GERMAN CABINET BACKS ANTI-ISIS CAMPAIGN
After agreeing last week to send 650 soldiers to Mali to support 1,500 French troops deployed to fight Islamist extremists, Germany could be about to launch a military campaign in Syria. The German cabinet voted today to send reconnaissance aircraft, a naval frigate and a 1,200-strong military force to the region as part of plans to back the fight against ISIS, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports. German troops will not, however, engage in combat. This follows an appeal by French President François Hollande for an international coalition against ISIS in the wake of the Nov. 13 Paris attacks. German lawmakers in Berlin are expected to vote on the campaign tomorrow.
TURKISH PM CALLS FOR TALKS WITH RUSSIA
Ankara and Moscow should open military communication channels to prevent incidents such as last week's downing of a Russian warplane by Turkish jets, Reuters quoted Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu as saying today. "We must sit down and talk at the table instead of making unfounded allegations," he said. Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday accused Turkey of shooting down the Russian jet to protect oil supplies from ISIS militants in Syria. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has called these claims "slander." Al Jazeera also quoted Erdogan as saying he would resign if the allegations were proven.
One day after the COP21 climate conference opened in Paris, Europe's largest solar power plant is being inaugurated today near Bordeaux, in France, Les Echos reports. The installation is spread across 642 acres, the equivalent of 350 soccer fields, and will produce enough energy per year to power 50,000 homes. For more about the summit, we offer this Les Echos/Worldcrunch piece, The Earth In Our Hands: Epochal Stakes For Paris Cop21.
FAULTY PART CAUSED AIRASIA CRASH
Last December's AirAsia plane crash in the Java Sea that killed all 162 people on board was caused mainly by a faulty rudder control system, The Guardian reports. But the crew's response to disengage autopilot amid stormy weather conditions to try to fix the situation also contributed to the crash, Indonesian officials said in their final, year-long investigation into the tragedy. The report found that the soldering on a tiny electronic part in the system that controlled the rudder was cracked, leading it to send four warning signals to the pilots, who then reset the system, turning off the autopilot and causing the plane to roll.
Artist Kong Ning wears a wedding dress made of 999 face masks to call attention to pollution in Beijing. Air pollution in the Chinese capital reached a record high today, soaring to 35 times the safety levels.
NAIROBI TERROR SIMULATION TURNS DEADLY
A poorly planned terrorist attack simulation at the University of Nairobi yesterday turned to chaos when it led to panic across the campus. One university employee was killed and about 40 people were injured, two of them seriously. According to Radio France Internationale, most people on campus weren't notified about the simulation and started to flee when they heard shots and saw armed men dressed in black suddenly appearing around the university. Last April, Al-Shabaab terrorists killed 148 people at Garissa University in eastern Kenya. In September 2013, the same group killed 67 people when it attacked the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi.
Synaesthesia is a gift, a special quality that affects perception — a kind of constant intoxication of the senses in which letters and numbers have certain colors, and sounds might have a sweet or salty taste to them,Die Welt's Julia Naue reports. "Emotions can be another trigger, producing sensory experiences that are not only linked to one but multiple senses. A synaesthete might, for example, associate a person's character with a color. Less is known about this particular form of synaesthesia due to the difficulty of reproducing feelings under laboratory conditions."
Read the full article, A Peek Into The Strange And Colorful World Of Synaesthesia.
MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD
BURKINA FASO ELECTS NEW PRESIDENT
With 53.5% of the vote, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, from the Movement of People for Progress party, has been elected Burkina Faso's new president, the country's electoral commission announced today, according to the daily Sidwaya. Kabore, the second civilian to become Burkina Faso's leader since the country gained independence in 1960, will replace a transitional government set up after longtime leader Blaise Compaoré was toppled in October 2014. Read more from Le Blog.
ON THIS DAY
Happy 80th, Woody! The film icon and more in today's 57-second shot of history.
LEBANON AND AL NUSRA SWAP PRISONERS
The Lebanese military and the al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda's branch in Syria, conducted a long-awaited, Qatar-brokered prisoner exchange today outside Lebanon's border town of Arsal, where a group of Lebanese soldiers were kidnapped last year, al Jazeera reports. The al-Nusra Front released 16 Lebanese security officers, in exchange for 13 prisoners, five of whom are women.
A Brazilian campaign called "Virtual racism, real consequences" is using billboards to publicize racist messages posted on Facebook and Twitter as a way to denounce and shame racists in the multicultural country. Though the authors of the offensive comments aren't being exposed, the billboards are being placed near the homes of the offenders.