WorldViews: Ukraine says it’s being invaded by Russia, and can you please retweet

August 27, 2014

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry tweeted on Wednesday evening a pair of hashtag slogans, #UkraineUnderAttack and #RussiaInvadedUkraine, urging others to share the message.

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WorldViews: Do 1 in 6 French citizens really support Islamic State?

August 27, 2014

The Islamic State extremists are very scary. What’s even scarier is how they appear to have significant support from European citizens: The number of foreign fighters descending on Syria and Iraq certainly seems unprecedented and it’s hard to predict what the long-term consequences will be.

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Afghan presidential recount stalls as Abdullah boycotts process

August 27, 2014

KABUL — The Obama administration’s effort to ensure a smooth transfer of power in Afghanistan appeared to be unraveling Wednesday as the second-place candidate in a disputed presidential runoff announced a boycott of an ongoing recount.

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After more than 2,100 deaths, the Gaza war ends where it began

August 27, 2014

GAZA CITY — In war, nobody wants to be the last to die. In Gaza, it was the chief of the electric company’s maintenance division and his deputy. In Israel, it was a pair of volunteers working a security detail on their kibbutz.

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WorldViews: Why Canada cares much more about the War of 1812

August 27, 2014

Over the weekend, there was a bit of a hubbub over a Tweet from the British Embassy in Washington, marking the 200th anniversary of the British sack of Washington and razing of the White House during the War of 1812.

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WorldViews: Pablo Escobar’s top assassin, ‘Popeye,’ is out of jail and under police protection

August 27, 2014

John Jairo Velasquez has been tied to the murders of at least 3,000 people. He has admitted to killing at least 250 as the head of drug lord Pablo Escobar’s terror squad. Among the people he had a hand in killing: His girlfriend, a presidential candidate and all of the passengers and crew on a commercial jetliner.

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Syrian rebels capture sole border crossing between Israel and Syria in Golan Heights

August 27, 2014

BEIRUT — Syrian rebels Wednesday claimed control of the only border crossing between Syria and Israel, extending a series of gains in the strategically sensitive Golan Heights in recent days.

The capture of the crossing point is of greater symbolic than strategic significance for the rebels fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, given the decades-old state of war that has prevailed between Israel and Syria.

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WorldViews: How all sides are committing war crimes in Syria

August 27, 2014

A report published Wednesday by a United Nations-appointed commission on Syria indicates that both the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and rebel factions seeking its overthrow, including the extremist Islamic State, are guilty of war crimes amid the country’s ongoing, brutal civil war. Last week, the U.N. said at least 191,000 Syrians have died since hostilities broke out in 2011.

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Ukraine says troops are battling combined Russian and separatist forces on new front

August 27, 2014

KIEV, Ukraine — The day after the leaders of Russia and Ukraine exchanged a chilly handshake at a regional summit and pledged some cooperation in their ongoing crisis, military leaders in Ukraine charged that Russia was deepening its foray into Ukrainian territory and sending new troops to the Crimean border.

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Report reveals the horrors of 1,400 sexually abused children in a British town and the system that failed them

August 27, 2014

They found her in the back of a car, drunk. She was with a man who was found with pornographic photos of her on his phone. She was 12.

This child, only known as Child H, is just one of an estimated 1,400 children who were sexually exploited in Rotherham, England, between 1997 and 2013, according to a new report.

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WorldViews: Study: How Pakistan’s recent protests failed

August 27, 2014

Thousands of protesters have been camped out for more than a week within earshot of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s house in Islamabad demanding that he resign from office. Some have carried stick figures of Sharif wearing a noose, creating a global image that the prime minister is embattled less than 15 months after he returned to office for his third term.

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WorldViews: North Korea: Ferguson was a ‘disgrace’ and the United States are now ‘laughingstock of the world’

August 27, 2014

The shooting of Michael Brown and subsequent standoff between protesters and police in Ferguson made headlines around the world, with allies treating it like a war-zone and despots using it to voice their considerable schadenfreude about America’s place in the world.

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WorldViews: Here are the key players fighting the war for Libya, all over again

August 27, 2014

While much of the world’s attention has been focused on crises further east, the situation in Libya in the past few weeks has dissolved into the worst chaos since the 2011 war that ousted Moammar Gaddafi. With reports that Egypt and the United Arab Emirates are now getting involved, the conflict has turned into something of a proxy war for the Middle East’s big powers.

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In a Ukrainian hospital, romance amid the carnage

August 27, 2014

KHARKIV, UKRAINE — The nurse and the police officer started dating a year ago in a different Ukraine. They could not imagine the tumult that would upend their nation, or their sudden marriage before he was deployed to an uncertain conflict in the east. And never in their dreams did they expect that she would wind up caring for him at a military hospital for wounded soldiers.

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Ukraine detains Russian paratroopers; U.S. ambassador warns of ‘counteroffensive’

August 27, 2014

MOSCOW — Ten Russian paratroopers captured on Ukrainian territory made for an awkward summit Tuesday evening between the presidents of the two nations.

Hopes for a breakthrough at the meeting between Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine and Vladi­mir Putin of Russia already had dimmed, but when Ukraine announced early in the day that it had seized the Russian soldiers in the Donetsk region — and had video evidence — it led to what the summit host called a “difficult” discussion.

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Chinese tourists, with Korean drama stars in mind, flock to Seoul for cosmetic surgery

August 27, 2014

All around the southern Seoul district of Gangnam — the area of conspicuous consumption made famous by the hit song “Gangnam Style” — Chinese women walk down the street with bandages over their faces and around their heads.

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U.S. rules out coordinating with Assad on airstrikes against Islamists in Syria

August 26, 2014

The Obama administration has ruled out the possibility of coordinating U.S. airstrikes in Syria with President Bashar al-Assad’s government, forcing U.S. officials to design a campaign that would evade Syrian air defenses or coordinate it with Assad through a third party.

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American convert to Islam is killed fighting in Syria, U.S. official says

August 26, 2014

U.S. officials said Tuesday that an American convert to Islam who recently traveled to Syria apparently has been killed in fighting. The circumstances surrounding the death of Douglas McCain, 33, remain unclear.

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Deaths of Note: Italian cycling coach Alfredo Martini, astronaut Steven R. Nagel

August 26, 2014

Alfredo Martini, Italian cycling coach

Alfredo Martini, Italy’s former national cycling team coach who guided the squad to six world titles, died Aug. 25 at his home in Sesto Fiorentino, near Florence. He was 93.

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Helen Bamber, who helped war, genocide and torture victims recover, dies at 89

August 26, 2014

Helen Bamber, who at 19 traveled alone to post-World War II Germany to care for former inmates of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp and became one of the world’s most relentless advocates for the victims of war, genocide and torture, died Aug. 21 in London. She was 89.

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WorldViews: Why no one should freak out about the giant crack that opened in the Mexico desert

August 26, 2014

MEXICO CITY — On the issue of the huge gaping chasm that opened in the Mexican desert earlier this month, scientists have assured us this does not herald the end of days.

The chair of the geology department at the University of Sonora, in the northern Mexican state where this “topographic accident” emerged, said that the fissure was likely caused by sucking out groundwater for irrigation to the point the surface collapsed.

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Israel, Hamas reach cease-fire deal brokered by Egypt

August 26, 2014

GAZA CITY — Palestinians in the Gaza Strip poured into the streets Tuesday to celebrate the announcement that Hamas and Israel had agreed to an open-ended cease-fire after 50 days of warfare that has killed more than 2,200 people.

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WorldViews: 400 gnomes disappeared in Austria, and it’s causing a political scandal

August 26, 2014

Last weekend in the mountainous Austrian state of Vorarlberg, 400 gnomes disappeared. Nobody knows where they have gone. But everyone knows it’s down to politics.

With regional elections set for Sept. 21, the left-wing Social Democratic Party ordered 20,000 gnomes called “Coolmen” earlier this year. The gnomes, toting sunglasses and campaign signs, were the party’s last-ditch effort to prevent an electoral defeat in Vorarlberg. About 400 of the gnomes were attached to lampposts on Saturday as alternatives to traditional posters, but their mass disappearance by Sunday morning was conspicuous.

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WorldViews: A legacy of Gaza’s latest conflict: Wrecked high-rises

August 26, 2014

The Israel Defense Forces have leveled at least six high-rises in Gaza since Saturday, according to reports, after fighting between Israel and the militant group Hamas resumed last week.

The targeted strikes to dismantle tall buildings, some apartments and some shopping complexes were an unprecedented escalation in the conflict. On Saturday, the IDF took down a 12-story building. The Associated Press reported that the military targeted the Zafar tower in Gaza City because of a “Hamas operations room in the building, but did not explain why the entire tower with 44 apartments was brought down.”

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WorldViews: Russia says it invaded Ukraine by accident. Is that possible?

August 26, 2014

Authorities in Kiev claim to have captured 10 Russian paratroopers who crossed the border into eastern Ukraine, report my Washington Post colleagues, amid suggestions that Moscow is launching a “counteroffensive” in the region to help pro-Russian separatists.

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WorldViews: Meet ‘QSIS’: A new twist in what to call the extremist group rampaging in Iraq and Syria

August 26, 2014

We call the group the Islamic State, but others call it ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) or ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant); in Arabic-speaking countries, the militant group is commonly referred to as al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham (DAIISH or داعش).

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WorldViews: China spots huge marijuana field — then makes it vanish

August 26, 2014

Now you see it, now you don’t.

China’s National Space Administration proudly announced this week that a high-definition satellite had spotted a huge marijuana field straddling two provinces in the north of the country. The news, however, seemed to embarrass the country’s anti-narcotics police.

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Chinese police bust chicken-foot ring, seize 30,000 tons of tainted poultry

August 26, 2014

Chinese authorities announced this week that they’ve seized more than 30,000 tons of chicken feet that had been tainted with hydrogen peroxide, which is sometimes used illegally to improve the appearance of meat.

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WorldViews: Jewish center reopens in Mumbai six years after terror attack

August 26, 2014

Nearly six years after the deadly terror attacks in Mumbai, the Jewish prayer house that was targeted by terrorists reopened Tuesday at the same spot amid tight security.

The six-floor Chabad House in downtown Mumbai, with a synagogue and a kosher kitchen, was blessed by 25 rabbis from Asia. Visitors were shown the damaged, grenade- and bullet-marked walls of the renovated prayer house, which will also have a modest museum and memorial on two floors, the center’s members told reporters.

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U.S.-brokered accord to salvage Afghan presidential election faces new problems

August 26, 2014

KABUL — Afghanistan’s election crisis continued to deepen Tuesday as the campaign of second-place candidate Abdullah Abdullah warned that it will abandon a U.S.-brokered deal to end a political stalemate unless major changes are made in how millions of votes are being reexamined.

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For China’s disabled, jobs are hard to find

August 26, 2014

BEIJING — For decades, jobs for the disabled in China have mostly been limited to masseuses, matchbox makers and hairdressers. And today, the few skills-training programs the government offers remain in those areas.

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In a first, Japanese court rules that nuclear plant operator is liable for suicide

August 26, 2014

TOKYO — A court in Fukushima has ruled that Tokyo Electric Power Co., the Japanese nuclear power plant operator, can be held responsible for the suicide of a woman who became depressed after the 2011 meltdown.

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WorldViews: Here’s how to track terrorists on Google Earth

August 26, 2014

Videos and pictures posted online by terrorists are supposed to be tools of propaganda. But they can also play a crucial role in helping to identify the locations of these militants. The producers of the Web site Bellingcat have dedicated themselves to doing exactly that and recently were able to locate an Iraqi training camp of Islamic State militants. “This stuff really isn’t that hard to do once you pick up the basics,” Bellingcat-founder Eliot Higgins told WorldViews.

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Syria warns against U.S. strikes on Islamic State on its soil

August 26, 2014

BEIRUT — Syria warned the Obama administration Monday not to extend its air war against the Islamic State into Syria, as the militants celebrated another key victory over government forces in the north of the country.

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Scottish independence: Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling spar in TV debate

August 25, 2014

LONDON — The gloves came off Monday in a final and often-fiery televised showdown between the two key leaders in the Scottish independence debate, with the issue of currency looming large as each side sought to electrify its campaign just weeks before Scotland decides whether to become an independent country.

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Ukraine says Russian forces cross border in tanks, armored vehicles

August 25, 2014

KIEV, UKRAINE — An apparent incursion of tanks and person­-
nel carriers into southeastern Ukraine on Monday, one day before a high-stakes summit, demonstrated just how difficult it will be for Ukraine to reestablish control over its own territory.

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WorldViews: The Islamic State or Assad? Isn’t there another choice?

August 25, 2014

One of the strangest of the ways that Islamic State has forced us to rethink the Middle East is also one of the saddest: There are now common line of thought that says the United States could ally itself with the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime to fight the extremist group also known as ISIS and ISIL.

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With submarine, Navy tries to reassure friends in Asia — and warn foes

August 25, 2014

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, JAPAN — The whole idea of the U.S. Navy’s stealthy, fast-attack nuclear submarines is that they can go undetected, but when the USS Hawaii docked here, its commanders went out of their way to draw attention to the $2 billion vessel.

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WorldViews: Why U.S. conservatives love Russia’s Vladimir Putin

August 25, 2014

On Friday, I wrote a piece reevaluating the Russian position on the crisis in Syria, asking whether, in hindsight, Moscow’s early attempts to preserve the regime of Bashar al-Assad ought to have been taken more seriously by the West. You can read the post here.

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WorldViews: The Ice Bucket Challenge has taken on a whole new life in Gaza

August 25, 2014

Facebook has been full of Ice Bucket Challenges in the past few weeks. While the viral initiative is supposed to raise awareness for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and has found supporters around the world, some Gaza residents have invented their own version.

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Israel and Hamas appear to have run out of ideas, but not bombs

August 25, 2014

JERUSALEM — After 49 days of war, the armies of Israel and Hamas appear to have run out of new ideas — but not bombs. They are now slugging it out in a lopsided war of attrition.

As rumors fly that another cease-fire could be imminent, Hamas and Israel are groping for a diplomatic solution that could allow both to declare victory — or in the case of Hamas, at least avoid an obvious loss.

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WorldViews: The strange role of rappers in the Islamic State’s jihad

August 25, 2014

It’s still unclear who the masked Islamic State jihadist depicted in video footage killing American journalist James Foley is. Over the past few days, British tabloids have published a great deal of speculation on the identity of the killer, dubbed “Jihadi John.” The leading theory is that he may be Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, an Egyptian-British rapper who grew up in London.

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Chinese animators hope cartoon princess can help ease ethnic tensions in Xinjiang

August 25, 2014

BEIJING — At a time when the restive region of Xinjiang has witnessed executions of alleged separatists, knife attacks on train passengers, and clashes between the Chinese government and forces it has identified as Muslim extremists, a film company believes that it has the answer: a cartoon princess.

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Alarm grows as Ebola outbreak spurs more flight cancellations, border closures

August 25, 2014

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone — Tom R. Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was supposed to fly to West Africa on Monday to gauge the effects of the world’s worst Ebola outbreak.

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Britain’s Trident nuclear program at stake in Scottish independence vote

August 25, 2014

HELENSBURGH, Scotland — For decades, Britain’s contribution to the threat of global Armageddon has found a home on the tranquil shores of Gare Loch, where soaring green mountains plunge into murky gray waters plied by sporty kayakers, weekend yachtsmen — and nuclear-armed submarines.

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U.S. hostage Peter Theo Curtis is freed after nearly two years in Syria

August 24, 2014

BEIRUT — An American journalist abducted by rebels in Syria was freed Sunday after nearly two years in captivity, but his release appears to have little bearing on the fates of other hostages under threat of death from their kidnappers because of the U.S. airstrikes in Iraq.

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For sale: Systems that can secretly track where cellphone users go around the globe

August 24, 2014

Makers of surveillance systems are offering governments across the world the ability to track the movements of almost anybody who carries a cellphone, whether they are blocks away or on another continent.

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As Ukraine celebrates Independence Day, rebels march prisoners of war

August 24, 2014

KIEV – Ukrainians celebrated their first Independence Day since war broke out with dueling celebrations Sunday: patriotic songs and parades in the west and a prisoner-of-war march in the rebel-controlled east.

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Afghan leader amplifies pressure on Ghani, Abdullah to resolve differences by Sept. 2

August 24, 2014

KABUL — Afghan President Hamid Karzai has reiterated that he will leave office Sept. 2, intensifying pressure on his two potential successors to resolve their differences soon to avoid plunging the country into political chaos.

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To South Sudan’s woes, add famine — 50,000 kids at risk of death

August 24, 2014

MALAKAL, South Sudan — Nyarony Choing is as old as South Sudan. And like the world’s newest nation, she has been to hell and back before her fourth birthday.

When civil war broke out eight months ago in Juba, the capital, Nyarony’s mother fled with her three children, winding up in a refugee camp inside a base run by the United Nations in the northern city of Malakal. Every time it rains, which is often, the floor of their tent disappears underwater, the thick, cloying mud of the Nile basin mixing with the human excrement that flows freely in the camp.

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