Monday, December 8, 2014
ISRAEL ACCUSED OF BOMBING SYRIA
Syria has officially asked the United Nations to impose sanctions on Israel after accusing the Israeli military of bombing the international airport in Damascus and another target in the countryside near the Syrian capital. “This direct aggression by Israel was carried out to help the terrorists” after recent defeats, the Syrian army said in a statement. Israeli officials did not directly comment on the attacks, but Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz reiterated that the country has “a firm policy of preventing all possible transfers of sophisticated weapons to terrorist organizations.” According to both the AFP and The Washington Post, the statement was a reference to Lebanon’s Hezbollah, an arch enemy of Israel and allied to Assad in the Syrian war. One of the targets was reportedly an arms depot, but Hezbollah sources said it did not belong to them.
FAILED HOSTAGE RESCUE IN YEMEN
American journalist Luke Somers and South African teacher Pierre Korkie, both hostages in Yemen, were killed by an al-Qaeda-affiliated group on Saturday after a failed U.S. operation to rescue the Somers. The operation went wrong when the Navy SEALs lost their “element of surprise” less than 100 yards from their target, The Wall Street Journal reports. But in a tragic development, it emerged later that the South African teacher was just hours away from being released, in return for a $200,000 ransom, something U.S. officials said they had not known. Korkie’s widow Yolande, who had been captured with her husband but released in January, said in a statement that she had chosen to “forgive” and “love.” “Even though the pain is overwhelming us right now, we choose to believe that this too shall pass,” AFP quoted her as saying.
At least 27 people were killed on the eastern island of Samar in the Philippines, as Typhoon Hagupit registered maximum gusts up to 170 kilometers per hour (105 mph).
UKRAINE FIGHTING CONTINUE AHEAD OF CEASEFIRE TALKS
Ukraine officials say that at least eight civilians and two soldiers had been killed in recent fights with pro-Russian rebels, just hours ahead of the planned start of a “Day of Silence” on Tuesday, AFP reports. A meeting will take place tomorrow in Minsk where representatives of both sides will discuss a schedule for the implementation of a ceasefire deal agreed in September.
In an interview for newspaper Die Welt am Sonntag, German Chancellor Angela Merkel accused Moscow of interfering in the affairs of former Soviet countries seeking closer ties with the EU, namely Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. Commenting on the “collective European response” and sanctions against Russia, Merkel said she was convinced this was the “right answer.”
Writing in The Washington Post, two fellows from the Brookings Institution warn that the West’s response to the crisis risked escalating the situation further and call on NATO leaders to “work with Moscow to create a new European security order acceptable to both sides.”
GUANTANAMO PRISONERS TRANSFERRED TO URUGUAY
Six prisoners held at Guantanamo were transferred to Uruguay over the weekend, the largest single transfer of detainees out of the Cuba-based prison, The Los Angeles Times reports. U.S. President Barack Obama has repeatedly vowed he would close the facility, yet 136 prisoners remain held there, with 67 of them approved for transfer.
MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD
BODY OF MISSING MEXICAN STUDENT FOUND
Investigators in Mexico have managed to identify the charred remains of one of the 43 students who went missing in late September, a finding that suggests the trainee teachers were incinerated at a garbage dump, Reuters quoted Attorney General Jesus Murillo as saying. The announcement came after new protests in Mexico City on Saturday where parents vowed to continue to look for their sons and daughters. “If these murderers think that with a DNA match of one of our boys, we are going to stop and cry, we want to tell them that they have been mistaken,” a spokesman for the students’ parents said. Read more from CNN.
NEW DELHI BANS UBER AFTER RAPE ALLEGATIONS
The local government in Delhi announced today it had banned, effective immediately, the use of upstart private car-service company Uber after one of its drivers was accused of beating and raping a 27-year-old woman, The Indian Express reports. The San Francisco-based company has come under intense criticism over how it recruits drivers, and reportedly failed to run a simple background check on the driver, who had previously been jailed for seven months in another rape case.
What is it like to be the parent of a teenager who has confessed to rape and murder? In southern France, the parents of a notorious killer describe what was almost a normal family life. “The monster’s parents live in a small house at the end of a narrow road in this southern French town. For three years, they had avoided the media, with their lawyers telling journalists over and over again: ‘Out of respect for the victims, his parents don’t wish to speak publicly.’ Then on Oct. 13, this reporter received an email out of the blue. ‘I am Matthieu’s father …’”
Read the full article, from Le Monde/Worldcrunch, My Son Has Committed Unspeakable Crimes.
Ralph Baer, the German-American inventor of the world’s first video game console, has died at age 92.
AIRLINE CHAIRMAN’S DAUGHTER GOES NUTS IN PLANE
It’s never easy being a flight attendant, but some passengers are tougher than others. On Friday, the daughter of Korean Air’s CEO ordered a plane that was about to take off back to the gate to remove one of the flight attendants. Why? The crew member had the nerve to serve the special first-class passenger macadamia nuts in a paper bag instead of a dish.
Welcome to Monday, where the UK pays homage to slain MP David Amess, Myanmar frees thousands of prisoners, and Facebook gets ready to build its "metaverse." Please fasten your seatbelts: Worldcrunch also takes stock of the long-lasting effects — good and bad — the pandemic has had on the air travel industry.
[*Azeri - Azerbaijan]
🌎 7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW
• Myanmar to free political prisoners: Myanmar's junta chief Min Aung Hlaing has announced the release of 5,636 prisoners who had been jailed for protesting the coup that ousted the civilian government in February 2021.
• Powerful Haiti gang behind the kidnapping of U.S. missionaries: The notorious 400 Mawozo gang is believed to be behind the kidnapping in Haiti of a group of Christian missionaries, including 16 U.S. citizens and one Canadian. The brazen kidnapping on Saturday comes as crime is spiking since the killing of President Jovenel Moise in July.
• UK to pay tribute to David Amess: British lawmakers will pay homage in parliament to colleague David Amess, who was stabbed to death Friday in what was described by the police as a "terrorist incident." Officers arrested a 25-year-old suspect whose father, Harbi Ali Kullane, worked as a media adviser to a former prime minister of Somalia.
• COVID update: Russia has registered more than 34,000 cases of new infections in the past 24 hours, a new record since the start of the pandemic. Meanwhile, police in the northeast Italian city of Trieste used water cannons to clear striking dockworkers protesting Italy's new requirements that all employees be vaccinated.
• At least 26 killed in floods in India: Torrential rain has triggered floods and landslides in India's southern coastal state of Kerala, killing at least 26 people.
• Facebook to hire 10,000 in EU to develop "metaverse": The U.S. social media giant plans to hire 10,000 workers in the European Union over the next five years to build a "metaverse," a virtual reality version of the internet that the company touts as the future.
• Punishing parents for children's bad behavior: After limiting gaming hours for minors, China is now considering legislation to reprimand parents if their children exhibit "very bad behavior" or commit crimes.
🗞️ FRONT PAGE
Colombian daily El Espectador dedicates its front page to Alex Saab, "owner of the secrets" of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The Colombian businessman, wanted by U.S. authorities for allegedly laundering money on behalf of Venezuela's government, has been extradited from Cape Verde to the U.S. where he is scheduled to appear in court today.
#️⃣ BY THE NUMBERS
China's economy registered its slowest pace in a year as the country faces a looming energy crisis with power shortages and increasing pressure on its property sector. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the period between July-September rose 4.9%, the weakest numbers since the third quarter of 2020 and significantly lower than forecasts. The world's second-largest economy faces a debt crisis linked to the China Evergrande Group debt crisis, while energy shortfalls have dropped factory output to its weakest since early 2020, when heavy COVID-19 curbs were in place.
📰 STORY OF THE DAY
7 ways the pandemic may change the airline industry for good
Will flying be greener? More comfortable? Less frequent? As the world eyes a post-COVID reality, we look at ways the airline industry has been changing through a pandemic that has devastated air travel.
⛽ Cleaner aviation fuel: With air travel responsible for roughly 12% of all CO2 emissions from transport, and stricter international regulation on the horizon, the industry is increasingly seeking sustainable alternatives to petroleum-based fuel. In Germany, state broadcaster Deutsche Welle reports that the world's first factory producing CO2-neutral kerosene recently started operations in the town of Wertle, in Lower Saxony. The plant, for which Lufthansa is set to become the pilot customer, will produce CO2-neutral kerosene through a circular production cycle incorporating sustainable and green energy sources and raw materials
.🛃 Smoother check-in: The pandemic has also accelerated the shift towards contactless traveling, with more airports harnessing the power of biometrics — such as facial recognition or fever screening — to reduce touchpoints and human contact. Similar technology can also be used to more efficiently scan physical objects, such as explosive detection. Ultimately, passengers will be able to "check-in" and go through a security screening anywhere at the airports, removing queues and bottlenecks.
✈️ The billion-dollar question: Will we fly less? At the end of the day, even with all these (mostly positive) changes that we've seen take shape over the past 18 months, the industry faces major uncertainty about whether air travel will ever return to the pre-COVID levels. Not only are people wary about being in crowded and closed airplanes, but the worth of long-distance business travel, in particular, is being questioned as many have seen that meetings can function remotely, via Zoom and other online apps.
➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com
"The crimes committed that night are unforgivable for the Republic."
— Emmanuel Macron became the first French president to commemorate the killing of as many as 200 Algerian independence protesters by Parisian police in 1961. For 40 years, French officials ignored the massacre, which took place a year before Algeria gained its independence from France after an eight-year war. In 2012, French President François Hollande acknowledged the killings for the first time on a visit to Algeria, and Macron took it further by attending Sunday's commemoration at the site where the events happened in the French capital. Still, many had hoped the French President would go further and take responsibility for a "state massacre," for a crime many historians consider the most violent repression of a peaceful demonstration in post-War Europe.
📈💥 IN OTHER NEWS
Low trust, high risk: The global rise of violence targeting politicians
The deadly stabbing of British Parliament Member David Amess confirms an ongoing study on trust and governance in democracies around the world: It's bad. In The Conversation, James Weinberg — the study's author and a lecturer in Political Behavior at the University of Sheffield — writes:
⏪ The assassination of Amess, who was stabbed to death in his constituency on Friday, is a tragic moment for democracy. What makes it even more devastating is that such a catastrophic failure is not without precedent or predictability. Labour MP Jo Cox was shot at her constituency surgery in 2016. Before her, another Labour MP, Stephen Timms, survived a stabbing in 2010. And Andrew Pennington, a Gloucestershire county councilor, died in a frenzied attack in 2001 while trying to protect local Liberal Democrat MP Nigel Jones.
☝️ Beyond these critical junctures in the public debate about politicians' safety, elected representatives must live with an increasingly insidious level of popular cynicism that threatens violence on an almost daily basis.
🇬🇧🇳🇿🇿🇦 Not only are these experiences of abuse or threats of physical violence felt across both sides of the political aisle in the UK — they also appear to be growing more common in other democratic contexts where the climate of politics has been presumed to be both calmer and more volatile, from New Zealand to South Africa.
Read the full piece from The Conversation, now on Worldcrunch.com
✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger
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