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More Suicide Blasts, Sailors Released, El Chapo Edits

TURKEY DETAINS THREE RUSSIANS AFTER ISTANBUL BLAST

In the wake of a deadly terrorist attack in Istanbul, Turkish authorities have detained three Russian nationals suspected of being linked to ISIS, Hürriyetreports. The arrests in the provinces of Antalya and Izmir follow a suspected suicide attack on Tuesday morning that killed 10 people, all German, and wounded 15 others, in Istanbul's historic Sultanahmet Square. The Turkish government quickly attributed the attack to ISIS, adding that a Syrian man who recently crossed the border into Turkey was behind the deadly blast. At least six other people were arrested during raids carried out early Wednesday. Responsibility for the attack has so far not been claimed.

  • "We will never compromise, not one single inch," Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was quoted as saying after the attack Tuesday by Turkey's semi-official Anadolu news agency. "We will continue our fight against terrorism with the same resolve, and will never take a step back," he also said.
  • Newspaper coverage Wednesday in Turkey emphasized that the Istanbul attack is just the latest in a series of strikes by terrorists. Here's opposition daily Cumhuriyet's front page.

BLAST KILLS 14 IN PAKISTAN

A suicide bomber killed at least 14 people and wounded 20 others outside a polio eradication center in the Pakistani city of Quetta on Wednesday, Al Jazeera reports. The attack was claimed by a Pakistani Taliban group. Most of the people killed were police officers on their way to the polio vaccination center, according to Asia Times.

  • Meanwhile, Afghan security forces were exchanging gunfire Wednesday morning with gunmen barricaded in a house near the Pakistan consulate in the eastern city of Jalalabad, in eastern Afghanistan. This follows an attack by a suicide bomber targeting a police patrol near the Pakistani consulate, as Reuters reports. At least six people were killed and 11 others wounded in the suicide attack and subsequent fighting.

SUICIDE BOMBER KILLS 12 IN CAMEROON MOSQUE

At least 12 people were killed early Wednesday when a suicide bomber struck in a mosque in Kouyape, a village in northern Cameroon, Jeune Afrique reports. The attack happened during prayer. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, but the terrorist organization Boko Haram regularly carries out similar attacks in the region.


VERBATIM

Photo: Evan Vucci/CNP/ZUMA

"We need to reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion. Let me say this: This isn't a matter of political correctness. It's a matter of understanding just what it is that makes us strong," U.S. President Barack Obama said in his final State of the Union address to Congress on Tuesday evening. Though he didn't name names, Obama's words were a clear criticism of Republican candidate Donald Trump.

  • Obama also argued that the U.S. still has the "strongest, most durable economy in the world," adding that "anyone claiming that America's economy is in decline is peddling fiction."
  • With still one-eighth of his two-term mandate left, Obama described some of his main missions for the year ahead: closing down the Guantanamo Bay prison, lifting the Cuban embargo, ratifying the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, authorizing the use of military force against ISIS, achieving meaningful criminal justice reform.

ON THIS DAY


An earthquake, a gymnast, a shipwreck and Johnny Cash — today, in your 57-second shot of history!


IRAN RELEASES U.S. SAILORS AFTER APOLOGY

Iran has released ten U.S. sailors and their two Navy patrol boats, held since Tuesday after being accused of trespassing in Iranian waters, the country's Fars News Agency reports, quoting a statement by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps. "After it became clear that the U.S. combat vessels' illegal entry into the Islamic Republic of Iran's waters was the result of an unpurposeful action and a mistake and after they extended an apology, the decision was made to release them," the message said. Earlier, the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the sailors were "going to get out" after contacting his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif. The incident comes at a sensitive time, as Washington and Tehran are working on implementing a deal on limiting Iran's nuclear activity in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.


WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

Deforestation is one of the primary causes of global warming, and much of it has happened across vast areas of the Amazon rain forest. Writing for Colombia's El Espectador, Sergio Silvia Numa asks: Will pledges at the climate change conference in Paris really count? "... It's nonsensical for Colombian officials to boast in Paris about leading the fight against global warming while at the same time loosening environmental laws inside the country. Another example is the so-called "fast licences" law designed to ease the process for big mining and oil projects. And while several states are contemplating ways of supplanting coal, Colombian policies seem to be boosting its search and extraction. The country needs to rethink these paradoxes if it wishes to adapt itself to the inevitable."

Read the full article, Why COP21 Climate Change Pact Alone Can't Save The Amazon.


BELGIUM IDENTIFIES PARIS ATTACKERS SAFE HOUSES

Belgian police revealed Wednesday that a number of the Nov. 13 Paris attackers used two apartments and a house in Belgium as possible safe houses in the weeks in leading up to their coordinated shooting and suicide bomb assault on the French capital, France 24 reports.


SAUDI DISSIDENT ARRESTED (JOINS BROTHER)

Saudi Arabian authorities have arrested Samar Badawi, a prominent Saudi human rights advocate and sister of jailed blogger Raif Badawi. She is believed to have been detained for advocating on Twitter for the release of her former husband Waleed Abu al-Khair, who is also jailed, as The Guardian reports.


MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD



2,700%

After the announcement of David Bowie's death on Monday, the British singer's streams on Spotify were up by 2,700% by Tuesday, the magazine Billboard reports. His most popular tracks are currently "Heroes," "Let's Dance" and "Blackstar."


EL CHAPO EDITS SEAN PENN

In an article published Monday, Slate had fun imagining proposed edits from Mexican drug lord El Chapo on Sean Penn's rambling Rolling Stonearticle.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

After Major Setback In Ukraine, 7 Options For What Putin Could Do Next

Negotiate? Stall? Double down? The Russian leader suddenly finds himself in front of a situation that offers no obvious good choices. Doing nothing, however, is not an option.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin at a summit in Uzbekistan

Cameron Manley

In just one week, the war in Ukraine has made a full about-turn. Ukraine’s armed forces went from an apparent slow ceding of land to launching two hugely successful counter offensives around Kharkiv in the nation’s east, and in the south near the Russian-occupied city of Kherson.

As of Friday, Kyiv claims to have recaptured some 8,000 square kilometers of its territory, taking back in a matter of days what it took Russia months to originally conquer.

By now, there is no doubt that Russia is in serious trouble. President Vladimir Putin’s tentative encounter this week with Chinese President Xi Jinping, his most important potential international ally, only confirms that his options for reversing the recent battlefield defeats may be rapidly shrinking.

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Writing contest - My pandemic story
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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.

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