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Iran Agreement Close, Kenyan Christians Attacked, Rainbow Skiing

Photo: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Lausanne — Brendan Smialowski/Prensa Internacional/ZUMA

IRAN AGREEMENT “A FEW METERS AWAY”
Iran nuclear talks resumed today in Lausanne, for a second day since the March 31 deadline. A deal seems within reach, as Iran officials hint at more flexibility over the UN lifting economic sanctions on the country, one of the most debated issues.

  • “We’re a few meters away from the finish line, but we know they’re always the hardest,” Le Temps quoted French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius as saying today.

  • Iranian negotiator Ali Akbar Salehi said he could “see the light on the horizon” after another sleepless night of talks.

  • “We’re still making progress, but we still haven’t reached a political deal,” U.S. secretary of state John Kerry said last night.

ON THIS DAY

Today marks 10 years since the death of Pope John Paul II. Time now for your 57-second shot of history.

KENYA ATTACK LEAVES SEVERAL DEAD
Militants of the Islamist al-Shabab group, part of al-Qaeda, have killed at least 14 people and wounded 65 after raiding a university in Garissa, Kenya, near the Somali border. They claim to be holding an unknown number of Christian Kenyans.

  • Arnolda Shiundu, a spokesman for the Kenya Red Cross, told The Guardian they “evacuated about 30 casualties, most of them with bullet wounds. Four are in a critical state, and Kenya Defense Forces personnel have airlifted three victims, including two soldiers, to Nairobi.”

  • An al-Shabab spokesman told Reuters the assailants “sorted people out and released the Muslims.” He added, “There are many dead bodies of Christians inside the building. We are also holding many Christians alive. Fighting still goes on inside the college.”

  • At least 50 students were able to escape the university campus to a nearby military facility after the initial sounds of gunfire, the Red Cross has said.

  • Witnesses said the attackers shot indiscriminately at students and teachers, as the attack started around 5 a.m., the BBC reports.

71%
The number of foreign fighters who joined terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda or ISIS soared 71% between mid-2014 and March 2015, according to a UN report obtained by AP. More than 25,000 people have now traveled to join such organizations, a figure that is “higher than it has ever been historically,” according to UN experts.

YEMEN FIGHTING INTENSIFIES
Intense clashes broke out between Houthi fighters and allies and local militia backed by tanks in the southern Yemeni city of Aden yesterday, the BBC reports.

  • The Houthi rebels, who support former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, had reportedly been forced to pull back from the city center after airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition, according to Reuters.

  • At least 19 people, including civilians, were killed in the clashes, bringing the death toll to at least 122 since the beginning of the Saudi-led operation “Decisive Storm.”

  • A Doctors Without Borders spokeswoman told the BBC that an Aden hospital received “more than 500 injured people from all sides in the conflict over the last two weeks.”

  • Local security officials said al-Qaeda militants stormed a prison in the southeastern city of Mukalla today, freeing at least 300 inmates, including a senior al-Qaeda figure who had been held for more than four years, Al Arabiya reports.

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO
When Patricia started hearing voices, she was fascinated. Within a year, she wound up in the hospital. She now tries to cope with her illness without medication, opting instead for church and yoga. She told her story to Le Temps’ Rinny Gremaud. “Refusing medication hasn’t been easy,” she told the journalist. “Whenever you are in the health care system, you face five or six people who insist, and you have to stand up to them … I imagine medication must sometimes make things easier. But you have to be coherent. I believe in natural therapies. I think the illness is the body trying to make you understand something. So for me, schizophrenia is a bit more serious than a cold, but it’s the same principle.”
Read the full article, Living With Schizophrenia - And Without Medication.

54 DEAD AFTER RUSSIAN TRAWLER SINKS
At least 54 crew on a Russian fishing trawler died and 15 were missing after it sank in freezing waters off the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Western Pacific Ocean late Wednesday, officials said. Search and rescue operations are continuing, but 63 of the 132 people on board have been rescued, Russian TASS news agency reports. The official spokesman of Russia’s Investigative Committee, Vladimir Markin, said the ship sank within 15 minutes, probably after a collision with an obstacle.

7 SOLDIERS KILLED IN SINAI ATTACKS
Gunmen armed with automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades attacked military checkpoints in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula Thursday, killing seven soldiers, Reuters reports. At least 11 other soldiers and several civilians were wounded. Local Egyptian media reported that at least 15 armed men were also killed by the Egyptian military during the attacks, Al Jazeera reports.

MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD

GERMANWINGS CO-PILOT LIED TO DOCTORS
Andreas Lubitz, the Germanwings co-pilot suspected of deliberately crashing an Airbus A320 in the French Alps, killing all 150 people on board, apparently lied to doctors, concealing the fact that he was still flying commercial planes and telling them he was on sick leave, Bildreported today. The German tabloid also said the 27-year-old had sought medical attention to treat an eye condition, which could be linked to a 2014 car crash in which he was involved.

AFGHANISTAN BOMBING KILLS 20
A suicide bombing killed at least 20 people and injured 36 Thursday during a protest against the local governor in Afghanistan’s eastern Khost province, Al Jazeera reports.

ONE DOPE SLOPE
A little rainbow expand=1] skiing for your Thursday morning viewing pleasure.

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Geopolitics

Patronage Or Politics? What's Driving Qatar And Egypt Grand Rapprochement

For Cairo, Qatar had been part of an “axis of evil,” with anger directed at Al Jazeera, the main Qatari outlet, and others critical of Egypt after the Muslim Brotherhood ouster. But the vitriol is now gone, with the first ever visit by Egyptian President al-Sisi to Doha.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met with the Emir of Qatar in June 2022 in Cairo

Beesan Kassab, Daniel O'Connell, Ehsan Salah, Hazem Tharwat and Najih Dawoud

For the first time since coming to power in 2014, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi traveled to Doha last month on an official visit, a capstone in a steadily building rapprochement between the two countries in the last year.

Not long ago, however, the photo-op capturing the two heads of state smiling at one another in Doha would have seemed impossible. In the wake of the Armed Forces’ ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood government in 2013, Qatar and Egypt traded barbs.

In the lexicon of the intelligence-controlled Egyptian press landscape, Qatar had been part of an “axis of evil” working to undermine Egypt’s stability. Al Jazeera, the main Qatari outlet, was banned from Egypt, but, from its social media accounts and television broadcast, it regularly published salacious and insulting details about the Egyptian administration.

But all of that vitriol is now gone.

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