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Assault On Boko Haram, Nemtsov Suspects, Solar Plane

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.

21,748 MILES
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.

VERBATIM
“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.

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO
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
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On March 9, 1959, Barbie made her debut in New York. Time for your 57-second shot of history.

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Lisa Berdet, Lila Paulou, Anne-Sophie Goninet and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Sveiki!*

Welcome to Thursday, where more Ukrainian soldiers surrender in Mariupol, Sri Lanka defaults on its debt,and George W. Bush offers an epic geopolitical gaffe. Meanwhile, Lili Bai in Chinese-language digital media The Initium looks at what’s driving the current “expat exodus” at play in Shanghai.

[*Latvian]

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