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Chernobyl Anniversary, Failed Afghan Peace Talks, Mexican Photoshop

REMEMBERING CHERNOBYL

Photo: Celestino Arce/ZUMA

Memorial services are scheduled across Ukraine today, as the country commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster that killed dozens and shot deadly clouds of radioactive particles into the atmosphere.

  • See how Ukrainian daily Den remembers the catastrophe and the events leading up to it.
  • For Le Monde, Pierre Le Hir ventured inside Chernobyl's contaminated zone. He tells of the macabre tourism industry that has emerged there, of crooked trees, malformed animals, a billion-euro cupola and the elderly villagers who insist on staying in the town they've always called home — radioactivity be damned. Read Nuclear Past, Radioactive Future: In Chernobyl, 30 Years Later, brought to you in English exclusively by Worldcrunch.

CANADIAN JOURNALIST BEHEADED IN THE PHILIPPINES

Government officials have confirmed the death of kidnapped Canadian journalist John Ridsdel yesterday, The Huffington Post Canada reports. Ridsdel was beheaded in the Philippines by the Islamist militant group Abu Sayyaf, which took him hostage along with three others in September last year.


— ON THIS DAY

From Ukraine to the Louvre Pyramid, time for your 57-second shot of history.


COURT RULES AUSTRALIA'S ISLAND DETENTION PROGRAM ILLEGAL

Papua New Guinea's Supreme Court ruled today that Australia's practice of detaining asylum seekers on Manus Island was an illegal breach of the Oceanian country's constitution,The Sydney Morning Herald reports. Australian Minister for Immigration Peter Dutton said the ruling does "not alter Australia's border protection policies" and the country will not change its policy of offshore detention. More than 900 people are currently detained by Australia on Manus Island.


— WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

Psychotherapy, meditation, energy massages, acupuncture. People who seek therapies to boost their health and outlook often experiment with a number of different methods, either simultaneously or in quick succession, hurting their chances for improvement, Camille Destraz writes for Swiss daily Le Temps: "People tend not to complete the treatment. They scratch at the surface without digging deeper, then move on to some other therapy with hopes of a quick fix. It's even worse when patients visit several therapists at the same time and each offers different opinions and treatment methods, creating complete confusion."

Read the full article, From Shrinks to Shamans, The Pitfalls of Therapy Tourism.


ICC TO INVESTIGATE BURUNDI VIOLENCE

The International Criminal Court (ICC) announced yesterday the opening of a preliminary probe into outbreaks of violence in Burundi that have killed hundreds and forced hundreds of thousands to flee since a political crisis erupted a year ago, De Telegraaf reports.


— MY GRAND-PERE'S WORLD

Fair Bear Warning — Kootenay National Park, 1993


AFGHAN PRESIDENT ANNOUNCES END OF PEACE TALKS

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani pulled the plug yesterday on his failing efforts to initiate peace talks with the Taliban, calling for Pakistan to act as a "responsible government" and launch military operations against the terrorist group and its allies, Pakistan Todayreports. In a speech before the parliament in Kabul, Ghani said that if Pakistan fails to battle the insurgency, Afghanistan is willing to bring the issue to the United Nations Security Council.


8 SUICIDE BOMBS GO OFF PREMATURELY IN KUNDUZ

At least eight suicide bombers were killed after their suicide vests went off prematurely in Afghanistan's northern Kunduz province today, Afghan news agency Khaama Press reports. In a statement, the country's ministry of interior said the bombers were Taliban fighters on their way from Dasht-e-Archi to Kunduz City, where they sought to carry out a coordinated attack before their explosives went off.


— MORE STORIES, EXCLUSIVELY IN ENGLISH BY WORLDCRUNCH


Evo Morales Ups Ante As Other Latin American Leftists FadeEl Espectador


Hammam History: Can Tehran Save Its Vanishing Public Baths?Shargh


In China, Defending Grandma from the Heavy Hand of the StateThe Economic Observer


¡OH SNAP!

Everybody in Mexico is wondering: Is President Enrique Peña Nieto being photoshopped in official pictures?

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Vladimir Putin delivers a speech to Russian people following the results of the referendum dealing with the annexation in four regions of Ukraine partly controlled by Moscow

Cameron Manley, Bertrand Hauger, Chloe Touchard, and Emma Albright

In a wide-ranging and provocative speech, Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced the annexation of four Ukraine regions, which Putin says now make Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson officially part of Russia.

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Speaking in the Kremlin’s St George’s Hall, the much-anticipated address to the Russian nation follows the so-called "referendums" in the occupied areas of the four Ukrainian regions — which the West condemned as shams held under gunpoint. Friday’s annexation comes as Russia is losing territory on the ground following a successful Ukrainian counter-offensive.

Putin directly addressed the leaders of Ukraine and "their real masters in the West," that the annexation was "for everyone to remember. People living in Luhansk and Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia are becoming our citizens. Forever."

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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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