News In Focus: A Look At This Week’s Most Interesting Stories


Europe: A Russian Sukhoi Su-24 fighter jet was shot down by a Turkish F-16 plane near Turkish-Syrian border on Tuesday.  One pilot was believed to have been killed.

Two Russian Mi-8 helicopters were also attacked as they were looking for the downed aircraft, and one marine died during the rescue operation.

Turkish authorities claimed that the Russian plane had encroached into its airspace and had ignored ten warnings before the plane was taken down.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country has to defend its airspace.

But Russian President Vladimir Putin said the warplane was shot down over Syrian airspace and fell 4 kilometres inside Syria, and posed no threat to Turkey.

Putin described the Turkish act was “a stab in the back by the terrorists’ accomplices” and would have “serious consequences for Russia’s relationship with Turkey.”

PBS NewsHour has more:


UK: Labour Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell should have taken heed of the Beatles’ 1968 pop masterpiece “Revolution,” when he brandished a copy of Chairman Mao’s little red book to make a point in the House of Commons.

The band had warned that, in their words, “if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao, you ain’t going to make it with anyone anyhow…”

In a spending review speech delivered on Wednesday, McDonnell described Chancellor George Osborne’s austerity policy and the sale of British assets to China as being economically illiterate.

The Shadow Chancellor then quoted from a passage from the “Little Red Book” — a collection of quotations from the former Chinese revolutionary leader — to advise Osborne to learn from the experts.  He then tossed his personal signed copy at the Chancellor.

McDonnell said he meant to make a joke to put across a serious point, but neither his other Labour compatriots nor the British media were amused.

Here’s McDonnell’s explanation:


Middle East: In a rare occurrence, the Arabian Peninsula was heavily hit by torrents of rainfall on Wednesday, causing floods in Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

One example? The Qatar Meteorology Department recorded at least 79.5 millimeters (3.13 inches) of rain fell at Doha’s Hamad International Airport, which is more than the annual average, according to the AP.

Ever wonder what rain looks like in Dubai? Here’s your answer:


Climate:  The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) announced on Wednesday that the year 2015 will be the hottest on record, and 2016 could be even hotter due to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere

In its state of the global climate report, WMO warns that inaction on climate change could see global average temperatures rise by six degrees Celsius or more, which would be disastrous for the planet, scientists believe.

But Jarraud said it was still possible to keep the rise of global temperature to within two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial times, if nations could come to a consensus during the upcoming global climate summit in Paris.

Grist has compiled this nice summary of 25 years of climate negotiations:


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