RUSSIA PROPOSES SYRIA CEASEFIRE
Russia has proposed a ceasefire in Syria starting March 1, but U.S. officials responded that it should start immediately, AP reports. Washington officials belief that Moscow, which has been aiding Syrian government troops with airstrikes, is buying itself time to "crush moderate rebel groups," AP reports. The proposal is expected to be debated today at a meeting in Munich with representatives of foreign countries engaged in Syria.
- Tensions remain high between the U.S. and Russia, with both sides trading accusations of bombing Aleppo's two main hospitals yesterday. The Pentagon said that Russian warplanes had destroyed the two buildings, but Russia's Defense Ministry responded this morning that no Russian planes had flown over Aleppo and said the strikes had been carried out by "two U.S. Air Force A-10 attack aircraft that entered Syrian airspace from Turkish territory," Reuters reports.
- Intense fighting around Aleppo continues, and has caused at least 50,000 people to leave their homes, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross. About 30,000 of them are said to be stranded on the closed Turkish border. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reacted in strong terms to EU and UN pressure for Turkey to open its borders, threatening to send them to other countries. Read more from AFP.
- At least 470,000 people are now believed to have died since the start of the Syrian war nearly five years ago, according to a new report from the Syrian Centre for Policy Research cited by The Guardian. About 11.5% of the Syrian population have been killed or injured and 45% have been displaced. Overall economic losses are estimated at $255 billion.
NATO TO PATROL AEGEAN SEA
NATO will develop plans to patrol the Aegean Sea in a bid to stop illegal migration and people smuggling into Europe, AP reports. U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter made the announcement earlier today in response to requests from NATO members Germany, Turkey and Greece.
Bernie Sanders' massive primary victory in New Hampshire Tuesday also proved to be a financial boon. Hillary Clinton's rival raised at least $7.1 million in just over 24 hours, with an average donation of $34, Bloomberg reports.
HONG KONG STOCKS TUMBLE
Shares in Hong Kong suffered their worst start to a lunar year since 1994, falling 3.9% as the Hang Seng Index reopened today. European stocks also plunged in early trading, with French and German equities down more than 3% after one hour in reaction to what The Wall Street Journal describes as "a cautious tone from the Federal Reserve" yesterday and new oil price lows.
"If I'd been at the Bataclan or one of the cafés, I would have opened fire," Donald Trump told French magazine Valeurs Actuelles three months after the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in which 130 people were killed in Paris. "Maybe I would have died, but at least I would have taken a shot," the pro-gun billionaire said. Offering his view on the European migrant crisis, Trump said the old continent was facing "collapse" and "revolutions." He added, "Unfortunately, France isn't what it used to be, nor Paris." Read more about it here.
OREGON PROTESTERS TO FINALLY LEAVE
The weeks-long standoff at an Oregon wildlife refuge could end today after the armed protesters agreed to walk out of the FBI-surrounded building sometime this morning. This came hours after Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, the father of protest leader Ammon Bundy, was arrested over a conspiracy charge to interfere with a federal officer, The Oregonian reports. The charges date back to a 2014 standoff at Cliven Bundy's own ranch.
For the first time since the end of the Third Reich, Mein Kampf has been republished in Germany. With copyrights having expired on Jan. 1, the Institute of Contemporary History of Munich has released a critical, annotated edition of the only book written by Adolf Hitler, first published in 1925. And it's a best-seller. Again, Géraldine Schwarz writes for Le Monde. "A development of obvious importance in Germany, the â€˜official' return of Mein Kampf is basically a non-event in the Arab-Muslim world, where it never it left. There, the infamous book has long been in circulation and available for purchase."
Read the full article, Mein Kampf And The Nazi Role In Arab Anti-Semitism.
FRANCE APPROVES CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM
French lawmakers in the lower house approved constitutional changes yesterday, almost three months after the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris, Le Monde reports. Under the highly controversial measures, people with two nationalities found guilty of terrorist offenses would be stripped of their French citizenship and the ongoing state of emergency would be enshrined in the constitution. Senators in the upper house are expected to review the changes next month.
ON THIS DAY
In today's video shot of history, we offer the Worldcrunch version of a Whitney Houston/Margaret Thatcher mashup.
TRIAL OF AUSCHWITZ GUARD, 94, BEGINS
Reinhold Hanning, a former Nazi guard at the Auschwitz concentration camp, will appear in court today for what could be one of the last trials of former Nazi officials. The 94-year-old Hanning has been charged with the murders of 170,000 people from January 1943 to June 1944. "This trial should have happened 40, 50 years ago," camp survivor Justin Sonder said yesterday at a press conference. "But now it is not too late to show what once happened." About 1.1 million people died in Auschwitz, most of them Jews. Read more from Deutsche Welle.
MY GRAND-PERE'S WORLD
DENGUE SPREADS WILDLY IN SAO PAULO
While most of the medical world's attention is focused on the Zika outbreak, Brazilian newspaper Folha de S. Paulo reports that the number of cases of dengue fever, also transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, is multiplying dangerously in São Paulo, with an average of about 30 new patients every day since the beginning of 2016. That's 40% higher than in 2015 and doesn't include suspected cases that are still being investigated.
A FUTURE NOBEL?
Fully 100 years after Albert Einstein theorized the existence of gravitational waves, scientists are expected to announce today that they've finally found evidence to support Einstein's prediction.