News Round-Up 3/12/14

flickr / Freedom House In Homs, Syria.
flickr / Freedom House / Homs, Syria.

Assorted Stand-Outs:

  • In New York City, an explosion rocked a building in Harlem. At least one person is confirmed dead and it is rumored to have been caused by a gas leak.
  • Malaysian plane update: Still nothing, and anger is mounting.
  • Austin, Texas shout-out courtesy of yours truly: Gun activists are planning to march (are marching? have marched?) on SXSW through Sixth Street today. Have fun, Texans.
  • Obama’s administration is debating how best to ‘punish‘ Russia, specifically re: its economy.
  • New America Foundation (NAF) President Anne Marie Slaughter weighs in on her thoughts re: a female president for the United States.
  • Controversial Arizona Governor Jan Brewer will not seek re-election.
  • Culture Moment: The San Fran-based Betabrand released its new spring collection photos featuring not typical models but, instead, female PhDs. Hello ladies.

South Asia:

  • United States Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford is set to testify before Congress regarding the state of American troops on the ground in Afghanistan. The testimony comes in the midst of acrimony between the White House and Afghan leader Hamid Karzai, who has refused to agree to the American-fronted Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) despite pressure from Washington.
  • Ben Emmerson’s drone report has been released; it calls for independent investigations of drone attacks.
  • FP says there’s ‘something rotten‘ in India.
  • The government of Tamil Nadu has stated it will only continue talks with Colombo after the release of the Indian fisherman currently in Sri Lankan custody. As of this afternoon, a Sri Lankan court had ordered the release of the 116 fisherman. The talks at hand concern waters whose borders are contested by both Sri Lanka and Indian fisherman, the latter of whom claim they are only fishing in their native territory.
  • Gang violence in Karachi has killed 14 people, the bulk of whom were women and children.
  • In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), two policeman escorting a polio vaccination team were shot dead in the Dera Ismail Khan district. The incident highlights the risks facing vaccination workers, who perform dangerous and essential work in Pakistan — one of only three countries in the world where polio remains categorized as an endemic viral infection. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif promised that the sacrifices of polio workers would not go in vain and Imran Khan, whose Tehreek-e-Insaf party controls the province of KP, called for the eradication of polio to be incorporated into ongoing peace talks with the Taliban. Regardless, there will be no anti-polio vaccination drive in Waziristan due to a Taliban ban. The drive targets children under the age of five.
  • Pakistani cricketer Shahid Afridi has made himself some feminist enemies with his sexist comments – and they clearly are unafraid of expressing their distaste.

Middle East:

  • British PM David Cameron is set to visit Israel ‘as a friend‘. Many Palestinians are critiquing the move, in addition to dismissing it entirely.
  • EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton has come under fire for visiting activists in Iran.
  • Israel has expressed apologies regarding the death of a Palestinian-born Jordanian judge — a move that has led to tension between the country and neighboring Jordan.
  • Al-Monitor weighs in with what the Saudi-Qatar divide means for the GCC.
  • HuffPo has several pieces on the losses faced on all sides in Syria, including both at the hands of the regime and at the hands of the rebels as well as beyond. Meanwhile, the Observatory for Human Rights says it is likely upwards of 120,000 Syrians have died in the country’s civil war. Special attention is given within the articles to the targeting of the Alawites, a Shia Muslim offshoot group who are minorities within the country.
  • Rockets from Gaza have hit southern Israel.
  • Sunni Iraqis wait and plan, with all eyes on Fallujah.

United States:

  • President Obama is planning to seek a ‘broad expansion’ of overtime pay.
  • Senator Dianne Feinstein’s public rebuke of the CIA has exploded in controversy, but FP is wondering how hard she’s willing to fight.
  • The Justice Department is turning its eyes to G.M., inspecting its actions regarding safety flaws.
  • Four Democrats want Rhode Island to require pre-abortion ultrasounds.

East Asia:

  • Japan may be set to mass-dump tons upon tons of radioactive water into the ocean.

Europe/Eurasia:

  • The Ukraine will not interfere militarily in Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Additionally, the United States’ plans in the peninsula remain a mystery.
  • In Turkey, crowds gather for the funeral of a teenage boy injured during protests.

Daily Wow: This controversial photo from Syria has heads turning and questions (accusations?) flying.

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