IRAN SANCTIONS LIFTED
Some of the toughest International sanctions against Iran were lifted Sunday after inspectors verified that the country was complying with the nuclear deal reached last July, and after the Islamic Republic released three American prisoners, including Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian. "These things are a reminder of what we can achieve when we lead with strength and with wisdom, with courage and resolve and patience," U.S. President Barack Obama said. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani hailed the move as a "golden page" in his country's history, while The New York Times characterized the event as one that makes the world "safer."
- The crippled Iranian economy will now have access to a staggering $100 billion in assets frozen overseas and will be able once again to export oil, a lucrative business whose absence is estimated to have cost Tehran some $160 billion since 2012 alone.
- The influx of Iranian oil on an already supply-heavy market sent crude prices to new lows unseen since 2003 today. Saudi Arabia, one of the world's major oil exporters and Iran's arch-enemy, saw its stocks crash yesterday as a result of the sanctions being lifted. Its Tadawul All Share Index has already lost 20% of its value since the beginning of the year.
CLINTON, SANDERS SPAR IN LAST DEBATE
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders clashed on gun control and health care, with the former First Lady accusing her opponent of wanting to "tear up" Obamacare during last night's final Democratic presidential debate. With the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary approaching, The Washington Post noted that the exchanges between the two "were the most combative and personal of the campaign so far, reflecting the newly potent threat Sanders poses to Clinton in her second White House run." Candidate Martin O'Malley, meanwhile, continued to struggle to be noticed.
"The experience of western European countries which have ghettos and excluded localities shows that the integration of the Muslim community is practically impossible," Czech President Milos Zeman said in a televised interview Sunday. "Let them have their culture in their countries and not take it to Europe. Otherwise it will end up like Cologne," he added, in reference to the mass sexual attacks perpetrated by migrants in the German city and across Europe on New Year's Eve.
- Zeman's comments came after Pope Francis celebrated a mass on St. Peter's Square with some 6,000 migrants whom, he said, carry "a story, a culture, of precious value, and often unfortunately experiences of misery, oppression and fear."
- On Saturday, police in the German city of Düsseldorf arrested 40 migrant men from North Africa in a large-scale anti-theft and anti-drug operation. According to Deutsche Welle, 38 of those arrested were living illegally in Germany, and Angela Merkel's government is reportedly considering plans to change its immigration policy regarding North African applicants.
ISIS ABDUCTS, KILLS CIVILIANS
ISIS fighters have abducted more than 400 civilians after a major assault on the northeastern city of Deir ez-Zor that left at least 135 people dead, The Guardianreports. The attack, which began Saturday, saw the terrorist organization make significant gains in a city that was partly controlled by government forces and is the capital of an oil-rich region mostly under ISIS control. The Syrian army, backed by Russian warplanes, launched a counterattack, and have regained territories around the city, Syrian state news agency SANA reports.
- A recently released document from the ISIS Treasury Ministry shows that the organization has halved the salaries it pays to its fighters, citing "exceptional circumstances."
- One person was killed in a Turkish town on the Syrian border after a rocket fired from Syia exploded near a primary school. One of the students was also injured, according to Hürriyet.
Ukrainian teens are having fun during a snow fight at Kiev's World War II open-air museum.
THREE AMERICANS MISSING IN IRAQ
Iraqi authorities have created checkpoints in southern Baghdad and are searching for three American citizens believed to be missing, Reuters reports. Two of them are dual Iraqi-American citizens, and unconfirmed reports said they were kidnapped. "We are working with the full cooperation of the Iraqi authorities to locate and recover the individuals," U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.
A tough-talking mayor is leading the polls in the Philippines, which will elect a new president in May. Candidate Rodrigo Duterte's message is simple: stop crime and corruption. But as PortalKBR reports, some are questioning his methods. "Duterte has been mayor of Davao, a city of 2 million people, for 22 years, and has also served as a congressman. He is credited for making Davao the safest city in the country, albeit by controversial means. Human rights groups accuse him of supporting a group of vigilantes who execute criminals and drug pushers. There have been some 1,000 extra-judicial killings of suspected criminals during Duterte's tenure as mayor."
Read the full article, A Filipino Trump? "Duterte Harry" Eyes Philippines Presidency.
BURKINA FASO MOURNS ATTACK VICTIMS
A three-day mourning period began yesterday in Burkina Faso, after Saturday's Islamist attack on a luxury hotel in Ouagadougou, Al Jazeera reports. At least 28 people of various nationalities were killed in the attack led by al-Qaeda gunmen, the first of this kind in Burkina Faso.
1% = 99%
The richest 1% now own as much wealth as the rest of the world combined, according to recent data analyzed by Oxfam. The report, released to coincide with the beginning of the annual World Economic Forum in Davos this week, also shows that the richest 62 billionaires are as wealthy as the poorest half of the global population, further evidence that the gap between rich and poor is growing alarmingly fast.
TAIWAN'S NEW PRESIDENT WARNS CHINA
After winning in an expected landslide on Saturday, new Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen warned China that her country's "democratic system, national identity and international space must be respected. Any forms of suppression will harm the stability of cross-strait relations," she said, explaining she would "work toward maintaining the status quo for peace and stability," the South China Morning Post reports. Chinese officials are unimpressed with the election of Taiwan's first female president, saying that Taiwan should abandon its "hallucinations" about pushing for independence.
ON THIS DAY
We've got the founding of Lima, Marion Barry's crack cocaine bust and the Versailles Peace Conference — all in today's shot of history.
AUSTRALIAN OPEN BEGINS AMID BRIBERY NEWS
A number of Top 50 tennis players, including Grand Slam winners, are suspected of match-fixing, an investigation by the BBC and BuzzFeed News reveals. Champion Novak Djokovic admitted he was offered $200,000 to throw a match, back in 2007, though he denied such practices were widespread. The claims come as the first major tournament of the year, the Australian Open in Melbourne, begins.
MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD
MANET WOULD BE PROUD
Controversial Luxembourg performance artist Deborah de Robertis recently gave visitors to the Musée d'Orsay in Paris more than they bargained for, undressing and posing naked in front of Edouard Manet's nude painting of the prostitute Olympia. Despite France's relatively loose mores, museum visitors were bundled away, and Robertis was quickly shut down.