- Updates on the SCOTUS and birth control: The oral argument is here, and here’s a nice bit on Justice Kagan getting aggressive with Justice Scalia regarding ‘religious liberty’.
- Mysterious Missing Plane updates: Objects spotted look credible, and everyone’s taking a shot at CNN’s overly excessive coverage of the flight’s disappearance. There are 122 potential objects, for the record, and national rivalries aren’t helping anything.
- Pope Francis has removed the “bling bishop.”
- The mudslide in Washington has had deadly effects and the death toll is rising.
- The Secret Service needs to behave.
- Growing violence as the Afghan elections draw near is leaving many wary, and more than a little bit afraid.
- Candidate Sardar Muhammad Nadir Naeem has pulled out of the presidential race and endorsed Dr. Zalmai Rassoul.
- Suicide bombings have killed at least 17 people.
- The youngest child of murdered journalist Sardar Ahmad is alive and out of a coma, following an attack on a hotel in Kabul (carried out by the Taliban) that killed his entire family.
- The Pakistani Taliban have set up a base in Syria.
- A woman died from injuries sustained after her husband and in-laws beat her over what they claimed was an insufficient dowry.
- In KP, women are designing gender responsive uplift plans. The female lawmakers involved: Dr Maher Taj Roghani, Khatoon Bibi, Dina Naz, Maleha Khan, Ayesha Naeem, Nagina Khan, Amna Sardar, Nadia Sher, Anisa Zeb Tahirkheli, Zarin Zia, Uzma Khan, Nasim Hayat, Miraj Hamyun, Nargis Ali, Rashida Riffat, Bibi Fozia, Najma Shaheen, Romana Jalil, Ruqqya Hina, Yasmin Pir Mohammad and Shagufta.
- Pakistani officials are due to hold direct talks with the Taliban. A Pakistani minister has ruled out political concessions to the group.
- An education survey across the country has yielded mix results:
According to the report, almost seven million children are out of primary schools in the country. “The quality of education across multiple levels is also lagging by most standards,” the report states. Some provinces fare relatively better than others in the education sector, with a ‘survival rate’ – the percentage of students completing primary school education – of 96% in Islamabad Capital Territory and a robust 95% in Gilgit-Baltistan. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa clocks in at 64%. The number is lowest in Balochistan and Sindh – 43% each. Survival rates in Punjab stand at 56%, 48% in Fata.
- Dozens were killed in a multi-vehicle crash in Balochistan en route to Karachi. A bus collided with an oil tanker (driven by smugglers) only to be hit by a second bus. The majority of passengers were killed in the ensuing fire.
- Bangladeshis have officially been banned from flying the flags of rival teams during the T20 (cricket).
- The UN is considering opening an independent inquiry to uncover the thousands still dead or missing in Sri Lanka following a brutal civil war that ripped the country apart.
- BJP’s Modi, everyone’s favorite candidate to talk about, has launched an anti-Pakistan “assault” on rival party AAP’s candidate Arvind Kejriwal, calling him an “AK” in a veiled reference to an assault weapon.
- Kejriwal, meanwhile, is challenging Mr. Modi.
- Foreigners can now open special accounts in the country.
Middle East & North Africa:
- Arab states conclude their summit by pledging to work on rifts.
Israel & Palestine
- The Israeli navy has sunk two smugglers’ ships off the coast.
- International Crisis Group: The Next Round in Gaza.
- Egyptian courtsssssssssss!
- Al-Sisi has resigned as defense minister, probably headed for that inevitable presidential bid and victory.
- Al Qaeda militants are seeking a base in Syria just as much as the Taliban (noted above under Pakistan).
- Rebels have seized a coastal village, giving them access to the coast in a move that gives the Syrian opposition its first win in some time.
- In Lebanon a Syrian refugee woman set herself on fire and has been hospitalized.
- Confessions of an ‘agent’ in Syria.
- Saudi Arabia has denied a visa to the Washington bureau chief for the Jerusalem Post, the only applicant to be denied a visa. The White House is displeased.
- The Iraq electoral commission has resigned en masse in protest against “political interference” with only a few weeks left leading up to the election.
Europe & Eurasia:
- Russia’s window of opportunity is closing, and it needs to act quickly.
- Opinion: The war of words over Ukraine plays into Putin’s hands (Anne Marie Slaughter).
- Tymoshenko is denying her “wipe out the Russians” comment.
- Islamic State of Iraq & the Levant (ISIL) suspects have clashed with police in Istanbul, leaving several wounded.
- Turkey’s a-Twitter.
- The first Syrian refugees have reached the United Kingdom as part of a relocation plan.
- Antisemitism, soccer (football), and Britain.
- MPs say drones are key to the country’s military future.
- France’s anti-immigrant and hard-leaning far-right party is soaring in popularity as Hollande’s Socialists take a beating.
- Kenya has ordered all refugees living in urban areas back into camps in what it says is a measure to protect against terrorist attacks and violence.
- Nearly 100 people have died in a boating accident midway between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
- The U.S. is set to give South Sudan $83 million in aid.
- Thai bus crash leaves 30 dead, 22 injured after a violent accident.
- As Obama brokers talks between South Korea and Japan, North Korea has chosen to voice its displeasure via its usual means: firing two missiles off.
- Beijing has condemned U.S. spying on Huawei.
- Tiananmen activist jailed for applying to stage a protest last year.
- Venezuela has arrested generals accused of ‘plotting a coup’.
- Obama’s scaling back the NSA and Snowden’s been quick to take credit.
- Harry Reid drops IMF reform from Ukraine bill, thanks to noise from Republicans.
- Obama says the U.S. will never waiver on defending its allies.
- The U.S. is holding exercises in the Arctic, just to let Russia know it’s not playing around.
- Republicans aren’t pleased about equal pay statements in Wendy Davis ad. In other news, Greg Abbott is having a bad day.
- House Democrats are pressing for immigration vote.