Today is apparently April Fools Day, which I forgot. You can imagine how much fun everyone has had at my expense. For the record, nicely played, Gmail, nicely played.
- BBC’s “Afghan Voices” has a new feature, this one on Ramika, a 19 year-old Afghan female rapper from Kabul.
- In my home state of Texas, Matthew McConaughey of Alright Alright Alright fame, is considering political office… Meanwhile Burnt Orange Report has likely won April Fools Day with this headline. The Times of Israel did a good job with my other home as well.
- Mother Jones feels we should have a Dolores Huerta day. Co-signed.
- This is a pretty damning letter from a Harvard student who was sexually assaulted.
- Borrowed time on disappearing land – Countries like Bangladesh will pay the price for the damage done to the globe by far larger powers.
- The U.S. ambassador to India, Nancy Powell, has abruptly resigned with plans to return to her home in Delaware. Meanwhile in India-U.S. relations, if Narendra Modi becomes Prime Minister of India, he will be eligible for a U.S. visa and would be granted diplomatic immunity. Modi has not previously been eligible due to his role in the 2002 Gujarati riots against Indian Muslims. In other Modi news, while at a rally in Dhemaji, Assam, the candidate claimed that rhinos in India were being slowly killed off to make way for migrants from Bangladesh.
- Afghan forces have seized ‘tons’ of explosives four days before Afghanistan‘s presidential election. Omar Samad, the former Afghan ambassador to Canada and France, has a good breakdown of the election’s challenges, both foreign and domestic, at Al Jazeera. Meanwhile the entire country is on high alert as the election draws nearer and nearer, and candidates are canceling debate appearances over security concerns. Regardless, the Afghan people seem determined to vote in spite of terror and ongoing violence from all sides (including in the northern Kunduz province, where 14 people were killed on Monday.)
- The U.S. is continuing to deny that it is giving excess equipment from Afghanistan to Pakistan despite Pakistani statements to the contrary.
- The bodies of two men have been found in Karachi following their abduction. The victims were tortured prior to their murder and are believed to be members of a political party. Meanwhile an Ahmedi man has been taken into custody for reportedly desecrating the Qur’an.
- In Nepal, 40% of citizens lack a toilet — and one man is on a mission to change that. Elsewhere in the country, a rights group claims that (under pressure from China) Nepal is severely restricting and repressing Tibetans within its borders.
Middle East & North Africa:
- In Yemen family members of drone strike victims are coming together to launch a victims’ union that will offer support and will also serve as a lobby group focused on pushing the government to reassess the covert program.
- In order to keep Israelis and Palestinians at the proverbial peace talks table, the U.S. is looking at releasing spy Jonathon Pollard from jail following his imprisonment for spying on behalf of Israel. In exchange, Israel would release 14 Arab-Israeli prisoners. An anonymous source claims that a peace deal could include a suspension of Israeli settlement construction in the occupied West Bank, as well as a prisoner release and an extension of talks into 2015. However, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas canceled a meeting with Sec. of State John Kerry earlier today in a move that could bode ill.
- Meanwhile in Israel, Ultra-Orthodox Jews are making life complicated for women in Beit Shemesh.
- 150,344 people have died in the Syrian civil war, which has been waging now for several years. In art news, a Syrian artist in Damascus has set a Guinness record with his mural made of recycled materials, a testament to his love for a country where violence has become the plat du jour.
- The Muslim Brotherhood’s latest enemy is Britain: Prime Minister David Cameron has ordered an investigation into the group’s activities. Meanwhile in Egypt, three Al Jazeera journalists have again been denied bail after refusing to connect themselves to the MB.
- Lebanon has deployed troops to its northern city Tripoli following an outburst of violence.
- Two Tunisian policeman have been sentenced to prison for raping a woman initially brought to task for allegedly violating modesty laws.
- FT has a special report on investing in the Arab World.
- Activists are protesting the use of migrant labor to build the Guggenheim museum in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Western, Eastern, & Central Africa:
- An al-Shabab recruiter has been shot in Kenya — he died of his injuries in Mombasa.
- The UN has released a new warning regarding the deteriorating conditions in the Central African Republic, where Christians have turned on Muslims and cries of genocide are already circulating. The country is becoming increasingly dangerous for its minority Muslim population, in an echoing of violence similar to that occurring in Burma (though perpetuated by Buddhists), a continent away.
Europe & Eurasia:
- NATO has its eyes on Russia, as the alliance eyes the worst East-West divide since the Cold War days — and it has suspended all military cooperation with Russia. Still, Russia claims it is pulling its troops back from the Ukrainian border. That means nada to many, however, who feel that President Obama needs to show he is prepared to intervene militarily.
- In honor of Britain‘s legalization of same-sex marriage, Elton John and his partner of over ten years, filmmaker David Furnish, are tying the knot. The couple have two young sons.
- Germany apparently has a movement fronted by women against feminism?
- A far-right party in France is doing surprisingly well…
Southeast & East Asia:
- The final words recorded on flight MH370 have been re-released by Malaysian authorities, with no explanation as to why they appear to have changed.
- A corruption scandal is slowly enveloping the Chinese military.
- Mexican marines have killed a top leader of the Knights Templar drug cartel.
- Is Canada tarring itself?
- The United States is backing off sharing radar information with Honduras, a big step away from its previous highly controversial relationship with the country’s military.
- A new report finds that black, Latino, and Native American children are lagging in U.S. schools.
- A Senate report alleges that the CIA mislead on its interrogations program.
- Nancy Pelosi says more than 7 million people have signed up for healthcare.
Daily Wow: Shakespeare inspires a cast of young Syrians.