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Kerry Chides China, Puerto Rico Risks, Kermit/Miss Piggy Split

JOHN KERRY CONCERNED BY CHINA LAND CLAIMS

Photo: Then Chih Wey/Xinhua/ZUMA

China should end provocative land reclamation projects in the South China Sea and work with its neighbors to resolve the region's territorial disputes, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told Wednesday's summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. China has repeatedly rejected U.S. involvement in regional affairs and was opposed to the issue being raised at the meeting, according to AP. This comes one day after ASEAN foreign ministers called on Beijing's "termination" of the land reclamation projects.


UK POLICE PROBE FORMER PM PEDOPHILIA CLAIMS

At least five police forces are examining allegations that Britain's former Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath was a pedophile, including claims that he raped a 12-year-old boy, The Guardianreports. Heath, who died in 2005 at the age of 89, is also said to be linked to an investigation into abuse at a children's home on the island of Jersey. There's suspicion of an attempt to cover up the accusations, which come amid a months-long investigation into a historic pedophile ring that included celebrities such as late BBC host Jimmy Savile. Leah McGrath Goodman, an American journalist, told LBC radio she was "kicked out of the UK" in 2011 while investigating the former Conservative PM. She claims that Heath used to take children from the Jersey care home on his yacht for a ride. "It was reported that some of those children never came back," she said.


ON THIS DAY


Fifty-three years after her death, Marilyn Monroe remains an icon. Time for today's 57-second shot of history.


MH370

French investigators are expected to begin examining a Boeing 777 fragment that washed up last week on the Indian Ocean island of La Reunion to assess whether it comes from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. If the piece is successfully linked to the missing aircraft, scientists hope they will be able to learn more about its fate. Read more from France 24.


EXTRA! BOKO HARAM "BEGS" TO NEGOTIATE

Certain members of the Islamist terror group Boko Haram are eager to find a negotiated way out of the conflict with the Nigerian government, responding to calls for dialogue from recently elected President Muhammadu Buhari. See how Nigerian daily Vanguard featured the story on its front page.


VERBATIM

"Do I think about who he was as a person? Not really, because it doesn't matter at this point. Do I think he had the best upbringing? No. Not at all," Darren Wilson, the police officer who fatally shot black teenager Michael Brown on August 9, 2015 in Ferguson, Mo., told The New Yorker about his victim. In the extensive profile, the reporter asks Wilson whether he thinks Brown was "truly a "bad guy," or just a kid who had got himself into a bad situation." The now 29-year-old former police officer replied: "I only knew him for those forty-five seconds in which he was trying to kill me, so I don't know."


MORE TROUBLE AHEAD FOR PUERTO RICO

After failing to make a bond payment on Monday, Puerto Rico has now stopped making contributions into a fund it uses to make general obligation payments, with the next one due on Sept. 1, The New York Timesreports. Though the next deadline is no cause for concern, the newspaper writes that a much bigger payment due on Jan. 1 could trigger "an earthquake for the markets" if it isn't made.


WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

For the past 30 years, American lawyer Reed Brody has been tracking down former despots all over the world. The trial of the former Chadian dictator Hissène Habré, which opened last month, is the latest fruit of his work. Writing for French weekly magazine L'Obs, Christophe Boltanski draws the portrait of this dictator hunter: "Tacked to the world map that covers one of the walls of his office, on the 34th floor of the Empire State Building, in New York, are pictures of his prey: Augusto Pinochet (Chile); Jean-Claude Duvalier (Haiti), Alfredo Stroessner (Paraguay), Pol Pot (Cambodia), Suharto (Indonesia), Saddam Hussein (Iraq), Omar al-Bashir (Sudan) — a who's who of warlords, generals, tyrants, rais, dear leaders, number one comrades that, beyond their ideological differences, have all oppressed and massacred their fellow countrymen. ... His aim? To put an end to impunity, which he defines with wit: ‘If you kill someone, you go to jail. But if you're responsible for the death of 40,000 people, you're invited to a peace conference.'"

Read the full article, Reed Brody, My Life As A Despot Hunter.


RUSSIA SUBMITS ARCTIC CLAIM

Russia submitted a new claim to the United Nations for territories in the Arctic covering some 1.2 million square kilometers, with the U.S., Canada, Denmark and Norway also eyeing to get their hands on a piece of the mineral-rich region, The Toronto Starreports. Experts believe that the Arctic region holds up to one-quarter of the world's undiscovered oil and gas. Moscow had a similar claim rejected in 2002.


WORLD'S GREATEST FREE DIVER FEARED DEAD

Natalia Molchanova, the most decorated freediver in the world with 41 world records, is feared dead after going missing during a dive in the Balearic Sea, near to the Spanish island of Formentera on Sunday. See this CNN video on the Russian-born Molchanova's achievements in this unique sport.


1.2 KM

Dubai is planning to build the world's longest indoor ski slope, as part of a colossal project covering a total 3.67 million square metres, Gulf News reports. Next to the 1.2 kilometer-long ski slope will be a gigantic mall and the Dubai One tower, expected to be the world's tallest residential building.


HOVERBOARD IN ACTION

Lexus has finally shown its Back To The Future-inspired hoverboard in action, but it doesn't seem to work quite as seamlessly as Marty McFly's. It does however work on water.


MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD



KERMIT AND MISS PIGGY BREAKUP

Today's most bizarre news item informs us that The Muppets' Kermit The Frog and Miss Piggy "will be seeing other people, pigs, frogs, et al."

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Geopolitics

Patronage Or Politics? What's Driving Qatar And Egypt Grand Rapprochement

For Cairo, Qatar had been part of an “axis of evil,” with anger directed at Al Jazeera, the main Qatari outlet, and others critical of Egypt after the Muslim Brotherhood ouster. But the vitriol is now gone, with the first ever visit by Egyptian President al-Sisi to Doha.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met with the Emir of Qatar in June 2022 in Cairo

Beesan Kassab, Daniel O'Connell, Ehsan Salah, Hazem Tharwat and Najih Dawoud

For the first time since coming to power in 2014, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi traveled to Doha last month on an official visit, a capstone in a steadily building rapprochement between the two countries in the last year.

Not long ago, however, the photo-op capturing the two heads of state smiling at one another in Doha would have seemed impossible. In the wake of the Armed Forces’ ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood government in 2013, Qatar and Egypt traded barbs.

In the lexicon of the intelligence-controlled Egyptian press landscape, Qatar had been part of an “axis of evil” working to undermine Egypt’s stability. Al Jazeera, the main Qatari outlet, was banned from Egypt, but, from its social media accounts and television broadcast, it regularly published salacious and insulting details about the Egyptian administration.

But all of that vitriol is now gone.

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