• BuzzFeed’s Anup Kaphle points to a small ray of hope in Mosul: He interviewed Mosul Eye, an anonymous blogger who has been chronicling life in the beleaguered city for the past three years. Now he’s leading a project to rebuild Mosul’s central library. From Kaphle’s story:
“Mosul Eye said they have collected about 10,000 books so far — the group aims to collect 200,000 books for the reopening of the library. Many of them have been shipped to and collected in the city of Irbil, where a team of volunteers are labeling and sorting them…
“Since ISIS ravaged his hometown, Mosul Eye said he’s spent a lot of his time reading — T.S. Eliot’s ‘The Waste Land’ and John Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ are among his favorites.
“Even though Mosul Eye knows the library will never be the same again, he said he hopes it will once again be a ‘beacon for knowledge and arts’ where young, curious minds in Mosul can come to learn about the city and the world’s history.
‘We need to reconnect Mosul again with the rest of the world,’ he said. ‘We will need the world to take the same amount of interest it has after ISIS took over the city. Don’t abandon us now.’”
• Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the first Indian premier in a quarter-century to visit Israel. Modi exchanged hugs and many pleasantries with his Israeli counterpart, Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu, as part of a landmark visit preceded by the announcement of $2 billion Indian outlay for new Israeli missiles and air defense systems.
For years, India, steeped in the socialist ethos of the Non-Aligned Movement, viewed Israel in the same vein as apartheied South Africa — a Western imperialist proxy that repressed the people of the global South. But the ferocity of that moral opposition has since faded.
“India has long embraced the Palestinian cause and kept its distance from Israel to protect its interests in the Arab world,” noted the New York Times. “But Mr. Modi seems as eager as Mr. Netanyahu to delink Israel from the Palestinian question and, notably, will not be combining his trip with a courtesy visit to the Palestinian Authority.”
• Two fascinating discoveries in the realms of archaeology: Researchers digging in Mexico City claim to have found an Aztec “tower” of human skulls, linked to the practice of human sacrifice, that dates back at least five centuries and was once observed by Spanish conquistadors.
Scientists also cracked the secret behind the durability of ancient Roman water-based structures: It appears Roman concrete, made from a recipe of volcanic ash, lime, seawater and volcanic rock, grows stronger over time — a contrast to modern-day materials.
The Roman stuff is “an extraordinarily rich material in terms of scientific possibility,” said Philip Brune, a research scientist at DuPont Pioneer who has studied the engineering properties of Roman monuments. “It’s the most durable building material in human history, and I say that as an engineer not prone to hyperbole.”
Experts now suggest an adapted form of Roman concrete can help to mitigate against rising sea levels.
Here we go again
For America’s national holiday, North Korea offered up a fireworks display nobody wanted.
Pyongyang claimed on Tuesday that it successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile, a potential milestone in its campaign to develop a nuclear-tipped weapon capable of hitting the mainland United States. The State Department confirmed the claim later in the day, and experts said the missile could be capable of a 4,000-mile range — a sufficient distance to strike all of Alaska.
“This is a big deal: It’s an ICBM, not a ‘kind of’ ICBM,” said Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia program at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies. “And there’s no reason to think that this is going to be the maximum range.”
Tuesday’s news will renew questions about the development of weapons that Trump, as president-elect, vowed to stop. Trump took to Twitter as news of the test broke, calling out North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and appearing to once again urge China to do more to pressure him.
“Hard to believe that South Korea and Japan will put up with this much longer,” he wrote. “Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all.”
Kim Jong Un has now launched more missiles in one year than his father did in 17 years in power. The number and variety of tests worry experts who see each step as part of a march toward a missile capable of striking the mainland U.S. Many believe North Korea already has weapons that could hit East Asia — including U.S. bases in the region.
At the moment, Trump’s attempt to have China pressure Pyongyang looks to be at an impasse. On June 21, Trump tweeted that, although he appreciated Beijing’s efforts, “it has not worked out.” China, meanwhile, insists it is doing all it can and seems angry about being singled out. “The United States itself should take actions, not always depend on China for everything,” said Zhang Liangui, a retired professor from Communist Party’s Central Party School.
It’s not yet clear how the latest news will affect the standoff. The U.S. and South Korea conducted a joint missile exercise in response, but John Delury, an Asia expert at Seoul’s Yonsei University, said there may be a political imperative for Trump to downplay the significance of the test.
Trump “set an implicit red line,” said Delury, “and it doesn’t look good if the North Koreans skipped across the line when he wasn’t looking.” — Emily Rauhala
The big question
It’s been a year since a coup attempt in Turkey failed, and it hasn’t been a good one for Turkey’s opposition parties. The post-coup purges and crackdowns launched by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have battered his political opponents, and numerous politicians — even members of parliament — have been thrown in jail. But those seemingly cowed opponents have organized a weeks-long “march for justice” from the Turkish capital, Ankara, to Istanbul, which has attracted growing crowds along its route and possibly breathed new life into the opposition. So we asked Post Istanbul bureau chief Kareem Fahim: What is the opposition march achieving, if anything?
“If nothing else, the march has undoubtedly invigorated the Republican People’s Party, or CHP, the main opposition party. The CHP suffered a bitter defeat in April when Erdogan prevailed in a referendum expanding his powers.
“It may have redeemed them a bit, too. The CHP was criticized for its cautious response to widespread allegations of voter fraud during the referendum, including a decision not to hold street demonstrations that angered even some of the party’s own leaders.
“I attended the march on Day 13. CHP leaders, having walked miles, were in total agony but could hardly contain their glee — not only at having pulled the rally off at all, but also at provoking more and more aggressive denunciations from Erdogan’s government. As one columnist put it, the CHP was finally “setting the agenda” in a Turkish political scene long dominated by Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party.
“The march also seemed to have succeeded in highlighting government arrests and dismissals in Turkey over the last year. The CHP cleverly focused its slogans on the broad theme of ‘justice’ rather than on individual cases, making it harder for the government to easily dismiss the complaints.
“Aytug Atici, a CHP lawmaker who joined the march, admitted to me that the party ‘needed something like this.’ Other marchers I spoke to seemed happy that someone, somehow, was taking some visible action — even if it was only a start.
“But both the government and the CHP seemed anxious to avoid a clash as the march heads for Istanbul — the kind of confrontation that would alter Turkey’s political dynamics in a much more dramatic way.”
The National and The Japan Times have deeper looks at two of the big problems we’ve discussed today: what happens to Iraq after Mosul’s recapture, and how the Islamic State will soldier on after its caliphate ends. Elsewhere, indulge us in two more bits of Americana for the holiday: a piece from The Post examining America’s religious roots, and a funny article from The New York Times on finding the real America at Hooters.