Sunday news round-up: March 23rd-29th

Top Story: Videos of masked IDF soldiers interrogating Palestinian children emerge: Footage showing Israeli army troops heavy-handedly interrogating children have surfaced. The Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem have posted two videos on their website which show IDF soldiers raiding homes in the Palestinian territories at night, masked and armed, for the purposes of ascertaining whether the residents are involved in disobedient activities. Parents of the children interrogated say that the home invasions leave their children fearing for their lives. While the IDF has a long-standing history of serious human rights abuses, it continues to get nothing but praise from successive Israeli governments.

Prince Charles’ letters to ministers to be made public: After a lengthy legal battle spanning a decade, Prince Charles has lost his appeal to keep a series of letters to government ministers private. The contents of the letters is currently unknown, but they are thought to contain Charles’ “deeply personal” political beliefs from the Blair era, and their being made public could damage his standing as an eventual successor to the throne. Traditionally the British monarch remains neutral on all political issues, and if Charles has a record of interfering with government business, it may damage his kingship.

Texan Senator Ted Cruz first to announce Presidential bid: Outspoken conservative Senator Ted Cruz has announced he is running for President in 2016, making him the first Republican candidate to do so. Speaking to students at Liberty University (who were required to attend), Senator Cruz called on courageous conservatives to rise up and “reignite the promise of America”, and billed himself as the only candidate serious about defending the U.S. Constitution. Cruz gained notoriety for his central role in the 2013 government shut-down over Obamacare funding, which critics allege put thousands of government employees at risk of redundancy.

Indiana Governor signs gay segregation bill into law: Indiana Governor Mike Pence has signed into law a controversial bill which allows businesses to discriminate against LGBT people on the grounds of “religious freedom”. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act means that any business can cite religious beliefs when refusing customers, further enshrining corporate personhood into Indiana’s state law. Calls for a boycott have already begun, with the organizers of gaming convention Gen Con threatening to relocate their expo, which could cost Indiana $50 million a year in lost tourism.

Parliamentary report reveals the true cost of austerity: The UK’s Joint Committee on Human Rights has issued a report which alleges that the government’s public spending cuts are having a severely negative impact on children, migrants, and poor households. The JCHR used the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child as its guideline, and found that the Coalition’s austerity measures fail to properly protect the most vulnerable. The report also criticizes the government’s lop-sided approach to benefits, and alleges that capping some benefits whilst allowing pensions to rise has negative consequences on the rich-poor gap.

Israel spied on American-Iranian talks to sabotage deal: Israeli agencies spied on U.S. policy makers in order to sink a nuclear deal with Iran, it has emerged. U.S. intelligence agencies deduced that Israeli spies have been relaying highly secretive information to the U.S. Congress in order to build opposition to Obama’s wishes. Israel has denied spying directly on U.S. officials, and maintains that it gained its information from other sources. Israeli PM Netanyahu has been staunchly critical of any deal to curtail Iran’s nuclear weapons programme, and bypassed the President’s wishes by speaking directly to Congress a few weeks ago.

Japan to build real life “Pacific Rim” anti-tsunami barrier: The Japanese government has announced plans for a series of enormous coastal sea walls in order to fend off any future tsunamis. The walls have an initial estimated cost of 820 billion yen ($6.8 billion), and would be erected to deflect swelling tides that result when an earthquake occurs in the ocean. The plans have been criticized as overly-expensive, ineffective, and environmentally destructive, but the Japanese government insists they will prevent a repeat of the damage from the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake, which left over 15,000 people dead.


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