Top Stories for Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Pakistani Taliban Attack School, Massacre Children

From NBC News, “Death ‘All Around Me’: Victims Relive Pakistan School Massacre“: ““They burnt a teacher in front of the students in a classroom,” he said. “They literally set the teacher on fire with gasoline and made the kids watch.”

The government of Pakistan declared three days of mourning for the lives lost.

Maj. Gen. Asim Bajwa, a military spokesman, told NBC News that at least 132 children were killed in the attack, along with 10 staff from the school — including the principal. Seven militants were killed and seven special forces soldiers were injured…

Uniformed militants struck shortly before 11 a.m. local time (1 a.m. ET) when about 1,000 students — in grades one through 10 — and teachers were believed to be inside.

“We were standing outside the school and firing suddenly started and there was chaos everywhere and the screams of children and teachers,” said Jamshed Khan, a school bus driver.

“The gunmen entered class by class and shot some kids one by one,” one student who was in the Army Public School in Peshawar at the time told local media…”

Jeb Bush to ‘Explore’ Running for President

From Breitbart, “BUSH (ALMOST) ANNOUNCES; HE’LL ‘EXPLORE’ CANDIDACY”: “Bush, the son and brother of Republican presidents, is the first potential candidate to step this far into the 2016 contest, and his early announcement could deeply affect the race for the GOP nomination.

He is the early favorite of the GOP’s establishment wing, and his move puts immediate pressure on other establishment-minded GOP contenders to start competing with him for donors, campaign staff and national attention.

The 61-year old former two-term governor of Florida declared on Facebook he would “actively explore the possibility of running for president of the United States.”

While his statement doesn’t commit Bush to running, veterans of presidential politics described it as “a de facto announcement” that ends months of speculation about his intentions.

“This is news,” said Gov. Terry Branstad of Iowa, where the first votes will be cast in January 2016 caucuses.

Bush’s announcement raises more clearly the possibility of a dynastic presidential contest pitting him against Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton. The former first lady will be her party’s overwhelming front-runner should she decide to run.”

Russian Ruble Collapses

From Business Week, “Here’s Why the Russian Ruble is Collapsing”: “The Russian economy has been in trouble for months, but last night, things got absurdly bad. The value of the ruble dropped as much as 19 percent in the last 24 hours, the worst single-day drop for the ruble in 16 years. Now Russians are reportedly bum-rushing malls to swap cash for washing machines, TVs, or laptops—anything that seems as if it might hold value better than paper money, whose worth is evaporating in real time. The political and economic forces sending Russia into a downward spiral are complex. Here’s what you need to know.

Russia’s economy has been hurt by two big things: the falling price of oil and economic sanctions. (Remember Crimea?) The oil and gas industry generates about half of Russia’s revenue, so when a combination of the shale boom in the U.S. and weaker demand worldwide pushed the price from $110 per barrel earlier this year to $60, Russia got hammered. The sanctions imposed by Europe and the U.S., designed to punish Russia’s companies for President Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine, have hurt, too.”

Sony Hackers Threaten Moviegoers if ‘Interview’ is Released

From Variety, “Sony Hackers Threaten 9/11 Attack on Movie Theaters That Screen ‘The Interview’”: “The Sony hackers have threatened a 9/11-like attack on movie theaters that screen Seth Rogen and James Franco’s North Korean comedy “The Interview,” substantially escalating the stakes surrounding the release of the movie.

The attackers also released the promised “Christmas gift” of files. The contents of the files are unknown but it’s called “Michael Lynton,” who is the CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment.

“The world will be full of fear,” the message reads. “Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time. (If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.) Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment.””