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7 International Stories Making Headlines This Week

Here's a quick look at what's happening around the world.

1.  United States signs Arms Trade Treaty despite NRA opposition 

The United States, the world’s number one exporter of weapons, celebrated joining 106 other countries in finally signing the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), AFP reported.  The ATT is the first global attempt to regulate the illicit trade in conventional weapons by requiring signatory countries to abide by rules and conditions to control the international transfer and flow of arms.

While human rights groups cheered the move as sending a strong message to the world and arms dealers that it's time to regulate the arms trade, ratification in the U.S remains unlikely following strong resistance by the majority of Senators and gun rights advocates like the NRA.  In fact, Republicans have already stated that the treaty is “dead on arrival” in the Senate, The Hill reported.

Moreover, the NRA with its strong hold over the legislature and history of lobbying movements against the U.S. vote to pass the treaty is expected to lobby against ratification having issued a statement saying the law provisions are “a blatant attack on the constitutional rights and liberties of every law-abiding American.”

2.  Qatari World Cup construction will cost the lives of ‘4000 migrant workers’ says International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)

The ITUC claims that as a result of the “construction frenzy” surrounding the 2022 World Cup, 12 laborers will die each week unless the Doha government makes urgent reforms, as reported by The Guardian.  Half a million extra workers from countries such as Nepal, India and Sri Lanka are expected to arrive to work in an effort complete stadiums, buildings and infrastructure in time for the World Cup kickoff.

However, ITUC says the annual death toll among those working on building sites could rise to 600 people a year based on estimates of current mortality figures for workers who currently make up the majority of Qatar’s 1.2 million workforce and are subject to harsh and dangerous work conditions. 

While the cause of death cannot be conclusively determined, a comparable study from The Guardian revealed that 44 migrant construction workers from Nepal died in the summer this year working in abusive and exploitive conditions in preparing emirate for the World Cup, with many workers having described forced labor conditions where they are made to work in 122F heat and live in squalor. 

3.  Italian politicians stage kiss in protest for gay rights

Influential Italian political party, Five Star Movement (MS5) staged a kissing protest during a parliamentary debate over an LGBT discrimination protection bill, which was caught on video and has been circulating on social media.  Members of the party stood up and began kissing and hugging passionately and holding signs calling for “more rights” before the bill, which intends to penalize homophobia and transphobia, was passed.

Earlier in the month, gay rights groups had called upon the Italian government to break its silence on the issue of Russian anti-gay laws introduced in June, following which the Lower House of Italy’s Parliament announced it would begin debating the bill which would make gay discrimination a criminal offence, Pink News reported. The anti-discrimination bill must now pass the Italian Senate before ratified into law.   

4.  Russia accuses Greenpeace of piracy after activists stage arctic protest

Russians seized a Greenpeace ship and crew after the activist group staged a protest at a Russian oil rig in the Arctic, LA Times reported.   While no formal charges have been laid yet, the Russians have opened a criminal investigation into the matter accusing Greenpeace of piracy, which carries a maximum of 15 years sentence.

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