Thursday, December 4, 2014
NEW YORK PROTESTS GRAND JURY DECISION
For the second time in less than two weeks, the presiding grand jury in a high-profile case of a white police officer who'd killed an unarmed black man chose not to bring charges against the officer involved. Protests quickly spread around New York and in other American cities after the grand jury in the borough of Staten Island found no evidence Wednesday of possible criminal activity by 29-year-old officer Daniel Pantaleo in the July death of 43-year-old Eric Garner. The encounter, which began when officers accused Garner of selling loose cigarettes, was captured on video, and showed a cooperative Garner in a chokehold repeatedly saying that he couldn't breathe.
The decision came on the heels of a similar Nov. 24 decision by a Missouri grand jury in the case of white police officer, Darren Wilson, who fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown. That decision set off several days of violent protests.
Pantaleo released a public apology, which Garner's wife refused to accept during a late Wednesday press conference.
Even President Barack Obama weighed in, saying, “When anybody in this country is not being treated equally under the law, that is a problem, and it's my job as president to help solve it.”
AL-QAEDA THREATENS TO KILL AMERICAN
In an online video, an al-Qaeda-linked group in Yemen threatened to kill an American hostage in three days if the U.S. doesn’t meet the group’s unexplicit demands, The Washington Postreports. The hostage, 33-year-old journalist Luke Somers, was abducted in Yemen’s capital of Sanaa in September 2013. According to the newspaper, U.S. Special Operation forces and Yemeni troops tried but failed to rescue him last week.
Speaking about the fight against another terrorist group, ISIS, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the strikes from the coalition of Western and Arab countries in Iraq and Syria had already had a “significant” impact, though he warned that the “commitment will most likely be measured in years.” Read more from The Guardian.
South Korean singer Psy's song "Gangnam Style" has been viewed so many times that it forced YouTube to upgrade its view counter.
A member of Panama's National Police takes pictures of seized packs of cocaine in the Panama capital. A boat carrying some 636 kilograms of cocaine was intercepted during an operation called "Satelite" in the Dairen Province, which borders Colombia.
PUTIN ACCUSES WEST OF INTERFERENCE
In his annual State of the Nation address to parliament this morning, Russian President Vladimir Putin voiced criticism of the West, the U.S. in particular, for interfering in Russian affairs. “Our American friends … have always been influencing our relations with neighbors directly or behind the scenes,” news agency Tass quotes him as saying.
Denouncing a “policy of containment,” which he says has been deployed against Moscow “for decades, if not centuries,” Putin said that “each time when someone believes that Russia has become too strong, independent, these tools are used immediately.” Although he said Russia would continue economic partnerships with the West despite sanctions imposed on Russia, he encouraged Russian companies to “buy locally” to reduce dependency on foreign equipment. Because Moscow expects the economy to fall into recession next year, Putin offered “full amnesty” to those who repatriate their capital to Russia. Read more from the BBC.
Hours before Putin’s speech, Islamist militants attacked several buildings in the Chechen capital of Grozny. An anti-terrorist operation is still ongoing, and Russian media are reporting 10 dead among security forces and 28 among insurgents.
In a Süddeutsche Zeitung op-ed, Johannes Boie writes that while Google is too big and too powerful, EU politicians who are trying to impose a breakup of the U.S. tech giant are misguided. “The parliament members want a quick radical solution: break Google up,” Boie writes. “But do the actions of the American company really warrant that? On reflection, what would replace the Google search engine? A publicly backed European search engine like the one Google critics are plugging? The result would be a product that doesn't work half as well as Google search, but that would draw a digital line in the transatlantic economic space, marking a step in the direction of blatant protectionism. But it's not just Google that would suffer. Users would too.”
Read the full article, A Smarter Way Europe Can Cut Google Down To Size.
VENEZUELA CHARGES EX-POL IN COUP PLOT
Venezuelan prosecutors have charged Maria Corina Machado, a former lawmaker and vocal supporter of anti-government protests earlier this year, for allegedly conspiring to have President Nicolas Maduro assassinated, state-backed newspaper Correo del Orinoco reports. According to El Universal, she dismissed the accusations based on intercepted emails as false and said she would ask for a new hearing. “The fight continues,” she said after yesterday’s decision. “Our only option is to fight and achieve democracy and freedom.” Under Venezuelan law, the conspiracy charge could lead to a maximum of 16 years in jail.
THE COMPLAINTS OF FRENCH JIHADISTS
According to Le Figaro, some French jihadists fighting with ISIS have been writing their lawyers back home, asking them to help arrange their return. “I’m fed up,” one wrote. “My iPod doesn’t work anymore here. I have to come back.” Others bemoan the coming of winter or their assigned tasks of washing up.
OIL SPILL ON ISRAEL-JORDAN BORDER
Million of liters of oil came gushing out of a breached pipeline last night near the Israeli border with Jordan, an incident that Israel’s Ministry of Environmental Protection said was the worst in decades, The Jerusalem Post reports. Three people were sent to the hospital after inhaling fumes. Local sources have said that the incident took place during maintenance work. Read more from Reuters.
MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD
PHILIPPINES BRACE FOR SUPER TYPHOON
Philippine authorities are on alert and residents of coastal villages have fled their homes as super typhoon Ruby is expected to make landfall Saturday. Meanwhile, memories of last year’s typhoon Haiyan, which killed more than 7,000 people, are still fresh. While Ruby is now bearing maximum winds of 175 kilometers per hour (108 mph) near its center, the U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center believes that could rise to 296 kph (183 mph) by Saturday.
DEFORESTATION MAY BE BEHIND BRAZIL DROUGHT
A historic drought in Brazil’s southeastern city of São Paulo that is threatening to leave its 23 million inhabitants without water in the near future could have its origins in decades of mass deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, an increasing number of scientists believe. More than two-thirds of the rain in southeastern Brazil comes from the rainforest and what scientists call “sky rivers.” “With each tree that falls, you lose a little bit more of that water that's being transported to São Paulo and the rest of Brazil,” one professor said. Read more from AP.
EMINEM FREESTYLE BATTLE UNEARTHED
A 17-year-old recording of a freestyle battle between Eminem and a local rapper named A.L. has been released online. For more, check out our Hit It! blog.