Midday Roundup: Remembering a giant, deadly wave
by Leigh Jones
Posted 12/26/14, 12:30 pm
Somber day. Today, people in India, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia marked the 10th anniversary of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami that killed 226,000 people and obliterated entire communities in an instant. The devastating wave, as high as 57 feet in some places, rose out of the Indian Ocean after a 9.15 magnitude earthquake opened a deep fault line off shore. In Indonesia’s Aceh province, where 126,741 people died, officials held remembrance ceremonies that included poems, songs, and a video presentation of photos of the devastation. In the last decade, 28 countries have spent $400 million on an early warning system that includes 101 sea-level gauges and 148 seismometers. But critics question the system’s effectiveness and its maintenance, insisting the region remains vulnerable to another deadly tsunami.
Terror crackdown. Officials in Pakistan say security forces killed the leader of the Taliban faction responsible for an attack on a school in Peshawar that left 132 students dead. Saddam Jan was killed in a Christmas Day shootout in a remote tribal area near the Afghan border. Pakistani officials say his death strikes a blow at the heart of one of the most militant groups in the country. Jan was one of the few commanders still mounting regular attacks against the government and the military. The militants who ordered the attack remain free, but Pakistani security forces have made significant gains against the terrorists in recent weeks. Jan is believed to be responsible for an attack last year on a team of polio immunization workers in which 11 security forces were killed.
Remember the hurting. In his annual Christmas Day message, Pope Francis highlighted persecuted Christians around the world and recalled the suffering of children living in countries ripped apart by violent conflicts. He also remembered the children killed by abortion. “Truly there are so many tears this Christmas,” he said. An estimated 80,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square to listen to the address. On Christmas Eve, the pope placed a telephone call to Iraqi refugees forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants. He compared the refugees in the camp in Ankawa, Iraq, to Jesus because they had no place to go. During his Thursday address, Francis said Christmas joy could only be realized when weapons are transformed “into ploughshares, destruction into creativity, hatred into love and tenderness.”
More hacks target Sony. Gamers who received Xbox or PlayStation consoles for Christmas were sorely disappointed when they tried to log on to the systems’online networks yesterday. A group calling itself Lizard Squad claimed responsibility for a hack attack that sidelined online games with a denial of service outage. Microsoft seemed to have restored Xbox service by this morning, but Sony still hadn’t brought its PlayStation network back online. This is the second blow Sony has suffered recently at the hands of hackers. Earlier this month, a group calling itself Guardians of Peace threatened a large-scale terror attack if the studio released its latest comedy, The Interview, in which two U.S. journalists are hired to kill North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un. After initially scrapping the film, Sony reversed course and released it to limited theaters and online yesterday. The screenings went off without a hitch.
Leigh lives in Houston with her husband and daughter. She is the news editor for The World and Everything in It and reports on education for WORLD Digital.