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Dozens Dead In Donetsk, Nigerian Girls Located, Cheese Chase

Thousands gathered Monday in Brockworth, UK, for the annual cheese-rolling competition down Cooper's Hill.
Thousands gathered Monday in Brockworth, UK, for the annual cheese-rolling competition down Cooper's Hill.

Dozens of separatist fighters and civilians were killed after violent fights against Ukraine’s armed forces around Donetsk airport. The exact number of victims is unclear because there is conflicting reporting between Western and Russian media. According to AFP, the mayor of Donetsk said that “two civilians and 38 participants” had died in the fights, while RT quotes the prime minister of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic as saying that “more than 50 self-defense fighters” were killed. The state-backed Russian channel also reports that three civilians died in a mortar attack in the city of Sloviansk, citing local media. Yesterday, newly elected Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko promised to restore calm in Donetsk in “hours” as the military were launching air strikes on the airport.

“Many people see Sweden as a kind of paradise for women In Europe. But that’s a myth,” Sweden's Feminist Initiative head Gudrun Schyman said two days after the group became the first formal feminist party to be elected to the EU Parliament.

The Nigerian government has located the nearly 300 schoolgirls abducted over a month ago by Boko Haram but decided against using force to rescue them,Vanguardreports. “The good news for parents of the girls is that we know where they are, but we cannot tell you,” an official says. “Just leave us alone to do our work. We are working to get the girls back.” Meanwhile, the BBC reported late yesterday that an agreement was close between the Islamist group and the Nigerian government for an exchange of prisoners but that the latter pulled out of the negotiations after President Goodluck Jonathan attended a conference about the crisis in Paris.

As Le Monde’s Alain Frachon writes, more people have been killed during the current Syrian war than during all Israeli-Arab wars combined. And now the government of President Bashar al-Assad, who is most to blame, is gaining ground against the opposition, in large part thanks to the help of Iran. “The Islamic Republic is the architect of the conflict's current evolution,” Frachon writes of Iran. “It supervises the Syrian forces. It ordered Lebanon's Hezbollah troops to take part in the fight. Thanks to its ties with the government in Baghdad, it also called upon Iraqi Shiite militias to join the ranks. And finally, it offers financial support to Damascus, spending billions of dollars while the Iranian economy is struggling under the weight of international sanctions.”
Read the full article, As Iran Plays The Nuclear Card, Syria Is Left To Burn.”

A Vietnamese fishing boat sank after a collision with a Chinese vessel near a Chinese oil rig in disputed waters of the South China Sea, though the crew was rescued. The territorial dispute sparked violent anti-Chinese protests over the last two weeks, and this latest incident is likely to reignite tensions between the two countries. According to AP, Vietnamese media say that the sunken boat and a few others were surrounded by 40 Chinese fishing vessels and that one rammed into the Vietnamese boat. But China’s Foreign Ministry and Chinese media accused the Vietnamese, saying their vessel “forcefully rammed” the oil rig. Read more from South China Morning Post.

Thousands gathered in Brockworth, UK, Monday for the annual cheese-rolling competition down Cooper's Hill, with participants chasing a double Gloucestershire down a very steep slope.

A convoy carrying six members of the UN’s Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons were ambushed as they traveled to investigate the site of an alleged chlorine attack by the Syrian army. According to the BBC, the crew is “safe and well.” An earlier AP report quoted the country’s Foreign Ministry as saying that the six investigators and their five Syrian drivers were abducted by rebel fighters.


Jean-François Copé, the leader of France’s center-right opposition party UMP, announced this morning he would step down June 15 amid a mounting financial scandal linked with Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2012 presidential campaign, Le Figaro reports. The party, which finished second behind the far-right National Front in Sunday’s European Parliament elections, allegedly asked a communications agency to produce fake invoices worth over 10 million euros to cover up campaign expenses that exceeded the allowed amount. Read more in English from France 24.

President Barack Obama is expected to announce next Monday a new regulatory system to reduce carbon emissions. The Wall Street Journal describes it as a “cornerstone” of his climate change program. According to sources familiar with the project, the move will give states flexibility in how they enforce the new regulations and will “enable states to move forward in a way that works best for them with the energy resources they have,” the newspaper quoted a presidential advisor as saying.

The FIFA World Cup starts in 16 days, and though the stadiums should be ready for the competition, other infrastructure will not be completed in time. An article from the city of Cuiabá published inThe New York Times shows that tourists and teams traveling there will see a city that looks like “a construction site of partially completed overpasses, underpasses, road expansion projects, bridges and light-rail lines.” A local described the $1.4 billion plan to turn the city into a modern hub as “too extensive.” A similar report in Brazilian daily Folha de S. Paulo explains that Rio de Janeiro road upgrades for major bus routes to and from the airport — as well as the subway and train station at the Maracanã stadium — will likely not be ready in time for the first game in the city.

Happy birthday, LOL! May 1989 was the first time we saw the three letters used to abbreviate "laugh out loud" (though its use to denote "lots of love" goes back even further). Here’s to 25 years of blissful abridging.

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Joshimath, The Sinking Indian City Has Also Become A Hotbed Of Government Censorship

The Indian authorities' decision to hide factual reports on the land subsidence in Joshimath only furthers a sense of paranoia.

Photo of people standing next to a cracked road in Joshimath, India

Cracked road in Joshimath

@IndianCongressO via Twitter
Rohan Banerjee*

MUMBAI — Midway through the movie Don’t Look Up (2021), the outspoken PhD candidate Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) is bundled into a car, a bag over her head. The White House, we are told, wants her “off the grid”. She is taken to a warehouse – the sort of place where CIA and FBI agents seem to spend an inordinate amount of time in Hollywood movies – and charged with violating national security secrets.

The Hobson’s choice offered to her is to either face prosecution or suspend “all public media appearances and incendiary language relating to Comet Dibiasky”, an interstellar object on a collision course with earth. Exasperated, she acquiesces to the gag order.

Don’t Look Upis a satirical take on the collective apathy towards climate change; only, the slow burn of fossil fuel is replaced by the more imminent threat of a comet crashing into our planet. As a couple of scientists try to warn humanity about its potential extinction, they discover a media, an administration, and indeed, a society that is not just unwilling to face the truth but would even deny it.

This premise and the caricatured characters border on the farcical, with plot devices designed to produce absurd scenarios that would be inconceivable in the real world we inhabit. After all, would any government dealing with a natural disaster, issue an edict prohibiting researchers and scientists from talking about the event? Surely not. Right?

On January 11, the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), one of the centers of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), issued a preliminary report on the land subsidence issue occurring in Joshimath, the mountainside city in the Himalayas.

The word ‘subsidence’ entered the public lexicon at the turn of the year as disturbing images of cracked roads and tilted buildings began to emanate from Joshimath.

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