U.S. SENDS WEAPONS TO UKRAINE
The United States will send more “non-lethal” military equipment to Ukrainian forces, including Humvees, drones and night-vision goggles, $75 million worth, a senior administration official said yesterday. Washington also extended its sanctions on Russia by adding a bank and eight Ukrainian rebels to the list of targets, Reuters reports. The decisions come after the West accused Russia of having violated the Minsk ceasefire agreement signed Feb. 12 and of sending forces and tanks across the border despite reports that the rebels had pulled their heavy weaponry from the front. The Kremlin has rejected the accusations.
- The International Monetary Fund has approved a $17.5 billion loan to Ukraine that the authorities hope will help stabilize the country’s economy.
- Uncertainty over the motive behind the murder of Russia opposition politician Boris Nemtsov continues. Speaking to the BBC, one of Nemtsov’s daughters said Putin was “politically” responsible.
ON THIS DAY
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On March 12, 1945, Holocaust diarist Anne Frank died at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Get your 57-second shot of history.
UN BLAMED FOR SYRIA’S WORST YEAR
A group of 21 aid agencies is pointing the finger at the United Nations Security Council, saying that its failure to implement three resolutions seeking to boost humanitarian aid have contributed to 2014 being Syria’s worst year since the war erupted in early 2011. The report, entitled “Failing Syria,” also notes that just 57% of the money needed to support Syrian civilians and refugees was provided in 2014, down from 71% the previous year. Ongoing fighting and the rise of ISIS have made 2014 the conflict’s deadliest year so far, with an estimated 76,000 casualties. Another report shows that 83% of Syria’s lights visible from space have gone out since March 2011. Read more from the BBC.
China convicted and sentenced 712 people for terrorism, separatism and related crimes last year, the country's top court said, explaining that such offenses were its top priority for 2015 after the Xinjiang region’s recent surge in violence.
Photo above: NASA/Bill Ingals
The Soyuz TMA-14M spacecraft returned to Earth late Wednesday, landing near Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, with Expedition 42 Commander Barry Wilmore of NASA, Alexander Samokutyaev of the Russian Federal Space Agency and Elena Serova of Roscosmos on board. The crew is back from their 167-day mission on the International Space Station.
SAUDI-SOUTH KOREA SIGN NUCLEAR DEAL
Even as negotiations between the West and Iran over Tehran’s controversial nuclear program continue, Saudi Arabia, one of Iran’s arch enemies in the region and a known supporter of terrorism, has just quietly signed its own nuclear-cooperation agreement with South Korea, The Wall Street Journalreports. The deal is seen by some in the U.S. as a sign that a nuclear arms race may be starting in the Middle East.
As La Stampa’s Domenico Quirico reports, ISIS has thoroughly overtaken a Bosnian village that is but a one-hour plane flight from Vienna. “What the people have been deprived of here is not just a united country,” the journalist writes. “A year ago, people took to the streets, burning town halls and ministries, demonstrating their rage against chronic hunger and frustration about the country's paralysis and corruption. One year later, nothing has happened — civic committees have entirely disappeared or have been absorbed by political parties. In the small town of Gornja Maoca, the ISIS flag has been raised and the people live as if they were in lands conquered by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's men.”
Read the full article, In The Bosnian Village Seduced By ISIS.
MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD
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ISLAMISTS ATTACK SOMALI TOWN
Suspected al-Shabaab fighters have launched an attack against a government building in the central Somali town of Baidoa, leaving at least seven people dead, according to AP. “They are Shabaab disguised in Somali military uniforms. That's how they managed to enter” the city’s fortified area which also contains a UN compound, a police official told AFP. Attacks from militants with the al-Qaeda-affiliated group have become more regular, and they often target government headquarters and Somali lawmakers. The humanitarian situation in areas controlled by the Islamist group are deteriorating fast as al-Shabab fighters have banned businesses from supplying food and medicine to the town of Buloburde.
“Mankind will remain a major geological force for many millennia, maybe millions of years to come,” unless volcanic activity or a meteor crushes human domination, geologists wrote in an analysis published in Nature. Read more from Bloomberg.
TWO POLICEMEN SHOT IN FERGUSON
Two police officers were shot outside police headquarters in Ferguson, Missouri, overnight amid protests that came hours after the Police Chief Thomas Jackson’s resignation, USA Today reports. Jackson had been accused in a federal report of conducting racially biased policing. One of the police officers was shot in the face and left seriously wounded, and the other was hit in the shoulder.
Scientists have discovered a 480-million-year-old fossil of a lobster-like creature that they say “would have dwarfed anything else at the time.” The seven-foot-long prehistoric creature is an early ancestor of modern crustaceans, insects and spiders. Read more from The Verge.