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Lebanon Drought, Nigerian Schoolgirls, Weirdest Museums

Opposition forces have evacuated a ruined Homs.
Opposition forces have evacuated a ruined Homs.

Members of self-defense groups in the eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol told news agency Interfax that Kiev’s law enforcement units had opened fire as they attempted to storm a building belonging to the city’s police and detained officers who had disobeyed orders from Kiev. According to RT, unconfirmed reports suggested that at least one person had been killed. This comes as Ukrainians and Russians are celebrating the anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany, a holiday known as Victory Day.

The events in Mariupol are likely to lead to more accusations from both sides. On Twitter, Marcus Papadopoulos, editor of UK-based magazine Politics First, wrote, “What Kiev's forces are doing in Mariupol today, of all days, is the ultimate offence to the veterans of the Great Patriotic War. Sickening.” Earlier today in a television address, Ukraine’s Interim Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk said, “The country's leadership has received information about dark plans by Russian saboteurs and their mercenaries." He urged the population to “stay away from large gatherings,” The Moscow Timesreported.

Speaking at a military parade on Moscow’s Red Square, Vladimir Putin highlighted the “iron will of the Soviet people,” saying that it was the USSR “which chased the Nazis to their lair, achieved their full and final destruction, won at the cost of millions of victims and terrible hardships.” But his speech also seemed to take a swing at Ukraine’s leadership, which Moscow believed allowed the rise of neo-Nazis and fascists. Read more from Reuters.

British newspaper The Independent, meanwhile, published an exclusive report showing that G7 leaders are soon expected to sign an “emergency response plan” to assist Ukraine over the coming winter if Russia restricts gas supplies.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan told the audience at the World Economic Forum in the capital of Abuja that his country “will conquer the terrorists” of Boko Haram, adding that their abduction of almost 300 schoolgirls three weeks ago “will be the beginning of the end of terror in Nigeria.” This comes as a global campaign entitled “Bring Back Our Girls” is gaining momentum.

Some voices are, however, denouncing the side effects of the campaign. For example, the founder of the website Compare Afrique argues that “the United States military loves your hashtags because it gives them legitimacy to encroach and grow their military presence in Africa.”

Meanwhile, a former mediator who participated in talks with Boko Haram told The Daily Telegraph that the Islamist group might be seeking to exchange the girls for jailed fighters. “If you look at the fact that these girls have already been in captivity for some three weeks, then it is possible to detect a conciliatory tone in this statement from Shekau – he is not saying he is going to kill the girls,” Shehu Sani said.

According to the Financial Times, Apple is about to acquire headphone manufacturer Beats Electronics for $3.2 billion. What would be the California-based company's largest-ever deal could be announced as early as next week.

South Sudan President Salva Kiir and his former vice president, now rebel leader Riek Machar, will meet in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa to negotiate an end to the months-long conflict. According to Sudan Tribune, sources from the Ethiopian government said formation of a transitional government and power sharing would also be on the agenda. A recent UN report showed that one million people had been displaced because of the conflict and that five million were in need of aid.


Thailand’s anti-government protests leader Suthep Thaugsuban launched today what he described as the “final all-out battle” against the country’s government, as protesters gathered in numbers in Bangkok and tried to occupy TV stations, The Nation reports. The police fired tear gas at the protesters, who want the whole government to resign and the upcoming elections to be postponed, just days after an order from the Constitutional Court dismissed Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and part of her cabinet.

A 32-year-old construction worker died after being electrocuted at the Arena Pantanal in Brazil, one of the 12 stadiums where the FIFA World Cup will take place starting next month, O Globo reports. Muhammad Ali Maciel Afonso is the eighth worker to have died during the construction of the venues, even as Brazil launched a last-minute rush to ensure that everything is ready for the competition’s kick-off on June 12.

People in Lebanon are bracing themselves to face a very difficult summer after winter brought only half of last year’s rainfall, making it the country’s driest since 1932, AFP reports. But the situation could become much worse because Lebanon’s population has doubled since then, a problem further exacerbated by the large number of Syrian refugees. “This year, we will have to pump up water from below ground, but if this drought continues next year, there’ll only be 5% of that groundwater left,” a farmer told the news agency.

Looking for original visits for your next big trip? From India’s Toilet Museum to Amsterdam’s chilling collection of torture devices, Worldcrunch brings you the world’s 14 weirdest and most WTF museums.

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How WeChat Is Helping Bhutan's Disappearing Languages Find A New Voice

Phd candidate Tashi Dema, from the University of New England, discusses how social media apps, particularly WeChat, are helping to preserve local Bhutanese languages without a written alphabet. Dema argues that preservation of these languages has far-reaching benefits for the small Himalayan country's rich culture and tradition.

A monk in red performing while a sillouhet of a monk is being illuminated by their phone.

Monk performing while a sillouheted monk is on their phone

Source: Caterina Sanders/Unsplash
Tashi Dema

THIMPHU — Dechen, 40, grew up in Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan. Her native language was Mangdip, also known as Nyenkha, as her parents are originally from central Bhutan. She went to schools in the city, where the curriculum was predominantly taught in Dzongkha, the national language, and English.

In Dechen’s house, everyone spoke Dzongkha. She only spoke her mother tongue when she had guests from her village, who could not understand Dzongkha and during her occasional visits to her village nestled in the mountains. Her mother tongue knowledge was limited.

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However, things have now changed.

With 90% of Bhutanese people using social media and social media penetrating all remotes areas in Bhutan, Dechen’s relatives in remote villages are connected on WeChat.

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