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Julie Farrar

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Extra! Catalonia Independence Set For New Test

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La Vanguardia, August 4, 2015

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A Rohingya teen in a Myanmar camp for displaced persons.

More Burmese Persecution Of Rohingya: Blocking Marriages

A not-so-veiled effort to limit the population of this Muslim ethnic minority is the systematic denial of marriage licenses. Children born out of wedlock are rendered stateless, without citizenship or education.

SITTWE — Kyaw Kyaw Oo, 25, takes me to a safe place to talk — and because he fears the authorities here in Myanmar, he's not using his real name. A Rohingya, one of the world's most persecuted minorities, he has been waiting for permission to marry his girlfriend.

"I graduated three years ago, and I applied for permission to get married two years ago," he says. "I heard that if you pay a large amount of money, you can get permission immediately."

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Romania has become the no. 3 country in the world for cyber attacks.

Shadows And Light In The World Of Romanian Hackers

This small Eastern European country is the Wild West (good guys and bad guys) of the fight for Internet security.

ALEXANDRIA — On the FBI's Most Wanted list is the name Nicolae Popescu.

Born in the small city of Alexandria, a two-hour bus ride south of Bucharest, Popescu is now in his early thirties and is known for sporting a crew cut and smart clothes. After creating a digital ruse to sell hundreds of fictitious cars on eBay, and pocketing $3 million, he was arrested in 2010, but eventually released on a technicality. He is now a fugitive from justice and the reward for any information to lead to his capture is at $1 million.

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Entrance to the Hal Far refugee camp in Malta

Mediterranean Graveyard, The Nameless Dead Of Malta

On this southern European island, some of the hundreds of corpses have arrived from the latest migrant tragedy. They will be processed and buried without knowing their identity. It is not the first time.

VALLETTA — They're stacked in silver tubes. One on top of another. They are sealed in black plastic bags with marker-scribbled signs hung at their feet: Unknown Number 7, Unknown Number 10. Here, we can count 24 nameless corpses, all unknown and unidentified.

"They are all adult males, except one teenager," says Dr. David Grima.

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Italian Red Cross members helping migrants in Lampedusa

Europe And Immigration, An Honest Proposal From Italy


TURIN — Thousands of people — calling them people, i.e. men, women and children, is the first step — have died in the Strait of Sicily since 2010. Sunday saw the worst tragedy yet, but it was not the first, and unfortunately it won't be the last.

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Life in Israel's Negev desert

In Israel's High-Tech Desert, Food Solutions For The Third World

YOTVATA — There are mud huts to block out the heat, solar micro panels for cooking, bio-gas production from waste, and wet mattresses to grow vegetables and flowers in the desert. This is the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies in Yotvata, the most torrid and depopulated area in Israel's Negev desert, where a community of scientists and researchers are relentlessly seeking solutions to problems that beset the inhabitants of the planet's poorest countries.

A three-hour drive from Tel Aviv, this is a scientific frontier where Israel is using high-tech and human ingenuity to find solutions to the planet's food security needs amid severe environmental challenges. The Israeli pavilion at Milan's Expo 2015 will be a window into this laboratory. Tali Adini, a researcher from the nearby kibbutz of Ketura, takes us to a village of mud huts that, from the outside, resembles many of those in the remote areas of Africa and Asia.

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The cat in question

Cats Used To Smuggle Contraband Into Brazilian Prison

It wasn't the Easter bunny delivering chocolate eggs this past Sunday night. No, that furry creature scaling the walls was a very real cat, in a very serious attempt to smuggle a precious load of cell phones and SIM cards into Brazil's Romero Nobrega maximum security prison.

With adhesive tape and bandages strapping the load to his belly, Miao (as we shall henceforth call the protagonist in this tale) was allegedly sent in to the prison in Paraiba on orders of the Primeiro Comando da Capital, a top Brazilian mob outfit that controls most of the country's cocaine market.

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The AC Milan Under-10 Squad

Racism In Soccer: A New Low As Parents Target Under-10 Players

Racism in soccer hit a new low over the weekend when black players from AC Milan's Under-10 team say they were booed and heckled by other parents during a Universal Cup match.

The youngsters were playing their Paris Saint-Germain equivalents for a place in the semi-finals of the Tuscany tournament that features 48 international teams, including Chelsea, Ajax and Benfica.

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Cairo's Bahaa Makki lingerie shop

Under The Niqabs, A Peek Inside Cairo's Lingerie Shops

CAIRO — International lingerie store Victoria's Secret came to Cairo in 2013, but somewhat surprisingly for a country of Muslim modesty, there has been a varied and flourishing lingerie business in Egypt's capital for years.

Most of the lingerie downtown is imported from either Turkey or Syria. The owners of the two lingerie shops who agreed to speak with Mada Masr are both Syrian, having left the country before the 2011 uprising and ensuing violence. Both say they're still able to obtain lingerie from back home, despite the political turmoil.

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Eclipse hunter Carlo Dellarole

Meet The Italian Eclipse Chaser

You've heard of storm chasers and tornado hunters who travel far and wide to capture extreme weather. Carlo Dellarole will go anywhere anytime that the moon and sun cross paths.

ROME — "It's as if my heart stops beating for a few minutes and then starts pumping again. Pure adrenaline mixed with emotion," says geologist Carlo Dellarole, 55, on witnessing a total solar eclipse. An avid amateur astronomer from Castellamonte in northwestern Italy, he has plenty of experience in viewing them: Since 1998 he has seen 11 around the world, the first one in Antigua, the latest on March 20 in the Faroe Islands.

"I feel privileged, it's sort of a miracle," he says of his experience in the archipelago. "It rained so much and the wind was very strong. My daughter and I were in the Sandavágur inlet, near Vágar airport, and it went well. Suddenly the sky opened up and allowed us to capture the sun when it had almost entered the totality phase."

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Looking down on the city of Britel, in the Bekaa Valley.

Hezbollah v. ISIS, A Showdown Looms In Lebanon

RASBAALBEK — There's a 140-kilometer strip of land on top of the mountains just north of Lebanon's Bekaa Valley that marks the border with Syria. It's here that ISIS has dug in, appropriating a remote corner of Lebanon where the terror group has accumulated militants, resources and hostages to gear up for an impending battle with Hezbollah-backed government troops.

This strip is a strategic area because it allows jihadists from ISIS and the al-Nusra Front, who are allies, to threaten seven small towns in the valley. Among the few who know well the imprecise boundaries of the terror groups' enclave in Lebanon is Talal Iskander, head of the International Red Cross. The organization operates in Ras Baalbek, rescuing those wounded in battle between ISIS and the Lebanese.

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