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, Hürriyet reports. 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 Istanbulâ€™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.
- â€œWe will never compromise, not one single inch,â€ Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was quoted as saying after the attack Tuesday by Turkeyâ€™s semi-official Anadolu news agency. â€œWe will continue our fight against terrorism with the same resolve, and will never take a step back,â€ he also said.
- Newspaper coverage Wednesday in Turkey emphasized that the Istanbul attack is just the latest in a series of strikes by terrorists. Hereâ€™s opposition daily Cumhuriyetâ€™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.
Photo: Evan Vucci/CNP/ZUMA
â€œWe need to reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion. Let me say this: This isnâ€™t a matter of political correctness. Itâ€™s a matter of understanding just what it is that makes us strong,â€ U.S. President Barack Obama said in his final State of the Union address to Congress on Tuesday evening. Though he didnâ€™t name names, Obamaâ€™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,â€ adding that â€œanyone claiming that America's economy is in decline is peddling fiction.â€
- 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 â€" 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 countryâ€™s Fars News Agency reports, quoting a statement by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps. â€œAfter 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 â€œgoing to get outâ€ 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 Iranâ€™s nuclear activity in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.
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 Colombiaâ€™s El Espectador, Sergio Silvia Numa asks: Will pledges at the climate change conference in Paris really count? â€œ... 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.â€
Read the full article, Why COP21 Climate Change Pact Alone Canâ€™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-PÈREâ€™S WORLD
After the announcement of David Bowieâ€™s death on Monday, the British singerâ€™s streams on Spotify were up by 2,700% by Tuesday, the magazine Billboard reports. His most popular tracks are currently â€œHeroes,â€ â€œLetâ€™s Danceâ€ and â€œBlackstar.â€
EL CHAPO EDITS SEAN PENN
Welcome to Wednesday, where Brazil's senate backs "crimes against humanity" charges against Jair Bolsonaro, the UN has a grim new climate report and Dune gets a sequel. Meanwhile, German daily Die Welt explores "Xi Jinping Thought," which is now being made part of Chinese schools' curriculum.
• Senators back Bolsonaro criminal charges: A Brazilian Senate panel has backed a report that supports charging President Jair Bolsonaro with crimes against humanity, for his alleged responsibility in the country's 600,000-plus COVID-19 deaths.
• Gas crisis in Moldova following Russian retaliation: Moldova, one of Europe's poorest countries, has for the first time challenged Russia's Gazprom following a price increase and failed contract negotiations, purchasing instead from Poland. In response, Russia has threatened to halt sales to the Eastern European country, which has previously acquired all of its gas from Gazprom.
• New UN climate report finds planned emission cuts fall short: The Emissions Gap Report 2021 concludes that country pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions aren't large enough to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5 °C degrees this century. The UN Environment Program predicts a 2.7 °C increase, with significant environmental impacts, but there is still hope that longer term net-zero goals will curtail some temperature rise.
• COVID update: As part of its long-awaited reopening, Australia will officially allow its citizens to travel abroad without a government waiver for the first time in more than 18 months. Bulgaria, meanwhile, hits record daily high COVID-19 cases as the Eastern European's hotel and restaurant association is planning protests over the implementation of the vaccination "green pass." In the U.S., a panel of government medical advisors backed the use of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for five to 11-year-olds.
• U.S. appeals decision to block Julian Assange extradition: The United States said it was "extremely disappointed" in a UK judge's ruling that Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, would be a suicide risk of he traveled across the Atlantic. In the U.S., he faces 18 charges related to the 2010 release of 500,000 secret files related to U.S. military activity.
• Deposed Sudan prime minister released: Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has been released from custody, though remains under heavy guard after Sudan's military coup. Protests against the coup have continued in the capital Khartoum, as Hamdok has called for the release of other detained governmental officials.
• Dune Part 2 confirmed: The world will get to see Timothée Chalamet ride a sandworm: The second installment of the sci-fi epic and global box office hit has officially been greenlit, set to hit the screens in 2023.
Canadian daily National Post reports on the nomination of Steven Guilbeault, a former Greenpeace activist, as the country's new Environment minister. He had been arrested in 2001 for scaling Toronto's CN Tower to unfurl a banner for Greenpeace, which he left in 2008.
Chinese students now required to learn to think like Xi Jinping
"Xi Jinping Thought" ideas on socialism have been spreading across the country since 2017. But now, Beijing is going one step further by making them part of the curriculum, from the elementary level all the way up to university, reports Maximilian Kalkhof in German daily Die Welt.
🇨🇳 It's important to strengthen the "determination to listen to and follow the party." Also, teaching materials should "cultivate patriotic feelings." So say the new guidelines issued by the Chinese Ministry of Education. The goal is to help Chinese students develop more "Marxist beliefs," and for that, the government wants its national curriculum to include "Xi Jinping Thought," the ideas, namely, of China's current leader. Behind this word jam is a plan to consolidate the power of the nation, the party and Xi himself.
📚 Starting in September, the country's 300 million students have had to study the doctrine, from elementary school into university. And in some cities, even that doesn't seem to be enough. Shanghai announced that its students from third to fifth grade would only take final exams in mathematics and Chinese, de facto deleting English as an examination subject. Beijing, in the meantime, announced that it would ban the use of unauthorized foreign textbooks in elementary and middle schools.
⚠️ But how does a country that enchants its youth with socialist ideology and personality cults rise to become a world power? Isn't giving up English as a global language the quickest way into isolation? The educational reform comes at a time when Beijing is brutally disciplining many areas of public life, from tech giants to the entertainment industry. It has made it difficult for Chinese technology companies to go public abroad, and some media have reported that a blanket ban on IPOs in the United States is on the cards in the next few years.
➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com
"I'm a footballer and I'm gay."
— Australian soccer player Josh Cavallo said in a video accompanying a tweet in which he revealed his homosexuality, becoming the first top-flight male professional player in the world to do so. The 21-year-old said he was tired of living "this double life" and hoped his decision to come out would help other "players living in silence."
Why this Sudan coup d'état is different
Three days since the military coup was set in motion in Sudan, the situation on the ground continues to be fluid. Reuters reports this morning that workers at the state petroleum company Sudapet are joining a nationwide civil disobedience movement called by trade unions in response to the generals' overthrow of the government. Doctors have also announced a strike.
Generals in suits At the same time, the military appears firmly in control, with deposed Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok allowed to return home today after being held by the coup leaders. How did we get here? That's the question that David E. Kiwuwa, a professor of international relations at the University of Nottingham, takes on in The Conversation:
"Since the revolution that deposed Omar el-Bashir in 2019, the military have fancied themselves as generals in suits. They have continued to wield enough power to almost run a parallel government in tension with the prime minister. This was evident when the military continued to have the say on security and foreign affairs.
Economy as alibi For their part, civilian officials concentrated on rejuvenating the economy and mobilizing international support for the transitional council. This didn't stop the military from accusing the civilian leadership of failing to resuscitate the country's ailing economy.
True, the economy has continued to struggle from high inflation, low industrial output and dwindling foreign direct investment. As in all economies, conditions have been exacerbated by the effects of COVID-19. Sudan's weakened economy is, however, not sufficient reason for the military intervention. Clearly this is merely an excuse."
➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com
471 million euros
Rome's Casino di Villa Boncompagni Ludovisi, better known as Villa Aurora, will be put up for auction in January for 471 million euros ($547 million). The over-the-top price tag is thanks to the villa having the only known ceiling painting by Renaissance master Caravaggio.
✍️ Newsletter by Hannah Steinkopf-Frank, Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger
Who wants to start the bidding on the Caravaggio villa? Otherwise, let us know what the news looks like from your corner of the world! firstname.lastname@example.org!
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