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Ukraine Ultimatum, 4,000 Migrants In 48h, Dumped Masterpiece

Kerry blamed Israel for undermining the recent attempts at peace.
Kerry blamed Israel for undermining the recent attempts at peace.

Ukraine’s acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov has said that the situation in Eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists are still occupying state buildings, will be “resolved in 48 hours,” threatening “the minority who want conflict” with a “forceful answer”, the BBC reports. "There are two options — political and negotiations, and force," Avakov told journalists. Meanwhile in other related developments:

  • Protesters who had taken some 60 people hostage in a state security building in the city of Luhansk are believed to have let go 56 people after negotiations, although it’s unclear how many of those are hostages and how many are protesters.

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a speech to the country’s Parliament that Russia was not doing enough to appease tensions in Ukraine. "Unfortunately, in many areas it is not clear that Russia is contributing to a de-escalation of the situation," Reuters reports her as saying. Yesterday, John Kerry accused Moscow’s “special forces and agents” of fueling the conflictin Eastern Ukraine, and suggested that sanctions against Russia should be extended to its energy, banking and mining sectors.

  • The U.S., the EU and Ukraine have agreed to meet with Russian officials next week. If it takes place, this will be the first meeting between the four parties since the beginning of the Ukrainian crisis.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered his cabinet to cease all cooperation with the Palestinian authorities in response to what Tel Aviv sees as "Palestinian violations," The Jerusalem Postreports. The decision however does not apply to Israel’s Defense Minister or to its Justice Minister, as they continue to meet with Palestinian negotiators to try to salvage the U.S.-backed peace talks. Netanyahu’s move was denounced by opposition leader Isaac Herzog, who said the Israeli prime minister was "giving fuel and matches to those who hate Israel.”
This comes after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday that both sides had made “unhelpful” decisions, but ultimately blamed Israel’s settlement plans in occupied territories in Jerusalem for undermining the recent attempts at peace.

At least 23 people were killed in a massive explosion at a vegetable market on the outskirts of Pakistan’s capital of Islamabad, Al Jazeera reports. This comes after an explosion aboard a train killed 14 people yesterday in the southwestern province of Balochistan. The Taliban, who are currently holding peace talks with the government, denounced the two attacks.

Italy’s Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said the country’s navy and coast guards had rescued some 4,000 migrants trying to reach Europe on overcrowded boats over the last 48 hours, ANSA news agency reports. At least one would-be immigrant was found dead on one of the boats.

Beijing’s Caixin newspaper offers a fascinating picture of what’s known in China as guanxi, an unwritten system of social hierarchy that’s as noxious to real democracy as any Communist Party diktat. Leung Man Tao writes: “A public institution that exists in the name of the people and the nation shouldn’t vary its policies from person to person. Everyone is equal before the law, and a bus cannot stop you getting on because you are not the driver’s father. Under this modern Western concept, relationship should not be important. Or at least the relationship should not be a central part of the system.”
Read the full article: Guanxi, Evils Of China's Traditional *Social Networks*


Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, announced it would recall a whopping 6.76 million vehicles, citing a variety of defects in several models. This comes after the Japanese automaker was criticized for reacting slowly to earlier defects in its cars and trucks. Read more from Bloomberg.

The search area in the South Indian Ocean for Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 has been drastically reduced after Australia’s Ocean Shield vessel picked up two more signals believed to come from the missing aircraft’s black box, ABC reports. Angus Houston, head of the search operation, said he was optimistic they would find something "in a matter of days".

An encryption security bug that went undetected for the past two years sent the web on alert after experts found that tens of thousands of servers around the world were affected, The Washington Post reports. The bug, nicknamed “Heartbleed,” is in fact a flaw in the OpenSSL encryption system, used on many websites including Google, Facebook and Yahoo, and recognized by most users as the green padlock in the browser’s address bar. According to The Guardian, until the problem is fixed, “the simplest thing to do may be to refrain from engaging in sensitive activities on the Internet.”

Hong Kong police have been searching a landfill today for a mistakenly dumped painting that had just been sold $3.7 million at an auction.

Check out this great shot of Chelsea's Demba Ba scoring the winning goal in the 87th minute of the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal against Paris Saint-Germain.

As surprising as it may seem, Russell Crowe used to be a singer in a garage rock band called Roman Antix, in New Zealand, back in the 1980s. But the best part is perhaps his stage name: Russ Le Roq. Check out his single “What’s expand=1] the Difference?

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Bravo! Brava! Opera's Overdue Embrace Of Trans Performers And Storylines

Opera has played with ideas of gender since its earliest days. Now the first openly trans performers are taking to the stage, and operas explicitly exploring trans identities are beginning to emerge.

A photograph of Lucia Lucas singing with a lance, dressed in a black gown.

September 2022: Lucia Lucas performing at the opera

Lucia Lucas/Facebook
Von Manuel Brug

BERLIN — The figure of the nurse Arnalta is almost as old as opera itself. In Claudio Monteverdi’s saucy Roman sex comedy The Coronation of Poppaea, this motherly confidante spurs the eponymous heroine on to ever more lustful encounters, singing her advice in the voice of a tenor. The tradition of a man playing an older woman in a comic role can be traced all the way back to the comedies of the ancient world, which Renaissance-era writers looked to for inspiration.

The Popes in Baroque Rome decreed that, supposedly for religious reasons, women should not sing on stage. But they still enjoyed the spectacular performances of castratos, supporting them as patrons and sometimes even acting as librettists. The tradition continues today in the form of celebrated countertenors, and some male sopranos perform in female costume.

“I don’t know what I am, or what I’m doing.” This is how the pageboy Cherubino expresses his confusion at the flood of hormones he is experiencing in his aria in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro – one of the most popular operas of all time, full of amorous adventures and sexual misunderstandings. Cherubino cannot and does not want to choose between a countess, a lady’s maid, and a gardener’s daughter. He sometimes wears women’s clothing himself, and in modern productions the music teacher even chases after the young man.

The role of Cherubino, the lustful teenager caught between childhood and manhood, someone who appears trapped in the "wrong
body, is traditionally performed by a woman, usually a mezzosoprano. The audience is used to this convention, also seen in Richard Strauss’s Rosenkavalier or Siegfried Matthus’s Cornet Christoph Rilke’s Song of Love and Death, first performed in 1984.

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