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Refugee Drownings, Google's Apple Payout, More Oscar Controversy

MIGRANTS DROWN OFF GREEK COAST

Eight children were among at least 21 migrants who drowned early this morning after their boats sank off the Greek coast, AFP reports. Dozens more are reported missing, but 48 survivors managed to reach the shore. The tragedy comes amid renewed debate about the European Union's borders. "If Europe is not capable of protecting its own borders, it's the very idea of Europe that will be questioned," French Prime Minister Manuel Valls told the BBC. In comments aimed at German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her open-door policy, he added that the EU can't "say or accept that all refugees, anyone fleeing the terrible war in Iraq or Syria, can be welcomed in Europe." His Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte said that the EU had "six to eight weeks" to save the EU's Schengen system of border-free travel.


ISLAMISTS ATTACK IN MOGADISHU

Photo: Feisal Isse/Xinhua/ZUMA

Somali troops have captured the leader of an al-Shabaab terrorist attack on a Mogadishu restaurant that killed at least 20 people, the BBC reports. The attackers stormed a beachside restaurant late yesterday, opening fire and detonating bombs. Somali troops then besieged the building for eight hours. It's not clear how many terrorists were captured or killed. The violence came one week after al-Shabaab gunmen killed more than 100 soldiers at a Somali military base.

  • Gunmen in Burkina Faso, which was also the target of a terrorist attack last week, stormed an army armory in the capital of Ouagadougou. Suspected loyalists of deposed President Blaise Compaore are believed responsible, Le Monde reports.
  • ISIS, meanwhile, claimed responsibility for yesterday's Cairo bombing that killed nine people, including six police officers.

VERBATIM

"Maybe the black actors didn't deserve to make it to the last leg," British actress and Oscar nominee Charlotte Rampling told French radio Europe 1, weighing in on the controversy over this year's lack of diversity among Academy Award nominees. She added that filmmaker Spike Lee's call to boycott the ceremony was "racist against whites." Read more here.


U.S. EAST COAST BRACES FOR BLIZZARD

The U.S. East Coast is bracing for what could be the winter's biggest storm yet, with high winds and up to 30 inches of snow expected in Washington D.C., CNN reports. A state of emergency has been declared in Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina.


APPLE CASHES IN ON GOOGLE PAYMENTS

Google paid its rival Apple $1 billion in 2014 to keep its search bar on iPhones, Bloomberg reports, quoting court proceedings. Under the deal between the two tech giants, Apple gets a percentage of the revenue Google generates on the Apple device.


WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

Even as Belgium has emerged as a hub of Islamic terror networks, a Belgian Muslim is the theatrical toast of the town as he tackles jihad, racism and culture wars with humor, Marie-Béatrice Baudet writes for Le Monde. "The second of five siblings, Ismael Saidi was able to observe how his parents, who arrived from Morocco in the late 1960s, made Belgium home, despite the discrimination they endured and still endure as Muslims," Baudet writes. "In Saidi's play, we're made to laugh about everything: racism, prejudice, ignorance, dogmatism, stupidity. Nobody's spared, especially not Muslims."

Read the full article, "Jihad," The Belgian Play Leaving Audiences In Stitches.


NORTH KOREA ARRESTS U.S. STUDENT

An American college student from the University of Virginia has been arrested in North Korea under suspicion that he entered the country on orders from Washington to engage in a "hostile" act, NBC News reports. North Korea has yet to specify the nature of the alleged crime, saying only that Otto Frederick Warmbier's actions were aimed at "bringing down the foundation of North Korea's single-minded unity at the tacit connivance of the U.S. government and under its manipulation."


ON THIS DAY


Today's shot of history features, among other moments, the 42nd anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the death of Queen Victoria and St. Petersburg's Bloody Sunday.


ZIKA VIRUS THREATENS LATIN AMERICA

Zika, a mosquito-borne virus that's believed to have caused severe brain damage in Brazilian babies and is feared to cause paralysis, is rapidly spreading across Latin America and the Caribbean, The New York Times reports. It's unclear how the virus reached Brazil in the first place, where it affected some 4,000 people last year, but some experts believe it could have happened during the 2014 FIFA World Cup.


MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD



WASHPO SCRIBE RETURNS TO THE U.S.

Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian is expected to fly from Germany to the U.S. early today with his family, less than a week after he was released from an Iranian jail.


HAITI GOES TO THE POLLS

A runoff vote to choose Haiti's next president will proceed as planned Sunday despite boycott threats from the opposition amid fraud allegations, Haiti Libre quotes outgoing President Michel Martelly as saying. But The Miami Herald opines that the Caribbean island's election will "fail to produce a government that Haitians deem credible and legitimate" and that it should be postponed.


22,338,618

A computer at the University of Central Missouri has found a new largest known prime number, with an astounding 22,338,618 digits. That's more than 5 million more than the previous record-holder.

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Geopolitics

Patronage Or Politics? What's Driving Qatar And Egypt Grand Rapprochement

For Cairo, Qatar had been part of an “axis of evil,” with anger directed at Al Jazeera, the main Qatari outlet, and others critical of Egypt after the Muslim Brotherhood ouster. But the vitriol is now gone, with the first ever visit by Egyptian President al-Sisi to Doha.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met with the Emir of Qatar in June 2022 in Cairo

Beesan Kassab, Daniel O'Connell, Ehsan Salah, Hazem Tharwat and Najih Dawoud

For the first time since coming to power in 2014, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi traveled to Doha last month on an official visit, a capstone in a steadily building rapprochement between the two countries in the last year.

Not long ago, however, the photo-op capturing the two heads of state smiling at one another in Doha would have seemed impossible. In the wake of the Armed Forces’ ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood government in 2013, Qatar and Egypt traded barbs.

In the lexicon of the intelligence-controlled Egyptian press landscape, Qatar had been part of an “axis of evil” working to undermine Egypt’s stability. Al Jazeera, the main Qatari outlet, was banned from Egypt, but, from its social media accounts and television broadcast, it regularly published salacious and insulting details about the Egyptian administration.

But all of that vitriol is now gone.

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