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Russia

Syria Will Attend Geneva 2, Sochi Criticism, Palace Squatting

Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel protest cutting funds to seminary students who avoid military service.
Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel protest cutting funds to seminary students who avoid military service.

SYRIA WILL ATTEND 2ND ROUND OF GENEVA 2
Syrian state television announced that the government will participate in the second round of the Geneva 2 peace conference, due to start Feb. 10, quoting Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad. The announcement came as a first group of 200 civilians is about to be evacuated from the city of Homs, after an agreed ceasefire between the Syrian army and opposition fighters. Read the full story from the BBC.

U.S. DIPLOMAT EMBARRASSED BY LEAKED TAPE
Victoria Nuland, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Europe, is finding herself embroiled in a diplomatic scandal after she was recorded as saying “F*** the EU” during a phone conversation about Ukraine’s future. Read the story here.

SOCHI GETS UNDERWAY, CRITICISM CONTINUES
The opening ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympic Games will start at 8:14 p.m. local time (11:14 EST). If you can’t wait until then to see what the Russians have prepared for the ceremony, here’s a short video of the rehearsal.

  • To learn more about the Olympians, check out this list of the top 10 athletes to watch from RT.

  • Google seized the occasion of the opening ceremony today to send a direct message to the Russian administration for its law that bans “gay propaganda” with today’s doodle, which features the colors of the gay pride flag.

  • The New York Times published a scathing editorial on Vladimir Putin today, arguing that Sochi is no reason to ignore Russia’s “soul-crushing repression, the cruel new anti-gay and blasphemy laws and the corrupt legal system.”

VIOLENT ANTI-GOVERNMENT PROTESTS IN BOSNIA
Anti-government protesters in the Bosnian city of Tuzla clashed with police yesterday as they demonstrated for the second consecutive day to denounce growing poverty that they blame on mass privatization that took place after the fall of communism in the country. More than 130 people were injured in the protests, most of them police officers. Another demonstration is planned for today as well as in the capital of Sarajevo. Read more from France24.

RUSSIA TO SEND GRAIN SUPPLIES TO NORTH KOREA
Russia will provide North Korea with 50 tons of grain this year as part of a humanitarian assistance program, Ria Novosti reports. Alexander Timonin, the Russian ambassador to North Korea, says Moscow has already spent $8 million for food aid between 2012 and 2013. The ambassador also said that Russia had no information suggesting Pyongyang is planning new nuclear tests.

PALACE SQUATTING?
Look here to see what Hugo Chavez’s daughters have been up to since his death last year, and what it means for his successor, Nicolas Maduro.

BY THE NUMBERS
France leads the world in tweet removal requests. See how many and why.

MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD

CRIME INT’L
In Kenya, a pastor was caught red-handed with a married women. Worse, he had already been caught before with the first wife of the same man.

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Society

Parenthood And The Pressure Of Always Having To Be Doing Better

As a father myself, I'm now better able to understand the pressures my own dad faced. It's helped me face my own internal demands to constantly be more productive and do better.

Photo of a father with a son on his shoulders

Father and son in the streets of Madrid, Spain

Ignacio Pereyra*

-Essay-

When I was a child — I must have been around eight or so — whenever we headed with my mom and grandma to my aunt's country house in Don Torcuato, outside of Buenos Aires, there was the joy of summer plans. Spending the day outdoors, playing soccer in the field, being in the swimming pool and eating delicious food.

But when I focus on the moment, something like a painful thorn appears in the background: from the back window of the car I see my dad standing on the sidewalk waving us goodbye. Sometimes he would stay at home. “I have to work” was the line he used.

Maybe one of my older siblings would also stay behind with him, but I'm sure there were no children left around because we were all enthusiastic about going to my aunt’s. For a long time in his life, for my old man, those summer days must have been the closest he came to being alone, in silence (which he liked so much) and in calm, considering that he was the father of seven. But I can only see this and say it out loud today.

Over the years, the scene repeated itself: the destination changed — it could be a birthday or a family reunion. The thorn was no longer invisible but began to be uncomfortable as, being older, my interpretation of the events changed. When words were absent, I started to guess what might be happening — and we know how random guessing can be.

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