Sunday news round-up: February 2nd-8th

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

Top Story: Egypt to destroy historic city of Rafah: The historic city of Rafah, which some historians estimate to be over 3,300 years old, will soon be “completely destroyed” as part of an effort to create a buffer zone with the Gaza Strip, for the purpose of stopping weapons from getting in and out of the occupied territory. Egypt is forcing residents to evacuate Rafah with little warning, and will demolish the entire city once the evacuation is complete. Egypt and neighbouring Israel were hated enemies during most of the mid-20th century, but relations have warmed considerably since the united Arab support for Palestine collapsed. As the Egyptian military razes Rafah to the ground, residents will be relocated to the aptly named “New Rafah” close-by.

Obama administration fighting to keep torture photos secret: The Justice Department released its latest efforts to keep hundreds of photos taken at Abu Ghraib secret this week, urging a federal judge to rule against making them public. On the campaign trail, Barack Obama promised to release the photos in question, but quickly reversed the decision once he came into office. Citing national security concerns, the DOJ claims that the photos will be used as recruiting tools for violent extremists, while human rights groups have accused the government of sweeping under the rug a long history of human rights abuses at the detention facility, including physically and sexually abusing inmates.

British Army to create new social media brigade: The British Army is set to recruit 1,500 soldiers for the non-lethal combat job of “controlling the narrative” surrounding conflicts and global events through the medium of social media. The specially trained soldiers will engage with online audiences to provide justification for the army’s actions or perspective on ongoing operations. Israel’s combined defense forces used these social media tactics heavily during the latest siege on the Gaza Strip, even engaging with Hamas directly over Twitter.

High profile celebrities draft Elizabeth Warren for 2016 Presidential race: Despite consistently reaffirming that she is not running for President in 2016, progressive Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren received an enormous boost to her would-be campaign this week as many Hollywood starts urged her to run in an open letter. Among the “Artists For Warren” signatories are; Joss Whedon, Susan Sarandon, Olivia Wilde, Mark Ruffalo, Julia Stiles, Edward Norton, and Orange Is The New Black star Natasha Lyonne. Warren has received considerable praise for her uncompromising opposition to the ties between Congress and Wall St., but has been criticized by some on the left for her staunch advocacy of Israel.

British court approves forced sterilization of woman with learning difficulties: After petitioning for the right to forcibly enter a woman’s home, physically restrain her, and sterilize her in a hospital, social service authorities were granted their request this week by Mr Justice Cobb. The woman – who remains unidentified and has six children – is at “grave” risk of death if she gets pregnant again, and is apparently unable to make decisions about contraception. In his ruling, Justice Cobb insisted that the case was not about “eugenics”, but about preserving the woman’s life. This is the second time a British court has approved the forced sterilization of a person with disabilities, having concluded last year that an unidentified man would be put under “psychological harm” if he was allowed to have more children.

Wales bans fracking: After the Scottish government recently denied all existing permits for fracking, the Welsh government added its voice to the opposition this week. The new rules make it virtually impossible for any company to receive planning permits to perform shale gas operations on Welsh soil.


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