#OccupyDemocracy activists reoccupy Parliament Square (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

Still from Ruptly video

The activists planned a 24-hour-long demonstration that is to last until Sunday morning. They are calling on the government to do more to bring an end to escalating homelessness and poverty in the UK.

Police have encircled some of the peaceful protesters as they hold a discussion, and Twitter users have reported protester arrests.

Officers claim that protesters broke a cable tie and behaved aggressively.

In October, police arrested some 40 people in the course of weeklong Occupy Democracy protests outside the Parliament.

READ MORE: #OccupyDemocracy: Protesters hold Parliament Square despite arrests

Reports surfaced the press was temporarily not allowed into the protest area.

Earlier, protesters gathered for a variety of broad causes.

Some performed a “Fossil Free” nativity play at the square, condemning the use of fossil fuels.

While others discussed the need to protect social housing and stood up against austerity measures.

In November, the largest student protest in London in years turned violent as police and protesters clashed. Students were demonstrating against steep tuition hikes.

READ MORE: London student protests turn violent, arrests made (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

RT – Daily news

​Buying bonanza: Russians hunt for Italian castles in ‘strategic locations’

Image from lionard.it

The head of Italy’s Lionard Luxury Real Estate, which has 1,500 properties in its portfolio, told RT that well over half of their clients come from Russia and former USSR.

As oil prices have fallen below $ 60 a barrel and the rouble hit a new record low against the euro and dollar earlier this week, amid threats of new economic sanctions over Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Heath told RT his company still foresees “much more business with the Russians in the future.”

“We work very hard to develop the Russian market, considering their interest in the luxury property segment and Italian goods,” Ian Heath said.

Up to 70 privately-owned castles are currently on the market, prices spanning from €1,200 to €8,500 per square meter, the Italian edition of The Local reported.

“An excellent discount can be negotiated on certain properties,” Heath said.

He said Russians usually ask “to find properties in interesting, strategic locations. They prefer Tuscany and areas around the Italian lakes.”

Among the castles for sale is the legendary Castello di Tavolese, which once belonged to the family of a military leader from Dante Alighieri’s Inferno. The property, which comes with a church and 62 hectares of parkland in Chianti, is up for grabs for between €10 million and €20 million.

RT – Daily news

US ponders placing North Korea back on terror blacklist

Kim Jong-un.(Reuters / Jason Lee)

Placing North Korea back on the state sponsor of terrorism list, from which it had been removed six years ago, is among the several retaliation options currently reviewed by Washington, a senior Obama administration official told The Wall Street Journal.

The official did not name other possible punitive steps US could take.

President Obama in his annual address promised to “respond proportionally” to the hacking attack.

READ MORE: Obama chides Sony’s decision to nix film, says US must retaliate and pass cyber act

US Senator Robert Menendez has called on the Secretary of State John Kerry to re-designate North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism.

North Korean actions set a dangerous precedent,” Menendez wrote in a letter to Kerry on Friday, as cited by Sputnik news agency. “Through cyber-attacks North Korea was able to inflict significant economic damage on a major international company… This is an unacceptable act of international censorship, which curtails global artistic freedom and, in aggregate, would seem to meet the definitions for acts of terrorism.”

Kerry has in a statement condemned North Korea for the cyberattack targeting Sony, which he said was “a brazen attempt by an isolated regime to suppress free speech”.

We’re a country where artists openly mock and criticize the powerful, including our own government,” he said.

Hackers infiltrated Sony’s network last month, releasing loads of sensitive data. The attack was followed by threats against movie theaters that planned to show “The Interview,” a comedy in which the US intelligence seeks to kill North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un. Sony eventually refused to release the film.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation on Friday said it had “enough information to conclude” that the North Korean government was responsible for the Sony hacking attack.

READ MORE: FBI formally accuses North Korea in Sony hack

Pyongyang rejects accusations. A North Korean UN diplomat confirmed the stance on Friday.

DPRK is not part of this,” the diplomat told Reuters, declining to comment further.

The US added North Korea to its state sponsors of terrorism list in 1988. Twenty years after, the country was removed from the black list by President George W. Bush, attempting to alleviate tensions between the two countries in this way.

If ones again designated a state sponsor of terrorism North Korea, already heavily sanctioned will see still more economic and trade sanctions imposed.

RT – Daily news

Afghan civilian casualties, injuries to reach 10,000 in 2014 – UN

Nurse Nicole Burwood (C) holds the hand of Gullali, 10, who sustained bullets injuries, during a follow-up visit of patients at Emergency hospital in Kabul (Reuters/Zohra Bensemra)

UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) says that it has documented 9,617 civilian casualties from 1 January 2014 to the end of November. That figure includes 3,188 civilian deaths and 6,429 civilian injuries. The mission warns that by year’s end, the number may rise well above 10,000 victims, the highest since the UN body began keeping record in 2009.

The majority of casualties, some 75 percent, are blamed on “the Taliban, the Haqqani network and other insurgent groups,” Georgette Gagnon, the Director of Human Rights at UNAMA told the journalists at UN Headquarters. Around 12 percent of civilian casualties are blamed on the pro-Government forces.

Another 11 percent is blamed on “ground engagements where the party that caused the civilian casualties cannot be determined” while the remainder of casualties was due to “unexploded ordinates that are left after ground engagements,” Gagnon said.

The UN announced that the new data shows an increase in children casualties by 33 percent and women casualties by 14 percent.

“What’s different in 2014 is that the majority of civilian casualties have been caused in ground engagements and fighting between Afghan forces and insurgents, followed by deaths and injuries caused from improvised explosive devices,” the UN says.

UNAMA called on Kabul to do its out-most best to reduce civilian casualties and not to target civilians “either deliberately or indiscriminately.”

“Civilian casualties are particularly tragic and a prominent part, even benchmark, of the horror and the violence that ordinary Afghans face,” said the Head of UNAMA, Nicholas Haysom.

Around 12,500 foreign soldiers — mostly from the US — will remain in Afghanistan as part of a “Resolute Support Mission” designed to train, advise and assist Afghan security forces post-2014. It stems from the Status of Forces Agreement that NATO signed with the government of Afghanistan on September 30.

Since UNAMA began tracking civilian casualties in 2009, a total of 17,252 civilian deaths and 29,536 injuries have been recorded.

RT – Daily news

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