7 million on brink of starvation as Yemen marks 1,000 days of conflict
A deeper dive into the day's most notable stories
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Yemen's 1,000 days of suffering
Yemen's civil war reached a sobering milestone today — 1,000 days of fighting.
The struggle between Houthis militias and the army of President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi has broadened into a regional conflict with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates backing the government, and Iran arming the rebels.
Yet somehow, things continue to get worse.
Today, the Houthis claimed responsibility for a missile attack on the Saudi capital, Riyadh, saying they were targeting the al-Yamama Palace, the official residence of King Salman. The Saudis say their "Patriot" air defences shot down the rocket, and they issued a statement blaming Iran for its continued support of the "terrorists."
It was the third such attack in recent weeks.
Among the UN-verified deaths:
- 45 detainees at a prison in Sanna that was hit on seven separate occasions.
- 14 children and six adults in a farmhouse in the Hodeidah region.
- A mother and nine children returning from a wedding party in Marib.
Also today, 350 high-profile world figures released an open letter calling on the governments of the United States, France and the U.K. to "stop stoking the flames of war in Yemen," and use their diplomatic and economic might to bring an end to the conflict.
The war has turned "the Middle East's poorest country into the world's largest humanitarian crisis," says the letter. "Every 10 minutes, a child dies from hunger or disease."
Fight like a woman
Turkey's military wants women to fight its battles.
The country's Gendarmerie Command, a national police service that is in charge of the borders and internal security, announced plans yesterday to boost the proportion of women in its ranks from one to 10 per cent.
The new female members will receive the same commando training as their male counterparts, and be added to front line units, including those engaged in the "struggle against terrorism," said Gendarmerie Commander Gen. Arif Çetin.
In Turkish terms that generally means operations against Kurdish separatist groups, like the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
In contrast, the pro-feminist, socialist PKK, which has been waging an insurgency against the Turkish government since 1984, has always made prominent use of female warriors. It's a practice that has been carried on by other Kurdish groups, such as the YPG, which has been fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq where women have played major combat roles in the battles to retake Kobani and Raqqa.
As the Israeli Defence Force grew, it moved away from that tradition, but women were again allowed to take on combat roles in 2005. Now the IDF boasts three mixed-gender battalions, the Lions of the Jordan, Caracal and Bardelas (Hebrew for cheetah), some 2,500 front-line female troops. And last March it started a pilot program to train all-women tank crews.
The United States fully opened all combat roles to women at the beginning of 2016. Its active-duty force of 1.3 million is about 15 per cent female, but the numbers vary greatly by service — women make up 19 per cent of the Air Force, but just eight per cent of the Marines.
The NHL's nasty history
The National Hockey League is busy celebrating its centenary this week.
On the weekend, it was via a frigid Senators vs. Canadiens outdoor game in the nation's capital to commemorate one of the league's first two matches, which pitted the original Ottawa franchise against the Montreal Wanderers.
What will be lost in the nostalgia and hoopla, however, is the best part of the NHL's origin story — how the league was born out of hatred for one man.
Eddie J. Livingstone was the scion of a wealthy printing family who bought one of the city's first pro hockey teams — the Toronto Ontarians — in 1914, renaming them the Shamrocks.
Over the next three years, and a lot of twists and turns, the pugnacious Livingstone managed to alienate his players — the great Lionel Conacher sued him for libel — fans, and above all his fellow owners. (As detailed in this wonderful blog piece.)
So when the demands of First World War military service depleted the NHA of many of its players during the winter of 1916-17, the other owners got together, figured out a way to suspend Livingstone's teams, and signed all of his remaining players.
Then on Nov. 26, 1917, they gathered again at the Windsor Hotel in Montreal and formed a new professional league — the NHL — without Livingstone.
Toronto was granted a new franchise, the Arenas, which just happened to play in the same building as the Blueshirts and featured most of the same players.
Fun history. But someone else raised an important question this week: Was the NHL's birth the inspiration for a classic Simpson's episode?
Quote of the moment
"It's such a toxic drug that there is no second chance."
- Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, on the country's growing fentanyl crisis. At least 1,460 Canadians have died from opioid-related overdoses in the first half of 2017.
What The National is reading
- Yemeni rebels fire missile at Saudi royal palace. (CBC)
- Ex-Ford execs on trial for allegedly helping Argentina's 1970s Junta torture their employees. (Deutsche Welle)
- Derailed Amtrack train was travelling 80 km/h over the limit. (CBC)
- Paradise Papers law firm sues, demands the return of its tax-haven documents. (Guardian)
- Toronto lawyer accused in bat attack apologizes, granted bail. (CBC)
- A mysterious act of mercy by the NYC subway bomb suspect. (NY Times)
- Disney unveils Donald Trump's Hall of Presidents robot, gets savage reviews. (BBC)
Today in history
Dec. 19, 1962: How to carve a turkey.
Peter Whittall, CBC's Mr. Fix-It (and the inspiration for many an SCTV character) provides a step-by-step, 11-minute tutorial that only could have existed in a two-channel universe. Plus there's a poodle on a stool.