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Migrant Tragedy Aftershock, South Africa Arrests, Kim Climbs

EMERGENCY EU SUMMIT AFTER MIGRANT TRAGEDY

European Union leaders are holding an emergency summit in Luxembourg to discuss a common response to the ongoing migrant crisis. But the EU’s Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini warned ahead of the meeting that there was “no easy solution, no magic solution,” the BBC reports. This comes just one day after some 700 migrants are believed to have drowned after their boat capsized off the coast of Libya. Only 28 have been rescued. Civil-war ravaged Libya has become a major hub for human traffickers since the NATO intervention and the subsequent fall of the Muammar Gaddafi regime in 2011. Up to 1,500 migrants are thought to have perished crossing the Mediterranean this year alone, in what Italy’s La Repubblica characterizes as a “migrant apocalypse.”

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ON THIS DAY


Spanish painter and sculptor Juan Miró would have turned 122 today, plus three uglier events from the past. Get ready for your 57-second shot of history.


TTIP TALKS RESUME

Talks between the U.S. and the European Union about establishing a free-trade zone between the two blocs are resuming today in New York, but the European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström believes the deal won’t be finalized this year, according to French business daily Les Échos.

  • The deal, which is being negotiated mostly in secret, is facing growing opposition, especially in Germany where hundreds of protest marches were held this weekend. Critics are particularly worried by a clause that would allow corporations to sue governments in private courts that will sit outside national law. Also on the list of concerns are forced imports of controversial U.S. products such as genetically modified vegetables, hormone-treated beef or chlorine-washed chicken.
  • Barack Obama is also facing opposition inside his own ranks, especially after his recent decision to side with the Republicans to fast track the free-trade deals with the EU and Japan. Read more from The Washington Times.

AUSTRALIA, IRAN TO SHARE INTELLIGENCE IN ANTI-ISIS FIGHT

The Iranian government will share secret intelligence gathered by their operatives in Iraq with Canberra, thus allowing the Australian government to track its citizens fighting with ISIS, Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop announced after meeting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani this weekend. More than 100 Australians are believed to have joined the terrorist group’s ranks. Read the full story from The Sydney Morning Herald.

  • ISIS-affiliated fighters in Libya have published a video that purportedly shows the killing of at least 28 Ethiopian Christians at two different locations, some being shot dead, others beheaded, Al Jazeera reports.
  • Another ISIS-affiliate in Egypt claimed responsibility for a roadside bomb that killed three Egyptian soldiers near the border with the Gaza Strip.
  • A similar attack targeted a bus in northeastern Somalia in which United Nations workers were travelling, killing at least six of them. Islamist group al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the attack.

PARIS COLOR RUN

Photo: Michael Bunel/NurPhoto/ZUMA

An estimated 20,000 people took part in the second edition of the Paris Color Run on Sunday — a 5-kilometer charity race for hospitalized children — where runners wear white at the starting line and finish plastered in colored powder.


XI JINPING VISITS PAKISTAN

Chinese President Xi Jinping has arrived in Islamabad for what Pakistani newspaper Dawn describes as a “historic visit” during which the Chinese leader is expected to roll out a $46 billion energy and infrastructure plan for the next 15 years. According to The New York Times, the investment plan includes the construction of roads, rails and power plants by Chinese companies. But it’s also a move aimed at stopping the spread of Islamist groups is the northwest Xinjiang region of China.


41.8 MILLION TONS

The amount of electrical and electronic waste discarded globally in 2014 reached a record high 41.8 million tons, two tons more than the previous year, a UN report showed. At current rates, the annual amount of e-waste will reach the 50-million-ton mark by 2018.


HERBICIDE BLAMED FOR MYSTERIOUS DEATHS IN NIGERIA

At least 18 people have died under mysterious circumstances in a small community in southern Nigeria over the past week, with all victims succumbing within 24 hours of showing early symptoms, including headaches, blurred vision and loss of consciousness. While people there said the deaths were divine punishment after a group of youths who broke into a religious shrine, World Health Organization official Gregory Härtl said the agency’s working hypothesis was that of a herbicide, after tests for viral and bacterial infections returned negative, Vanguard reports.


WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

Being the filming location of global hits like HBO’s Game of Thrones has huge economic consequences. Le Monde’s Marie Charrel reports on the fierce competition — from Iceland, France, and beyond. “Filmed across Europe, Game of Thrones is the perfect theatre to view the war raging among numerous countries to try and attract top movies and TV show shootings, especially American ones. ‘The competition is fierce,’ admits Olivier-René Veillon, Director General of the Film Commission for the region Ile-de-France. ‘To win, we have to be the best on many levels,’ adds Einar Hansen Tomasson, from Film in Iceland, the agency in charge of promoting Iceland to foreign studios. It's working here, as the island has welcomed cast and crew of movie blockbusters Interstellar (by Christopher Nolan), Noah (by Darren Aronofsky) and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (by Ben Stiller).”

Read the full article, Game Of Thrones, The Global Battle To Host The Set.


MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD



300+ ARRESTED AMID SOUTH AFRICA XENOPHOBIC VIOLENCE

As many as 307 people have been arrested in South Africa as the country experiences a wave of violent xenophobic protests in which at least six people were killed, The Cape Times reports. Calling out to those who engage in public violence, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said they “will be dealt with to the full might of the law,” as the government seeks to reassure foreign investors.


VERBATIM

“Climbing Mount Paektu provides precious mental pabulum more powerful than any kind of nuclear weapon,” Kim Jong-un (who else?), after climbing North Korea’s highest mountain.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Fight Over Tourist Visa Ban For Russians Is Taking Everyone For A Ride

High on the agenda of the Prague summit of Europe’s foreign ministers this week was a proposal to ban tourist visas for Russians, as punishment for Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. But it is ultimately a way to change the subject, and recalls Zelensky’s iconic remark after the war began.

Passengers arrive at Sheremetyevo International Airport, Russia

TASS
Anna Akage

It’s not a new question. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had called for a ban on tourist visa for Russian soon after the war began, and this week it became the center of the Prague summit of European Union foreign ministers.

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Some European Union nations voiced their support soon after it was mentioned by Zelensky, including former Soviet republics and current Russia neighbors, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. They were followed by Finland and the Czech Republic, Denmark, and Poland. Hungary, Portugal, Greece and Cyprus. Germany and France are looking for a compromise that would allow for visas for students, workers of culture and science, as well as people who need entry for humanitarian reason. Perhaps most importantly, however, the U.S. took an unambiguous position against the restrictions.

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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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