Sunday news round-up: March 30th – April 5th

Top Story: Wikileaks publishes hideous passages of TPP charter: Whistle-blowing site Wikileaks has published passages from the controversial TPP deal, a proposed investment charter between twelve countries across the Americas, Oceania, and Asia. The leaked passages reveal that any country that signs the deal will not be allowed to pass new environmental or health regulations in the workplace, for fear of facing lawsuits from companies operating in that country. The passage means private corporations can sue governments in private courts if they feel regulation is affecting their profits, paving the way for corporate tyranny and undermining the democratic element of signatory countries. The passage effectively puts corporations above regulatory laws, and would severely impede the fight against climate change. U.S. President Barack Obama, whose country is a signatory, has faced opposition from liberals for his support of anti-democratic trade deals like TPP.

Tense talks between Iran and world powers finally come to fruition: Strained and extended talks between Iranian officials and world governments have finally come to a close. The talks, held at a resort in Lausanne, Switzerland, were initially set to close by Tuesday, but frayed nerves and sticking points extended them through the night and beyond. The subject of the talks was to come to an agreement whereby Iran would halt any nuclear weapons programme in exchange for a lifting on international sanctions, sanctions that have damaged the economy back home. Although the issues have not fully resolved, negotiators have reached a “framework” in which to pursue further, less strained talks, with a final agreement hopefully arriving by June 30th.

al-Qaeda affiliates massacre Kenyan university: The Garissa university in Kenya has been attacked by Somali-based al-Shabaab militants, who have killed at least 147 and injured a further 90. The al-Qaeda affiliate group stormed the university in the North East of Kenya armed with AK-47’s, singling out non-Muslim students and taking hostages in the dormitories. As part of their terror strategy, the attackers allegedly forced Christian and Jewish students to read passages from the Qu’ran, and those who could not were executed. This is not the first time al-Shabaab militants have entered Kenya, and the group has previously claimed responsibility for an assault on a shopping centre which left 67 people dead. The Somali government has begun arresting journalists who covered the story as it unfolded.

Facebook spies on users even when they’re not logged in: Facebook has been accused of violating EU privacy laws by snooping on social networking users, even if they’re not logged in. The social media giant tracks anybody who visits a Facebook related page, including celebrity pages and external pages which feature a “Like” button, and even tracks those who have specifically opted out of tracking. Facebook claims it places cookies on users’ computers for advertising purposes, but they have been accused of violating EU privacy laws which state a person must give their consent before they can be tracked. Worst of all, Facebook performs this tracking exercise on people who don’t even have a Facebook account.

Tumultuous Nigerian elections grant win to opposition leader: Incumbent Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has lost his re-election bid to former military leader Muhammadu Buhari in one of Nigeria’s most tumultuous elections since the end of military rule in 1999. The elections had previously been postponed due to technical issues and allegations of voter intimidation by Boko Haram militants, but went ahead against the odds. Buhari, now President-elect, previously ruled Nigeria with an iron fist as military dictator in the early 80’s before being removed from power in a coup d’état. Buhari made some attempts to apologise for the various human rights abuses committed under his rule, but was not particularly challenged on them.

Palestinian Authority becomes official ICC member: The Palestinian Authority led by Mahmoud Abbas has acceded to member status at the International Criminal Court. The ascension comes just two months after the PA requested membership, and leaves Israeli military officials and politicians open to possible charges of war crimes committed in Palestine last summer. Although the ICC has never imprisoned anybody and has no external force to impose punishments, its rulings are considered the final word on war crime allegations. Over 500 children were killed in Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s most recent assault on the Gaza Strip last summer.

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