NEWS OF THE DAY
From Around the World
1 Spain election: Mariano Rajoy, the leader of Spain’s conservative Popular Party, tried to form a coalition Monday after his party won the country’s unprecedented repeat election — but his offer was quickly rejected by both the center-left Socialists and the business-friendly Ciudadanos party. The Popular Party won 137 seats in Sunday’s vote but again fell short of capturing the majority in the 350-seat Parliament that it had won in a 2011 election. Rajoy’s party also won an election in December, but no other major party was willing to help him form a government, leaving Spanish politics deadlocked.
2 Birth control: The Philippine president-elect said Monday that he would aggressively promote birth control in the country even at the risk of getting in a fight with the dominant Catholic Church, which staunchly opposes the use of contraceptives. Rodrigo Duterte, who is to take office Thursday, said having many children has driven families deeper into poverty. Duterte cited his family planning program as the mayor in Davao city, where he has offered cash rewards to villagers who volunteer to undergo free vasectomy or ligation.
3 Afghanistan unrest: A former Afghan warlord said Monday that a muchtouted peace deal between his militant group and the Kabul government was effectively “dead.” The comments by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar came after his Hezb-i-Islami party scuttled the deal, drafted weeks ago, with new demands. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s government had hoped an agreement with Hekmatyar would be an incentive for other insurgent groups to come to the negotiating table. But in recent weeks, Hezb-iIslami made additional conditions, including the scrapping of Kabul’s security pact with the United States and a timetable for the withdrawal of international forces.
4 Jordan bombing: The Islamic State group claimed responsibility Monday for one of the deadliest attacks in Jordan in years, posting a video online that it said showed a car bomb exploding near a border post. Last Tuesday’s blast on the Syrian border killed seven Jordanian troops, wounded 13 and exposed the pro-Western kingdom’s vulnerability to attacks by the militants who control large areas of neighboring Syria and Iraq. After the attack, Jordan sealed the border, cutting off thousands of Syrian refugees stranded in the area from international aid delivery. Aid officials have said no food and little water have reached two border tent camps since last week.
5 Citizenship stripped: Bahrain’s state news agency reported Monday that a court has stripped five people linked to radical Shiite groups of their citizenship and ordered them jailed after convicting them on terrorism charges. Bahrain has faced unrest since a 2011 Arab Spring-inspired uprising led by the country’s Shiite majority. A recent decision to strip the citizenship of a prominent Shiite cleric, Sheikh Isa Qassim, sparked protests by his supporters last week.
6 Obama visit: First lady Michelle Obama landed in Liberia on Monday with her daughters and her mother for an overseas trip promoting education for girls, starting with a country still recovering from the recent Ebola epidemic that left thousands dead. After meeting President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the Obamas traveled to the town of Kakata, where they visited a Peace Corps-sponsored leadership camp for girls. Education for girls is the central theme of the trip, which also includes stops in Morocco and Spain.
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