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Hurricane Arthur seen from space.
Hurricane Arthur seen from space.
Worldcrunch

Thursday, July 3, 2014

ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN STRIKES CONTINUE
Israel’s air force and Palestinian militants exchanged fire for another night, with 15 air strikes in Gaza leaving at least 10 Palestinians injured. The New York Times reported that multiple rockets were also fired from across the border, with two Israeli houses hit in the border town of Sderot, though no injuries were reported. This came after violent clashes yesterday, as Palestinians demanded justice for those who kidnapped and burned the body of a 16-year-old Palestinian. That murder came as apparent retaliation following the recovery of the slain bodies of three abducted Israeli teenagers. The investigation into the murder of the young Palestinian is still ongoing, and the BBC explains that his burial, planned for this afternoon, would be delayed while the police carrying a post-mortem examination.

SAUDI ARABIA MOVES TROOPS TO IRAQ BORDER
Saudi Arabia is said to have deployed 30,000 troops to its border with Iraq after footage emerged yesterday suggesting that Iraqi soldiers were leaving their posts at the border, Al Jazeera reports. This comes after British analysts said yesterday that Iran had followed in the footsteps of Russia and had sent attack jets to help the Iraqi army fight back the Islamist militant group ISIS.

VERBATIM
"There was a wish to humiliate me," the former French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Wednesday evening in an interview on national television. Sarkozy was put under formal investigation Tuesday for allegations of corruption, trafficking influence and receiving information violating professional secrecy.

4 MILLION THREATENED BY FAMINE IN SOUTH SUDAN
Famine is likely to plague four million people by August, “if the conflict in South Sudan continues, and more aid cannot be delivered,” the BBC quotes British aid agencies as saying in an alarming report. With over one million people displaced since the crisis turned violent in December 2013, and thousands dead in what some have described as the beginning of an ethnic cleansing, the Disasters Emergency Committee warned it had less than half of the $194 million required to "prevent the growing food crisis in South Sudan from turning into a catastrophe."

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO
Inspired by the active lifestyle of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Pope Francis’s timetable would wear out any 40-something, writes La Stampa’s Andrea Tornielli: “‘He decides his own agenda,’ Vatican's spokesperson Father Federico Lombardi told La Stampa, ‘and has a very intense pace of life because he feels he has been called to serve the Lord with all his might. He never took holidays when he was the Archbishop of Buenos Aires either.’ Even on Tuesdays, the day of the week traditionally free of commitments or private audiences scheduled so the popes could relax a little bit, Francis doesn’t slow down. Instead of using this free morning to rest, he fills it with rescheduled meetings.
Read the full article, Papal Work Ethic: From 4:45 AM Wakeup, Portrait Of A Tireless Pope Francis.

MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD


IRAN NUCLEAR TALKS ENTER LAST PHASE
Talks around Iran’s controversial nuclear program are resuming today in Vienna, as Tehran and the five permanent members of the UN’s Security Council plus Germany are looking to reach a solution, with AFP suggesting that they could go “all the way to the July 20 finish line.”

7x8
British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne may not know his times tables.

XI JINPING VISITS SOUTH KOREA
China’s President Xi Jinping is in Seoul where he will meet his South Korean counterpart Park Geun-hye in a visit aimed at reinforcing economic and diplomatic ties between the two countries. According to Reuters, North Korea will also be on the agenda, with President Park expected to ask China to increase its pressure on Pyongyang to end its pursuit of nuclear weapons. The New York Times sees Xi’s visit as a “move that appears to signal his resolve to unsettle America’s alliances in Northeast Asia,” describing the relationship between Seoul and Tokyo, two close American allies, as “frosty.” Meanwhile, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced it would lift some sanctions on North Korea tomorrow, following progress on talks about the kidnapping of Japanese people during the cold War.

SNAPSHOT
Just hours before Tropical Storm Arthur was upgraded to a Hurricane, the International Space Station snapped this photo over the Atlantic.

HOW TO APOLOGIZE IN JAPANESE
A video of a Japanese politician apologizing over suspicions that he misappropriated $30,000 of taxpayers’ money has gone viral in Japan. Check out why.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

The Dead And Disappeared: A Village Emerges From 72 Days Of Russian Occupation

Russian forces have been pushed out of the area around Kharkiv. Villages that were occupied for two months are free once more — but utterly destroyed. And thousands of people have disappeared without a trace.

Kharkiv and the surrounding villages faced weeks of constant Russian shelling.

Alfred Hackensberger

TSYKRUNY — Andriy Kluchikov uses a walking stick, but is otherwise fairly sprightly for a 94-year-old. Under his black wool hat, Kluchikov seems fearless as he surveys his hometown in northeastern Ukraine. “The missiles don't scare me,” he says with a smile. “I have slept in my own bed every night and never went down into the basement.”

As for the two-meter-wide bomb crater that has appeared in his garden, between the vegetable patch and the greenhouse with its shattered plastic roof, Kluchikov almost seems proud. “No one can intimidate me,” he says. “Not even the Russians.”

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In the early days of the war, in February, Russian artillery almost completely destroyed this village of Tsyrkuny, near Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city. Only a few houses, including his own, were left undamaged. Shortly afterwards, Russian troops marched into the village and occupied it for 72 days. It was not until early this week that the Ukrainian army was able to liberate Tsyrkuny and many other areas to the north of the country’s second-largest city, Kharkiv.

It is the Ukrainians’ most successful counter-offensive so far. They are thought to have pushed the invading troops back almost to the Russian border. “The offensive is gaining momentum,” according to the independent American thinktank Institute for the Study of War. “It has forced Russian troops on the defensive and has successfully alleviated artillery pressure on Kharkiv City.”

In the modern city of Kharkiv, home to around 1.5 million residents, the relief has been palpable over the last few days. Restaurants and cafes have reopened. People are walking and riding bikes in the parks, and couples are strolling hand in hand, enjoying the warm spring sunshine. You can still hear the artillery, but it is now many miles away.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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