MACEDONIA CLOSES BORDER TO MIGRANTS
Some 2,600 people are stranded on the Greek side of the border with Macedonia after the Balkan nation closed its borders to incoming migrants yesterday afternoon, AP reports. Macedonia, which is not an EU member, took similar steps for two days last week. The authorities are, however, allowing in migrants who wish to go to Austria or Germany.
- This comes after reports that the EU is considering sealing off Greece from the rest of the union within three months if Greece doesn't reverse "serious deficiencies" in how it manages its border, the southernmost border of the Schengen passport-free zone.
- At least 24 migrants, including 18 children, have drowned after their boat capsized in the Mediterranean on its way to Greece, Al Jazeera reports. Rescue operations are still ongoing.
- Sweden is planning to expel between 60,000 and 80,000 migrants whose asylum applications have been rejected, Interior Minister Anders Ygeman told newspaper Dagens Industri. "The first step will be to go with voluntary return, and to create the best conditions for that," Ygeman said. "But if that doesn't work, we will need to have returns backed up by force." Read more in English from The Local.
"Go home and hug your families. This fight is ours for now in the courts. Please go home," Ammon Bundy, the arrested leader of a month-long occupation of an Oregon federal wildlife reserve, said in a statement to those who remain at the site. "To those remaining at the refuge, I love you. Let us take this fight from here. Please stand down," The New York Times quotes Bundy as saying.
U.S. CONSIDERING LIBYA INTERVENTION
The U.S. is considering an intervention in Libya, which remains in chaos despite a recent UN-backed national unity program. Four years after leader Muammar Gaddafi was toppled by a NATO-backed uprising, Washington is "worried about the metastasis of ISIS in a number of locations, Libya being just one of those locations," a Pentagon spokesman said. He acknowledged that officials were "looking at military options" to stop the terrorist group from spreading outside of Syria and Iraq.
GOOGLE'S AI BREAKTHROUGH
Photo: Brian Jeffery Beggerly
Google-built artificial intelligence software has beaten Fan Hui, the European champion of the ancient Chinese game of Go, a breakthrough that was only recently thought to be a decade away, Nature reports. Go is a complex game for algorithms to crack, with the average game containing more possible moves than there are atoms in the universe.
CHEAP OIL COULD TRIGGER DEFAULT WAVE
The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are considering a $4 billion emergency loan package for Azerbaijan, an oil producer whose currency has been badly hit by falling crude prices. According to the Financial Times, this could be the "first of a series of bailouts stemming from the tumbling oil price," and experts are forecasting that prices will remain low this year with dire consequences for the global economy. Both organizations are also reportedly monitoring the situation in Brazil, Ecuador and Venezuela.
The Hamburg Morgenpost is flipping the blue bird on its front page today: The German daily features a four-page analysis of what it calls "The Hate-Net." Read more on this on Le Blog.
Italian museum officials covered up prized nude statues for Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's visit. But such overly eager attention to Muslim sensibilities may be misguided, Massimo Gramellini writes in La Stampa. And what about our own? "If an Italian woman goes to Iran, she covers her head properly. If an Iranian comes to Italy, we unfairly cover up the nude statues. In one direction or another, we are always the ones doing the covering. And the sensibilities not to be offended are always theirs. But what if the presence of women covered from head to toe on an avenue in Tehran or Baghdad hurts my sensibility? I don't think that the Ayatollahs would allow them to wear a miniskirt out of respect for me."
Read the full article, Covering Up Roman Nudes For Rouhani, A Question Of Respect.
ON THIS DAY
From the Eiffel Tower to LEGO, here is your 57-second shot of history.
LAURENT GBAGBO TRIAL BEGINS
The trial of former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo, who is accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity, began this morning in the Dutch city of The Hague, where he pleaded not guilty, AFP reports. The charges relate to the violence that erupted after Gbagbo lost the 2010 presidential election to rival Alassane Ouattara, a conflict in which 3,000 people were killed over five months. Gbagbo is the first former head of state of appear in front of the International Criminal Court, and according to BBC reporter Anna Holligan, this could be "the most important trial in the ICC's history."
MY GRAND-PERE'S WORLD
JAPANESE ECONOMY MINISTER RESIGNS
Japan's Economy Minister Akira Amari has announced his resignation after a weeklong controversy over graft allegations. Amari, whom Bloomberg describes as "a key engineer of the government's â€˜Abenomics' program," denied receiving cash for favors, claiming instead that the estimated 12 million yen ($100,000) he pocketed were political donations.
UK train fares are notoriously expensive. But a young English blogger saved Â£7.72 ($11) by going "the extra 1,017 miles" and flying from the northern English city of Sheffield to his home in Essex via Berlin, instead of going by rail.