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U.S. STEPS UP ISIS FIGHT WITH MORE TROOPS TO IRAQ

The White House is readying to send 500 more troops to Iraq to train and support the Iraqi army in the counteroffensive against ISIS, The Wall Street Journal reports. The additional troops will be sent to a new military base in the Anbar province. This comes weeks after the terrorist group's capture of the strategic town of Ramadi and marks a strategy shift on Washington's part. Some 3,000 American troops are already on the ground. Read more from The New York Times.

TERRORISTS TARGET EGYPT'S TOURIST SPOT

A suicide bomber struck this morning in the Egyptian city of Luxor, near the ancient Karnak temple, the country's second most visited site, Al Jazeera reports. Unnamed officials also said the police foiled two other suicide attacks on the site. No tourists were reported injured.


BILDERBERG MEETING

The Bilderberg group and its guests are gathering in Austria for their annual conference, which begins on Thursday. More influential than the G7, this is "where the big guns go" according to The Guardian, with political leaders discussing behind locked doors with CEOs from banks, oil groups and arms manufacturers, among others. But don't expect to hear about what is said.

VERBATIM

"There were no light drugs and there were no hard drugs, there were no prostitutes and no pimping. Have you gone crazy?" Oren Hazan, the Knesset deputy speaker, told Israeli media after having been suspended over allegations that he "arranged" prostitutes for gamblers and used hard drugs back when he was managing a casino in Bulgaria.

PUTIN PLAYS NICE IN ITALY

After the Russia-less G7 meeting in Germany, Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived Wednesday in Milan, where he toured the Expo 2015 with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. Putin tried to ease tensions with the West in an interview with the Milan daily Corrierre della Sera.

BURMA'S AUNG SAN SUU KYI VISITS CHINA

Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Burma's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi begins her first visit to China, where she'll meet with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang. According to Xinhua, her trip "underscores a common wish of the two nations to improve ties" with bilateral relations between Beijing and the military-backed Burmese government having largely cooled amid border violence. Although she's technically barred from running for Presidency, Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy party are expected to play an important role in the November presidential elections.


ON THIS DAY


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AFRICAN LEADERS TO SIGN FREE TRADE DEAL

After five years of negotiations, the leaders of 26 African countries are gathered in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, to sign an agreement creating a common market bloc of 625 million people and gross domestic product of more than $1 trillion, the Cameroon Tribune reports. As Le Monde notes however, it might be months before the Tripartite Free Trade Area becomes a reality and removes customs barriers between these countries. The 26 Parliaments have a maximum of 2 years to ratify the treaty.

TRADE VOTE DELAYED IN BRUSSELS

The European Parliament has cancelled today's planned vote on the controversial and highly secretive free-trade deal with the U.S. over fears that the deal might be defeated, France's business daily Les Echos reports. Members of the Strasbourg-based legislature  have registered more than 200 complaints and amendments to the resolution in an attempt to establish clear "red lines" on areas ranging from food safety and environmental laws to national sovereignty. More than two million citizens opposed to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership have signed a European-wide petition.

GERMANWINGS CRASH VICTIM REMAINS GO HOME

The remains of the 44 German passengers travelling on the Germanwings flight that was deliberately crashed by the co-pilot in March have finally returned to their homeland to be buried, Deutsche Welle reports. The bodies of passengers from Spain, Australia, Argentina and Japan will be returned to their families in the coming weeks.

DRUNK CHIMPANZEES

After learning last week that chimpanzees possessed the cognitive skills required to cook, scientists published a new study revealing that a group of chimpanzees in southeastern Guinea have been enjoying quite a lot of alcohol.

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Dottoré!

Of Rats And Men

Our Naples-based psychiatrist remembers a 2019 conversation with a patient on the geopolitics of pest control.

Street rat street art

Mariateresa Fichele

"Carmela, how long did you have to fight rats entering your house?"

"Eh, Dottoré, for years!"

"And how did end up solving it?"

"I adopted three cats that were in my street!"

"And then what happened?"

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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.

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