We tell you five things you need to know this morning.
1. Rocket fire hits Israel and air strikes hit Gaza. Islamic Jihad claims to have fired 90 rockets into Israel from the Palestinian territory in three days. Israel has responded with air strikes aimed at 29 targets. The Palestinian militants claim to be responding to earlier Israeli strikes that killed three members of Islamic Jihad, and Hamas backs up the allegations. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urges restraint. Remarkably, no casualties have been reported on either side of the border.
2. A railway exec is “irate” with the feds. Canadian Pacific CEO Hunter Harrison told a New York conference that the Conservative government is unfairly blaming railways—including CP—for slow movement of grain to market. After weeks of opposition complaints in the House of Commons, the feds moved to force CP and Canadian National to move more grain. The railways blame an abnormally harsh winter and a bumper crop last year for the ongoing gridlock.
3. A Malaysian jetliner is still missing. Chinese satellite photos offered a flicker of hope to search parties attempting to find the vanished Malaysian Airlines plane that vanished five days ago. But what may have looked like wreckage floating in the sea turned out to be another in a growing list of red herrings that continue to baffle a multinational effort to find the airplane. The search area now stretches to 92,600 square kilometres. Meanwhile, Malaysian Airlines has retired the airplane’s flight codes.
4. Ukraine approves a National Guard. The Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, unanimously supported the creation of the volunteer force of 60,000 that would augment the country’s 130,000-strong standing military. The mobilization comes as Crimea votes in a referendum on its own future that’s widely rejected by western leaders—including U.S. President Barack Obama, who dismissed the coming vote as “slap-dash.”
5. Canadian troops leave Kabul. Canada concludes its gradual military withdrawal from Afghanistan, prompted by the conclusion of a combat mission in 2011 and culminating in the end of a training mission in the fledgling central Asian nation. Yesterday, Maj.-Gen. Dean Milner handed the Canadian flag that flew at the International Security and Assistance Force headquarters to Canadian ambassador Deborah Lyons. More than 40,000 Canadian troops served in Afghanistan: 158 died, along with a diplomat, a journalist, and two contractors.