Noontime News is a snapshot of the news from the past 24 hours.  (More)

Obama makes direct piece appeal to Israeli people

(Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama appealed directly on Thursday to the Israeli people to put themselves in the shoes of stateless Palestinians and recognize that Jewish settlement activity in occupied territory hurts prospects for peace.

U.N. launches probe of possible Syrian chemical arms attack

(Reuters) – The United Nations said on Thursday it will investigate Syria’s allegations that rebel forces used chemical weapons in an attack near Aleppo, but Western countries sought a probe of all claims concerning the use of such banned arms.

EU gives Cyprus bailout ultimatum, risks euro exit

(Reuters) – The European Union gave Cyprus till Monday to raise the billions of euros it needs to secure an international bailout or face a collapse of its financial system that could push it out of the euro currency zone.

Indian parliament passes stricter law on sexual violence

India‘s parliament has passed a sweeping new law to protect women against sexual violence, in response to the fatal gang rape of a young woman on a bus in Delhi in December.

Drought that ravaged US crops likely to worsen in 2013, f0recast warns

The historic drought that laid waste to America’s grain and corn belt is unlikely to ease before the middle of this year, a government forecast warned on Thursday.

US House passes $984bn spending bill to avert government shutdown

The Republican-led House of Representatives followed the US Senate in voting for a bill Thursday to avert federal government shutdown when funding runs out next week.

UN to investigate possible human rights abuses in North Korea

The United Nations‘ top human rights body has unanimously approved a formal investigation into North Korea for possible crimes against humanity.

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