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Schengen Threatened, Saudi Cash, Airbnb's Igloo

COLLEAGUE KILLS 10 AFGHAN POLICE

A rogue Afghan police officer drugged and shot dead 10 of his colleagues early today at a checkpoint in Afghanistan's central province of Uruzgan, Al Jazeera reports. The man collaborated with Taliban insurgents, who joined him in shooting the officers. Weapons and ammunition were missing from the checkpoint after the attack. This is the latest in a long series of so-called "insider" or "green-on-blue" attacks, in which Afghan officers turn their weapons on foreign troops or colleagues. They have been a major problem for the country's security forces, which have struggled with desertion, low morale and mistrust for a long time.


VERBATIM

"Schengen is on the brink of collapse," Austrian daily Kronen Zeitung quoted Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner as saying yesterday. Mikl-Leitner had been discussing Europe's passport-free travel zone and the possibility of extending national border controls to tackle the migrant crisis. EU governments could decide to suspend the Schengen system for two years, The Guardian reports. The border-free zone has been in place for more than 20 years.

  • Meanwhile, Danish lawmakers will vote today on a highly controversial bill that would allow authorities to confiscate migrants' valuables to pay for their upkeep. The proposal aims to make the country less attractive for asylum seekers and is expected to pass.
  • In Sweden, a migrant teen stabbed a 22-year-old refugee center employee to death yesterday, the Swiss daily Dagens Nyheter reports. The boy lived at the center and is believed to be between 14 and 17 years old. He has since been arrested. Although the motive is unclear, such an incident is likely to increase tensions between the Swedish population and asylum seekers in the country.

SYRIAN ARMY CAPTURES KEY TOWN


Photo: Ammar/Xinhua/ZUMA

Syrian government forces captured the key southern city of al-Shaykh Maskin from rebel forces Monday after weeks of fierce fighting, Al Jazeera reports. It will allow the Syrian army to strengthen its presence in the Daraa province and cut off rebel supply lines. Daraa saw some of the earliest anti-government protests in 2011.

  • Meanwhile, UN-backed Syrian peace talks between the opposition and Bashar al-Assad's regime, which were set to start Monday in Geneva, have been delayed to Jan. 29, France 24 reports. This is due to disagreements over which rebel groups should be allowed to attend.
  • The Syrian opposition has also cast doubt on whether it will attend Friday's talks. Reuters quoted opposition official Asaad al-Zoubi as saying that he was pessimistic, though the final decision would be made at an opposition meeting in Riyadh.
  • A double bomb attack in Syria's government-controlled city of Homs killed 22 people and wounded more than 100 early today, the daily L'Orient-Le Jour reports. ISIS claimed the attack.

EXTRA!

Spain is waving a red flag at famous bullfighter Francisco Rivera Ordóñez after he posted a picture of himself taunting a bloody calf while holding his 5-month-old daughter. Ordóñez posted the photograph, featured on today's front page of Spain's leading daily El País, on his official Instagram account. Read more about the uproar here.


WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

Argentine paleontologists recently announced the discovery of what they termed the Notocolossus gonzalesparejasi — a dinosaur likely to dwarf another sauropod found in Patagonia in May 2014, whose cast skeleton has just made its debut at New York's American Museum of Natural History. The titanosaurian species, which lived about 86 million years ago, was found recently in the Argentine province of Mendoza, and is being hailed as possibly the most massive dinosaur that ever lived.

Read the full article, Notocolossus: Is This The Biggest Dinosaur Find Ever?


ON THIS DAY

Happy 55th birthday to "The Great One," Wayne Gretzky. That and more in today's shot of history.


SUNKEN BOAT LEAVES 13 INDONESIANS DEAD

At least 13 people, nine women and four men who are believed to be Indonesian migrants, died when their boat capsized near the southern coast of Malaysia early this morning, Al Jazeera reports. A local police chief said the boat was thought to be carrying 30 to 35 people. Such tragedies are fairly common in Malaysia, where many Indonesian migrants try to find work illegally.


$681 MILLION

Malaysia's Attorney General Mohamed Apandi Ali said today that a $681 million transfer into Prime Minister Najib Razak's personal bank account was a "private donation" from the Saudi royal family, and not bribery, the daily The Star reports.

  • The statement clears Najib from a confusing and long-running corruption scandal, in which he had been accused of receiving the money from a state investment fund, 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), whose advisory board Najib chairs.
  • A statement also claimed Najib returned $620 million to the Saudi royal family, leaving just $60 million unaccounted for.
  • Malaysia's opposition is now questioning whether the attorney general covered up for the prime minister, The Guardian reports.

MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD



MAKING THE MOST OF THE SNOW

Patrick Horton, an advertising art director living in Brooklyn, New York, built an igloo in his backyard after last weekend's heavy snowfalls, and listed it on Airbnb. Charging $200 a night, he called it a "Boutique Winter Igloo for 2," the "snowpocalypse of 2016's most desirable getaway, hand-crafted, and built using only natural elements," The Verge reports. Airbnb unfortunately deleted the listing because the abode lacked electricity, piped water or even a door, thus not meeting occupancy guidelines. But the vacation-rental website conceded that the igloo was "very well constructed."

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Geopolitics

How South American Oceans Can Sway The U.S.-China Showdown

As global rivalries and over-fishing impact the seas around South America, countries there must find a common strategy to protect their maritime backyards.

RIMPAC 2022

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-Analysis-

BUENOS AIRES — As the U.S.-China rivalry gathers pace, oceans matter more than ever. This is evident just looking at the declarations and initiatives enacted concerning the Indian and Pacific oceans.

Yet there is very little debate in South America on the Sino-American confrontation and its impact on seas around South America, specifically the South-Eastern Pacific (SEP) and South-Western Atlantic (SWA). These have long ceased to be empty spaces — and their importance to the world's superpowers can only grow.

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