July 17, 2014 5:54 AM EDT



According to a U.N. report, 13 urban areas are on track to join the list of megacities by 2030, meaning they will contain more than 10 million people. A sampling (plus projected populations):

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14.8 million

Bangalore, India

12.2 million


12 million


11.6 million


10.8 million

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Gaza Burns as Hope For Peace Fades

The Israeli military warned 100,000 Gaza Strip residents to evacuate their homes on July 16–even as it threatened to launch a ground invasion–while rockets continued to rain down on both sides of the divide. The escalation came a day after an Egypt-brokered cease-fire, briefly observed by Israel, fell apart within six hours amid rocket fire from Gaza.

A mutual end to violence that has so far killed more than 200 people–nearly all of them Palestinians–seems increasingly unlikely as each side demands an end to what has become the status quo: a near total Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip and regular if inaccurate rocket fire into Israel. Hamas, the militant Islamist group that controls Gaza, rejected the cease-fire, claiming it was not consulted, and continued to fire rockets at Israel. On July 15, a civilian bringing food to soldiers near Gaza became the first Israeli fatality.

Israel soon resumed its attacks in response to the continued rocket fire, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowing to “expand and intensify” military operations. The military has already struck more than 1,600 targets across Gaza, including the homes of key Hamas leaders, and pressure has mounted for a ground operation to destroy the hidden command bunkers that have survived targeted missile strikes from Israel.

The clashes, which follow the breakdown of U.S.-backed peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian government, were fueled by the abduction and murder of three Israeli teens in the West Bank–an act Israel blamed on Hamas. The alleged revenge murder of a Palestinian youth by several Israelis sparked violent protests in Arab communities in both Israel and the Palestinian territories.

The death toll has already surpassed that of the last major clashes, in 2012. Graphic images of four children killed in Gaza on July 16–captured by foreign media on the scene–brought the conflict to a head, and Israel agreed to a temporary pause to allow aid to be delivered to Gaza. But Israel has called up tens of thousands of reserves, and even a limited ground operation would make this latest war bloodier.


‘I consider those girls as my sisters … and I’m going to speak up for them until they are released.’

MALALA YOUSAFZAI, women’s-education activist, meeting with parents of the Nigerian schoolgirls who were kidnapped in April by the militant group Boko Haram

The Explainer

Afghanistan’s Defused Election Crisis

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry brokered an unlikely deal between the two leading presidential candidates, pulling Afghanistan back from the brink of a crisis that threatened to fracture the country along ethnic lines.


Kerry arrived late on July 10 to mediate after candidate Abdullah Abdullah alleged fraud in the runoff last month. Following two days of negotiations, Abdullah and his opponent, Ashraf Ghani, agreed to a total, U.N.-supervised recount.


The deal hinged on a sweeping plan to limit presidential power. The winner will appoint the loser or his nominee to become “chief executive” for the government ahead of an eventual constitutional amendment to create a parliamentary democracy.


The recount, which will determine President Hamid Karzai’s replacement, is expected to take weeks. As most U.S. troops depart amid a continued Taliban threat, the country’s stability may depend on whether the candidates accept the results.


Newfound National Anthems

Jurors in Switzerland are whittling down a field of crowdsourced proposals for a more “modern” national anthem. Here, four other countries that switched.


The country re-embraced its old national anthem when it gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. The song had been illegal to sing under Soviet rule.


President Vladimir Putin restored the Soviet national anthem with new lyrics in 2000, replacing a wordless tune adopted after the Soviet Union’s fall.


“Rwanda Nziza” (“Beautiful Rwanda”)was named the national song in 2002 in an effort to build national unity after a decade of strife.


Before abolishing the monarchy altogether, Nepal adopted a new anthem in 2007 to replace one that celebrated the country’s “courageous sovereign.”



Percentage by which monsoon rainfall was below average for the week ending July 9, jeopardizing the country’s economy

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The U.S. intensified trade measures against Russia over the Ukraine crisis, targeting large banks and energy firms


Turkish opposition presidential candidate Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu surprised his two opponents by donating 1,000 Turkish liras ($470) to each of their campaigns


Chinese authorities detained a prominent national TV anchor shortly before airtime amid a widening corruption probe


At least 21 people were killed and more than 150 injured in a rush-hour derailment on the Moscow metro

This appears in the July 28, 2014 issue of TIME.

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