Friday News Bites: Cuba, Sydney, Happy Goats + More

Hello, fellow unicorns. This week, we’re a bit more international with our news bites, and I also have a few bonus stories that amused me. With all the horrible things that happen, it’s good to find a few points of light. Let’s get to it.

#BlackLivesMatter Updates:

Protesting the Eric Garner grand jury decision, thousands of people marched in New York City on Dec. 13th. Here’s a time lapse view:

The autopsy report for Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old boy killed in Cleveland last month, officially declares his death a homicide. Rice’s family is pushing for a trial jury instead of a grand jury.

CNN apparently forgot how the internet and Twitter work, and their #AskACop segment was predictably critical of police misconduct.

International News:

After taking a Sydney chocolate shop hostage, a gunman identified as Man Haron Monis (also known as Sheikh Haron) and two of the hostages were killed after a long standoff with police. Monis had a flag in the window at one point:

The flag shown in the cafe’s window as the hostage drama unfolded appeared to be the Tawhid Banner. NBC News terrorism analyst Evan Kohlmann, added that it was frequently used by Jabhat Al-Nusra and other armed Islamist groups in the region — but not ISIS.

With some of the Islamic community in Australia fearing for their safety after the standoff, Twitter users started using the hashtag #IllRideWithYou to help diffuse any Islamophobia people might experience on public transportation.

141 people — 132 of them children — died when Taliban militants seized a school in Peshawar, Pakistan. This is just so awful, I have nothing more to say on the matter.

In (much, much, much) better news, same-sex couples can now marry in Scotland. Previously, they were only able to have “civil partnerships.”

President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro have agreed to improved diplomatic relations, including the amount of money Americans can send to Cubans. Talks about lifting trade embargoes continue.

Back in the U.S.

The President also recently pardoned 12 people and commuted 8 sentences. Half of the eight whose sentences were commuted had been sentenced to life imprisonment.

Inside the 1,603-page federal spending measure recently passed by Congress is a provision that decriminalizes medical marijuana. So that’s cool.

The “twin” featured on a homophobic billboard in Virginia is actually not a twin and he’s proudly gay. Kyle Roux modeled for some photos that ended up on a stock photography site, and says he does not support the billboard’s message. (I also wonder if the group who bought the billboard space even paid for those stock photos, or if some creative cropping is at play, but that’s a separate issue.)

NASA has found strong evidence for life on Mars: SPACE BURPS.

And if you haven’t heard yet, the U.S. learned that North Korea was behind the Sony email leaks. Hackers threatened terrorism attacks if the movie The Interview was released, leading several major theater chains to pull the film before Sony cancelled its big-screen release entirely.

Which brings us to…

Entertainment News

Dallas’ Alamo Drafthouse announced that they would screen Team America: World Police in place of The Interview, which is also critical of North Korea but received no such threats during its original release in 2004, but Paramount won’t let them.

Musician Nick Talbot, better known as Gravenhurst, died at age 37 earlier this month. The cause of death was not released.

Obligatory that I mention: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds have confirmed that they will headline the Teenage Cancer Trust concert fundraiser in 2015. Gallagher has been involved with the event for many years, including curating the shows in 2013.

David Bowie once turned down a guest spot with Coldplay. The reason he gave Chris Martin makes me giggle a bit.

30,000 people quite literally received bullshit from Cards Against Humanity after ordering it on Black Friday, but there is a charitable aspect to the joke.

Ending on an upnote:

SCIENCE! can tell you if your goat is a happy goat.

Courtesy of
(Courtesy of

Edinburgh University gave a library card to a cat. The cat is not as fond of its other home on campus, apparently.

And finally, Happy Hanukkah to those of you who celebrate it. If you’re not Jewish, here’s an article on the “Top 8 (+1) Tips for Being the Best Non-Jew at the Hanukkah Party.”

Now, time to make some latkes.

By Sara Habein

Sara Habein is the author of Infinite Disposable, a collection of microfiction, and her work has appeared on The Rumpus, Pajiba and Word Riot, among others. Her book reviews and other commentary appear at Glorified Love Letters, and she is the co-manager of Electric City Creative.

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