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Pressure Mounts On Merkel, Syria Talks, Cruz The Comedian

Pressure Mounts On Merkel, Syria Talks, Cruz The Comedian

PRESSURE ON MERKEL MOUNTS

In stark contrast to the popularity German Chancellor Angela Merkel has enjoyed for most of her 10 years in office, a full 40% of Germans now want her to resign over what they believe is her misguided open-door refugee policy, a poll published today shows. The survey was conducted before yesterday's announcement that migrants from Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia would likely be refused asylum, as politicians try to reduce migrant numbers.


OPPOSITION BOYCOTTS SYRIA PEACE TALKS

Syrian opposition groups are boycotting peace talks set to begin in Geneva today that are aimed at trying to end the country's five-year civil war, Swiss newspaper Le Temps reports. Opposition representatives said their conditions, including that the Syrian government forces end airstrikes and sieges, haven't been met. But the coordinator of the High Negotiations Committee told Al-Arabiya that they could still go to Geneva later.


U.S., UK SPIED ON ISRAELI AIR FORCE

Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth reports today that American and British intelligence spied on Israeli air force missions in Gaza, Syria and Iran. According to the Tel-Aviv-based paper, the U.S. National Security Agency and its British counterpart GCHQ hacked into the onboard cameras' live feeds of drones. See Yedioth Ahronoth's front page here.


WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

As Monday's crucial Iowa caucus approaches, to be shortly followed by New Hampshire and other key state primaries, the world is most definitely watching what has become an almost surreal race for the White House. Between now and November's general election, Worldcrunch will deliver a regular sampling of global coverage from all languages and corners of the world. Among this week's bounty of foreign-press coverage is a whimsical envisioning of a Trump presidency from Spanish daily El Mundo, in which Trump travels to Las Vegas to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Trump International Casino. It comes a day after he calls The Wall Street Journal "garbage propaganda directed by an immigrant named Rupert Murdoch, who at 85 should be in a nursing home." The man bringing the two world leaders together is none other than Silvio Berlusconi.

Read the full article, Denmark On Trump, Mexico On Rubio, Italy On Sanders.


DEADLY ATTACK ON SAUDI ARABIAN MOSQUE

At least five people were killed after an attack today on a Shia mosque in eastern Saudi Arabia, where ISIS terrorists also attacked two Shia mosques last year. An initial explosion was reportedly followed by gunfire between security forces and gunmen. According to Al-Arabiya, one suspect has been arrested.


423

Photo: Pedro Mera/Xinhua/ZUMA

At least 423 people disappeared in Mexico last year, the country's National Human Rights Commission reveals in its latest report. At least 11 of these cases are believed to be "forced disappearances." According to the organization, the Mexican government has failed to meet "urgent demands" to take action on "forced disappearances and torture," El Debate reports. A year ago, the commission denounced the country's "serious problem" with disappearances, the best-known cases being those of 43 students who've been missing since September 2014.


JAPAN'S NEGATIVE INTEREST RATE

The Bank of Japan has adopted a negative interest rate of -0.1%, warning that it could push the number "further into negative territory" if necessary, Bloomberg reports. The controversial move, under which commercial banks will have to pay a fee on part of their reserves, is intended to encourage them to lend in a bid to boost Japan's flagging economy. The Guardian warns that it could eventually spark a currency war.


ON THIS DAY


Sleeping Beauty, the first gas-powered car and Yves Saint Laurent — all in today's shot of history.


UN PEACEKEEPERS FACE SEX ABUSE CHARGES

The United Nations' High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said there had been more allegations of European peacekeepers, including French soldiers, sexually abusing children in the Central African Republic, AFP reports. According to Zeid, one 7-year-old girl "said she had performed oral sex on French soldiers in exchange for a bottle of water and a sachet of cookies." Fourteen French soldiers are under investigation in France over the allegations, and a total of 26 cases involving UN peacekeepers have been reported.


FAREWELL PAUL KANTNER

Paul Kantner, a founding member of psychedelic rock band Jefferson Airplane, has died at the age of 74.


MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD



TWO LE MONDE REPORTERS ARRESTED

The French Foreign Ministry and newspaper Le Monde are demanding the "immediate release" of French journalist Jean-Philippe Remy and British photojournalist Phil Moore, who were arrested yesterday afternoon in Burundi. Burundi's Security Ministry said the two Le Monde staffers had been "arrested in the company of armed criminals" and taken to a secret location for questioning, AFP reports. Tensions inside the east African country have been high since President Pierre Nkurunziza's decision to run for an unconstitutional third term in April 2015. Amnesty International said it had found evidence that dozens of people killed by security forces have been buried in recently dug mass graves.


VERBATIM

"I'm a maniac, and everyone on this stage is stupid, fat and ugly," Ted Cruz joked during last night's Republican presidential debate in Iowa, after being asked by Fox moderator Megyn Kelly about the "elephant not in the room." He continued, "And Ben, you're a terrible surgeon. And now that we've got the Donald Trump portion out of the way … ." Even Jeb Bush, one of Trump's favored targets, poked fun at the absentee candidate who boycotted the event. "We always had such a loving relationship during the debates, and in between the tweets," Bush said. "I kind of miss him. I wish he was here."

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Geopolitics

For Erdogan, Blocking Sweden's NATO Bid Is Perfect For His Reelection Campaign

Turkey's objections to Swedish membership of NATO may mean that Finland joins first. And as he approaches an election at home, Turkish President Erdogan is playing the game to his advantage.

For Erdogan, Blocking Sweden's NATO Bid Is Perfect For His Reelection Campaign

January 11, 2023, Ankara (Turkey): Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the International Conference of the Board of Grievances on January 11.

Turkish Presidency / APA Images via ZUMA Press Wire
Pierre Haski

-Analysis-

PARIS — This story has all the key elements of our age: the backdrop of the war in Ukraine, the excessive ambitions of an autocrat, the opportunism of a right-wing demagogue, Islamophobia... And at the end, a country, Sweden, whose NATO membership, which should have been only a formality, has been blocked.

Last spring, under the shock of the invasion of Ukraine by Vladimir Putin's Russia, Sweden and Finland, two neutral countries in northern Europe, decided to apply for membership in NATO. For Sweden, this is a major turning point: the kingdom’s neutrality had lasted more than 150 years.

Turkey's President Erdogan raised objections. It demanded that Sweden stop sheltering Kurdish opponents in its country. This has nothing to do with NATO or Ukraine, but everything to do with Erdogan's electoral agenda, as he campaigns for the Turkish presidential elections next May.

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