American quits Bolshoi: The first American ballerina to join the famed Bolshoi ballet has quit, after claiming she refused to pay a $10,000 bribe to get a solo role. Joy Womack, 19, who moved to Moscow in 2009 to attend the Bolshoi’s school, alleged that she was denied repeated chances to perform and that casting decisions were based on bribes and sexual relationships. “Don’t you understand that you are an American?” Womack said she was asked. “You have to find out who you have to pay.” The Bolshoi denied the allegations, which come at a sensitive moment. A former principal dancer, Pavel Dmitrichenko, is currently on trial on charges that he arranged an acid attack in January that nearly blinded artistic director Sergei Filin.
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Loosening the one-child policy: China announced last week that it will relax its three-decade-old one-child policy, allowing couples to have a second baby if either parent is an only child. The law limiting family size was introduced in the late 1970s to curb the country’s rapid population growth. The new policy will allow as many as 10 million couples to have a second child. Beijing hopes that the shift will help address the social and economic challenges resulting from China’s aging population, shrinking workforce, and excess of men. The Chinese government also announced that it will reduce the number of crimes eligible for the death penalty and abolish its “re-education through labor” program, under which people can be sent to labor camps for up to four years without trial.
Millions displaced: Typhoon Haiyan has displaced an estimated 4 million people in the Philippines—more than the number left homeless by Hurricane Katrina and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami combined. “We are talking about a number of [homeless] people equivalent to the population of some entire countries,” said Orla Fagan, spokeswoman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. With the death toll still climbing—at least 4,000 people have been confirmed killed—the huge number of displaced people underscores the mounting challenges for the Philippine government, which has come under withering criticism for its poor disaster preparation and slow relief response.
Deal over U.S. troops: After months of fraught negotiations, the U.S. and Afghanistan agreed this week on the wording of a security pact that would allow a limited number of U.S. troops to stay in Afghanistan after 2014 to train and assist Afghan forces. The deal hit a last-minute snag when Afghan President Hamid Karzai reportedly demanded that President Obama write a letter acknowledging U.S. mistakes in the 12-year war, for which he would pledge to soften his opposition to U.S. counterterrorism raids on Afghan homes. “President Karzai didn’t ask for an apology,” said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. “He didn’t ask for it, we’re not discussing it.” The proposed agreement was to be considered this week by an assembly of 3,000 Afghan elders and officials meeting in Kabul, which can reject any part of it.
Embassy bombed: At least 23 people were killed this week in a double suicide bombing outside the Iranian Embassy in the Lebanese capital. The Iranian cultural attaché was among the dead. Iran is a major backer of the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah, and its embassy is located in a Hezbollah stronghold. A Sunni extremist group with links to al Qaida took responsibility for the attack and threatened further reprisals against Iran and Hezbollah, both of which back President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria.
Militia chaos: The massacre of 43 protesters in Tripoli by militiamen last week has plunged the Libyan capital into a state of near-total lawlessness. The demonstrators had gathered in response to calls from municipal leaders to pressure self-styled “revolutionary brigades” to leave. When protesters marched on the headquarters of a militia from the city of Misrata, the militiamen opened fire. It was the deadliest violence in the capital since the overthrow of Muammar al-Qaddafi in the spring of 2011. Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, who was briefly abducted by militiamen last month, called on all unsanctioned armed groups to leave the capital within three days. But the situation remains highly volatile, with many residents and armed groups erecting roadblocks across Tripoli.
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