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Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash site in eastern Ukraine.
Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash site in eastern Ukraine.
Worldcrunch

Friday, July 18, 2014

RUSSIA, UKRAINE TRADE BLAME OVER MH17 DISASTER
Moscow and Kiev are accusing each other of being responsible for the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 yesterday in eastern Ukraine, with 298 people on board, most of them Dutch. All sides agree on the fact that the aircraft was hit by a missile while flying at 33,000 feet high (over 10,000 meters).

Kiev accused pro-rebel fighters in the area, releasing what it says are intercepted phone conversations between separatist leaders saying they shot the plane down. Rebels denied they possessed weaponry capable of shooting a target that high. The Russian Defense Ministry meanwhile said Russian military equipment “detected” the presence of a Ukrainian Buk anti-aircraft missile battery around the area where the plane crashed.

Indian news website Firstpost says the flight history of the aircraft, visible online, shows the plane “took a slight deviation from its planned route,” causing it to fly over Ukraine. Other airlines had reportedly changed their regular routes recently to avoid the region because of security concerns.

Other sources said there was a possibility that Vladimir Putin, whose presidential plane flew around the same time in the area, could have been the real target of the attack.

The UN Security Council is expected to hold an emergency meeting today, amid calls from all global leaders for an international investigation.

At least 181 bodies have been recovered so far. Yesterday’s disaster was particularly shocking for one family in Australia, which is now believed to have lost family members in both the shooting down of MH17 and the mystery disappearance of MH370 in March.

ISRAEL READY TO WIDEN GAZA GROUND OFFENSIVE

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had given instructions to “prepare for the possibility of significantly widening the ground operation” launched yesterday in Gaza, Reuters reports. According to Ma’an news agency, at least 27 Palestinians have been killed since the ground operation began, including a five-month old baby, as Israeli tanks opened fire. A total of 264 Palestinians have died in the 11 days of Operation “Protective Edge.” A 20-year-old Israeli soldier was also killed in fights in northern Gaza and Haaretz wrote that the IDF was investigating whether he could have been victim of “friendly fire.” In an interview withThe Daily Telegraph, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal said the organization won’t agree to a ceasefire until Israel “stops the aggression” and “ends the siege on Gaza permanently.”

ISIS SEIZES SYRIA GAS FIELD, DOZENS DEA

More than 90 people have died in armed battles as members of ISIS seized an important gas field in central Syria,Al-Arabiya reports, citing the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. According to the organization’s director, the attack was the “most important so far” against Bashar al-Assad and his government. Fighting on the site is still ongoing. The United Nations meanwhile said that at least 5,576 civilians had been killed since January in Iraq, where ISIS has expanded its stronghold over the past few weeks.

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

Coca-Cola’s Christmas 2012 advertisement features a gigantic Santa Claus that was inspired by famous French giant characters. Le Monde’s Sandrine Blanchard reports on the theater company behind the iconic puppets that's fighting for its soul: “Jacques Leroy, president of Royal de Luxe, sees the case against Coca-Cola as a matter of principle. ‘This looks like a fight of David against Goliath, but we do not want to let this story go,’ he said. ‘It is a moral question.’ In January 2013, authorities seized from within Coca-Cola’s computers email exchanges that the theatre company says prove their case. These emails, to which Le Monde had access, clearly show that Coca-Cola and its advertising agencies (especially McCann Erickson) wanted to create a Santa Claus in the style of Royal de Luxe. They summarily rejected the offer, in writing.”
Read the full article, Giant French Puppets vs. Coca-Cola In "Parasitic" Copyright Case.

SUPER TYPHOON REACHES CHINESE ISLAND

People on the Chinese island of Hainan are bracing themselves as Rammasun, the typhoon that killed 38 people in the Philippines, is expected to make landfall. Rammasun has however strengthened and is now considered a super typhoon, with winds reaching 216 km per hour at its center, making it the strongest to hit the tourist site in 40 years, Xinhua explains.

MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD

MANDELA DAY
126 countries are commemorating the fifth annual Mandela Day, the first one since the Nobel Prize winner’s death last winter. As people around the world are encouraged to do good deeds in memory of Madiba, Google dedicated today’s doodle to the former South African leader, who would have turned 96 today.

VERBATIM
Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan had some strong words about what is happening in Gaza, and it wasn’t only Israel that he blamed.

32%
The Volatility Index, also known as Wall Street's "Fear Index", shot up 32% Thursday. The rise followed news of a Malaysian plane crashing in Eastern Ukraine and Israel launching a ground offensive in Gaza.

FAREWELL
Famously frank Broadway actress Elaine Stritch died at the age of 89.

BRITISH THUNDER
Basically no one slept in London last night, as a freak electrical storm boomed and charged into town. Check out this collection of photos.

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Economy

Europe's Winter Energy Crisis Has Already Begun

in the face of Russia's stranglehold over supplies, the European Commission has proposed support packages and price caps. But across Europe, fears about the cost of living are spreading – and with it, doubts about support for Ukraine.

Protesters on Thursday in the German state of Thuringia carried Russian flags and signs: 'First our country! Life must be affordable.'

Martin Schutt/dpa via ZUMA
Stefanie Bolzen, Philipp Fritz, Virginia Kirst, Martina Meister, Mandoline Rutkowski, Stefan Schocher, Claus, Christian Malzahn and Nikolaus Doll

-Analysis-

In her State of the Union address on September 14, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, issued an urgent appeal for solidarity between EU member states in tackling the energy crisis, and towards Ukraine. Von der Leyen need only look out her window to see that tensions are growing in capital cities across Europe due to the sharp rise in energy prices.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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In the Czech Republic, people are already taking to the streets, while opposition politicians elsewhere are looking to score points — and some countries' support for Ukraine may start to buckle.

With winter approaching, Europe is facing a true test of both its mettle, and imagination.

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Writing contest - My pandemic story
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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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