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Iraq Jihadists Gain, World Cup Opens, Amazon Prime Music

Brazil is set for World Cup kickoff
Brazil is set for World Cup kickoff

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Jihadist fighters with the Islamic group known as ISIS have continued their offensive in northern and central Iraq and are heading south towards the capital Baghdad, where they have said that the “battle will rage,” Sky News reports. Meanwhile, Kurdish forces claimed to have gained control of the northern oil city of Kirkuk, as government troops abandoned their posts.

In an alarming statement, Human Rights Watch said the Islamist group’s advance was a threat to civilians, recalling previous atrocities. “The possibility that ISIS will repeat the atrocities it has committed in other parts of Iraq, and impose the same intolerant and abusive rule as it has in Syria, is deeply troubling,” the organization’s Middle East director said.

U.S. officials admitted yesterday that the Iraqi Prime Minister had asked Washington to carry out air strikes against the jihadists, a request so far rebuffed by U.S. authorities, The New York Times reports. But State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said yesterday that Washington was “ready to provide any appropriate assistance.” Other countries have offered help to Iraq, including neighbors Iran and Syria.

A man stands at his balcony overlooking a Brazilian flag made with paper in Salvador as the 2014 FIFA World Cup kicks off Thursday. Brazil, the host and five-time champion, takes on Croatia today.
Check out Worldcrunch's coverage of the event here.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said he was ready to talk with rebels in eastern Ukraine, provided that those described as “terrorists” first “lay down their weapons,” Reuters reports. "We do not need negotiations for the sake of negotiations. Our peace plan must become the basis for further de-escalation of the conflict," he was quoted as saying. Meanwhile, The Washington Post quoted Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying that Moscow sent humanitarian aid to east Ukraine via separatists, demonstrating for the first time what the newspaper describes as “an official relationship” between Russian authorities and pro-Russian groups in Ukraine.

As Le Temps’ Chantal Rayes writes, the world may be celebrating the beginning of the World Cup today, but there are still many people in this year’s host country of Brazil who are disenchanted by the enormous public expenditure. “Dilma Rousseff’s government has lost the media battle,” the journalist writes. “It has tried so hard to explain the economic benefits, that the tournament will only cost a small fraction of what is invested in health or education, in short that it is not the money drain that people believe it to be. Still, a growing number of Brazilians are not convinced. ‘How many hospitals, how many schools, how much housing could have been built with the money spent on the stadiums?’ asks Hugo, a young man with long hair hiding his eyes and a facial piercing. Besides, some of these stadiums, constructed in cities with small soccer teams, such as Brasilia, Manaus and Cuiaba, are fated to become white elephants after the World Cup.”
Read the full article, Brazil's Fire Inside As World Cup Kicks Off.

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Washington resumed its drone strikes in Pakistan after a months-long hiatus, killing 16 people yesterday in two attacks, The Express Tribune reports. As AFP notes, “The timing of the strikes is bound to raise suspicions of coordination” between the U.S. and Pakistan, as it comes days after a Taliban attack on Karachi’s airport, ending an ongoing peace process.

As the world commemorates World Day Against Child Labor Thursday, the International Labour Organization estimates that 218 million children are still forced into work around the world. Burmese website Karen news published a heartbreaking interview of two 12 year-olds whose families are too poor to send them to school and who are forced to collect garbage to earn a meagre living.

Amazon has finally entered the music streaming business, launching free music service Prime Music that features access to one million songs for its users. The company is also expected to launch its first smartphone next week. Read more from The Verge.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

70 Kilometers To Crimea: The Breakthrough That Could Shift The War In Ukraine

International support for Kyiv is waning and calls for negotiations are growing louder. But Ukraine has now managed to establish a bridgehead on the other side of the Dnipro River. From there, its troops could advance to Crimea — and turn the tide of the war.

A close-up side profile of a soldier with a river in the background and smoke rising above the tree line on the far bank

A photo posted on President Zelensky's X profile after Ukrainian troops reportedly established a bridgehead on the opposite side of the Dnipro River.

Alfred Hackensberger


Lots of water, a few boats and soldiers. That's all you can see in the three photos that Volodymyr Zelensky published on the X (Twitter) platform last weekend.

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