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Egypt

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

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

Why Russia Is Suddenly Deploying Air Defense Systems On Moscow Rooftops

Russia is increasingly concerned about security from the sky: air defense systems have been installed on rooftops in Moscow's government quarter. Systems have also appeared in several other places in Russia, including near Vladimir Putin's lakeside home in Valdai. What is the Kremlin really worried about?

photo of ice on the river in Moscow

Clear skies, cold reality along the Moskva River

Anna Akage

-Analysis-

The Russian Defense Ministry has refused to comment. State Duma parliamentary officials say it’s a fake. Still, a series of verified photographs have circulated in recent days of an array of long-range C-400 and short-range air defense systems installed on three complexes in Moscow near the Kremlin, as well as on locations in the outskirts of the capital and in the northwest village of Valdai, where Vladimir Putin has a lakeside residence.

Some experts believe the air defense installations in Moscow were an immediate response to recent Ukrainian statements about a new fleet of military drones: The Ukroboronprom defense contracter said this month that it completed a series of successful tests of a new strike drone with a range of over 1,000 kilometers. Analyst Michael Naki suggests that Moscow’s anti-air defense systems were an immediate reaction to the fact that the drones can theoretically hit Kremlin.

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Yet the air defense installations in Valdai seem to have been in place since late December, following Ukrainian drone attacks on a military airfield deep inside Russia’s Sorotov region, 730 kilometers (454 miles) southeast of Moscow.

Others pose a very different rationale to explain Russia’s beefing up anti-air defenses on its own territory. Russian military analyst Yan Matveev argues that Putin demanded the deployment of such local systems not as defense against long-range Ukrainian drones, but rather for fear of sabotage from inside Russia.

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