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World powers agree ‘cessation of hostilities’ in Syria

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World powers on Feb. 12 agreed an ambitious plan to cease hostilities in war-racked Syria within a week and dramatically ramp up humanitarian access at talks in Munich aimed at reviving the struggling peace process. Hurriyet – MUNICH, Germany – Agence France-Presse The 17 countries agreed “to implement a nationwide cessation of hostilities to begin in a target of one week’s time,” said US Secretary of State John Kerry after extended talks co-hosted by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. The International ... Read More »

The young entrepreneurs helping to rebuild East Timor

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Cesar Gaio loves cooking in the open air. He hovers over a gas stove next to the winding road that edges the sea in Dili, East Timor, preparing wraps filled with purple sweet potato and fresh fish. BBC – By Kate StantonBusiness reporter, Dili, East Timor “I love people to see me cooking,” he says. “Like Jamie Oliver.” Mr Gaio carts a gas stove around the city in the back of his pick-up truck, setting up shop wherever he likes. Both ... Read More »

Scots council could fly Irish tricolour for 1916 Easter Rising

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A SCOTTISH council could fly the Irish tricolour from its building to commemorate the centenery of the 1916 Easter Rising. The Scotsman  North Lanarkshire Council is considering an application from Irish cultural organisation Cairde Na hEireann to fly the flag from three locations in Motherwell, Coatbridge and Cumbernauld. Supported by the council’s corporate services committee, the application, which goes against current policy, will be discussed at a meeting of local authority bosses. It is believed a number of councillors are ... Read More »

Sending kids to Nauru is a crime – ICC at the Hague notified of latest outrage

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The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, has written again to the International Criminal Court to provide further material to support an investigation into the Australian Government for crimes against humanity in relation to asylum seekers. “I have written to the ICC Prosecutor to draw her attention to the Government’s intention to deport to Nauru 267 asylum seekers, including 30 babies, who were brought to Australia for medical treatment,” Mr Wilkie said. “We know that the Nauru Regional Processing Centre ... Read More »

New Greek bailout, same as the old Greek bailout

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Bad news for Europe: Greek debt is back on the agenda. BERLIN — A quorum of Europe’s leading financial technocrats gathered last week for the painful ritual of assessing the status of Greece’s bailout. The meeting followed a familiar script: Greece’s creditors complained Athens had yet to deliver the required data. The Greeks protested, explaining that they had sent the information — the night before. Read original article:  Read More »

Somalia: Why is Al-Shabaab Still A Potent Threat?

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This year, the armed Islamist extremist group Al-Shabaab has notched up a series of bloody successes against both Somali targets and the African Union peace-enforcement mission AMISOM. ICG – By Abdul Khalif & Cedric Barnes | @CedricHoA Meanwhile, the international community has been busy cajoling principals of the Somali federal and state governments into agreeing on the means by which to hold new elections due in August. Despite four years of “post-transitional” government and a level of international engagement and foreign ... Read More »

Investigative journalists are finding innovative ways to expose secrets and lies

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Most of the fourth estate lacks the time and money needed to prise open the secret doors that the powerful keep locked. The Canberra Times – Jonathan Holmes * Every journalist I know loves the film Spotlight. It portrays us the way we wish we were – but fewer and fewer of us actually are. There’s a scene near the beginning of the film when Walter “Robby” Robinson, the editor of the Boston Globe‘s investigative team – called Spotlight, hence the ... Read More »

What Made Ancient Athens a City of Genius?

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The tiny, dirty Greek city-state produced more brilliant minds—from Socrates to Aristotle—than any other place the world before or since. Why? The Atlantic – Eric Weiner If you’ve ever voted, served on a jury, watched a movie, read a novel, spoken English, had a rational thought, or gazed at the night sky in silent wonder, then you can thank the Ancient Greeks. They brought us democracy, science, philosophy, written contracts, taxes, writing, and schools. But the apex of their civilization, sandwiched ... Read More »

NATO boots in Central Europe to tackle Russian threat

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No new bases, but troops to rotate between six frontline NATO countries. Politico – By HANS VON DER BURCHARD NATO will deploy troops to frontline states menaced by Russia’s actions in Ukraine, defense ministers agreed Wednesday, in what the head of the alliance called “the most significant boost to our collective defense since the end of the Cold War.” The alliance will not set up military bases in a bid to counter Russian military aggression, but will instead rotate the troops through six Central European ... Read More »

A container of love from the City of Angels

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Two containers of wheelchairs worth some €250,000 were gifted to Cyprus patients by the American humanitarian organisation “Global Hope in Action” via Cypriot charity EV-ZO. Cyprus Weekly The gesture will be commemorated with an event honouring the US-based GHA at Theatro Skala in Larnaca, February 11. The story, featured in Phileleftheros on Wednesday, began a few years ago with the establishment of EV-ZO, a volunteer organisation supporting adult patients with neurological disorders, by Despo Mavromichali-Neokleous. The organisation collects plastic caps ... Read More »

EU seeks tough curbs on airline subsidies in aviation deals

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EU Commission wants mandate for deals with Turkey and Gulf countries on a “fair competition clause” on agreements, arguing that state subsidies are breaking the competition Hurriyet – BRUSSELS – Reuters The European Union is seeking tough limits on public subsidies to airlines and the option of revoking their traffic rights as part of new commercial aviation agreements it wants to negotiate with several countries including Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. A draft “fair competition clause”, seen by Reuters, which ... Read More »

Tory backbench leader Graham Brady: “When we vote to leave the EU, the PM should stay”

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As chair of the 1922 Committee, Graham Brady is a king among Tory backbenchers. So what does the ardent Eurosceptic make of David Cameron’s prospects in the EU referendum – and afterwards? New Statesman By George Eaton Enter Graham Brady’s office and you are treated to a magnificent panoramic view of the Palace of Westminster and Parliament Square. It is an appropriately grand vantage point for one of the most influential MPs. As the chairman of the Conservative backbench 1922 ... Read More »

Yellen Sounds a More Cautious Note on U.S. Economy

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WASHINGTON — Janet L. Yellen, the Federal Reserve chairwoman, will say Wednesday that she is not ready to conclude that turbulence in financial markets has infected the broader economy, and plans to reiterate that the Fed intends to raise its benchmark interest rate gradually as economic conditions improve. The New York Times – By BINYAMIN APPELBAUM According to prepared remarks for her biannual report to Congress, Ms. Yellen will testify that the economy continued to grow despite a slowdown in the ... Read More »