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Kerry-Netanyahu Meeting, Refugees in Slovenia, Mark Hamill Mystery

KERRY, NETANYAHU MEET IN GERMANY

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met in Berlin today for talks about ongoing violence between Israelis and Palestinians. Kerry called for an immediate end to all incitement and violence after three weeks of deadly attacks. Netanyahu also called for a de-escalation but blamed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas for the violence. "I think it is time for the international community to say clearly to President Abbas to stop spreading lies about Israel," the AP quoted Netanyahu as saying. "Lies that Israel wants to change the status quo at the Temple Mount, lies that Israel wants to tear down the al-Aqsa Mosque, lies that Israel is executing Palestinians. All of that is false."

  • Kerry will also meet Abbas over the weekend in Amman, Jordan, Le Monde reports.
  • After meeting Israeli and Palestinian authorities Wednesday in Jordan, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was "not optimistic" about the situation, Voice of America reports.
  • At least 50 Palestinians and eight Israelis have been killed since the beginning of the latest wave of violence.
  • Early today, Israeli police said they shot and killed a Palestinian and wounded another after the two stabbed a Jewish seminary student near Jerusalem, Reuters reports.

WHITE HOUSE CONDEMNS ASSAD'S MOSCOW VISIT

The White House has strongly criticized Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's visit to Moscow earlier this week. "We view the red carpet welcome for Assad, who has used chemical weapons against his own people, at odds with the stated goal by the Russians for a political transition in Syria," spokesman Eric Schultz told reporters aboard Air Force One, The World Post reports. Assad's visit to Moscow, his first overseas trip since the the Syrian civil war began in 2011, is seen as a clear message from Moscow that it is a key player in the Middle East. Other countries criticized also the visit. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said "the Syrian government has no legitimacy left." French President François Hollande warned against strengthening the position of Assad, "who is the problem, and cannot therefore be the solution." Even Iran, one of Syria's key allies, said it would not help keep Assad in power "forever," Turkish daily Hürriyet reports.


VERBATIM

Photo: Mike Theiler/CNP/ZUMA

"I've concluded it has closed," Vice President Joe Biden said during a White House address yesterday, referring to his window of opportunity to "mount a winning campaign" for the Democratic nomination for president. The announcement that he won't run removes a major political threat to Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton. Biden's full speech is available via The Washington Post.


SWORD ATTACK IN SWEDISH SCHOOL

Swedish police shot a masked man armed with a sword or a knife today at a school in the western city of Trollhattan after he attacked teachers and students. Officials say one teacher died from the attack and four students were wounded, daily Dagens Nyheterreports. The attacker was seriously injured and has been transported to the hospital.


350 MILLION

That's the estimated number of copies of the comic book The Adventures of Asterix that have been sold worldwide since its creation in 1959, French daily Les Echos reports. The latest in the French comic series is being released today, following the exploits of a village of indomitable Gauls as they resist Roman occupation.


ON THIS DAY


In today's 57-second shot of history, a crisis began, a philosopher rebelled and a French icon was born.


SLOVENIA STRUGGLES WITH REFUGEE INFLUX

Slovenian authorities have asked the EU for police to help manage a mass influx of more than 10,000 refugees coming over the past 24 hours from Croatia, most of them fleeing the Syrian war, the daily Delo reports. "Slovenia has already asked other EU member states for police units," Slovenian Interior Minister Vesna Gyorkos Znidar said Wednesday.

  • This mass flow of refugees into the smallest country on the Balkan migration route started Friday after Hungary closed its border with Croatia.
  • On Wednesday, the Slovenian parliament passed an amendment granting more power to the army to help the police, The Slovenia Times reports.
  • Police at Slovenia's main refugee camp on the border with Croatia told the AP that migrants set fire to a stack of UN-supplied blankets to protest the living conditions there. The fire destroyed several army-issued tents.
  • Two overloaded wooden boats carrying 114 refugees from Syria, including 28 children, washed up at a UK military base in Cyprus Wednesday, The Guardianreports. The UN refugee agency said the UK was legally obliged to resettle the migrants, contradicting claims by the British Ministry of Defense.

ALASKAN PERMAFROST WARMING WORSENS

Alaska's permafrost, the perennial frozen soil found underneath about 25% of the northern hemisphere, could start to thaw by 2070, Professor Vladimir Romanovsky, one of the world's leading experts on the subject, told the BBC. Researchers fear methane could be released from the permafrost, exacerbating global warming.


ANGOLA HIP HOP PROTESTS

A new wave of democratic protests has been spreading across Africa, from Angola to Burkina Faso and beyond, as several long-time leaders look to extend their rule for as long as they can, often defying their country's own constitution. Front and center in these popular movements have been several prominent hip hop stars. Read about it on Le Blog.


WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

French academic André Gunthert asserts that the selfie is not narcissistic folly at all but instead represents a new kind of revolution that threatens the elitists' control of society. "A ‘selfie,' or self-portrait taken with a smartphone, is sometimes viewed with contempt from society's top rungs," writes L'Obs Aurélien Viers. "Intended to be shared, often to get people to laugh and react, this form of expression is nevertheless significant, Gunthert writes in his new book The Shared Image. In fact, Gunthert says, the selfie phenomenon represents a revolution ‘unlike anything we've seen for centuries.' They are not just iconographic, but also sociological — and even political. Selfie detractors simply don't have a full understanding, he says."

Read the full article, A French Intellectual's Defense Of The "Subversive" Selfie.


MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD



FOLLOWING DAD'S ADVICE

Why doesn't Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars trilogy, appear in either the latest Star Wars: The Force Awakens bills or trailers, despite his name featuring second on the movie's poster? Well, there's a crazy theory going around saying the Jedi finally joined the dark side and is in fact Kylo Ren, the masked, mysterious character with the triple-bladed lightsaber seen in the trailer.

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Future

Injecting Feminism Into Science Is A Good Thing — For Science

Feminists have generated a set of tools to make science less biased and more robust. Why don’t more scientists use it?

As objective as any man

Anto Magzan/ZUMA
Rachel E. Gross

-Essay-

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, a mystery played out across news headlines: Men, it seemed, were dying of infection at twice the rate of women. To explain this alarming disparity, researchers looked to innate biological differences between the sexes — for instance, protective levels of sex hormones, or distinct male-female immune responses. Some even went so far as to test the possibility of treating infected men with estrogen injections.

This focus on biological sex differences turned out to be woefully inadequate, as a group of Harvard-affiliated researchers pointed out earlier this year. By analyzing more than a year of sex-disaggregated COVID-19 data, they showed that the gender gap was more fully explained by social factors like mask-wearing and distancing behaviors (less common among men) and testing rates (higher among pregnant women and health workers, who were largely female).

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