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Spain's King Abdicates, Luhansk Battle, Captain Chile

A boy dressed as Captain America strikes a pose at the fourth annual Comic Con Chile in Santiago.
A boy dressed as Captain America strikes a pose at the fourth annual Comic Con Chile in Santiago.

Monday, June 2, 2014

At least five separatists were killed after hundreds attacked a border post with automatic weapons in the eastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk near the Russian border. According to the AP, seven Ukrainian troops were also injured in the early morning attack. The news agency also quotes the spokesman for Kiev’s military operation as saying that another attack had taken place on Sloviansk, where rebels reportedly “mined a number of power plants” and threatened to detonate them if the government sent its forces against them.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Energy Ministry confirmed it had received a payment of $786.4 million from Kiev to cover the country’s gas bill for February and March, ahead of a new round of talks on gas in Berlin later today.

“This is the best moment for the transition of the crown to take place with complete normality,” Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said today in making the surprise announcement that King Juan Carlos is abdicating his throne.

The Afghan government joined critics of the deal reached between Washington and the Taliban for the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in exchange for five fighters detained at Guantánamo, Reuters reports. The Afghan Foreign Affairs Ministry say the deal violates international law. "No government can transfer citizens of a country to a third country as prisoners," an official said as the five Taliban prisoners were flown to Qatar as part of the agreement. Over the weekend, several Republicans denounced the deal, arguing that negotiating with terrorists sets a dangerous precedent and endangers U.S. soldiers.

Google has announced that it is receiving one request every seven seconds for its new "right to be forgotten" program. The initiative’s online form was used 12,000 times on Friday alone.

Pressure is mounting on soccer’s governing body FIFA to organize a re-vote for the siting of the 2022 World Cup after strong allegations of corruption against Qatar, appeared in the British press over the weekend. According to the reports, which rely on leaked emails, soccer officials were paid 3 million pounds ($5 million) in “cash, gifts and legal fees” to support Qatar’s bid against the other candidates — South Korea, Japan, Australia and the United States. The Qatari organizing committee is due to meet with a FIFA investigator today, the BBC writes.

A boy dressed as Captain America strikes a pose at the fourth annual Comic Con Chile in Santiago. The event, which is based on San Diego Comic-Con International, gathers comic books enthusiasts and pop culture fans and drew an estimated 20,000 people over the weekend.

At least 40 people were killed in eastern Nigeria yesterday after suspected Boko Haram fighters threw a bomb at soccer fans near a field, Nigerian Tribune reports. The blast’s location is near a military base, but some sources told the newspaper that no soldiers were among the casualties. This came after more deadly raids in villages in the northern Borno state and amid reports from Cameroon that the country’s security forces had killed some 40 Boko Haram militants in clashes after the release of two Italian priests and a Canadian nun. Read more from Reuters.


A Palestinian "national reconciliation government" formed by Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party will be sworn in later today amid vocal opposition from Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet yesterday that the reconciliation between the two Palestinian parties “will not strengthen peace, it will strengthen terror.” According to Israeli daily Haaretz, Netanyahu was assured of America’s support, as he said that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had promised Israel that Washington would not immediately recognize the new Palestinian unity government. Meanwhile, AFP reported this morning that Israel had launched air raids on the Gaza Strip after two rockets were fired.

As La Stampa’s Lucia Sgueglia reports, Russian fighters — Chechens in particular — are showing up to fight the Kiev-backed military in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk. “Alexander Borodai, the ‘chief separatist,’ concedes that there are foreign fighters among the ranks of the rebels. ‘They are Russian volunteers, from Russia,’ he says, explaining his blind trust in the Chechens. ‘Since Kadyrov came to power — a leader who is unquestionably loyal to Putin — the Chechens are more Russian than the Russians themselves. They’re true patriots.’”
Read the full article, In Donetsk, The Chechens Have Arrived.

The infamous Egyptian court that sentenced hundreds of supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi to death last month has condemned another 37 Islamists to death and handed life sentences to 492 others, AFP reports. The court justified its decision by saying that the men were “demons” who “came out of the depths of hell ... to plunder Egypt's wealth, tyrannize its people.” It also accused them of having followed and promoted the teachings of the Talmud, Judaism’s central scripture.

New research suggests that learning a second language, even in adulthood, improves our “reading, verbal fluency and intelligence,” effectively slowing brain aging.

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food / travel

Legalizing Moonshine, A Winning Political Stand In Poland

Moonshine, typically known as “bimber” in Poland, may soon be legalized by the incoming government. There is a mix of tradition, politics and economics that makes homemade booze a popular issue to campaign on.

Photo of an empty vodka bottle on the ground in Poland

Bottle of vodka laying on the ground in Poland

Leszek Kostrzewski

WARSAWIt's a question of freedom — and quality. Poland's incoming coalition government is busy negotiating a platform for the coming years. Though there is much that still divides the Left, the liberal-centrist Civic Koalition, and the centrist Third Way partners, there is one area where Poland’s new ruling coalition is nearly unanimous: moonshine.

The slogan for the legalization of moonshine (known in Poland as "bimber") was initially presented by Michał Kołodziejczak, the leader of Agrounia, a left-wing socialist political movement in Poland that has qualified to be part of the incoming Parliament.

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”Formerly so-called moonshine was an important element of our cultural landscape, associated with mystery, breaking norms, and freedom from the state," Kołodziejczak said. "It was a reason to be proud, just like the liqueurs that Poles were famous for in the past.”

The president of Agrounia considered the right to make moonshine as a symbol of "subjectivity" that farmers could enjoy, and admitted with regret that in recent years it had been taken away from citizens. “It's also about a certain kind of freedom, to do whatever you want on your farm," Kołodziejczak adds. "This is subjectivity for the farmer. Therefore, I am in favor of providing farmers with the freedom to consume this alcohol for their own use.”

A similar viewpoint was aired by another Parliament member. “We will stop pretending that Polish farmers do not produce moonshine for their own use, such as for weddings,” the representative said, pointing out the benefits of controlling the quality. “Just like they produce slivovitz, which Poland is famous for. It's high time they did it legally.”

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