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Cambodian migrants wait in an army truck to return home from Thailand.
Cambodian migrants wait in an army truck to return home from Thailand.
Worldcrunch

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

ISIS APPROACHES BAGHDAD
Fighters with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant have gained control of parts of Baquba, a town 37 miles north of Baghdad, as they continue their march towards the capital. Yesterday, U.S. President Barack Obama announced he would send 275 troops “to provide support and security for U.S. personnel and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad,” USA Today reports. Speaking to The Washington Post, former military commanders said that even carrying airstrikes against ISIS insurgents might be difficult and warned that any mission might draw the country back into the civil war.

VERBATIM
“There is a difference between negotiation and extortion,” Argentina President Cristina Kirchner said during a televised address. She was lashing out at hedge funds that are seeking repayment on bonds, saying that Argentina never had any intention of defaulting on its debt.

CAMBODIANS FLEE THAILAND
Almost 180,000 Cambodians working in Thailand have fled the country amid fears of a crackdown from the new military regime on illegal migrant workers, AFP reports. Thai and Cambodian authorities both denied the allegations. “The reports about shootings, the reports about other abuses are rumors and are not true. It’s been taken out of context,” The Nation quotes the Cambodian ambassador in Bangkok as saying. Last week, a spokesman for Thailand’s army said that the large number of illegal migrants, a workforce on which the country relies, were a “threat.”

344.5 MILLION
A Hong Kong investment fund announced Tuesday it will buy the Paris Marriott Hotel Champs-Elysées for 344.5 million euros.

FRESH CLASHES NEAR UKRAINE BORDER
Fresh fighting erupted near the Russian border as Ukrainian troops tried to regain control of rebel-held areas, Reuters reports. Some 30 Ukrainian fighters were injured today, while Kiev authorities said that 125 soldiers had died since the beginning of what it calls an “anti-terrorist operation” in eastern Ukraine. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Interior Ministry denied accusations that Kiev had used white phosphorus bombs near Sloviansk.

SEARCH CONTINUES FOR MISSING ISRAELI TEENS
Israeli soldiers have arrested another 41 Palestinians in the West Bank as their search for three Israeli students who went missing last week continues. According to AP, more than 200 people have already been arrested, most of them from Hamas, including the Palestinian parliamentary speaker. And a 19-year-old was shot dead. It is still unclear who abducted the young Israelis, although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has blamed Hamas. Israel’s daily newspaper Haaretz writes that the scale of the Israeli response and the statements from officials are intended to drive “a wedge between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.”

MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD
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MORE VIOLENCE IN KENYA
Somali Islamist group al-Shabaab launched a new attack near the Kenyan town of Mpeketoni, killing at least 10 people, two days after a similar raid that killed 48 people, for which it claimed responsibility, the BBC reports. A spokesman for the group told Reuters, "Our operations in Kenya will continue."
In Nigeria, the army arrested 486 Boko Haram suspects, as the Islamist organization threatened to attack again the town of Chibok, where it abducted over 200 young girls two months ago. Read more from the Nigerian Tribune.

WHERE’S HIS CAR?
Twenty years after 95 million Americans followed O.J. Simpson’s car chase on TV, USA Today went hunting for his white Ford Bronco.

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO
As La Stampa’s Antonio Salvati writes, the mobsters in Italy’s Camorra crime syndicate take their gang dress code — and tattoos — very seriously. “Tattoos and the mafia date back to the early nineteenth century, when members of the Camorra loved to cover their skin to prove their loyalty and permanency, especially when they were in prison,” the journalist writes. “Two centuries later, a splinter group — drug traffickers from Scampia and Secondigliano — can be identified by their Rolexes. Those who can't afford the real thing have the iconic crown of the Swiss watchmakers inked onto their wrists.”
Read the full article, In Naples, Fashion And Tattoos Mark A Real Mobster.

THE SMELL OF TITAN
NASA recreated the smell of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. Find out why here.


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Geopolitics

NATO Entry For Sweden And Finland? Erdogan May Not Be Bluffing

When the two Nordic countries confirmed their intention to join NATO this week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan repeated his plans to block the application. Accusing Sweden and Finland of' "harboring" some of his worst enemies may not allow room for him to climb down.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared opposition to Finland and Sweden entering NATO

Meike Eijsberg

-Analysis-

LONDON — When Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared his opposition to Finland and Sweden entering NATO, it took most of the West's top diplomatic experts by surprise — with the focus squarely on how Russia would react to having two new NATO members in the neighborhood. (So far, that's been a surprise too)

But now Western oversight on Turkey's stance has morphed into a belief in some quarters that Erdogan is just bluffing, trying to get concessions from the negotiations over such a key geopolitical issue.

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To be clear, any prospective NATO member requires the consent of all 30 member states and their parliaments. So Erdogan does indeed have a card to play, which is amplified by the sense of urgency: NATO, Sweden and Finland are keen to complete the accession process with the war in Ukraine raging and the prospect of strengthening the military alliance's position around the Baltic Sea.

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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.

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