Take To Fun Translator

Thursday, 25 December 2014

2014 protests: From Ferguson to Hong Kong, impact unclear

Although it might have seemed 2014 was a banner year for protests, it really wasn't. And there were many reminders of the limits – and frequently, the failures – of earlier political mass movements. 

True, people in the USA marched to protest grand juries' failure to indict white policemen in the deaths of unarmed black men, in Hong Kong to demand democratic elections, in Ukraine to oust an unpopular regime. 

Huge crowds gathered in Mexico to demand investigation into the disappearance of 43 student activists, and in Hungary to oppose an Internet tax. There also were big demonstrations in Venezuela, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Thailand and Burkina Faso. 

On Christmas, Obama marks end of Afghan combat

President Barack Obama marked the end of more than a decade of combat in Afghanistan by paying tribute to America's military, telling troops on Christmas Day that their sacrifices have allowed for a more peaceful, prosperous world to emerge out of the ashes of 9/11. 

At an oceanfront Marine Corps base in Hawaii, Obama told troops that while tough challenges remain for the U.S. military in hotspots like Iraq and West Africa, the world as a whole is better off because American troops put country first and served with distinction. He said Americans and their president could not be more thankful. 

"Because of the extraordinary service of the men and women in the American armed forces, Afghanistan has a chance to rebuild its own country," Obama said to applause from Marines and their families. "We are safer. It's not going to be a source of terrorist attacks again." 

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Christmas in Cuba

Gloria Gomez remembers the day she lost out on a job because she showed up to the interview with a cross hanging from her necklace.

It was 1970, at the peak of Cuban leader Fidel Castro's crackdown on Catholic Church institutions around the island. Gomez said she not only lost the secretary job, but also friends who either renounced their religion to appease the communist government or didn't want to be associated with her being so outspoken about religion. 

Gomez, 72, never backed down. She kept going to church. She brought out a Nativity scene and a small, plastic Christmas tree in her home each December. She watched as Castro's government slowly allowed Catholics to practice their religion more freely and as Pope Francis helped broker last week's deal to restore diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba. 

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iPhones 6 and 6 Plus are a very big deal

Are the bigger iPhones worth all this big time attention? The answer is a resounding yes, a point emphasized by consumers who've preordered the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus in record numbers. These are the phones Apple devotees have been waiting for: iPhones that measure up to what's fast becoming the new normal — the large, modern smartphone display. Count me among those glad they're here. 

People have preordered on faith, since they haven't seen these super-sized iPhones up close or experienced what they feel like in pockets and handbags. I have and let me be reassuring — you won't regret your decision, though going big may require a small adjustment, and my experience wasn't totally trouble-free. 

The new phones are enclosed in sturdy anodized aluminum. And though the handsets are bigger and heavier their predecessors, they're also thinner. The sleep/power button has moved to the side. Each has the Touch ID fingerprint scanner introduced on the iPhone 5s.