south sudan

‘Permanent’ cease-fire begins

A cease-fire began at midnight Saturday in South Sudan as a weary nation wondered whether this latest attempt to end a five-year civil war would hold. President Salva Kiir and rival Riek Machar agreed on the “permanent” cease-fire on Wednesday in Sudan after their first face-to-face talks in almost two years. They had faced a possible U.N. arms embargo and sanctions if fighting didn’t stop and a political deal wasn’t reached by Saturday. Multiple attempts at peace have failed, and the latest cease-fire in December was violated within hours, to the growing frustration of the international community.

Mali

Counterterrorism HQ attacked

A car packed with explosives detonated at the headquarters of a new, five-nation West African counterterror force in Mali, setting off a gunbattle that killed two soldiers, a civilian and two attackers, officials said Friday. The attack highlighted the brazenness of the extremist threat in a part of the world that made headlines in October with the killing of four U.S. service members in an ambush in neighboring Niger. In addition to the deaths two other attackers were captured, officials said. Four soldiers, three suspected attackers and a civilian were wounded.

Austria

3rd gender identity approved

Austria’s Constitutional Court has ruled that authorities must allow people to be entered in official records as something other than male or female if they wish. The court announced its verdict Friday after examining the case of a person who unsuccessfully sought to have an entry changed to “inter” or a similar word. It found no need to change existing law, since it does not explicitly specify that gender must be male or female. In neighboring Germany, the highest court ruled in November that people must be allowed to appear in official records as neither male nor female. It said authorities should create a third identity or scrap gender entries altogether.

United Nations

Israeli docs save Palestinians

A group of Israeli doctors bypassed the region’s politics to save thousands of Palestinian children and those from 57 other countries by operating on their diseased hearts. The doctors with Save a Child’s Heart, based in Holon, were honored this week at the U.N., where Israel and Arab members have often clashed. But group co-founder Dr. Sion Houri said that when it comes to children’s lives, “our activity is international, nonpolitical and nonreligious.”

Beacon Journal/Ohio.com wires