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Taliban Bomb in Kabul Deepens the Toll of a Long War

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, New York Times

Taliban Bomb in Kabul Deepens the Toll of a Long War

The Taliban drove an ambulance packed with explosives into a crowded Kabul street Saturday, setting off an enormous blast that killed at least 95 people and injured 158 others, adding to the grim toll in what has been one of the most violent stretches of the long war, Afghan officials said. The attack came days after a 15-hour siege by militants at the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul that left 22 dead. On Saturday, hospitals overflowed with the wounded. Over the past year, about 10,000 of Afghanistan’s security forces have been killed and more than 16,000 others wounded, an official said.

Billionaire Saudi Prince Is Freed From Detention

For more than 80 days, he was locked up, incommunicado. Then on Saturday, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, Saudi Arabia’s most famous investor and one of the world’s richest men, reappeared, giving a videotaped tour of the luxury suite in the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh. A few hours later, Prince Alwaleed was released, according to two associates of the prince’s family. His freedom, it is widely presumed, was purchased by handing over a chunk of his fortune to the government. The release appeared to signal the winding down of an operation that Saudi officials said was meant to stamp out corruption.

Czech Voters Re-Elect Populist Leader, a Foe of Muslim Migrants

After an election campaign centered on questions of civility in politics and the Czech Republic’s place in Europe, voters decided Saturday to stick with President Milos Zeman and his often-caustic brand of populism that has stoked resentment toward Muslim immigrants and ruptured the country’s relationship with its allies to the west. His opponent, Jiri Drahos, a political novice, sought to present himself as an antidote to what he characterized as Zeman’s bitter and divisive leadership. The state-owned Czech News Agency declared Zeman the winner with 51.4 percent of the votes (or 2.8 million), compared with Drahos’ 48.6 percent (2.7 million).

Honduran Leader Begins 2nd Term Amid Protests

Facing a polarized nation in the aftermath of a disputed election, Juan Orlando Hernández was sworn in Saturday for a second term as president of Honduras. The pomp-filled ceremony at the national stadium in the capital, Tegucigalpa, was marred by large clashes outside between security forces and protesters. Hernández, 49, begins his new term confronted by questions over his government’s violent crackdown on Hondurans who have protested the results of the November vote, and its commitment to fighting corruption. Among the demonstrators was opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla, who has refused to accept the election results.

Ambush on Mali Army Camp Leaves 14 Soldiers and 17 Attackers Dead

Islamic militants stormed an army camp in Mali on Saturday, killing at least 14 soldiers in the worst attack on security forces in the West African country in more than a year, an army spokesman said. The spokesman said that after the attack, the bodies of 17 assailants were left at the scene and the base was once again under the military's control. Mali recently commemorated the fifth anniversary of a French military mission to oust Islamic extremists from power in the major towns to the country’s north. The operation, however, merely dispersed the jihadis into the surrounding desert.

Global Growth Wave Reverses Economic Slump

A decade after the world descended into an economic crisis, a key marker of revival has been achieved. Every major economy on Earth is expanding at once. No tidy narrative explains how the world has finally escaped the downturn. The United States has been propelled by government spending plus a recent $1.5 trillion shot of tax cuts. Europe has finally felt the effects of cheap money pumped out by its central bank. In general, improvement owes less to some newfound wellspring of wealth than the simple fact that many of the destructive forces that felled growth have exhausted their potency.

Ireland Prime Minister Says He Will Campaign to Repeal Abortion Ban

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said Saturday that he would campaign to end his country’s constitutional ban on abortion, the subject of a referendum later this year, ending weeks of uncertainty about his position. Varadkar’s announcement was another boost for the effort to repeal the Eighth Amendment of Ireland’s Constitution, which gives an unborn fetus a right to life equal to that of its mother. In practice, Ireland’s legal system has interpreted this as a ban on abortions in almost all circumstances, including rape, incest and fatal fetal abnormality. Public support for repealing the ban has grown in recent years.

Hong Kong Halts Advocate for Democracy

Hong Kong has disqualified a 21-year-old democracy advocate from running for the local legislature, the latest in a series of young politicians to be barred from public office over their resistance to the Chinese government’s authority over the city. The pro-democracy party Demosisto said Saturday that election authorities had barred its candidate, Agnes Chow, from running in a March by-election, in which Hong Kong voters will decide on members of the Legislative Council. Chow said the ruling was “no less than a declaration to the city that our political rights are handicapped.”

Israel Slams Holocaust Legislation in Poland

Legislation in Poland that would outlaw blaming Poles for the crimes of the Holocaust has prompted condemnation from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and Israeli lawmakers. The measure, which passed in the lower house of the Polish parliament Friday, would make it illegal to suggest Poland bore responsibility for atrocities committed on its soil by Nazi Germany during the occupation in World War II. Netanyahu said he had instructed the Israeli ambassador to Poland to meet with the Polish prime minister and express his disapproval. The bill would need approval from Poland’s Senate and the president to become law.

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