Sunday news round-up: December 15th-21st

An ongoing series that gathers some main headlines from the week, for people too busy to keep an eye on the news.

Top Story: Taliban gunmen massacre Pakistani military school: In an apparent retaliation to Operation Zarb-e-Azb, the gunmen stormed the Army Public School in Peshawar, burning a teacher alive, laying booby-traps and killing a total of 141 people, 133 of whom were children. Taliban official Mohammed Khurasani claimed responsibility for the massacre and stated “We targeted the school because the army targets our families. We want them to feel our pain”.

Hostage taker conducts siege in Sydney: A gunman named Man Horan Moris stormed a Lindt store in the Australian city, taking hostages and performing a siege of the café. Two people died, including gay manager Tori Johnson, who the LGBT community is hailing as a hero for his efforts to save other hostages and lift the siege. Horan Moris died during the ensuing police raid of the café.

EU court removes Hamas from terror blacklist: The General Court of the European Union insisted the measure was done due to a technicality that placed Hamas on the list in 2001, whereby the listing was made due to things heard on the internet and not substantial evidence. The EU insists that the removal is not intended to signal any significant change in policy and that Hamas’ assets will remain frozen.

UK troops to return to Iraq: Around 200 UK forces are to return to the country, which is facing brutal sectarian violence at the hands of ISIS and others, in order to train Kurdish and Peshmarga forces. Barack Obama has also approved sending an additional 3,100 troops to combat ISIS. Both President Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron insist that the troops are there purely to train rebel forces, and will not be engaged in any battles, although they both previously stated that they would not put “boots on the ground”. What will the troops be wearing then? Sandals?

War criminal George W. Bush cancels trip over arrest fears: The former President and undisputed King of Idiocy cancelled a planned trip to Switzerland, where he was due to speak at a Jewish gala event. A Swiss human rights group was planning to submit a 2,000 page lawsuit report against Bush, prompting him to stay home. Such a shame.

Oil industry failing to make profit as prices continue to fall: Oil prices have sunk to ~$56, their lowest levels since May 2009, due to an oversupply, a lack of demand, and a strong U.S. dollar. This spells bad news not only for OPEC countries, many of whom need oil prices to be over $100 p/barrel to keep their budgets balanced, but also for employees of oil corporations like ConocoPhillips, which is cutting 230 UK jobs.

Greens, SNP and Plaid Cymru lay out terms of Labour coalition: The three minor parties held a joint press conference this week to lay out their conditions for propping up a Labour minority government, should next year’s general election deliver no decisive winner. The parties, all led by women, proposed that scrapping the UK’s nuclear weapons programme (Trident) would be the first and foremost condition of supporting Labour, and have proposed a “confidence and supply” agreement rather than a traditional coalition. Bennett, Sturgeon and Woodand have also ruled out any sort of coalition with the Conservatives.

  • The parties only currently have 16 combined Westminster MPs, but the SNP are expected to make great gains next year as Scottish Labour’s support shrinks.
  • Labour’s current policy is to renew the Trident programme after the election.

Barack Obama to normalize relations with Cuba: The U.S. has for many decades imposed an embargo on the Caribbean nation, making it difficult for Cuba to have ties with the outside world. President Obama and Raul Castro have agreed to a joint prisoner release and will attempt to negotiate diplomatic relations in the coming months. Mainstream opinion has for a long time regarded the Cuban embargo as a spiteful relic of the Cold War.

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