News on the go: Jan. 23, 2014

Carrie Blazina

Syrian peace talks Wednesday began with clashes that already threaten to collapse the conference. Syrian government officials and rebels, who have been fighting a civil war for three years, were divided about what President Bashar Assad’s role should be after the conference. Both sides were expected to meet separately Thursday with a U.N. negotiator.

President Barack Obama said Wednesday he is appointing a task force to investigate the epidemic of college sexual assaults. A White House report said 1 in 5 female students is assaulted in college and only 1 in 8 student victims reports the assault. Obama gave the task force 90 days to come up with recommendations that would guide colleges on how to respond to the crime and increase public awareness of schools’ assault statistics.

Two Ukrainian protesters were killed Wednesday in a confrontation with police that was a culmination of protests aiming to bring down the government. The last two months’ protests are related to the Ukrainian government shunning the European Union for closer ties to Russia and for human-rights violations. Ukrainian opposition leaders Wednesday gave President Viktor Yanukovych a 24-hour deadline to call early elections.

European Olympic authorities said Wednesday that terroristic threats they recently have received related to the Sochi Olympics are hoaxes; one email message threatened the Hungarian team, but officials said it appeared to be random and not credible. U.S. Congress members disagreed, saying Russia isn’t doing enough to make sure athletes will be safe. The Sochi games will be held Feb. 7-23.

Contact Carrie Blazina at [email protected].