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No Good AirAsia News, Afghanistan Mission Ends, 2014 In Review

At Juanda Airport, relatives of the victims of the AirAsia plane crash
At Juanda Airport, relatives of the victims of the AirAsia plane crash

Monday, December 29, 2014

The head of Indonesia’s search-and-rescue agency has said that AirAsia flight QZ8501, which disappeared yesterday with 162 people on board, is likely “at the bottom of the sea,” CNN reports. Search operations have so far failed to locate the aircraft, which was flying from Indonesia to Singapore. It is the third such incident to affect a Malaysian company this year, after the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 and the downing of MH17 in eastern Ukraine. Although high-profile plane incidents have made headlines over the past year, 2014 has seen the fewest crashes in more than 80 years. Still, if those on board the AirAsia aircraft are declared dead, the number of casualties would reach a 10-year high of 1,320.

Rescuers worked through the night despite difficult weather conditions to evacuate passengers from a burning ferry traveling from Greece to Italy. At least one person died, though a witness told Italian news agency ANSA that he had seen four dead bodies. At least 363 people have been rescued, but 115 were still on board this morning. Italian prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into the incident.

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NATO formally ended its 13-year mission in Afghanistan yesterday, a move the Afghanistan Taliban called “a clear indication of their defeat and disappointment,” AFP reports. The group vowed to continue to fight “so long as a single foreigner remains in Afghanistan in a military uniform.” About 12,500 NATO troops will remain in Afghanistan as part of a “training and support” mission.

As Die Welt’s Fanny Jiménez writes, German researchers have discovered the neurology and psychology at play when we touch our faces, scratching our noses or stroking our chins. It turns out that we do this when we are anxious or overwhelmed. “Their conclusion is that spontaneous face-touching helps to regulate cognitive overload and stress,” the journalist writes. “This ‘self-stimulation,’ as the researchers call it, balances out disturbances in processing information and emotional swings.”
Read the full article, Unmasking The Mystery Of Why People Touch Their Faces.

Greek parliament members have failed to name a new president, paving the way for a snap general election that Reuters says “could derail the international bailout program it needs to keep paying its bills.” Far-left anti-austerity party Syriza is currently leading the polls, and a date for the election will be announced within 10 days.

Sony Pictures’ controversial comedy The Interview has earned the company $15 million in online sales, far more than the $2.8 million earned from the limited theater release four days ago, The Verge reports. The movie, which is still struggling for a good review, has aggravated the already tense U.S.-North Korea relationship, and the scandal escalated further over the weekend when North Korea compared Barack Obama to “a monkey in a tropical forest.”

  • South Korea announced it had suggested resuming high-level talks with North Korea next month on issues that stand in the way of unification. Pyongyang has yet to respond. South Korea and Japan, meanwhile, finalized a military pact today to share intelligence about North Korea’s missile and nuclear program.

Today marks one year since Al Jazeera journalists Baher Mohamed, Mohamed Fahmy and Peter Greste were arrested under what the news network says were “false charges of aiding the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and spreading false news.” The three were handed jail sentences ranging from seven to 10 years in June, but their appeal will be heard in court Thursday.

We all share the same sky, but each of us gazes up from a unique place on earth.
Find out what Simon, Italy’s most trusted astrologer, has to say in this week’s horoscope.

U.S. and British intelligence agencies NSA and GCHQ regard encryption as “a threat” and have gone to extreme lengths to crack all types of secure communications, documents released by Edward Snowden reveal. In one striking example, the leaked documents show that the NSA has been collecting Skype data since 2011, even before Microsoft bought it. The agency has also targeted VPNs and other protocols, although some programs are still proving to be too difficult to crack. Read more in English from Der Spiegel.

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Worldcrunch recalls the events of 2014 — in 57 seconds.

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Why Beijing Needs Ukraine To Lose

As the Chinese government puts together what it calls a peace plan for Ukraine, it's also considering sending weapons to Russia. The Biden administration warns China will "pay a real price" if it helps Russia, but Beijing's real goal is to weaken the United States.

Why Beijing Needs Ukraine To Lose
Oleksandr Demchenko

This article was updated on March 21, 2023 at 12:15 PM CST


KYIV — In Moscow for his visit since the Russian invasion, Chinese President Xi Jinping is presenting himself as possible peacemaker to end the war in Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said he is ready to talk with Xi in a bid to stop Beijing from supplying Moscow with weapons.

And yet China has no strategic interest in Ukraine winning the war. Why?

Xi's only priority is establishing a future world order on Beijing's own terms — and the defeat of Ukraine and its allies, particularly the United States, would create an opportunity for Beijing to absorb Taiwan and increase its influence in the Pacific.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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China is the main beneficiary of the full-scale war that Russia has unleashed against Ukraine, viewing the confrontation as a tool to weaken the West.

Like Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese authorities were convinced that Russian troops could capture Kyiv in three days and take control of most of Ukraine within a month. This is probably what Putin and Xi agreed when they met during the Beijing Olympics in Feb. 2022: the Russian leader promised to destroy Ukraine, weakening Europe and eroding the trust other democratic states had in the United States — and in exchange, the Chinese leader assured Putin that he would back Moscow.

Instead, what was hailed as "No. 2 army of the world" was forced to retreat. On Sept. 15, as Ukrainian forces were liberating the Kharkiv region, Putin met Xi in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. After returning to Moscow, Putin announced a partial mobilization.

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