The World Today for March 30, 2016

March 30, 2016


EgyptAir Hijacking: Time for Jokes

An airplane was hijacked and the craziest thing happened – people made jokes.

After EgyptAir was forced to land in Cyprus Tuesday – instead of Cairo – Twitter lit up with humor: “It was for the eyes of Marina,” joked one observer, referring to the alleged hijacker's alleged Cypriot ex-wife.

Others mocked Cyprus due to its problems during the financial crisis: “We're not even capable of having a proper hijacking,” said a local tweet.

And one man even posed with the hijacker – grinning – and called it “the selfie of a lifetime”: “It would be the best selfie you could ever send to your mates,” Ben Innes of the UK told the British tabloid, Sun.

The president of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, got into the act as well. On a televised press conference only a few hours after the hijacking – and while hostages were still being held on the plane – he cracked up.

“In any case it has nothing to do with terrorism – you know what I mean?” he said, and started laughing.

He was asked, “So everything is about a woman?”

He replied, “There is always a woman involved.”

Everyone laughed.

Even the Egyptians – who take terrorism very seriously, especially since multiple militant groups are now operating on their soil – let their guard slip, at least as much as the stern officials of that country allow.

“This was not a terrorist,” said officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “This was an idiot.”

Still, when did hijackings become funny?

Theories abound.

One Syrian very familiar with Egypt noted that in that country, especially in the past year of crackdowns by the government on anything they deem the least bit threatening, locals fall back on speculation as truth, conspiracy theories and humor.

“It's a metaphor for life in Egypt,” she said. “No one knows what is real and what is false.”

Still, some say that maybe the jokes are necessary. Because in a world that now seems so full of death and destruction – and not just because of the terror attacks in the past week in Pakistan, Brussels and Iraq – people just need a light moment as a counterpoint.

Because if it is true that an Egyptian man hijacked a plane in order to deliver a four-page letter to his ex-wife – no one is certain yet – then that in a way is an insanity that at least isn't full of hate.

Regardless, maybe we all got one thing we all needed from Tuesday's hijacking – a happy ending.



Pakistan: Upping the Ante

The Pakistani military detained more than 5,000 suspected militants since a bombing at a Lahore park Sunday killed more than 70 people, making good on their vow to crack down on extremism.

Still, most were released soon after being detained, authorities said Tuesday – investigators kept 216 suspects in custody for further questioning. Officials said more raids and arrests are to come.

Taliban splinter faction Jamaat-ul Ahrar has claimed credit for the bombing – and promised to ratchet up its campaign as well. The group, which has vowed loyalty to ISIS, has conducted five major attacks since December.

“Everyone will get their turn in this war,” Ehsanullah Ehsan, spokesman for the group, tweeted. “We are just waiting for the appropriate time.”

Brazil: Teetering

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff may not have been implicated by the enormous corruption scandal threatening the country’s political elite but even so, her government is teetering on the edge.

Her allies are pulling out.

On Tuesday, the country's strongest political force, the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, pulled out of the governing coalition, bringing her one step closer to impeachment.

It’s not the corruption scandal at the state-run oil company, Petrobas, that’s driving her unpopularity, say insiders, it’s Brazil’s sinking economy: Until recently, the country was touted as a star among emerging markets but it has been hit by one of the worst recessions in 100 years.

More than 1 million Brazilians have taken to the streets in recent weeks to protest the economic downturn and the corruption scandal. And angry voters say there are more demonstrations to come.

Japan's New Might?

A new Japanese law will allow its soldiers to defend the United States and other allies for the first time since World War II, just as the country approved a record defense budget.

The law, which took effect Tuesday, eases restraints on Japan’s military. And the $44 billion defense budget is Japan’s largest ever, and is the fourth straight annual increase under conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“The security environment surrounding our country is increasingly severe,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tuesday. “In a world where no one nation can protect themselves alone, this legislation will help prevent wars.”

The money will go toward an amphibious warfare unit, increased surveillance and reconnaissance around the country. And over the weekend, the country unveiled a radar surveillance base near a group of islands in the East China Sea, drawing the ire of the Chinese.

Abe will be in Washington next week to meet with President Obama and South Korea's leader to discuss North Korea’s nuclear capabilities.



Fundraising — For Mom

After watching Christine Lopes battle cancer for more than a year, her son, Zach Lopes, 9, decided to take action – he began secretly collecting nickels and dimes.

The Boston boy put a collection jar out two weeks ago at the Cedar Elementary School he attends in Hanover, Massachusetts. The idea spread, and now his collection jars can been seen at schools around the area.

So far he’s managed to raise $1,698 for cancer research for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston where his mother, Christine Lopes, is being treated. This week, he handed a check over to the hospital with the amount raised so far.

Zach didn’t tell anyone about the fundraising effort, his father said.

“We thought it was a homework project,” Josh Lopes told TV station WCVB. “He would ask some questions and head to his room and work on his management plan.”


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— Compiled and written by Jabeen Bhatti





Wed, 03/30/2016 – 05:34

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