WorldViews: Pablo Escobar’s hippos are wreaking havoc in Colombia

June 30, 2014

This story has everything: a drug lord, a once-grand estate in the South American countryside, hippopotamuses.

According to the BBC, hippos once owned by Pablo Escobar are still roaming the grounds of the late Colombian drug lord’s former home, presenting a problem for locals and wildlife officials, who aren’t sure the best way to contain or control them.

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WorldViews: Newlyweds decapitated by bride’s family in latest ‘honor killing’ in Pakistan

June 30, 2014

This time, both the husband and the wife were killed.

In May, there was worldwide outrage over the public stoning of a woman after she married a man against her family’s wishes. The incident occurred in broad daylight in one of Pakistan’s busiest cities, Lahore.

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In Mosul, early support for militants gives way to unease

June 30, 2014

BAGHDAD — When Sunni extremists swept into the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, many residents welcomed them, claiming that the masked gunmen had liberated them from oppression by Baghdad. But three weeks on, discontent is surfacing.

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WorldViews: The new Islamic caliphate and its war against history

June 30, 2014

ISIS, the Sunni jihadist group whose fighters now control a vast swath of territory in Syria and Iraq, punctuated its astonishing rise last weekend with the declaration of an Islamic state, a new “caliphate” to which Muslims everywhere must pay obeisance. “Here the flag of the Islamic State, the flag of tawhīd (monotheism), rises and flutters,” read the group’s statement, posted online in various languages. “Its shade covers land from Aleppo to Diyala,” referring to territory in Syria’s north and Iraq’s east.

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WorldViews: How Facebook is seen as a threat to Afghan unity

June 30, 2014

KABUL — When Facebook arrived here, it quickly became an emblem for progress and freedom in post-Taliban Afghanistan.

But as a bitter electoral dispute takes hold of Kabul, both Afghan and foreign officials worry that social media is now worsening Afghanistan’s ethnic and political fault lines. What once appeared to be a long-awaited outlet for expression — promoted heavily by Western officials — is now something the Afghan government is trying desperately to censor.

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Pakistani army begins ground offensive against Taliban

June 30, 2014

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistan’s military launched a major ground offensive in the northwestern part of the country Monday, beginning what army commanders say will be a “house-to-house search” for terrorist leaders and other militants.

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Babushkas in ‘liberated’ Ukrainian city remain staunchly pro-Russian

June 30, 2014

MARIUPOL, Ukraine — The stout matron with her hair in a bun was known as “Baba Natasha,” and as Ukrainian soldiers closed in to arrest her, she allegedly lobbed a grenade.

Authorities described Nataliya Valentynivna Hruzdenko, 46, as the head of a terrorist cell of pro-Russian separatists operating in the working-class city of Mariupol in eastern Ukraine.

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North Korea to charge two American tourists with committing ‘hostile acts’

June 30, 2014

BEIJING — North Korea said Monday that it is charging two American detainees with carrying out what it called “hostile acts” while in the country.

In a four-sentence statement, the country’s state-run news agency said investigators had garnered evidence and testimony from the two tourists, Matthew Todd Miller and Jeffrey Edward Fowle, that they were “perpetrating hostile acts after entering” North Korea.

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Removal of Syrian chemical arsenal was result of unprecedented collaboration

June 30, 2014

At some point on Wednesday, a Danish cargo vessel, carrying tons of the world’s deadliest chemical weapons, will sail into an Italian port and carefully begin transferring its lethal cargo onto an aging American merchant ship.

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One year after shocking terrorist attack, Pakistan’s peaks bereft of foreign climbers

June 29, 2014

FAIRY MEADOWS, Pakistan — For more than five decades, locals have called it “Killer Mountain,” a reminder of the risks of trying to scale beautiful, snow-topped Nanga Parbat.

More than 100 climbers and porters have died on the steep, rocky ascent up the world’s ninth-highest mountain — a fact Pakistan once touted in a bid to lure thrill-seekers.

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Militants making headway in Iraq and Syria declare creation of formal Islamic state

June 29, 2014

BAGHDAD — The extremist group battling its way through swaths of Iraq and Syria declared the creation of a formal Islamic state Sunday, building on its recent military gains and laying down an ambitious challenge to al-Qaeda’s established leadership.

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Sectarian killings return to Baghdad as war rages elsewhere

June 29, 2014

BAGHDAD — The burial of Omar Abed Hammoudi was a furtive affair, conducted in haste in the far corner of a cemetery filled with those who died in the last round of bloodletting in Baghdad.

The circumstances of his death suggested that the killings have started again. Snatched from his home by masked and uniformed men in a mostly Shiite neighborhood, Hammoudi, who was Sunni, was found dumped outside a mosque the following day, strangled and with a bullet wound to his head — a sequence of events that chillingly recalled the slaughter of the 2005-07 civil war.

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Israeli jets hit targets in Gaza in response to escalation of rocket fire

June 29, 2014

JERUSALEM — Israeli air force jets struck targets in the Gaza Strip Saturday in response to rockets fired by Palestinian militants into Israeli territory during the weekend, the Israeli military said in a statement on Sunday.

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Iraq reports major effort to recapture Tikrit

June 28, 2014

BAGHDAD — Ground forces backed by helicopter gunships launched a three-pronged pre-dawn attack on the militant stronghold of Tikrit on Saturday, marking a major test for the Iraqi military as it attempts to gain the upper hand against insurgents.

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Kharkiv, in eastern Ukraine, looks west as war next door imperils its Russian market

June 28, 2014

KHARKIV, Ukraine — After 20 years of running a large commercial tube-manufacturing plant out of eastern Ukraine’s biggest city, Leonid Filshtinskiy is moving some of his operations westward — to Spain.

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While China’s territorial disputes drag on, Xi Jinping tells others to seek peace

June 28, 2014

BEIJING — Chinese President Xi Jinping deployed an unusual defense Saturday of China’s foreign and military policies: the celebration of an obscure, decades-old treaty called the “Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence.”

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Dozens killed as Taliban makes major bid for former Afghan stronghold of Helmand

June 28, 2014

KABUL — The Taliban has massed hundreds of fighters in Helmand province in its most ambitious attempt this year to seize ground as the U.S. combat mission winds down in Afghanistan, according to Afghan officials.

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WorldViews: The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and the drumbeats of war

June 28, 2014

One hundred years ago today in Sarajevo, a Serb nationalist shot to death at point-blank range the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and his wife Sophie. Their deaths, we are told, triggered the chain of events that led a month later to the start of World War I — the Great War, a horrifying, bloody four-year conflict that killed some 14 million people, collapsed empires and redrew large parts of the world’s map.

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Iraq cobbling together makeshift air force to fight ISIS

June 28, 2014

BAGHDAD — Frustrated with the pace of U.S. jet and attack helicopter deliveries, the Iraqi government has resorted to negotiating the return of decades-old planes from Iran as it desperately tries to cobble together air power to turn the tide against al-Qaeda-inspired insurgents.

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Britain isolated as Juncker nominated to top E.U. job

June 28, 2014

LONDON — Britain’s last-ditch efforts to block Jean-Claude Juncker from becoming the next president of the European Commission failed spectacularly Friday as the ex-Luxembourg prime minister received resounding support in his nomination to the top job in Brussels, a move that could hasten Britain’s exit from the European Union.

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Ukraine signs landmark agreement with E.U.

June 27, 2014

KIEV, Ukraine — Shrugging off Russian threats and a burgeoning civil war, Ukraine signed a landmark trade deal Friday binding it to the European Union, a monumental step that came in defiance of months of Kremlin efforts to prevent the country from turning westward.

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Jordan fears homegrown ISIS more than invasion from Iraq

June 27, 2014

MAAN, Jordan — Demonstrators angry with Jordan’s government have unfurled in this desert city the black battle flags of the al-Qaeda-inspired extremists now in control of large swaths of Iraq, stirring fears that support for the group is growing in Jordan.

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WorldViews: Could this map of China start a war?

June 27, 2014

Chinese authorities unveiled this week a new map showing the totality of Beijing’s territorial claims. It supplants an earlier map, which had a cutaway box displaying China’s declared claims over the South China Sea. Now, Chinese citizens can “fully, directly know the full map of China,” wrote the People’s Daily, a state paper. “Readers won’t ever think again that China’s territory has primary and secondary claims,” said the editor of the map press that published it.

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Mexican militiaman and his family killed after speaking out

June 27, 2014

MEXICO CITY — We saw his kids first and broke out laughing. You couldn’t look at their angelic, chubby, giggling faces without smiling. They could barely see over the dashboard of the red truck they were driving.

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Mexican militiaman and his family killed after speaking out

June 27, 2014

MEXICO CITY — We saw his kids first and broke out laughing. You couldn’t look at their angelic chubby giggling faces without smiling. They could barely see over the dashboard of the red truck they were driving.

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Israel names suspects in abduction of three teenagers, blames Hamas

June 27, 2014

DURA, West Bank — Israel released the names late Thursday of two Palestinians it says are behind the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers who disappeared while making their way home from their religious school in the West Bank two weeks ago.

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Tsunami still tears at a Japanese town, as mayor’s decisions are debated

June 27, 2014

MINAMISANRIKU, Japan — On a Friday in March three years ago, as a tsunami barreled in, the emergency workers in this coastal town stayed at their posts in a three-story building on low ground, never receiving an evacuation order. They hurried to the rooftop at the last moment, but even there they were submerged in the furious brown churn. When the wave pulled back, 10 of the 44 workers remained.

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Iraq’s Shiite politicans wrangle over prime minister choice

June 27, 2014

BAGHDAD — Iraq’s leading Shiite politicians, divided over who should steer the country, wrangled over their nomination for prime minister as evidence emerged Friday that Islamist insurgents executed at least 160 captives earlier this month as part of their savage blitz now threatening the future of the state.

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Ukrainian government, rebels to continue talks as Kerry steps up pressure on Russia

June 27, 2014

KIEV, Ukraine — The warring sides in Ukraine’s conflict announced Thursday that they would continue talks Friday, when a shaky cease-fire is set to expire, while Secretary of State John F. Kerry pushed Russia to call within “hours” for rebels in Ukraine to disarm.

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WorldViews: Does it matter if you sing your national anthem?

June 26, 2014

When Brazilian player Neymar lined up with his team to play Mexico last week in one the early fixtures of the World Cup, he knew a lot was riding on his wiry shoulders. The burden of expectation for the host country is great, and it weighs most heavily on Neymar, the country’s talismanic star. And it proved too much: As the fans sang the national anthem, he cried. The performance that followed was largely anonymous, for his standards.

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As Pakistan wages an offensive against militants, tensions with Afghanistan rise

June 26, 2014

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistan has evacuated more than 450,000 civilians from a terrorist-plagued district in the northwestern part of the country, but its offensive against the militants there is complicated by fresh tension with neighboring Afghanistan.

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As clashes rage in Iraq, Maliki seeks to shore up fractured base

June 26, 2014

BAGHDAD — Iraq’s leading Shiite politicians met Thursday to discuss their nomination for prime minister, divided over who should steer the country as an al-Qaeda-linked insurgency threatens the future of the state.

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Obama asks for authorization to provide direct military training to Syrian rebels

June 26, 2014

The Obama administration asked Congress on Thursday to authorize $500 million in direct U.S. military training and equipment for Syrian opposition fighters, a move that could significantly escalate U.S. involvement in Syria’s civil war.

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WorldViews: Forget Paris: French authorities put an end to planned treasure hunt

June 26, 2014

Just how bad are things in France right now?

These days, you can’t even get free money in via lighthearted social media-based treasure hunts in the City of Light: According to The Telegraph, authorities in Paris have nixed a hidden-cash search that was planned for the city, telling an American organizer of the event that he could face jail time or a fine for hiding money in public spaces.

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Kerry presses Persian Gulf nations to rally behind Iraq

June 26, 2014

PARIS — Secretary of State John F. Kerry is leading an increasingly public U.S. effort to persuade Persian Gulf nations to help pull Iraq back from the brink of civil war, leaning on them to use their influence with Iraq’s Sunni tribes and suggesting that open hostility to Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki will only backfire.

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WorldViews: Three things to know about the Supreme Court’s ruling on Argentine debt — and why it matters to Argentina and the world

June 26, 2014

This month the Supreme Court handed Argentina a legal, psychological and financial defeat that continues to reverberate through the South American country — and the international financial community.

By leaving in place lower court rulings, the Supreme Court required Argentina to pay $1.3 billion before July 30 to holders of the country’s sovereign debt bonds. The action, combined with a related ruling, effectively meant that Argentina lost a 13-year legal battle and must now struggle to limit the damage.

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Russia pressures Moldova and Ukraine ahead of signing of E.U. Association Agreement

June 26, 2014

CHISINAU, Moldova — A new showdown is looming over former Soviet states’ ties to Europe — the same trigger that has ignited months of violence in Ukraine.

With some of those states planning to sign a landmark deal Friday that will draw them closer to the European Union, the Kremlin is beaming out urgent warnings about the conse­quences.

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Samsung is Korea’s greatest success. But some workers say it’s making them sick.

June 25, 2014

SEOUL — When Han Hye-kyung finished high school and got a job at Samsung, her family celebrated with a barbecue. But within two years, she stopped menstruating. And then she couldn’t walk straight. And then doctors found a brain tumor, something she and her family claim came from toxins at a factory run by the South Korean tech giant.

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As Iraqi city faces new battle, ex-mayor tries to keep the peace — by phone from the U.S.

June 25, 2014

The last time Tal Afar fell to insurgents in the midst of the Iraq war, Mayor Najim Abed al-Jabouri was directing his troops from a 16th-century Ottoman castle in the center of his city. This time, he’s stuck in a suburb about an hour south of Washington as he punches the code from a $2 phone card into his cellphone, takes a drag on his cigarette and waits for the latest update from the battlefield.

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As insurgents advance, Maliki calls for unity

June 25, 2014

BAGHDAD — Embattled Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki appeared to bow to U.S. pressure on Wednesday, striking a conciliatory tone as he called for political unity to tackle al-Qaeda inspired militants as they swept forward in the western province of Anbar.

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WorldViews: White House losing Twitter war to India’s Narendra Modi

June 25, 2014

Although he has only been India’s prime minister for about a month, Narendra Modi  has already beaten the White House — on Twitter.

@NarendraModi‘s Twitter account has reached 5 million followers, beating out the @WhiteHouse account of 4.98 million followers, making him the fourth-most-followed leader in the world.

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WorldViews: Has Baba Jukwa, Zimbabwe’s infamous anonymous whistleblower, really been caught?

June 25, 2014

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WorldViews: 13 maps that explain Luis Suarez’s World Cup bite

June 25, 2014

Call it the bite felt ’round the world. Uruguay’s star attacker was expected to leave his mark on the 2014 World Cup tournament, but the most indelible mark may be the one that appeared on Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini’s shoulder Tuesday. Suarez, a gifted, albeit temperamental, athlete, has a history of biting. The maps below explain what happened. Well, sort of.

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Kerry warns Russia that additional U.S., E.U. economic sanctions are possible

June 25, 2014

BRUSSELS — Russia’s move to rescind authority to invade Ukraine is welcome but is not enough to head off possible new European and U.S. economic sanctions, Secretary of State John F. Kerry said Wednesday.

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WorldViews: The not-so-subtle diplomatic tactic of renaming streets to troll other countries

June 25, 2014

China’s Washington embassy is getting a new address, according to The Washington Post’s Dr. Gridlock blog: No. 1 Liu Xiaobo Plaza. The move comes after a vote from the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday, whose members want to rename the street as a protest of Beijing’s human rights record.

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WorldViews: Egypt’s Sissi vows to donate part of his salary to his country. Here are other world leaders who’ve done that.

June 25, 2014

The president of Egypt announced yesterday that he is donating half of his personal wealth and half of his $6,000 monthly salary to help his country overcome the current economic crisis. He also encouraged other rich Egyptians to do the same, opening a bank account for them to contribute.

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WorldViews: North Korea threatens ‘merciless’ retaliation over James Franco and Seth Rogen assassination comedy

June 25, 2014

Well, that escalated quickly.

A spokesman for the North Korean Foreign Ministry threatened “merciless counter-measures” if the United States (or film studio based in the United States, anyway) releases “The Interview,” a James Franco-Seth Rogen comedy that depicts an attempt to assassinate Kim Jong Un, BBC News reported.

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WorldViews: ‘Alone in a big world’: Syrian widows unite in the shadow of war

June 25, 2014

War stories are often about men with guns taking strategic cities by storm. When I met Dima Haj Darwish, a Syrian refugee living in Turkey, she had a different kind of war story. She told me about women who were forced to bundle up their wailing children and leave everything they knew behind.

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Andy Coulson, former tabloid editor for Rupert Murdoch, found guilty in London media trial

June 25, 2014

LONDON — Andy Coulson, a former editor for media mogul Rupert Murdoch and spin doctor for British Prime Minister David Cameron, was found guilty Tuesday of conspiring to hack phones in one of the biggest media trials in British history. Rebekah Brooks, Coulson’s codefendant and former boss, was cleared of all charges.

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WorldViews: Iran moves to ban permanent contraception, as it tries to reverse birth rate decline

June 25, 2014

TEHRAN — Iran’s parliament on Tuesday took a step closer to criminalizing permanent forms of contraception, in a move intended to turn around a decreasing population rate.

The framework of legislation that would ban abortions, vasectomies, tubectomies, and any form of sterilization passed. Convicted offenders would face lengthy prison terms. Also included in the bill was a prohibition on any advertisement that promotes decreases in the birth rate.

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