NEED TO KNOW
A bad day to be in Baghdad. A series of car bombs in and around Iraq’s capital have killed at least 29 people. A dozen more were killed in attacks in the south of the country, making more than 50 deaths today in total — and that was by 2 p.m.
The bombings appeared to target predominantly Shia areas, suggesting that they’re the latest instance of the bloody sectarian violence that has killed hundreds of Iraqis this year alone. How Iraq come to this? Well, it had some help. Here’s the path to failure in 49 simple steps — unfortunately, the route back isn’t nearly so easy to map.
Italian bus disaster. At least 38 people are dead after a bus careened off a highway in southern Italy and into a ravine. The bus was bringing pilgrims back from a visit to a Catholic shrine yesterday evening when, for reasons that aren’t yet clear, it veered off the overpass and plunged almost 100 feet. Emergency services have spent the night searching for passengers, surrounded by a growing line of coffins.
It’s already been confirmed as Italy’s worst road accident in decades. Coming just days after Spain’s deadliest rail disaster for 40 years, it’s enough to make Europeans want to stay at home.
WANT TO KNOW
The Israelis and the Palestinians are talking again. At least they will be, and at least officially: the first direct Middle East peace talks in three years are due to begin this evening in Washington, DC, hosted by US Secretary of State John Kerry.
The meeting is the culmination of months of diplomatizing by Kerry — who by now knows the interiors of the region’s airports better than anyone — and it took Israel reluctantly agreeing, yesterday, to release more than 100 Palestinian prisoners to finally get a rendezvous confirmed. When it’s this hard to get two sides to sit at a negotiating table, don’t expect a breakthrough when they do.
Cambodia’s election kerfuffle. Cambodian opposition leaders have rejected the results of yesterday’s election, citing serious irregularities in the vote that returned the ruling party to power. Sam Rainsy’s Cambodia National Rescue Party alleges that as many as 15 percent of voters were unable to cast their ballot due to “ghost names,” duplicated entries and other suspicious occurrences.
For many observers, the surprise wasn’t that Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Cambodia People’s Party won yet again — it was that it did it by such a small margin, just 68 seats to the opposition’s 55. Fresh from his party’s best showing in years, Rainsy says he’s not satisfied with anything less than “justice.”
STRANGE BUT TRUE
The sound of color. How do you experience color if your world’s in black and white? For artist Neil Harbisson, born totally colorblind, the answer has come in the form in of an “eyeborg”: a sensor attached to a chip attached to his head, which detects colors and converts them into sounds that it then transmits to his ears.
Harbisson is keen for others to extend their senses, too — even if they can already see color the old-fashioned way. Watch — and hear — GlobalPost’s video about his invention for a truly multisensory experience.
Palestinians marked the 65th anniversary of the “Nakba” or the Day of Catastrophe, which marks their displacement after the creation of the state of Israel.
Tens of thousands of Palestinians protested Wednesday on the 65th anniversary of the “Nakba” or the Day of Catastrophe, which marks their displacement after the creation of the state of Israel.
May 15 is the day Palestinians choose to commemorate the displacement of hundreds of thousands of their kinsman in the aftermath of the Arab-Israeli conflict in 1948.
Protesters chanted, “The right of return will not die.”
Photos by AFP/Getty Images
JERUSALEM — Israel and Gaza have exchanged some of the heaviest airstrikes since the truce negotiated in November which ended Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense on the Strip.
The Israel Air Force launched its first airstrikes on the Gaza Strip since the cease-fire late on Tuesday night, responding to three mortar shells which were fired at the Negev on Tuesday.
Palestinian militants fired two more rockets from the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, which exploded on open ground near the Israeli town of Sderot, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
Photo by AFP/Getty Images
RAMALLAH, West Bank — The helipad at the Muqataa, the memorial mausoleum where Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is buried in Ramallah, has been swept clean in anticipation of next week’s arrival of US President Barack Obama.
But in Ramallah, subdued complacency combined with low expectations will greet the president as he arrives for talks with the Palestinian leadership.
Obama is expected to spend about five hours here on a three-day visit to Israel, the West Bank and Jordan, although recent reports suggest the president could skip Ramallah altogether, meeting President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem.
At the upmarket Plaza Mall, more than half of the shoppers interviewed expressed surprise that Obama was even coming.
Photo by AFP/Getty Images
JERUSALEM — A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip landed near the city of Ashkelon in southern Israel, the first breach of a cease fire since the last Gaza conflict.
"The rocket fell early in the morning near Ashkelon and did some damage to a road, without hurting anyone," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told Agence France Presse.
The incident is the first attack since the end of an Israeli operation in late November, when more than a thousand rockets were fired into Israeli territory from the Gaza strip in reaction to the assassination of a Hamas military commander.
GlobalPost Senior Correspondent in Israel, Noga Tarnopolsky, said the al-Aksa Martyr’s Brigade, the armed branch of Fatah — the political party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas — has taken responsibility for the act.
Photo by AFP/Getty Images
JERUSALEM — An Israeli soldier provoked public outcry after he reportedly posted an Instagram photo that appears to show a Palestinian boy in the crosshairs of a rifle.
A spokesperson for the Israeli Defense Forces told GlobalPost that Mor Ostrovski, 20, an Israeli soldier in a sniper unit, said he did not take the original picture, that he found it on the internet.
GlobalPost Senior Correspondent in Israel, Noga Tarnopolsky, said the Israeli Defense Forces have faced several problems with soldiers posting controversial content to social media sites.
"This is part of the brave new world in which young soldiers who have no memory of a world before social media hold in their hands major responsibility for the lives of people — including their privacy," Tarnopolsky said. "The reaction is significant and the punishment is serious."
JERUSALEM — President Barack Obama won’t be bringing a peace initiative with him on his first presidential visit to Israel scheduled for the spring, the White House said on Wednesday.
He will visit for three days in March, when he’ll also spend a few hours in the Palestinian Authority.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said the trip was not connected with restarting the Middle East peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, Haaretz reported.
US Ambassador Dan Shapiro told Israel’s Channel 2 News, “These are two leaders starting out on new terms. To some degree they have to chart out how to work together.”
Photo by AFP/Getty Images
Hundreds of thousands of Fatah supporters rallied in Gaza to mark the organization’s 48th anniversary on Friday.
Hamas, Fatah’s rival movement which governs Gaza, allowed the rally to take place.
ASHKELON, Israel — At a hotel here Friday morning, two cheery Swiss tourists had the drill down, shuffling between their room and a bomb shelter five times without complaint.
Israeli air force jets roared overhead and the muffled explosions of anti-rocket batteries could be heard at regular intervals. “I don’t mind at all,” Attila Diamand said. “I was here visiting a kibbutz 30 years ago and we were attacked then, too. This is just the same. It’s fine.”
One rocket that Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system failed to intercept landed in a nearby parking lot.
Read the rest at Global Post