Sunday news round-up: March 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: Binyamin Netanyahu delivers controversial speech to U.S. Congress: Despite widespread condemnation and a boycott from many U.S. politicians, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has delivered his planned speech to Congress. In it, the war criminal urged the U.S. to abandon their negotiations with Iran over its supposed nuclear programme, reiterated the existential threat that Iran poses to Israel, and thanked America for keeping Israel safe and armed. Netanyahu was repeatedly applauded and received standing ovations for his statements, but a White House official mains adamant that the Prime Minister’s speech will not derail negotiations with Iran. A number of high-profile Democratic politicians boycotted the speech, calling it a cynical move to interfere with U.S foreign policy.

Department of Justice releases scathing report on Ferguson police: A long-anticipated DOJ investigation into the practices of the Ferguson PD after the killing of Michael Brown has revealed an infestation of police brutality and racial bias. Included in the report are claims that officers routinely deny suspects their constitutional rights, employ harmful racist stereotypes of African-Americans, disproportionately target African-Americans, and use brutal violence, canine dogs, and tasers when subduing suspects and innocent bystanders. The report also documents extensive corruption in the department, whereby officers and court officials use their power to get friend and relatives out of fines or parking tickets. To the dismay of many activists, the report demands a series of police reforms rather than a total disbandment of the department.

Protesters demand an end to Chicago detention facility ‘black site’: A protest organized by the Anonymous, Black Lives Matter, and Occupy movements has called for the immediate cessation of Homan Square, an off-the-books unofficial police precinct where suspects are denied their constitutional rights. The Guardian’s expose of the site revealed that protesters and ethnic minorities are chained to walls and benches for hours without ever seeing their lawyer or being read their Miranda Rights, a flagrant violation of the Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Detainees allege they have also been subject to gross police brutality, with one suspect alleging he was punched and stamped on whilst being held at the facility. The decentralized collective movement Anonymous has started the hashtag #Gitmo2Chicago in response to the Chicago black site, drawing a comparison with the Guantánamo Bay detention facility.

The social media #BlackOut begins: Ethnic minority social media users commandeered the conversation this week, sharing selfies and their experiences with racism in order to combat misperceptions and prejudice. Users shared multiple selfies under the #BlackOut tag, and encouraged users to celebrate the beauty of ethnic minorities in a world dominated by white standards of beauty. The tag comes at a time when social media activism for people of colour (POC) is at an all-time high, with the #BlackLivesMatter tag taking over social media after the deaths of many African-Americans at the hands of white police officers. Determined not to be just a fad, social media users are encouraging people to engage in #BlackOut every month, and even every week.

Saudi Arabian blogger may face death penalty: Long-time critic of Saudi clerics Raif Badawi may now face the death penalty for the ‘crime’ of apostasy, his wife has told The Independent. Badawi was first arrested in 2012 for insulting Saudi clerics and accusing a Riyadh university of harbouring terrorists in his blog, and was sentenced to fines, lashings, and a lengthy prison sentence. The lashing part of Badawi’s sentence has been postponed several times due to his ill health, but judges in Saudi Arabia’s criminal court have now reopened a previously closed investigation into Badawi’s religious allegance after it emerged he “liked” a Facebook page dedicated to Arab Christians.

MI5 accused of “blackmailing” British Muslims: Five Muslim community workers came forward this week and alleged that Britain’s intelligence agency, MI5, uses intimidation and blackmail tactics to turn British Muslims into informants. According to those who have come forward, MI5 officials have purposefully detained them at airports and demanded that they work in intelligence gathering operations, or risk being branded a terror suspect and put on a no-fly list. Among those who have come forward is Madhi Hashi, who was detained at a Djibouti airport on the orders of MI5 and told he would be considered an international terror suspect until he agreed to work for the agency. Another, Adydarus Elmi, claims an operative harassed his family and told him “if you do not want anything to happen to your family you will co-operate”.

Venezuela issues restrictions on U.S. travellers: Citing American efforts to “destabilize” his government through “espionage activities”, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has announced visa restrictions on U.S. citizens and a reduction in the number of staff working at the U.S. embassy in Caracas. Any American travelling to Venezuela will now be required to have a visa. Maduro has also issued a ban on “terrorists” who “violate human rights” from travelling to Venezuela, specifically citing former President George W. Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney, and Senator Marco Rubio, among others.

U.S. Supreme Court to hear same-sex marriage case next month: SCOTUS will put the issue of gay marriage to rest once and for all next month, and will hear a case about whether states have the right to ban same-sex marriage. While the ruling will not legalize same-sex marriage across the entire U.S., it will be de facto illegal to ban same-sex couples from marrying, if the justices rule in its favour.

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