US Tightens Travel Restrictions
Travel restrictions were tightened for foreigners who visited the United States without needing full visas. Since the terrorist attacks in Paris, the visa waiver program came under scrutiny for its lax approach to ‘potential terrorists’. American lawmakers showed concern that terrorists would have been able to enter the US under the previous set up.
San Bernardino Shooting
Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, a married couple, opened fire at a holiday party at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino on the 2nd of December. Fourteen people were killed and 22 injured, most of them county employees. Both attackers were killed in a gun battle with police. Farook, who was born in the U.S. and worked for the county, and Malik, a Pakistan national, had an arsenal of ammunition and pipe bombs in their Redlands home. Enrique Marquez, a friend of Farook, bought two of the guns used in the attack. He entered a mental health facility after the massacre. Farook and Malik began plotting a terror attack before they were engaged and before Malik moved to the US last year. Investigators are trying to determine whether they had links to foreign terror organizations.
Saudi Women Allowed to Vote for the First Time
Women in Saudi Arabia cast their first votes ever and they were also standing as candidates. A total of 978 women registered as candidates, alongside 5,938 men. Female candidates had to speak behind a partition while campaigning or be represented by a man however. About 130,000 women registered to vote which still falls well short of male voter registration, which stands at 1.35 million.
On the 12th of December the participating 195 countries agreed, by consensus, to the final global pact, the Paris Agreement, to reduce emissions as part of the method for reducing greenhouse gases. In the 12-page document the members agreed to reduce their carbon output “as soon as possible” and to do their best to keep global warming “to well below 2 degrees C”. France’s Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, said this “ambitious and balanced” plan was a “historic turning point” in the goal of reducing global warming. However, some others criticized the fact that significant sections are “promises” or aims and not firm commitments by the countries.
Pope Francis Denounces Consumerism
Pope Francis denounced consumerism in his homily at midnight mass on Christmas Eve at the Vatican. At the service, the pope urged his followers to pursue a life of modesty, saying:
“The way of authentic liberation and perennial redemption is open to every man and woman who is simple of heart”.
Francis’ mass in St Peter’s Basilica comes shortly after the start of his “year of mercy”, during which hundreds of thousands of pilgrims are expected to pass through a huge bronze “holy door” and attend special masses and papal audiences. Catholic churches around the world have opened their own holy doors to mark the special year.