Top news: At least 35 people were killed in a car bombing in central Damascus on Thursday. The bombing struck near the ruling Baath Party's headquarters, which is also close to the Russian embassy. Central Damascus has been relatively insulated from the violence sweeping the rest of the country, though the al Qaeda-linked group Jabhat al-Nusra has claimed credit for several bombings around the city in recent weeks.
The blast follows a deadly attack on a Damascus football stadium and a mortar attack on a presidential palace in the city earlier this week.
On Wednesday, Russia and the Arab League offered to broker talks between Bashar al-Assad's government and the rebels.
U.S.: The Pentagon warned that 750,000 civilian employees could face furloughs if mandatory budget cuts come into effect on March 1. The furloughs would likely come in the form of four-day workweeks.
- Former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni has joined Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet as justice minister and chief negotiator with the Palestinians.
- Hundreds of Palestinian protesters are clashing with Israeli troops near a West Bank checkpoint.
- Women were sworn in to Saudi Arabia's Shura Council for the first time.
- Bulgaria's parliament accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Boiko Borisov.
- Italian police made an arrest related to the ongoing soccer match-fixing scandal.
- Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy promised a "second wave" of economic reforms.
- Chinese leader Xi Xinping has selected Moscow for his first foreign trip as president.
- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called China's need for conflict "deeply ingrained."
- Pakistani police have accused the country's ambassador to the United States of blasphemy.
- The governments of Cameroon and Nigeria denied French media reports that the seven French hostages seized this week have been freed.
- An attack on a mosque near the Kenya-Somalia border killed seven people.
- Nigeria's secret police say they broke up an Iranian-backed terrorist group.
- Human Rights Watch has accused the Mexican government of hundreds of forced disappearances.
- At a regional summit, Caribbean leaders agreed to introduce French as a second language.
- The opposition New National Party has was a landslide in Grenada's national election.
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