A Taliban suicide bomber killed six American servicemen at Bagram air base 30 kilometres north of the capital, Kabul, early today.
The US soldiers were on a perimeter patrol with Afghan counterparts when the bomber approached on a motorcycle – a known tactic of the Taliban.
The fundamentalist group is resurgent in Afghanistan since the majority of foreign forces left, and is now fighting for control of Sangin, a strategically important administrative centre in the southern Helmand province. The deputy governor, Mohammad Jan Rasulyar announced that the police headquarters, the governor’s office and the intelligence agency headquarters in Sangin had been lost. The governor, Mirza Khan Rahimi, denied that, saying reinforcements had been sent and were in command.
Blatter and Platini banned from soccer for eight years
Sepp Blatter, the FIFA president, and his European counterpart, Michel Platini, have both been banned from the sport for eight years over allegations of corruption. FIFA’s ethics committee found the men had abused their authority in executing a 2 million Swiss franc ($A2.8 million) transfer to Platini in 2011. Blatter was also fined $70,100 and Platini $112,000. Speaking after the decision was announced, a defiant Blatter continued to protest his innocence, saying he remained president because the committee lacked authority to remove him from office. “I’ll be back,” he told media.
New ABC chief sparks alarm – but read the fine print
The incoming managing director of the ABC, Google executive Michelle Guthrie, sparked alarm yesterday when she suggested the country’s most trusted news source (see page 30) had to consider accepting advertising and charge readers for its online news service (erecting a “digital paywall”). Senator Fiona Nash, deputy leader of the Nationals, damned the suggestion as an “appalling” idea that would penalise regional Australia. But Ms Guthrie did tell ABC24’s Joe O’Brien that it was “way too early” to say such things would happen”, noting only that it was important “in budget-constrained times” to examine all options.
Oil prices keep falling as gluts becomes worse
The global oil glut is tipped to deepen through 2016 as sanctions against Iran are lifted, increasing the volume of oil available for export to world markets. Oil prices – they vary depending on the purity and composition of the crude – are at their lowest point in 11 years for Brent, from the North Sea, at $US36) and in six years for US light crude, at less than $US34. The big Middle Eastern producers, having failed to agree to cut back on production, have now increased output in the hope of outselling competitors in a weak market. The implications for some developing nations largely dependent on oil revenues are dire; Nigeria and Venezuela have been hit worst.
Death by smartphone “a thing” – stop playing with it!
The Lord Mayor of Melbourne has told Christmas shoppers to be alert and keep their eyes open lest they fall foul of “the most dangerous” thing around… death or injury by smartphone addiction. Robert Doyle said people were becoming so engrossed in their smartphone apps and conversations that they were oblivious to their surroundings, including traffic, The Age reported. “Remember we are sharing very limited space with a lot of people, with trams, with cars, bicycles and other people,” Mr Doyle said. Police have been instructed to crack down on jaywalking pedestrians.
Star Wars: The force laughs all the way to the bank
If you joined the mad rush to see the latest instalment of the Star Wars saga last weekend, congratulations: you played a small role in making history. The Force Awakens has officially smashed the record for box office takings over a film’s first-release weekend. The take was $US529 million ($A735 million), with $US248 of that from the US and Canada alone. – Compiled from web sources by The Newsroom Team.