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Boko Haram Horrors, Bracing Greece, Cuban Wifi‏

Photo: Zhao Yingquan/Zuma

NEW BOKO HARAM MASSACRES

At least 148 people have been gunned down by suspected Boko Haram fighters in separate attacks across northeastern Nigeria over the the past few days, Vanguard reports. According to witnesses, gunmen stormed villages, entered homes and mosques before rounding up people and shooting at them. The New York Times quotes officials in the region as saying that recently elected President Muhammadu Buhari's "belligerent tone" could have sparked a stronger response from the Islamist group.


ALEPPO UNDER ATTACK

A major offensive led by Islamist groups, among them the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front, is taking place in Aleppo, with the Syrian army replying with airstrikes, AFP reports. Anti-Assad forces have been in control of the eastern part of the city for three years but they now seek to take the whole city and impose Sharia law, the BBC quotes the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights as saying. The attack on Syria's largest city has prompted Turkey to deploy additional troops on its border north of Aleppo.


VERBATIM

"Mr Hollande, welcome me in France," Julian Assange wrote in an open letter to France's President. In the letter, published by Le Monde, the Wikileaks founder asks for asylum in France to be reunited with his youngest son and the boy's French mother, and says that "only France is in a position to offer me the protection I need from political persecution." France quickly rejected the request.


GREECE BRACES FOR CRUCIAL REFERENDUM

Major rallies will take place today in Athens ahead of Sunday's referendum, with both supporters of "Oxi" (no) and "Nai" (yes) holding marches at the same time, according to Greek Reporter. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is expected to take part in the rally against accepting the last creditors' proposal of an extended bailout without debt relief in exchange for more austerity measures.

  • In a report published yesterday, the IMF, one of Greece's creditors under the current bailout, admitted that the cash-strapped country needed an extra 60 billion euros in funds as well as a debt relief to create "a breathing space" and stabilise the economy, The Guardian reports. For the newspaper's financial editor, the confession is "a double-edged blessing for Alexis Tsipras."
  • Meanwhile, the amount of money Greek citizens can withdraw from their accounts daily has been lowered from 60 to 50 euros because 20 euros notes are running out. The head of the Hellenic Chambers of Commerce says that Greek banks are now down to their last 500 million euros in cash reserves.

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

How many certificates or other public documents does a Chinese citizen need through a typical lifetime? A senior official of China's Communist party recently reckoned the answer is 103. Beijing-based Economic Observer looks into the weight of the Chinese bureaucracy on the way people live their lives. And the absurdity of it all. "A newborn baby changing residence needs a proof of non-criminality. A Chinese grown man who lists his mother as the emergency contact person on a form is required by the authorities to "prove your mom is your mom." Read the full article: The Bureaucratic Nightmare Of Just Living In China


MALAYSIA WANTS UN TRIBUNAL ON MH17 CRASH

Malaysia will push for a United Nations-backed tribunal to prosecute the suspects behind the downing of the Malaysian Airlines aircraft last summer in eastern Ukraine, the BBC reports. Ukraine and the West have accused pro-Russian separatists of shooting down the place, while Russia rejected the claims and blamed Ukrainian forces. A Dutch-led multinational team is investigating the incident.


BRAZIL SUSPECTS GLOBAL BANK COLLUSION

Brazil's antitrust watchdog Cade is investigating 15 of the world's largest banks amid suspicions they colluded to manipulate the price of the country's currency, the real, between 2007 and 2013, business newspaperValor Econômico reports. According to Cade, representatives for the banks discussed and implemented anti-competitive practices via Bloomberg chat rooms and called themselves "the cartel" or "the mafia." Read more in English from Reuters.


IDF OFFICER KILLS TEENAGE STONE-THROWER

A senior Israel Defense Forces officer shot dead a 17-year-old Palestinian who was throwing stones at IDF vehicles this morning near the occupied West Bank village of al-Ram.


SHANGHAI STOCKS DROP CONTINUES

It's been another bad week for Chinese stocks and the Shanghai Composite Index has now lost close to 30% since a peak on June 12, CNBC reports. According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the richest people in China and Hong Kong have lost as much as $34 billion in June alone.


$0.006

Amazon is planning to change its rules to pay self-published authors, remunerating them by page read rather than by ebook downloaded. According to The Guardian, authors could receive as little as $0.006 per page read, meaning that those who write shorters works such as children books would end up losing a lot of royalties.


ON THIS DAY


July 3 was a bad day for both Mohammed Morsi and Jim Morrison. Find out in 57 seconds what happened On This Day.


CUBA'S WIFI

Wi-Fi is finally coming to Cuba, a move that could be the beginning of the popularization of the Internet on the island, where only 3.4% of the population have access. But at $2 per hour, the price is still prohibitive for most, with the average monthly wage at $20.


PAY WITH SELFIE

Mastercard believes it just came out with the perfect plan to lure millennials: Enabling them to pay with selfies.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Overselling The Russia-Ukraine Grain Deal Is One More Putin Scam

Moscow and Kyiv reached a much hailed accord in July to allow transport of Ukrainian agricultural output from ports along the Black Sea. However, analysis from Germany's Die Welt and Ukraine's Livy Bereg shows that it has done little so far to solve the food crisis, and is instead being used by Putin to advance his own ambitions.

Vladimir Putin inspecting the wheat harvesting at the village of Vyselki, Krasnodar Territory in 2009.

Oleksandr Decyk, Christian Putsch

-Analysis-

Brokered by Turkey on July 22, the Grain Deal between Russia and Ukraine ensured the export of Ukrainian agricultural products from the country's largest sea ports. Exports by sea of grains and oilseeds have been increasing. Optimistic reports, featuring photos of the first deliveries to Africa, are circulating about how the risk of a global food crisis has been averted.

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But a closer look shows a different story. The Black Sea ports are not fully opened, which will impact not only Ukraine. The rest of the world can expect knock-on effects, including potentially hunger for millions. Indeed, a large proportion of the deliveries are not going to Africa at all.

As with other reported "breakthroughs" in the war, Vladimir Putin has other objectives in mind — and is still holding on to all his cards.

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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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