Morning News Wrap- December 18

Morning News Wrap- December 18

OBAMA AND CASTRO ANNOUNCE MAJOR US-CUBA POLICY CHANGE

US President Barack Obama has announced a change in US policy towards Cuba, following a prisoner exchange.

President Obama has announced the new policy will make it easier for Americans to travel to Cuba and he has also vowed to talk to members of Congress about lifting the US embargo on Cuba.

In a television address overnight he announced the end of what he called a rigid and outdated policy of isolating Cuba that had been ineffective in achieving change on the island.

The US will also ease sanctions against the country and begin diplomatic negotiations.

It comes as Cuba agreed to release US aid worker Allan Gross who has spent 5 years on prison there, while Cuba received three prisoners that had been held in the US.

But the Republicans have slammed the President for the decision.

Former Florida Governor – and potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate – Jeb Bush was cited by USA Today as saying, “I don’t think we should be negotiating with a repressive regime to make changes in our relationship.”

Meanwhile, Florida Senator Marco Rubio says the decision does not ensure the Cuban government will implement a democratic process.

MASS GRAVE DISCOVERED IN SYRIA

More than 230 bodies of people believed killed by Islamic State militants have been found in a mass grave in Syria’s east.

The bodies were thought to be members of the al-Sheitaat tribe, which had battled Islamic State militants over recent months.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and activists monitoring the conflict say the deaths would bring the number of those killed from the group to 900.

The Free Syrian Army group says Sheitaat tribes-people had discovered the mass grave as they returned to their homes.  Islamic State militants, occupying the area, had given them permission to return.

VICTORIA ON HIGH ALERT AS BUSHFIRES CLAIM HOMES IN NORTH EAST

Four homes have been destroyed, following a number of bushfires in northern Victoria.

The Country Fire Authority confirmed late last night three homes were lost in Creightons Creek, near Euroa yesterday.

That number includes a home that was earlier destroyed in Gooram, while another house was lost at Lake Rowan, near Wangaratta.

Two watch and act alerts remain in place this morning for blazes in both of those areas.

More than 350 fires have sparked since Monday, mainly caused by lightning in the state’s northeast, with conditions expected to worsen later today.

ROYAL COMMISSION RESUMES IN SYDNEY – HOBART SCHOOL STILL A KEY FOCUS

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse will reconvene today, to hear more evidence of sexual abuse by teachers at an exclusive Hobart boys school.

It comes as last month four former students told the commission, in the 1960s they were abused by a group of male teachers at Hutchins school, including then headmaster David Ralph Lawrence.

The Royal Commission is investigating how Hutchins and the Anglican Diocese of Tasmania dealt with reports of abuse at the school.

Today’s hearing is due to take more evidence from former Hutchins teacher Geoffrey Ayling and a statement from former Tasmanian attorney-general Max Bingham.

OBIED AND MACDONALD TO FACE DPP

Former NSW Labor power broker Eddie Obied will appear in a Sydney Court today, as the Department of Public Prosecutions begins a case against him and one of his former colleagues.

The Court case has been launched as an Independent Commission Against Corruption investigation found earlier this year, Obied had engaged in corrupt conduct by misusing his position as a member of parliament to benefit his family’s financial interests.

Meanwhile Former Resources Minister Ian Macdonald will also be prosecuted for misconduct in public office, for giving a Hunter Valley coal license to a company chaired by former union boss John Maitland, who has been charged as an accessory.

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Amy Whittaker
Amy Whittaker 1402 posts

<p>Amy joined the NRN team in August 2011, before graduating from a B of Arts (Communication-Journalism)/B of Sports Studies from Charles Sturt University in December 2011.</p>

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