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

ASSAD CALLS FOR UNITY GOVERNMENT

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.


MIGRANTS CLASH IN ATHENS

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.


QATAR ACCUSED OF EXPLOITING MIGRANTS

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.


DEADLY COLLAPSE OF INDIAN OVERPASS

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.


TESLA TO UNVEIL MODEL 3

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.


EXTRA!

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 ZUMA VIOLATED CONSTITUTION

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.


WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

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.


LIBYAN UNITY LEADERS ARRIVE IN TRIPOLI

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.


MY GRAND-PERE'S WORLD



BOKO HARAM KILLS SIX NIGER SOLDIERS

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.


ON THIS DAY


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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Society

Mahsa Amini, Martyr Of An Iranian Regime Designed To Abuse Women

The 22-year-old is believed to have been beaten to death at a Tehran police station last week after "morality police" had reprimanded her clothing. The case has sparked the nation's outrage. But as ordinary Iranians testify, such beatings, torture and a home brand of misogyny are hallmarks of the 40-year Islamic Republic of Iran.

Mahsa Amini

Firouzeh Nordstrom

-Analysis-

TEHRAN — The death in Iran of a 22-year-old Mahsa Amini — after she was arrested by the so-called "morality police" — has unleashed another wave of protests, as thousands of Iranians vent their fury against an intrusive and violent regime. Indeed, as tragically exceptional as the circumstances appear, the reaction reflects the daily reality of abuse by authorities, especially directed toward women.

Amini, a Kurdish-Iranian girl visiting Tehran with relatives, was detained by the regime's morality patrols on Sept. 13, apparently for not respecting the Islamic dress code that includes proper use of the hijab headscarf. Amini was declared dead two or three days after being taken into custody. Officials say she fainted and died, and blamed a preexisting heart condition. But neither her family nor anyone else in Iran believe that, as can be seen in the mounting protests that have now left at least three dead.

For Amini's was hardly the first arbitrary arrest, or the first suspected death in custody under Iran's Islamic regime.

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