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Balkan Genocide Ruling, Castro Resurfaces, Google-Uber War

HAGUE ISSUES GENOCIDE RULING
After years of investigation, the Hague’s International Court of Justice has ruled that Serbia did not commit genocide against the Croats during the Balkan wars in the 1990s. While acknowledging that crimes had been committed, the court argued that Croatia failed to prove that Serbia had intended to “destroy in whole or in part” the Croat population. Similarly, the UN’s top court rejected a genocide counterclaim from Serbia. The case was a particularly difficult one, as both parties had accused the other of genocide during the 1991-1995 war when Croatia fought for independence from the country then known as Yugoslavia. As many as 20,000 people are estimated to have died in what was Europe’s most violent conflict since World War II. This short BBC video offers more background on the case.

$8.8 BILLION
President Barack Obama’s 2016 budget (see photo above) includes an $8.8 billion request to fund the fight against ISIS, which includes helping to modernize and reinforce the Iraqi army and strengthening the moderate Syrian rebellion. The request comes amid news that Kurdish fighters backed by U.S.-led airstrikes continue to gain ground against ISIS around the town of Kobani.

SECOND AL JAZEERA JOURNO TO BE FREED
Al Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy has renounced his Egyptian citizenship in a bid to be released from jail and deported to Canada, where he is also a citizen. Fahmy has been detained for 402 days over allegations of aiding the Muslim Brotherhood, but he is expected to be released soon, as was his Australian colleague Peter Greste over the weekend. But the fate of a third Al Jazeera journalist, Baher Mohamed, is unclear, as he holds no dual-citizenship.

VERBATIM
“Closing my eyes and holding still. It's the end if I get mad or scream. It's close to a prayer. Hate is not for humans. Judgment lies with God. That's what I learned from my Arabic brothers and sisters.” This 2010 tweet from Japanese journalist Kenji Goto has been retweeted tens of thousands of times as a tribute following his execution by the ISIS terror group.

EXTRA! FIDEL CASTRO RESURFACES
Cuba's Communist Party newspaper Granma has published the first photos of Fidel Castro in months, amid rumors that the health of the 88-year-old former Cuban leader has recently deteriorated. Read more here.

ON THIS DAY
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Today is “the day the music died.” Time for your 57-second shot of history.

UN GAZA INVESTIGATOR QUITS
William Schabas, the Canadian head of a United Nations inquiry into possible Israeli war crimes during last summer’s military operation in Gaza, has resigned after Israel accused him of bias, Haaretz reports. Schabas, who admitted he had written an 2012 opinion letter for the Palestine Liberation Organization, denounced “malicious attacks” but said he would step down to prevent the issue from overshadowing preparation of the report, which is due to be published March 23, one week after Israel’s general election.

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO
As Le Temps’ Rinny Gremaud writes, ending a client-psychotherapist relationship is a complicated, tangled business. “But there" s an art and a way of doing this,” Gremaud writes. “Some people do it in stages. Others goof up their leave-taking. ‘It’s an extraordinarily complex question,’ says Ignacio Pelegri, a psychoanalyst in Geneva. ‘It’s as if I were to ask you how to put an end to your relationship with your parents. Does that relationship ever really end? In one way, yes. Parents do at some point distance themselves from their parental roles. But the connection is lost beyond a certain framework.’”
Read the full article, Breaking Up Is Hard ... With Your Shrink.

A GOOGLE-UBER WAR LOOMS
Google, one of Uber’s biggest investors, is preparing to launch its own ride-for-hire service in conjunction with the company’s driverless cars project, Bloomberg reports. Uber is also stepping on Google’s toes after it announced plans yesterday to develop its own technology for self-driving cars.

MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD
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U.S. DROPS NEWS CORP PROBE
The U.S. Justice Department has decided not to prosecute Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp for the widely reported phone-hacking scandal and bribery of public officials in the UK, The Guardian reports. The 2011 revelation that journalists at the media mogul’s tabloid News Of the World had hacked the cellphones of a missing teenage girl and dozens of celebrities caused a massive uproar in Britain, eventually leading to the publication’s closure.

EAT MY PIXELS
You’ve never seen The Simpsons’ opening sequence with that many pixels, but it’s better than ever.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Fight Over Tourist Visa Ban For Russians Is Taking Everyone For A Ride

High on the agenda of the Prague summit of Europe’s foreign ministers this week was a proposal to ban tourist visas for Russians, as punishment for Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. But it is ultimately a way to change the subject, and recalls Zelensky’s iconic remark after the war began.

Passengers arrive at Sheremetyevo International Airport, Russia

TASS
Anna Akage

It’s not a new question. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had called for a ban on tourist visa for Russian soon after the war began, and this week it became the center of the Prague summit of European Union foreign ministers.

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Some European Union nations voiced their support soon after it was mentioned by Zelensky, including former Soviet republics and current Russia neighbors, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. They were followed by Finland and the Czech Republic, Denmark, and Poland. Hungary, Portugal, Greece and Cyprus. Germany and France are looking for a compromise that would allow for visas for students, workers of culture and science, as well as people who need entry for humanitarian reason. Perhaps most importantly, however, the U.S. took an unambiguous position against the restrictions.

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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.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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