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Ultimatum For Iran, Nasdaq Rebound, Inspiring Punks

OBAMA’S IRAN ULTIMATUM
Iran should agree to a verifiable freeze of its nuclear program for at least a decade if the country wants to strike a deal with the U.S., President Barack Obama told Reuters in an exclusive interview. Obama explained his goal was to make sure “there’s at least a year between us seeing them try to get a nuclear weapon and them actually being able to obtain one.”

  • The interview, which the news agency says was “carefully timed by the White House,” came just hours before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed Congress in a highly criticized speech, even as he is campaigning for reelection on March 17. Obama stressed that he and Netanyahu had a “substantial disagreement” over how to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

  • Speaking to the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC, Netanyahu said his speech to Congress wasn’t meant to signal any “disrespect” towards Obama, insisting he had “a moral obligation to speak up” in the face of what he perceives as nuclear danger. Read more fromThe New York Times.

  • Reacting to Obama’s comments, Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said they were unacceptable and part of a PR campaign,PressTV reports.

  • The BBC suggests Netanyahu’s intervention is a win-win for Iran. Israel’s left-wing dailyHaaretz, meanwhile, expressed its hope that Netanyahu’s trip to Washington is his last official visit. “At least he is going out with a bang,” it writes.

SNAPSHOT
Photo above: Arindam Shivaani/NurPhoto/ZUMA
Millions of people around the world, like here in Kolkata, India, are celebrating the arrival of spring by participating in the Hindu festival Holi, the “festival of colors.”

RUSSIANS HONOR NEMTSOV
Thousands of mourners are queuing outside Moscow’s Sakharov Center to pay their respects to Boris Nemtsov, the opposition politician killed on Friday night,Reuters reports. U.S. ambassador to Russia John Tefft and former British Prime Minister John Major are among them, but according to the BBC, several EU politicians have been barred from entering Russia, some without explanation. Nemtsov's girlfriend, model Anna Duritskaya, who was with him when he was shot four times in the back, has returned to her native Ukraine after giving evidence to the investigators.

5008.096
The Nasdaq index closed above 5,000 Monday for the first time since the dot-com bubble burst 15 years ago. And some believe history might be repeating itself.

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO
Khaled walked into an ISIS recruiting office and volunteered to fight — for $30 a month. Now he's a refugee in Turkey, where he told Le Monde’s Christophe Boltanski his story. “The routine was always the same. Days began at 4 a.m. for the dawn prayer. Afterwards the recruits jogged, did obstacles courses and practiced martial arts until 10 a.m. The person guiding the exhausting exercises was a Frenchman called Abu Moussab al-Faransi. ‘A tall guy, like a muscleman,’ says Khaled. After the break, the group attended two hours of sharia classes given by an imam, a Tunisian. ‘We were in a warehouse,’ Khaled recalls. ‘He told us we had to kill all the apostates, that it was our duty.’”
Read the full article, One Teen's Harrowing Escape Of Life Inside ISIS.

IMF AID FOR SIERRA LEONE
The International Monetary Fund has approved a $187 million funding and debt relief package for Sierra Leone in an attempt to help the country recover from the devastating Ebola outbreak, AFP reports. This comes as world leaders and aid agencies gather in Brussels today to discuss long-term plans to end the outbreak. Sierra Leone, one of the countries worst hit by the epidemic that killed 9,714 people in West Africa, has recently seen a spike in Ebola infections. The country’s vice president was forced into quarantine after his bodyguard died of the disease. Read more from The Mail & Guardian.

VERBATIM
“A decent girl won’t roam around at nine o'clock at night. A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy,” Mukesh Singh, one of the men on India’s death row for the 2012 rape of a young woman on a bus, told filmmaker Leslee Udwin for a documentary to be shown later this week. Read more from the BBC.

SNOWDEN WANTS TO RETURN TO U.S.
Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who leaked thousands of secret documents that revealed widespread eavesdropping on civilians around the world, would be ready to return to the U.S. if guaranteed a “fair and impartial trial,” his lawyer Anatoly Kucherena told journalists in Moscow. “We, together with a group of lawyers from other countries, are working on the issue of his return to the U.S.,” news agency Tass quoted him as saying. Snowden has been a refugee in Russia since August 2013.

MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD

COFFEE CLEANS ARTERIES, STUDY SAYS
Coffee lovers rejoice. A study from South Korea suggests that drinking three to five cups of coffee a daymay reduce the risk of having clogged arteries, which are responsible for strokes and heart attacks. There’s been an ongoing debate about whether coffee is good for you, with concerns that it could raise heart disease risks.

ON THIS DAY
On March 3, 1938, oil was discovered in Saudi Arabia. Time for your 57-second shot of history.

FINLAND’S EUROVISION PICK
Finland has selected an unusual but inspiring band to represent the country in the Eurovision song contest. Meet PKN, a punk quartet whose members have Down syndrome and autism.

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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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