US, Cuba to Normalize Relations -- Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro announced yesterday that the US and Cuba were finally going to normalize their relations. This move is long overdue. Indeed, the very first edition of this journal called for it. A great many are pleased with the decision, but there are a few Cold War dead-enders who have yet to realize that the Embargo was a failure, and that a new approach is needed. [18 December]
Pakistani Taliban Murders 148 in School Attack -- The Pakistani Taliban sent seven men wearing suicide vests into a school run by Pakistan's military in Peshawar yesterday. Roughly 150, mostly students, died before the military killed the last of the terrorists. The world was rightly horrified, the government and military of Pakistan suddenly were as one in wanting to kill off the Pakistani Taliban [TTP], and the families are burying the dead even now. Yet, one cannot help but think that this will, in the end, change nothing. [17 December]
Russia Hikes Rates to 17% to Defend Ruble -- Faced with a collapsing currency, the Russian Central Bank opted to hike rates from 10.5% to 17% yesterday. The ruble has lost about half its value against the US dollar in the last year, and with oil prices under pressure, it was in danger of falling farther. The trouble is that the central bank has said that the economy will shrink by 4-4.5% this year if oil stays at around $60 a barrel. Higher interest rates will only make that worse. [16 December]
Sydney Suffers Lone Wolf Terror Attack -- A 16-hour siege of a cafe in central Sydney, Australia, just ended. It appears there are two dead, one of them the terrorist Man Haron Monis. He was a 49 year-old, Iranian-born, self-proclaimed Muslim cleric with a lengthy criminal record who had been free on bail. The incident shut down central Sydney and appears to be the action of one desperately sad individual. Australia has responded to the affair with caution and dignity as well as a sense of fair play toward its Muslim population. [15 December]
CIA Boss, War Criminal Brennan Has to Go -- Yesterday, CIA Director John Brennan held a press conference at the agency's headquarters in Langley, Virginia. He was responding to the release of the Senate's report on CIA abuse of prisoners in the war against Al Qaeda, et. al. The fact that he declined to rule out the use of torture in future is most unsettling. It is unsettling to the point that President Obama should fire him before the close of business today. [12 December]
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