JORDAN EXECUTES TWO PRISONERS AFTER PILOT BURNED ALIVE
Jordan hanged two Iraqi prisoners Wednesday in retaliation to the killing of a Jordanian pilot by the terrorist group ISIS. Sajida al-Rishawi, a female jihadist involved in a 2005 bombing that killed 60 people in Amman and whose liberation had recently been requested by ISIS, and Ziyad Karboli, a senior al-Qaeda member convicted in 2008 for the murder of a Jordanian, were executed at dawn, Al Jazeera reports.
- The decision was carried out as Jordan, which is part of the international alliance against ISIS, vowed an “earth-shattering” response to the terrorist group’s burning alive of 26-year-old fighter pilot Muadh al-Kasasbeh, who had been captured by ISIS in December. Jordan state television suggested Muadh al-Kasasbeh was killed as early as Jan. 3, though the first reports arrived late Tuesday.
- Three other convicted terrorists are also set to be executed Wednesday, according to The Guardian.
- ISIS had previously suggested Muadh al-Kasasbeh’s life would be spared if Sajida al-Rishawi was freed.
- This comes a few days after the execution of Kenji Goto, a Japanese journalist captured by the terrorist group in October 2014.
- The White House has pledged to give Jordan $3 billion in security aid over the next three years.
TAIWAN PLANE CRASH KILLS AT LEAST 20
At least 20 people were killed Wednesday when a TransAsia Airways plane carrying 53 passengers and 5 crew members crashed into a river shortly after taking off from Taipei airport.
- The definitive number of those killed remains unclear, as search and rescue operations are still ongoing as night falls on Taiwan. The Chinese CCTV News puts the death toll at 21, while the South China Morning Post reports it may be as high as 23. These figures remain unconfirmed by authorities.
- At least 28 people appear to have survived the crash, according to Reuters. A government official told The Telegraph that no survivors have now been found for several hours.
- Dramatic video footage of the crash (see screenshot above) in the town of Keelung near the airport emerged online. It shows the aircraft cartwheeling over a motorway and partially crushing a taxi, after flying at low altitude over two buildings. It then crashed into Keelung River. The driver of the taxi is reported to have sustained a head injury but is in a stable condition.
- The black boxes and their flight record have been recovered from the wreckage. Early reports suggest the pilot alerted air traffic control of an engine failure.
- The crash comes just seven months after another TransAsia flight crashed while trying to land at Penghu Island in July, killing 48 of the 58 passengers and crew on board.
- A live video stream of the search and rescue operations is available on Hong Kong’s Apple Live.
CHAD, NIGERIA, CAMEROON IN MAJOR OFFENSIVES AGAINST BOKO HARAM
Nigerian and Chadian military jets were bombing Boko Haram positions in the northeast of Nigeria early Wednesday, according to AP. Chadian military sources also said their troops clashed Tuesday with the jihadist group in the northeastern Nigerian town of Gambaru, south of Lake Chad.
- Cameroon military forces were also clashing with Boko Haram jihadists Wednesday morning in the city of Fotokol, from where the Chadian army launched its offensive, L’Express reports.
- The operations come as African Union officials meet in Cameroon to finalize a mandate for a 7,500-strong multinational force to confront the extremists.
Not so many months ago, pollsters were saying she'd be Brazil's next president — but now she’s nowhere to be seen. Folha de S. Paulo’s Bernardo Mello Franco asks: Where in the world is Marina Silva? “The former candidate and environmental activist has even avoided events organized by political allies. Silva, in fact, hasn't been seen in public in almost two months. Erundina thinks someone who managed to gather 22 million votes just a few months ago shouldn't play hide-and-seek, especially now that the government is announcing unpopular economic measures such as tax hikes and benefit cuts.”
Read the full article, Brazil: Marina Silva Pulls Vanishing Act After Election Loss.
AT LEAST 4 DEAD AS SHELL HITS HOSPITAL IN DONETSK
At least four people are reported dead after a shell hit a hospital in the rebel-held city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, the BBC reports. Violence between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian forces has increased in the region in recent weeks.
GREEK PM VISITS FRANCE, FINANCE MINISTER IN GERMANY
After Rome Tuesday, the new greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras visits Paris Wednesday, where he will meet the French President François Hollande to discuss relations between Greece and the European Union, according to Le Monde.
Meanwhile, the Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis was in Frankfurt to visit the European Central Bank, where he met with its President Mario Draghi, Die Welt reports. “We have had very prolific discussions,” the Greek PM declared. The meeting took place just a few hours before a meeting of the Governing Council of the ECB that should decide on an emergency financial support for Greek banks.
ON THIS DAY
What do the Yalta Conference and Patty Hearst have in common? They’re both featured in today’s 57-second shot of history.
DEAD ARGENTINE PROSECUTOR HAD FILED REQUEST FOR PRESIDENT’S ARREST
An investigation into the death of an Argentine prosecutor who accused President Cristina Kirchner of agreeing to shield the alleged masterminds of a 1994 terror bombing has revealed it found a draft document in which he requested her arrest, AP reports.
"U.S. imperialists will face final doom," North Korea's National Defense Commission, headed by Kim Jong-un, said in a statement Wednesday. Pyongyang added that it saw no more need to negotiate with the “gangster-like U.S. imperialists” as it accused Washington of plotting to “bring down” the North Korean regime, the state news agency KCNA reported. Such bellicose announcements are regularly issued by Pyongyang at this time of year, as annual joint military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea are usually carried out in March.
MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD
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NOW YOU CAN BUST SOME HOLY RAP
Now is your chance: a collective of graphic designers created a website in which you can mix your favorite hip hop samples with holy verses from the world’s major religions. Read more on our global music blog: Hit It!