U.S. and Afghanistan sign vital, long-delayed security pact

September 30, 2014

KABUL — The United States and Afghanistan on Tuesday signed a vital, long-delayed security deal that will allow nearly 10,000 American troops to remain in Afghanistan beyond the final withdrawal of U.S. and international combat forces this year.

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Hong Kong erupts even as China tightens screws on civil society

September 30, 2014

BEIJING — Chinese leaders unnerved by protests elsewhere this year have been steadily tightening controls over civic organizations on the mainland suspected of carrying out the work of foreign powers.

The campaign aims to insulate China from subversive Western ideas such as democracy and freedom of expression, and from the influence, specifically, of U.S. groups that may be trying to promote those values here, experts say. That campaign is long-standing, but it has been prosecuted with renewed vigor under President Xi Jinping, especially after the overthrow of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych following months of street demonstrations in Kiev that were viewed here as explicitly backed …

Holiday turnout for Hong Kong protests could sway future of democracy protests

September 30, 2014

HONG KONG — On the eve of what could be the biggest turnout yet in Hong Kong’s continuing protests, and a crucial test of wills on both sides, a demonstration that began with physical confrontation between authorities and pro-democracy demonstrators shifted Tuesday into a public relations duel aimed at the mass of undecided residents here.

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WorldViews: Why Oct. 1 is a big day for the Hong Kong protests

September 30, 2014

For better or worse, Oct. 1 will be a date to watch in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests: Wednesday will be the beginning of a two-day holiday for Hong Kongers, and many ordinary citizens are expected to use their time off to join the protests.

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WorldViews: India’s new prime minister drinks only warm water at dinner with Obama

September 30, 2014

As expected, visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi drank only warm water at a dinner given by President Obama in his honor at the White House Monday night.

For more than 30 years, Modi has been observing the annual nine-day religious fast called Navratri, an auspicious period in the Hindu calendar that also marks the coming of autumn. Modi was in the fifth day of his fast when he arrived on the Obamas’ doorstep Monday evening. He is staying at Blair House across the street.

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WorldViews: What toppled Lenin statues tell us about Ukraine’s crisis

September 30, 2014

In an incident reflecting growing Ukrainian anger toward the Kremlin, anti-Russian protesters pulled down a massive Vladimir Lenin statue in Ukraine’s second-largest city late Sunday. To many Ukrainians, Lenin is a symbol of the Soviet Union and Russia’s aggressive support for the separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.

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The teenage activist wunderkind who was among the first arrested in Hong Kong’s Occupy Central

September 30, 2014

“I feel bored talking about electoral reform,” the seasoned activist said.

It was spring in Hong Kong, the current turmoil of Occupy Central more than four months away. Hong Kong’s squabbles with mainland China — over autonomy, over elections, over infrastructure — were old, but there was always a new issue to take on. In 2012, for example, the activist led more than 100,000 people to victory in one political campaign — a battle over pro-Communist school curricula.

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With the rise of Islamic State, Iraq is splintering along religious and ethnic lines

September 30, 2014

BAGHDAD — For millennia, Iraq has been one of the Middle East’s most religiously and ethnically diverse lands. Its cities and villages are dotted with the decaying hallmarks of ancient Babylonian civilization, the mosques of the first Muslim empires, the castles of foreign conquerors, and the churches and shrines of early Christians and Jews.

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WorldViews: Even an E.U. flag sparks Islamist terrorism worries in Northern Ireland

September 30, 2014

The Islamic States’ black and white flag has become one of the most recognizable symbols for the Iraq and Syria-based extremist group, and it has popped up in places as diverse as London and New Jersey.

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had ankle surgery, report says

September 30, 2014

TOKYO — Kim Jong Un, the North Korean leader who has mysteriously been missing from the public eye for almost a month, sparking rumors covering every possibility from a stroke to a coup d’etat, is merely recovering from ankle surgery, a South Korean newspaper has reported.

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Modi’s visit a chance for Obama to improve relationship, enlist India in his Asia policy

September 30, 2014

President Obama welcomed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the White House on Monday for their first face-to-face meeting as the administration seeks to revive the stagnant relationship between the nations and enlist Asia’s largest democracy in its broader regional strategy.

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WorldViews: North Korea’s lesson in cellphone etiquette

September 29, 2014

With mass communication comes mass annoyance. That bane of modern life — the overheard cellphone conversation — has now come to North Korea, prompting the authorities there to issue guidelines on how to use the newfangled devices.

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Nicolae Corneanu, 90, Romanian Orthodox bishop who told of ties to Securitate, dies

September 29, 2014

Nicolae Corneanu, a Romanian Orthodox bishop who was the first senior cleric to acknowledge collaborating with Romania’s feared Securitate communist secret police, died Sept. 28. He was 90.

He died at his residence, church spokesman Lucian Florea said. The cause was not reported.

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WorldViews: Why Hong Kong’s protests are a very big deal

September 29, 2014

The protests taking place in the heart of Hong Kong, Asia’s most prominent financial center, present what some commentators consider the biggest challenge to Beijing since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. For two consecutive nights, protesters have massed in some of the city’s busiest areas and refused to budge despite police firing multiple rounds of tear gas to disperse the crowds.

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Japanese volcano still erupting, hampering recovery efforts

September 29, 2014

TOKYO — Five more bodies were discovered near the peak of Mount Ontake in central Japan on Monday, bringing the number of those confirmed or feared dead after Saturday’s volcanic eruption to 36, authorities said.

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WorldViews: Will Latin American leaders give Obama an ‘earful’ on Cuba at Americas summit?

September 29, 2014

For the United States, the last Summit of the Americas was a fairly regrettable experience.

That 2012 event is probably best remembered for the prostitution scandal that embarrassed the Secret Service, its agents’ reputation for steely discipline wilted by the tropical heat of host city Cartagena, Colombia.

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Ghani, Abdullah sworn in as part of Afghanistan’s power-sharing arrangement

September 29, 2014

KABUL — They both have advanced degrees, but they come from different worlds. Ashraf Ghani, who earned a doctorate from Columbia University, is a former academic and World Bank official. Abdullah Abdullah, who earned a medical degree from Kabul University, is a former resistance figure who fought against the Soviet occupation and the Taliban.

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WorldViews: The humble umbrella’s surprising role in Hong Kong’s huge protests

September 29, 2014

Any visitor to Hong Kong will tell you that umbrellas are already a fixture of life in the city, essential not only for keeping yourself dry during the rainy spring and summer but also providing much-needed shade from the sun. The “world’s most expensive umbrella,” made of American ox-hide and using antique German frame, was made there in Hong Kong in 1994, and single-use umbrellas can be bought from vending machines in subway stations, adding only further to the item’s ubiquity.

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Residents of Kobane, Syria, flee to Turkish border after Islamic State attacks

September 29, 2014

BEIRUT — Supplies of medicine and other goods are drying up in Kobane, a Syrian border city under siege by militants from the Islamic State.

The city has been under attack since Sept. 15, and 80 percent of its residents have fled to the Turkish border as fighters remain behind trying to defend it.

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In battle to stop encroaching Chinese rule, protesters in Hong Kong ready for long haul

September 29, 2014

HONG KONG — Swelling crowds of pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong on Monday plunged Asia’s normally staid financial hub into a tense standoff with Beijing that strikes directly at China’s expanding political grip in the former British colony.

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WorldViews: Chinese state media points to foreign hand in Hong Kong protests

September 29, 2014

The huge protests in Hong Kong were planned long in advance, but their scale seems to have taken many by surprise: The city was in chaos over the weekend after thousands took to the streets, and there are many signs that the Occupy Central demonstrations may not be over yet.

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WorldViews: Ukrainians just pulled down a massive Lenin statue. What does that signal for Russia?

September 29, 2014

MOSCOW — Anti-Russian protesters in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, pulled down a massive statue of Vladimir Lenin late Sunday, a sign of hardening anger toward the Kremlin in an eastern Ukrainian area where sympathies are split between Kiev and Moscow.

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Hong Kong police try and fail to clear protesters with tear gas

September 29, 2014

BEIJING — After clashes between police and protesters that lasted into the morning, Hong Kong awoke Monday to a city in chaos — with many roads closed and several areas still crowded with pro-democracy demonstrators.

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WorldViews: How one night of tear gas in Hong Kong just shut down Instagram in China

September 29, 2014

BEIJING — Social media users in China gave a collective groan Monday after the country’s Communist rulers blocked Instagram in the wake of protests in Hong Kong.

No more sepia-tinged phone pics of your latest meal in Shanghai or, perhaps more significant to Chinese censors’ minds, no more shots of Hong Kong officers in riot gear unloading canisters of pepper spray and tear gas into the faces of Hong Kong’s largely peaceful demonstrators.

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WorldViews: Photographer’s Notebook: Documenting the cycle of violence in eastern Congo

September 29, 2014

In March and April, Nairobi-based photojournalist Pete Muller made trips to the Masisi district in eastern Congo to bring back images of a forgotten war.

Muller and the Post’s Kabul bureau chief, Sudarsan Raghavan, reported on the ongoing crisis that has claimed more lives than the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam combined and more than any other conflict since World War II.

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Hamas radio station in Gaza reports on the sunny side of Islamist movement’s rule

September 29, 2014

GAZA CITY — Outside a darkened radio studio on a Tuesday afternoon, it was five minutes to showtime. And the Hamas media man had just arrived.

Ibrahim Daher, director of Hamas-controlled al-Aqsa radio, peered into the studio, where an announcer chattered into a microphone. Images of masked men firing rockets and machine guns flashed on nearby computers and televisions. Everything, Daher said, looked perfect.

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New Iraqi comedy show aims to counter Islamic State extremists

September 29, 2014

BAGHDAD — Reclining on a gold-rimmed purple sofa, the leader of the Islamic State extremist group mulls his social-media strategy as an overaffectionate sword-wielding dwarf looks on.

Here’s the town drunk, who has become a zealous follower of the Islamic State, beating those who consume alcohol — though he still drinks in secret himself.

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WorldViews: India’s Modi was once denied U.S. entry. Sunday, he was the star at Madison Square Garden.

September 28, 2014

Madison Square Garden was at full capacity Sunday, not for a Knicks game or a Jay-Z concert, but for the prime minister of India. A crowd of more than 18,500 cheered along with Narendra Modi on his first visit to New York City as prime minister.

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More than 30 feared dead on Japan’s Mount Ontake after volcano erupts

September 28, 2014

TOKYO — More than 30 hikers were feared dead Sunday, a day after a volcano in Japan erupted without warning, spewing ash and rocks down slopes crowded with people on a sunny autumn weekend.

Rescue efforts were still underway Sunday night on Mount Ontake, a 10,000-foot-high volcano about 125 miles west of Tokyo, as the eruption continued.

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Islamic State continues siege of Syrian border town

September 28, 2014

BEIRUT — Islamic State militants pounded the Syrian border town of Kobane with artillery shells Sunday, residents said, as the jihadists continued their attack on the strategic city despite U.S.-led airstrikes on Islamic State positions there Saturday.

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A reverend, a rabbi and an imam join faiths for the House of One

September 28, 2014

BERLIN – After officials in the German capital offered his parish a prime site to build a new house of worship, the Rev. Gregor Hohberg had a kumbaya moment. Why not transform a city stained by the Nazi era into a place of spiritual healing by building a church, a mosque and a synagogue all under one roof?

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In Latvia, fresh fears of aggression as Kremlin warns about Russian minorities

September 28, 2014

RIGA, Latvia — As top Kremlin officials have sounded ominous new warnings that they will defend ethnic Russians wherever they live, Latvia, the NATO nation with the highest proportion of Russians, is feeling like it is in the crosshairs.

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Lebanon ill-equipped to handle mental-health issues of Syrian refu­gee children

September 28, 2014

BEIRUT — After Amira’s two uncles were killed in the siege of the Syrian city of Qusayr, she lost the ability to walk.

The 5-year-old had watched an uncle bleed to death, seen her home shattered by shells, had her arm struck by burning shrapnel. The psychological toll was too much and she stopped eating. Her muscles atrophied and her legs no longer were able to bear her meager weight.

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Hong Kong activists start ‘Occupy Central’ protest

September 28, 2014

HONG KONG — Leaders of a Hong Kong pro-democracy movement kicked off a long-threatened mass civil disobedience protest early Sunday to challenge Beijing over its recent decision to rule out genuine democratic reforms for the former British colony.

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Village in eastern Congo offers glimpse into why Africa’s deadliest war won’t end

September 27, 2014

On the first market day after the militia retreated, as the midday sun broke through the mist, hundreds of villagers gathered on a grassy hillside.

Vendors sold fresh cabbage, corn and potatoes without fear of being robbed. Women bought pink dresses and orange cloth without fear of being raped. Children kicked a tattered ball made of twine without fear of being dragged away and forced to carry a gun.

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World digest: Sept. 27, 2014

September 27, 2014

ISRAEL

Islamic bloc wants to prosecute Israelis

The world’s largest bloc of Islamic countries has been lobbying the Palestinians to join the International Criminal Court so it can prosecute Israeli political and military leaders for war crimes and crimes against humanity, the bloc’s leader said Saturday.

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Afghanistan will delay paying civil servants

September 27, 2014

KABUL — Afghanistan will delay payment of salaries to hundreds of thousands of civil servants next month because it does not have enough money, a finance ministry official said Saturday.

The acknowledgment of the shortfall highlights the huge challenges facing new leader Ashraf Ghani, who is to be sworn in as president of the violence-torn country Monday after months of turmoil following a disputed election result.

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In Syria, airstrikes carried out against Islamic State in battle for Kobane

September 27, 2014

BEIRUT — Warplanes from the U.S.-led coalition carried out airstrikes Saturday near a key Syrian city besieged by Islamic State fighters, providing some relief to defenders who complain they are outgunned by the al-Qaeda-
inspired group.

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Al-Qaeda-linked militants in Yemen fire rocket toward U.S. Embassy

September 27, 2014

SANAA, Yemen — An al-Qaeda splinter group launched a rocket attack on the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa on Saturday, injuring several guards. The group said the attack was in retaliation of a U.S. drone strike in a northern province on Friday.

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Oleg Ivanovsky, Soviet engineer who was a key designer of early spacecraft, dies at 92

September 27, 2014

Oleg Ivanovsky, a Soviet rocket scientist who played a central role in developing satellites at the dawn of the space age, including the first vehicle to carry a human being in orbit around the Earth, died Sept. 18. He was 92.

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Russia’s Gazprom and Ukraine are in a gas dispute as winter approaches

September 27, 2014

KIEV, Ukraine — The frigid water that comes out of the “hot” faucet of Alexander Korniienko’s shower in Kiev is a warning for his nation: After months without natural gas shipments from Russia, Ukraine may be facing a chilly winter.

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After China gives police new guns, spate suspicious shootings have followed

September 27, 2014

LUOKAN VILLAGE, China — Invoking the threat of terrorism, Chinese police for the first time in years have started carrying guns and, with little training, using them.

The fatal effects have rippled across the country, reaching even this tiny mountain village.

Read full article >>…

After China gives police new guns, spate suspicious shootings have followed

September 27, 2014

LUOKAN VILLAGE, China — Invoking the threat of terrorism, Chinese police for the first time in years have started carrying guns and, with little training, using them.

The fatal effects have rippled across the country, reaching even this tiny mountain village.

Read full article >>



WorldViews: Newly armed police in China say they fear their guns as much as public

September 27, 2014

BEIJING – In response to terrorism threats, China recently lifted a decade-long ban on police guns and began issuing firearms to officers for the first time across the country.

We plumbed the depth of problems in the wake of these guns in our story today: the sudden spate of suspicious police shootings and woeful lack of training and accountability.

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WorldViews: How an ancient tomb is a fault line in Syria’s brutal civil war

September 26, 2014

At some point in 1236, the Turkic warlord Suleyman Shah perished by the banks of the Euphrates river. Some say he drowned in its waters. At the time, he was one of an array of notables warring over parts of Anatolia and what’s now Syria. And his legacy has less to do with his own achievements than that of his progeny: His grandson, Osman, gave his name to the Ottoman dynasty, a line that ruled one of the greatest empires the Middle East and Europe would ever see.

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WorldViews: Islamic State gains traction in al-Qaeda’s old stomping grounds

September 26, 2014

The Islamic State’s practical focus may be on Syria and Iraq right now, but there’s some clear signs that their ideas have appeal further afield. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s self-proclaimed caliphate has found pockets of support far and wide, from inner-city Britain to the island paradise of the Maldives.

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Britain, Denmark and Belgium join air campaign against Islamic State in Iraq

September 26, 2014

LONDON — Three European nations — including Britain — joined the widening U.S.-led air campaign against Islamic State militants in Iraq on Friday, even as the group’s fighters renewed their attempt to overrun a strategic border city in Syria.

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WorldViews: Crossword: What in the world, this week

September 26, 2014

As in previous several weeks, there was no shortage of news this week. That means you should have no problem with this news puzzle.

The clock starts when you click the “START” button. The target time to complete this puzzle is 15 minutes. To see how scoring works, read last week’s post.

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WorldViews: Why no one knows what’s going on in Kim Jong Un’s North Korea

September 26, 2014

Kim Jong Un has not been seen since Sept. 3, even missing a high-level meeting of North Korea’s Supreme People’s Assembly. Few people have any idea where he is. He could be sick. There could be a power struggle in Pyongyang. He could be taking a vacation. He could have secretly emigrated. The point is, the world really doesn’t know.

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India’s Modi begins rock star-like U.S. tour

September 26, 2014

NEW DELHI — Thousands of supporters are expected to throng midtown Manhattan on Sunday to greet India’s new prime minister, Narendra Modi, a reception more befitting a rock star or a pope than a visiting foreign dignitary.

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