LIBYA ANNOUNCES UNITY GOVERNMENT
As part of a UN-backed plan signed last December, Libya announced the formation of a unity government today to reconcile the countryâ€™s warring factions. In the process of negotiation, there were disputes over the distribution of ministerial posts, Al Jazeera reports. Two rival governments, one based in the capital of Tripoli and the other in the eastern city of Tobruk, have existed since 2014, leaving the country deeply divided and exacerbating the chaos there since the the 2011 collapse of Muammar Gaddafi.
Chinaâ€™s economy grew by 6.9% last year, marking the countryâ€™s lowest growth in 25 years, The Wall Street Journal reports, down from 7.3% in 2014. As the worldâ€™s second-largest economy becomes a major concern for investors, Beijing is attempting to nurture more self-sustaining growth, reducing reliance on trade and investment. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has said the country could cope with weaker growth if more jobs were created, the BBC reports.
PAKISTAN SUICIDE BOMBER KILLS 11
At least 11 people were killed and 31 others wounded today when a suicide bomber detonated near a police checkpoint in Peshawarâ€™s Karkhano Market, in northwestern Pakistan, The Express Tribune reports. Officials said at least five police officers and one journalist were killed in the blast near the border with Afghanistan, in an area where Pakistani security forces have stepped up the fight against the Taliban.
â€œThe truth is we ainâ€™t in those rooms, and until minorities are, the Oscar nominees will remain lily white,â€ American film director Spike Lee wrote on Instagram yesterday, explaining that heâ€™ll boycott this yearâ€™s Oscar awards for lack of racial diversity. For a second year in a row, all 20 nominations for acting awards are white. â€œForty white actors in two years and no flava at all. We can't act?!â€ he added. Actress Jada Pinkett-Smith, wife of Will Smith, has also said she wouldnâ€™t attend the Feb. 28 Oscars ceremony.
IRAQ CIVILIAN VIOLENCE â€˜STAGGERINGâ€™
With more than 18,000 civilians killed and another 36,245 wounded between Jan. 1, 2014, and Oct. 31, 2015, the violence Iraqi civilians suffer remains â€œstaggering,â€ a United Nations report published today says. At least 3.2 million people, including more than a million children, have also been deported, the document adds. The UN blames ISIS for the civilian violence, but also cites Iraqi troops, militiamen and Kurdish forces.
Photo: Pavel Bednyakov/Xinhua/ZUMA
A brave believer bathes in the icy water of Russiaâ€™s Lake Valdayskoye to celebrate the Orthodox Epiphany.
EAGLES GUITARIST GLENN FREY DIES
Glenn Frey, the guitarist and a founding member of the Californian band the Eagles, died Monday in New York at 67, The New York Times reports. He died from complications of rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis and pneumonia, the band said in an announcement on their website. Frey was the co-author of some of the Eaglesâ€™ hit songs, including â€œHotel California.â€
Mothers in traditional Muslim families instill in both their daughters and sons values that lead to the subordination of women, the kind of cultural inequality that provoked the sexual attacks recently making headlines in Germany. And for that, they are complicit, argues former Femen activist Zana Ramadani in an interview with the German newspaper Die Welt. â€œThe same thing could have happened in Macedonia, where I was born, as well as in Pakistan or Bangladesh,â€ Ramadani, who has a Muslim background, tells the newspaper. â€œIt could have happened in any Muslim country, and it does happen there on a daily basis. It is their values that are responsible for what happened. And these are the values of Islam.â€
Read the full interview, Muslim Women Must Share The Blame For Attacks Like Cologne.
MY GRAND-PÈREâ€™S WORLD
WORLDâ€™S OLDEST MAN DIES
Yasutaro Koide, believed to be the worldâ€™s oldest man, died today at the age of 112, The Japan Times reports. He was once quoted as saying that the key to longevity was to â€œavoid overwork and live with joy.â€
ON THIS DAY
Miami will enjoy a high of 65Â°F today, but 39 years ago it received its first-ever recorded snowfall. Weâ€™ve also got Lucille Ball and a Scottish inventor in todayâ€™s shot of history.
THE TRUST GAP
In the UK, the richer people are, the more they trust institutions such as government, media and business, according to a survey published by the Edelman Trust Barometer. It found that 57% of the wealthier and better-educated population trusted the establishment, while the figure fell to just 40% among poorer respondents.
Russia has decided to cut off relations with the Western military alliance. But Moscow says it was NATO who really wanted the break based on its own internal rationale.
MOSCOW — The Russian Foreign Ministry's announcement that the country's permanent representation to NATO would be shut down for an indefinite period is a major development. But from Moscow's viewpoint, there was little alternative.
These measures were taken in response to the decision of NATO on Oct. 6 to cut the number of personnel allowed in the Russian mission to the Western alliance by half. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the removal of accreditations was from eight employees of the Russian mission to NATO who were identified as undeclared employees of Russian intelligence." We have seen an increase in Russian malicious activity for some time now," Stoltenberg said.
The Russian Foreign Ministry called NATO's expulsion of Russian personnel a "ridiculous stunt," and Stoltenberg's words "the truest hypocrisy."
In announcing the complete shutdown in diplomacy between Moscow and NATO, the Russian Foreign Ministry added: "The 'Russian threat' is being hyped in strengthen the alliance's internal unity and create the appearance of its 'relevance' in modern geopolitical conditions."
The number of Russian diplomatic missions in Brussels has been reduced twice unilaterally by NATO in 2015 and 2018 - after the alliance's decision of April 1, 2014 to suspend all practical civilian and military cooperation between Russia and NATO in the wake of Russia's annexation of Crimea. Diplomats' access to the alliance headquarters and communications with its international secretariat was restricted, military contacts have frozen.
Yet the new closure of all diplomatic contacts is a perilous new low. Kommersant sources said that the changes will affect the military liaison mission of the North Atlantic alliance in Moscow, aimed at promoting the expansion of the dialogue between Russia and NATO. However, in recent years there has been no de facto cooperation. And now, as Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has announced, the activities of the military liaison mission will be suspended. The accreditation of its personnel will be canceled on November 1.
NATO told RIA Novosti news service on Monday that it regretted Moscow's move. Meanwhile, among Western countries, Germany was the first to respond. "It would complicate the already difficult situation in which we are now and prolong the "ice age," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters.
"Lavrov said on Monday, commenting on the present and future of relations between Moscow and the North Atlantic Alliance, "If this is the case, then we see no great need to continue pretending that any changes will be possible in the foreseeable future because NATO has already announced that such changes are impossible.
The suspension of activities of the Russian Permanent Mission to NATO, as well as the military liaison and information mission in Russia, means that Moscow and Brussels have decided to "draw a final line under the partnership relations of previous decades," explained Andrei Kortunov, director-general of the Russian Council on Foreign Affairs, "These relations began to form in the 1990s, opening channels for cooperation between the sides … but they have continued to steadily deteriorate over recent years."
Kortunov believes the current rupture was promoted by Brussels. "A new strategy for NATO is being prepared, which will be adopted at the next summit of the alliance, and the previous partnership with Russia does not fit into its concept anymore."
The existence and expansion of NATO after the end of the Cold War was the main reason for the destruction of the whole complex of relations between Russia and the West. Today, Russia is paying particular attention to marking red lines related to the further steps of Ukraine's integration into NATO. Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov previously stated this, warning that in response to the alliance's activity in the Ukrainian direction, Moscow would take "active steps" to ensure its security.
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