Tuesday, November 18, 2014
FINAL IRAN NUCLEAR TALKS BEGIN
The last round of talks on Iran’s nuclear program began this morning in Vienna with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif confident that a deal could be reached before next Monday’s deadline if the other six world powers don’t make “excessive demands,” AFP reports. The BBC writes, however, that “few people believe” an agreement will be reached, while Al Jazeera America reports that “naysayers in Washington and Tehran — not to mention U.S. allies such as Israel, the Gulf Arab states and even possibly France — demand a harder line from their respective sides.” A deal would lift sanctions against Iran that are crippling its economy and would theoretically ensure that it doesn’t develop nuclear weapons.
"Given the political capital that both sides have invested ... it would be foolish to walk away from the talks and throw away this historic opportunity," Arms Control Association analyst Kelsey Davenport told AFP.
JERUSALEM SYNAGOGUE ATTACKED
At least four Israelis were killed this morning and eight others wounded in a synagogue attack in western Jerusalem. Police shot and killed the two assailants, who attacked worshipers with knives, axes and guns, at the scene, Haaretz reports. According to The Jerusalem Post, a rabbi was among the four victims. It is the latest in a series of deadly escalations in the holy city and was later claimed by the military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, contradicting the first statements of Israeli police that the two men were “lone wolves.”
Hamas praised the attack, calling “for the continuation of revenge operations” and stressing that “the Israeli occupation bears responsibility for tension in Jerusalem.” The organization said the attack was a response to the death of a Palestinian bus driver, although an autopsy concluded he had committed suicide. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the Hamas statement and “all violent acts no matter who their source is.” He blamed Israeli settlers and some Israeli ministers for their “provocative acts.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to “respond with a heavy hand to this brutal murder” and accused Hamas and Abbas for their “incitement,” which the international community was “irresponsibly ignoring,” he said.
NASA is developing an infrared successor to the Hubble Space Telescope that will be 100 times as powerful as its predecessor and should be able to reveal images of the first galaxies forming some 13.5 billion years ago.
STATE OF EMERGENCY IN MISSOURI
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency there yesterday, and the FBI warned of possible violence in anticipation of potential protests after the result of the investigation into the death of black teenager Michael Brown, The Washington Post reports. Darren Wilson, the policeman who shot the 18-year-old Aug. 9, is expected not to be charged despite witnesses saying that he fired his gun several times after Brown had surrendered. The National Guard will be deployed to dozens of locations around greater St. Louis. Internet activist group Anonymous, meanwhile, hacked the Ku Klux Klan’s Twitter account in response to death threats towards protesters.
As Le Monde’s Laurent Carpentier writes, 5,000 people are hard at work to ensure that in a year’s time the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the new museum built under the aegis of the world renowned French museum, is ready to house acclaimed art and open its doors to visitors. “But just what goes into establishing a universal museum?” the journalist asks. “And how to design it? Is it even possible in view of the diversification of the arts today — painting, cinema, video, and so on? ‘When we started out, the scientific team was working with categories of works,’ says Louvre director Jean-Luc Martinez. ‘It led nowhere. We rethought the whole thing and decided to tell a story — that of the image as seen from a global point of view. It’s a way of addressing a double tension: on the one hand that of being both an art museum and a museum of anthropology and civilization, and on the other bridging the demand for cultural identity and a universal will. This more or less corresponds to the tension of today’s world.’”
Read the full article, Louvre Abu Dhabi, A French Museum Rising In The Dese
JAPAN PM CALLS SNAP ELECTION
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced he would dissolve the parliament Friday and called a snap election to be held next month. He is seeking a public mandate to push ahead with economic reforms, The Wall Street Journal reports. Abe also announced that a planned sales tax increase would be postponed for 18 months, which comes after yesterday’s news that the country was officially in a recession. But he brushed aside criticism that “Abenomics” and its aggressive quantitative easing program was a failure. As things stand, his party looks likely to win the election, as the main opposition party still hasn’t recovered from its massive defeat two years ago.
MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD
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HONG KONG PROTEST SITE CLEARED
Hong Kong court bailiffs have successfully cleared one protest site near government offices following a court order, eight weeks after the pro-democracy movement began. According to the South China Morning Post, protesters put up little resistance, with some carrying the barricades to the main Occupy Central protest site in the city.
PLANET OF THE VAPES
Oxford Dictionaries has unveiled the word of the year — successor to last year’s “selfie.” Behold “vape,” which can be a noun or verb to denote either an e-cigarette itself or inhaling the vapor from one. The word is not entirely new and was first used in 1983, back when smokeless cigarettes were just an idea. Read more from TIME.