Sunday news round-up: July 27th – August 2nd

Top Story: Palestinian baby burned to death in Jewish settler attack: An 18-month old baby has burned to death in an arson attack undertaken by Jewish settlers in the village of Douma in the West Bank, 95% of which is under Israeli control. According to reports, two masked men threw Molotov cocktails at the residency in question, writing “long live the Messiah” and “revenge” on the walls outside. The brother of the now-deceased baby and his mother are both in hospital with critical burns. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was quick to denounce the attack as terrorism, while at the same time approving 800 new settlement units elsewhere in the West Bank. Settlements on Palestinian land are considered illegal under all interpretations of international law, with even staunch ally the U.S. condemning them as illegal.

Police assault civil rights convention: Police in Cleveland have responded to a Black Lives Matter conference at the Ohio State University by pepper spraying attendees and arresting children. Hundreds of activists from across the continental U.S. were gathered at the university for a solidarity convention, the first of its kind, taking place in the wake of intensified police violence against African-Americans in places like Baltimore and Ferguson. After the convention, attendees peacefully dispersed onto the streets and were met by hostile police who proceeded to arrest a fourteen year old girl and boy, and indiscriminately pepper sprayed passers-by. As usual, no charges have been brought against the offending officers.

Germany opening treason investigation into journalists: Journalists in Germany could be facing treason charges for the first time in over fifty years, thanks to a new investigation brought about by the country’s domestic security agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BFV). The BFV has filed a complaint against employees of the surveillance news website Netzpolitik, alleging that they published stories about new government surveillance efforts that were based on confidential leaked documents. Journalist Andre Meister, who works for Netzpolitik and who is now subject to investigation, denounced the move as a gross attack on the freedom of the press, as did editor-in-chief Markus Beckedahl. The treason investigation is quite suspiciously timed, and comes on the back of a recent speech by Chancellor Merkel in which she urged the German people to stop protesting against mass surveillance and the harvesting of private data.

Varoufakis admits Plan B for Greek crisis: Former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has confirmed suspicions about a secret last-ditch plan to save Greece from the finance lion’s mouth. The plan, which involved hacking into the Finance Ministry’s own computers and switching Euro bonds to the pre-Euro currency drachma (₯), would be implemented in the event that the European Central Bank cut off emergency funds to the country, something they did indeed do after the austerity referendum. Varoufakis claims he had a small team to undertake his covert task, and admits he had the backing of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who recently caved in to the Troika’s demands. Members of the Hellenic Parliament opposed to the SYRIZA government have since called for treason charges against Varoufakis.

UK police forces de facto legalizing marijuana: Police forces in Derbyshire, Dorset and Surrey are turning a blind eye to cannabis use in order to focus on more severe crime, defying the anti-marijuana crusade being undertaken by the government. Forces in these areas have said they are less inclined to prosecute cannabis users, issuing warnings instead. It is not clear whether the refusal to investigate cannabis use is down to budgetary cuts, which have increased enormously since 2010, or an ideological opposition to punishing people for consuming a substance safer and more medically beneficial than alcohol. Cannabis was increased to a Class B drug during the Labour government of Gordon Brown, despite opposition from drug reformists.

Nkurunziza wins controversial third term in Burundi: Incumbent President Pierre Nkurunziza has won a third term, amidst allegations of media intimidation, violence, and questions of constitutionality. Burundi’s constitution limits Presidential candidates for two terms, but supporters of Nkurunziza allege that his third term is legitimate because his first was by appointment, not by popular vote. Burundi has been shaken by violence since Nkurunziza announced his third term run, with over 100 people dying in street protests, and over 170,000 fleeing the country out of civil war fears. Burundi has also faced a violent insurgency in the North that was barely put down by pro-government forces. Amnesty International has been critical of the Nkurunziza regime for responding to peaceful demonstrators and violent insurgents in the same heavy-handed way.

Fundamentalist Jew stabs six at Jerusalem pride: Several people have been injured in a stabbing at Jerusalem pride by an ultra-Orthodox terrorist Jew who did the exact same thing ten years ago. Yishai Schlissel began brandishing the knife during the parade, stabbing people indiscriminately and leaving two people in critical condition. Schlissel claimed he was trying to cleanse Israel of an egregious sin, and served 10 years in prison for stabbing three people at the 2005 pride parade, only being released three weeks ago. Israel’s Prime Minister, President, and the Anti-Defamation League all condemned the attack as an unacceptable hate crime. Hate crimes towards Palestinians still fine though.


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