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China/U.S. Hackusation, Ghana Fire, Lovin' Leo

CHINA BLAMED FOR U.S. DATA BREACH

Chinese hackers recruited by their government are being accused of breaching the computer system of the federal Office of Personnel Management in December, The Washington Postreports. The personal data of as many as four million federal employees, including their banking records and credit card information, has been affected. The revelation came moments after a New York Times report that the NSA’s “warrantless surveillance of Americans’ international Internet traffic” had been secretly expanded to combat hacking. Responding to the accusation, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said the claims were “irresponsible and unscientific.”


EXTRA!

Photo: David McIntyre/ZUMA

Tens of thousands of people held a candlelight vigil Thursday night in Hong Kong's Victoria Park to mark the 26th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, the student-led demonstrations in which hundreds — thousands, according to some estimates — are believed to have died. The Hong Kong-based, English-language newspaper South China Morning Post is one of the rare Chinese publications to make a mention of the gathering. Read more about it in our Extra! feature here.


GHANA FIRE DEATH TOLL RISES

As many as 175 people died in a fire that started Wednesday night at a gas station in Accra, Ghana, the BBC reports. The fire was indirectly caused by two days of very heavy rain that flooded and destroyed parts of the city. A graphic video feature released by Citi expand=1] FM Online shows the extent of the damage.


VERBATIM

“There were moments when I worried that we might have put our privileged lives at risk for nothing — that the public would react with indifference, or practiced cynicism, to the revelations. Never have I been so grateful to have been so wrong,” former NSA contractor Edward Snowden writes in a New York Times op-ed exactly two years after his first revelations.


YEMEN’S HOUTHIS JOIN PEACE TALKS

Yemen’s Houthi rebels have agreed to join UN-brokered peace talks June 14 in Geneva, where they will meet members of the Yemeni government that have been forced into exile, Reuters reports. Their decision was made public after reports that Saudi airstrikes in northern Yemen had killed at least 50 people, most of them civilians. While the Saudi-led coalition of Sunni Muslim states seeks to punish the Shia Muslim rebels, the local al-Qaeda branch is “quietly exploiting” the war to expand its territories, following a strategy similar to that of their affiliates of the al-Nusra Front in Syria, The Washington Post reports.


$5 MILLION

Revelations of FIFA corruption continue, the latest being the allegation that soccer’s governing body paid the Football Association of Ireland $5 million in return for dropping a legal action over a controversial 2010 handball by France’s Thierry Henry that led to a game-winning goal. Referees didn’t see the infraction, which meant Ireland missed out on the South African World Cup in 2010. FIFA claims the payment was a loan, not a bribe, which was later written off to build a stadium.


OPEC MEETING

The 12 members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries are meeting in Vienna, where the oil cartel is expected to agree to maintain current production levels of 30 million barrels per day, meaning no significant change in prices, Bloomberg reports. As MarketWatch explains, OPEC nations and particularly Saudi Arabia are eager to preserve their market share in the face of rising U.S. shale oil production, though it won’t target it specifically.


ON THIS DAY


It was 132 years ago today that the first passenger rail service known at the Orient Express left Paris, destined for Vienna. Time for your 57-second shot of history.


TSIPRAS FACES SYRIZA DISSENT

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will find his Syriza party deeply divided when he addresses lawmakers later today about ongoing negotiations with international creditors. According to the Financial Times, the radical-left party is tormented by “a torrent of anger and resistance” over lender proposals, which some ministers and legislators believe cross many of the “red lines” the party has drawn, E Kathimirini reports. Athens announced yesterday it would delay a debt repayment due to the International Monetary Fund today until the end of the month, a move that critics say means the country is edging closer to default and a Eurozone exit.


WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

A new Geneva barbershop serves only men, and only those who know what will never go out of style, Le Temps’ Sylvain Besson writes. “The profile of the ideal customer turns out to be the ‘dandy,’ which founder Cristina Le Jeune Giacobbi defines as caring about his style and yet independent from the fashion trends of the moment. He is also ready and willing to discuss his obsessions with his style brethren.” Among those brethren are the ubiquitous hipsters.

Read the full article, Barbershop Wisdom: Why The Dandy Will Outlive The Hipster.


MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD



SUNKEN SHIP IN CHINA RIGHTED

Chinese rescue teams have righted the Eastern Star, the cruise ship that capsized with 456 passengers on board Monday, marking the end of the search for survivors, the South China Morning Post reports. Only 14 people survived the accident, and 97 bodies have been found so far.


LOVIN’ LEO

The women’s soccer World Cup begins tomorrow in Edmonton, Canada, but most aficionados of the jogo bonito will be looking to Berlin, where the Italian champions Juventus Turin face their Spanish rivals FC Barcelona for what promises to be a spectacular Champions League final. Here’s our video tribute to Barça star Lionel Messi, in seven languages.

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Ideas

Draft Dodging And Cannon Fodder: How Mobilization Has Exposed Putin's Big Lie

As much as he tried to, Vladimir Putin could no longer avoid the nationwide mobilization of new recruits. But now he can no longer hide from a war he chose for his nation — and more than ever, his own destiny is riding on the result.

Who's ready for the front line?

Ivan Vysochinsky/ZUMA
Anna Akage

-Analysis-

Besides all the chest-thumping, Vladimir Putin has been busy this week moving around his administrative chess pieces.

Wednesday’s announcement of the “partial” mobilization of military recruits was preceded by a flurry of legislative activity in the Kremlin: first, coordinating with the pro-Russian authorities in several of the occupied territories of Ukraine, binding referendums were pushed through to officially make conquered land part of Russia. The next day, amendments to the Criminal Code on mobilization and martial law were unanimously adopted in two readings. And immediately after Putin's speech, penalties were increased for acts of desertion and refusal to serve in the military.

Checkmate.

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The pieces are in place to escalate the war dramatically, allowing Moscow the pretext that Ukraine’s efforts to take back its land is now an attack on Russian territory.


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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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