AUSTRALIA‘S prime minister says that a deadly siege in a Sydney cafe may have been preventable, as the chorus of critics demanding to know why the gunman was out on bail despite facing a string of violent charges grew louder. “This has been a horrific wake-up call,” Prime Minister Tony Abbott told Macquarie Radio. “This was an atrocity — it may well have been a preventable atrocity.”
MYANMAR A New Zealand bar manager and two Myanmar men pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges they insulted religion by posting an advertisement with an image of a pink Buddha wearing headphones. Philip Blackwood, general manager of the V Gastro Bar, was arrested last week after posting the online advertisement for the bar in Yangon. The charges carry a penalty of up to two years in prison. The advertisement was removed and an apology posted.
USA-N KOREA Federal investigators have now connected the hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. to North Korea, though it remained unclear how the federal government would respond to a break-in that exposed sensitive documents and ultimately led to terrorist threats against moviegoers.
USA-CUBA Former President Jimmy Carter says he is “proud and grateful” for President Obama’s efforts to restore diplomatic ties with Cuba. Carter calls the shift in policy “courageous.” Carter rejects accusations that Obama is appeasing Cuba’s communist leaders.
VATICAN Pope Francis has praised the “small steps” of diplomacy and peacemaking that brought about the rapprochement between the U.S. and Cuba. In his first public comments about the breakthrough Francis told new ambassadors yesterday that diplomacy was a “noble job.”
PAKISTAN A defense lawyer says a Pakistani anti-terrorism court has granted bail to the chief suspect in the Mumbai attack trial. Rizwan Abbasi says judge Kausar Abbas in yesterday’s hearing held in the garrison city of Rawalpindi found that there was not enough evidence to keep Zaki-ur-Rahman Lakhvi in custody anymore. The court session was closed to the media. The 2008 attack in the Indian city of Mumbai killed 166 people.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC Clashes between Muslim and Christian fighters have killed 28, left dozens wounded and sent civilians fleeing for safety, a Red Cross official said yesterday. The fighting began Tuesday in Mbres when a member of a Christian militia was killed by a grenade allegedly thrown by a group of Muslims, according to a pastor in the town, which is in the country’s center. The fighting escalated when Christian fighters counter-attacked and members of the country’s former Muslim rebel alliance arrived from a nearby town to join the melee.
GERMANY A former lawmaker who quit amid a child pornography investigation says discussions are underway with prosecutors on possibly closing the case against him in exchange for a fine. Sebastian Edathy is scheduled to face trial in February on charges he downloaded child pornographic images and videos on his parliamentary laptop and also possessed “youth pornography.” Edathy, a member of Germany’s junior governing party, quit parliament in February, days before police searched his home and offices.