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Thai PM out, S. Africa vote, Depardieu's drinking

Thai PM out, S. Africa vote, Depardieu's drinking

While U Slept

DEADLY FIGHTS IN EASTERN UKRAINE

Ukrainian troops have briefly retaken the city hall building in the eastern city of Mariupol after heavy fights at barricades around the city held by pro-Russian activists overnight, CNN reports. A spokeswoman for the pro-Russian side said that five militants had been killed in the fights. Meanwhile, RT reports that shooting between pro-Russian gunmen and Ukrainian troops continue in Sloviansk, describing a state of siege as civilians are said to be unable to leave the city.

  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov described last Friday’s tragic events in Odessa, where dozens of pro-Russian protesters died in a fire, as “clear fascism,” and accused the Kiev government of sweeping the facts “under the rug.” “We will push for the truth,” Ria Novosti quoted him as saying.

  • His British counterpart William Hague explained in an interview this morning that the Ukrainian presidential election, planned for May 25, would go ahead despite what he described as “disorder that is deliberately fomented and coordinated” from Russia. Read more from The Guardian.

  • As more and more voices are speaking of the imminent threat of civil war in Ukraine, the region of Donetsk is preparing to hold a referendum on the region’s status on Sunday, after having proclaimed the People’s Republic of Donetsk last month. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry yesterday described the move as a “frankly contrived and bogus” one that could “further divide Ukraine.”

THAILAND PM DISMISSED

Thailand’s Constitutional Court has ruled that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra must step down after finding her guilty of abuse of power when she removed the head of the country’s National Security Council from his post, The Nationreports. Nine of her ministers, who took part in the decision, were also dismissed. The rest of the Cabinet named the Commerce Minister as her replacement until the next general election, planned for July 20. The BBC warns that the court’s decision is likely to trigger protests from government supporters, after months-long protests from the opposition which had sought to push Shinawatra to resign.

U.S. TO JOIN HUNT FOR NIGERIAN SCHOOLGIRLS

The United States will assist the Nigerian government in their attempt to recover the schoolgirls abducted on April 15, after President Barack Obama announced that his Nigerian counterpart Goodluck Jonathan had accepted help from U.S. military and law enforcement advisers, AP reports. This comes amid reports from Nigerian media Vanguard that Islamist group Boko Haram may have kidnapped another 11 young girls in a raid in northeastern Nigeria. The organization’s leader claimed responsibility for last month’s abduction in a video released on Monday and said that the then 276 girls it had captured were slaves they intended to sell.

REBELS EVACUATE SYRIAN TOWN OF HOMS

Rebel fighters were being evacuated, under UN supervision, from the Syrian city of Homs this morning, as part of a ceasefire deal struck with the government, Al Jazeera reports. More than 1,000 fighters are expected to be evacuated by bus towards other rebel-held areas north of the city which was once labelled as the “capital of the revolution” against President Bashar al-Assad.

SOUTH AFRICAN GENERAL ELECTIONS

Some 25 million of South African voters are called to the polls to elect new members of Parliament, who will in turn name the country’s president, with ANC leader Jacob Zuma expected to retain his post for a second term though support for Nelson Mandela’s former party is faltering. In today’s editorial, South African newspaper Mail & Guardian calls its readers to “vote tactically to dilute ANC power,” describing the party’s national and provincial cabinets as being “packed with incompetents who owe their positions to their loyalty to Jacob Zuma.” It is the first time the newspaper has urged its readership to oppose the party.

248 billion

The Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba filed plans for a $15 billion initial public offering Tuesday, in what could be one of the biggest tech debuts in history. Alibaba handled around $248 billion worth of transactions for 231 million active users in 2013, more than Amazon and eBay combined.

VERBATIM

Gérard Depardieu speaks on his DSK role in upcoming film Welcome to New York and his relationship with alcohol. Read more.

SUPER-BIRDS

Penguins have been found to be immune to avian flu. Read more (with lots of cool penguin photos) in our latest from our Zoo’d feature HERE

COMMERCIAL CONTROVERSY

Spain’s clothes retailer Desigual released expand=1]a highly controversial commercial ahead of Mother’s Day, in which a young woman pokes holes in a pack of condoms after fantasising after what she would like if she was pregnant. Faced with people’s outrage in Spain, the company apologized and released an edited version of the spot.


MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD

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Ideas

Calmez-Vous, Americans: It's Quite OK To Call Us "The French"

A widely mocked tweet by the Associated Press tells its reporters to avoid dehumanizing labels such as "the poor" or "the French". But one French writer replies that the real dehumanizing threat is when open conversation becomes impossible.

Parisians sitting on a café terrasse.

Parisians sitting on a café terrasse.

Dirk Broddin on Flickr
Gaspard Koenig

-Essay-

PARIS — The largest U.S. news agency, the Associated Press (AP) tweeted a series of recommendations aimed at journalists: “We recommend avoiding general and often dehumanizing 'the' labels such as the poor, the mentally ill, the French, the disabled, the college-educated. Instead use, wording such as people with mental illnesses.”

The inclusion of “The French” in this list of groups likely to be offended has evoked well-deserved sarcasm. It finally gives me the opportunity to be part of a minority and to confirm at my own expense, while staying true to John Stuart Mill's conception of free speech: that offense is not a crime.

Offense should prompt quips, denial, mockery, and sometimes indifference. It engages conflict in the place where a civilized society accepts and cultivates it: in language.

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