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Geopolitics

Syria Strikes ISIS, MH370 On Autopilot?, iPutin

Fans gathered Wednesday at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, CA, on the five-year anniversary of the Michael Jackson's death.
Fans gathered Wednesday at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, CA, on the five-year anniversary of the Michael Jackson's death.
Worldcrunch

Thursday, June 26, 2014

SYRIA STRIKES ISIS IN IRAQ
Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki confirmed in an interview with the BBC previous reports that the Syrian military had carried out air strikes against ISIS near the Iraqi border town of Qaim, explaining he had not requested them but “welcomed” the strikes against the jihadist group. This comes after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry yesterday warned — without naming them — Iran and Syria “that we don’t need anything to take place that might exacerbate the sectarian divisions.” According to The New York Times, Iran is sending military equipment, including drones, to the Iraqi authorities in a bid to stop ISIS’s march towards Baghdad.

KERRY UPS PRESSURE ON RUSSIA OVER UKRAINE TRUCE
Meanwhile on another front, Kerry stepped up pressure on Moscow to push the separatists in eastern Ukraine to disarm within “the next hours,” Reuters quotes him as saying. Although he insisted that “our preference is not to have to be in a sanctions mode,” he said that the possibility of new economic measures would be discussed at a meeting with EU leaders in Brussels later today. British newspaper Financial Times notes however that U.S. business groups are opposed to new sanctions, as they fear it will “harm American workers and cost jobs.”

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO
On the eve of the 100th anniversary of the event that is considered the trigger of World War I, Dominique Moisi of French daily Les Echos lays out some disturbing similarities and differences between events then and now, and the intervening century. “Today, as we are starting to feel — and rightly so — a loss of control over the course of history, we may start to doubt the quality of the world’s leaders; and so those images of Sarajevo start coming to mind.”
Read the full story 1914-2014: Is The World About To Unravel Again?

SNAPSHOT
Fans of Michael Jackson paid tribute to the "King of Pop" on the fifth anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death.

VETERAN RADICAL ACQUITTED
Radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada was acquitted this morning by a military court in Jordan due to lack of evidence to convict him over terrorism charges, Al Arabiya reports. The 53 year-old will however remain in custody because of separate charges over his alleged role in a plot to attack Western tourists in Jordan in 2000, for which the court postponed its ruling until September. Qatada, who is said to have inspired young members of al-Qaeda, was first arrested in the UK in 2001 and was deported to Jordan last year, after a years-long judicial battle. Read more from the BBC.

VERBATIM
British actor Gary Oldman apologized Wednesday for his Playboy interview last week, after he was accused of anti-Semitism for vigorous remarks on Hollywood and political correctness. He had some choice words also for himself.

NIGERIA BLAST DEATH TOLL REACHES 21
The death toll of an explosion at a shopping mall in the Nigerian capital of Abuja yesterday reached 21, with 17 reported wounded, according to the Nigerian Tribune. The blast occurred as people were gathering to watch their national team face Argentina in the World Cup. AFP says that the Nigerian military arrested one suspect and killed another. Boko Haram have claimed responsibility for the attack, while suspected members of the terrorist group are said to have killed 16 soldiers in the attack of a military post in the northeastern state of Borno.

MH370 LIKELY ON AUTOPILOT WHEN IT CRASHED
Investigators working on the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 now believe it’s “highly, highly likely” that the aircraft was on autopilot when it ran out of gas and crashed into the South Indian Ocean,The Australian reports. Australian officials also confirmed that the search area was moving south to a 60,000-square-kilometer zone that was previously checked, but this time the search teams will explore the area underwater. The aircraft took off from Kuala Lumpur on March 8 and disappeared on its way to Beijing, with 239 passengers and crew on board.

MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD


AN UNFORTUNATE VICTORY
A general amnesty announced by Bashar al-Assad this month is setting free or reducing sentences for thousands in Syrian jails. One case involves a man who served 21 years for a “crime” that shows a different side to the cruelty of the Assad regime. Read it here.

147,000
Check out the hefty price (both in rubles and dollars) of the new limited edition “Caviar iPhone5S Supremo Putin.”

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Coronavirus

Why Making COVID Predictions Is Actually Getting Harder

We know more about COVID than ever before, but that doesn't make it easier to predict what will happen this year. It also remains to be seen if we'll put the lessons we learned into practice.

​A young boy who arrived on a Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong wears a face mask and face shield at Vancouver International Airport in Canada on Jan. 10, 2023.

A young boy who arrived from Hong Kong wears a face mask and face shield at Vancouver International Airport in Canada on Jan. 10, 2023.

Duncan Robertson

In 2020, we knew very little about the novel virus that was to become known as COVID-19. Now, as we enter 2023, a search of Google Scholar produces around five million results containing the term.

So how will the pandemic be felt in 2023? This question is in some ways impossible to answer, given a number of unknowns. In early 2020, the scientific community was focused on determining key parameters that could be used to make projections as to the severity and extent of the spread of the virus. Now, the complex interplay of COVID variants, vaccination and natural immunity makes that process far more difficult and less predictable.

But this doesn’t mean there’s room for complacency. The proportion of people estimated to be infected has varied over time, but this figure has not fallen below 1.25% (or one in 80 people) in England for the entirety of 2022. COVID is very much still with us, and people are being infected time and time again.

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