Koreas Dialogue – China’s President Xi Jinping has said his government is willing to promote dialogue between North and South Korea as stability between the two nations is also in the interests of the Chinese people, writes Reuters. “China is committed to maintaining peace and stability on the peninsula and realizing the peninsula’s denuclearization, and upholds resolving the issue through dialogue and consultation,” Xi told South Korean President Park Geun-hye by telephone. Beijing is taking part in a new round of U.N. sanctions against North Korea this month and says it’s willing to provide the necessary help for “reconciliation and cooperation.”
Genocide Trial — Former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt is on trial on charges of genocide during his regime from 1982-83, reports the AFP. Rios Montt, 86, is accused of killing nearly 1,800 members of the indigenous Ixil Maya people in the central Quiché region during Guatemala‘s civil war. The former strongman insists that he was unaware that the army committed massacres under his watch. The genocide trial is the first of its kind arising from the Central American country’s 36-year civil war — a conflict between government forces and leftist guerrillas that ended in 1996. The proceedings, according to AFP, are expected to last several months, with 130 witnesses and roughly 100 experts testifying. If Rios Montt is found guilty, he could face 50 years in prison.
Vietnamese Baby Girls — The Vietnamese government is considering handing out cash benefits to families who have daughters, writes VOA News. A tradition of patriarchal Confucianism in Vietnam has created a society where families prefer sons over daughters, resulting in a skewed sex ratio with 112 boys for every 100 girls; the global norm is 106 boys to 102 girls. Hanoi is now considering implementing a $123 million-policy that would provide cash benefits, health insurance, preferential treatment in school admissions, and hiring for families who have daughters. Critics of the idea said it would have little impact on richer families who don’t need the money.
Afghan Tanker Lawsuit – A German court in the western city of Bonn will hear the case of 79 Afghan families who are seeking reparation for the deaths of family members killed in a 2009 air strike, reports the BBC. In 2010 the German defense ministry paid $430,000 in compensation to the victims’ families, whereas those affected by the disaster are now seeking $4.3m from the German government. At least 90 people were reportedly killed in the accident, including women and children, although a lawyer representing the Afghan families said 137 people were killed. The incident led to the resignation of the then-Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung and was described by the German parliament as “one of the most serious incidents involving the German army since the Second World War.”
Elephant Slaughter – According to local conservation groups, 89 elephants have been slaughtered in one night near the town of Ganba in southern Chad, writes Aljazeera. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said around 50 Arabic-speaking poachers on horseback massacred the elephants, including 33 pregnant females and 15 calves. The WWF discovered 23 elephant carcasses in a Cameroon national park earlier this month, while conservationists said that criminal gangs are illegally trafficking elephant tusks from Central Africa to meet demand for ivory in Asia. Ivory is now worth over $2,000 per kilogram on the Asian black market.