Captive orangutan has human right to freedom

Reuters, December 21

An orangutan held in the Buenos Aires zoo can be freed and transferred to a sanctuary after a court recognized the ape as a “non-human person” unlawfully deprived of its freedom, local media reported.

Animal rights campaigners filed a habeas corpus petition – a document more typically used to challenge the legality […]

Pakistan to execute 500 militants after moratorium lifted

RTÉ, December 22

Pakistan has announced plans to execute around 500 militants in coming weeks, after the government lifted a moratorium on the death penalty in terror cases following a Taliban school massacre.

Six militants have been hanged since Friday amid rising public anger over an attack last Tuesday’s which left 149 people dead including […]

India lawmakers demand Modi speak on mass conversion to Hinduism

AP, December 22

New Delhi – Opposition lawmakers, charging that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has done little to stop hard-liners in his party from forcibly converting religious minorities to Hinduism, threw Parliament into an uproar Monday, with the upper house of Parliament adjourned after descending into shouting matches.

Right-wing Hindu groups allied to the ruling […]

Billion Dollar Surveillance Blimp to Launch over Maryland

The Intercept, By Dan Froomkin, December 17

In just a few days, the Army will launch the first of two massive blimps over Maryland, the last gasp of an 18-year-long $2.8-billion Army project intended to use giant airships to defend against cruise missiles.

And while the blimps may never stave off a barrage of enemy […]

New surgeon general approved despite remarks on guns, contraception

Los Angeles Times, By Melissa Healy, December 15

Overruling the objections of gun-rights advocates, the U.S. Senate on Monday confirmed Dr. Vivek Murthy, a British-born, American-educated internal medicine specialist, to become the 19th surgeon general of the United States.

The 51-43 vote makes Murthy, a 37-year-old graduate of Harvard University and Yale University Medical School, […]

Federal ‘Cromnibus’ spending bill also effectively ends U.S. ban on medical marijuana

Raw Story, By Arturo Garcia, December 16

The newly-passed $1.1 trillion federal spending bill also includes a bipartisan provision that signals the end of the federal ban on medical marijuana, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The provision bars federal agents from raiding medical marijuana retailers in the 32 states and the District of Columbia where […]

United Nations vote on death penalty moratorium puts US in awkward spot

The General Assembly has passed four resolutions on an execution moratorium, with the US increasingly isolated for use

Al Jazeera, By Natasja Sheriff, December 17

New York — The United Nations General Assembly is expected on Thursday to vote once again on a draft resolution calling for a moratorium on the death penalty, with the […]

Three Members of Congress Just Reignited the Cold War While No One Was Looking by

TruthDig/Common Dreams, By Dennis Kucinich, December 16

Late Thursday night, the House of Representatives unanimously passed a far-reaching Russia sanctions bill, a hydra-headed incubator of poisonous conflict. The second provocative anti-Russian legislation in a week, it further polarizes our relations with Russia, helping to cement a Russia-China alliance against Western hegemony, and undermines long-term America’s […]

U.N. official: We have ‘run out of words’ to describe conflict in Syria

CNN, By Lorenzo Ferrigno, December 16

A top United Nations official on Monday told the Security Council she has “run out of words” to describe the worsening situation in Syria.

“Every time we use a new figure in relation to the Syrian crisis, we say that it is unprecedented. We have run out of words […]

First woman bishop: parish priest Libby Lane is surprise choice

Bookies off the mark as Church of England names the Rev Libby Lane as its first female bishop in Stockport, Greater Manchester The Telegraph, By John Bingham, December 17

A parish priest from Hale has made history as the first woman to be named as a bishop in the Church of England.

The Rev Libby […]

Scientists are worried Greenland might melt even faster than expected

Washington Post, By Chris Mooney, December 15

Just two weeks ago, we learned from twin scientific publications that the massive ice sheet of West Antarctica, which could cause over 10 feet of sea level rise, may be less stable than previously thought.

And now, this week, two studies suggest virtually the same thing about the […]

US co-opted Cuba’s hip-hop scene to spark change

By Desmond Butler, Michael Weissenstein, Laura Wides-Munoz & Andrea Rodriguez, December 11

Havana – For more than two years, a U.S. agency secretly infiltrated Cuba’s underground hip-hop movement, recruiting unwitting rappers to spark a youth movement against the government, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

The idea was to use Cuban musicians “to […]

U.A.E. Sees OPEC Output Unchanged Even If Oil Falls to $40

Bloomberg, By Anthony DiPaola & Mahmoud Habboush, December 14

OPEC will stand by its decision not to cut crude output even if oil prices fall as low as $40 a barrel and will wait at least three months before considering an emergency meeting, the United Arab Emirates’ energy minister said.

OPEC won’t immediately change its […]

Japan’s Abe wins mandate in downbeat election

Los Angeles Times, By Yuriko Nagano, December 14

With the economy limping but no obvious contenders offering a more compelling fiscal strategy, Japanese voters on Sunday gave Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party a fresh mandate to forge on with his reforms, known as Abenomics.

Japan’s national broadcaster, NHK, predicted late Sunday that the […]

Last-minute deal reached at U.N. climate talks

CBS/AP, December 14

Lima, Peru – After late-night wrangling at U.N. talks in Peru, negotiators early Sunday reached a compromise deal that sets the stage for a global climate pact in Paris next year.

The main goal for the two-week session in Lima was relatively modest: Reach agreement on what information should go into the […]

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