Thursday, November 13, 2014
SERIES OF ATTACKS TARGET EGYPT
A series of apparently unrelated attacks has targeted Egypt, the most significant and unusual being one on an Egyptian navy ship yesterday in the Mediterranean Sea, which left five servicemen injured and eight more missing at sea. Four of the gunmen were killed and 32 arrested. Then this morning a small bomb exploded in the Cairo Metro during rush hour, causing a stampede in which at least 16 people were injured, while more attacks against security forces in Sinai killed two policemen and three soldiers. It’s unclear whether the attacks are connected, but Islamist groups are likely to be blamed, especially after Sinai-based jihadist group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis swore allegiance to ISIS earlier this week.
The Egyptian and the United Arab Emirates embassies were also targeted by car bombs this morning in the Libyan capital of Tripoli, though nobody was hurt because the diplomatic missions left the buildings months ago after Islamist militias took control of the city. Both Egypt and the UAE were reported a few months ago to have carried out airstrikes against Islamist groups in Libya. Read more from AP.
Two window washers were left dangling for almost two hours from the 69th floor of One World Trade Center Wednesday afternoon.
U.S. ACCUSES RUSSIA OF “FUELING WAR” IN UKRAINE
Amid NATO allegations that Russian troops and military equipment are entering Ukraine, the U.S. envoy to the United Nations, Samantha Power, accused Moscow of “fueling war,” the BBC reports. Russian deputy UN ambassador Aleksandr Pankin denied the claims, which he described as “propaganda.” This comes amid intensifying fights in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk. The Daily Telegraph meanwhile reports that Vladimir Putin added 55 tons of gold to Russia’s coffers over a three-month period, more than any other country, as Moscow prepares for a potential economic war with the West.
“If I had one wish for football, it would be that FIFA was disbanded and replaced by a transparent governing body that put its sport first,” former England soccer player Gary Lineker, who is currently a sports broadcaster, wrote Thursday on Twitter. His comment came after the international soccer governing body cleared Qatar — and itself — of corruption allegations over the country’s successful bid to organize the 2022 World Cup, the BBC reports. Read more here.
A GIANT LEAP, AND TWO BOUNCES
European Space Agency scientists feared for a time that the Philae craft that landed yesterday on a comet had failed to stay on the surface. But after a tense several hours, they confirmed that the small robot probe was stable after bouncing twice because of the comet’s low gravity and a failure in the harpoon system, but was now stable. Controllers are retrieving the first pictures taken by Philae, including this stunning shot.
Retrieving photos isn’t as easy as it may seem. There is a 28-minute delay in sending a command to the probe, more than 300 million miles away — and it takes another 28 minutes to get a confirmation signal back to Earth.
As Mada Masr’s Isabel Esterman reports, Egypt’s most promising researchers are packing up and moving abroad. “In the 2014-15 edition of the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness report, Egypt ranked 135 out of 144 countries worldwide for the quality of scientific research institutions, and 136 for overall quality of higher education in math and science,” the journalist writes. “The country ranked well for the availability of scientists and engineers, at number 40, but only 132 in capacity for innovation. ...The situation has not always been this bad, says geoarcheologist Fekri Hassan, a member of the Egyptian Scientific Academy who has taught in universities across Europe and the United States and now serves as director of the Cultural Heritage Program at the French University in Egypt. ‘Even though Egypt was still poor, I think it was a lot different than it is now.’”
Read the full article, Why Egypt's Brightest Scientific Minds Move Abroad.
ISRAEL WON’T COOPERATE WITH UN PROBE
Israel’s Foreign Ministry announced late yesterday that the country would not cooperate with a UN Human Rights Council investigation into the Gaza military operation this summer, branding it as “one-sided,” The Times of Israel reports. The three members of the investigative committee were barred from entering the territory and are stranded in the Jordan capital of Amman. Israeli authorities in Jerusalem, meanwhile, approved a construction project of another 200 settlements in occupied East Jerusalem. Washington said it was “deeply concerned” about the decision, which is “contrary to Israel's own stated goal of achieving a two-state solution.”
MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD
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EXPERIMENTAL EBOLA DRUGS TO BE TESTED
Medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders will start three trials of experimental Ebola drugs in West Africa next month, The Guardian reports. Such tests are unprecedented because they will bypass the usual but lengthy path of clinical trials in animals and healthy humans, a move the charity described as “an exceptional measure in exceptional circumstances.” The group and its partners are hoping the drugs can stop the disease from spreading and can cure patients, even as the World Health Organization announced that the death toll now stands at 5,160 out of 14,098 people infected across eight countries.
CHINESE HACKERS TARGET U.S. WEATHER NETWORK
The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which includes the National Weather Service, told The Washington Post that Chinese hackers had breached its weather system in late September, though the attack wasn’t reported to the proper authorities. The revelation comes two days after news that Chinese government operatives may have hacked into the U.S. Postal Service. “Cyberattack is quite common in today’s cyberspace,” an official at the Chinese embassy told the newspaper. “Jumping to conclusions on its origin without hard evidence is not responsible at all.”
THE HUSH OVER SOUTH KOREA
Some 650,000 South Korean students are sitting for annual university entry exams today. And as a country that is typically praised for its academic superiority, South Korea goes to extraordinary lengths to ensure the best possible testing conditions, The Daily Telegraph reports. Employees at government offices and large companies are starting work one hour later to keep roads free of traffic, and vehicles are forbidden from circulating near exam centers. Planes all over the country are even being grounded during the 40-minute English listening test. Oh, and did we mention the emergency service for those who accidentally slept in?