"WAR CRIMES" ON SYRIAN HOSPITALS, SCHOOLS
France and Turkey have denounced the bombing of five hospitals and two schools in Syria, labeling them as war crimes, the BBC reports. At least 50 people were killed by yesterday's strikes in the Aleppo and Idlib provinces, the UN has said. Different warring parties are blaming one another. Turkey is blaming Russia, while Doctors Without Borders, which ran one of the bombed hospitals, accuses "either the Syrian government or Russia." Meanwhile, Syrian ambassador to Moscow Riad Haddad claims the U.S. was behind the strikes. While Moscow has yet to respond to the allegations, the bombings could seriously hinder an agreed ceasefire set to begin this week. In aTIMEinterview published yesterday, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Russia had no plans to cease bombing rebel positions until Moscow's allies in Damascus could achieve peace on favorable terms.
UN PROBES NEW RAPE CHARGES
The United Nations is investigating new allegations of sexual abuse by peacekeepers in the Central African Republic, Jeune Afrique quoted UN spokesman Farhan Haq as saying this morning. Minors are reportedly among the victims. The UN said earlier this month it had already identified seven other cases of sexual abuse by its troops. In December, an independent review panel also accused the UN of grossly mishandling allegations of child sexual abuse in 2013 and 2014, Reuters reports.
"I feel a sacred responsibility to finish this show," Eagles of Death Metal frontman Jesse Hughes told television network iTélé yesterday. The California band, which was playing at the Bataclan theater in Paris during the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks, is set to perform in the French capital's Olympia theater tonight for its first full concert since the tragedy that left 130 dead, including 90 at the Bataclan. Survivors of the Bataclan attack were given free invitations to tonight's performance. Hughes, a longtime gun rights advocate, also took aim at the country's strict anti-firearm legislation. "Did your French gun control stop a single fucking person from dying at the Bataclan?" he said, adding that he wanted "everyone to have access to them."
CAMEROON KILLS 162 TERRORISTS
Cameroon military forces retook Nigeria's northeastern town of Goshi from the Boko Haram terror group over the weekend, killing 162 of its fighters, AP quoted the country's communications minister as saying. About 100 people the group was holding were also freed. The three-day operation led to the destruction of several bomb factories and two Boko Haram training centers. Two Cameroonian soldiers were killed.
ON THIS DAY
Happy birthday to Valentino "The Doctor" Rossi! That and more in today's 57-second shot of history
BROTHER GEORGE PITCHES JEB IN S.C.
Former U.S. President George W. Bush made a return to the political arena last night, speaking to a South Carolina gathering to back his brother Jeb Bush's presidential campaign. He told a Charleston convention hall packed with more than 1,000 supporters that his brother Jeb, former Florida governor, had the temperament of a head of state, The Washington Post reports. "Americans are angry and frustrated, but we do not need someone in the Oval Office who mirrors and inflames our frustration," the 41st president said, tacitly referring to Republican rival Donald Trump, who has blamed George W. Bush in part for the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The Philippine government has agreed to auction the jewelry collection of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos' widow Imelda Marcos, which international experts say is worth $21 million, Filipino website Sun Star reports. The collection includes a 25-carat, barrel-shaped diamond worth at least $5 million and a Cartier diamond tiara that is now many times more valuable than the previous estimate of $30,000 to $50,000. It was seized when Marcos and his family fled to Hawaii in 1986 from a popular revolt that ended his two decades in power.
BELGIUM ARRESTS 10 IN ANTI-ISIS RAIDS
In a series of raids in Brussels this morning, Belgian police arrested 10 people suspected of being part of an ISIS recruitment ring, Belgian news network RTBF reports. "Our investigation points to several persons having left for Syria to join ISIS," Belgium's federal prosecutors said in a statement. Computers and cellphones seized during the raids are currently being examined.
India is balking at Mark Zuckerberg's plans to offer free but limited Internet access, which is ultimately aimed at boosting Facebook's numbers. The question is whether the rest of the world will follow, Süddeutsche Zeitung's Johannes Boie reports. "The Californian company is largely deaf to the protests, and keeps repeating that the program is about creating jobs, providing education and expanding communication. It is true, after all, that somebody has to connect the rural areas of India to the Internet, and the sooner the better. India's authorities saw through Facebook's rhetoric, which happened to be missing some important facts: A billion Indians on Facebook would be a major new market for Facebook, whose growth is flattening in the U.S. and Europe."
Read the full article, India To Zuckerberg: We Don't Believe Facebook's Big PR Lie.
MY GRAND-PERE'S WORLD
A COLD BET
Seattle startup Swanluv is betting that more marriages will fail than prosper. The company gives couples up to $10,000 when they marry, but the money must be paid back — with interest — if they divorce. Co-founder Scott Avy told The Washington Post that the aim is to encourage couples to stay together. But with about one in two marriages ending in a divorce, it might just be the perfect way to get rich.