2012 YEAR IN REVIEW
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- Ukraine rebels seek 'special status', crisis talks to resume on Friday
Pro-Russia separatists sat down for preliminary Ukraine peace talks on Monday due to resume later this week in the Belarusian capital Minsk, saying they would be prepared to stay part of Ukraine if they were granted "special status". The meeting of the so-called "contact group", at which the rebels also said one of their key conditions would be for Kiev to immediately end its military offensive, ended without any details being announced but a promise to continue consultations. The separatists issued their call as the Ukrainian military faced a run of reverses on the battlefield which Kiev has ascribed to support for the rebels from at least 1,600 Russian combat troops. Moscow denies its troops are in Ukraine.
- Iranians play role in breaking IS siege of Iraqi town
By Isabel Coles AMERLI Iraq (Reuters) - Kurdish peshmerga fighters and Shi'ite militiamen paraded through Amerli on Monday, a day after breaking the two-month siege of the northern town by Sunni Islamist militants. The scenes in Amerli and the surrounding area of Suleiman Beg offered a window into the teamwork among Kurdish fighters, the Iraqi army and Shi'ite militias and into Iran's role in directly assisting their campaign against Islamic State (IS) forces. The swift end to the Islamic State's encirclement of the Shi'ite Turkmen town of 15,000 came on Sunday amid a push by Kurdish peshmerga, Shi'ite militias and Iraqi troops, after U.S. Militia fighters spoke of a new alliance with the Kurds, who had been shaken by the Islamic State's offensive on Kurdish-controlled territories last month.
- ISIS Turning Old Enemies into Awkward Allies
- U.N. to send team to investigate Islamic State crimes in Iraq
By Stephanie Nebehay GENEVA (Reuters) - The United Nations agreed on Monday to send investigators to Iraq to examine crimes being committed by Islamic State militants on "an unimaginable scale", with a view to holding perpetrators to account. "We are facing a terrorist monster," Iraq's human rights minister, Mohammed Shia' Al Sudani, told the U.N. Human Rights Council which adopted a resolution tabled by Iraq and France at an emergency sitting of the 47-member state forum in Geneva. The Council aims to send 11 investigators, with a total budget of $1.18 million, to report back by March 2015.
- Dengue outbreak affects at least 22 in Japan
An outbreak of dengue fever in Japan -- the first since World War II -- has affected at least 22 people, the government said Monday, with all cases believed to be linked to a Tokyo park. The health ministry said 19 new infections have been confirmed since last week. All are believed to have visited Tokyo's Yoyogi Park or its environs, one of the major green lungs of the metropolis, popular with residents and tourists alike. The park, one of the largest open spaces in central Tokyo, is believed to be the source of the mosquito-borne disease.
- Islamic State group becomes target of Arab satire
- Tests promise 'blockbuster' new heart failure drug
An experimental drug from Swiss pharma giant Novartis reduced deaths from chronic heart failure by 20 percent compared with an existing treatment, according to the results of a vast new study. Cardiovascular failure, in which the heart does not pump blood effectively, kills at least 26 million people a year worldwide. Novartis unveiled the highly anticipated results on Saturday at a meeting of the European Society of Cardiology in Barcelona, Spain and simultaneously in an article in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study -- conducted with more than 8,400 patients in 47 countries over 27 months -- compared the safety and effectiveness of the drug on patients with heart failure to the current gold standard, Enalapril.
- Judge temporarily blocks law that could close all Louisiana abortion clinics
The measure, signed into law by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal in June and due to take effect Sept. 1, would require doctors who perform abortions to have patient admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their practice. "Plaintiffs will be allowed to operate lawfully while continuing their efforts to obtain privileges," Federal Judge John deGravelles wrote in the decision. Abortion rights activists applauded the decision, the latest in a string of rulings against similar measures, saying it would give doctors more time to seek hospital privileges. "Today’s ruling ensures Louisiana women are safe from an underhanded law that seeks to strip them of their health and rights," said Nancy Northup, president and chief executive of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which sued to block the law on behalf of three of the state's five clinics.