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Buddhist monks chant prayers Thursday in Phnom Penh for the enshrinement of late King-Father Norodom Sihanouk.
Buddhist monks chant prayers Thursday in Phnom Penh for the enshrinement of late King-Father Norodom Sihanouk.
Worldcrunch

Friday, July 11, 2014

NEW EVIDENCE OF EASTERN UKRAINE TORTURE
NGO Amnesty International says it has gathered evidence of “stomach-turning beatings and torture” committed by pro-Russian and pro-Kiev groups against “activists, protesters and journalists” in Eastern Ukraine. In its report, the organization notes however that pro-Kiev forces have committed “a smaller number of abuses,” and denounces “the escalating number of abductions” by separatists. Meanwhile, the separatists in Donetsk revealed their plans to evacuate “tens of thousands” of residents to Russia ahead of the feared showdown with the Ukrainian army.

GAZA DEATH TOLL REACHES 100, CALLS FOR CEASEFIRE
The Israeli army continued to strike Gaza for a fourth day, as Palestinian medical sources said that the number of Palestinians killed reached 100, with 750 others wounded, The Palestine Telegraph reports. A rocket fired from Gaza hit a gas station in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod leaving at least one civilian critically injured, according to The Jerusalem Post. The latest events come after U.S President Barack Obama offered to broker a ceasefire, urging “both sides not to escalate the crisis,” a White House statement said.

SNAPSHOT
Buddhist monks chant prayers Thursday in Phnom Penh for the enshrinement of late King-Father Norodom Sihanouk.

KERRY IN AFGHANISTAN AMID ELECTION DISPUTE
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is in Kabul for a hastily arranged visit aimed at mediating Afghanistan’s electoral crisis, after the two presidential candidates claimed victory amid allegations of fraud. According to Reuters, Kerry will meet with both candidates Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghan, a former World Bank official who lead the preliminary results. At a meeting with a UN envoy, Kerry said, "The election legitimacy hangs in the balance, the future potential of the transition hangs in the balance, so we have a lot to do.” One way to do it: threat of a U.S. aid cutoff.

64%
According to a recent poll, a majority of Russians believe a nuclear war is possible today.

CHILD LABOR IN SAMSUNG CHINESE FACTORIES
An article published in The New York Times shows how 14-year-old and 15-year-old children in China use fake documents to bypass electronic giant Samsung’s ban on child labor to work at a factory during the summer. In a statement, the group said it “will take appropriate measures in accordance with our policies to prevent any cases of child labor in our suppliers.”

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO
As part of Hit It!, our brand-spankin’-new-everything-under-the-sun-global-music blog, we report on a British University that is offering a new course on French protest music. “Ever dreamed of quoting a French protest song in the middle of a heated, high-brow debate? The University of Manchester — in a city that has always been forward-thinking, especially when on the music front — now offers a course called "Protest Music in France". Every week, students will focus on three French artists: songwriter George Brassens, Parisian dandy Serge Gainsbourg and hip hop group NTM.”
Read the full story, Students In Manchester Can Now Study French Hip Hop.

BRITISH SUSPECT IN WORLD CUP TICKET SCAM A “FUGITIVE”
Brazilian police now consider Ray Whelan, the British director of FIFA partner company Match Hospitality, a fugitive after he fled his hotel in Rio de Janeiro before they arrived to arrest him as part of an investigation into a $100 million ticket scam, the BBC reports. A security camera video published by O Globo shows him leaving the Copacabana Palace hotel with his lawyer through a back door.

FAREWELL
Indian actress, Zohra Sehgal, known as the “Grand Old Lady of Bollywood” has died at age 102.

MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

The Dead And Disappeared: A Village Emerges From 72 Days Of Russian Occupation

Russian forces have been pushed out of the area around Kharkiv. Villages that were occupied for two months are free once more — but utterly destroyed. And thousands of people have disappeared without a trace.

Kharkiv and the surrounding villages faced weeks of constant Russian shelling.

Alfred Hackensberger

TSYKRUNY — Andriy Kluchikov uses a walking stick, but is otherwise fairly sprightly for a 94-year-old. Under his black wool hat, Kluchikov seems fearless as he surveys his hometown in northeastern Ukraine. “The missiles don't scare me,” he says with a smile. “I have slept in my own bed every night and never went down into the basement.”

As for the two-meter-wide bomb crater that has appeared in his garden, between the vegetable patch and the greenhouse with its shattered plastic roof, Kluchikov almost seems proud. “No one can intimidate me,” he says. “Not even the Russians.”

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In the early days of the war, in February, Russian artillery almost completely destroyed this village of Tsyrkuny, near Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city. Only a few houses, including his own, were left undamaged. Shortly afterwards, Russian troops marched into the village and occupied it for 72 days. It was not until early this week that the Ukrainian army was able to liberate Tsyrkuny and many other areas to the north of the country’s second-largest city, Kharkiv.

It is the Ukrainians’ most successful counter-offensive so far. They are thought to have pushed the invading troops back almost to the Russian border. “The offensive is gaining momentum,” according to the independent American thinktank Institute for the Study of War. “It has forced Russian troops on the defensive and has successfully alleviated artillery pressure on Kharkiv City.”

In the modern city of Kharkiv, home to around 1.5 million residents, the relief has been palpable over the last few days. Restaurants and cafes have reopened. People are walking and riding bikes in the parks, and couples are strolling hand in hand, enjoying the warm spring sunshine. You can still hear the artillery, but it is now many miles away.

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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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