The King of Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah, has died at the age of 90, weeks after being admitted to hospital with a lung infection.
His half brother and heir to the Saudi throne, Prince Salman, is 79 years old and is also in very poor health – meaning Saudi Arabia will be back in the same spot in a few years. Within hours of acceding to the throne, the newly appointed King Salman, vowed to maintain the same policies as his predecessors. “We will continue adhering to the correct policies which Saudi Arabia has followed since its establishment,” he said in a speech on state TV. So… intolerance of free speech, gender discrimination and multiple beheadings? The Guardian
Further proof it’s never a good idea to don a Hitler mustache: the head of the German anti-Islamisation movement Pegida has stepped down after a picture of him posing as Adolf Hitler went viral. In addition to the Hitler pose, Lutz Bachmann made some disparaging anti-refugee comments on Facebook in which he reportedly described immigrants as “cattle”, “scumbags” and “trash”. Pegida spokeswoman Kathrin Oertel said the anti-refugee comments went too far but the “Hitler” photo was totally fine and that it was a “joke” and “satire, which is every citizen’s right”. Nevertheless, the German government was not pleased. Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said: “Anyone in politics who poses as Hitler is either a total idiot or a Nazi. Reasonable people do not follow idiots, and decent people don’t follow Nazis.” Fair enough. BBC News
Yesterday marked the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, in which the US Supreme Court ruled women had the freedom to terminate a pregnancy if they desired, ending once and for all America’s abortion debate – minus the four decades of passionate debate that followed. Yesterday was no exception to the ongoing abortion fight. Anti-abortion protesters marched in Washington as the US House passed a bill to tighten restrictions on abortion. Although an earlier bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks was scrapped, the Republicans did manage to pass a more limited measure to forbid the use of taxpayer money for abortions. The White House has said it will veto the legislation – arguing it “unnecessarily restricts women’s reproductive freedom and consumers’ private insurance options” – making the whole thing a fruitless endeavour. But since the US is still sharply divided on the issue of abortion, with polls suggesting Americans are about evenly split four decades after the Roe v Wade, politicians and citizens alike will continue to squabble over the issue or years to come. New York Times
The US Senate passed an amendment on Wednesday saying climate change is real and not a hoax – because the only way to decide if something is a scientific fact is by having politicians vote on it. The measure, stating that “climate change is real and is not a hoax”, passed by a margin of 98-1. The lone dissenter was Senator Roger Wicker from Mississippi. Sigh… Although to Mississippi’s credit, their other state Senator, Thad Cochran, voted yes – possibly because he’s old enough to have witnessed all the cyclical trends since the last ice age. The whole climate science squabble broke out during debate over amendments to the bill to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. Democrats wanted Republicans to admit that climate change is real and that human activity plays a role. But while Republicans were willing to admit that climate change isn’t a hoax, many refused to admit that human activity is a factor. Two other amendments (which needed 60 votes to pass) failed: “human activity significantly contributes to climate change” failed 50-49 and “human activity contributes to climate change” failed 59-40. Still, progress…? The Hill