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CIA chief defends post - 9/11 tactics / US House passes new budget / Italian unions call general strike / “Day of silence” holding in Ukraine / French-run school in Kabul attacked / UN climate talks enter final day / The weather

12.12.2014

CIA chief defends post - 9/11 tactics

The CIA Director John Brennan has defended his agency's interrogation programme in the wake of the 9/11 attacks on the United States. But he admitted some techniques used against terrorism suspects were "harsh" and "abhorrent." He was speaking at a rare press conference after a Senate report found that waterboarding and other so-called enhanced interrogation techniques were ineffective. Ben Emmerson is the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Counter Terrorism and Human Rights: "We have called for the reopening by the Department of Justice and Attorney General Eric Holder of criminal investigations, not just into the perpetrators themselves but into those who organised and authorised the programme and those who gave it spurious legal justification."

US House passes new budget

The United States has avoided a government shutdown after the last-minute passage of a $1.1tn budget by the House of Representatives. The Republican bill passed by 219 votes to 206, although some areas of government will only receive short term funding.

Italian unions call general strike

Two major trades unions have called a general strike today in Italy in protest at labour-market reforms. The action is set to hit schools, hospitals, airports, roads and public transport across the country. Rallies are also planned in 50 cities. Among the reforms proposed by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi are plans to make it easier to lay off workers with permanent contracts.

“Day of silence” holding in Ukraine

Ukraine´s president Petro Poroshenko says that a fragile truce between government troops and Russian-backed separatists has resulted in the first day free of deaths or injuries among Ukrainian soldiers since the conflict in eastern Ukraine began eight months ago. Poroshenko says a "day of silence" announced on Tuesday appears to be holding. But he acknowledged it was too early to declare the latest deal a victory.

French-run school in Kabul attacked

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb attack at a French-run high school in the Afghan capital, Kabul. The teenage bomber reportedly set off his explosives in a packed auditorium during a theatre performance. One German national died in the blast. 10 other people were wounded. It´s the first attack on a foreign target in Kabul in over a week and follows a series of insurgent bombings targeting foreigners.

UN climate talks enter final day

The UN climate talks in Lima, Peru, head into their last scheduled day today with delegates from over 190 countries arguing over what kind of action plans they should present in the run-up to a key summit in Paris next year. If a deal is not reached today, there is speculation that the talks may be extended into the weekend.

The weather

Plenty of sunshine but some persistent fog in Carinthia. Top temperatures from minus 1 to plus 12.

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