Top news: The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the international watchdog charged with overseeing the destruction of President Bashar al-Assad's chemical weapons stockpiles, issued a statement on Thursday acknowledging that the Syrian regime had destroyed all of its mixing and production facilities ahead of the November 1 deadline. The OPCW, which received the Nobel Peace Prize earlier this month, said that its teams had inspected 21 out of Assad's 23 declared chemical weapons facilities, and that materials had already been removed from the other two, which were too dangerous to visit.
"The joint mission is now satisfied that it has verified -- and seen destroyed -- all of Syria's declared critical production and mixing/filling equipment," the organization said. "Given the progress made, no further inspection activities are currently planned." The Assad regime still remains in possession of roughly 1,290 tons of chemical weapons, which must be destroyed by the middle of next year.
NSA Surveillance: Documents leaked by Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA has tapped fiber-optic cables connecting Yahoo and Google's overseas servers, allowing the agency to sweep up vast quantities of emails and other personal data. Former spooks and technology industry executives reacted to the latest news with a mix of anger and anxiety, The Cable reports, citing concerns that the NSA's activities could negatively impact U.S. firms' ability to do business.
- Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham slammed President Barack Obama in the pages of Foreign Policy for his handling of the situation in Iraq.
- Egyptian authorities on Wednesday arrested Essam el-Erian, one of the few senior Muslim Brotherhood leaders still at large following the country's July 3 coup.
- During his visit to the United States this week, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki will likely face questions from U.S. officials about the recent killing of members of the MEK, which has a powerful lobby in Washington.
- The economies of Sub-Saharan Africa are expected to grow at a collective 6.1 percent in 2014, the IMF said on Thursday.
- Authorities discovered the bodies of more than 80 migrants who perished in the desert in northern Niger after their vehicle broke down.
- Hundreds of Kenyans protested in Nairobi, after police ordered three alleged rapists to cut grass as punishment.
- China lodged a formal diplomatic complaint against Japan on Thursday for disrupting Chinese military exercises in the western Pacific.
- Pakistan's ministry of defense on Wednesday released a new estimate of the number of civilian deaths caused by U.S. drone strikes, putting it at 67 civilians or 3 percent of 2,227 people killed since 2008.
- Three people died on Wednesday in possible religious clashes in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
- Mexico's senate further weakened President Enrique Pena Nieto's tax reform plan on Thursday before sending it back to the lower house of parliament for final approval.
- Brazilian oil giant OGX sought protection from creditors on Wednesday in what was Latin America's largest-ever bankruptcy filing.
- Venezuela's government is moving to rein in the country's notoriously lawless motorcyclists, known locally as "motorizados."
- Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden will begin work at an unnamed Russian website in November, his lawyer said Thursday.
- Britain's energy minister said Thursday that he would consider introducing criminal sanctions against energy firms that manipulate the market.
- Four Turkish lawmakers appeared in parliament on Thursday wearing headscarves for the first time since 1999.