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SPOTLIGHT: BEYOND BREXIT

The big day has arrived. Britons have begun voting to decide if their country should remain a member of the European Union, or go its own way. The latest polls all suggest the race is too close to call, with two surveys putting the "Remain" camp ahead while two others say those opting for Britain's exit, a so-called Brexit, is leading. Voting stations will close at 10 p.m. local time and the final result is expected tomorrow morning.

While the thought of a member state leaving the EU is an alarming prospect for many, others argue that Brexit is merely the latest faultline in an already shaky institution.

Deep divides, such as those on the refugee and economic crises, betray a splintering Europe, whose members are unable to agree on even traditionally unifying matters. As Reuters points out, Europe is struggling to reach a consensus on how to deal with Russian president Vladimir Putin over Ukraine.

At a time when some are calling for a more unified foreign policy and a more integrated Europe, the Brexit rupture and the bloc's weakening resolve toward Putin are signs that the EU may have overreached.


WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY

  • Brexit vote in UK.

  • More protests in France against proposed labor reforms.

  • Shanghai Cooperation Organization holds summit in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. India and Pakistan will join to become full-time members of the NATO counterweight.

  • Aung San Suu Kyi begins three-day visit to Thailand.



U.S. DEMOCRATS HOLD SIT-IN OVER GUN-CONTROL VOTE

Democratic lawmakers held a sit-in in the House of Representatives to demand a vote on gun-control legislation, leading to what The New York Times describes as "a remarkable scene of pandemonium." Republicans voted to adjourn the House earlier than planned until July 5 to preempt the sin-in. But Democrat John Lewis, the protest leader and an icon of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, pledged to "continue to fight."


VERBATIM

"At times I don't feel like I should have the right to live for taking somebody else's life," South African former athlete Oscar Pistorius told Britain's ITV in an interview due to be broadcast tomorrow.


— ON THIS DAY

148 years ago on this day, Christopher Latham Sholes invented the "Type-Writer". That, and more, in today's 57-second shot of History.


BOKO HARAM REFUGEES STARVING

At least 188 Nigerian refugees who fled the Islamist group Boko Haram have died of starvation and dehydration over the past month at a refugee camp in the Nigerian northeastern state of Borno, Doctors Without Borders said yesterday. About 24,000 people, including 15,000 children live in that camp and the medical charity has warned of a "catastrophic humanitarian emergency."


KIM JONG-UN THREATENS U.S.

After launching two intermediate-range missiles yesterday, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un boasted his country's "sure capability to attack in an overall and practical way" U.S. targets in the Pacific, Reuters reports.


— WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

Venezuela, a land that made 19th-century travelers marvel at its natural treasures, has become one of the last places any tourist would visit these days: "It is difficult to understand that a country with so much potential to attract visitors should receive ever fewer and fewer every day because of insecurity and the socio-economic crisis," America Economia's Karelys Abarca writes. "It is difficult to comprehend how an economy that used to enjoy such ample revenues from oil exports should now be in ruins. How can a country with so much, if not everything, to assure its citizens' welfare can now be one of the world's most inefficient, corrupt and impoverished economies?"

Read the full article, Venezuela: Nation In Crisis, Land Of Unfulfilled Potential.


70 HOURS

The solar-powered plane Solar Impulse landed in Seville, Spain early this morning, after a 70-hour flight from New York, as part of its historic journey around the world.


MY GRAND-PERE'S WORLD

Walking In A Painting — Arles, 1969


ZIKA FEAR LEADS TO SURGE IN ABORTION REQUESTS

The fear of the Zika virus and of potential microcephaly in babies has led to a "huge" surge in abortion requests in Latin America, where it is sometimes illegal, the BBC reports. Demands have more than doubled in Brazil and Ecuador and have increased by more than 30% in other countries.


— MORE STORIES, BROUGHT TO YOU BY WORLDCRUNCH

GÖÖÖÖÖÖÖAAALL!

This commentator from Iceland went absolutely wild when his national soccer team scored a last-minute goal to clinch its first win in the Euro championship.

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Geopolitics

The Xi-Putin Alliance Is Dead, Long Live The Xi-Putin Alliance

The façade of unity between Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin was lifted in Uzbekistan last week. But where exactly does the Chinese head of state stand on the Russian invasion of Ukraine? Beijing is still establishing its place in the world, and it remains in contradiction to the West

China's President Xi Jinping, Uzbekistan's President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Russia's President Vladimir Putin during the 22nd Summit of the SCO

Gregor Schwung

-Analysis-

Xi Jinping is not out of practice. The Chinese President's public demeanor on his first foreign trip since January 2020 was as confident as ever. When meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, he promptly removed his mask and stood inches away from the Russian president, smiling affably.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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What looked routine to the outside world was a diplomatic tightrope walk that the Chinese leader felt compelled to perform. It was the first face-to-face meeting between the two leaders since February, when they proclaimed a "friendship without borders" at the Winter Olympics in Beijing. Shortly thereafter, Putin launched his campaign against Ukraine – and the world wondered whether Putin had used his Olympic visit to obtain Xi's approval for his invasion.

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Writing contest - My pandemic story
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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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