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Nusra Commander Killed, Kremlin Critic Freed, Ancient Love Songs

Nusra Commander Killed, Kremlin Critic Freed, Ancient Love Songs

Abu Hammam al-Shami, a senior commander of al-Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda branch operating in Syria, was killed by a Syrian government airstrike in the Idlib province, both the terrorist organization and state media have confirmed. Shami, who held the title of general military commander, was apparently meeting with other commanders when he was struck. According to an Al Jazeera correspondent, his death is a “huge blow” to the organization.

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On March 6, 1899, Bayer patented the aspirin. Time for your 57-second shot of history.

At least nine people were wounded early today in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou as attackers slashed and stabbed people at a railway station during morning rush hour. The police shot dead one of the assailants and arrested another, Reuters reports. The identity and the motives of the attackers are unclear. Last year, 29 people were killed and 140 wounded in a train station in the southwestern city of Kunming as a group of eight people believed to be Uyghur Muslims carried out a similar assault.

As Le Temps’ Nic Ulmi writes, a Sumerian priestess known as Enheduanna, who lived in Mesopotamia in 2300 BC, is the first known writer of love songs. And they were steamy. “Through the singer’s voice, the goddess celebrated the ‘rising cedar’ between the king’s thighs, but she was even more eloquent when it came to describing her own intimate place, which she compared to a horn, a barque for the skies, a crescent moon, a fallow land about which she wondered. ‘Who will plow it for me?’”
Read the full article, Priestess And Slaves: A 4,000-Year History Of Love Songs.

ISIS terrorists have begun using a bulldozer to destroy the 3,000-year-old city of Nimrud, near Mosul in northern Iraq. Al Arabiya quoted an official of the Iraqi tourism and antiquities ministry as saying the destruction began after noon prayers Thursday. This comes a week after ISIS released a video showing jihadists equipped with sledgehammers destroying precious ancient artefacts in a Mosul museum. The ancient city of Nimrud, which was founded in the 13th century B.C., is known as a jewel of the Assyrian era.

Photo above: Omer Messinger/ZUMA
At least five people were injured this morning in central Jerusalem as a driver rammed his car into a group of pedestrians and attempted to stab them before he was shot and killed by a security guard, The Jerusalem Post reports. Police spokeswoman Luba Samri described the incident as a “terrorist attack.” Four female border police officers were among the victims, who are in stable condition. The daily Haaretz reports there are seven victims. Similar attacks nearby left three people dead and a dozen wounded in late 2014.

“They killed Nisman.” Although once would probably have been enough to earn top billing in Clarín’s Thursday edition, Argentine Judge Arroyo Salgado repeated this statement three times during a dramatic press conference Thursday. She was describing the mysterious death of state prosecutor Alberto Nisman, her ex-husband and the father of her two daughters who was found dead in his luxury apartment Jan. 18 just before he was to appear before Congress to publicly accuse President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of helping to cover up Iranian involvement in a Jewish center bombing in Buenos Aires. The 1994 attack killed 85 people. Read more on our 4 Corners blog.

In Spain, 2.5 independent bookshops close their doors every day, according to the Spanish daily El País. A total of 912 stores shuttered in 2014, while only 226 were opened.

Prominent Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny walked out of a Moscow detention center today, a week after fellow opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was murdered in what his allies say was a political killing aimed at intimidating them, Reuters reports.


American actor Harrison Ford is banged up, but his injuries are not life-threatening and he is expected to make a full recovery after the plane he was piloting crashed on a golf course in Santa Monica, the actor’s publicist has said in a statement.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter has asked Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to end the country’s ban on women attending soccer matches in stadiums, describing the situation as “intolerable.” That would be certainly be a good step, but Iran first might want to stop stoning women to death.

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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War

Palestinian Olive Trees Are Also Under Israeli Occupation — And That's Not A Joke

In the West Bank, a quieter form of oppression has been plaguing Palestinians for a long time. Their olive groves are surrounded by soldiers, and it's forbidden to harvest the olives – this economic and social violence has gotten far worse since Oct. 7.

A Palestinian woman holds olives in her hands

In a file photo, Um Ahmed, 74, collects olives in the village of Sarra on the southwest of the West Bank city of Nablus.

Mohammed Turabi/ZUMA
Francesca Mannocchi

HEBRON – It was after Friday prayers on October 13th of last year, and Zakaria al-Arda was walking along the road that crosses his property's hillside to return home – but he never made it.

A settler from Havat Ma'on — an outpost bordering Al-Tuwani that the United Nations International Law and Israeli law considers illegal — descended from the hill with his rifle in hand.

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After kicking al-Arda, who tried to defend himself, the settler shot him in the abdomen. The bullet pierced through his stomach, a few centimeters below the lungs. Since then, al-Arda has been in the hospital in intensive care. A video of those moments clearly shows that neither al-Arda nor the other worshippers leaving the mosque were carrying any weapons.

The victim's cousin, Hafez Hureini, still lives in the town of Al-Tuwani. He is a farmer, and their house on the slope of the town is surrounded by olive trees — and Israeli soldiers. On the pine tree at the edge of his property, settlers have planted an Israeli flag. Today, Hafez lives, like everyone else, as an occupied individual.

He cannot work in his greenhouse, cannot sow his fields, and cannot harvest the olives from his precious olive trees.

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