IS targets bombed by Egypt
On Monday, Egyptian jets bombed Islamic State targets in the Libyan city of Derna. The strikes were Egypt’s response to a video showing the beheadings of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians. This video is the first to have originated from outside IS territory in Syria and Iraq. Days later, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said that the situation in Libya is a threat to world peace. Libya has been in turmoil since the overthrow of Col. Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The country is currently controlled by rival militias, not the internationally recognized government.
U.S. immigration reform plan halted
U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen temporarily halted President Barack Obama’s plans for immigration reform. Portions of Obama’s executive order were to take effect Wednesday. The ruling gives a coalition of 26 conservative states time to challenge the president in court. Under the president’s order, certain undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as children will be protected from deportation. Republicans, notably Ted Cruz of Texas, have described the policy as “lawless amnesty,” arguing that Obama is exceeding his authority.
Guantanamo Bay conviction overturned
A former Guantanamo Bay detainee’s conviction was overturned. As part of a plea deal, Australian David Hicks had pleaded guilty to providing material support to terror in 2007. The US Court of Military Commission Review upended the conviction on a technicality, saying that the charge was not for a war crime and the case should not have been tried in a military court. Speaking in Sydney, Hicks said the decision was a “relief” but added that he was still recovering from the trauma of his detention.
Lunar New Year begins in Asia
The Lunar New Year began with family reunions in China and celebrations across the continent. The first day of the New Year is a public holiday in many countries, marked by traditional ceremonies and community festivals. This year is the Year of the Sheep.
Canadian MP leaves Parliament
MP Pat Martin excused himself from parliament because of his tight fitting underpants. Martin explained to a confused Speaker that his half-price underpants could not let him sit comfortably for very long. “I did not understand his explanation at the time, and I am not sure I understand it now,” said the Speaker.
Swine flu in India
An outbreak of swine flu in India is causing concern from Indian health officials. The H1N1 strain of the influenza virus has killed over 700 people since December. Since last week, the number of cases has doubled to over 11,000. The health ministry urged citizens to remain calm and take preventative measures, insisting that the disease is under control.
In other news, Indian officials are insisting that U.S. President Barack Obama’s tree is not dead—it merely looks dead. Obama paid a formal visit to India three weeks ago and planted a peepal tree at the New Delhi memorial to Mohandas Gandhi. It had plenty of leaves at the time, but it is now a single thin stem. Local media have been blasting the government for letting Obama’s tree die while in reality, peepal trees shed their leaves at this time of year. “It will send out shoots within the next 10 days,” said B.C. Katiyar, a government horticulturist summoned to inspect the tree.
Liberia reopens borders
The Ebola-stricken nation reopened its borders. The number of new infections in Liberia has declined; 11 new cases were reported during the period between Jan. 28–Feb. 18. However, the rate of decline in new infections in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone has flatlined, says the World Health Organization. WHO’s Dr. Bruce Aylward voiced his concern over the flatline. “This is not what you want to see with Ebola,” he said. Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone have committed to zero Ebola cases within the next two months.