For this Friday leading into the Christmas holiday, we’ve got a mixed bag of news, but I’ll cap it all off with an amusing photo because that’s just the kind of news-giver I am.
At least 500 people have been killed in the aftermath of an alleged attempted coup in South Sudan on Sunday. Things have calmed down somewhat in Juba, the nation’s capitol, but unrest has spread to other parts of the country. At least 19 civilians were killed during a fight in Bor, the capital of a rural South Sudanese state.
Also in South Sudan, a Boeing 727 has crashed at the Juba airport and is now stuck on the runway. Luckily, no serious injuries or deaths were reported.
In India, the government “set in motion an array of retaliatory steps against U.S. diplomats based across the country for the manner of arrest of an Indian diplomat in New York, signalling the escalation of an unprecedented bilateral row:”
We will deal with them exactly the same way they are dealing with us. Not anything more, not anything less. While the U.S. doesn’t provide many courtesies to our diplomats, we go out of the way not to withhold those facilities. If they are downgrading what we are entitled to as diplomats, they will also get the same treatment. This way we will both be going strictly by the rules,’’ said an Indian diplomat encapsulating the method behind the day’s activity.
Onto Russia: “Pussy Riot and the Greenpeace Arctic 30 could be free within days, after the Russian parliament granted both groups amnesty in a far-reaching new law.”
Also, President Obama is sending two openly gay athletes — Billie Jean King and Caitlin Cahow — as the U.S. delegation for the Sochi Olympics. (Update: Three openly gay athletes, Brian Boitano came out after being named to the delegation.) This is the first time since 2000 that the U.S. is not sending a president, former president, first lady or vice president to the Games. (Warning: Auto-loading video.)
Back in the U.S. now: A judge in Houston, Texas has issued an order to block the city from providing benefits to same-sex spouses of city employees. Houston’s openly lesbian mayor, Annise Parker, will seek the order’s reversal.
In New Mexico, a white teacher has chastised a black student for dressing as Santa for the school’s Christmas celebrations. The teacher has been placed on paid administrative leave.
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) continues her tenure of regulating against injustice by introducing a bill that will prevent employers from checking an applicant’s credit history.
“A bad credit rating is far more often the result of unexpected medical costs, unemployment, economic downturns, or other bad breaks than it is a reflection on an individual’s character or abilities,” Warren said. “Families have not fully recovered from the 2008 financial crisis, and too many Americans are still searching for jobs. This is about basic fairness — let people compete on the merits, not on whether they already have enough money to pay all their bills.”
Does Secret Santa get any better than this? During Reddit’s gift exchange, one person received a box from none other than Bill Gates.
Continuing with my tradition of pretending that Doctor Who news belongs with more serious links: Steven Moffat apparently had a storyline written for Christopher Eccleston, just in case he wanted to participate in the show’s 50th Anniversary.
Finally, if you’d like to see a sheep’s wool cut into that of a fancy-schmancy poodle: Look no further.
Until next time!