SPOTLIGHT: EURO 2016 ON EDGE
The Euro 2016 soccer tournament starts Friday in France. By some accounts, it is the world's third biggest sporting event, after the World Cup and Summer Olympics. This year's contest will last for a month around the country's biggest stadiums and is expecting to bring 2.5 millions fans to attend games in the ten host cities. After the past 18 months marked by terrorist attacks and economic crisis, the French daily Le Parisien noted on its front page yesterday that the tournament could be the opportunity for the country to "finally have fun."
That may be wishful thinking. Today marks the seventh consecutive day of a national rail strike that has match ticket-holders all over Europe worried. Talks between national rail management and unions made progress overnight, but although "the end is near," as Le Monde puts it, no final agreement has been reached. The strike could be over as soon as tomorrow or Thursday, but not all unions have shown the same enthusiasm for the preliminary agreement.
On the other hand, the revelation yesterday that a French far-right extremist was reportedly plotting to carry out as many as 15 terror attacks against French synagogues and mosques during the tournament cast a chill around the country. Earlier, the weekly Le Point also reported French intelligence services had put 85 members of the Euro 2016 security personnel under surveillance. Away from the spotlight, France has been practicing disaster scenarios in stadiums. Perhaps the French Open tennis tournament can offer some optimism ahead of the soccer competition: Despite stepped up security, and even heavy rains, the annual affair, which ended Sunday, was drama free. The only bad omen for local soccer fans: no French players in the finals.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY
- Indian Prime Minister Modi meets with President Obama in Washington.
- Last six U.S. election primaries.
ISTANBUL BLAST KILLS AT LEAST 11
At least 11 people were killed and 36 wounded this morning in central Istanbul when a car bomb struck a police bus during the morning rush hour, Hürriyet reports. A remote-controlled device was reportedly detonated as the vehicle passed through the busy Vezneciler district.
— ON THIS DAY
The governor of Minnesota has declared this "Prince Day," in honor of the late singer, who would have turned 58 today â€¦ That, and more, in our 57-second shot of history for June 7.
CLINTON ON THE BRINK OF NOMINATION
The Associated Press, followed by several media outlets, determined last night that Hillary Clinton has reached the number of delegates needed to secure the Democratic nomination in the U.S. presidential race. Challenger Bernie Sanders disputes the tally, ahead of today's final round of primaries, which include the biggest state of California.
ISIS LOSING GROUND
Syrian rebel fighters, backed by U.S. forces, have surrounded the ISIS-held city of Manbij, near the Turkish border, following an assault launched last week, Reuters reports. Meanwhile, on the other side of the jihadist group's so-called "caliphate," Iraqi security forces have made significant progress by closing in on ISIS-held territory around the city of Fallujah, according to CNN.
SILVIO BERLUSCONI HOSPITALIZED
Silvio Berlusconi, the 79-year-old billionaire and former three-time Italian prime minister, checked in this morning to San Raffaele hospital in Milan with heart-related problems, Corriere della Sera reports.
Tuesday's front page of the Chinese state-run daily Renmin Ribao features President Xi Jinping in front of American and Chinese flags as he spoke at China-U.S. bilateral talks in Beijing. Check it out here.
NORTH KOREA PLUTONIUM SITE REACTIVATED
North Korean authorities have switched back on the Yongbyon nuclear facility, which has been the reclusive country's main source of plutonium for its nuclear weapons program, The Korea Times quotes the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency Yukiya Amano as saying yesterday in a press conference in Vienna.
Reporting for French business daily Les Echos, Benjamin Quénelle draws the portrait of Pavel Durov, Russia's 31-year-old social media mogul, now forced into exile after quarrels with the Kremlin: "â€˜He's first and foremost an introvert,' said Matvei Alekseev, a former VKontakte employee. Durov is single and often dresses in black. â€˜It's difficult to work with him. He doesn't speak much.'
Alekseev doesn't hide his admiration for Durov, who is considered an â€˜Internet Robin Hood' for placing civil liberties above all else in an authoritarian country. Durov ultimately decided to leave Russia in order to defend his freedom as an entrepreneur. â€˜Unfortunately, the country is incompatible with internet business at the moment,' he said at the time, after being forced to give away financial control of VKontakte to pro-Kremlin businessmen."
Read the full article, "Russia's Zuckerberg" — Pavel Durov Wages War On State Power.
"What kind of president is François Hollande? I help this country more than he does," Swedish soccer player Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has just finished his final season with French club PSG, said in an interview with Le Mondepublished this morning.
PERU PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES STILL NECK AND NECK
Former Wall Street economist Pedro Pablo Kuczynski and Keiko Fujimori, daughter of the country's former authoritarian leader, are neck and neck, with 95% of the votes processed by this morning. With 50.23%, Kuczynski has a "razor thin lead" over Fujimori, at 49.77%, the Peruvian Times reports. Final results are expected later this week.
MY GRAND-PERE'S WORLD
Dental Work — Copán, 1989
Collaroy Beach, located on Australia's east coast, near Sydney, has narrowed by almost 50 meters, after huge waves and high tides caused severe erosion for a second consecutive night, The Sydney Morning Herald reports. A major storm that has been battering the country's east coast for several days has left at least three dead and three others missing.
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SAY "SPACE CHEESE"
MIT researchers may have found a way to take the first picture of a black hole (so far considered way too distant from us).