Headlines from around the world: 3/18/13

Illegal trafficking of great apes organized by criminal gangs prompted international action Wednesday that was hailed as a major step towards saving great apes from extinction. 177 member countries including the United States at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species came to the decision to set up a global reporting system in a bid to establish how many of the animals are being taken from the wild to perform in theme parks or to be shown off by wealthy collectors. The move follows a report, “Stolen Apes,” that came out earlier this month that estimated nearly 3,000 great apes were stolen alive every year. The report said that a local poacher might sell a live chimpanzee for $50, but a dealer could resell the same animal for 400 percent of that price or more. The decision aims to reduce crime while helping save apes from extinction.

Two armed men opened fire in a bar at the Mexican resort town of Cancun on Thursday, killing six people and wounding five. Cancun has largely escaped the drug related violence that has racked Acapulco. According to the office of the state’s attorney general, the two men used a machine gun and a handgun. Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto has vowed to reduce violence that soared during his predecessor’s term.

North Korea has been more active in its’ threats recently and the United States has responded by strengthening its missile defenses. Furthermore, the North is criticizing the gender of South Korean president Park Geun-hye by blaming her “venomous swish of skirt,” for tensions on the Korean Peninsula. The North Koreans picked their phrase carefully for the South’s first female president as “swish of skirt” has long been insult in Korean culture, directed at women deemed too aggressive and far from the traditional ideal of docile and coy. The sexist joke is only a small piece of the challenge that North Korea has posed for Ms. Park who came into office after the North detonated its third nuclear test. The North also said this week that it has nullified the armistice that has helped keep the peace since the Korean War ended in a stalemate in 1953.

Syria has warned that it may strike at rebels in neighboring Lebanon if the Lebanese army does not act. Syria’s foreign ministry told Lebanon that a large number of militants had crossed Lebanon’s northern border into the Syrian town of Tel Kalakh over the past two days. Syria expects Lebanon to prevent these armed terrorist groups from using the borders because they target Syrian people and violate Syrian sovereignty. Lebanon has a policy of “dissociation” from the two-year civil war in Syria that has killed 70,000 Syrians.

A Michigan middle school student showed up to class Monday with a backpack stuffed with $20,000 and handed out was of cash to her friends. The 12 year old girl received the money from another child who lived across the street from her parents’ house in Taylor, Michigan. There was no threat to the student body in the building and as soon as the school principal learned of the student’s generosity, she called the police fearing ulterior motives. According to all the reports, the girl seemed to genuinely want to be generous and kind to her friends.

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