When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

ISIS Loses Kobani, Russia's "Junk" Rating, Blizzard Friends With Benefits

ISIS LOSES LONG KOBANI BATTLE
After more than four months of intense fighting, Kurdish fighters have taken control of the Syrian town of Kobani on the Turkish border and have driven out ISIS fighters, though these still occupy important areas outside the town, Reuters reports. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, at least 1,600 people died in the battle, most of them jihadists, and tens of thousands have fled.

ON THIS DAY

Seventy years ago on this day, Auschwitz was liberated ... Time for your 57-second shot of history!

GUNMEN TAKE HOSTAGES IN LIBYA
Libyan security officials say that gunmen have taken hostages at a luxury Tripoli hotel popular with foreign visitors after a car bomb exploded in front of the building. At least three guards have were killed, and a witness told the AP there were at least five gunmen. The BBC says they could be linked to ISIS. The story is developing.

NEW ENGLAND BATTERED BY BLIZZARD
New York, Boston and most of the Northeast are experiencing a potentially historic blizzard, with snowfall rates approaching 4 inches per hour and winds nearing hurricane force. New York City (see photo above) is effectively closed, and life is expected to be brought to a standstill in the region, as winter storm Juno has already led to more than 7,000 flight cancellations and disrupted ground transportation.

GREEK CABINET TO BE ANNOUNCED
Newly elected Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is expected to unveil his cabinet later today, and his choices will represent a drastic change with the creation of four “super-Ministries,” newspaper To Vima reports. Athens will soon start negotiations with Brussels and other international lenders over the repayment of its debt. The chief economics spokesman for Tsipras’ party Syriza told the BBC that his country could never repay all its debt. “I haven’t met an economist in their heart of hearts that will tell you that Greece will pay back all of that debt,” he said. “It can't be done.”

VERBATIM
“I don’t trust the policy of the United States, nor have I exchanged a word with them, but this does not mean I reject a pacific solution to the conflicts,” former Cuban leader Fidel Castro said in his first public comments since the U.S. and Cuba agreed to normalize relations.

S&P DOWNGRADES RUSSIA TO JUNK
Ratings agency Standard & Poor’s has downgraded Russia to junk status, the first time in a decade the country has reached such lows. It comes amid falling oil prices and Western sanctions that have badly hurt the economy, The Guardian reports. The U.S. and EU are threatening further economic sanctions as fighting intensifies again in eastern Ukraine.

$889 MILLION
The Koch brothers and the conservative political network they oversee plans to spend an astonishing $889 million in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, more than double what they spent in 2012 and almost as much as each party spent at the time.

UN FORCED TO HALT GAZA REBUILD
The UN agency for Palestinian refugees announced it couldn’t repair Gaza houses destroyed by the Israeli army in last summer’s war because donors who pledged to finance the rebuild have failed to pay up. “Virtually none” of the $5.4 billion pledged at the Cairo aid conference last October has reached Gaza, the agency said, adding, “This is distressing and unacceptable.”

MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD


ARGENTINA TO SHUTTER INTEL AGENCY
Argentinian President Cristina Kirchner has announced plans to dissolve the country’s domestic intelligence agency after the mysterious death of prosecutor Alberto Nisman, The New York Times reports. Accusing rogue factions inside the agency of trying to sabotage an agreement with Iran to jointly investigate the 1994 attack on a Jewish center in Buenos Aires, she said she would create a new organization with reduced surveillance powers.

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO
As Le Temps’ Caroline Christinaz reports, a Swiss Simon Jacomet, who was raised by Benedictine monks, makes high-end skis for a very select clientele. “Turning his back on mass production, he targets instead a niche clientele and works with the best brands, such as Bentley or Hublot,” the journalist writes. “He is tech-savvy and lets his imagination flow, inspired by tradition and the nature around him. ‘The people of the Surselva valley have a know-how in terms of craftsmanship, what must be preserved,’ Jacomet says. ‘We need their knowledge to create skis. We're six people in the workshop, and we're all from around here.’”
Read the full article, The Swiss Who Makes The Rolls Royce Of Skis.

UGANDA SUED FOR MEDICAL “BRAIN DRAIN”
A Ugandan think tank is suing the African country’s government in what it says is one of the first ever public interest litigation cases concerning a medical "brain drain," AFP reports. It has denounced the country’s policy to “export” doctors abroad while it desperately lacks medical staff. “Thousands of people will die, thousands die already," it claims, pointing out that 16 women die each day because of complications related to childbirth.

BLIZZARD FRIENDS, WITH BENEFITS
As New Yorkers prepare for a three-foot snowfall, some of them want to ensure that they don’t spend it alone.

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Future

Robot Artists And Us: Who Decides The Aesthetics Of AI?

Ai-Da is touted as the first bonafide robot artist. But should we consider her paintings and poetry original or creative? Is this even art at all?

Ai-Da at work

Leah Henrickson and Simone Natale

Ai-Da sits behind a desk, paintbrush in hand. She looks up at the person posing for her, and then back down as she dabs another blob of paint onto the canvas. A lifelike portrait is taking shape. If you didn’t know a robot produced it, this portrait could pass as the work of a human artist.

Ai-Da is touted as the “first robot to paint like an artist”, and an exhibition of her work called Leaping into the Metaverse opened at the Venice Biennale.

Keep reading... Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

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.

Watch Video Show less
MOST READ