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News Summary: May 2016

Cincinnati Zoo Gorilla 

A four-year-old boy fell into the enclosure of a gorilla at America’s Cincinnati Zoo this month leading to zoo officials shooting the animal to it’s death. The young boy climbed through a barrier and fell into an approximately 10ft moat, where he was grabbed and dragged by the gorilla.

The boy was dragged by the 17-year-old male western lowland gorilla named Harambe for about 10 minutes and the zoo said it took action to shoot the 400lb (180kg) gorilla as the situation was “life-threatening”.

Although there has been some debate over whether the gorilla should have been tranquillised or shot.

Zoo director Thane Maynard said: “[The officials] made a tough choice and they made the right choice because they saved that little boy’s life. It could have been very bad.”

He said a tranquilliser would not have had a quick enough effect.

Mr Maynard said that although the boy was not under attack, he “certainly was at risk”.

The child was taken to a local hospital and although no information about his condition has been released it is believed he will recover.

It is now being said that the police will investigate the parents.

Egyptian Airline 

The EgyptAir Airbus A320 flying overnight from Paris to Cairo crashed into the eastern Mediterranean Sea early on Thursday 19 May.

Flight MS804 had 66 passengers and crew on board.

Debris and body parts have been found to the east of the plane’s last known location. Egypt’s military has released images of wreckage including a lifejacket, pieces of fabric and metal fragments.

The cause of the fire is unknown but Egyptian Prime Minister Sharif Ismail has been reluctant to speculate over the cause of the disappearance. “We cannot exclude anything at this time or confirm anything,” he told reporters. Additionally, no group has claimed it carried out the attack.

Fire alarm data suggests there was a fire at the front of the aircraft, on the right-hand side, and that the fire spread very quickly. However whether the fire was deliberate or accidental remains unknown.

There were 56 passengers, seven crew members and three security personnel on board.

The passengers comprised 30 Egyptians, 15 French, two Iraqis, one Briton, one Kuwaiti, one Saudi, one Sudanese, one Chadian, one Portuguese, one Belgian, one Algerian and one Canadian. Three of the passengers were children, two of them infants, EgyptAir said.

An Egyptian newspaper identified the pilot as Captain Mohamed Shokeir. EgyptAir said he had had 6,275 hours of flying experience, including 2,101 hours on the A320, while the first officer had had 2,766 hours.

Queen’s Speech 

The government’s planned new laws have been set out by the Queen – including the biggest prison shake-up in England and Wales “since Victorian times”.

However David Cameron said it was a “bold” and “radical” agenda.

He told MPs: “This is a Queen’s Speech that combines economic security with extending life chances for all, it’s the Queen’s Speech of a progressive, one nation Conservative government.”

The government is also pushing ahead with controversial plans to monitor internet use through its Investigatory Powers Bill and crack down on extremism, including stronger powers to disrupt radicals’ activities and to intervene in unregulated schools which are ‘teaching hate’.

The planned prison reforms, drawn up by Justice Secretary and leading Leave campaigner Michael Gove, were billed as the centrepiece of the Speech.

The Queen’s Speech is being seen as an attempt to secure a legacy of social reform for the prime minister but critics say it is overshadowed by 23 June’s referendum on whether Britain should remain in the EU, which has split the Cabinet.

Mr Cameron told MPs: “For too long in our country the young offender institutions and prisons have not been working. They give the public the security of knowing that offenders are locked in but they’re not doing enough to turn around the lives of people who will one day be let out.

“So in our prisons we are going to apply the lessons learned in other public service reforms – publishing results, giving the people who run the services proper control over them, encouraging innovation, rewarding success and not tolerating persistent failure.”

He rejected claims by Green MP Caroline Lucas that the reforms would be undermined by big cuts to prison budgets and overcrowding, saying the government’s “whole aim was to try and do more with less”.

One of Europe’s biggest jails, HMP Wandsworth, is among six institutions where governors will be given new powers over budgets and setting the daily regime.

Satellite tracking tags which monitor the movements of offenders using GPS technology will be piloted in eight police areas from September, in a move which could see prisoners become weekend inmates and spend the rest of the week at home as they hold down jobs.

Prisons will also be forced to publish statistics on education, reoffending and inmates’ employment on release.

According to The Guardian, the government will also adopt the findings of a review of education in prisons, which will recommend allowing inmates to use iPads in their cells to “learn independently” and stay in touch with friends and family via Skype.

Boris Johnson has been attacked for comparing the EU’s aims to Hitler’s.

In an interview, he said : “Napoleon, Hitler, various people tried this out, and it ends tragically.”

Field Marshall Lord Bramall, former head of the armed services, said the comments were “absurd” and “laughable”.

“I know only too well, this comparison of the EU and Nazi Germany is absurd,” Bramall, who took part in the Normandy landings, is quoted as saying.

“Hitler’s main aim was to create an empire in the East and violently subjugate Europeans. Any connection between that and the EU is simply laughable.”

His criticism joins that of several others, who say Johnson is playing a “nasty game” and has “gone too far”.

Former Labour cabinet minister Yvette Cooper accused him of “divisive cynical politics”, while Conservative MP Nicholas Soames said he had “gone too far”.

Johnson’s comments also caused a furore on social media as hundreds of people accused the British politician of “scare mongering” and “losing his moral compass”.

However, he does have some supporters – former cabinet minister and fellow Brexiter Chris Grayling said his comments were “historical analysis”.

Lord Lamont, the former Tory chancellor also defended his comments.

“He was simply saying that historically, from the Romans, Charlemagne, Napoleon, there have been all sorts of attempts to dominate Europe.”

Johnson also received support from some people who said his comments were “taken out of context”.

At an event on Monday he was directly asked by a reporter whether it was appropriate to compare the EU with Nazi Germany and its plans to conquer Europe.

“You’re persistently trying to drag the subject back to previous attempts to unify Europe,” he said. “What I’m talking about is what’s going on now, and it is completely anti-democratic.”

Pressed on the question of the direct comparison that he made, he replied: “Actually, I was making a comparison with what happened in 1918, is the truth.”

Johnson, a frontrunner to succeed Cameron as leader of the Conservative party, has emerged as one of the most important voices in the “Out” campaign in advance of the June vote.

Munich Knife Attack

A man who killed one person and wounded three in a knife attack at a railway station near the German city of Munich

The man reportedly shouted “Allahu akbar” (“God is great” in Arabic), sparking fears of an extremist attack.

But the authorities says they have found no links to Islamic extremism.

A medical expert said the 27-year-old German was mentally ill and at most could be held only partly responsible for his actions.

The man, known in the Germany media only as Paul H, had been reported as mentally confused on Sunday.

Relatives called the police, but when officers arrived at his home in Gruenberg in the central state of Hesse, they said they could not do anything because the man was deemed not to pose a threat to the public.

They advised the relatives to take him to a mental hospital, which they did. But after a short time on an open psychiatric ward, Paul H walked out and took the train to Munich.

There he attacked four people, on a train and the station platform in Grafing, a Bavarian town 40km (25 miles) east of Munich.

A 56-year-old man died, and three other men aged between 43 and 58 were now all said to be in a stable condition.

On Wednesday, the steps of the train station were covered with flowers and candles for the victims.

The man has now been sent to a psychiatric hospital.

Gun Used to Kill Trayvon Martin Auctioned Off by George Zimmerman 

George Zimmerman has listed the gun with which he killed Trayvon Martin in 2012 for auction, touting it as “your opportunity to own a piece of American history”.

The former neighbourhood watch volunteer was acquitted two years ago in the death of the young unarmed African American, but the case sparked protests and a national debate about race relations across the USA.

He wrote in the item description that it had recently been returned to him by the Department of Justice and was fully functional.

The Trayvon Martin foundation, set up after the youth’s death to “end senseless gun violence”, said it had “no comment on the actions of that person”.

Zimmerman wrote that he was “proud to announce” that a portion of the proceeds raised would be used to “fight BLM [Black Lives Matter] violence against Law Enforcement officers” as well as ending the career of Angela Corey, his prosecutor – “and Hillary Clinton’s anti-firearm rhetoric”.

He signed off “your friend, George M. Zimmerman” and “Si vis pacem, para bellum” – the Latin adage, “If you want peace, prepare for war”.

Obama’s Hiroshima Visit

It was more than seven decades ago that the United States dropped the world’s first atomic bomb on Japan, obliterating the city of Hiroshima, killing 140,000 people and ushering in a new era of nuclear conflict.

Barack Obama became the first sitting US president to visit Hiroshima, side by side with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, the prime minister.

 At the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park this month, Obama offered a floral wreath at the cenotaph, hugged one of the survivors and gave a speech in which he expressed hope that the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings would be “the start of our own moral awakening”.

The Obama administration had prepared for the president’s visits to both Vietnam and Hiroshima by inviting veterans to the White House to meet national security adviser Susan Rice and provide reassurance that there would be no apologies.

Eleven US presidents have served since Harry Truman ordered the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima but none had gone there while in office. Some veterans have long objected that Japan never apologised for its brutal treatment of American prisoners during the war.

During his speech, Obama made reference to the deaths of 60 million people in the space of a few years during the war.

There has also been extensive debate surrounding whether Obama should apologise for the Hiroshima bombing, or the attack on Nagasaki, where a second atomic bomb was dropped three days later.

However Obama announced before his visit that while he was in Hiroshima, he would honour all those who died in World War Two, but he would not apologise for the atomic bombings.

The majority of Americans have long viewed the two atomic bombings as necessary in bringing the war to an end and therefore saving even more lives, although this argument has been widely questioned by historians. Most of the Japanese believe they were unjustified.

Facebook’s Trending Topics

Facebook has announced changes to the way it runs its ‘Trending Topics’ feed, following an internal investigation on claims of political bias.

There will be more training for staff and the feed will no longer rely on a list of news organisations, including the BBC, Washington Post and Buzzfeed News, to validate subjects.

Facebook general counsel Colin Stretch said the investigation analysed 3,000 reviewer decisions following allegations that conservative issues were being suppressed.

The site was accused by anonymous former employees of tampering with it’s ‘Trending Topics’ feature, promoting “progressive” views and websites over content presenting views from the American right.

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Naina Bhardwaj

Naina Bhardwaj

Naina Bhardwaj

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