Sandra Nasri

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The Trials And Tribulations Of Living Without Plastic
Germany

The Trials And Tribulations Of Living Without Plastic

But just try brushing your teeth with bamboo.

BRUNSWICK — Marian Klapp's friends can always tell which presents are from him because their wrappings are never held together with Scotch tape, only string. That's because tape contains plastic, and Klapp believes it is appalling stuff.

So he tries, whenever possible, to live without it. He likes to say it's not a sacrifice. On the contrary, "every step I take to a completely plastic-free life feels great."

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Russian gamers at a Kaspersky-sponsored event
Russia

Where The Web Thugs Are: Inside Russia's Cyber Underworld

The Russian hacking community is as ambigious as the country itself: admired and feared, all at once. A reformed hacker takes us into the bowels of the criminal Deep Web.

MOSCOW — Whether an organized crime expert or a solitary con man, an intelligence services agent or the Kremlin's cyber soldier, Russian hackers are often at the heart of Internet fantasies. An ambiguous and protean figure, the hacker has as many faces as Russia itself. The country, from which many of these nefarious crimes originate and where Edward Snowden remains in asylum, is both a nation of cyber censors and IT experts. Welcome to Russia's Internet underworld.

The 28-year-old hacker I'm interviewing establishes the rules of the game. He won't give his name — only his pseudonym, "X311" — and won't answer all of my questions. "If I reveal too much, it could go badly for me," he says. A strong code of silence prevails in the Russian hacking world. It took me recommendations from about 10 mutual acquaintances for "X311" to finally agree to speak to me.

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Police await protesters in Ferguson on Aug. 13.
eyes on the U.S.

America's Police, Friend And Sniper

As disturbing as it is, what's happening in Ferguson, Missouri, is simply evidence of American police becoming increasingly militarized, a trend that's been building for years.

MUNICH — The images showing a wall of armed, helmet-wearing men in camouflage uniforms look like something from a war zone. A sharpshooter sits on an armored vehicle, gun at the ready, looking through the rifle scope as if he were about to fire.

But the photos weren't taken in Afghanistan or Iraq, although comparisons of images taken in both places have an uncanny similarity. They were taken in Ferguson, the small Missouri town that, for all the wrong reasons, the world is watching. The men aren't American soldiers, but officers for the local police force.

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 Indonesia Chinese celebrate the Chap Go Meh ceremony in Jakarta, Indonesia, in 2012
CAIXINMEDIA

Indonesia's Ethnic Chinese Stake Hope In New Political Leaders

Since Indonesia transitioned to democracy in the late 1990s, life for the long-suffering ethnic Chinese population has gradually improved. It's about to get even better.

JAKARTA — An old woman who owns a traditional Chinese medical massage shop in Kelapa Gading, a north Jakarta neighborhood where Chinese-Indonesians are concentrated, points to a billboard that is in Chinese characters, which used to be banned on all public signs. She notes that her 50-year-old daughter was only allowed to study Chinese for a limited time back when she was in school, whereas today her grandson speaks fluent Chinese.

This reflects the complex history of the local Chinese people. Indonesia's ethnic Chinese include people with diverse political tendencies, wealth and religious beliefs. According to Indonesia's latest census, there are 2.8 million ethnic Chinese living in the country. This accounts for 1.2% of the total population, the majority of whom are Muslim.

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Intellectuals volunteer to fight against pro-Russian separatists
Ukraine

In Ukraine, When Professors Reach For Kalashnikovs

It isn't just the Ukrainian military defending the country against pro-Russian militias in eastern Ukraine. Voluntary fighters, many of them intellectuals, have left their jobs to help the cause.

LUHANSK — Yevgen Dykyj is supposed to be lecturing at the university, but instead the bearded, curly-haired man is hunkered down in a hideout near Luhansk cleaning his Kalashnikov. In May, the professor exchanged his academic life for a machine gun, going with other volunteers to eastern Ukraine to help the government defend against Moscow-supported separatists.

Some 10 volunteer battalions are fighting in the civil war alongside the army and the National Guard. The government depends on the paramilitaries because the units are often better equipped and more highly motivated than the military itself. Dykyj's "Aidar" battalion is mostly comprised of intellectuals — teachers, artists, students and lawyers. After operations, the men relax by playing chess or reading poetry aloud to one another in the barracks.

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In Krakow
GAZETA WYBORCZA

Poland, Where Happiness Goes To Die

Why are Poles such a gloomy and miserable lot, always assuming the worst and refusing to love thy neighbor? It turns out, cheerlessness here has deep roots.

-Commentary-

WARSAW — A sudden explosion of frustration from 21-year-old Polish tennis star Jerzy Janowicz, ranked No. 51 in the world, surprised journalists after his recent Davis Cup upset to an unknown Croatian junior ranked No. 668.

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Erdogan saluting supporters in Istanbul late Sunday
Turkey

Erdogan The Unstoppable: Turkey In One Man's Hands

-OpEd-

It's anything but a surprise, given the weakness of the opposition and an election played out in advance: Recep Tayyip Erdogan won after the first round of voting in Sunday's presidential election — the first ever in Turkey by direct universal suffrage.

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A fully veiled woman using her smartphone in Istanbul
Germany

Islam And Modernity, History Running Backward From Cairo To Berlin

-Commentary-

BERLIN There are photographs of Afghanistan’s capital city Kabul, taken in the 1960s, that show elegantly dressed women sitting in street cafés. There are similar photos from the period shot in Ankara, Cairo, Damascus and Karachi.

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An Afghan woman works as a waitress at a wedding hall in Kabul.
Sources

In Afghanistan, The Bravery To Be A Waitress

KABUL — It took me eight days to convince 37-year-old Gul Rukh to let me conduct this interview.

The Afghanistan woman living in Kabul feared talking openly about her waitress job at the Mumtaz Mahal Wedding Hall.

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Women at an anti-FARC protest in Medellin, Colombia
EL ESPECTADOR

FARC And Gender, Diary Of A Female Hostage In Colombia

BOGOTA — Maria Carolina Rodríguez, who describes herself as an "upper-middle class mother from Bogotá," was kidnapped by the communist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in 2001. Her captivity allowed her a rare glimpse at how one group of female guerrillas were treated by their male comrades.

Rodríguez kept notes during her captivity, which she published in 2008, six years after her escape called Diario de mi Cautiverio ("Diary of my Captivity.") What follows are some of her observations on gender amid the would-be revolutionaries.

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