Connecticut school shooting

Briefs, 19 December, 2012

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 December, 2012, 4:47am

NRA goes silent on social media

The powerful US gun lobby has turned silent on social media, apparently suspending its Facebook page in the wake of the school massacre. The Facebook page for the National Rifle Association boasted on Twitter last week that it had 1.7 million "likes". The NRA, one of the most influential lobby groups in Washington, has been the target of intense criticism for its stand on gun regulation, which is blamed for attacks including Friday's horrific slayings. On Facebook, the NRA presence was reduced to several small fan pages and closed groups. On Twitter, the main NRA account with 63,800 followers has been silent since a tweet on Friday about a giveaway. The group had previously been active on Twitter, tweeting news stories about weapons, including one which said Florida was nearing one million permits for concealed weapons. The trade publication AdWeek said the group appeared to want to avoid debate on its pages. "Facebook news feeds and Twitter streams have been inundated with debate about whether the nation's politicians should enact federal gun-control legislation in reaction to the recent string of mass shootings," AdWeek said. "The conversation has ranged from typically political to thoughtful to downright ugly." On Twitter, pro- and anti-gun control proponents traded tweets, many using the #NoWayNRA hashtag. "The 'right to bear arms' is not more important than a child's right to grow up," one Twitter user wrote. But another tweeted: "when the politicians who kill babies, arm cartels & radical Jihadists and spend us to oblivion give up their guns, I will too." AFP

Nation's parents fear the unknown

Parents across America agonised over whether to send their children to school and cautious educators locked down schools at the first hint of trouble this week, making for nervous days at school following the massacre. Schools fearful of "copycats" or troublemakers who might phone in empty threats grappled with how to respond and whether to discuss Friday's shootings with children. Many revised their security protocols, wondering if there was any way to keep a rampaging gunman from breaching their walls. Safety was balanced against concerns over frightening children unnecessarily. Politicians debated whether to fortify schools with armed guards. "It's hard to think about explaining to your kids something you don't understand yourself," said Karen Barbera, a mother of two in San Francisco who said she spent more time saying goodbye to them on Monday morning. "I hugged them extra tight." There were reports of arrests of people accused of making threats against public schools in Los Angeles, Nashville, Tennessee, and Cedar Lake, Indiana. Reuters


Man jailed for hacking stars' e-mail accounts

LOS ANGELES - A Florida man has been jailed for 10 years for hacking into the e-mail accounts of celebrities to gain access to nude photos and private information. Christopher Chaney, 36, said he hacked into the accounts of film star Scarlett Johansson and more than 50 people in the entertainment industry because he was addicted to spying on their private lives. Reuters


Obama softens stance to avoid fiscal cliff

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama has softened his demand for higher taxes at upper income levels and agreed to curtail future inflation adjustments for recipients of social security pensions, narrowing differences with Republican House Speaker John Boehner in talks to avoid a "fiscal cliff". Growing signs of a compromise pushed world shares towards a three-month high. AP


Festive restraint urged in Northern Ireland

BELFAST - Northern Ireland police are appealing to Protestant militants to show some Christmas spirit and stop stirring street violence as part of a dispute over flying the British flag. Eleven officers were hurt and 15 rioters arrested during clashes overnight on Monday in Protestant sections of Belfast and three other towns. Many Protestants want Belfast City Council to reverse a decision to stop flying the British flag year-round. AP


NBC journalist Engel freed after five days

WASHINGTON - NBC correspondent Richard Engel and his production crew have escaped captors in Syria after a five-day abduction at the hands of pro-regime militiamen who tormented them with mock executions. Engel said from the safety of Turkey he and his team had regained their freedom on Monday after two of their captors were killed in a firefight with Syrian rebels. The group went missing soon after crossing into Syria from Turkey on Thursday. AFP


Cabinet honours queen with icy tribute

LONDON - Queen Elizabeth attended her first cabinet meeting yesterday, where ministers marked her diamond jubilee by naming a chunk of the Antarctic in her honour and giving her 60 placemats. In the only visit by a British monarch to a cabinet meeting for more than 200 years, the queen stayed for half an hour at Downing Street with Prime Minister David Cameron and the top ministers of his government. AFP