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Airport Siege Ends, Person Of The Year, Orangutan Giggles

TALIBAN AIRPORT SIEGE FINALLY ENDS

Afghan forces have broken the Taliban siege on the Kandahar airport more than 24 hours after the attack began, AP quotes the country's Defense Ministry as saying. The assailants killed at least 50 people, among them 38 civilians, 10 Afghan soldiers and two police officers. The 11 gunmen who carried out the attack were killed in the operation that ended late yesterday. The attack on the airport, which serves as a NATO base, came amid regional peace talks in Pakistan meant to restart negotiations with the Taliban that broke off earlier this year.


VERBATIM

"I can't talk much because after midnight I'll turn into a pumpkin," outgoing Argentinian President Cristina Kirchner told a crowd gathered in Buenos Aires last night, hours before her mandate came to an end. The joke was intended as a jibe at her successor, political opponent Mauricio Macri, with whom she openly bickered for days over the leadership transition procedure, an episode that many Argentinians viewed as a national embarrassment, AP reports.


KIM JONG-UN: NORTH KOREA HAS H-BOMB

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un suggested for the first time that Pyongyang had developed a hydrogen bomb, a thermonuclear device much more powerful than the atomic bomb, Yonhap reports. His comments were made during a recent inspection tour of a historical military site, but the claims are likely to be impossible to verify, and experts don't seem to believe it.


WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

The very essence of intelligence is that it's human, and it can never be recreated by something artificial, Luc de Brabandere writes for Les Echos. "If it became artificial, it would mean that we'd have given up on using our own. But the topic is raised again and again in the media. As soon as a computer defeats a human being at one game or another, the myth that artificial intelligence will become part of our lives is resurrected."

Read the full article, Why Artificial Intelligence Is Simply Impossible.


REFUGEES IN GERMANY TOP 1 MILLION


Photo: Halit Onur Sandal/NurPhoto/ZUMA

The number of refugees who have registered in Germany this year has officially reached 1 million, with more than 200,000 reaching the country in November alone, news agency DPA reports. The news came as TIME magazine named German Chancellor Angela Merkel its Person of the Year for her moral leadership amid the refugee crisis, "the most generous, open-hearted gesture of recent history." But not everybody in Germany is proud about the magazine's choice, with Deutsche Welle's Felix Steiner reminding readers that TIME chose Adolf Hitler in 1938 and that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is this year's runner-up. Quoting TIME"s praise for Merkel's "humanity, generosity and tolerance," Steiner asks, "Would Greek pensioners and unemployed sign off on that statement?"


CANADA WELCOMES SYRIAN REFUGEES

Canada is getting ready to receive the first charter flight of the 25,000 Syrian refugees it has pledged to resettle by the end of February. Go to our Le Blog item here to see how Canadian daily the Toronto Star has chosen to greet them on the front page of its Thursday edition.


ON THIS DAY


Nobel Prizes, Mark Twain and Otis Redding. All that and more in today's 57-second shot of history.


AUSTRALIA THWARTS TERROR ATTACK

Police officers in Sydney, Australia, have arrested two young men, aged 15 and 20, accused of planning a terror attack there with three other people who have already been detained and charged, The Sydney Morning Heraldreports. New South Wales Police Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn said that it was "disturbing" that someone as young as 15 was involved in terrorism and that those arrested face life sentences if found guilty. The arrests come almost a year after a hostage crisis in Sydney, which ended with the deaths of two hostages and of the gunman, who had claimed to be a member of ISIS.


MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD



1 MILLION EUROS

Italy is paying 1 million euros ($1.1 million) a month for a luxurious jet intended to fly Prime Minister Matteo Renzi around the world. Worse, it is grounded because no Italian Air Force pilot is qualified to fly it. Read more from The Local.


FIRST IVF PUPPIES BORN

The first puppies born via in-vitro fertilization were born in July and are now five months old and healthy, U.S. scientists said yesterday. They hailed the success, after 45 years of failure, as a breakthrough that could help eradicate diseases in dogs and eventually humans. Read more from CNN.


SIMPLE PLEASURES

A simple magic trick made this orangutan literally roll on the floor laughing.

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Dottoré!

Of Rats And Men

Our Naples-based psychiatrist remembers a 2019 conversation with a patient on the geopolitics of pest control.

Street rat street art

Mariateresa Fichele

"Carmela, how long did you have to fight rats entering your house?"

"Eh, Dottoré, for years!"

"And how did end up solving it?"

"I adopted three cats that were in my street!"

"And then what happened?"

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Writing contest - My pandemic story
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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

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