NEED TO KNOW
Turkey rises. It’s now day four of what are shaping up to be Turkey’s fiercest anti-government protests in years, and the demonstrators show no sign of going home. What started as a sit-in to protect an Istanbul park from being bulldozed has become a nationwide outcry against what protesters claim was a heavy-handed police response, wilful deafness on the part of the government, and so much more.
Overnight, crowds continued to clash with riot police in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir and other cities. The question now is whether the protests will maintain the formidable momentum they gathered over the weekend throughout a new working week.
Deadly Chinese fire. More than 100 people are dead after a fire at a poultry processing plant in Jilin province, northeast China. Firefighters are still at the scene, where flames are still reported to be smouldering hours after they broke out early this morning.
What caused the blaze remains unclear, but it appears that narrow exits and a locked gate contributed to keeping workers trapped inside the burning building. Authorities warn that more bodies may yet be found.
WANT TO KNOW
WikiLeaker in the dock. Bradley Manning, the US Army private accused of providing WikiLeaks with the biggest stash of confidential government documents ever leaked, goes on trial today. Military prosecutors will present 21 charges against him, the most serious being that he aided America’s enemies, undermined national security, and put lives at risk.
Manning has pleaded guilty to 10 counts, but maintains that any laws he broke, he broke to expose wrongdoings and stir public debate. To prosecutors, he’s a traitor; to his defenders, many of whom plan vigils today in dozens of cities worldwide, he’s a hero.
Europe is underwater. No, that’s not yet another tired metaphor for the debt crisis: dozens of towns in central Europe are quite literally under several feet of water after torrential downpours through the weekend.
A state of emergency has been declared in parts of the Czech Republic, Austria and Germany, as governments ordered thousands of homes evacuated and called in troops to help the emergency effort. At least three people have died in floods and landslides since Saturday, and eight more are still missing.
STRANGE BUT TRUE
Kissing girls gave Michael Douglas cooties. If by “cooties” you mean cancer, by “girls” you mean his wife, and by “kissing” you mean… um… well, let’s just call it kissing in a special place.
The Hollywood actor has claimed his recent throat cancer was caused by the human papillomavirus or HPV, the same sexually transmitted little nasty that can lead to genital warts and cervical cancer. So how did the virus end up in his throat, you might wonder? Allow Douglas to make things a little too clear for you: oral sex. Now, he’s no doctor – he’s just played one, and we’re pretty sure that’s not the same thing — but it seems that medical research suggests his explanation could be plausible.
Even so, there’s no hard feelings between Douglas and wife Catherine Zeta-Jones. If you have throat cancer, Douglas (again: not a doctor) claims, “cunnilingus is also the best cure for it.”
NEED TO KNOW
Shot in broad daylight. It was true of Benazir Bhutto, and now it’s true of the lawyer Pakistan hired to prosecute the former prime minister’s assassins. Chaudhry Zulfiqar, the main state prosecutor for Bhutto’s 2007 murder, was gunned down in Islamabad today as he made his way to court.
No one yet knows why the lawyer was killed. But his work put him at loggerheads with some powerful people: not only former military president Pervez Musharraf, currently under house arrest on charges that he failed to provide Bhutto with adequate security, but the Islamist group Lashkar-e-Taiba, blamed for India’s 2008 Mumbai attacks. Before his death, Zulfiqar was believed to be close to submitting final evidence against seven of the group’s members. What happens in those cases without their chief prosecutor is yet to be seen.
Five hundred and one. That’s where’s the death toll stands in Bangladesh, a week and a half after a multi-story factory building collapsed on the outskirts of Dhaka with thousands of workers inside. The disaster now has the grim title of the world’s most deadly structural failure of modern times.
Nine people have been arrested, most recently an engineer who swears blind he warned the building was unsafe. Labor activists say there are many more culprits, not least the Western retailers who bought cheap clothes at what would turn out to be a very high price.
WANT TO KNOW
The Independence Day bombings that weren’t. The bombs that killed three and wounded hundreds at the Boston Marathon were originally intended for another of the city’s biggest celebrations, according to police: the 4th of July.
Prosecutors say the two suspected bombers thought an attack on Independence Day would send a stronger message, but eventually brought the plan forward when they completed their home-made explosives sooner than expected. What would make two long-time American residents want to send a message like that? GlobalPost looks to the suspects’ birthplace, Russia’s North Caucasus region, in search of the roots of terror.
What’s the going rate for a baby? Ask India. When police in the north Indian state of Punjab announced the arrest of a grandfather for allegedly selling his infant grandson on Facebook, the news immediately went viral. But the real story is hidden behind the headline: the buying and selling of children is shockingly commonplace.
GlobalPost reports on the fate that the so-called Facebook baby was lucky enough to escape, but which awaits tens of thousands of Indian children each year.
STRANGE BUT TRUE
North Koreans could do with some sweetness in their lives. In times chock-full of missiles and gulags, how about some real choc? We’re talking Choco Pies, the sugary, marshmallowy, diabetes-y snack beloved of South Koreans – and increasingly, their northern neighbors. So popular are “South Korea’s Oreos” across the border that North Korean factory workers used to receive them as bonuses.
As edible proof of South Korea’s prosperity, some observers even think the treats could help wake North Koreans up to the misinformation their leaders feed them about their rivals. Democracy never tasted so sweet.
After decades of rights abuses, Myanmar’s generals have recently freed political prisoners, reduced censorship and held limited elections — prompting nations to lift sanctions. But a year-long GlobalPost investigation has found that protests, violence and cronyism are testing Myanmar’s reforms — and tarnishing the reputation of Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
HONG KONG — Mao Zedong’s grandson just can’t catch a break.
The most-mocked man at China’s annual rubber-stamp congress—which is wrapping up this week in Beijing—was in some respects also its most privileged.
The only living grandson of the “Great Helmsman,” Major General Mao Xinyu, 43, once again served as the butt of jokes about his girth, his intellect, and his career, which even he has admitted owes something to his name.
On Weibo, China’s Twitter, thousands shared a photo of the beefy man in his ill-fitting military uniform with this caption:
“My mom told me since I was little that a military uniform looks good on everyone. When she saw this picture, she finally admitted defeat.”
What Mao’s grandson reveals about modern China
Photo by Getty Images
SEOUL — North Korea fired off short-range missiles into the East Sea on Friday amid heightened tension following its February nuclear test, a military source in Seoul said.
"A North Korean military unit on drill test-fired two shots of short-range missiles, presumed to be KN-02 missiles, into the East Sea" the source said.
The source did not say the exact time of the launching.
"The launch was seen as testing its capability for short-range missiles. It seemed to be conducted on a military-unit level, not at a national level."
North Korea launches missile in East Sea
North Korea: Kim Jong Un targeted in assassination attempt, South Korean intelligence says
North Korea blames US, South Korea for ‘intensive’ cyberattacks
Photo by KNS/AFP/Getty Images
BOSTON — The global drug war is arguably America’s longest armed conflict, declared 42 years ago and still raging at a pace that would startle many citizens.
It is waged daily, on farmland and streets from Colombia to Mexico to Detroit. It has put millions of people behind bars, and has dramatically influenced our culture and worldview.
By some estimates, it has cost the nation more than $2 trillion dollars.
Ironically, the drug war was nearly stillborn.
War on drugs: What is it good for?
Photo by AFP/Getty Images
NEW DELHI — In the tiny, one-room shanty that she shares with her father, mother, brother and sister when she is home for the holidays, 11-year-old Babli answers questions about the private boarding school where she lives and studies for nine months of the year.
“In my school, they teach English and different-different subjects,” Babli says. “We have more activities, games, football, table tennis, dancing, singing, yoga, musical instruments. There are also lots of cultural programs. My favorite subject is English.”
Typical of the makeshift homes of New Delhi’s hundreds of “jhuggi (hut) clusters,” Babli’s house is an eight- by ten-foot cell, with a corrugated aluminum roof and concrete walls. There is no window. The ceiling is low enough to force an average-sized American to stoop.
As part of an experiment conceived by activist-educator Anouradha Bakshi, who runs a non-profit called Project Why, Babli attends an elite, English-language boarding school on the outskirts of the city instead of her area’s government-run, Hindi-language school. By every available measure, that gives her a much better chance at breaking out of the slum. And it makes her a kind of advanced case study for a potentially revolutionary Indian government program designed to offer millions of poor families the chance to send their kids to private schools. For the lucky ones, it’s like winning the lottery.
India: Is education policy increasing inequality?
Photo by Sami Siva/GlobalPost
ABUJA, Nigeria — The kidnapping of 14 foreigners in less than a week and slaughter of nine health workers has brought northern Nigeria international attention.
It’s also put the region at the brink of economic disaster as foreign construction companies pull out, cutting jobs and leaving desperately needed roads un-built.
“Everybody’s looking at their business practices and their vulnerabilities and doing a risk analysis,” a senior US government official said. “A lot of the [non-governmental organizations] in the type of work they are doing in these rural areas — they are vulnerable.”
Islamist attacks leading northern Nigeria to economic disaster
Photo by AFP/Getty Images
NEED TO KNOW
When no one wins, no one wins. Italy’s nail-biter of a parliamentary election has ended in deadlock, with Pier Luigi Bersani’s center-left bloc just fractionally ahead of Silvio Berlusconi’s center-right alliance. A(nother) joker, comedian Beppe Grillo and his anti-austerity protest movement, isn’t far behind.
Bersani has enough votes for a majority in the lower house, but not so in the senate – and any coalition would have to be so disparate that the chances of its survival aren’t high. Stocks across Europe are tumbling before the prospect of yet more instability. Mamma mia, etc.
Tourist tragedy in Egypt, where a hot air balloon loaded with sightseers caught fire and crashed during an early-morning flight over the ancient temples of Luxor. At least 19 passengers were killed, including people from Hong Kong, Japan, France, Britain and Egypt.
The tour operator says a gas canister exploded onboard, causing the balloon to plummet almost 1,000 feet to the ground below.
Again with the rockets. A rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel this morning, the first such attack since the cease-fire in November that ended eight days of war.
Fatah’s armed wing, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, has claimed responsibility. The militants say the strike was revenge for the death, in an Israeli jail and under disputed circumstances, of Palestinian prisoner Arafat Jaradat. And if this rocket was, as the group claims, a “preliminary response,” there’s more where that came from.
WANT TO KNOW
Talk it out, Iran, talk it out. Tehran’s finest negotiators are gathered in Almaty, Kazakhstan, for their latest session with the six world powers attempting to rein in Iran’s nuclear program. Western diplomats have hinted that they’ll offer to ease sanctions if Iran agrees to halt its potentially troublesome enrichment of uranium.
Iran, however, is famously unmoved by either carrot or stick. And with Iranian politicians taking even harder lines than usual ahead of upcoming elections, only die-hard Pollyannas are expecting a breakthrough from this week’s talks.
What’s funny about Hugo Chavez’s cancer? We don’t know – but then, no one knows much about the Venezuelan president’s health. The government maintains a wall of silence on the not-so-strongman’s illness, allowing only the occasional photo or tweet to pass.
Faced with an information vacuum, some Venezuelans are using humor to fill it. GlobalPost rounds up some of the best gags about a reality that’s stranger than satire.
STRANGE BUT TRUE
Ka-POW! Take that, Robin: DC Comics have revealed that Batman’s sidekick will die in a forthcoming issue. Writers say that the trusty Boy Wonder dies a hero’s death, having saved the world and done “his job as Robin.”
That job being, of course, to perish whenever a long-running series needs an adrenalin kick. The sidekick gets it. ‘Twas ever thus.
Thousands of people took to the streets of the West Bank today for the funeral of Arafat Jaradat, a Palestinian who died in Israeli custody.
More than 10,000 Palestinians are estimated to have joined the funeral procession from Hebron to Sair, the village where 30-year-old Jaradat was from.
Israel’s security forces were on high alert for fear of riots, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
Both Israeli and Palestinian observers say a third intifada could be imminent, in which both sides risk losing control of the security situation in the West Bank, reports GlobalPost’s Israel correspondent, Noga Tarnopolsky.
"Consequences both for Israelis and Palestinians could be dire," Tarnopolsky said. "The situation in the West Bank is so fraught that whatever really happened to Jaradat may be irrelevant."
Thousands attend Arafat Jaradat funeral in West Bank
Photo by AFP/Getty Images