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Migrants Stuck At Sea, Farewell B.B. King, Kiwi Emblems

MIGRANT CRISIS WORSENS IN SE ASIA

“Out at sea with nowhere to go,” reads today’s front-page headline in Malaysian daily The Star, alongside a photo of Rohingya migrants, a persecuted minority, waiting on a boat adrift off the coast of Thailand. According to the UN, about 6,000 refugees fleeing Myanmar (also known as Burma) and Bangladesh are stranded at sea, a humanitarian disaster in the making, as Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia are all turning away the migrant boats, many of which no longer have food and water and are dealing with spreading illness. Read more about the crisis in our Extra! feature.


COUP LEADERS ARRESTED, BURUNDI PRESIDENT RETURNS

Burundi troops loyal to President Pierre Nkurunziza have arrested three of the leaders behind this week’s failed coup attempt. The main leader, General Godefroid Niyombare, is still on the run, but he told AFP he was willing to give himself up. “We have decided to surrender. I hope they won't kill us,” he said.

  • The presidential office announced that Nkurunziza was back in the country from neighboring Tanzania, where he was visiting when the attempted coup began Wednesday. He’s expected to address the nation later today.
  • According to Radio France Internationale, the leader of the protest movement against Nkurunziza’s bid to run for a third term has called for more demonstrations.

VERBATIM

“This ice shelf has existed for at least 10,000 years, and soon it will be gone,” NASA scientist Ala Khazendar said upon the agency’s announcement that an important section of Antarctica’s ice shelf would likely disappear by the end of the decade.


ON THIS DAY


A yet-to-be-famous little mouse was appearing in a cartoon for the first time ever 87 years ago today. Get ready for your 57-second shot of history.


INDIA AND CHINA SIGN MULTI-BILLION DEALS

India Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in China where he has signed 24 bilateral deals worth $10 billion with his counterpart Li Keqiang, The Times of India reports. The agreements cover diverse areas, from railways, mining and space cooperation to tourism and earthquake science and engineering. Modi highlighted that the talks had been “candid, constructive and friendly” but called on China to “reconsider its approach on some of the issues that hold us back from realizing full potential of our partnership.”

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

Boundaries of personal space can depend on geography and wealth, and city planners and interior designers should keep that in mind when drawing up blueprints for the future, writes Clarin’s Miguel Jurado. “Personal space draws out our comfort zone and psychological security, but it's very difficult to measure,” he writes. “It changes according to personal experiences, culture, the time we live in, age groups and social classes. In the West, for example, studies have found that the average person's personal space extends 60 centimeters from each side of the body, 70 centimeters to the front and 40 behind. But in Latin cultures, it's smaller. Anglo-Saxons seem to require the most.”

Read the full article, A Close (But Not Too Close) Look At Personal Space.


FRANCE TO END RUSSIAN MISTRAL CONTRACT

France has reportedly offered to terminate its Mistral helicopter carrier contract with Russia. Paris would offer the repayment of 785 million euros ($893 million), on condition that Russia first agrees to the sale of the two ships to a third party (possibly China) “without any reservations.” According to Kommersant, Moscow strongly opposes the terms and estimates the “costs and losses” at 1.163 billion euros ($1.32 billion).

  • France was supposed to deliver the first ship to Russia in November, but President François Hollande cancelled the transfer in reaction to the Ukrainian conflict. Earlier this week, French magazine Le Point reported that instead of bringing in 1.2 billion euros to government coffers, the broken contract could cost the country between 2 and 5 billion euros.

9%

The United States is expected to run out of Internet Protocol addresses this summer, but only 9% of the web has made the switch from the old version 4 to the new IPv6 norm, The Wall Street Journalreports. The shortage for companies that haven’t made the switch could be costly, the newspaper warns. The old protocol allowed for the creation of 4.3 billion IP addresses, which are the “Internet’s equivalent of phone numbers.” But the new one should have us all covered for some time with its mind-boggling 340 undecillion addresses, (that’s 340 followed by 36 zeroes).


ISIS LEADER RELEASES MESSAGE

ISIS has released what it said was an audio recording of its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in which he urged Muslims all over the world to “migrate to the Islamic State” or to “carry weapons wherever you are,” Al Jazeera reports. The message’s authenticity hasn’t been verified, but if confirmed, it would be Baghdadi’s first communication since reports that he had been wounded in Iraq.


FAREWELL

Photo: James Colburn/ZUMA

Blues legend B. B. King has died in Las Vegas, at the age of 89. As “Blues Boy” put it himself, “The expand=1] thrill is gone away from me … I'm free from your spell. And now that it’s all over, all I can do is wish you well.”


ANOTHER SCOTTISH INDY REFERENDUM?

Last week’s combined victories of Britain’s Conservative party and of the leftist Scottish National Party could pave the way for a second Scottish independence referendum just months after voters chose to remain in the UK, The Guardian reports. According to a senior source inside the SNP, the party is considering holding a new referendum with or without British Prime Minister David Cameron’s approval if his government refuses to give more powers to the Scottish Parliament.


MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD



KOOKY KIWI EMBLEMS

Tired of living in Australia’s shadow, New Zealand’s government decided that changing the country’s flag would be a good idea. But some of the designs put forward ahead of a referendum later this year suggest that maybe it isn’t.

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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.

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

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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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