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5 things you absolutely must know today

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Hostage situation in Australia ends as police storm Sydney cafe

Security forces have stormed a café in downtown Sydney, where a gunman identified as Man Haron Monis held several hostages at gunpoint for more than 16 hours. Gunfire and loud bangs were heard during the siege, which took place at about 2 a.m. Tuesday night at the Lindt chocolate shop and café, moments after about six hostages were able to escape. Medical crews carried several people away on stretchers. It’s unknown whether Monis, an Iranian refugee known to police, was one of them. “We’re possibly looking at a lone wolf who has sympathies to global jihad or someone with mental health issues in search of a cause,” Adam Dolnik, a professor at the University of Wollongong who has trained Sydney police in hostage negotiations, told CBC News. “This is all about attention.” [Source: CBC] 

Arctic ice is not depleting as fast as once thought

The polar north is not losing its ice at the rate as previously thought, according to data from Europe’s Cryosat spacecraft, which observed about 7,500 cubic kilometres of cover in October, a number only slightly less than last year’s recorded 8,800 cubic kilometres. Researchers agree that the number is down from the nearly 20,000 cu kms of ice cover recorded in the ‘80s, but they also maintain that a large-scale collapse of Arctic sea ice is not imminent. “What we see is the volume going down and down, but then, because of a relatively cool summer, coming back up to form a new high stand,” Rachel Tilling, of NERC Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling (CPOM) at University College London (UCL), told BBC News. “So, what may be occurring here is a decline that looks a bit like a sawtooth, where we can lose volume but then recover some of it if there happens to be a shorter melt season one year.” [Source: BBC]

Last Hong Kong protest site cleared

The Hong Kong protests came to an end Monday, as police cleared the Causeway Bay site, quickly and without incident, save for the 20 or so arrested for refusing to leave the area. It was the last of three occupied areas. Police gave the encampment 20 minutes warning before they began clearing tents, barricades, artwork, and other symbols of protest from the area. It was an anticlimactic end to a 79-day occupation that sought to wrest democratic independence from Beijing. They fought to be able to elect their own leader, a process currently vetted by Beijing officials. “I think there is still hope, because many people still come out and support us,” Tommy Lam, 19, told TIME Magazine on Sunday night, shortly before the site was cleared. “Whatever the police do, we will still continue fighting for true democracy.” [Source: Time]

Mahmoud Abbas pushed for resolution to end Israeli occupation

The Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas wants the UN security council to vote on a resolution that would put an end to the 47-year Israeli occupation. Abbas is hoping for this vote as early as Wednesday. The fast-paced move is a response to Israel’s prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s recent rejection for a timeline of the establishment of a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders, and a timeline for the end of the Israeli occupation. Netanyahu made the remarks on route to Rome, where he met U.S. secretary of state John Kerry to talk about Palestine’s moves at the UN. The resolution being pushed calls for a November 2016 end to the Israeli occupation. But a rival resolution in play, drafted by France, with input from the UK and Germany, only puts a deadline to the end of negotiations between the warring regions, and doesn’t mention the occupation. “While the US has long opposed the idea of the security council imposing a framework for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, the increasing internationalisation – in which several European countries have taken symbolic votes recognising a Palestinian state – of the issue has pushed some to speculate that the Washington is more open to engaging in talks about security council intervention,” reads the news story from The Guardian. “For Washington, too, simply vetoing the plan could be seen as more difficult than in the past. A veto would upset Palestinians and perhaps some Arab allies frustrated by years of diplomatic gridlock. Several are fighting alongside the US against the Islamic State.” [Source: Guardian]

Bill Cosby speaks to Page Six reporter, urging black media to be ‘neutral’

Alleged rapist Bill Cosby ended his media silence Saturday night, accepting an interview with Page Six’s Stacy Brown and telling her that he expects black news outlets to treat his case without bias. “Let me say this,” Cosby said. “I only expect the black media to uphold the standards of excellence in journalism and when you do that you have to go in with a neutral mind.” He refused to comment on the rape accusations, and told Brown that his wife, Camille, has been coping with the attention through, “love and strength of womanhood,” a phrase he allegedly said facetiously. The most recent woman to come forward against Cosby is supermodel Beverly Johnson, who claims the comedian drugged her and dragged her down the stairs. [Source: Death and Taxes]


Follow Toban Dyck at @tobandyck.

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