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Assad's Future, Contraband Food, Tesla's Model 3

Assad's Future, Contraband Food, Tesla's Model 3


Syrian President Bashar al-Assad reiterated calls yesterday for opposition members to join him in forming a national unity government, a prospect opposition leaders have rejected. In an interview with Russian news agency Ria Novosti that comes days after the government's recapture of Palmyra, Assad said that the main goal of such a government would be to write a new constitution. But a report published today in the UK-based Arab newspaper al-Hayat claims that Washington and Moscow have agreed to let Assad depart Syria for another country as part of a future peace plan. There has been no official reaction to these claims yet.


Photo: Aristidis Vafeiadakis/ZUMA

Clashes late yesterday between Syrian and Afghan refugees in the Piraeus port of Athens have left seven people injured, and Greek riot police were forced to intervene to restore calm, Kathimerini reports. Some 6,000 refugees are believed to be living in temporary shelters in the port, with more than 50,000 stranded in Greece. The EU-Turkey deal, under which Greece will be able to send illegal migrants back to Turkey, will become effective April 4, but hundreds continue to arrive daily.


In a scathing new report, Amnesty International accuses Qatar of "severe abuses" of migrant workers who are building a stadium ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The listed abuses include forced labor, squalid and cramped accommodations and threats against those who complain. Amnesty denounces "FIFA's shocking indifference to appalling treatment of migrant workers," whose numbers are expected to increase almost ten-fold to around 36,000 in the next two years. This isn't the first time Qatar has been accused of mistreating foreign workers, with many such reports published over the past few years, including from The Guardian. Of course, there have also been allegations of corruption for Qatar to obtain the right to host the soccer competition.

10,000 TONS

A joint four-month operation between Europol and Interpol has enabled authorities in 57 countries to seize more than 10,000 tons and 1 million liters of illicit food and drink, the biggest crackdown ever. Among the goods seized during Operation Opson V are counterfeit sugar contaminated with fertilizer, monkey meat, painted olives and fake wine.


The collapse of a half-built overpass in the east Indian city of Kolkata has killed at least 10 people, with between 100 and 150 feared trapped under the rubble, Reuters reports. According to NDTV, it had been under construction since 2009 and had missed several completion deadlines. "We heard a loud sound, like a bomb blast, and then saw a lot of smoke," a witness told reporters.


Elon Musk's company Tesla will unveil its new electric car today, and Australian customers have already began to place their orders. The hugely anticipated Model 3 sedan will be officially released in late 2017, with prices starting at $35,000.


The Sydney-based Daily Telegraph devoted today's front page to city plans to scrap 62 public alcohol-free zones in parks and streets. It features Lord Mayor Clover Moore as a bartender in an end-of-prohibition photomontage. See it here.


South Africa's Constitutional Court has ruled that President Jacob Zuma "failed to uphold, defend and respect the Constitution" in not reimbursing the government for the costs of security upgrades at his home, the Mail & Guardian reports. The verdict is a victory for the opposition, and Zuma's opponents have already started an impeachment process.


Primo Levi was a unique figure in 20th-century literature, an Italian-born Holocaust survivor, successful industrial chemist and a singularly concise author of such works as If This Is A Man and The Periodic Table. In a never-before-published interview shortly before his suicide, excerpted in Italian daily La Stampa, the Jewish-Italian author opens up about his adolescent angst and traumas beyond Auschwitz.

Read the full article, Primo Levi, Unearthed Interview Shows Author's Intimate Struggles.


The leaders of a United Nations-backed unity government for Libya arrived in the country's capital city of Tripoli yesterday in what The New York Times characterizes as a "bold if risky effort to break the country's two-year political stalemate." And to further highlight the chaos engulfing Libya since Muammar Gaddafi's overthrow, gunfire erupted soon after the recognized leaders' arrival. In the evening, gunmen stormed the headquarters of satellite TV station Al-Nabaa, forcing the staff out of the building.



Boko Haram gunmen killed at least six soldiers from Niger's army and wounded three more yesterday, AFP quotes Niger's Interior Ministry as saying. The ambush is said to have occurred early yesterday morning while the soldiers were patrolling near the Nigerian border, where the terror group has killed thousands since 2009.


What iconic architectural structure known the world over officially opened on this day in 1889? Test your knowledge in today's shot of history.

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Utter Pessimism, What Israelis And Palestinians Share In Common

Right now, according to a joint survey of Israelis and Palestinians, hopes for a peaceful solution of coexistence simply don't exist. The recent spate of violence is confirmation of the deepest kind of pessimism on both sides for any solution other than domination of the other.

An old Palestinian protester waves Palestinian flag while he confronts the Israeli soldiers during the demonstration against Israeli settlements in the village of Beit Dajan near the West Bank city of Nablus.

A Palestinian protester confronts Israeli soldiers during the demonstration against Israeli settlements in the West Bank village of Beit Dajan on Jan. 6.

Pierre Haski


PARIS — Just before the latest outbreak of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, a survey of public opinion among the two peoples provided a key to understanding the current situation unfolding before our eyes.

It was a joint study, entitled "Palestinian-Israeli Pulse", carried out by two research centers, one Israeli, the other Palestinian, which for years have been regularly asking the same questions to both sides.

The result is disastrous: not only is the support for the two-state solution — Israel and Palestine side by side — at its lowest point in two decades, but there is now a significant share of opinion on both sides that favors a "non-democratic" solution, i.e., a single state controlled by either the Israelis or Palestinians.

This captures the absolute sense of pessimism commonly felt regarding the chances of the two-state option ever being realized, which currently appears to be our grim reality today. But the results are also an expression of the growing acceptance on both sides that it is inconceivable for either state to live without dominating the other — and therefore impossible to live in peace.

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