far-reaching consequences for the planet’s inhabitants,” writes Al Jazeera. Despite its damaging effects on marine life and ultimately on humans, experts said that public awareness of ocean acidification is very low and called on the U.S. government to get the message out.
Asian Pensions — Asian governments face a funding shortfall in their pension plans, examines CNBC, as they struggle with the “gap between what’s currently in state pension coffers and what’s needed to cover the elderly in retirement.” A report by Reuters indicates that the funding gap could jump from $2.6 trillion in 2010 to $10.8 trillion in the next 20 years, unless governments implement pension reforms soon. Experts said allowing pension funds to invest more in riskier assets and raising the retirement age could help fix the shortfall.
Kosovo Prime Minister – Kosovo’s former Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj was acquitted at a U.N. war crimes tribunal on Thursday, reports the New York Times. This is the second time that Haradinaj has been acquitted for murdering and torturing Serbs in Kosovo’s war of independence. The 2008 verdict of his trial was branded a “miscarriage of justice” following the intimidation of witnesses. Although the acquittal is seen as a “political renaissance” for Haradinaj, it could potentially complicate talks between Pristina and Belgrade on Kosovo’s future. The former Prime Minister’s lawyer has said that Haradinaj now wants to lead a government representing all ethnic groups in Kosovo saying, “it is time, for reconciliation.”
Mali Conflict – The head of al-Queda in the Islamic Magreb has urged the people of Mali in a taped message, to reject foreign intervention as a way of halting the country’s conflict, reports Aljazeera. Abu Mosaab Abdulwadood explains in the recording that reconciliation between Muslims without bloodshed can only be solved internally. Many groups connected to the al-Queda have been fighting for control of the north of Mali for the past 8 months since the March 2012 coup. Barry Pavel, director of the Atlantic Council’s International Security Program in Washington DC, has voiced fears that Mali could become “Afghanistan – the sequel.”