Top News: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is traveling to Geneva this morning to join the negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany). The outlines of an agreement that have trickled out of closed door meetings this week include a phased plan in which Iran will halt its nuclear program in exchange for relief from U.S. sanctions on the country.
"We are asking them to step up and provide a complete freeze over where they are today," Kerry said yesterday. "Iran knows that if they don't meet the standards of the international community, the sanctions could be increased and even worse."
Rumors of the plan were received poorly by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who told reporters, "I understand the Iranians are walking around very satisfied in Geneva, as well they should be.... Iran got the deal of the century and the international community got a bad deal." Kerry, who was visiting Israel to discuss the state of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, canceled a planned joint statement with Netanyahu to avoid clashing with him in public. (While in Israel, Kerry also said in an interview that the construction of new Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem "sends a message that somehow perhaps [Israel is] not really serious.")
Some U.S. congressmen are also skeptical of the potential agreement and are looking for new ways to stymie the talks. The House of Representatives is pushing forward with new legislation to strengthen the U.S. sanctions regime against Iran, though President Obama has the individual authority to waive many of the sanctions without congressional approval.
Pakistan: The Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan's governing council named hardliner Mullah Fazlullah the new leader of the organization, succeeding Hakimullah Mehsud, who was killed in a drone strike last week. Fazlullah previously staked out control of part of Pakistan's Swat Valley, which he governed brutally, and is known for orchestrating the attempt on girls' education activist Malala Yousafzai. The TTP said it would not participate in rumored peace talks with the government and was preparing for a new retaliatory offensive.
- A decision by the Constitutional Court in the Dominican Republic has led Dominican officials to announce that more than 24,000 people born to foreign parents living on the island may be improperly registered and could be stripped of their citizenship.
- Toronto mayor Rob Ford faces another scandal after a video showing him drunkenly threatening to kill someone in an expletive-heavy tirade was released; Ford admitted to smoking crack cocaine earlier this week.
- UNESCO, the historical preservation body of the United Nations, suspended the United States' voting rights because the United States has not paid its UNESCO dues for two years now, in protest of Palestine's accession to the organization.
- Super Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful storms in recorded history, struck the Philippines this morning, killing at least four people; the storm is projected to pass into the South China Sea, towards Vietnam.
- The website of Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was hacked by Anonymous in apparent retaliation for the country's new online licensing laws and comments Lee made in which he promised to "spare no effort" tracking down hackers.
- Members of the International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute accused Sri Lanka of denying them visas in advance of a planned trip to promote rule of law and judicial independence issues, and British Prime Minister David Cameron said he would press for war crimes investigations into the country's civil war.
- Saudi Arabia may have a standing deal with Pakistan to receive a nuclear weapon upon request in exchange for Saudi funding for nuclear projects, according to a BBC report.
- Syrian regime forces have launched a new offensive near the city of Aleppo, retaking a strategic air base this morning.
- Jordan may replace Saudi Arabia on the U.N. Security Council after Saudi Arabia declined an invitation to join the council last month.
- Mali's Justice Ministry summoned Gen. Amadou Sanogo, who orchestrated the coup that overthrew the government of Amandou Toumani Toure in March 2012, for questioning about a military protest and potential mutiny in September, which left six dead.
- Sultani Makenga, the military commander of the Democratic Republic of Congo's defeated M23 rebellion, has reportedly surrendered to authorities in Uganda.
- Nigeria called on neighboring Cameroon for help in combating Boko Haram terrorists, who have waged a violent offensive in recent months and taken advantage of the two countries' porous border.
- The heads of three of Britain's intelligence agencies testified to Parliament that the leaks of details of espionage programs by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden had compromised counterterrorism efforts.
- A five-month sit in by employees at the office of Greek state-owned television station ERT, which was shut down in June due to wasteful spending, ended when police stormed the building.
- The European Union indicted 15 former Albanian rebels, including two officials in the government of Kosovo, for war crimes committed in 1998-1999 war with Serbia.
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