A summary of what you need to know today, compiled by The Globe’s news desk on Feb. 5, 2013
U.K. set to approve same-sex marriage
Britain looks set to join the swelling ranks of countries legalizing same-sex marriage. But it won’t be easy, at least not politically for Prime Minister David Cameron. Parliament is expected to vote today on a bill that would make same-sex unions legal. While the measure is expected to pass, it has bitterly divided Mr. Cameron’s Conservative party, sensitive to stiff opposition among some parts of the country to the historic step.
Alleged Somali rape victim jailed for ‘insulting government’
A Somali woman who alleges she was raped by security forces has been sentenced in Mogadishu to one year in prison for “insulting a government body.” The sentence won’t be carried out for a year because the woman is caring for her young child. The case has sparked widespread condemnation among human rights groups who say the court’s actions are politically motivated. A journalist who interviewed the woman was also sentenced to one year.
French and African troops enter last rebel stronghold
About 1,800 French and African troops have entered Kidal, the last major town held by rebels in Mali. Their entry into the town caps a month-long advance by combined forces that has the routed Islamist militants who once threatened to topple the west African government. The soldiers re-took Kidal’s airport last week and moved into the town itself today. The rebels are believed to have fled to the mountains along the border with Algeria.
For more analysis on the conflict in Mali, read this piece by The Globe’s Geoffrey York.
Iran President in historic Egypt visit
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived in Egypt today, the first such visit since the 1979 revolution. The visit marks a thaw in relations between the two countries since Egyptians elected as president Mohammed Morsi, who is allied with the Islamist group, the Muslim Brotherhood. Despite the historic meeting, the two one-time rivals remain at odds over some issues, most pointedly Syria.
Notorious Iranian prosecutor jailed
An Iranian prosecutor linked to the imprisonment and death of a Canadian photojournalist has himself been arrested and sent to jail, according to a report from Iran. Saeed Mortazavi, the notorious prosecutor who sent Zahra Kazemi to Evin prison in 2003, is now in the same jail, possibly because of another case of prison abuses involving the deaths of three detainees. The Globe’s Campbell Clark has more on this story.
New BlackBerry smartphones on sale in Canada
After the explosion of hype last week, today marks a critical test of whether consumers will flock to Research in Motion’s new BlackBerry 10 smartphone. The devices go on sale in Canada today after record preorders of the devices, report The Globe’s Iain Marlow and Rita Trichur. The smartphones are already available in the U.K., but won’t go on sale in the U.S. until late March.
Canadian consumer debt
Repeated warnings to Canadians to get personal debt under control appear to be falling on deaf ears. Consumer debt rose 6 per cent to more than $27,000 – a record. The year-over-year rise was the fastest rate since late 2009, according to the report by TransUnion. Both Ottawa and the Bank of Canada have warmed Canadians that high debt levels are leaving them vulnerable to a financial crunch when interest rates inevitably rise.