1. Niger: Boko Haram suicide bomb and gun attack in Diffa region kills at least 10
Ten people were killed when at least two suicide bombers and gunmen staged a coordinated attack late Tuesday in a town in eastern Niger’s Diffa region which the local mayor blamed on Boko Haram.
“Two female suicide bombers blew themselves up and gunmen then attacked civilians,” Abba Kaya Issa, the mayor of the town of N’Guigmi, told AFP on Wednesday, March 27.
“We have a provisional toll of 10 dead plus the two suicide bombers,” along with “seven or eight” wounded, he said, blaming “Boko Haram elements” for the assault.
“One of the suicide bombers blew herself up in the courtyard of a policeman’s home, which is located inside the police barracks, and the second triggered her explosives belt between the town hall, the police barracks and the prefecture,” he said, referring to the office of the state representative.
Related FLASHBACK from 2014: Female suicide bombers shock Nigerians
2. Saudi Arabia is heading for record number of executions this year after killing 43 people already
Saudi Arabia is on course for a record number of beheadings and crucifixions in 2019 if their executions continue at the present rate.
The desert kingdom has already executed 43 people in the first three months of this year – the most recent being a Syrian man who was put to death on March 13th for smuggling amphetamine pills.
If this rate continues, 172 will have been put to death by the end of the year – more than ever before.
So far, 21 people have been beheaded for drugs offences. But other crimes which carry the death penalty include adultery, renouncing Islam, treason, espionage, burglary as well as murder, terrorism, rape or espionage.
3. Fresh waves of migrants to head to Europe soon: Aoun
(ANSAmed) - MOSCOW, MARCH 26 - Lebanese president Michel Aoun, in meeting with Chairman of the Russian State Vyacheslav Volodin, has warned that fresh waves of migrants would be heading to Europe soon due to Lebanon's economic situation. The news was reported by Russian news agency TASS. Aoun noted that Lebanon has about 500,000 Palestinian refugees and 1.5 million Syrian ones in its territory, stressing that this is too many. Aoun said that it was in Europe's interests to resolve this situation.
4. Rescued migrants hijack merchant ship off Libya
A merchant ship has been hijacked by refugees and migrants that it had rescued off the coast of Libya, and is now heading towards Malta, the Italian deputy prime minister and Maltese authorities have said.
Corriere della Sera and Italian news agencies reported that 108 people were picked up by the tanker Elhiblu 1, and hijacked the vessel when it became clear that it planned to take them back to Libya.
Six nautical miles from Tripoli it suddenly changed course and headed north towards Europe. Migrants in Libya face trafficking, kidnap, torture and rape, according to the United Nations and aid groups.
“These are not migrants in distress, they are pirates, they will only see Italy through a telescope,” said Italy’s far-right deputy PM, Matteo Salvini, who has cracked down on migrants, including closing Italy’s ports to NGO rescue boats, since he took office in June last year.
5. Google likely shifted undecided voters in 2018 election, perhaps millions, researcher says
Google may have skewed the results of the 2018 midterm elections by millions of votes, according to research by psychologist Robert Epstein.
Epstein had about 130 anonymous “field agents” in Orange County, California, and about 30 more across the country who had all their election-related Google search results recorded, more than 47,000 of them, including nearly 400,000 web pages that the search results linked to.
“We found significant pro-liberal bias on Google—enough, quite easily, to have flipped all three congressional districts in Orange County from Republican to Democrat,” Epstein said in an emailed statement.
Democrats indeed flipped in 2018 the three congressional seats in the county that Epstein zeroed in for his study.
6. Chicago police release files in Empire star Jussie Smollett case, day after charges dramatically dropped
Chicago police came out swinging Wednesday and released the full 61-page investigative report in the alleged Jussie Smollett hate crime hoax, one day after charges against the "Empire" star were dramatically dropped — but the move prompted a moot court order.
The release of the documents came one day after Cook County prosecutors dismissed a 16-count indictment against the actor, saying they had cut a deal with the TV star to perform two days of community service and forfeit his $10,000 bond to the city.
The move made it possible for Smollett's attorneys to get his criminal case immediately sealed and wiped clean. [...]
The report revealed new details about the police obtaining a search warrant for Smollett's iCloud account and then sharing the data with the FBI. The report also provided fresh details about the $3,500 check Smollett wrote to Abimbola “Abel" Osundairo and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo. The brothers claimed they were paid to carry out the attack on Smollett, though Smollett said the money was for personal training sessions.
7. "Killing as many unbelievers as possible" was the plan of 11 suspects arrested during a major anti-terrorist raid in Germany’s Rhine-Main area
VIDEO news report from German channel, ZDF, on the large-scale anti-terrorist raid that took place in Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate. Officials of the Hessian State Criminal Police Office arrested eleven suspects on Friday. The main accused are a 21-year-old from Offenbach and two 31-year-old brothers from Wiesbaden. According to recent findings, the suspects jointly agreed to commit an "Islamist-terrorist-motivated attack" intending to kill as many "infidels" as possible.
8. Caitlan Coleman describes spankings, abuse at hands of Joshua Boyle
OTTAWA -- Caitlan Coleman, who was backpacking in Afghanistan with husband Joshua Boyle when the pair were seized by extremists in 2012, told a judge Wednesday her spouse regularly punished her with spankings for arguing with him or disobeying his wishes.
Coleman, 33, recounted in court how the two met online when she was 16 and began a complicated on-and-off relationship before marrying in 2011 in Costa Rica and travelling the following year to central Asia.
She said that in the early days of their rollercoaster courtship, her future spouse would often belittle and demean her. Over time, he became controlling, telling her how to behave and what to wear. Emotional and verbal abuse later became punches and slaps to the face, Coleman said. [...]
In 2009, Boyle married Zaynab Khadr, sister of Toronto-born Omar Khadr, who spent years in a U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after he was captured in Afghanistan.
Related: 911 call placed by Joshua Boyle
9. Pope Francis tells Rome mayor to “welcome and integrate” migrants
Pope Francis traveled to Rome’s city hall Tuesday, encouraging the mayor and her staff to be welcoming toward migrants and anyone who wants to make his home in the capital. [...]
Pope Francis has made the immigration issue a hallmark of his 6-year papacy, beginning with a 2013 visit to the Italian island of Lampedusa and continuing up to the present day.
In January, the Vatican’s department for migrants and refugees published a collection of the teachings of Pope Francis on immigration, gathered into a massive 488-page tome, titled Lights on the Ways of Hope: Pope Francis Teaching on Migrants, Refugees and Human Trafficking.
Francis has insisted that immigration is central to the gospel message and should never be considered a second-tier moral issue.
10. Catholic churches in France vandalized, set on fire & smeared with excrement
Catholic churches in France are being targeted with arson attacks, vandalism, desecration of holy statues, and the destruction of the Eucharist. The attacks have been happening since the start of the year.
The Church of St. Sulpice in Paris, where the Da Vinci Code movie was filmed, was set on fire just after midday mass on Sunday, Le Parisien reports. Firefighters and police said the blaze was an arson attack.
THE SAINT SULPICE IN PARIS JUST IGNITED WHILE I WAS INSIDE pic.twitter.com/40PHCZ177w— lil g (@lili_gasparr) March 17, 2019
Les actes de profanation et de vandalisme dans les églises sont toujours hautement condamnables. Ils sont le triste reflet d’une civilisation malade qui se laisse emporter dans les filets du mal. Les évêques, les prêtres, les fidèles doivent garder la force et le courage. +RS pic.twitter.com/ePcX5KdKma— Cardinal R. Sarah (@Card_R_Sarah) February 10, 2019