Six stories you may have missed because of Iran’s missile attacks

Here are some major stories you might not have seen because of the breaking news out of Iran and Iraq.

Camels in Australia

With Iran’s strike at US forces in Iraq dominating coverage internationally, below is a roundup of some of the stories you may have missed.

Putin visits Turkey to talk Libya, Syria and gas

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to host Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Wednesday to inaugurate a new gas pipeline, with tensions in Libya and Syria also on the agenda.

Putin arrived late on Tuesday after paying a visit to Syria – his first to Damascus since the war began – at a moment of acute uncertainty in the Middle East following the assassination of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani by the United States.

The ceremony in Istanbul is due to start at 12:00 GMT.

Erdogan and Putin
Russia and Turkey remain on opposing sides in the Syria conflict and could be on a collision course in Libya [Sergei Chikirov/ AFP]

Snipers to cull up to 10,000 camels in Australia

Snipers took to helicopters in Australia on Wednesday to begin a mass cull of up to 10,000 camels as drought drives big herds of the feral animals to search for water closer to remote towns, endangering Indigenous communities.

Local officials in South Australia state said “extremely large” herds have been encroaching on rural communities – threatening scarce food and drinking water, damaging infrastructure, and posing a hazard for drivers.

The decision came after Australia experienced its hottest and driest year on record in 2019, with the severe drought causing some towns to run out of water and fuelling deadly bushfires that have devastated the country’s southeast.

Camels in Australia
Snipers took to helicopters in Australia on Wednesday to begin a mass cull of up to 10,000 camels  [File: Getty Images]

DR Congo measles: Death toll from an outbreak hits 6,000

The death toll from a measles epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has surpassed 6,000, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday as it warned that more funds are needed to save lives during the world’s worst outbreak of the infectious disease.

Since the start of 2019, approximately 310,000 suspected cases have been reported, the WHO said.

Measles has killed nearly three times as many people in DRC than an Ebola outbreak in the country that garnered far more international attention, particularly after health teams came under attack from armed militias operating in the area.

Seven killed, 36 injured, in Mexico bus-train crash

A bus carrying day labourers was struck by a freight train in northwest Mexico, killing seven passengers and injuring 36 others.

The prosecutor’s office in the northern border state of Sonora said on Tuesday the driver of the bus had apparently tried to outrun the train at a grade crossing.

The driver survived and was taken into custody for drug and alcohol testing.

The office said the dead included five men ranging in age from 16 to 30, a woman and a 16-year-old girl [File: Getty Images]

FB executive: We got Trump elected

A senior Facebook executive on Tuesday said the world’s biggest social network unintentionally helped put Donald Trump in the White House but warned against dramatic rule changes.

The Trump campaign did effectively use Facebook to rally support for his presidential run, and the social network should be mindful of that, without making moves that stifle free political discourse, Andrew Bosworth said in a lengthy post on his personal Facebook page triggered by The New York Times publishing an internal memo he wrote.

“So was Facebook responsible for Donald Trump getting elected?” Bosworth asked.

“I think the answer is yes, but not for the reasons anyone thinks.”

Bosworth contended Trump was not elected because of Russia or misinformation or Cambridge Analytica, but rather because he ran “the single best digital advertisement campaign I’ve ever seen from any advertiser”.

He went on to say that, since Facebook has the same ad policies in place now, the outcome of the 2020 election could be the same as it was four years ago.

“As tempting as it is to use the tools available to us to change the outcome, I am confident we must never do that or we will become that which we fear,” Bosworth wrote.

The Facebook logo and binary cyber codes are seen in this illustration
Andrew Bosworth: Trump was elected because he ran ‘the single best digital advertisement campaign I’ve ever seen from any advertiser’ [File: Reuters]

Indonesia deploys fighter jets to disputed waters

Indonesia has deployed fighter jets and warships to patrol islands near the disputed South China Sea, the military said on Wednesday, escalating tensions with Beijing after a diplomatic spat over “trespassing” Chinese vessels.

President Joko Widodo also headed on Wednesday to the fishing-rich waters around the Natuna Islands, which border the South China Sea, most of which is claimed by China despite competing claims from other Southeast Asian nations, including Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia.

The Indonesian military said it had deployed eight warships and four jet fighters ahead of Widodo’s visit in an apparent bid to assert its sovereignty over the region.

A Chinese coastguard vessel was spotted near the islands Wednesday, Indonesia said.

“We have deployed eight warships,” said Navy spokesman Fajar Tri Rohadi.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies