ISIS TARGETS SYRIA'S MUSLIM MINORITIES
Despite losing ground across much of Syria, ISIS remains a dangerous threat in the western part of the country under the Syrian government's control. A series of explosions in the cities of Homs and in the capital Damascus yesterday killed at least 140 people and wounded dozens more. ISIS claimed responsibility for both attacks, which targeted Islamic Shia minorities. The attack in Damascus, which killed at least 83, according to SANA, took place in the Sayyida Zeinab suburb, the location of the holiest Shia Muslim shrine.
- Russian officials say ISIS bombings are aimed at "subverting" peace talks. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov edged closer to a ceasefire yesterday, reaching a provisional agreement on terms to cease hostilities in Syria, Reuters reports.
- The U.S.-led coalition against ISIS executed 38 airstrikes in Syria and Iraq on Saturday, destroying fighting positions and material.
- Highlighting the complicated chessboard of alliances, BuzzFeed reports that different U.S.-backed groups are battling each other on the ground, some being directly supported by the CIA and others by the Pentagon.
- In an interview for Spanish daily El País, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said he hoped to be remembered as the man who would save Syria. Asked about the growing reports that Turkey and Saudi Arabia may send ground troops to northern Syria, where government and Kurdish forces are making crucial gains, Assad replied, "We're going to deal with them like we deal with the terrorists. We're going to defend our country." He accused Turkey of being involved in the conflict "since the very beginning" by "sending the terrorists." Read the interview in English here.
- Speaking to Germany's Neue Osnabrucker Zeitung, Europol director Rob Wainwright said that between 3,000 and 5,000 jihadists have infiltrated Europe. The Old Continent is "currently facing its biggest jihadist threat in more than 10 years," he said.
UK GOVERNMENT DIVIDED OVER BREXIT
Less than two days after reaching a deal with its EU partners to grant Britain "special status" within the EU, Prime Minister David Cameron was already facing a divided cabinet yesterday over whether Britain should stay in the EU. Among the seven ministers who announced their support for a Brexit ahead of a June 23 referendum is Justice Secretary Michael Gove, a close friend of Cameron's, who said the EU "has proved a failure on so many fronts."
- But the heaviest blow to Cameron came from the popular London Mayor Boris Johnson, who will also campaign for a Brexit. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to vote for real change in Britain's relations with Europe," Johnson writes in today's The Daily Telegraph. For more on Johnson's Brexit campaign, see The Sun's cover on Le Blog.
- Writing in The Guardian, opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn slammed the deal Cameron signed, describing it as "a sideshow" with changes that "are largely irrelevant to the problems most people in Britain face." But his Labour party will be campaigning to stay in the EU, "regardless of Cameron's overblown tinkering," he wrote.
"The commandment â€˜You shall not kill,' has absolute value and applies to both the innocent and the guilty," Pope Francis told a crowd at St. Peter's Square yesterday, calling for the worldwide abolition of the death penalty. The pontiff argued that there were now means to "efficiently repress crime without definitively denying the person who committed it the possibility of rehabilitating themselves."
At least 19 people have died and 200 were injured in India's northern Haryana state during protests led by the Jat rural caste, The Khaleej Times reports. A week-long protest to obtain quotas for government jobs and university places turned violent in recent days, and the capital New Delhi is facing a water crisis after some of the rioters shut down a canal that delivers water to treatment plants. The protesters accepted a government offer today.
ON THIS DAY
Can you remember where you were when the United States celebrated the so-called "Miracle on Ice"? We've got that moment and more in today's shot of history.
BOLIVIA'S MORALES EARNS REBUKE
Bolivian President Evo Morales looks to have lost yesterday's referendum on whether he has the right to run for a fourth consecutive term in 2020. Preliminary results published by La Razón show that 52.3% voted "no." Morales, Bolivia's first indigenous president, has been in office since January 2006.
All one British collector needed to get a lock of John Lennon's hair was a $35,000 bid.
OBAMA'S WOULD-BE TALKS WITH N. KOREA
Just days before North Korea conducted its latest nuclear-bomb test, the Obama administration had agreed to peace talks with the country to formally end the Korean War, The Wall Street Journal reports. But North Korea apparently wasn't willing to include denuclearization as part of the meetings, killing the would-be talks before they even began.
In the multiethnic French city of Marseille, the La Rouvière housing complex has its own unwritten rules, and that means keeping out people of color, Sylvia Zappi reports for Le Monde. "Particular attention is paid to the profiles of would-be newcomers. The prices in this southern district of Marseille are competitive, 1,800 euros per square meter. But entry is not guaranteed to anyone. â€˜Newcomers always belong to the same social class. High wage levels keep the place from becoming like the northern districts,' says Christian Cavailles, president of the union council. It is a kind of social sorting process that was established by the returning "Pied-Noir" owners in the early days in order to maintain the seclusion of whites."
Read the full article, How A 50-Year-Old Housing Project Has Remained All-White.
MY GRAND-PERE'S WORLD
EUROVISION GOES POLITICAL
Ukraine has chosen its representative for the next Eurovision song contest, and it could be a controversial one. Susana Jamaladinova, a Crimean Tatar, will sing a song denouncing Soviet Russia's oppression of her minority.