International news: This week’s top stories

By Sophia Simeone

Staff Writer

1. The president of South Korea, Park Geun-hye, finds herself embroiled in a scandal this week as her longtime friend, Choi Soon-sil, has been detained in suspicion of influence peddling, abuse of power, and attempted fraud. Prosecutors told a court in Seoul that Ms. Choi had used her influence with Ms. Park to coerce large companies into donating almost 70 million dollars to her foundation. Ms. Park’s favorability ratings have reached record lows, and thousands of people are demonstrating for her resignation.

President Park Geun-hye has found herself facing protests as her friend Choi Soon-sil undergoes investigation. Source: Bae Jae-man/Yonhap via AP

2. The London High Court ruled on Thursday that the government cannot withdraw from the European Union, rendering the future of “Brexit” uncertain.If the Court’s ruling is upheld, Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan to leave the European Union by the end of March will be impossible. Mrs. May has failed to provide a detailed strategy for Britain’s departure thus far, arguing it would impede her flexibility in negotiating with the E.U. “Brexit” was approved by nearly 52 percent of voters in a June referendum.

Prime Minister Theresa May had planned to leave the European Union by this March. Source: Getty Images

3. Australia won’t be legalizing same-sex marriage anytime soon. A bill that would have allowed a national popular vote  on the issue was defeated in Parliament on Monday. Recent polls show that around 70 percent of Australians are in support of legalizing same-sex marraige. “Get out of the way and let us have the plebiscite that would deliver marriage equality in Australia in less than 100 days,” said Attorney General George Brandis in an address to Parliament, prior to the vote.

Demonstrators in favor of same-sex marriage attend a rally in Sydney in June. Source: Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

4. The Iraq government’s counterterrorism forces overcame the Islamic State and breached the city limits of Mosul on Tuesday. It is the first time in two years that Iraqi forces have entered the city. As the fighting pushes towards the city center, the city’s million-plus civilian population is at increased risk. American military officials say the campaign could last months.

Peshmerga forces stand on a military vehicle in the town of Bashiqa
Counterterrorism forces stand on top of a military vehicle east of Mosul on Tuesday. Source: Azad Lashkari/Reuters

5. Levels of air pollution skyrocketed in India over the weekend. The most dangerous particles reached 200 micrograms per cubic meter on Monday, more than 16 times the limit pronounced safe by the government. The damage from sustained exposure to such high concentrations is equivalent to smoking more than two packs of cigarettes per day, experts say. Weather changes are likely to disperse the pollutants over the next few days, although Delhi’s air is slowly becoming a major source of political contention.

A cyclist rides through the smog in New Delhi on Oct. 31. Source: Money Sharma/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

6. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad hosted a group of Western journalists into his Damascus palace Monday night, where he declared that the structure of Syria’s society was stronger and “much better” than before the five-year civil war. He rejected personal responsibility for the bloody fighting and displacement of half a million Syrian refugees, shifting the blame to  the Islamic State and the U.S. “I’m just a headline, the bad president, the bad guy, who is killing the good guys,” said Mr. Assad. “You know this narrative.”

President Bashar al-Assad invited Western media to Damascus on Monday night. Source: Sana