ISIS CALIPHATE CRUMBLING
As Iraqi armed forces close in on the ISIS-held Tikrit, The Washington Post reports that the terrorist group that holds vast parts of Iraq and Syria appears to be “starting to fray from within.” The newspaper cites dissent, defections, battlefield defeats and growing tensions between foreign and local fighters as signs that the group’s “carefully cultivated image” is collapsing.
EXTRA! ASSAULT ON BOKO HARAM
Niger and Chad launched a major joint ground and air offensive against Boko Haram in Nigeria Sunday, one day after the militants formally pledged allegiance to ISIS and killed at least 50 in Maiduguri. The joint military operation represents a new regional push to end the terrorist group's six-year insurgency. Read more on our 4 Corners blog here.
Photo above: An Jiang/Xinhua/ZUMA
The Solar Impulse 2 departed from Abu Dhabi this morning for what could be a transportation breakthrough, the first round-the-world trip by a solar-powered aircraft. The plane, which operates on 17,000 solar cells and four 17.5-horsepower electric motors, will need an estimated four to five months to complete its journey.
NEMTSOV MURDER SUSPECTS CHARGED
A Russian court has charged two Chechens in connection with the Feb. 27 killing of political opponent Boris Nemtsov in what investigators said was a contract killing, RT reports. According to the judge, one of the men, Zaur Dadaev, confessed his involvement. Three others were arrested and jailed pending further investigation, but more arrests could be made in the next few days. The New York Times notes that the roles of the suspects or their motive for killing Nemtsov is still very unclear. There’s been speculation that there could be an Islamist link, but according to Reuters, colleagues of Nemtsov said this theory was “nonsensical” and continue to point the finger at the Kremlin.
“Australians are sick of being lectured to by the United Nations,” Prime Minister Tony Abbott said in reaction to a United Nations report on torture that found the country was violating the rights of asylum seekers. Australia notoriously detains asylum seekers who arrive by boat, including children, in offshore camps rife with violence. Read more from The Sydney Morning Herald.
’O LUNA MIA
We all share the same sky, but each of us gazes up from a unique place on earth. Get Simon’s latest horoscope from The Eternal City.
NETANYAHU AND A PALESTINIAN STATE
With Israel’s general election just a week away, incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears to be sending mixed signals about whether he supports the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, The Times of Israel reports. He was quoted as saying that “in the Mideast today, any evacuated territory will be overtaken by radical Islam and terror groups backed by Iran. Therefore, there will be no withdrawals and no concessions. It’s just not relevant.” But Netanyahu’s spokesman later denied that he had said such a thing and that he was still standing by a famous 2009 speech in which he spoke in favor of a Palestinian state. Meanwhile, Haaretz suggests that the “Arab list” could become the main opposition party.
As Igor Abakumov writes for Kommersant, Russian demand for do-it-yourself culinary supplies such as canning jars has been booming since the West imposed sanctions on the country and the currency has tanked. “We're buying for more or less the same reasons,” Abakumov writes. “Some people raise cows and are selling milk; others are making goose, duck and chicken meat conserves. My neighbor to the left has a huge apiary, my neighbor to the right sells quail eggs. Both of them are city people I've known for more than 30 years. But it was just in the past two years that they've started these businesses.”
Read the full article, Geopolitics, The Sinking Ruble And A Boom In Home Farming.
MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD
NO ANSWERS IN MH370 REPORT
It’s still unclear what happened to Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which disappeared a year ago yesterday, after a 584-page report failed to provide any answers, The Guardian writes. The report did reveal, though, that the battery powering the aircraft’s black box had expired more than a year before the plane went missing, meaning the locator beacon could not have been working. Though lawyers said this could be crucial in determining compensation for the victims’ families, the company said this made no difference in searches for the plane.
ON THIS DAY
On March 9, 1959, Barbie made her debut in New York. Time for your 57-second shot of history.
Welcome to Monday, where the UK pays homage to slain MP David Amess, Myanmar frees thousands of prisoners, and Facebook gets ready to build its "metaverse." Please fasten your seatbelts: Worldcrunch also takes stock of the long-lasting effects — good and bad — the pandemic has had on the air travel industry.
[*Azeri - Azerbaijan]
🌎 7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW
• Myanmar to free political prisoners: Myanmar's junta chief Min Aung Hlaing has announced the release of 5,636 prisoners who had been jailed for protesting the coup that ousted the civilian government in February 2021.
• Powerful Haiti gang behind the kidnapping of U.S. missionaries: The notorious 400 Mawozo gang is believed to be behind the kidnapping in Haiti of a group of Christian missionaries, including 16 U.S. citizens and one Canadian. The brazen kidnapping on Saturday comes as crime is spiking since the killing of President Jovenel Moise in July.
• UK to pay tribute to David Amess: British lawmakers will pay homage in parliament to colleague David Amess, who was stabbed to death Friday in what was described by the police as a "terrorist incident." Officers arrested a 25-year-old suspect whose father, Harbi Ali Kullane, worked as a media adviser to a former prime minister of Somalia.
• COVID update: Russia has registered more than 34,000 cases of new infections in the past 24 hours, a new record since the start of the pandemic. Meanwhile, police in the northeast Italian city of Trieste used water cannons to clear striking dockworkers protesting Italy's new requirements that all employees be vaccinated.
• At least 26 killed in floods in India: Torrential rain has triggered floods and landslides in India's southern coastal state of Kerala, killing at least 26 people.
• Facebook to hire 10,000 in EU to develop "metaverse": The U.S. social media giant plans to hire 10,000 workers in the European Union over the next five years to build a "metaverse," a virtual reality version of the internet that the company touts as the future.
• Punishing parents for children's bad behavior: After limiting gaming hours for minors, China is now considering legislation to reprimand parents if their children exhibit "very bad behavior" or commit crimes.
🗞️ FRONT PAGE
Colombian daily El Espectador dedicates its front page to Alex Saab, "owner of the secrets" of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The Colombian businessman, wanted by U.S. authorities for allegedly laundering money on behalf of Venezuela's government, has been extradited from Cape Verde to the U.S. where he is scheduled to appear in court today.
#️⃣ BY THE NUMBERS
China's economy registered its slowest pace in a year as the country faces a looming energy crisis with power shortages and increasing pressure on its property sector. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the period between July-September rose 4.9%, the weakest numbers since the third quarter of 2020 and significantly lower than forecasts. The world's second-largest economy faces a debt crisis linked to the China Evergrande Group debt crisis, while energy shortfalls have dropped factory output to its weakest since early 2020, when heavy COVID-19 curbs were in place.
📰 STORY OF THE DAY
7 ways the pandemic may change the airline industry for good
Will flying be greener? More comfortable? Less frequent? As the world eyes a post-COVID reality, we look at ways the airline industry has been changing through a pandemic that has devastated air travel.
⛽ Cleaner aviation fuel: With air travel responsible for roughly 12% of all CO2 emissions from transport, and stricter international regulation on the horizon, the industry is increasingly seeking sustainable alternatives to petroleum-based fuel. In Germany, state broadcaster Deutsche Welle reports that the world's first factory producing CO2-neutral kerosene recently started operations in the town of Wertle, in Lower Saxony. The plant, for which Lufthansa is set to become the pilot customer, will produce CO2-neutral kerosene through a circular production cycle incorporating sustainable and green energy sources and raw materials
.🛃 Smoother check-in: The pandemic has also accelerated the shift towards contactless traveling, with more airports harnessing the power of biometrics — such as facial recognition or fever screening — to reduce touchpoints and human contact. Similar technology can also be used to more efficiently scan physical objects, such as explosive detection. Ultimately, passengers will be able to "check-in" and go through a security screening anywhere at the airports, removing queues and bottlenecks.
✈️ The billion-dollar question: Will we fly less? At the end of the day, even with all these (mostly positive) changes that we've seen take shape over the past 18 months, the industry faces major uncertainty about whether air travel will ever return to the pre-COVID levels. Not only are people wary about being in crowded and closed airplanes, but the worth of long-distance business travel, in particular, is being questioned as many have seen that meetings can function remotely, via Zoom and other online apps.
➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com
"The crimes committed that night are unforgivable for the Republic."
— Emmanuel Macron became the first French president to commemorate the killing of as many as 200 Algerian independence protesters by Parisian police in 1961. For 40 years, French officials ignored the massacre, which took place a year before Algeria gained its independence from France after an eight-year war. In 2012, French President François Hollande acknowledged the killings for the first time on a visit to Algeria, and Macron took it further by attending Sunday's commemoration at the site where the events happened in the French capital. Still, many had hoped the French President would go further and take responsibility for a "state massacre," for a crime many historians consider the most violent repression of a peaceful demonstration in post-War Europe.
📈💥 IN OTHER NEWS
Low trust, high risk: The global rise of violence targeting politicians
The deadly stabbing of British Parliament Member David Amess confirms an ongoing study on trust and governance in democracies around the world: It's bad. In The Conversation, James Weinberg — the study's author and a lecturer in Political Behavior at the University of Sheffield — writes:
⏪ The assassination of Amess, who was stabbed to death in his constituency on Friday, is a tragic moment for democracy. What makes it even more devastating is that such a catastrophic failure is not without precedent or predictability. Labour MP Jo Cox was shot at her constituency surgery in 2016. Before her, another Labour MP, Stephen Timms, survived a stabbing in 2010. And Andrew Pennington, a Gloucestershire county councilor, died in a frenzied attack in 2001 while trying to protect local Liberal Democrat MP Nigel Jones.
☝️ Beyond these critical junctures in the public debate about politicians' safety, elected representatives must live with an increasingly insidious level of popular cynicism that threatens violence on an almost daily basis.
🇬🇧🇳🇿🇿🇦 Not only are these experiences of abuse or threats of physical violence felt across both sides of the political aisle in the UK — they also appear to be growing more common in other democratic contexts where the climate of politics has been presumed to be both calmer and more volatile, from New Zealand to South Africa.
Read the full piece from The Conversation, now on Worldcrunch.com
✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger
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