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U.S.-Russia Deal, Deadly Congo Protests, Papal Brain Tumor?

U.S.-Russia Deal, Deadly Congo Protests, Papal Brain Tumor?

U.S., RUSSIA REACH DEAL ON SYRIA CAMPAIGNS

Washington and Moscow officials signed an agreement yesterday to regulate flights over Syria in a bid to avoid potential clashes in the skies between U.S. and Russian aircraft as the rival countries engage in separate operations against jihadists, The New York Times reports. But the deal doesn't include intelligence sharing, and the Pentagon insisted the agreement doesn't "constitute U.S. cooperation or support for Russia's policy or actions in Syria," which it called "counterproductive."

  • Syrian President Bashar al-Assad flew to Moscow last evening for talks with Vladimir Putin about the ongoing Russian operation in Syria. It's believed to be the first time the leader has left his country since the beginning of the war in March 2011.
  • According to Iraqi political sources quoted in Russian media Sputnik, the Iraqi Parliament will vote before the end of the month to request Russian support in fighting ISIS there, despite Washington's opposition.
  • Newly elected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he would stick to his pledge to withdraw Canadian fighter jets from Syria and Iraq, where they have fought ISIS as part of the U.S.-led coalition. Read more from The Globe and Mail.

GREECE REFUGEE ARRIVALS TOP 500,000

Photo: Danilo Balducci/ZUMA

New UN figures show that at least 502,500 migrants have arrived in Greece since the beginning of this year. According to the website Greek reporter, the continued migration has put the country under intense pressure because infrastructure is severely lacking. It reported yesterday that more than 27,500 people were on Greek islands, either waiting to be registered or to be transported to mainland Greece, with the vast majority of them eager to continue to other European countries.

  • The Parliament in Slovenia has, meanwhile, passed new legislation granting the army the power to perform border guard duties. Prime Minister Miro Cerar announced he would ask the European Union for "police backup and financial help" after seeing more than 20,000 asylum seekers arrive since Saturday. The tiny landlocked country of two million said yesterday it was overwhelmed by the influx.

VATICAN DENIES POPE HAS BRAIN TUMOR

In what it characterizes as an international scoop, Italian daily La Nazione reports today that Pope Francis has a curable brain tumor, which the Vatican no doubt has been trying to keep secret. "The Pope Is Sick," is the newspaper's front page headline today, the same day the Vatican characterized the report as a "complete lie." Read more in Le Blog.


VERBATIM

"Hitler didn't want to exterminate the Jews at the time. He wanted to expel the Jews," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly told the 37th World Zionist Congress. He claimed that it was a Muslim, Jerusalem's then-Mufti, who convinced the Nazi leader to exterminate European Jews. His comments sparked a social media storm, even as violence between Israelis and Palestinians continues to rise," Haaretz reports.


MEXICO'S MISSING STUDENTS CASE REOPENED

The Mexican government has accepted recommendations by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and has relaunched its investigation into last year's disappearance of 43 students in the southern city of Iguala, El Universal reports. The new investigation will be conducted with five international experts and will aim to "rectify the historical truth." Prosecutors had previously concluded the students had been killed by a drug gang after being handed over to criminals by the police, but relatives and international experts have challenged the initial findings.


ON THIS DAY


On this day in 1944, the first World War II kamikaze attack occurred. In 1980, Kim Kardashian was born. What a day. This, and more, in your 57-second shot of history.


CONGO PROTESTS TURN DEADLY

At least four people died in two of the Republic of Congo's main cities yesterday during protests against 72-year-old President Denis Sassou-Nguesso's bid to secure a third term in office, Le Monde reports. Protesters reportedly torched three police stations after being told that planned demonstrations had been banned. A leader of the opposition, which called for "civil disobedience," told the newspaper that police forces were responding with tear gas and live ammunition fired into the air. A referendum is scheduled Sunday to decide whether the incumbent can run for a new term, something the country's constitution officially prohibits. Sassou-Nguesso served as president between 1979 and 1992, and again since 1997.


MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD



WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

Suspended for three months by FIFA's Ethics Committee for a 2 million Swiss franc payment from Sepp Blatter, former French soccer star Michael Platini denies any wrongdoing, and still says he's the right man to be the next president of the global soccer organization. In an exclusive interview with Le Monde, he's indignant that he's been dragged into the web of suspected corruption. "What annoys me the most is being tarred with the same brush as the others," Platini tells journalist Raphaelle Bacqué. "I find it disgraceful to have my name dragged through the mud. For the rest, my lawyers are following the FIFA procedures and will take it to the Court of Arbitration for Sport if necessary. I hope all this will be done quickly."

Read the full article, Michel Platini Interview: I'm Not A Money Man.


$52

Shares of luxury sports car maker Ferrari will make their debut on Wall Street today, as the company raised $893 million in an initial public offering yesterday, The Wall Street Journal reports. Ferrari, controlled by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, was valued at close to $10 billion, with shares priced at $52.


TEXAS CLOCK KID MOVES TO QATAR

Remember Ahmed, the Texas "clock boy"? He's moving to Qatar after accepting a scholarship to study in Doha.


BACK TO THE FUTURE DAY

Great Scott! Today is the day when Marty McFly travels through time to find a 2015 with hoverboards, flying cars and no lawyers, and the Internet is loving it. So here's what Back to the Future II got right — and what it got terribly wrong.


LEGO SHORTAGE

Don't panic, but there might not be enough Legos for everyone this Christmas.

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Geopolitics

Utter Pessimism, What Israelis And Palestinians Share In Common

Right now, according to a joint survey of Israelis and Palestinians, hopes for a peaceful solution of coexistence simply don't exist. The recent spate of violence is confirmation of the deepest kind of pessimism on both sides for any solution other than domination of the other.

An old Palestinian protester waves Palestinian flag while he confronts the Israeli soldiers during the demonstration against Israeli settlements in the village of Beit Dajan near the West Bank city of Nablus.

A Palestinian protester confronts Israeli soldiers during the demonstration against Israeli settlements in the West Bank village of Beit Dajan on Jan. 6.

Pierre Haski

-Analysis-

PARIS — Just before the latest outbreak of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, a survey of public opinion among the two peoples provided a key to understanding the current situation unfolding before our eyes.

It was a joint study, entitled "Palestinian-Israeli Pulse", carried out by two research centers, one Israeli, the other Palestinian, which for years have been regularly asking the same questions to both sides.

The result is disastrous: not only is the support for the two-state solution — Israel and Palestine side by side — at its lowest point in two decades, but there is now a significant share of opinion on both sides that favors a "non-democratic" solution, i.e., a single state controlled by either the Israelis or Palestinians.

This captures the absolute sense of pessimism commonly felt regarding the chances of the two-state option ever being realized, which currently appears to be our grim reality today. But the results are also an expression of the growing acceptance on both sides that it is inconceivable for either state to live without dominating the other — and therefore impossible to live in peace.

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