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Tel Aviv Stabbings, Confident Obama, Brazil Drought

12 WOUNDED IN TEL AVIV BUS ATTACK
Twelve people were injured, including 3 seriously, in a stabbing attack Wednesday morning in Tel Aviv. A 23-year-old man from the West Bank city of Tulkarem was arrested after being shot in the leg as he attempted to flee the scene, Haaretz reports.

  • Witnesses said the attacker first stabbed the bus driver, who managed to plead for help over his dispatcher, before turning to the passengers as the bus slowed down, according to Reuters.
  • Israeli authorities are treating the stabbings as a “terror attack,” the first in two months in Tel Aviv, when a soldier was stabbed to death. Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said it was the "direct result of the Palestinian Authority's venomous incitement against the Jews and their state.”
  • Although not claiming responsibility for the attack, Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesperson, called this attack “the natural reaction to Israeli terrorism against the Palestinian people.”

EXTRA! STATE OF THE UNION
In a State of the Union address that one commentator said “oozed confidence,” U.S. President Barack Obama took credit for a brightening economic picture and set out his vision for the rest of his presidency, with a particular focus on addressing economic disparity. Speaking in the aftermath of attacks in Pakistan and Paris, Obama also vowed to continue to fight terrorism and to defend America’s allies. See how the Washington Post covered it in our press review feature Extra! here.

FOUR MEN CHARGED WITH LINKS TO PARIS TERROR PLOT
Four presumed accomplices of Amedy Coulibaly, the terrorist who killed a policewoman on Jan. 8 and four people in a kosher market the day after, were charged Tuesday with connections to the attacks, Le Monde reports. The men, aged between 22 and 28 years old, are suspected of providing Coulibaly with logistical help, including weapons and vehicles. French authorities said three of the four men had criminal records and at least one met Coulibaly in prison.
Meanwhile, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls announced in a press conference Wednesday new measures to fight terrorism. The government proposes to fund a 700 million euro plan that would keep around 3,000 people under surveillance in the country.

VERBATIM
“People are calling me a hero but I am not a hero. I am Lassana and I will always just be myself,” said Lassana Bathily, who helped hide shoppers during the Jan. 9 attack on the Paris kosher supermarket where he worked. The Mali native was granted French citizenship Tuesday after being hailed as a hero, Le Parisien reports.

ON THIS DAY

On this day in 1924, a Russian revolutionary died and a British comic was born. Reincarnation, anyone? Get your daily shot of history here.

SHOWDOWN IN YEMEN
Armed fighters of the Houthi movement in Yemen stood guard outside the residence of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi Wednesday in the capital city Sanaa, the BBC reports. The presidential palace, which is usually protected by security officers, was the scene of clashes between guards and Houthi rebels Tuesday. The insurgents shelled and entered the palace, sending the country deeper into political turmoil. The Houthi leader Abdel-Malek al-Houthi said in a televized speech Tuesday that President Hadi had to implement a power-sharing deal when his men seized the capital in September, according to Reuters.

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO
The accusations Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman was set to make were harmful to Iran's interests. And the known intelligence superpower is expert at disposing of its enemies. Many in Argentina doubt that Monday's death was a suicide at all, Gustavo Sierra writes in the Buenos Aires daily Clarin: “Given Iran's record, the intelligence community worldwide is now wondering about the possibility — entirely theoretical at the moment — that Iranian agents or their allies might have had some role in Nisman’s death, which authorities are calling a suicide. Most agree that the accusations he was about to make public would have been harmful to Iranian interests.”
Read the full article, Could Iran Have Assisted Argentine Prosecutor's "Suicide"?

JAPAN’S ABE PUSHES TO FREE HOSTAGES
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Wednesday the government will do its utmost to free the two Japanese men held hostage by ISIS, Japan Times reports. "I have instructed the government that we will exhaust all possible measures to have the two freed, using all diplomatic channels, all diplomatic routes we have built so far," Abe announced. "Our country will never give in to terrorism." A video released online Tuesday by ISIS shows a masked jihadist threatening to kill the two men unless Japan pays the terrorist group $200 million in ransom in the following 72 hours.

BOKO HARAM CLAIMS BAGA MASSACRE
In a video posted online, the terrorist group Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the massacre of hundreds of people in the northeastern Nigerian town of Baga in early January and renewed threats to neighboring countries Niger, Chad and Cameroon. The video, obtained by the AFP on Tuesday, shows Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau saying “We killed the people of Baga. We indeed killed them, as our Lord instructed us in His Book.”

ISIS EXECUTING “EDUCATED WOMEN”
The United Nations has decried numerous executions of civilians in Iraq by the Islamic State terror group, warning that educated women appeared to be especially at risk, the AFP reports. The terrorist group is allegedly targeting women who have run as candidates in elections for public office, lawyers or journalists.

MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD


37%
An official report published in Folha de S. Paulo shows that 37% of Brazil’s water is lost before it even reaches consumers, with faulty pipe systems, fraud and illegal connections to the network the main causes of this massive waste. By comparison, the figure in a developed country like Germany is 7%. The news comes amid ongoing water and energy crises, especially in the southeastern parts of the country, with average temperatures for January in the city of São Paulo so far above last year’s record at 33,2 °C.


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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

The "Corrosion" Strategy: How Ukraine Targets Russian Networks And Morale

Russia continues to shrink its ambitions in Donbas, as Ukraine doubles down on its strategy of guerilla attacks, interrupting supply and communication contacts and ultimately undermines the morale of the enemy.

Ukrainian soldiers sitting atop a tank in Donbas on May 22

Clemens Wergin

For years to come, military experts will be studying how Ukraine managed to push back a far stronger enemy and grind Russia’s major offensive in the east of the country to a halt.

Some military strategists are already trying to find a term to sum up the Ukrainians’ success. Australian military expert and retired army major general Mick Ryan credited Kyiv's stunning showing to "the adoption of a simple military strategy: corrosion. The Ukrainian approach has embraced the corrosion of the Russian physical, moral, and intellectual capacity to fight and win in Ukraine.”

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Ryan argues that while the Ukrainians have used the firepower they possess to halt the Russian advance, while aggressively targeting their enemy’s greatest shortcoming. “They have attacked the weakest physical support systems of an army in the field – communications networks, logistic supply routes, rear areas, artillery and senior commanders in their command posts,” Ryan wrote.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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