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Denmark Terror, Egypt Strikes ISIS, SNL's 40th

SOME AREAS IGNORE UKRAINE CEASEFIRE
The ceasefire in eastern Ukraine was still broadly observed this morning, but sporadic fighting persisted in some areas, especially in the city of Debaltseve, which is encircled by pro-Russian rebels, the BBC reports. A Ukraine army official said five troops had been killed and 22 wounded since the ceasefire went into effect at midnight Saturday. Monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe are trying to seek full access to the areas where fighting hasn’t stopped. Pro-Russian forces denied them access yesterday. The European Union, meanwhile, added another 19 names of Russian officials and representatives of the self-declared republics in eastern Ukraine to its sanctions list. The Russian Foreign Ministry branded the new sanctions as “absurd” and accused Brussels of yielding to Kiev’s “party of war,” RT reports.

ON THIS DAY
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On Feb. 16, 2005, the Kyoto Protocol became effective, setting internationally binding carbon emission reduction targets. Time for your 57-second shot of history.

EGYPT STRIKES ISIS IN LIBYA
The Egyptian air force conducted extensive dawn raids against ISIS targets in Libya, hours after the group published an online video showing the executions of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians who had recently been taken hostage by the terrorist group. Egyptian officials said that between 40 and 50 ISIS fighters had been killed in the airstrikes. A statement from the Egyptian army said that the bombings were “to avenge the bloodshed and to seek retribution from the killers,” The Guardian reports. The strikes were reportedly coordinated with the Libyan army, and a Libyan official said more were planned for today and tomorrow. Read more from Al-Arabiya.

  • French President François Hollande, who just days ago announced the sale of Rafale fighter jets to Cairo, joined calls from his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to organize a UN Security Council meeting to take new measures against ISIS.

12,000
The South African government is preparing new legislation to bar individuals from owning more than 12,000 hectares of land, a move that Reuters says will likely upset the large and still predominantly white-owned commercial farming sector. Foreign ownership will also be drastically restricted.

DANISH TERROR ACCOMPLICES CHARGED
(Photo above: Marcus Golejewski/DPA/ZUMA)
Danish police have charged two men it arrested yesterday with helping the suspected gunman who killed two people over the weekend in separate attacks at a café and at a synagogue in Copenhagen. Police shot and killed the alleged attacker, 22-year-old Omar El-Hussein, Sunday. Hours earlier, he killed a filmmaker and wounded several people at a café where Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks, known for depicting the Prophet Muhammad as a dog in 2007, was hosting a talk. He then attacked security guards outside a synagogue and killed a young Jewish man.

  • The police believe El-Hussein may have been “inspired” by last month’s terror attacks in Paris, though there appears to be no direct connection between the Kouachi brothers or Amedy Coulibaly and El-Hussein. But like the French-born terrorists, El-Hussein was known to intelligence services before the attacks and had recently been released from jail. Read more from The New York Times.
  • The attack’s similarity to that on Charlie Hebdo in Paris have led French newspaper Libération to choose a Danish headline for its front page, out of solidarity for the victims.
  • Following the synagogue attack, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is campaigning for reelection, urged European Jews to emigrate to Israel, their “home.” He also unveiled a $45 million plan “to encourage the absorption of immigrants from France, Belgium and Ukraine.”

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO
As Le Monde’s Bruno Meyerfeld reports, graphic Japanese comics, otherwise known as mangas, are becoming a popular part of African pop culture. “There are fans from everywhere, from Angola to South Africa, from Facebook to YouTube,” he writes. “Artists are also making appearances, sometimes in English-speaking countries such as Kenya, where they are making the most of the Japanese embassy's cultural center. The imaginary world is African. In Congo, animated mangas tell of the violence in the country. Female manga character Ebola-Chan, with pink hair and a skull in her hands, is a somewhat morbid allegory of Ebola and is even making a controversial appearance online.”
Read the full article, Africa's Emerging Love Affair With Graphic Japanese Comics, Or Mangas.

JAPAN’S RECESSION ENDS
The Japanese economy rebounded from recession in the last quarter of 2014, but the 0.6% growth figure is still below expectations,The Japan Timesreports. The country’s GDP grew by 2.2% in 2014 from the previous year, well below the forecast 3.7%.

MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD
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MASSIVE CYBER THEFT DISCOVERED
As many as 100 banks and financial institutions in 30 countries have been attacked in what computer security firm Kaspersky Lab described as an “unprecedented cyber robbery,” with a group of hackers responsible for the loss of $1 billion since 2013. According to the report, the hackers come from Russia, China, Ukraine and other parts of Europe, and they are still active. Read more from Bloomberg.

APPLE JOINS SELF-DRIVING-CAR RACE
Tesla and Google could soon be facing tough competition on the self-driving car market. An inside source tells Reuters that Apple is working on its own project for a self-driving electric car. Though the company is reportedly exploring how to make an entire vehicle, the source says the main focus is on software, where there’s a lot of money to be made from high-definition mapping as well as car-sharing and car-recharging services.

40 YEARS OF SNL
American entertainers Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake teamed up once again over the weekend, this time to celebrate Saturday Night Live’s star-studded 40th anniversary show. Watch the duo’s musical medley honoring many of the show’s most memorable skits.

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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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