ALLIES CONSIDER GROUND TROOPS IN YEMEN
Airstrikes against Shia Houthi rebels in Yemen from a Saudi Arabia-led coalition have continued for a second day. At least 39 civilians have been killed in the strikes, according to AFP. Yesterday, Egypt said it was ready to send its navy and ground troops to Yemen to fight the Houthi rebels, who have been gaining ground in western Yemen, forcing the government out of the capital Sanaa and becoming al-Qaeda’s biggest foe.
The leader of the Houthi rebellion, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, said in a televised address that the attacks were “unjustified,” “criminal” and reflected “the inhumanity of the aggressor,” Iranian network Press TV reports. Iran, a Shia country, is believed to support the Houthi rebels, and observers have described the conflict as a proxy war between Iran and the Sunni and Wahhabi Saudi Arabia.
Commenting on U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition, The New York Times says the American policy of goals and alliances in the region is a “puzzle” and “has created more entanglement with its allies,” especially Iran.
Yemen’s geographic position at the southern end of the Red Sea makes it a strategic place, with the Suez Canal at the other end. Fears that the ongoing fighting might affect crude oil shipments from Saudi Arabia pushed oil prices 5% higher yesterday, Reuters reports.
ON THIS DAY
Nikita Khrushchev became premier of the Soviet Union 57 years ago today. Time for your 57-second shot of history.
“SIGNIFICANT” CLUE FOUND AT PILOT’S HOME
German police investigating the co-pilot who is said to have deliberately crashed the Germanwings aircraft in the French Alps, killing 150 people, said they have found a “significant” clue at his Düsseldorf apartment. It’s thought to be a letter, but police officers said they hadn’t found a suicide note, Sky News reports.
German media have been reporting revelations about co-pilot Andreas Lubitz’s past. According to Bild, a Phoenix flight school had declared the 27-year-old “not suitable for flying,” and he received 18 months of psychological treatment for “serious depressive episode” during his training, six years ago.
Pilots around the world are urging investigators not to “rush to conclusions,” The Independent reports. In an interview with Time, the international affairs director of the German Pilots Association, James Philips, said he was “angry” at reports blaming Lubitz. “I have the feeling that there was a search for a quick answer, rather than a good answer,” he told the magazine.
In its bid to compete with Google and bring the Internet to unconnected areas of the world, Facebook is planning to test solar-powered drones this summer, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The ice around Antarctica is melting faster than previously thought, thinning by 18% between 1994 and 2012, according to a study published yesterday.
NIGERIAN CANDIDATES MAKE PEACE VOW
Nigerians voters are bracing themselves for tomorrow’s presidential election, which The Washington Post characterizes as potentially the “most important” in Africa this year. The threat of terror group Boko Haram in the northern regions of Africa’s most populous and oil-rich country had led incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan to postpone the election, initially planned for Feb. 14. Both Jonathan and his main opponent Gen. Muhammadu Buhari agreed to accept the outcome and signed a peace agreement expressing their “commitment to free, fair and credible elections in our dear country,” Vanguard reports.
Some say that television shows are to our time what serials were to 19th century literature, an inexhaustible source of entertainment and conversations, Les Echos’ Dominique Moisi writes. “In reality, television shows are as much an indicator of the debates brewing in our societies as a mirror that reminds us of our fears and hopes,” he writes. “These shows can be a premonition of our future as much as an often idealized reconstruction of our past. Julian Fellowes, the writer of what is perhaps today’s most popular series, Downton Abbey, was recently pondering the reasons behind his creation’s success. Why are millions of viewers in Europe, the U.S. and even Asia so passionate about the adventures of the Crawley family and their servants? Is it the longing for a bygone past or just a fascination about the social relationships that could exist inside an English castle?”
Read the full article, How TV Series Can Help Us Understand Geopolitics.
“Even waiting for eight hours, I’ll still want to wait. Ten hours, I’ll also want to wait.” Though Singapore government is “strongly advising” mourners to stop queuing to catch a glimpse of the coffin of founding father Lee Kuan Yew, who died Monday, many are still determined to wait despite high temperatures, AP reports.
IRAN NUCLEAR TALKS ADVANCE
Washington is considering allowing Iran to run hundreds of centrifuges at a fortified underground site that would be subjected to international inspections, AP reports. In return, Iranian officials would be asked to scale back the number of centrifuges at another site and accept other restrictions on the country’s nuclear program. Yesterday, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif told Press TV the talks in Lausanne were “moving in the right direction” ahead of next Tuesday’s deadline, and a Western diplomat made similar comments to CNN.
MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD
THE LEAST FUN PLACE EVER
If you were planning to visit Salvador do Mundo, an Indian village in the region of Goa, be warned: Kissing in public is now banned, as are drinking alcohol and playing loud music.
— Crunched by Marc Alves