Putin talks about ‘statehood’ for eastern Ukraine

August 31, 2014

MOSCOW — Seeming to be searching for the right word during a prerecorded television interview, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested Sunday that one of the issues to be resolved in the Ukrainian conflict is “statehood” for the eastern regions now controlled by separatists.

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China refuses to give Hong Kong right to choose leaders; protesters vow vengeance

August 31, 2014

BEIJING — China’s parliament decided Sunday against letting Hong Kong voters nominate candidates for the 2017 election, despite growing agitation for democratic reform.

The move is likely to spark long-promised protests in Hong Kong’s business district, as activists began planning and mobilizing within hours of the announcement.

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The Mexican drug lord Chapo Guzman is in prison. But he might live by his own rules.

August 31, 2014

MEXICO CITY — Lawyers who visit their clients in the Altiplano, Mexico’s highest-security prison, say they must leave behind their wallets, pens, tie clips, shoelaces. They complain that guards check inside the men’s underwear and women must take off their bras.

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World Digest: Aug. 31, 2014

August 31, 2014

PAKISTAN

3 killed as protesters, police clash in capital

Anti-government protesters clashed repeatedly with police Sunday in the Pakistani capital as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met with top advisers to find a way out of the crisis that has triggered the biggest challenge to his authority.

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Israel proposes taking more West Bank land for Jewish settlers

August 31, 2014

JERUSALEM — The Israeli government announced Sunday that it would appropriate almost 1,000 acres of land in the West Bank that could be used to build homes for Jewish settlers.

The Israeli group Peace Now, which opposes expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, called it the largest land appropriation in 30 years.

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U.S. airstrikes help Iraqi forces break Islamic State’s siege

August 31, 2014

BAGHDAD — Iraqi troops and militias aided by U.S. airstrikes broke through a two-month siege of the town of Amerli on Sunday, opening up a humanitarian corridor to thousands of Shiite Turkmen who had been trapped by Sunni militants and deprived of food, water, and medicine.

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Ukraine’s soldiers defend city of Mariupol amid fears of pro-Russian rebels

August 31, 2014

MARIUPOL, Ukraine — Soldiers fortified trenches and protesters formed a human chain Saturday to try to defend this strategic port city in southeastern Ukraine as fear spread that Russia would expand its incursion into its neighbor.

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Besieged Iraqi town buoyed by airstrikes, launch of offensive against militants

August 31, 2014

BAGHDAD — The long-suffering residents of Amerli, an impoverished town in northern Iraq that has been besieged by Sunni jihadists for two months, were relieved Saturday that help had finally arrived.

Militia leaders and government officials said a coordinated offensive to clear the Islamic State-controlled towns around Amerli — and eventually the siege’s front line — began after nightfall in Iraq on Saturday.

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European leaders step up rhetoric against Russia as Ukraine urges tougher sanctions

August 31, 2014

MOSCOW — A senior European official warned Saturday that the crisis in eastern Ukraine might soon “reach the point of no return” as European nations looked at stiffening sanctions against Russia, possibly within a week.

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It was already the worst Ebola outbreak in history. Now it’s moving into Africa’s cities.

August 30, 2014

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone — The dreaded Ebola virus came to the children’s hospital in the form of a 4-year-old boy.

His diagnosis became clear three days after he was admitted. The Ola During hospital — the nation’s only pediatric center — was forced to close its steel gates. Fear swelled. The boy died. The 30 doctors and nurses who had contact with him were placed in quarantine, forced to nervously wait out the 21 days it can take for the virus to emerge. And remaining staff so far have refused to return to work. They, along with millions of others, are facing the worst Ebola …

Werner Franz, one of the last survivors of the 1937 Hindenburg crash, dies at 92

August 30, 2014

In 1936 and 1937, young Werner Franz worked as a cabin boy on the Hindenburg, the largest, fastest and sleekest mode of transportation the world had seen up to that time.

The German-built airship, which was 804 feet long and kept aloft by hydrogen gas, was an engineering marvel, capable of making the journey from Frankfurt to the United States in a mere three days. It was also a powerful propaganda tool of the Nazi regime.

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Pro wrestlers make unlikely peace trip to North Korea

August 30, 2014

PYONGYANG, North Korea — North Koreans are not exactly used to seeing 300-pound Americans in tiny black underpants with “strong man” emblazoned across the rear.

So they audibly gasped when Jon Andersen, the professional wrestler from San Francisco with muscles that look set to burst out of his skin, appeared on a floodlit stage in a Pyongyang stadium Saturday night, with music declaring, “He’s a macho man,” blaring from the sound system.

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28 volunteer soldiers trapped in Ukrainian town by separatists escape, officials say

August 30, 2014

MARIUPOL, Ukraine — A group of Ukrainian volunteer soldiers managed to escape Saturday from Ilovaysk, a southeastern town that has been besieged by pro-Russian separatists for almost a week, Ukrainian officials said.

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Iraqis displaced by violence are now filling classrooms, threatening school year

August 30, 2014

BAGHDAD — On a recent evening, ten families from the northern Iraqi city of Mosul moved into their new home, a one-story building with tile floors and a sunny courtyard in a poor Shiite neighborhood of east Baghdad.

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WorldViews: Why South Korea predicts its end will come in 2750

August 30, 2014

South Korea may be doomed. A recent study, conducted by the National Assembly Research Service in Seoul, predicts that the country will reach zero inhabitants by 2750.

The report makes it clear where the country’s problem lies: A remarkably low birth rate of 1.9 children per woman. But what’s really striking is the speed at which it could happen: South Korea’s population (currently larger than Spain) could shrink to a level comparable to tiny Switzerland within only a few generations.

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Ellis Island in reverse: Where deportees go when they get home to Guatemala

August 30, 2014

GUATEMALA CITY — On the edge of the airport here is a one-story structure, the first stop for tens of thousands of migrants sent back from the United States. It’s like a reverse Ellis Island.

Inside, government officials representing dozens of agencies patiently await planeloads of Guatemalans. Two banks are available to exchange U.S. dollars or Mexican pesos for quetzals, the local currency. A doctor stands ready in a clinic to help migrants with injuries.

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Vladimir Putin calls for escape route for trapped Ukrainian soldiers as fighting rages

August 30, 2014

MARIUPOL, Ukraine — Since Monday, more than 200 Ukrainian volunteer soldiers have been trapped in the southeastern town of Ilovaysk, surrounded by separatists they say have been freshly supplied with troops and high-tech weapons from Russia. Food and ammunition have dwindled, and the death toll is mounting.

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The U.N. says 7 in 10 Palestinians killed in Gaza were civilians. Israel disagrees.

August 30, 2014

GAZA CITY — The war in Gaza will now continue in a battle between databases to determine who was killed and why.

The most contested number, the one that attracts the most stubborn insistence and ferocious rebuttal, is not the total fatalities on the Palestinian side, the more than 2,100 dead in the Gaza hostilities.

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WorldViews: Did a ‘soft coup’ just happen in Pakistan?

August 29, 2014

For much of Pakistan’s independent existence, the country’s politics have been dominated by its powerful military. The generals have a long history of interrupting and meddling with civilian rule. The election last year of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif marked the first time in almost seven decades that Pakistan was able to carry out a peaceful transfer of power between civilian governments.

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WorldViews: Crossword: What in the world, this week

August 29, 2014

Slow news week, right?

Kidding. The week has seen nothing but major headlines from every continent in the world, and you should have no problem beating the clock on our latest edition of the crossword puzzle.

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WorldViews: U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry’s statement on U.S. citizens detained or missing in Iran

August 29, 2014

On Friday, the U.S. State Department released the following statement by Secretary of State John F. Kerry, calling on Iranian government to release the detained or missing Americans in Iran.

The Unites States respectfully calls on the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to release Amir Hekmati, Saeed Abedini, and Jason Rezaian to their families and work cooperatively with us to find Robert Levinson and bring him home.

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WorldViews: Iraqis unwilling to give up on a slowly dwindling culture

August 29, 2014

BAGHDAD — The other night I went to a charity concert at a state auditorium, packed with Iraqi artists, writers and actors.

A group of crisply dressed young men sat on a stage framed by purple and gold velvet curtains, and played in an ensemble of ouds, beautiful stringed instruments from the Arab world, that to me resemble a cross between a guitar and cello. (But I’m no musical expert.)

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WorldViews: The strange story of Uzbekistan’s ‘jailed princess’

August 29, 2014

As the head of an authoritarian regime sometimes likened to North Korea, Islam Karimov is known to be ruthless. The president of Uzbekistan is accused of having his political opponents jailed, exiled or even killed. A particularly delicate case, however, is his daughter Gulnara Karimova, 42, who is believed to now be under house arrest in her own country. Secret recordings, obtained by the BBC and published last Thursday, offer a first-hand account of how Uzbekistan’s once-most prominent face has turned into the country’s most famous prisoner.

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WorldViews: This video of a locust invasion in Madagascar will give you nightmares

August 29, 2014

Are you okay? Have you cowered under your desk in terror yet? Here’s a GIF version, in case you want to torment your Twitter followers:

The images were captured in Madagascar’s capital Antananarivo on Thursday, where billions of locusts descended upon the city as part of an outbreak the size of Japan, Agence France Presse reported.

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Five co-authors of a new Ebola study died of the virus before their research was published

August 29, 2014

Underlining the immense risks taken by those working in West Africa to understand and combat the worsening Ebola outbreak, five co-authors of an important new Ebola study were killed by the virus before their research was published.

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WorldViews: Putin thinks of the past when talking Ukraine — but the Arctic is where he sees Russia’s future

August 29, 2014

Vladimir Putin is a history buff, and he has made all sorts of historical allusions when talking about Ukraine over the past few days.

First, there’s the use of the word “Novorossiya,” a historical region of the Russia Empire that is now part of Ukraine. The Russian president has referred to Novorossiya in passing before, but the use of it now in official statements seems to be new. Putin also compared Ukraine’s offensive to the Siege of Leningrad, a monumental event in Russian history and one that shaped Putin’s life personally — his older brother died during the siege, which lasted more than two …

WorldViews: At least 81 nationalities are fighting in Syria

August 29, 2014

It’s estimated that the three-year conflict in Syria has drawn foreign fighters to its frontlines at a rate faster than any such war in modern memory, including the struggle of the Afghan mujahideen against the Soviet Union in the 1980s. The group that likely boasts the majority of such combatants is the Islamic State, the powerful terrorist organization that now commands a stretch of territory from central Syria to the environs of Iraq’s capital, Baghdad.

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Putin hails Ukraine separatists; Kiev raises prospect of joining NATO

August 29, 2014

MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday hailed pro-Moscow separatists in eastern Ukraine as “insurgents” battling an army that he likened to Nazi invaders during World War II, and the Ukrainian government raised the prospect of joining NATO as it seeks help to repel what it calls an outright Russian military invasion.

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Australian jihadist who tweeted gruesome photo has long history of mental illness

August 29, 2014

SYDNEY — A few weeks ago a burly, bearded 33-year-old Australian, Khaled Sharrouf, posted a photo on Twitter of a boy, age about 7, holding a severed human head in a Syrian town controlled by the Islamic State extremist group.

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The Ebola virus has spread to Senegal as the deadliest outbreak in history gets worse

August 29, 2014

As the Ebola outbreak worsens — with the death toll spiraling and the World Health Organization warning that 20,000 people could eventually be infected — another West African country has confirmed that the deadly virus has crossed its borders.

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WorldViews: France is asking the world to stop the chaos in Libya. Again.

August 29, 2014

On Sept. 15, 2011, Nicolas Sarkozy, then the president of France, addressed a crowd in Tripoli, Libya. “France, Great Britain, Europe, will always stand by the side of the Libyan people,” he said, to cheers.

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Obama: U.S. doesn’t ‘have a strategy yet’ to comprehensively respond to Islamic State

August 29, 2014

Amid conflicting congressional demands, impatient Arab allies, and public concern that he will do too much or too little, President Obama made bluntly clear Thursday why he has not yet implemented a comprehensive U.S. response to the Islamist insurgency that is rapidly spreading across the Middle East.

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Russian soldier’s mother nearly faints, then demands to know why he was in Ukraine

August 28, 2014

KOSTROMA, RUSSIA — Olga Garina spits out the time, “one-o-five,” when she got the call telling her that her paratrooper son was one of 10 taken captive this week in Ukraine. That call — from a neighbor, not from the army — set her on course to become a defiant ringleader against stonewalling Russian military officers.

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Russian armored columns said to capture key Ukrainian towns

August 28, 2014

KIEV, Ukraine — Russian soldiers, tanks and heavy artillery began rolling into southeastern Ukraine in earnest Thursday, the Ukrainian government said, as well-armed detachments captured key towns, burned buildings and sent the underequipped Ukrainian forces into full retreat — a show of military force that the United States now considers an invasion in all but name.

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WorldViews: Islamic State beheads Kurdish pesh merga fighter in video

August 28, 2014

IRBIL — On Thursday, Islamic State militants released another video of the purported beheading of one of their prisoners — this time an Iraqi Kurdish fighter for his government’s alliance with the United States.

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WorldViews: Canada joins the stupid Twitter war between Russia and the West

August 28, 2014

As WorldViews documented Wednesday (and earlier), some of the major regional players in Ukraine’s months of crisis have engaged in a longstanding and frankly childish Twitter war on the sidelines of the conflict. There have been hashtags, subtweets and incessant trolling from both sides.

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WorldViews: The long, grim history of U.N. peacekeepers caught in the crossfire

August 28, 2014

43 Fijian peacekeepers serving in the Golan Heights along the Syrian-Israeli border were detained by Syrian rebels Thursday morning, according to the United Nations. Earlier, rebels had gained control of the border crossing between Syria and Israel while government warplanes targeted positions of the militants, who are suspected to be members of al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra. An additional 81 peacekeepers were trapped by the fighting, the United Nations said in a statement, but it gave no details about their nationalities. The Associated Press reported that the 81 were from the Philippines, citing Stephane Dujarric, a spokesman for the U.N. secretary general.

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Missing American found dead in Jerusalem area forest, police say

August 28, 2014

Aharon Sofer, a 23-year-old American missing since Friday in Israel, has been found dead in a forest near Jerusalem, Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told CNN on Thursday.

“It is not clear if the disappearance was personal [or a] kidnapping,” Rosenfeld said. “It’s not clear at all.”

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WorldViews: Video Dispatch: In remote Sierra Leone, burying victims of Ebola

August 28, 2014

Earlier in August, photographer Pete Muller was on assignment in Sierra Leone, following the Ebola story. During his trip, he captured several scenes, a selection of which we have published below, in his own words.

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Ebola virus could infect 20,000 before outbreak is over, World Health Organization says

August 28, 2014

The worst Ebola outbreak in history is only getting worse.

The World Health Organization said on Thursday that the outbreak that has ravaged West Africa could infect 20,000 people before it is over. With 1,552 deaths recorded so far, the virus is certain to claim more lives than all of the previous Ebola outbreaks combined.

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Afghan election audit will take two more weeks, U.N. says

August 28, 2014

KABUL — The United Nations said Thursday that a recount of ballots in Afghanistan’s disputed presidential election will take about two more weeks, again delaying the inauguration and adding to the political uncertainty gripping the country.

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Iraqi Kurds say their fight is against more than just the Islamic State

August 28, 2014

GWER, Iraq — Kurdish fighters are struggling to hold on to recent gains against Islamic State militants in Iraq in the face of constant shelling and sniper fire. But Kurds say the jihadists have another weapon: local Arab sympathizers.

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WorldViews: Why one Spaniard sold his car to go fight in Ukraine

August 28, 2014

It’s clear that the conflict in Ukraine is escalating dangerously. Authorities in Kiev now claim that their country is being invaded on multiple fronts by Russian forces. The evidence, despite Moscow’s denials, seems to point to the presence of Russian military equipment and personnel — perhaps thousands of soldiers — on the wrong side of the border.

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WorldViews: Has Russia invaded Ukraine? Here’s what we know.

August 28, 2014

After months of tension, Ukraine says it’s finally happened: Russia has invaded.

Russia, however, flatly denies it. “This information doesn’t correspond with reality,” a spokesman for Putin, Dmitry Peskov, said Wednesday.

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WorldViews: Watch: What it looks like when you land in North Korea

August 28, 2014

Washington Post correspondent Anna Fifield is in North Korea, where she will be reporting from for the next several days.

What does it look like when you’re about to land in Pyongyang? Like this:

You can follow Fifield on Twitter.

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After Gaza cease-fire, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in tough spot at home

August 28, 2014

JERUSALEM — The contrast was stark.

In Gaza, as Hamas leaders stood in a rubble-filled central square to declare an unequivocal victory, thousands of flag-waving supporters cheered.

In Israel, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a televised news conference alongside his defense minister and army chief to claim a win, he was slammed by the media, the public, the opposition and even members of his own party and coalition.

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43 U.N. peacekeepers abducted in Golan Heights

August 28, 2014

BEIRUT — The United Nations said Thursday that 43 peacekeepers serving along the cease-fire line between Syria and Israel have been detained by Syrian rebels during intense fighting in the area between opposition and government forces.

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WorldViews: How the SATs may undermine China’s Communist Party

August 28, 2014

“SAT reform causes worry of ideology intrusion,” China’s official Xinhua News Agency wrote this week.

Earlier this year, the U.S. College Board amended its syllabus for its Scholastic Assessment Test, or SAT, to include reading passages from the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Students will be expected to learn about the values of “freedom, justice and human dignity,” the College Board says, not only as “a way to develop valuable college and career readiness skills but also an opportunity to reflect on and deeply engage with issues and concerns central to informed citizenship.”

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New Delhi traffic is nuts. Here’s what happened when it briefly banned cars.

August 28, 2014

NEW DELHI — For residents of this traffic-clogged capital, jogging, cycling and even crossing the road can be a death-defying feat. In fact, in recent days, several homeless people sleeping on the pavement were run over by New Delhi’s unruly drunken drivers.

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Enrique Zileri, influential editor of Peruvian magazine Caretas, dies at 83

August 28, 2014

Enrique Zileri, a preeminent Latin American journalist and scourge of a succession of repressive Peruvian governments during his decades at the helm of Caretas, his county’s top newsmagazine, died Aug. 24 at a hospital in Lima. He was 83.

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