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Deadly Cairo Explosions, U.S. Secret Prison, Exploiting George Clooney

CAIRO HIT BY DEADLY BOMBS
The Egyptian capital of Cairo was hit by three bombs this morning, killing at least five people and leaving scores injured, Mada Masr reports. The first and biggest explosion targeted the police headquarters in the city center, where four people died. The attacks, for which an al-Qaeda-inspired group claimed responsibility, come one day before the third anniversary of the 2011 uprising that brought Hosni Mubarak’s rule to an end.

KIEV PROTESTERS STAY PUT AS TALKS CONTINUE
Protesters in Kiev are still occupying the center of the Ukrainian capital after they rejected the offers made by President Viktor Yanukovichfollowing his meeting with opposition leaders yesterday, Ria Novosti reports. In addition, a group of demonstrators seized a government building in Kiev this morning. Read more from AP.

SYRIAN SIDES WON’T MEET
Peace talks over the future of Syria have started in Geneva, as the UN mediator is meeting separately with representatives of the government and of the Syrian National Coalition. Despite earlier declarations by Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad that the official delegation was ready to sit around the same table as the opposition, face-to-face meetings will not happen, with both sides placing blame on the other, The Guardian reports.

NORTH KOREA’S OVERTURE TOWARDS SOUTH
In an open letter sent to the South, North Korea calls for the creation of “an atmosphere of reconciliation and unity” between the two countries, news agency Yonhap reports. Pyongyang also urges Seoul to “completely halt hostile military acts,” as South Korea prepares to hold joint military drills with the United States. Seoul officials replied saying North Korea needed to “demonstrate its sincerity through action.”

AMERICAN SECRET PRISON IN EUROPE
The CIA paid Polish authorities $15 million to host a secret prison, where al-Qaeda suspects were interrogated after 9/11, The Washington Postreports.

FIRE IN QUEBEC NURSING HOME KILLS 5
At least five people have died and 30 others are missing after a fire destroyed a retirement home in Quebec. Read more from The Toronto Star.

VERBATIM
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Google chairman Eric Schmidt said there would be a race for jobs between machines and people in the near future, and that people need to win it.

BY THE NUMBERS
This year’s World Economic Forum has (once again) a shockingly low number of female attendees.

HAIR YOU GO
Does George Clooney know how he’s being marketed in Pakistan?

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Searching For Marianna, A Pregnant Doctor From Mariupol Held Captive By The Russians

We’ve heard about the plight of the soldiers-turned-prisoners from Mariupol. Here are some traces of the disturbing fate of a young female doctor who’s been taken away.

A paper dove reads "Mariupol" at a shelter for displaced children in Uzhhorod, western Ukraine.

Paweł Smoleński

"Wait for me, because I will return…"

Marianna Mamonova wrote these words to her family, among the text messages and short phone calls that are the only remaining fragments used to piece together her recent past. We also have a photo of her, posted on Russian websites, where she looks into the lens, gaunt and exhausted, signed with a number like a concentration camp prisoner.

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Until the Russian-Ukrainian war, Mamonova’s biography was available to anyone who wanted to know. She was born in 1991, studied at the Ternopil Medical University, and later at the Kyiv Military Academy. After completing her studies, she was sent to work in the coastal city of Berdiansk. Her mother says that this is where her daughter's dream came true: She’d always wanted to be a military doctor, and worked in Berdiansk for three years, receiving the rank of officer in the Ukrainian army.

Beginning in 2014, she’d worked stints as a front-line doctor in the Donbas region, and when Russia invaded Ukraine in February she went to war again. This time in Mariupol.

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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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