SPOTLIGHT: ISRAEL-PALESTINE TALKS IN PARIS, A "USELESS CONFERENCE"?
The headlines in France on the new Mideast conference are hardly inspiring. "The French initiative will fail," declared right-leaning daily Le Figaro. Newsmagazine Le Point was more succinct: "A useless conference," it noted.
As is often the case with Israel-Palestine peace talks, expectations are low at the international conference that is starting today in Paris. Israeli foreign minister Dore Gold roundly rejected it even before it started. The gathering will include representatives from 28 Arab and Western countries and organizations but the most important stakeholders will be missing: Israel and Palestine will not participate in the talks. "We don't want to act in the place of the Israelis and Palestinians but we want to help them," French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told France Info radio station this morning, underscoring that direct talks between the two do not work.
The conference will aim to be pragmatic and use a new, original approach that draws on lessons from previous failures, including that of the U.S.-led peace talks in 2014, when negotiations collapsed after an agreement deadline expired. It's important to remember that this conference is only a first step and would hopefully prepare the ground for direct negotiations in the fall of 2016.
In recent years, the Israel-Palestine situation has taken a backseat to other conflicts unfolding in the Middle East. Today's Paris talks are an attempt to bring it back into the spotlight. "We're not going to reinvent the wheel," French newspaper Le Monde quotes a negotiator as saying in Paris. But maybe it'll get the machine going — once again.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY (& WEEKEND)
- Peru holds second round of presidential elections Sunday.
- World Environmental Day falls on Sunday.
- U.S. election caucuses in Virgin Islands (Saturday) and Puerto Rico (Sunday).
RUSSIAN GROUND TROOPS IN SYRIA "UNDER DISCUSSION"
Moscow could deploy special operation forces and volunteer soldiers on the ground in Syria to fight rebel groups, Andrei Fyodorov, former Russian deputy minister for foreign affairs, told Al Jazeera. Russia had previously reduced its role in the Syrian conflict to give a chance to peace talks, but there is now discussion of the need for a "Stalingrad," a final, decisive battle that would require ground troops.
24 DEAD IN EVICTION CLASHES IN INDIA
At least 24 people, including two police officers, were killed yesterday in clashes between the police and squatters being evicted from a park in the north Indian city of Mathura, India Today reports. The protesters belonged to a religious sect calling for changes to India's constitution.
After having to deal with widespread strikes and gas shortages, Paris faces more turmoil: Flooding by the Seine river is expected to peak today. See how daily Le Parisien featured the floods on its front page.
"Donald Trump's ideas aren't just different — they are dangerously incoherent," Hillary Clinton said in a foreign policy speech in San Diego yesterday. She also described her Republican opponent as "temperamentally unfit" to be president and that electing him would be a "historic mistake." On the other hand, House speaker Paul Ryan announced in his hometown Wisconsin newspaperGazette that he will finally endorse Trump.
— ON THIS DAY
This tennis legend is turning 30 today â€¦ Find out who, and more about June 3, on today's 57-second of history.
REFERENDUM ON VENEZUELA'S MADURO DELAYED
A meeting to decide whether to hold a referendum to remove President Nicolas Maduro was cancelled after clashes between police and protesters erupted in capital Caracas, El Diario de Caracas reports. Opponents of the socialist president say the country could face increasing unrest if the referendum does not take place.
PRINCE DIED FROM ACCIDENTAL OVERDOSE
An accidental overdose of the powerful painkiller fentanyl killed musician Prince, 57, on April 21, the Minneapolis Star Tribunesaid, citing a report from the Midwest Medical Examiner's Office. Fentanyl is a powerful drug, similar to but more potent than morphine.
The Babypod is a speaker that, inserted vaginally, will expose a fetus to music of your choice inside the womb. Writing for Süddeutsche Zeitung, Alena Schroder regales us with extracts of the radio programs on offer: "Hello fetus listeners, that last track was Britney Spears with â€˜Hit Me Baby, One More Time.' I hope all of you have been kicking along to the beat? Don't forget, if you are kicking, try to aim for the bladder! ... Right, let's leave the exercise regime behind and get to the latest traffic news: No further obstructions in the parturient canal. Only little Maximilian Meyer in Unterföhring is experiencing a disturbance through someone coming towards him from the wrong end of the birth canal. But not to worry, that's just your dad and he will be finished in a minute. Let's continue with some music! Here are The Doors with "Break On Through (To the Other Side)"..."
Read the full article, Uterus Groove, The Babypod Lets You Pump Music Into The Womb.
Yamato Tanooka, a seven-year-old Japanese boy, spent 144 hours alone in the remote woods of Japan's Hokkaido region. He went missing last Saturday after his parents abandoned him for being "naughty," but was found early this morning alive and well, The Japan Times reports.
MY GRAND-PERE'S WORLD
Go Up Moses — Mount Nebo, 1996
HUNDREDS OF MIGRANTS RESCUED IN MEDITERRANEAN
At least 302 people were rescued in the Mediterranean this morning after a boat carrying hundreds of migrants capsized near the island of Crete, The Guardian reported, quoting a Greek coastguard. Three bodies were also recovered during the operation.
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For those of you in Paris, wondering whether the rain is going to stop soon: The answer is ...