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Merkel Migrant U-Turn, ISIS Loses Base, Singles Day Record

Merkel Migrant U-Turn, ISIS Loses Base, Singles Day Record


The Syrian army has regained control of the Kwairis military airbase, near the northern city of Aleppo, ending a siege that started in April 2013 and was reinforced by ISIS in the spring of 2014, the Syrian Arab News Agency reports. According to experts quoted by AFP, this is an important breakthrough for the Assad regime and its allies, and the airbase could now be used by Russian warplanes to fully retake the city of Aleppo, as well as protecting the Syrian government's western stronghold in Latakia, where 24 civilians were killed yesterday in terrorist rocket attacks. The BBC meanwhile reports that a Russian document circulating at the United Nations set out a potential political transition process of 18 months, followed by presidential elections. This comes ahead of a summit, due to take place in Vienna on Saturday.


Reversing a decision made in August, Germany will resume the application of the Dublin rules on asylum, meaning that the mostly Syrian refugees that have entered will be sent back to the countries where they first registered (except Greece) upon entering the European Union. German weekly Der Spiegel reports that the announcement comes amid reports of tensions in Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition government, and even inside her own CDU party. According to officials statistics, about 800,000 migrants have already registered in the country this year, with authorities forced to requisition school gyms and even churches to accommodate the refugees.

  • Hungary, which erected fences at most of its borders to prevent more refugees from entering, has warned Germany that "not a single Syrian" should be returned there. "The Dublin system is dead since apart from a few exceptions, countries aren't abiding by its terms," Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said.

  • Slovenia has meanwhile started to erect a barbed-wire fence on its border with Croatia to limit entries, as the tiny country is overwhelmed by the number of migrants, a situation made worse by restricted entries into neighboring Austria.

  • At least 14 people died off the Turkish coast on their way to Greece, after the boat they were travelling on sank. Turkish authoritiesmanaged to rescue 27 people.

  • Meanwhile in France, migrants clashed with the police for a third consecutive night in the northern city of Calais, amid recent attempts to relocate the estimated 6,000 migrants on the infamous "Jungle" to other parts of France. Speaking to AFP, local officials said the violence had spread to the city's suburbs located near the camp, with residents reporting theft and damage to their homes.

  • The growing unrest comes as 50 leaders from Europe and Africa meet Wednesday in Malta to discuss the migrant crisis. According to Euronews, EU leaders are willing to grant Africa 1.8 billion euros in emergency funds to help it take back some of the economic migrants who have crossed the Mediterranean.


New revelations about Germany's BND intelligence service show that its list of targets included French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, as well as several international and foreign institutions. According to public radio station RBB, which didn't name its source, the BND spied on the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the FBI, the United Nations bodies UNICEF and the World Health Organization, as well as European and American companies, such as weapons manufacturer Lockheed.


World War I ended and a more "modern artist" named Leonardo was born.


Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize winner and leader of Myanmar's National League for Democracy has written to the country's President, army and Parliament speaker, requesting a meeting to prepare "national reconciliation" after her party's victory in a historic national poll, The Irrawaddy reports. The President has reportedly accepted the meeting, though it will likely take place only once the final results have been announced. Suu Kyi has retained her own constituency, and her party has won 163 seats.


"Why does she keep interrupting everybody?" Donald Trump hit another bad note, chiding fellow candidate Carly Fiorina, during Tuesday night's fourth Republican debate. The attack earned Trump boos from the audience and commentators generally agreed that his overall performance was lackluster. The New York Times picked Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul as the top performers in the debate, describing Jeb Bush as "Better. Maybe."



Half-a-day is all it took for Chinese online shoppers tobreak the $9.3 billion spending record for Singles' Day, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba announced earlier today. The figures dwarf those registered in the U.S. on Cyber Monday, with a record of "just" $1.35 billion.


Israel's Foreign Minister has summoned the European Union's representative to Israel after the EU approved plans to label products from occupied West Bank settlements, Haaretz reports.


Le Temps correspondent Arnaud Dubus visited northern Laos to discover how Chinese business interests are largely taking over large swaths of the Southeast Asian country. "With its casino surrounded by pseudo-Greek statues, its early century Shanghai-like neighborhood and its Beijing pagodas, the "Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone" is the most extravagant example of Chinese economic presence in northern Laos. This zone, which the Laotian government has allocated to a Chinese company for 99 years, is a Chinese enclave where people live a Beijing lifestyle and speak only Chinese.

It's a sign of the economic changes that have transformed northern Laos, on the border with China. There is a massive penetration of Chinese entrepreneurs in this country, which is one of Asia's poorest in terms of per capita income…" Read the full article: How Northern Laos Is Being Swallowed By China


As expected, the opposition in the Portuguese parliament ousted the center-right minority government of Pedro Passos Coelho on Tuesday, making it the shortest-lived in the country's history after just 12 days in power. The newspaper Díario Económico said the likeliest option now is for the President of the Republic to name the leader of the center-left Socialist party, António Costa, as the new Prime Minister and let him form a coalition government with other left-leaning parties. The head of state's unusual attempt to name a"minority government" clearly failed.


On the remote island that is part of Chile, a rising movement is calling for more autonomy. Who knows what the ancient moai think? Read more from La Tercera/Worldcrunch

— Crunched by Marc Alves

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Utter Pessimism, What Israelis And Palestinians Share In Common

Right now, according to a joint survey of Israelis and Palestinians, hopes for a peaceful solution of coexistence simply don't exist. The recent spate of violence is confirmation of the deepest kind of pessimism on both sides for any solution other than domination of the other.

An old Palestinian protester waves Palestinian flag while he confronts the Israeli soldiers during the demonstration against Israeli settlements in the village of Beit Dajan near the West Bank city of Nablus.

A Palestinian protester confronts Israeli soldiers during the demonstration against Israeli settlements in the West Bank village of Beit Dajan on Jan. 6.

Pierre Haski


PARIS — Just before the latest outbreak of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, a survey of public opinion among the two peoples provided a key to understanding the current situation unfolding before our eyes.

It was a joint study, entitled "Palestinian-Israeli Pulse", carried out by two research centers, one Israeli, the other Palestinian, which for years have been regularly asking the same questions to both sides.

The result is disastrous: not only is the support for the two-state solution — Israel and Palestine side by side — at its lowest point in two decades, but there is now a significant share of opinion on both sides that favors a "non-democratic" solution, i.e., a single state controlled by either the Israelis or Palestinians.

This captures the absolute sense of pessimism commonly felt regarding the chances of the two-state option ever being realized, which currently appears to be our grim reality today. But the results are also an expression of the growing acceptance on both sides that it is inconceivable for either state to live without dominating the other — and therefore impossible to live in peace.

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