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Monday, November 18, 2013

Manhunt in Paris After Gunman Attacks Media Outlets and Bank

A shooter opened fire inside the premises of the Libération newspaper in central Paris on Monday, seriously injuring a photographer who was in his first day on the job, and later shot at the headquarters of the Société Générale bank. The same man reportedly broke into the Paris offices of the BFMTV 24-hour news channel on Friday. “Next time, I will not miss you”, he said to an editor at the station’s reception area after emptying his gun. He is described as aged between 40 and 45, shaven-headed and overweight. After shooting at the bank’s headquarters, the shooter reportedly commandeered a car and drove from the financial district to the Champs Élysées, where he then escaped into the city’s metro system at the George V metro station. French security forces have posted officers outside all major media outlets in Paris. “As long as this person is still on the loose and we do not know the motives, this represents a threat. We must move fast”, said French Interior Minister Manuel Valls.

Fuel Rod Removal Begins in Fukushima

Workers at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant began the delicate operation of removing fuel rods from a storage pond at Unit 4 reactor on Monday. The removal of the fuel rods is the first step in the decommissioning of the plant, a process that could take decades. Unit 4 is the only one of the four reactors being decommissioned in Fukushima that didn’t melt down and had no fuel rods inside its reactor core. The fact that the rods are still in a pool of cooling water makes them vulnerable to another major earthquake in the region. Experts say the removal process is unlikely to contaminate the region with more radiation, even if the fuel rods are dropped when being transported from the site.

Scotland to Face ‘Fiscal Gap’ Post-Independence

An independent Scotland would face a significant gap between incomes and expenditures, as much as twice as large as the rest of the UK, said a report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) on Monday. Scotland would face a gap of 1.9 percent of national income, compared to 0.8 percent for the UK. That would mean a newly independent government would have to cut spending by as much as 6 percent, increase income taxes by 9 percent or raise VAT to 28 percent in order to close the potential £3bn gap. “Revenues from the North Sea will probably decline and official population projections suggest that the average age of the Scottish population will increase more rapidly than for the UK as a whole, putting greater upward pressure on many areas of public spending. As a result, to ensure long-run fiscal sustainability, an independent Scotland would need to cut public spending and/or increase other tax revenues more than would be required across the UK as a whole”, said Gemma Tetlow, one of the authors of the IFS report.

Search Engines to Block Child Abuse Images

Google and Microsoft have changed the way their search engines deliver results about searches for child abuse images, making it harder to find such images online. Both companies will display warnings above the result page for the 13,000 search terms they believe are associated with child sexual abuse. The changes are being rolled out in the UK first, before being expanded to English-speaking countries and on to 158 languages in the next six months. “We’ve listened. We’ve fine-tuned Google Search to prevent links to child sexual abuse material from appearing in our results”, said Eric Schmidt, Google’s executive chairman. “There are some terms that are so shocking and unambiguous that I believe they should return nothing at all. It’s not an infringement of free speech, it’s responsible business practice”, said British Prime Minister David Cameron.

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