Monday, November 20, 2017
News Roundup

Internet shut down in Syrian fighting

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More than 130 countries voted Thursday to grant Palestine the status of nonmember state in the United Nations, a stinging defeat for Israel and the United States and a boost for President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority. After the vote, ecstatic Palestinians in Ramallah and other West Bank towns celebrated in the streets even though true independence is still elusive. Ironically, the vote came on the 65th anniversary of the General Assembly vote that divided the former British Mandate of Palestine into two states: one Jewish and the other Arab.

Islamists approved a draft constitution for Egypt early Friday without the participation of liberal and Christian members, seeking to pre-empt a court ruling that could dissolve their panel with a rushed, marathon vote that further inflames the clash between the opposition and President Mohammed Morsi. The move advanced a charter with an Islamist bent that rights experts say could give Muslim clerics oversight over legislation and bring restrictions on freedom of speech, women's rights and other liberties.

Internet service went down Thursday across Syria, and international flights were canceled at the Damascus airport when a road near the facility was closed by heavy fighting in the country's civil war. Activists said President Bashar Assad's regime pulled the plug on the Internet, perhaps in preparation for a major offensive. Cellphone service also went out in Damascus. The government blamed rebel fighters. In Washington, officials said the United States will soon recognize the Syrian opposition group as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people.

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