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Pope in U.S., Genocide Prediction, VW Scandal

Pope in U.S., Genocide Prediction, VW Scandal

POPE FRANCIS ARRIVES IN U.S. TODAY

Photo: Ricky Fitchett/ZUMA

After a four-day visit to Cuba, Pope Francis is scheduled to arrive in Washington, D.C., this afternoon for his first U.S. visit since becoming pontiff. He will meet with President Barack Obama tomorrow morning and address a joint meeting of Congress on Thursday. He and the president are expected to discuss topics of joint interest and concern, including poverty, climate change and conflict in the Middle East.

For more on his visit, we recommend this Yonder/Worldcrunch piece, "Pope Francis, A Shrewd Political Leader Comes To Washington."


ULTIMATUM FOR BURKINA FASO COUP LEADERS

Troops loyal to Burkina Faso's overthrown government gathered in the capital Ouagadougou today and warned the presidential guard coup leaders to disarm and surrender or face attack. According to high-ranking officials contacted by Jeune Afrique, the loyalist military has engaged in discussions and is "doing everything to prevent confrontation." But the presidential guard forces seem to be uncompliant. General Gilbert Diendéré, tapped by coup leaders as the country's new president Thursday, said he was communicating with the loyalist military. The ultimatum comes as Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari was due to hold an extraordinary summit today, after West African mediators announced a draft agreement Sunday aimed at ending the crisis.


275

There are fewer than 275 Sumatran rhinos left in the world, which means the species is dangerously close to extinction, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature reports in its "Red List Of Threatened Species." The alarming decline of the Dicerorhinus sumatrensis, whose population has declined by half over the last decade, is largely due to poaching.


RUSSIA AND ISRAEL TO COORDINATE IN SYRIA

Israel and Russia will coordinate their military actions in Syria to avoid accidentally trading fire, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Monday during a Moscow visit, Reuters reports. Israeli jets have on occasion carried out airstrikes on Syrian territory, and Russia has recently been sending military reinforcements, including warplanes and anti-aircraft systems as part of its aid to President Bashar al-Assad. Last week, Moscow proposed talks with Washington to similarly "avoid misunderstandings."


VERBATIM

"We now have the great opportunity ... to implement our main commitment, which is to give an honest fight and to shed our blood if necessary to stop our people bleeding further," newly re-elected Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said Monday after being sworn in. Tsipras returned to the helm Sunday after an unexpectedly strong victory in snap elections, The Guardian reports.


GUNMEN KIDNAP TOURISTS IN PHILIPPINES

About 20 unidentified gunmen kidnapped a local woman and three tourists — two Canadians and a Norwegian — in a resort in the southern Philippines late last night, The Philippine Star quoted the country's military as saying. The local woman is believed to be the Norwegian man's partner. Police believe the attack was targeted and not random. Over the past 20 years, Muslim militant groups have sporadically kidnapped foreign tourists in attempts to receive ransoms.


MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD



VOLKSWAGEN SCANDAL

Volkswagen is being accused by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of using a piece of software in its diesel vehicles that can tell the car's computer when it is being tested for emissions. The computer can then drastically reduce those emissions, making the car engine up to 40% cleaner than in normal usage. The manufacturer has been forced to recall half-a-million cars in the U.S. and others in Europe are calling for a inquiry. Read more about it on Le Blog.


EU MINISTERS DISCUSS REFUGEE QUOTAS

EU interior ministers are meeting today in Brussels to try to reach an agreement on refugee quotas, which some central European countries such as Hungary and Slovakia have been refusing, Le Monde reports. An emergency summit between EU leaders is set for tomorrow. The EU is looking to relocate some 120,000 asylum seekers, mostly fleeing the crises in Syria and Iraq. Last week, a similar meeting failed to reach a compromise. The Hungarian Parliament authorized army deployment yesterday, granting it the authority to use non-lethal force to prevent refugees from entering from Serbia.


WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

Among the innovations expected to change how our food is made is artificial meat. The results will feed more people and be environmentally friendlier, Valeria Roman writes for Clarin. "Not only does our system fail to feed everyone, but it's also putting too much pressure on the resources food production requires — land, water and electricity — food security expert Nicholas Haan says. Which is why innovations that public and private centers are developing, such as in-vitro meat, are critical."

Read the full article, Lab-Grown Meat: Is That What's For Dinner?


A GENOCIDE PREDICTION TOOL

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, has unveiled its Early Warning Project, a tool to predict which countries have the highest risk of carrying out mass killings against their own people. A map shows that the countries most likely of doing so are Myanmar, with a 13.2% statistical risk, Nigeria (12.3%) and Sudan (8.5%). The governments of Austria and Hungary apparently have zero chance of devolving into genocidal regimes, but the United States, the UK and France all carry at least a minuscule statistical risk (0.01%).


SCOTT WALKER DROPS PRESIDENTIAL BID

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker suspended his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination Monday. "Today, I believe that I am being called to lead by helping to clear the field in this race so that a positive, conservative message can rise to the top," he said during a speech. "With this in mind, I will suspend my campaign immediately." He also encouraged other GOP candidates to do the same in the interest of culling the massive primary field to a "limited number of candidates who can offer a positive, conservative alternative to the current front-runner" Donald Trump.


ON THIS DAY


In today's shot of history, see what Switzerland, Andrea Bocelli and Charlie's Angels have in common.

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Geopolitics

Utter Pessimism, What Israelis And Palestinians Share In Common

Right now, according to a joint survey of Israelis and Palestinians, hopes for a peaceful solution of coexistence simply don't exist. The recent spate of violence is confirmation of the deepest kind of pessimism on both sides for any solution other than domination of the other.

An old Palestinian protester waves Palestinian flag while he confronts the Israeli soldiers during the demonstration against Israeli settlements in the village of Beit Dajan near the West Bank city of Nablus.

A Palestinian protester confronts Israeli soldiers during the demonstration against Israeli settlements in the West Bank village of Beit Dajan on Jan. 6.

Pierre Haski

-Analysis-

PARIS — Just before the latest outbreak of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, a survey of public opinion among the two peoples provided a key to understanding the current situation unfolding before our eyes.

It was a joint study, entitled "Palestinian-Israeli Pulse", carried out by two research centers, one Israeli, the other Palestinian, which for years have been regularly asking the same questions to both sides.

The result is disastrous: not only is the support for the two-state solution — Israel and Palestine side by side — at its lowest point in two decades, but there is now a significant share of opinion on both sides that favors a "non-democratic" solution, i.e., a single state controlled by either the Israelis or Palestinians.

This captures the absolute sense of pessimism commonly felt regarding the chances of the two-state option ever being realized, which currently appears to be our grim reality today. But the results are also an expression of the growing acceptance on both sides that it is inconceivable for either state to live without dominating the other — and therefore impossible to live in peace.

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