Ukrainians hurl stones at evacuees from China

Ukraine’s effort to quarantine more than 70 people evacuated from China over the new virus outbreak plunged into chaos Thursday as local residents opposing the move hurled stones at the evacuees and clashed with police. Officials deplored the violence and the country’s health minister pledged to share evacuees’ quarantine for two weeks in a bid to reassure protesters who fear they’ll be infected. Buses carrying evacuees were finally able to reach the designated place of quarantine after hours of clashes.

Suspects in abduction, murder of 7-year-old Mexican girl detained

Mexican authorities arrested a couple believed to have kidnapped, tortured and murdered a seven year-old girl on Wednesday, days after the discovery of the victim’s body sparked protests in the violence-wracked country. The suspects “were detained in a town in the State of Mexico,” Mexico City mayor Claudia Sheinbaum tweeted, without giving more detail. Prosecutors on Tuesday released pictures of the two suspects — identified as Giovana and Mario Alberto “N” — after searching a house near the victim’s home.

Pope tenderly kissed on forehead by man in front-row seat

Well-wishers at Pope Francis’ weekly audience have thrust soccer T-shirts, flowers and many a wailing baby into his arms. On Wednesday, Francis seemed to thoroughly enjoy a surprise expression of affection: a long, tender kiss planted on his forehead by a man in one of the front-row seats reserved for ailing or disabled people at the end of his audience. Francis appeared to be smiling when the man, who stood up when the pontiff approached to greet him and others in the front row, pulled the pope’s head toward him and gave a kiss lasting several seconds, pressing his nose against Francis’ forehead in the process.

China says will help manage Mekong as report warns of dam danger

VIENTIANE/BANGKOK (Reuters) – China on Thursday said it was helping its downstream neighbors cope with a prolonged drought by releasing more water from its dams on the Mekong River, adding it would consider sharing information on hydrology to provide further assistance in the future. The statement came as a new economic report predicted that the building of dams to harness hydropower on the Mekong River would reshape the economies of five countries along the waterway, fuelling long-term inflation and dependence on China. The drought over the past year has severely hurt farming and fishing in Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam, and many blame China’s 11 dams on the upper Mekong – which China calls the Lancang River – as well as climate change.

Taliban’s deputy leader writes New York Times op-ed detailing ‘what we want’

A leader of one of the most notorious terrorist groups in the world just got a megaphone from The New York Times.On Thursday, the Times published an op-ed from Taliban deputy leader Sirajuddin Haqqani ominously titled “What we, the Taliban, want.” It comes as the Taliban continues to work out a peace deal with the U.S., and in it, Haqqani insists “everyone is tired of war” on their side too.Haqqani paints a thoroughly positive picture of his terrorist organization, and apparently the Times just decided to roll with it. “We did not choose our war with the foreign coalition led by the United States. We were forced to defend ourselves.” Haqqani writes. But because “the long war has exacted a terrible cost from everyone,” the Taliban decided to try negotiating with the U.S. even though “our confidence that the talks would yield results was close to zero,” Haqqani continues. Even when President Trump called off those talks after a Taliban attack, the group kept the door open — a testament to “our commitment to ending the hostilities and bringing peace to our country,” Haqanni rosily describes.As The Washington Post’s Dan Lamothe noted in a tweet, “The fact that this New York Times op-ed by Sirajuddin Haqqani exists at all is remarkable.” Mujib Mashal, an Afghanistan correspondent for the Times, had a more pointed critique. > The piece by Siraj Haqqani in @nytopinion – which’s independent of our news operations & judgment – omits the most fundamental fact: that Siraj is no Taliban peace-maker as he paints himself, that he’s behind some of most ruthless attacks of this war with many civilian lives lost> > — Mujib Mashal (@MujMash) February 20, 2020More stories from The growing crisis in cosmology The Nevada Democratic debate set a new viewership record The Democrats gave Mike Bloomberg what he deserved

Putin hails US for helping prevent terror attack in Russia

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin on Thursday hailed the FBI for sharing information that helped thwart a terror attack by adherents of the Islamic State group in St. Petersburg during the New Year holidays. The FSB in December announced the detention of two Russian men who confessed to plotting the terror attacks in St. Petersburg.