Sunday news round-up: September 28th – October 4th

Top Story: Médecins Sans Frontières condemns U.S. hospital bombing: The United States faced calls for a war crime investigation this week after bombing a hospital in Afghanistan. The medical facility in Kunduz was the only facility of its kind in Northeastern Afghanistan, and sustained heavy bombing for thirty minutes on Saturday despite medical personnel alerting authorities to the casualties after the first bombs fell. Médecins Sans Frontières maintains that it gave both Afghan and American authorities the coordinates of its facility in order to avoid any military accidents, but the stories of patients burning alive in their beds sheds real doubt on whether the U.S. took appropriate measures to avoid hitting the hospital. Three MSF officials died in the bombings along with many patients, and thirty staff members still remain unaccounted for. The U.S. has a well-established history of war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a recent report alleged that soldiers were instructed to ignore child abuse and child rape while stationed near noble Afghan families.

Abbas drops “bombshell” at UN General Assembly: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas dropped his much-anticipated bombshell during his UNGA address this week, although in hindsight bombshell might be a bit dramatic. The 80 year old minister, who has ruled the West Bank since 2006, explained that the UN should begin recognizing Palestine as an occupied state rather than a territory, and said that Palestine is no longer bound by the Oslo Accords, a series of negotiations in the 1990’s that granted limited autonomy for Palestine while maintaining Israel’s illegal settler expansion projects. Abbas says that the Accords have failed to end the occupation and grant statehood to Palestine, which they were supposed to do by 1999, and therefore Israel must now take responsibility and face the consequences for occupying and segregating the Palestinian people. While bold, Abbas has been a long-standing collaborator with Israel’s terrorist police forces, and according to some activists, his speech is too little too late.

British intelligence spying on “every visible user on the internet“: Exiled whistleblower Edward Snowden has unveiled new secret documents which shed light on the unaccountable actions of GCHQ, Britain’s main surveillance agency. The documents reveal details about an operation that began in 2007 codenamed Karma Police, which allows the agency to spy on every visible internet user in the UK without the approval of judicial bodies or the scrutiny of Parliament. The technical details of the Karma Police program involve observing the websites visited by individuals in order to map out their habits and interests, and creating a database of people’s radio station listening habits. Contrary to its public mission of monitoring possible extremists, GCHQ apparently uses its Karma Police programme to target visitors of any Islamic enterprise websites, and even pornography sites, without having any national security reason to do so. In short, GCHQ probably knows that you’re reading this right now, and knows what naughty images you looked at last night.

Brazil pledges to cut emissions by near half: Brazil, one of the world’s fastest growing economies has promised to cut its carbon emissions by 43% by 2030, as part of ongoing negotiations with the UN. The country, which has faced considerable criticism for its deforestation policies in the past, already cut its emissions down by 41% between 2005 and 2014, but not seeks to slash them yet again to mitigate the impending and global environmental destruction that they cause. Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff was firm about her targets at the UN, and insisted that her country would not need the world’s help to tackle the problem, but environmental groups remain sceptical about her commitment to stopping deforestation, citing a failure to curb it in the past and a total lack of detail in her Amazon policy. According to some land researchers operating within Brazil, the country may still chop down over 250 million acres of the rainforest, an area roughly the size of neighbouring Colombia.

Strong evidence of liquid water on Mars, says NASA: Underfunded and underappreciated space agency NASA revealed a great scientific discovery this week, confirming suspicions that water flows freely on the surface of Mars. Data collected and scrutinized by agency members confirms that there is evidence of evaporated water salts and evidence of flow paths seeping from Mars’ pores, indicating a seasonal flow of liquid water. Scientists also claim that there may be underground resevoirs on the Red Planet that according to the published study “may affect future human exploration” of the neighbouring rock. The findings may also contribute to mapping Mars’ history as a hot and wet place, and could go a long way to tracing the origins of its once global ocean. NASA has plans to visit Mars by 2030.


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