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A motorcycle rider soars at the 2014 Kazan City Racing show in Millenium Square in Kazan, Tatarstan.
A motorcycle rider soars at the 2014 Kazan City Racing show in Millenium Square in Kazan, Tatarstan.
Worldcrunch

Monday, June 16, 2014

U.S. EYES IRAN TALKS OVER IRAQ CRISIS
The United States is expected to hold talks with Iran this week over possible intervention in Iraq following the aggressive jihadist offensive there, The Wall Street Journal reports. But in reaction to the U.S. decision to move the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush into the Gulf, Tehran warned yesterday that "any foreign military intervention in Iraq" would only worsen the situation. This comes after reports that ISIS fighters took control of another town in northern Iraq and that the Sunni extremists killed as many as 1,700 Shia soldiers. Meanwhile, Kurdish fighters, who also gained ground in northern Iraq last week, suggested that a truce was possible between them and ISIS, raising the possibility expressed by some that Iraq might break into three states: a Shiite, a Sunni, and a Kurdish one.

VERBATIM
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“Tony Blair has finally gone mad,” London Mayor Boris Johnson wrote in a Telegraph op-ed today, criticizing the former British prime minister for his defense of past military intervention in Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein. Read more here.

RUSSIA CUTS GAS TO UKRAINE
The conflict between Moscow and Kiev reached a new high this morning as Ukraine’s energy minister said that Russia had cut off all gas supplies to Ukraine after it failed to meet an extended deadline to pay $1.95 billion of its $4.5 billion debt, the BBC reports. Russia’s state-owned gas company Gazprom has filed a lawsuit to recover the balance due, saying that from now on Kiev would have to pay for gas in advance or face being completely cut off. Ukraine’s state company Naftogaz also launched a lawsuit against Gazprom to recover $6 billion in what it claims are gas overpayments since 2010.

FAREWELL
U.S. radio icon Casey Kasem, who hosted the American Top 40 broadcast for four decades, died yesterday at age 82 after suffering from dementia and Parkinson’s disease.

PAKISTAN AIR STRIKES TARGET TALIBAN
At least 120 suspected Taliban militants have been killed in the last two days, after the Pakistani air force launched a series of strikes in the North Waziristan region, newspaper Dawn reports. The military operation comes after last week’s attack on the Karachi airport that killed 36 people, including 10 insurgents. According to Reuters, the army imposed an all-day curfew on the entire region and switched off cell phone services in a bid to “undermine the insurgency.”

MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD


DOZENS DEAD IN KENYA ATTACKS
Suspected al-Shabaab gunmen launched a violent attack against two hotels, a bank and a police station in Kenya’s coastal town of Mpeketoni, killing at least 48 people, The Guardian reports. The attack, the scale and nature of which are described as “rare,” started yesterday evening as people gathered in bars to watch the World Cup, and it lasted into the night. The police have warned that the death toll could rise.

3.8 MILLION
A unnamed Greenpeace employee has been sacked after losing the Amsterdam-based environmental group 3.8 million euros ($5.15 million) by gambling on international currency markets.

COLOMBIAN PRESIDENT WINS SECOND TERM
Colombia’s incumbent President Juan Manuel Santos was reelected Sunday in second-round voting, obtaining 50.9% of the vote, El Espectador reports. Santos, who initiated peace talks with the guerilla group FARC months ago, vowed to push ahead, saying, “This will not be peace with impunity, it will be a just peace.”

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO
As Die Welt’s Fanny Jimenez writes, the relationship between mother and child has traditionally been regarded as central to the happiness and development of children. But recent research suggest fathers are more crucial to their children’s well-being than previously thought. “Some studies have shown that in certain areas of child development the attitude and behavior of the father have fundamentally more weight regardless of who plays what role in the family hierarchy,” the journalist writes. “When fathers treat their kids with little regard, if they reject them or act hostile towards them, the children develop an above-average number of behavioral problems, depressive tendencies, and often become drug-addicted or delinquent — even if the mother loves the child unconditionally and is supportive.”
Read the full article, Do Fathers Matter More Than Mothers To A Child's Happiness?

DEATH SENTENCES FOR TIANANMEN ATTACK
A Chinese court sentenced three people to death after finding them guilty of being behind a “terror attack” near Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in October 2013, which killed 2 tourists and left 40 injured, Xinhua reports. One man was also sentenced to life imprisonment and another four were handed sentences from 5 to 20 years.

SCHUMACHER OUT OF COMA
Formula One legend Michael Schumacher is no longer in a coma and has left the hospital “to continue his long phase of rehabilitation,” his family said.

SNAPSHOT
A motorcycle rider soars at the 2014 Kazan City Racing show in Millenium Square in Kazan, in the Russian’s republic of Tatarstan.


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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Hide-And-Seek Of Drone Warfare, A Letter From Ukraine's Front Line

A member of the Ukrainian Armed Forces writes his account of the new dynamic of targeting, and being targeted by, the invading Russian troops, as drones circle above and trenches get left behind.

A Ukrainian military drone operator during a testing of anti-drone rifle in Kyiv.

Igor Lutsenko*

KYIV — The current war in Ukraine is a game of hide-and-seek. Both sides are very well-stocked with artillery, enough to destroy the enemy along many kilometers. Swarms of drones fly through the air day and night, keeping a close eye on the earth's surface below. If they notice something interesting, it immediately becomes a target. Depending on the priority, they put it in line for destruction by artillery.

Therefore, the only effective way to survive is to hide, or at least somehow prove to the drones your non-priority status — and avoid moving to the front of the 'queue of death.'

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In general, the nature of this queue is a particular thing. It may seem to be a god, but is instead a simple artillery captain's decision of when to have lunch, and when to fire on the house where several enemy soldiers are staying. It's just a handful of ordinary people (observers, artillerymen) deciding how long their enemies will live depending on their own schedule or the weather, the availability of ammunition or if they're feeling tired.

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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.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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