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The week at a glance...International

International

Murmansk, Russia
Activists accused of piracy: Russia seized a Greenpeace ship in international waters and arrested its entire crew of 30 after some of them tried to climb onto a Russian oil platform. The Dutch-flagged Arctic Sunrise was towed to port in Murmansk, where its crew, including citizens of 18 countries, is being held. Authorities said they were considering charging the crew with piracy, which carries a prison term. The ship’s captain, Peter Willcox, is the only American; he skippered the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior when it was bombed by the French secret service in New Zealand in 1985.

Shanghai
Friending China: The Chinese government is unblocking Western websites—including Facebook, Twitter, and NYTimes.com—within a special economic zone in Shanghai. The relaxation of the strict Internet censorship policy doesn’t apply to ordinary Chinese citizens, though. It’s aimed at employees of foreign companies and intended as a perk to encourage firms to invest in the mainland’s new free-trade zone, which is modeled after Hong Kong. The Times website was blocked in China last year, after it ran a story alleging that former Premier Wen Jiabao had amassed a fortune of more than $2.7 billion.

Peshawar, Pakistan
Christians slaughtered: Taliban suicide bombers attacked a 130-year-old Anglican church in Pakistan this week, killing 85 people in the worst atrocity against Christians in the country’s history. The Pakistani Taliban, a Sunni Muslim terrorist group that has carried out dozens of similar attacks against Shiites, claimed responsibility. The bombing sparked anti-Taliban protests in cities across Pakistan, and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said planned negotiations with the Taliban, agreed to at an all-party conference earlier this month, would probably be canceled. “How can you talk to people who are killing civilians?” said Tahir Naveed Chaudhry, chairman of the Pakistan Minorities Alliance. “We are just wasting time, and we will lose more people.”

Baluchistan, Pakistan
Killer quake creates island: A massive earthquake in Pakistan’s province of Baluchistan killed hundreds of people and created a new island off the coast. The magnitude-7.7 tremor flattened entire mud-brick villages. Troops deployed to fight an insurgency of separatist Baluchis were on hand to help rescue people, but the affected area is so huge that it will take days to reach some trapped victims. “We are seriously lacking medical facilities, and there is no space to treat injured people in the local hospitals,” said provincial spokesman Jan Muhammad Buledi. The new island, a mound of dirt about 70 feet high and the length of two football fields, isn’t expected to be permanent. Such masses sometimes spring up and then disappear after heavy rains.

Damascus, Syria
Coming clean? In apparent compliance with a U.S.-Russian plan, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad this week disclosed the locations of dozens of poison gas production and storage sites. Western officials familiar with the disclosure said it was “a serious document” running to scores of pages. “It’s not necessarily 100 percent accurate, and we aren’t naïve—we don’t know what we don’t know,” one official told the Los Angeles Times. U.N. weapons inspectors, meanwhile, are back in Syria to investigate an allegation of chemical weapon use in a rebel-held area in March. Inspectors already determined that sarin gas was used in August on a large scale to kill more than 1,400 civilians, including children.

Cairo
Muslim Brotherhood banned: Egypt’s military-installed government has banned the country’s largest and oldest Islamic organization, which formed the nation’s government until the coup in July. An Egyptian court this week ordered the confiscation of all Muslim Brotherhood assets, including schools, hospitals, mosques, charities, and community centers. Outlawed for most of its 85 years, the group had nevertheless been a key pillar of Egyptian society, offering education and health services to the poor where the government did not. Since the Brotherhood government was toppled, hundreds of the group’s top officials have been arrested and security forces have raided Brotherhood-run schools and hospitals, saying the sites contained weapons caches.

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