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Ukraine

Flooded Balkans, South Korean Tears, Rubik Doodle

A ceremony marking the 70th a-nniversary of the Crimean Tatar deportation in Kiev — Photo: Zurab Dzhavakhadze/ITAR-TASS/ZUMA
A ceremony marking the 70th a-nniversary of the Crimean Tatar deportation in Kiev — Photo: Zurab Dzhavakhadze/ITAR-TASS/ZUMA
Worldcrunch

Monday, May 19, 2014

RUSSIAN TROOPS PULLED FROM BORDER
The Kremlin announced in a statement that President Vladimir Putin had ordered Russian troops stationed near Ukraine to return to their home bases, AP reports. According to RT, Putin also expressed support for talks between Kiev and supporters of the country’s federalization, and urged the Ukrainian authorities to put an end to “punitive operation and violent actions” and find “a peaceful solution to all the problems.”

  • Ukrainian presidential candidates, meanwhile, are preparing for Sunday’s planned election. Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who has liberated from jail after the Maidan uprising, writes in The New York Times that the country’s “spirit of resistance” will help Ukrainians “secure the democracy and the European future to which they have shown such extraordinary devotion.” In an extensive article about billionaire Petro Poroshenko, dubbed "The Chocolate King" and currently the poll’s favorite,The Wall Street Journalwrites that he “emerged as perhaps the brightest leader” after the Maidan protests and built a campaign promising to meet the protesters' demands for a political overhaul.” According to a poll published in the newspaper, over 25% of Ukrainians are still undecided about their vote, while 13% said they would not take part in the election.

SNAPSHOT
A ceremony in Kiev's St. Michael's Square over the weekend marked the 70th anniversary of the Crimean Tatar deportation. See our Snapshot here.

FLOODED BALKAN COUNTRIES APPEAL FOR AID
Serbia and Bosnia have appealed for international aid to rescue people in flooded areas after the equivalent of three months of rain fell in just a few days in the Balkans region, the BBC reports. At least 35 people have died in what is being described as the worst flooding the region has seen since modern records began 120 years ago. The Daily Telegraph writes that the floods triggered some 3,000 landslides, causing landmines left over from the 1990s war to be unearthed, as the rising water threatens Serbia’s main power plant.

FAREWELL
The three-time Formula 1 world champion Sir Jack Brabham, who famously won the title in a car he built himself, has died at the age of 88 at his home on Australia's Gold Coast after a long battle with liver disease.

32 CHILDREN DEAD IN COLOMBIA BUS EXPLOSION
At least 32 children were killed in northern Colombia when the bus they were traveling in caught fire and exploded, newspaper El Tiempo reports. The vehicle was carrying 43 children and a few adults who were returning home after a religious service. It is still unclear what caused the fire, although witnesses said that the fire started after the driver let some of the children fill up the tank with gasoline he kept on the bus while he left to drink a soda, according to El Espectador. He then fled the scene but was caught by the police hours later. If the testimonies are true, the driver could face up to 40 years in jail for homicide.

VERBATIM
"The ultimate responsibility for failing to respond properly to this accident lies with me,” South Korean President Park Geun-hye said, tearfully issuing a fresh apology for the ferry sinking that killed 300 people.

MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD
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LIBYAN PARLIAMENT STORMED
The Libyan capital of Tripoli remained “tense” but apparently calm this morning after gunmen loyal to a “rogue general” stormed the parliament yesterday, plunging the country into further chaos three years after Muammar Gaddafi was toppled, AP reports. The fighters insisted their attack was not a coup but instead represented "the people's choice," saying that “the country can't be a breeding ground or an incubator for terrorism.” The same group launched a deadly attack Friday against Islamist militias in Benghazi, killing 70 people. The Libyan government, which has been struggling to rule an increasingly divided country, condemned the attack. Read more from The Washington Post.

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO
As Le Monde’s Pascale Krémer writes, scouting in France is undergoing a resurgence of sorts, in large part thanks to new organizations trying to provide opportunities for kids in tougher neighborhoods. “The Catholic Scout movement has been established for a decade in about 50 low-income urban areas of France — all over the Ile-de-France region around Paris, as well as in other French cities such as Lille, Bordeaux, Nantes, Montpellier or Toulouse. The inexpensive activity provides some much-needed structure for the children and covers topics and other important information and development that school doesn’t really offer. The French Scouts directors feel there is a particular balance between their own philosophy and the parents’ expectations.
Read the full article,
In France, Catholic Scout Movement Breaks Into Inner City

RATKO MLADIC TRIAL BEGINS
The trial of Ratko Mladic, chief of the Bosnian Serb army during the 1992-95 war, began today at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague. Mladic, dubbed as the “Butcher of Bosnia” is facing 11 charges, including that of genocide and crime against humanity “for his role in the June 1995 massacre of almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys,” writes AFP.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY
The Rubik’s cube turns 40 today, and Google’s special doodle is especially for 1980s nostalgics. A few days ago, we published a La Stampa interview of its inventor, Erno Rubik, in which he explained that he created the cube and its 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 possible combinations “to convince human beings that there are no unsolvable problems.” Read it here.

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Geopolitics

The Trumpian Virus Undermining Democracy Is Now Spreading Through South America

Taking inspiration from events in the United States over the past four years, rejection of election results and established state institutions is on the rise in Latin America.

Two supporters of far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro dressed in Brazilian flags during a demonstration in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

Bolsonaro supporters dressed in national colours with flags in a demonstration in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, on November 4, 2022.

Ivan Abreu / ZUMA
Carlos Ruckauf*

-Analysis-

BUENOS AIRES — South Africa's Nelson Mandela used to say it was "so easy to break down and destroy. The heroes are those who make peace and build."

Intolerance toward those who think differently, even inside the same political space, is corroding the bases of representative democracy, which is the only system we know that allows us to live and grow in freedom, in spite of its flaws.

Recent events in South America and elsewhere are precisely alerting us to that danger. The most explosive example was in Brazil, where a crowd of thousands managed to storm key institutional premises like the presidential palace, parliament and the Supreme Court.

In Peru, the country's Marxist (now former) president, Pedro Castillo, sought to use the armed and security forces to shut down parliament and halt the Supreme Court and state prosecutors from investigating corruption allegations against him.

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