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Germany

Paris Fugitive, Merkel On Sex Attacks, "Beaming" Snowden

Paris Fugitive, Merkel On Sex Attacks, "Beaming" Snowden

POLICE FIND PRINTS OF PARIS ATTACKS FUGITIVE

Belgian police have found a fingerprint of Salah Abdeslam, the fugitive jihadist who participated in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, in a Brussels apartment, where the suicide belts worn by some of the terrorists were made, Le Soir reports. The discoveries were made almost a month ago, but police haven't said why the information is being released only now, AFP reports. Police also found three suicide vests and traces of explosives. Belgian prosecutors said they believed Abdeslam used the apartment as a hideout in the days after the attacks, which killed 130 people.


GERMAN IN CRISIS OVER MIGRANT SEX ATTACKERS

Photo: Metropolico

German leaders are considering deporting any migrants who are found guilty of sexually assaulting, harassing and robbing at least 100 women outside Cologne's central train station on New Year's Eve, events that shocked the nation and that commentators say have broken any taboo of criticizing migrant policy. "What happened on New Year's Eve is completely unacceptable," Deutsche Welle quotes Chancellor Angela Merkel as saying. "These are abominable, criminal acts … which Germany will not tolerate." Some 1,000 men of North African and Arab origins were apparently involved in the Cologne events, and reports are surfacing about New Year's Eve attacks in Hamburg, Stuttgart and southern Germany, as well as in Switzerland, Finland, and Austria, Der Spiegel reports.

  • Newspaper Die Welt, meanwhile, denied claims that the attackers were unknown, publishing an investigation showing that the police had identified dozens of migrants, most of whom had arrived in Germany last year with 1.1 million other refugees. Some suspects in the violence claimed to be Syrian, with one quoted as telling the police, "I'm Syrian, you have to treat me nicely. Frau Merkel invited me."
  • For more on this topic, read this Süddeutsche Zeitung op-ed on the crisis, Mass Assaults On German Women, A Class of Cultures Exposed.

38.6°F

The last month of December was the warmest on record in the United States, with an average temperature of 38.6°Fahrenheit (3.7°C), almost an entire degree more than the previous record registered in 1939. The temperatures contributed to making 2015 as a whole the nation's second-warmest year on record, behind 2012.


AUSTRALIA BUSHFIRE DESTROYS HOMES

A massive bushfire raging in a Western Australian town has destroyed at least 95 homes, and difficult weather conditions are hampering the firefighters' work, ABC reports. Local authorities have declared a state of emergency, as the fire continues to move south.


MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD



SNOWDEN "BEAMED" TO THE U.S.

Former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden made a virtual appearance at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas using a Beam, a screen-on-wheels robot that he said carried a subversive potential. "The FBI can't arrest a robot," said Snowden, who faces arrest in the U.S. "The U.S. government basically cancelled my passport, but I'm sitting here in Las Vegas with you guys at CES."


VERBATIM

"Everything started because of Blatter, who wanted my head, who did not want me to go to FIFA," French soccer legend Michel Platini told L'Équipe in an exclusive interview during which he announced he was pulling out of the race to become the next FIFA president. "He said often that I would be his final scalp, but he fell at the same time as me," Platini, the suspended chief of Union of European Football Associations, said of rival Sepp Blatter. FIFA's ethics committee banned both men for eight years over a $2 million payment made by Blatter to Platini in 2011.


WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

Czech President Milos Zeman, Donald Trump and other over-the-top personalities may not offer any practical solutions to societal problems, but they do have a function in an increasingly uniform political arena, Dirk Schümer argues in German daily Die Welt. "A worldwide phenomenon is taking place, where louts and eccentrics are mixing up the political arena. How dull would the dragging pre-election campaign in the United States be without Donald Trump? It is not only interesting for media professionals but also for the bored Internet community when a potential candidate for the highest office in the country insults the Latino minority as he pleases, kicks out an unpopular journalist and seemingly says whatever comes to mind."

Read the full article, Donald Trump Is A Big Jerk — And Good For Democracy.


APPLE BUYS FACIAL RECOGNITION STARTUP

Apple has acquired Emotient, an artificial intelligence startup that has developed technology capable of reading facial emotions, The Wall Street Journal reports. It's not clear yet what the computing giant's intentions are, though the newspaper believes it's an important acquisition in the artificial intelligence battle between Apple, Google and Facebook.


ON THIS DAY


"Everybody wants to meet the new girl in town." Guess what famous piece of art touched U.S. soil for the first time on this day in 1963. That and more in your 57-second shot of history.


SCIENTISTS SAY IT'S THE ANTHROPOCENE ERA

We've entered a new geological age that will see human activity leave marks on sediments and rocks, according to an international group of scientists. Some believe the "Anthropocene" era started in the 1950s, ending the 12,000-year Holocene epoch.


DEADLY DEODORANT

A 16-year-old British teenager has accidentally died from inhaling the gas of aerosol deodorant. According to the young man's mother, "He would not take showers but would stand there with a deodorant and spray half the can on him," Metro UK reports.

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Geopolitics

Cilia Flores de Maduro, How Venezuela's First Lady Wields A Corrupt "Flower Shop" Of Power

Venezuela's first lady, Cilia Flores, is one of the country's chief power brokers and a consummate wheeler-dealer who, with the help of relatives, runs a voracious enterprise dubbed the Flower Shop.

Photo of Cilia Flores (left) and her husband Nicolás Maduro (middle)

Cilia Flores (left) and her husband Nicolás Maduro (middle)

Mauricio Rubio

-OpEd-

One of the clearest signs of tyranny in Venezuela has to be the pervasive nepotism and behind-the-scenes power enjoyed by President Nicolás Maduro's wife, Cilia Flores de Maduro.

In Venezuela, it's said that Flores works in the shadows but is somehow "always in the right place," with one commentator observing that she is constantly "surrounded by an extensive web of collaborators" — including relatives, with whom she has forged a clique often dubbed the floristería, or the "Flower Shop," which is thought to control every facet of Venezuelan politics.

She is certainly Venezuela's most powerful woman.

From modest origins, Flores is 68 years old and a lawyer by training. She began her ascent as defense attorney for the then lieutenant-colonel Hugo Chávez, who was jailed after his failed attempt at a coup d'état in 1992. She offered him her services and obtained his release, which won her his unstinting support for the rest of his life.

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