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23 Nov

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

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John Kerry and Mohammad Javad Zarif

The US secretary of state, John Kerry, and the Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, shake hands before a meeting in Vienna. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Iran nuclear talks: senior politicians head for Vienna in anticipation of deal

Comprehensive accord appears unlikely, but hopes raised of framework agreement with technical details to be resolved later

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Syrian rebels  Aleppo

Syrian anti-regime rebels preparing a rocket launcher in Aleppo. Several Islamic military groups are defecting to Isis in the wake of US air strikes. Photograph: Karam Almasri/Demotix/Corbis

US air strikes in Syria driving anti-Assad groups to support Isis

Fighters from the Free Syrian Army and several Islamic military groups say Isis is gaining allies or truces due to US bombings

US air strikes in Syria are encouraging anti-regime fighters to forge alliances with or even defect to Islamic State (Isis), according to a series of interviews conducted by the Guardian.

Fighters from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and Islamic military groups are joining forces with Isis, which has gained control of swaths of Syria and Iraq and has beheaded six western hostages in the past few months.

Some brigades have transferred their allegiance, while others are forming tactical alliances or truces. Support among civilians also appears to be growing in some areas as a result of resentment over US-led military action……………

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Binyamin Netanyahu

The Israeli PM, Binyamin Netanyahu, argues the law is needed because the notion of Israel as a Jewish homeland was being challenged. Photograph: Barcroft Media

Israeli cabinet approves legislation defining nation-state of Jewish people

Opponents say proposed law would reserve ‘national rights’ for Jews and not for minorities that make up 20% of population

A controversial bill that officially defines Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people has been approved by cabinet despite warnings that the move risks undermining the country’s democratic character.

Opponents, including some cabinet ministers, said the new legislation defined reserved “national rights” for Jews only and not for its minorities, and rights groups condemned it as racist.

The bill, which is intended to become part of Israel’s basic laws, would recognise Israel’s Jewish character, institutionalise Jewish law as an inspiration for legislation and delist Arabic as a second official language.

Arab Muslims and Christians make up 20% of Israel’s population.

The cabinet passed the bill by a 14-7 majority after reports of rancorous exchanges during the meeting, including between the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, and his justice minister, Tzipi Livni.

The bill, which still requires the Knesset’s approval to become a law, comes as tensions between Israelis and Palestinians rise sharply, and friction within Israel’s Arab minority grows.

Opponents include two of the more centrist parties in Netanyahu’s fragile coalition – which say the bill is being pushed through with forthcoming primaries in the prime minster’s rightwing Likud party in mind – and senior government officials including the attorney general.

According to many critics, the new wording would weaken the wording of Israel’s declaration of independence, which states that the new state would “be based on the principles of liberty, justice and freedom expressed by the prophets of Israel [and] affirm complete social and political equality for all its citizens, regardless of religion, race or gender”……………

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Afghan National Army recruits in Kabul. The Taliban has stepped up attacks

Afghan National Army recruits at their graduation in Kabul. The Taliban has stepped up attacks as foreign troops prepare to leave. Photograph: Rahmat Gul/AP

Bomber walked into crowd and detonated explosives vest, says spokesman for Paktika provincial governor

A suicide bomber killed at least 45 people when he attacked a crowd of spectators at a volleyball match in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday. The attack, which wounded 60 more, took place in a village in Yahyakhail district in Paktika province, one of the most unstable areas in the country.

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Cleveland police shoot dead 12-year-old boy carrying ‘airsoft’ fake gun

  • Attorney: ‘We’re ultimately going to find out what happened’
  • Officer responding to 911 call about ‘probably fake’ gun fired twice

A 12-year-old boy carrying what turned out to be a replica gun died on Sunday after he was shot twice by a Cleveland police officer responding to a 911 call about a person waving a gun in a park.

Deputy Cleveland police chief Ed Tomba said the officer fired twice after the boy pulled the fake weapon – which was lacking an orange safety indicator usually on the muzzle – from his waistband. The boy did not make any verbal threats toward the officer or point the gun, but reached into his waistband and grabbed it after being told to raise his hands, Tomba said.

“That’s when the officer fired,” he said.

Police said the weapon was an “airsoft” type replica gun that resembled a semi-automatic pistol. The orange safety indicator had been removed, police said.

A man who called 911 told dispatchers before police arrived that the boy was on a swing set and pointing a pistol that was “probably fake” and scaring everyone. The caller said the boy was pulling the gun in and out of his pants.

“I don’t know if it’s real or not,” the caller said.

Jeff Follmer, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, said the officers were not told the caller thought the gun might be fake. The officer called to the park saw the pistol sitting on a table, and watched the boy grab it and put it in his waistband, Follmer said.

The hospital where the boy died and an attorney for his family would not release his name on Sunday.

Attorney Timothy Kucharski said the boy went to the park with friends on Saturday afternoon, but he did not know the details of what led to the shooting.

“I don’t want to make a rush to judgment,” he said, adding that he wanted to talk to witnesses and get more facts.

“We’re ultimately going to find out what happened,” Kucharski said.

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