Global Scan

Want to pronounce Sochi like a native?


And they're off! Let the Sochi Olympics begin. The Opening Ceremony is Friday, but the first events are Thursday.


(c) Patrick Chappatte, NZZ am Sonntag, Switzerland

If you're like most Americans, you've probably been incorrectly pronouncing the city in Russia where the Winter Olympics will be held this year. But, thank goodness, the BBC is coming to the rescue

It's "SOTCH-i (-o as in not, -tch as in catch, -i as the 'y' in happy," the folks at the BBC helpfully explain. Many of us have gotten it wrong by using the long o, as in bow. Of course, in Russian, it actually has a slightly different pronunciation, somewhere between SAW-chi and SOTCH-i. But the city name is actually pretty simple.

Some of the venues for different events will be considerably more challenging to pronounce. Krasnaya Polyana, where skiing will take place, for example. "Pronounced KRASS-nuh-yuh puh-LYAA-nuh (-uh as 'a' in sofa, -ly as in million)," the BBC writes. If you're into language, the BBC has a host of other pronunciations that will get you sounding a bit more like a native Russian speaker.

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A Spanish woman nearly tweeted her way into prison

Alba González Camacho, 21, has received a one-year prison sentence for using her Twitter account to praise the communist armed group GRAPO and committing the crime of glorifying terrorism. El Pais reports "the First of October Anti-Fascist Resistance Group [GRAPO] was a Maoist terrorist organization in the late 1970s and early 1980s that carried out over 80 assassinations." But Camacho, who tweets under the name @albacorazonegro, struck a deal to stay out of jail, so long as she doesn't commit any other crime. 

When it comes to drinking liquor, the South Koreans lead

When you think of countries famous for drinking, odds are you don't think about South Korea. But new research shows South Koreans are in a league all their own when it comes to drinking hard alcohol.

South Koreans, on average, drink 13.7 shots of any spirit each week, or almost two per day. The country with the next highest drinking habit is, probably unsurprisingly, Russia — where the average person drinks 6.3 shots per week, as Quartz reports

The US isn't low on the list, but comes in at a comparatively tame 3.3 shots per week — behind the Philippines, Thailand, Japan and other countries. As Quartz writes, South Korea's penchant for liquor is due, almost entirely, to its passion for Soju, a fermented rice spirit.

For South Sudan's refugees, the shoes say it all

When freelance photographer Shannon Jenson arrived in South Sudan in May 2012, she found a refugee crisis. Many people had fled the fighting along the border with Sudan and were living in makeshift camps in terrible conditions. But news agencies didn't believe the crisis was serious enough to cover, using Jenson's pictures.

So Jenson found a novel way to show what these people had been through — by photographing their shoes. Many of the refugees had walked for days to find safety, and their shoes were a testament to the hardships they had endured. Now, those photographs are on display at the Open Society in New York. PRI's The World has the story and the photos.

Saudi Arabia tries to clamp down on foreign fighters

Many of the recent conflicts in the Middle East have been fueled by expatriate fighters, and many of the fighters have come from Saudi Arabia. Now, the country's ruling family is trying to rein in its citizens.

A new law, according to Al Jazeera, provides for prison sentences of three to 20 years for any Saudi who fights in a conflict in a foreign country. The measure, which also covers people who promote "extremist" and "terrorist" groups, seems aimed primarily at stopping the flow of young Saudi men to Syria.

This year, send a 'rational' Valentine to your sweetheart

Scientists are finally getting serious about love. They're studying it using brain scans, and they think they have poinpointed where romantic love resides — in a "primitive" part of the brain just above the brainstem. That may explain why love seems so addictive, since this area also responds to cocaine. But could humans use a bit more rationality in their love?

PRI's The Really Big Questions is a series examining questions like "What is love?" In a preview story, researchers explain that the brain seems hard-wired to love — and love in specific ways. Esquire writer AJ Jacobs allowed his brain to be scanned while looking at a photo of his wife. He was glad to see a more enduring love pattern in his scan, less dependent on romance. And he offers some "rational Valentines" you can download and send to your special someone. See them at, where you can also suggest your own.

What we're seeing on social

Learn more about the critical issue of cancer in the developing world from PRI's The World's series, Cancer's New Battleground.

Weather around the world

About 500,000 people in Iran are without power Tuesday after a record-breaking snowfall clobbered the area. According to Global Voices Online, a local official called it the worst snowstorm in 50 years. Thousands of people have been rescued from rural villages and taken to emergency shelters.

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