WAR AGAINST UKRAINE “UNLIKELY,” PUTIN SAYS
Photo above: Mikhail Metzel/TASS/ZUMA
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said in an interview with Russian television that war against its neighbor Ukraine was “unlikely,” expressing his hope that this “apocalyptic scenario” would “never happen.” Asked about the Minsk agreement, he said that if fully implemented it would see the situation in Eastern Ukraine “gradually stabilize,” the BBC reports. Putin’s television appearance was followed by news this morning that pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine said they had begun to withdraw heavy weapons from the front line. Read more from The Moscow Times.
- Russia’s state company Gazprom has warned Europe that gas supplies to the continent are at risk if Kiev fails to pay its gas bill on time, suggesting a new row on gas deliveries could soon erupt.
BY THE NUMBERS: 5
At least five drones were spotted overnight flying above sensitive Paris landmarks, including the Elysée Presidential Palace and U.S. Embassy. A source close to the investigation told AFP they couldn’t catch the operators. A drone was seen flying over the Elysée last month as well. Similar devices were noticed last year flying over French nuclear power plants.
LEAKED SPY CABLES SHOW NETANYAHU LIED TO UN
Top-secret intelligence documents leaked to Al Jazeera show that one month after Benjamin Netanyahu warned the 2012 UN General Assembly that Iran was 70% on the way to completing its "plans to build a nuclear weapon," Mossad informed South Africa in a cable that this was not the case. The Israeli secret services noted in the secret cable that Tehran had not in fact begun the work needed to build any kind of nuclear weapon, thus confirming previous findings from the U.S. National Intelligence Agency.
- This will likely be a blow to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s credibility as he is currently campaigning for reelection and preparing to address the U.S. Congress, defying Barack Obama’s opposition, on March 3. Netanyahu has also been the target of embarrassing revelations at home, especially over expenses. And investigative TV show revealed that the PM and his wife wanted to use taxpayers’ money to pay for repairs in a private home. Read more from Haaretz.
- The leaked documents, dubbed “Spy Leaks,” also show that the CIA attempted to make contact with Hamas despite an official U.S. ban to do so. In one cable, President Barack Obama is reported to have threatened Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in 2012 over his plan to seek a non-member observer status at the UN. Read the full article from The Guardian.
ON THIS DAY
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In Jan. 24, 1582, our Gregorian calendar was first introduced. Time for your 57-second shot of history!
ISIS ABDUCTS DOZENS OF CHRISTIANS IN SYRIA
At least 90 Assyrian Christians, including women and children, have been kidnapped by ISIS fighters from villages in northeast Syria near the Turkish and Iraqi borders, AP reports. ISIS forces have been under increasing pressure in northern Syria over the past weeks, with fresh government troops sent to the area and Kurdish fighters gaining ground in the Raqqa province. Speaking to CNN, an activist from a group called “Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently” explained that the city, the so-called Caliphate’s Syrian capital, is “like a big prison” where executions, forced blood donations and forced marriages to fighters are commonplace.
People are increasingly disgusted with crime and shoddy government in Mexico. America Economia’s Luis Rubio wants to know what happened to President Peña Nieto's promises to take on the country's vested interests. “Those countries with solid structures, that don't depend on the dexterity or state of mind of individuals, can wade through difficult periods for a long time without falling apart, like our northern neighbor the United States,” he writes. “That can't happen in Mexico, where the absence of institutions gives so much power and responsibility to the person in charge. Simply put, the country can't keep drifting as it has for another four years. The government must act, and act differently. The strategy of avoiding conflict at all costs leads to anarchy.”
Read the full article, To Truly Change Mexico, It's Now Or Never.
GREECE SUBMITS OWN AUSTERITY PROPOSALS
The Greek government presented a list of reforms to its bailout creditors just before a deadline passed at midnight. Eurozone finance ministers will now discuss the proposed measures, The International Business Times reports. If accepted, the Athens bailout will be extended by four-months. According to the BBC, some of the social reforms, which include ending primary home repossessions and free medical care and electricity for those who cannot pay, could “become bones of contention.” The EU could ask for more pensions cuts and VAT hikes. The Independent reports that dissent is already growing inside the new Greek government with a “veteran member” of Syriza saying that the party had already reversed some of its flagship promises.
MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD
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FIFA RECOMMENDS WINTER QATAR WORLD CUP
Officials from FIFA, the world’s governing body of soccer, have said that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar should be held in November and December instead of the traditional June and July when temperatures there can exceed 40°C. A final decision is expected next month. But as ThinkProgress argues, this decision won’t fix the biggest problem about the Qatar World Cup, namely that the gigantic construction projects are reliant on migrants working in slave-like conditions.
PEANUTS MAY PREVENT PEANUT ALLERGY
Feeding babies peanut products reduces the risk of the infants developing peanut allergy later in life by more than 80%, a new study suggests.