Tuesday, December 9, 2014

CIA TORTURE REPORT TO BE RELEASED
Security has been tightened at U.S. embassies around the world and intelligence agencies have been asked to monitor more closely terrorist communications in anticipation of today’s release of a CIA torture report. The U.S. Senate will release the long-delayed report into the intelligence agency’s brutal post-9/11 interrogation techniques, The New York Times reports. The White House and the GOP reportedly clashed yesterday, with the latter urging the report not to be published. They argued that its release could “incite unrest and violence, even resulting in the deaths of Americans,” the newspaper writes.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel arrived in Baghdad this morning to assess the anti-ISIS coalition’s efforts against the terrorist group. He said it would be “a long-term effort” and told U.S. and Australian soldiers that their role “has to be a support role ... It is their country. They have to lead.” Read more from Reuters.

SNAPSHOT
A Bangladeshi man is working inside a jute warehouse on the outskirts of the country's capital Dhaka.

PALESTINE GETS ICC OBSERVER STATUS
The Hague’s International Criminal Court has granted Palestine observer status, a decision that paves the way for Palestinians to be able to sue over possible war crimes committed in territories occupied by Israel, Al Jazeera reports. The network’s diplomatic editor James Bays notes that the decision is “symbolic but adds to the international momentum for Palestinian statehood” and “brings war-crimes trials against Israelis one step closer.” Amnesty International published a report this morning in which it accuses Israel of having committed war crimes in the last days of the Gaza operation last summer, describing the bombing of buildings as “extensive, wanton and unjustified.” Amnesty called for an independent and impartial investigation.

VERBATIM

Defense Minister Anna Soubry
told a BBC radio program about her obsession with Kim Kardashian.

“DAY OF SILENCE” IN UKRAINE
A “Day of Silence” is being held in eastern Ukraine amid uncertainty over when ceasefire talks, which were due to take place today in Minsk, will begin, the BBC reports. Kiev officials told AFP that no talks would be held today in the Belarus capital and that no further date had been agreed on yet, but the temporary truce for today appeared to be respected on both sides. Russia, meanwhile, resumed gas flowsto Ukraine after a six-month hiatus.

A convoy transporting the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which was shot down in eastern Ukraine in July, will reach the Netherlands today, where it will be reconstructed as part of an ongoing investigation.

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO
As Die Welt reports, use of the incredibly addictive drug crystal meth is growing in Germany, especially among Millennials who say it makes them feel invincible. “The states of Bavaria and Saxony in particular are being flooded with the drug, which is coming from the Czech Republic,” the newspaper reports. “The number of offenses committed in Saxony due to crystal meth has tripled to some 5,000 since 2009. The drug is produced in hundreds of meth labs in the Czech Republic. The anti-drug squad in Prague operates on the assumption that annual production amounts to 10 tons, of which three end up in Germany.”
Read the full article, Crystal Meth, Drug Of Choice Of The 'Selfie Generation.'

HONG KONG ACTIVISTS TOLD TO LEAVE
Pro-democracy protesters occupying the main camp in Hong Kong have been urged to pack up their belongings and leave the site ahead of a clearing operation scheduled for Thursday morning, the South China Morning Post reports. A bus company obtained a court order to clear the site, which sits near government buildings, arguing it had affected its business. An attorney for the company said it would “officially request the involvement of bailiffs and police” if protesters refuse to follow the court order.

MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD


CRUCIAL GREECE ELECTION MOVED UP
The Greek government announced yesterday it would hold an early presidential election Dec. 17, two months ahead of schedule, in a bid to end “political uncertainty” in the debt-ridden country, Bloomberg reports. The move is risky for the center-right government and could trigger a general election, with anti-austerity far-left party Syriza leading the polls. The Greek president is elected by lawmakers and needs the backing of 180 members, but the government only has a majority of 155 in the 300-seat parliament. Stocks in Athens fell by more than 5% in early trading this morning in reaction to the news.

ZOO’D
Gabi Orrù, a fifth-grade teacher at the Heinrich Andresen School in the northern German town of Sterup, has a staff of two, but they aren't paid a dime and sometimes they scratch their ears during class. Read more about her assistants, Stableford and Dimple, in the Worldcrunch Zoo'd blog.

LAKES ON MARS
NASA scientists have found new evidence that the Gale Crater on Mars, where the Curiosity rover landed in 2012, was home to successive lakes over millions of years. Their discovery suggests that the planet’s climate used to be a lot warmer and wetter. Read more from The New York Times.