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Olympic Athletes Trade Doping Accusations

After Friday's smoothly executed opening ceremony and the first batch of inspiring gold medals, the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro are once again mired in controversy. But rather than Brazil's own local battles with corruption and Zika, it's the athletes themselves undermining the Games.

Sparks flew poolside as Rio's Olympic swimmers traded insults and accusations over doping. Russian swimmer Yulia Efimova was allowed to compete despite receiving previous bans for doping, and her Irish rival Fiona Foyle claimed Efimova "got away with it again" after failing to qualify for the semifinals in her event. In the men's competition, Australian gold medalist Mack Horton called Chinese runner-up and defending champion Sun Yang a "drug cheat" for his three-month suspension in 2014.

The episode enraged supporters in China, prompting the state-run daily Global Times to label Australia an "offshore prison … on the fringes of civilization." Chinese netizens also demanded apologies, with one hoping that Horton would be "killed by a kangaroo."

Meanwhile, the allegations of "state-sponsored" doping by Russia featured a new twist as all its athletes were banned from next month's Paralympic Games. The punishment was a departure from the more lenient punishment for Russia's Olympians, which as noted above did nothing to prevent the Foyle-Efimova swimming spat. Only three days in, and cold water is already risking to snuff out Rio's Olympic spirit.


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Japan's 82-year-old Emperor Akihito expressed concerns about his age during an unprecedented video message to his country today, feeding rumors of his impending abdication. According to the Japan Times, the Japanese Imperial succession does not allow for abdications, meaning parliament would have to pass new laws for Akihito to step down.


A bomb tore through a hospital in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta today, killing 53 people and injuring dozens. The attackers, still unidentified, fired gunshots after the explosion at the entrance of the hospital's emergency room department.


The most famous zebra crossing in the world and arguably the best tennis player ever are part of today's 57-second shot of History.


Millions of supporters thronged the Yenikapi district of Istanbul yesterday in a rally called by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Turkish daily Hürriyet reports that the leaders of Turkey's three largest political parties jointly organized the rally, in a rare show of unity to demonstrate their opposition to the coup attempt on July 15. See how the impressive rally was featured on another Turkish daily's front page here.


Syrian Air Force jets intensified their raids today on rebel-held positions in Aleppo. Rebel forces made gains over the weekend in their efforts to break the government's siege, which had been advancing for weeks.


Not many people in the southeast African nation of Malawi smoke tobacco. They can't afford it. But the country is hooked on growing it and turns a blind eye to the associated risks, especially for child laborers. For Süddeutsche Zeitung, Tobias Zick writes: "Malawi earns roughly $400 million a year from tobacco exports, a habit it's unwilling to kick. member of the Malawi parliament Jumbe takes the opportunity, for that reason, to make a plea for solidarity. His message to the people of Europe? ‘Smoke!' he says. ‘It's cold in your countries. It will warm you. Do it for Malawi.'"

Read the full article, State Of Denial: Malawi's Tobacco Farming Addiction.


Tropical Storm Earl made landfall on Mexico's eastern coast over the weekend, bringing intense rain and mudslides that left 41 people dead. According to this morning's edition of Mexico City-based El Universal, the three hardest-hit states of Veracruz, Puebla, and Hidalgo were devastated by flash floods caused by the storm.


The death toll from flooding in Macedonia this morning stood at 21 after torrential rains struck in and around the capital of Skopje that the mayor described as a "water bomb." Read more from the Weather Channel.


Michael Phelps extended his lead as the most successful Olympian in history with his 19th Olympic gold medal, as his fellow swimmers broke numerous world records over the weekend in Rio de Janeiro. American Katie Ledecky, Briton Adam Peaty, and Sweden's Sarah Sjostrom also set new world bests in their events.


Among The Hmong — Chiang Rai, 1993


Voters in Thailand approved a new constitution drafted by the country's military government in a referendum yesterday, with unofficial results showing the "Yes" camp winning with 61.4% of the vote. Analysts had predicted a tighter contest, but the military achieved large margins of victory in the more populous central regions of the country. Read more from the Bangkok Post.



Donald Trump may be generating controversy in the United States, but his wife Melania has received some long-distance support from a shoemaker in Bosnia and Herzegovina's ethnic Serbian region. Criticizing the "dirty campaign" against Trump, the Bema footwear company crafted special "White House shoes" for the couple: a pair with memory foam soles for Donald, and leather high heels for Melania.

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Xi Jinping's Mission In Moscow, And The Limits Of The Russia-China Alliance

As Xi's closely watched visit to Moscow begins, China and Russia may seem like strategic partners, but it has ultimately shown to be a marriage of convenience. And both countries are naturally competitors, wary if the other grows stronger.

Photo of ​Chinese President Xi Jinping walking past Russian soldiers as he lands in Moscow on March 20

Chinese President Xi Jinping landing in Moscow on March 20

Petro Shevchenko

This article has been updated March 20, 12:00 p.m. CST


Long before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping were growing closer. China’s goal? To revamp the current world order, significantly weaken the West and its leaders, and to become the world-dominating figurehead over and above the United States.

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Russia’s war in Ukraine has become an essential element of this plan to destabilize the global situation.

When the West began imposing stringent sanctions on Russia, China instead chose to economically support Putin and left its markets open to accept raw materials from Russia. But don’t think this means China is Putin’s lapdog. Quite the contrary: Beijing has never helped Moscow to its own detriment, not wishing to fall under the punitive measures of the U.S. and Europe.

The fundamental dynamic has not changed ahead of Xi Jinping's arrival on Monday for his first visit to Moscow since the war began. Beyond the photo ops and pleasant words that Xi and Putin are sure to share, the Russian-Chinese alliance continues to be looked at skeptically amongst the elite in both Beijing and Moscow.

China was not expecting Russia’s plans to occupy Ukraine in a matter of days to fail and as a result, China’s aim to destabilize the West alongside its Russian partner failed.

Add to this the various alliances in the West emerging against Beijing and fears for China’s economy on home turf is beginning to grow.

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