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NEED TO KNOW:
There's nothing that a frothy beer and some lederhosen can't fix. Welcome to the G7. Obama was the last of the Group of Seven leaders to greeted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the Bavarian Alps on Sunday, but that's because he preferred to walk the last stretch up to the resort hotel. The sun's out, why not? The others, with the exception of David Cameron, rolled up in golf carts.
But anyway. The point is, things have been a little rough between Germany and the US for the last couple years, thanks in large part to a widespread surveillance campaign led by the NSA which included Angela Merkel's phone. So today at the G7 we see Obama and Merkel going to great lengths to gloss over that unfortunate part of their recent past. Obama described their relationship as one between "inseparable allies," and Merkel called the US an "essential partner" despite some "differences of opinion." It was her phone after all.
With that settled, the pair was able to move on to more serious matters. They both agreed that economic sanctions must remain in place against Russia until it complies with a cease-fire deal with Ukraine. Obama and Merkel also talked about promoting economic growth through a trans-Atlantic trade deal and achieving a climate change accord this year. With crises in Ukraine and Syria, the global economy and climate change on the docket, who needs another beer?
WANT TO KNOW:
A couple important elections are happening today around the world. Mexicans head to the polls Sunday for midterm elections as protesters burned some ballots in the troubled southern state of Guerrero. Thousands of soldiers and federal police were deployed to protect voters and guard polling stations. GlobalPost's Ioan Grillo looks at what could be Mexico's most violent elections in years. Brazen acts of violence in the leadup to today's vote hit candidates and party activists, claiming at least 21 casualties.
And Turkey just wrapped up a crucial parliamentary election that will effectively decide whether the ruling party can rewrite the constitution and bolster President Erdogan's power. Polls closed Sunday afternoon, but preliminary results are not expected for several hours. Erdogan was not on the ballot this time, but the vote will determine whether to endow his office with extraordinary powers that would significantly change Turkey's democracy and prolong his reign as the country's most powerful politician.
Meanwhile, Turkey's LGBT community is hoping to win acceptance through the ballot box. Four LGBT candidates are taking the community’s fight against discrimination from street activism into national politics for the first time this election — among them, Baris Sulu, who hopes to become Turkey’s first openly gay member of parliament.
STRANGE BUT TRUE:
And is this classic Costa Rican children’s book racist? You be the judge. "Cocori," written in 1947 and long regarded as a national literary classic, tells the tale of an Afro-Costa Rican boy who scours the jungle for a monkey to fulfill the request of a mysterious blonde girl. The book has long been compulsory reading in the Central American nation’s schools and has even given its name to various businesses, including the tourism website cocori.com.
But now it is coming under scrutiny as never before. Members of Costa Rica’s black community — about 8 percent of the 4.9 million population — increasingly view it as a skewed interpretation of their identity by its white author, Joaquin Gutierrez. GlobalPost's Simeon Tegel looks into the controversy.
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