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Suicide blast targets Afghan Sikhs & Hindus, underdog Russia beat Spain in FIFA World Cup

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China’s rigidity on beauty standards exposed, and Donald Trump no longer seems confident about the North Korea deal.

Suicide bombers target Afghanistan’s minorties

At least 19 people, including 10 members of Afghan Sikhs and Hindus, were killed in a suicide bombing in the eastern city of Jalalabad, reports Al Jazeera. 

A suicide bomber targeted a vehicle carrying Sikhs and Hindus on their way to a meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

According to Afghanistan’s Tolo News, the attack took place around 6.30 in the evening.

“The attack claimed the life of the only Sikh candidate (Avtar Singh Khalsa) running in elections in the country this year, a further blow to Afghanistan’s once celebrated diversity, which has been badly affected by decades of violence,” The New York Times reported.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, according to Al Jazeera.

This was the second attack in Afghanistan within 24 hours. “Late on Saturday, militants targeted a boys’ school in Khogyani district, beheading three workers and setting fire to the school building,” The New York Times added.

The rigid Chinese beauty standard

Wang Ju, a 25-year-old contestant on a Chinese reality show Produce 101, looked like she was about to upend the country’s rigorous beauty standards. Referred to as “stout”, “dark” and “not pretty enough”, Wang managed to become the audience favourite, before losing and not making it to the final.

While “healthier” bodies prevailed as the standard in the China of the 1980s and 90s, Yuan Ren writes in The New York Times that “times have changed” and a standardised notion of beauty seems to prevail in the country.

“The increasingly slender, so to speak, range of acceptable bodies comes at a time when Chinese society is putting an increasing premium on women’s looks. The country’s transition to capitalism has been accompanied by setbacks in the area of gender equality. Discrimination against women is rife and often overt in the workplace, and women can be hired as much for their youth and beauty as their skills. Job advertisements often state a preference for men over women, and employers seeking female workers sometimes include height and age requirements,” she writes.

The FIFA World Cup ‘a chance for countries to reassert their identities’

In a tense match that went into a penalty shootout, 2010 World Cup champions Spain lost to the host team, Russia. Russia entered the cup as the weakest in the pool, but managed to send Spain packing after a surprisingly harrowing match. Spain has joined other heavyweight contenders like Germany, Argentina and Portugal in saying goodbye to the prospect of winning the World Cup.

In Al Jazeera, Hamid Dabashi writes that football at the World Cup stage is a way for nations to reclaim their names and their identities. “In the World Cup, our entire humanity gathers for a reassessment of who and what we are. Every time two national teams meet, we don’t think what we have become, but what could have been,” he writes.

Dabashi writes that football games are sites of confrontation between rivals, and the coloniser and the colonised. Politics are an intrinsic part of the game, and the emotions of politics play out in the game.

“As the beautiful game comes up on billions of TV sets across the globe, people rush to reclaim their nations from the violence of their states,” he writes.

Thai divers are closer to rescuing the 12 boys trapped in a cave

“Thai navy divers have reached closer to a flooded cave in northern Thailand where 12 boys and their football coach have been trapped for more than a week,” reports the BBC.

Heavy rains have been hindering the rescue process. Rescuers say that while no contact has been made with the group trapped inside, they hope that the boys and the coach will have reached a rock mound in an underground chamber. The boys are aged 11 to 16, and went to explore the Tham Luan caves in Chian Rai over a week ago.

Thai medical experts say that the group’s survival depends on whether they have found and have been consuming fresh drinking water.

Trump no longer sure about deal with North Korea

On Sunday, US President Donald Trump said that it was “possible” that a deal with North Korea would not “work out”, reports The Guardian.

Reports have emerged that North Korea has increased its production of enriched uranium at secret sites, and is expanding research facilities. In an interview with Fox News, Trump was asked whether he trusted North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, with whom he says he has “great chemistry”.

“I made a deal with him, I shook hands with him, I really believe he means it,” said Trump. “Now, is it possible? Have I been in deals, have you been in things where, people didn’t work out? It’s possible.”

Support for the Communist Party of China is increasing, says state-run paper

The Global Times reports that the “wide-ranging celebrations” for the 97th birthday of the Communist Party of China shows the “public’s growing support for the party”.

“Chinese cities held multiple activities ranging from holding commemorative conferences and live performances to live-streaming party lessons and visiting patriotic education bases,” the reports adds.

Private enterprises, like the e-commerce company Suning Holdings Group, also organised commemorative activitities.

Described by a professor at Peking University as “quite lively”, the celebrations were aimed at “awakening people’s consciousness of the party”, according to a member.

In 2017, the CPC recruited 1.98 million new members, which was 71,000 more than in 2016.

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