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Hebdo Cartoonist Leaves, Putin The Liar, Eurovision Run-Up

25,500 FLEE ISIS-OCCUPIED RAMADI

At least 25,000 people have fled Ramadi, Iraq, after ISIS fighters captured it from government forces after fierce clashes Sunday that killed at least 500 people, the UN reports.

  • The BBC reports that ISIS jihadists were “going door-to-door looking for government sympathizers and throwing bodies in the nearby Euphrates river.”
  • Reports say thousands of Iran and government-backed Shia militiamen are massing outside Ramadi, preparing to retake the city.
  • ISIS fighters are said to be spreading out in the city in anticipation of clashes, according to Al Jazeera.
  • U.S. officials warn that the 3,000 Shia militia fighters who are on “standby” to fight ISIS could worsen the sectarian violence. One official told Reuters “there’s the potential it can go very, very badly,” and that the use of militias had to be dealt with “very delicately.”
  • France 24 quoted a militia group leader as saying that he had “units ready to join the Ramadi front from three directions.”
  • White House spokesman Eric Schultz said U.S. aircrafts were searching for ISIS targets around Ramadi. The U.S.-led coalition against ISIS in the region has reportedly led 19 airstrikes against the terrorist group near Ramadi.
  • The capture of Ramadi is seen as the biggest ISIS victory since the group captured Mosul last year, and a huge blow to the opposition coalition.

EXTRA!

“I won’t be Charlie Hebdo anymore, but I will still be Charlie,” the cover headline in today’s Libération reads, quoting Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Luz, who has decided to leave the staff. Libération has hosted Charlie Hebdo since the January terror attacks that targeted the weekly, killing 12 of its employees. In an exclusive interview, Luz tells the newspaper that the pressure of his work, being a hero for the country and the constant media exposure are all “too much to bear.” Read more in our Extra! feature.


PHILIPPINES OFFERS REFUGE TO BOAT PEOPLE

The Philippines has become the first southeast Asian country to agree to take in thousands of migrants stranded on boats in the Andaman Sea, after neighbors Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia turned them away despite UN warnings of “floating coffins,” The Guardian reports. Unfortunately, the boats may be too far away, making the difficult, especially given that they are low on food and fuel. Many of the “boat people” are from the Rohingya minority, which is heavily persecuted in Burma, the country they fled.


ON THIS DAY


The first two Apple stores opened their doors 14 years ago today in Tysons Corner, Va., and Glendale, Calif. More about this day in history.


1/4

Only a quarter of the world’s workers have secure jobs with permanent contracts, the International Labour Organization (ILO) reports in its World Employment and Social Outlook 2015, published today. The remaining 75% of global workers have temporary or short-term contracts, work in informal, unpaid family jobs, are self-employment or labor without any contract at all. According to the report, 201 million people across the globe were unemployed last year, 30 million more than before the 2008 financial crisis.


50 DEAD IN COLOMBIA LANDSLIDE

A landslide killed at least 50 people yesterday in northwest of Colombia, El Espectador reports. The village of Santa Margarita, near the provincial capital of Medellin, was mostly swept away in the disaster. The landslide was triggered when the Liboriana river burst its banks after heavy rains. After visiting the scene, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said local authorities did not yet know the total number of victims. He also declared a state of emergency and promised to rebuild.


11 AFGHAN POLICE JAILED OVER LYNCHING

An Afghanistan court sentenced 11 police officers to a year in prison today for failing to protect a woman killed by a mob lynching in Kabul in March, the BBC reports. Earlier this month, four men were hanged to death and eight others jailed for the killing. In March, 28-year-old Farkhunda was violently beaten to death by a mob in the capital after she was accused of burning a copy of the Koran. An official investigation said there was no evidence that she had burned the Muslim holy book.


CLINTON EMAILS TO BE RELEASED NEXT YEAR

The U.S. State Department will not release portions of 55,000 pages of emails from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton before January 2016, according to a federal court document filed yesterday. The comes after Vice News launched a freedom of information lawsuit in January related to Clinton’s use of a personal email account to conduct government business while the now-presidential candidate was Secretary of State. In the 13-page court document, the State Department official John Hacket said reviewing the emails would be “intensive” and “time-consuming.” Hillary Clinton said in March that she wanted the emails to be publicly released as soon as possible.


WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

Evidence is so overwhelming that even Russians can no longer deny the truth that their country is fighting in Ukraine, especially since the posthumous release of a report compiled by a slain political activist. But as Die Welt’s Jacques Schuster writes, Putin offers something better than the truth. “Last August alone, 150 Russian soldiers were killed,” he writes. “So now, those in Russia who would like to know the truth can hear it from their very own (politically opposed) fellow countryman. It appears that President Vladimir Putin lies just as well as he rides and shoots. But the West can scarcely get its hopes up now, even if this is a saddening prospect. The fact of the matter is that, politically speaking, the voice of the political opposition is being heard about as attentively as the orchestrated cultural tripe of the Don Cossack Choir at the Bolshoi Theatre.”

Read the full article, Putin The Liar, And The Russians Who Love Him.


U.S POLICE MILITARIZATION TO BE LIMITED

Photo: Ricky Fitchett/ZUMA

U.S. President Barack Obama has announced new restrictions on the militarization of the country’s local police departments, NBC News reports. The federal government will no longer provide heavy military equipment such as tanks, tracked armored vehicles, weaponized aircraft, grenade launchers, bayonets, firearms and ammunitions measuring .50-caliber and larger. “We’ve seen how militarized gear can sometimes give people the feeling like there's an occupying force, as opposed to a force that's part of the community that's protecting them and serving them,” President Obama said in a speech yesterday in Camden, N.J., once one of the most dangerous cities in the U.S. “It can alienate and intimidate local residents and send the wrong message.”


RUSSIA TO GET ITS OWN OPERATING SYSTEM

Russia is planning to free itself from iOS and Android by building its own operating system, The Next Web reports. It will reportedly be based on “Sailfish,” an open-source system modeled on Linux and Mer.


MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD



EUROVISION RUN-UP

The “big” Eurovision Song Contest is just a few days away. We’re still previewing — sometimes painfully — the remaining contestants. Here we feature the pop-music-challenged Slovenia.

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Geopolitics

One By One, The Former Soviet Republics Are Abandoning Putin

From Kazakhstan to Kyrgyzstan, Armenia and Tajikistan, countries in Russia's orbit have refused to help him turn the tide in the Ukraine war. All (maybe even Belarus?) is coming to understand that his next step would be a complete restoration of the Soviet empire.

Leaders of Armenia, Russia, Tajikistan, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan attend a summit marking the 30th anniversary of signing the Collective Security Treaty in Moscow on May 16.

Oleksandr Demchenko

-Analysis-

KYIV — Virtually all of Vladimir Putin's last remaining partner countries in the region are gone from his grip. Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan have refused to help him turn the tide in the Ukraine war, because they've all come to understand that his next step would be a complete restoration of the empire, where their own sovereignty is lost.

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

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Before zooming in on the current state of relations in the region, and what it means for Ukraine's destiny, it's worth briefly reviewing the last 30 years of post-Soviet history.

The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) was first created in 1992 by the Kremlin to keep former republics from fully seceding from the former Soviet sphere of influence. The plan was simple: to destroy the local Communist elite, to replace them with "their" people in the former colonies, and then return these territories — never truly considered as independent states by any Russian leadership — into its orbit.

In a word - to restore the USSR.

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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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