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Geopolitics

Geneva 2 Ends, Canadian Spying, Chinese New Year

Fireworks celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year in the capital of central China’s Hunan Province.
Fireworks celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year in the capital of central China’s Hunan Province.
Long Hongtao/Xinhua/ZUMA

HIGH LEVELS OF RADIATION AT UK NUCLEAR SITE
All nonessential workers at a nuclear reprocessing plant in the British town of Sellafield were instructed to remain at home after elevated levels of radioactivity were detected at the site,The Guardian reports. But the company explained that the levels didn’t represent a risk for the public or the workforce. According to local newspaper News & Star, some 8,000 workers are affected by today’s decision.

KERRY TO MEET UKRAINIAN OPPOSITION
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is in Munich today for the 50th Annual Security Conference, where he will also meet the leaders of the Ukrainian opposition to discuss plans to form a new government, Reuters quotes a U.S. official as saying. Yesterday, an opposition activist who had been missing for over a week was found. He told a local television station that he was badly tortured. Read more from AP.

GENEVA 2 CONFERENCE ON SYRIA ENDS
The first round of the Geneva 2 peace conference on Syria ends today with “little or no progress” on the main issues, the BBC reports. But The Washington Postwrites that the fact that representatives of the Syrian government and those of the opposition “have communicated at all in the past five days can be counted as an achievement.” State news agency Sana hails the government delegation’s “readiness to discuss” the entire Geneva communiqué.

THAILAND PROTESTERS BLOCK BALLOT DELIVERY
Anti-government protesters are blocking the delivery of ballot boxes and papers in at least one Bangkok district as well as in southern parts of Thailand ahead of Sunday’s election, The Bangkok Post reports. A member of the country’s Election Commission said that even if the vote happens, it could be made invalid by the Constitutional Court because of early voting.

CANADA SPY AGENCY TARGETED AIRPORT PASSENGERS
Secret documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden reveal that Canadian spy agency CSEC used the Wi-Fi network at a major airport to track the devices of passengers even after they had left the airport. Read the full story from CBC.

“NO WAY” AMANDA KNOX WILL RETURN TO ITALY
The parents of U.S. citizen Amanda Knox said there was “no way” their daughter will return to Italy, where she was sentenced yesterday in absentia to 28-and-a-half years in prison for the murder of British student Meredith Kercher. In the meantime, her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison, was stopped near the Austrian border. Follow the live updates on The Guardian’s website.

BY THE NUMBERS
The world’s oldest flamingo died in Australia this morning at age 83.

VERBATIM
Amid the austerity measures the British Parliament is imposing on the public, it too has become more “monastic,” ceasing the late-night drinking and dining at Westminster Palace lawmakers are known for, The New York Times reports. Read how one Labour member describes the new parliamentary culture.

MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD

The Rua Conde de Bobadella in the center of Ouro Preto, in Brazil's southeastern Minas Gerais state, hasn't changed much since we went there 20 years ago — as this photo, taken at almost the exact same angle, shows on Wikipedia ... Can't say the same about the cars!

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Ideas

A Writer's Advice For How To Read The Words Of Politics

Colombia's reformist president has promised to tackle endemic violence, economic exclusion, pollution and corruption in the country. So what's new with a politician's promises?

Image of Colombian President Gustavo Petro speaking during a press conference in Buenos Aires on Jan 14, 2023

Colombian President Gustavo Petro, speaks during a press conference in the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on January 24, 2023.

Manuel Cortina/ZUMA
Héctor Abad Faciolince

-Essay-

BOGOTÁ — Don't concentrate on his words, I was once advised, but look at what he's doing. I heard the words so long ago I cannot recall who said them. The point is, what's the use of a husband who vows never to beat his wife in January and leaves her with a bruised face in February?

Words are a strange thing, and in literal terms, we must distrust their meaning. As I never hit anyone, I have never declared that I wouldn't. It never occurred to me to say it. Strangely, there is more power and truth in a simple declaration like "I love her" than in the more emphatic "I love her so much." A verbal addition here just shrinks the "sense" of love.

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