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SPOTLIGHT: DOPING, FROM SOCHI TO RIO

The terminology itself is telling: "State-sponsored doping" is the accusation that the The New York Times reports the U.S. Department of Justice is now pursuing against Russian athletes and officials, linked to the use of banned substances at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, and other competitions. "The inquiry escalates what has been a roiling sports controversy into a federal criminal case involving foreign officials," the paper writes. That "state-sponsored," an expression typically attached to such accusations as terrorism or genocide, is now describing an alleged system of sports cheats may simply be a convenient journalistic or legalistic turn of phrase. But in this case, it is also a window into the Kremlin leadership, its attitude toward international oversight — and the importance their macho president places on athletic performance.


But this case is also a reminder of how many fields come into play when world-class sporting competitions are at stake: economics, politics, celebrity, ethics, and so on. Last year's revelations about corruption at FIFA was described in often highly-charged language All eyes will now be on Rio de Janeiro, and the 2016 Summer Games. Needless to say, host country Brazil faces plenty of challenges when it comes to economics, politics, ethics and so on...



WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY



UGLY DETAILS OF ISIS TERROR IN LIBYA

A damning report published by Human Rights Watch reveals what life has become for people living under ISIS rule in the Libyan city of Sirte. The report documents at least 49 executions and quotes witnesses as saying that corpses in orange jumpsuits are often left hanging from buildings, in what the terrorist organization calls "crucifixions." More than two-third of Sirte's 80,000 inhabitants have fled their city since a small group of ISIS fighters invaded it in late 2014.


— ON THIS DAY

The first true global war, a massive eruption and a famous French tennis player. All of that and more in your 57-second shot of history.


ECUADOR HIT BY EARTHQUAKE

A magnitude 6.7 quake struck western Ecuador during the night, in an area located near the one hit by a devastating quake on April 16 that killed 660 people. Across the Pacific, South Korea too was rattled by an earthquake.


VERBATIM

"I would speak to him, I would have no problem speaking to him," presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump told Reuters, when asked if he would negotiate directly as president with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.


TRUMP AND CLINTON EDGE CLOSER TO NOMINATION

Hillary Clinton is less than 100 delegates away from the Democratic nomination after her narrow victory in Kentucky yesterday, even while losing by a large margin to Bernie Sanders in Oregon. Escalating tensions between the two sides has observers worried over the future unity of the Democratic party. Donald Trump meanwhile won Oregon, meaning he just needs 66 more delegates to officially win the Republican nomination.


U.S. SENATE ALLOWS 9/11 SAUDI ARABIA SUITS

The U.S. Senate passed a bill that would allow families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia for any role it might have played in the terrorist attacks, a move that highlights the growing divide between the Congress and the White House, which has threatened to veto it, The New York Times reports. Saudi Arabia had threatened to retaliate by selling up to $750 billion of American assets. The oil-rich kingdom also owns more than $116 billion of U.S. debt, according to Bloomberg.


522%

The U.S. has raised its import duties on Chinese steel by a whopping 522% to protect its own market, after accusing Chinese steelmakers of distorting the global market by selling below market costs.


— WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

Writing in Italian newspaper La Stampa, Francesca Sforza delves into the divisions among Tunisian women over the role of religion, more than five years after the revolution. "Tunisia is a nation of young women. They write books, tell stories, teach in universities, write on blogs, organize activist networks, protest on the streets, and work both in and out of the home. In the winter of 2014, during discussions over the approval of the new constitution, women formed an army of volunteers that took to the streets to fight for the inclusion of gender equality. The goal was to break from the more ambiguous "complementarity" formulation between men and women in the previous constitution, and oppose the introduction of Sharia law, polygamy, and unequal rights to family inheritance. But there were others — and other women — who did and do not agree on all elements of this agenda."

Read the full article: Two Tunisian Women, Emancipated But Divided Over Religion.


SRI LANKA FLOODS

Flash floods and landslides in Sri Lanka, triggered by days of bad weather, have killed at least 27 people, AP reports. The Sri Lankan Red Cross says at least 200 families are missing and feared buried by the mudslides.


FRENCH FREE CODING SCHOOL COMING TO SILICON VALLEY

French businessman Xavier Niel is planning to export his successful coding school project 42 to the Silicon Valley, where he hopes to educate for free 10,000 students over the next 5 years, TechCrunch reports.

Find out more about what's driving Niel, the mercurial tech billionaire often dubbed the French Steve Jobs.


— MORE STORIES, EXCLUSIVELY IN ENGLISH BY WORLDCRUNCH


SAME-SEX MARRIAGE IN MEXICO

With a big front-page kiss, Mexican daily La Prensa welcomed news that President Enrico Pena Nieto has given the green light for national legislation to legalize gay marriage.

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Society

In Denmark, Beloved Christmas TV Special Cancelled For Blackface Scenes

The director of the 1997 episode complained that TV executives are being "too sensitive."

Screenshot of a child wearing apparent blackface as part of a vintage "TV Christmas calendar" episode on Danish TV

Screenshot of the controversial scene in a vintage episode of Denmark's traditional "TV Christmas calendar"

Amélie Reichmut

If there’s one thing Scandinavians take seriously, it’s Christmas. And over the past half-century, in addition to all the family and religious traditions, most Nordic countries share a passion for what's known as the "TV Christmas calendar": 24 nightly television episodes that air between Dec. 1 and Christmas Eve.

Originally, the programs were strictly aimed at children; but over the years, the stories evolved more towards family entertainment, with some Christmas calendars becoming classics that generations of Swedes, Danes, Norwegians and others have watched each year as national and family traditions in their own right.

But this year in Denmark, one vintage episode has been pulled from the air because of a blackface scene.

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