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Islamists Advance, Pope Dishes On Popemobile, Origin Of Seas

Iraq at gunpoint
Iraq at gunpoint

Friday, June 13, 2014

Islamist group ISIS gained more ground in Iraq overnight with the capture of two more towns east of Baghdad, where the government is reinforcing its defenses, Al-Arabiya reports. Yesterday, U.S. President Barack Obama suggested that Washington might act. “I don’t rule out anything, because we do have a stake in making sure that these jihadists are not getting a permanent foothold in either Iraq or Syria,” The Washington Post quoted him as saying.

Iraqi-Kurdish security forces watch over refugees from the Iraqi city of Mosul at the Badria checkpoint in Iraqi-Kurdistan. Thousands of residents have fled Mosul, after terrorists from the al-Qaeda-linked organization Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) attacked the country's second-largest city on June 10 and drove the Iraqi army out.

Ukrainian government fighters launched an attack to gain the rebel-held southeastern town of Mariupol, as violence in the region shows little sign of abating despite President Petro Poroshenko’s pledge to end it this week. According to the Interior minister, the operation has been successful. “All key strongholds held by the terrorists are being brought under control,” he announced, with rebels saying they had lost five fighters in the battle. Moscow-backed network RT, meanwhile, cites witnesses in Sloviansk who claim that Ukrainian troops dropped incendiary bombs — which the UN prohibits — on the sieged city. Yesterday, Kiev’s Interior Ministry said that three Russian tanks had entered Ukraine and were used in fights in the east. Moscow dismissed the claims as “another fake piece of information.”

“I cannot greet the people and tell them I love them inside a sardine can, even if it is glass," Pope Francis told Barcelona daily La Vanguardia. He was speaking about the bullet-proof, glass-protected popemobile used by his predecessors since the 1981 assassination attempt on John Paul II.

Eleven people were arrested after clashes with the police in Rio de Janeiro, as anti-World Cup protesters joined a teachers’ march in the city center on the Cup’s opening day, O Globo reports. The police also fired tear gas at protesters in São Paulo, where the inaugural game was being played, with Amnesty International denouncing the use of “excessive force” and urging the Brazilian authorities to launch an investigation. There was also controversy on the field, as Brazil was awarded a generous penalty that helped the team beat Croatia 3-1. Meanwhile, there is growing outrage over the condition of the field in the town of Manaus, where England will face Italy on Saturday. According to The Daily Telegraph, the playing surface is plagued by a tropical fungus.

As America Economia’s Francisco González writes, musicians were Latin America's leading social critics and political activists of the late 20th century in many countries, but that’s not true anymore. “Latin America has been repeatedly convulsed, but in recent years less for war than for social and economic hardships,” the journalist writes. “The region's historical inequalities led a whole generation of musicians to take up the guitar as a weapon, and confront injustices with lyrics. Violeta Parra and Victor Jara in Chile, Mercedes Sosa, León Gieco and Facundo Cabral in Argentina, Alfredo Zitarrosa and Daniel Viglietti in Uruguay, Nilo Soruco in Bolivia, Chico Buarque in Brazil, Silvio Rodríguez and Pablo Milanés in Cuba. These were just some of the top voices of a generation, most of them silenced by the dictatorships of the 1970s and 1980s.”
Read the full article, Where Are The New Heroes Of Latin American Music?

A five-month miner strike that has cost the world’s three top platinum producers more than $2 billion could be in its final hours after the three companies reached a deal “in principle” with union leaders for improved work conditions and wages, the Financial Times reports.

This month's full moon falls on Friday the 13th, and that won't happen again for 35 more years. So mark your calendars for the next one in 2049.

Families of passengers from missing flight MH370 have started receiving an initial compensation payment of $50,000 three months after the aircraft’s mysterious disappearance. The relatives of the 239 missing passengers can claim up to $175,000, but Malaysia’s Deputy Foreign Minister said the rest of the payments would be made later. Read more from AFP.


After lengthy research, a group of scientists believe that an underground ocean three times the size of those on the earth’s surface might be trapped 400 miles beneath our planet’s crust. It’s a theory that could explain how the Earth was formed.

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Toy Guns And Dolls, And My Pink-Loving Son

The father of a four-year-old boy thought the idea of colors and toys for boys and girls was a thing of the past. Turns out he was wrong.

Photo of a boy wearing blue and a girl wearing pink running toward a body of water

"Conventions about the meanings of each color are arbitrary, and changing over time.”

Ignacio Pereyra

“Papá, is pink for girls?” asked Lorenzo, my four-year-old son.

Lorenzo usually listens attentively to the stories we read at home. Sometimes, I think it seems like a paradox, because the rest of the time he can't sit still (literally, I'm not exaggerating). I wonder if it's that, as he listens to the stories, his body is relaxed but his head is doing somersaults.

He often interrupts his night-time stories — I suspect in the hopes of stretching the ritual out as long as possible so as not to fall asleep. “I don't want to sleep anymore, I just want to play,” he told me last Sunday, as we were walking home at night after having spent the whole day playing with his friends.

But back to pink. This time, his interruption of the reading had an edge of concern — his frown and serious tone showing a mix of sadness and distress.

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