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Ebola-Free Sierra Leone, Record Greenhouse Gases, Rolling Stone's B-day

Ebola-Free Sierra Leone, Record Greenhouse Gases, Rolling Stone's B-day

OPPOSITION LOOKS TO WIN BIG IN MYANMAR

Photo: Jack Kurtz/ZUMA

The National League for Democracy (NLD) opposition party led by Aung San Suu Kyi is on the verge of a sweeping victory in Myanmar, where party officials say they expect to win at least 70% of parliamentary seats, The Myanmar Times reports. Yesterday's historic election was the first time in 25 years that the Burmese could vote in an openly contested race. "It is important to win with dignity," Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi told supporters. "Winners have to be understanding of those who lose as well." Under Burmese law, she cannot become president because she has children of British nationality, but she said before the election that a victory for her party would place her "above the president."


42

After battling the deadly Ebola virus for more than 18 months, Sierra Leone was officially declared Ebola-free Saturday after 42 days with no new cases reported. Thousands of people gathered in the capital of Freetown to celebrate the news and pay tribute to the 220 health workers who died during the outbreak, which killed a total of 3,955 people in Sierra Leone.


90% CERTAINTY RUSSIAN PLANE WAS BOMBED

The Egyptian team investigating the crash of a Russian plane in the Sinai last week told Reuters they were 90% sure that the aircraft had been brought down by a bomb. Egyptians authorities have to date been reluctant to defend that hypothesis so far, fearing it could have a devastating impact on its tourism industry. Though it's still unclear who is responsible, there's mounting evidence that the cause was a bomb.


NARROW WIN FOR CROATIAN CONSERVATIVES

The Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) is celebrating a narrow victory in yesterday's parliamentary elections, Croatia's first since it joined the European Union in 2013. But as the leading opposition party, it failed to win an outright majority and now faces a tough task to form a coalition government, newspaper Ve�ernji List reports. After a campaign that largely focused on the refugee crisis, HDZ won 59 seats to the ruling Social Democrats' 56. A third party of right-leaning independents won a surprising 19 seats but announced it would refuse to enter a coalition government with the two major parties, creating political chaos. Read more from Le Blog.


RECORD HIGH GREENHOUSE GASES IN 2014

Greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere reached a record high in 2014, continuing a 30-year-old trend, according to a report published by the United Nations World Meteorological Organization. And atmospheric levels of CO2 are expected to continue to rise this year. "It means hotter global temperatures, more extreme weather events like heatwaves and floods, melting ice, rising sea levels and increased acidity of the oceans," WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said in a statement. "This is happening now and we are moving into uncharted territory at a frightening speed."


WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

A century from now, the global population will finally begin to decline. But before that, the world must deal with the waste created by an exploding overpopulation, Daniel Fortin reports for Les Echos. How do we hold on until then? "Pierre-Noël Giraud, one of France's most brilliant living economists, has little presence in the media, which is perhaps a good thing since it affords him more time to work and formulate questions like the one posed in his recently published book L'Homme inutile ("The Useless Man"): How do we handle the transition towards this promising distant future, knowing that there's 100 years in between? As part of his analysis, Giraud points out that before we reach the point of demographic decline, we will first have to overcome a paroxysmal period, with a planet inhabited by 10 billion people in 2050. The problem, the author argues, won't be the depletion of resources so much as the absorption of the mass of discharged waste. The other major challenge will be the capacity of our economies to employ such a vast workforce."

Read the full article, Demographic Disaster? Counting The Risks Of 10 Billion People.


VERBATIM

"Some of them have been on that island for four, five years and, quite frankly, everyone's sick of being treated like animals and right now they're turning around and biting," New Zealand lawmaker Kelvin Davis told ABC, slamming Australia's tough refugee policy after reports of clashes with authorities at a detention center on Christmas Island. Australian officials said they were involved in a "standoff" with refugees after the death of an Iranian migrant sparked rioting. An estimated 203 people are currently being held at the detention center.


MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD



OBAMA TO MEET NETANYAHU

U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are expected to meet in Washington later today for the first time since the Iran nuclear deal fractured an already tense relationship. But the two leaders are expected to turn the page and, according to The Jerusalem Post, Netanyahu will be seeking to expand the 10-year "Memorandum of Understanding" under which Israel receives an annual $3.1 billion from Washington. It expires in 2017. Netanyahu hopes to increase that amount to $5 billion for the next 10 years. This comes amid a wave of violence that has killed at least 77 Palestinians and 10 Israelis since the beginning of October. According to a recent poll in Israel, 53% of Israelis support the killing of alleged attackers "then and there, even if he has been detained and is no longer a danger."


ON THIS DAY


Today marks the anniversary of two charmed events — the fall of the Berlin Wall and the first issue of Rolling Stone. Learn more in your shot of history.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

A Decisive Spring? How Ukraine Plans To Beat Back Putin's Coming Offensive

The next months will be decisive in the war between Moscow and Kyiv. From the forests of Polesia to Chernihiv and the Black Sea, Ukraine is looking to protect the areas that may soon be the theater of Moscow's announced offensive. Will this be the last Russian Spring?

Photo of three ​Ukrainian soldiers in trenches near Bakhmut, Ukraine

Ukrainian soldiers in trenches near Bakhmut, Ukraine

Anna Akage

Ukrainian forces are digging new fortifications and preparing battle plans along the entire frontline as spring, and a probable new Russian advance, nears.

But this may be the last spring for occupying Russian forces.

"Spring and early summer will be decisive in the war. If the great Russian offensive planned for this time fails, it will be the downfall of Russia and Putin," said Vadym Skibitsky, the deputy head of Ukrainian military intelligence.

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Skinitysky added that Ukraine believes Russia is planning a new offensive in the spring or early summer. The Institute for the Study of War thinks that such an offensive is more likely to come from the occupied territories of Luhansk and Donetsk than from Belarus, as some have feared.

Still, the possibility of an attack by Belarus should not be dismissed entirely — all the more so because, in recent weeks, a flurry of MiG fighter jet activity in Belarusian airspace has prompted a number of air raid alarms throughout Ukraine.

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