5 International Stories You'll Care About This Week

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4. World Cup Begins, Ready or Not

It rivals the Olympics as the greatest show on earth – for the rest of the world anyway. On Thursday the 2014 soccer World Cup begins in Brazil – the most expensive ever staged. But what should have been a moment the world catches a glimpse of the new Brazil risks becoming a debacle. The stadium which will host the opening game - the Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo – is unfinished. The infrastructure upgrades — roads, airports, bus and train lines — are in even worse shape. Less than half of what was promised will actually be delivered. And the mood in Brazil is grim. A new Pew poll suggests 60 percent of Brazilians believe the World Cup will be bad for Brazil. But the hosts go into the tournament as the favorites. Team US faces an uphill battle. Stuck in the “Group of Death” with Germany and Portugal, the Americans may very well struggle to get out of the opening round – even coach Jürgen Klansman knows it, telling the New York Times magazine “We cannot win this World Cup.” But all eyes are on Brazil – and events off the field. We’ll all be back in Rio in two years’ time for the Olympics. Keep your fingers crossed the wrinkles will have been ironed out by the time of the main event.

5, Pulpy Pandas Hit Hong Kong

Panda-monium is set to hit Hong Kong next week! It’s part of a worldwide tour to create awareness for the conservation charity, WWF. French artist Paulo Grangeon crafted 1,600 papier-mâché pandas from recycled materials – they’ve already visited France, the Netherlands, Italy, Switzerland, Germany and Taiwan and have been part of nearly 100 exhibitions. In 2008, Serge Orru, who heads the French section of the World Wildlife Fund, came up with the idea to put the Pandas on display at various landmarks around the world. The idea was to raise awareness for conservation efforts, which have all but proven futile for the bears. The pandas come in six different shapes and sizes – and 1600? That’s the number still alive in the wild. And few sites will have been as picturesque as Hong Kong.

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