129 people died and hundreds more were injured in a series of attacks in the French Capital on Friday night. There were bombings outside the Stade de France, where the French football team were playing Germany, and on the Boulevard Voltaire, as well as four coordinated gun attacks. The most deadly of these was at the Bataclan Concert Hall, where 89 people were killed.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks, which French President Francois Hollande described as “acts of war”. Many western nations appear to have hardened their stance on the terrorist group, with Hollande himself committing to “destroying” them and the UK government planning another attempt to get parliament to approve air strikes on ISIS in Syria. There also seems to be more willingness to work with Russia to eradicate the jihadists.
Two militants were killed in a raid on a flat in the Parisian suburb of Saint Denis on Wednesday. One of them was a woman who detonated a suicide vest during the raid, the other was the suspected mastermind of the attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud.
Abaaoud was a Belgian who had returned from fighting for ISIS in Syria. According to intelligence received by the French Interior Minister, he came back to Europe via Greece, though it is not clear whether or not he was smuggled in as a refugee. A fake Syrian passport found with the remains of an attacker in the Bataclan Concert Hall also hinted that some of the attackers may have reached Europe using this method, but questions were raised as to why he would carry his passport with him to the scene of the crime.
The attacks appear to have led to greater caution in dealing with immigrants, with France set to make it easier to deport foreigners that present a potential terror threat, and the US House of Representatives voting by a comfortable majority to tighten restrictions on refugees from Iraq and Syria. However, the White House is expected to veto the legislation.
Other National and International News
There were protests in Kosovo over arrest warrants for opposition MPs, one of whom had a warrant issued after letting off tear gas in parliament. Tensions are high in the country over the government’s agreement with Serbia to give greater autonomy to ethnic Serbs living in Kosovo, and a border deal with Montenegro, which critics say gives over Kosovan territory to the Montenegrins.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) released a damning report, accusing Russian athletics of systematic and state-sponsored doping, which could put their place in the 2016 Olympics in doubt. Argentina, Ukraine, Bolivia, Andorra, and Israel were also branded “non-compliant”.
Scientists have warned that we are likely to be about to enter a “post anti-biotic era”. Scientists in China found a new mutation, the ‘MCR-1 gene’, which appears to resist all anti-biotics and is able to spread quickly.
Ken Livingstone eventually apologised for saying that Labour shadow minister Kevan Jones “might need some psychiatric help”. Livingstone, an ex-London mayor seen as being on the left of the Labour party, made the comments to The Daily Mirror after Jones, who has a history of depression, criticised the decision to make Livingstone leader of a review of Labour’s defence policy. Mr Livingstone refused to apologise several times before finally relenting after a phone call from Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn. Corbyn and Livingstone are opposed to Britain’s nuclear deterrent, while Jones and Shadow Defence Secretary Maria Eagle, who is also understood to be unhappy with Livingstone’s appointment, are in favour of it.
Junior doctors voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action over a pay dispute with the government. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt described the result as “very, very disappointing” after 98% backed a full strike.
The House of Lords backed plans to extend voting rights for the EU referendum to sixteen and seventeen-year-olds. The government opposes the idea, and could try to block it in the House of Commons. Some experts have said that if not overturned, the decision could delay the vote by up to a year, due to the time taken to register new voters.
Lumiere attracted a record 200,000 visitors, according to early estimates. The festival was a success despite adverse weather conditions, although ‘Mysticète’ by Catherine Garret had to be cancelled on the last night due to the river levels rising. The French flag was projected onto the Cathedral on Saturday in the wake of the Paris attacks.
New purpose built student accommodation is to be built in Dragonville. StudioUS Investment Management, a Mayfair based company specialising in “luxury boutique student accommodation”, has bought a site east of Gilesgate, where it intends to build 362 beds in time for the 2017/2018 academic year. The accommodation will feature a cinema and private gyms, and there could be a new bus service which will take residents to colleges and other university buildings, but this has not been confirmed. The development will be aimed at postgraduates.
Durham Constabulary’s ‘Checkpoint’ scheme has reached its 100th graduate. The scheme aims to reduce reoffending among people who commit minor crimes, and involves a four month contract involving voluntary work or wearing a GPS tag, among other things. The project has been praised by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of the Constabulary (HMIC).
A demonstration was held at the science site on Monday, calling for a two year freeze in college fees. According the organisers, a total of 150 students participated. A final accommodation strategy will be presented to the University Executive Committee on the 14th of December.