A military train derailed in the Cairo suburb of Badrashin just before midnight on Monday, killing 19 people and injuring over 120. The 12-carriage train, carrying 1,328 conscripted Egyptian soldiers, was traveling from Assiut in Upper Egypt north to an army camp in Cairo, when the last two passenger cars derailed. According to one witness, people were trapped, but ambulances didn't arrive for 3o minutes. He continued, that after an hour and a half the railway authority had not sent lifting equipment. Egypt's roads and railways have a poor safety record and Egyptians have long been angry with the government for failing to improve standards and infrastructure. Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Qandil arrived at the scene but was led away by his security guards after being harassed by angry bystanders shooting, "You have blood on your hands." The accident came less than two weeks after a new transportation minister was appointed tasked with overhauling the rail system. The position has been vacant since the former minister was forced to resign in the aftermath of a November 2012 crash in which 50 children were killed when a train collided with a school bus.
Syrian state television reported an explosion hit Aleppo's main university. The report did not give information on casualties. Additionally, according to the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights, it is unclear if the attack was an explosion or shelling, and if it hit inside or outside the university. Meanwhile, 57 countries, including Switzerland, Britain, France, Germany, Libya, and Tunisia, sent a letter calling for the U.N. Security Council to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC). According to U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay, both sides have committed atrocities, but most of the blame lies with the government. The Syrian regime has been repeatedly accused of targeting civilians. International medical workers from Doctors Without Borders operating near the Turkish border said they were "sure that civilians were deliberately targeted" in an airstrike on Sunday, which hit a market in the village of Azaz killing at least 20 people and wounding nearly 100. The group additionally corroborated an accusation by the International Rescue Committee that the regime is targeting hospitals.
- The Iraqi government has released over 300 prisoners in an apparent concession to Sunni demonstrators protesting against Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will testify Jan. 23 before a congressional committee about the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
- Israeli soldiers shot dead a 17-year-old Palestinian student near the security barrier in the West Bank village of Budrus.
- Saudi Arabia sentenced an Egyptian human rights lawyer to five years in jail convicting him of drug smuggling over possession of anti-anxiety medication straining relations between the two countries.
Arguments and Analysis
Revealed: America's Arms Sales To Bahrain Amid Bloody Crackdown (Justin Elliott, ProPublica)
"Despite Bahrain's bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, the U.S. has continued to provide weapons and maintenance to the small Mideast nation.
Defense Department documents released to ProPublica give the fullest picture yet of the arms sales: The list includes ammunition, combat vehicle parts, communications equipment, Blackhawk helicopters, and an unidentified missile system. (Read the documents.)
The documents, which were provided in response to a Freedom of Information Act request and cover a yearlong period ending in February 2012, still leave many questions unanswered. It's not clear whether in each case the arms listed have been delivered. And some entries that only cite the names of weapons may in fact refer to maintenance or spare parts."
The Party Faithful: The settlers move to annex the West Bank-and Israeli politics. (David Remnick, The New Yorker)
"At a makeshift theatre in the port of Tel Aviv, hundreds of young immigrants from Melbourne, the Five Towns, and other points in the Anglophone diaspora gathered recently to hear from the newest phenomenon in Israeli politics, Naftali Bennett. A forty-year-old settlement leader, software entrepreneur, and ex-Army commando, Bennett promises to build a sturdy electoral bridge between the religious and the secular, the hilltop outposts of the West Bank and the start-up suburbs of the coastal plain. This is something new in the history of the Jewish state. Bennett is a man of the far right, but he is eager to advertise his cosmopolitan bona fides. Although he was the director general of the Yesha Council, the main political body of the settler movement, he does not actually live in a settlement. He lives in Ra'anana, a small city north of Tel Aviv that is full of programmers and executives. He is as quick to make reference to an episode of "Seinfeld" as he is to the Torah portion of the week. He constantly updates his Facebook page. A dozen years ago, he moved to the Upper East Side of Manhattan to seek his fortune in high tech, and his wife, Gilat, went to work as a pastry chef at chic restaurants like Aureole, Amuse, and Bouley Bakery. Her crème brûlée, he declares proudly, "restored the faith of the Times food critic in the virtues of crème brûlée.""
--By Jennifer Parker and Mary Casey