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An Imperfect Syrian Truce, Rising Oceans, Costly Burp

An Imperfect Syrian Truce, Rising Oceans, Costly Burp


The Syrian government and the umbrella group for the main opposition agreed this morning to the terms of a ceasefire that was negotiated yesterday between the United States and Russia, the BBC reports. But the truce, set to begin midday Saturday, excludes ISIS, al-Qaeda and affiliated groups, Al Jazeera reports. President Bashar al-Assad's regime said it would halt "combat operations" in accordance with the plan. But opposition forces said their acceptance depended on government forces ending sieges and airstrikes on civilians. The major opposition bloc involved in negotiations said in a statement that it "does not expect the Assad regime, Russia and Iran to cease hostilities, due to their realization that the regime's survival depends on the continuation of its campaign of oppression, killing and forced displacement."


Oceans are rising faster than they ever have in the past 2,800 years, a report published yesterday by the American journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences says. "We can say with 95% probability that the 20th-century rise was faster than any of the previous 27 centuries," explained climate scientist Bon Kopp, who led the research. The rising waters are expected to worsen still in coming years, especially in coastal towns.


At least 29 people were killed over the weekend in Fiji, where cyclone Winston was described as the worst storm ever to hit the South Pacific archipelago, The Fiji Times reports. About 8,500 people are still being sheltered in evacuation centers after thousands of homes were flattened by winds of over 320 km/h (200 mph). According to Radio New Zealand, international relief supplies have started arriving in the country, which is comprised of more than 330 islands.


Photo: Stringer/Xinhua via ZUMA

Indian authorities have partially restored water supplies to India's capital Delhi after as many as 10 million people were affected by shortages caused by protesters. Angry at caste job quotas, demonstrators sabotaged a canal that delivers water to treatment plants, the BBC reports. The eight-day protests left 19 people dead at at least 183 injured, The Indian Express reports.


French daily Libération's front page reads, "Calais: An Endless Jungle," ahead of today's 8 p.m. deadline for asylum seekers living in the sprawling and controversial migrant camp to clear out so that French authorities can dismantle it. Read more about it on Le Blog here.


"Business needs unrestricted access to the European market of 500 million people in order to continue to grow, invest and create jobs," reads a letter signed by some 200 British business leaders, including 36 executives of FTSE 100 companies, The Times reports. Referring to a possible British exit from the European Union — which has gained momentum in the past few days with popular London Mayor Boris Johnson now publicly supporting an EU exit — the chief executives warned that "leaving the EU would deter investment, threaten jobs and put the economy at risk. Britain will be stronger, safer and better off remaining a member of the EU."


At least one person was killed and 10 were injured when a passenger train derailed near the Dutch town of Dalfsen this morning, according to the daily De Telegraaf. The train reportedly hit a crane on a crossing before going into a field. Witnesses say the person killed could be the train driver.


In the area around the Congolese capital of Brazzaville, it's common practice to burn vegetation in fields before planting crops. But this slash-and-burn approach inflicts severe damage to the forests and the soil, not to mention to the health of women, who are the primary farmers in this area, Kouamba Matonda Annette reports for Syfia. "Much of the harm could be avoided with the use of an organic fertilizer called moringa, a plant native to these parts of Africa that has many beneficial properties."

Read the full article, Congo Farming: Eco-Friendly Fertilizer v. Slash-And-Burn.


U.S. Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz fired campaign spokesman Rick Tyler yesterday after Tyler shared an inaccurate Facebook video of rival Marco Rubio "appearing to disparage the Bible," as The Washington Postreports.


César Ritz, "king of hoteliers, and hotelier to kings," would have been 166 years old today. That and much more, including a watershed moment in World War II history, in your 57-second shot of history.


Microsoft's Bill Gates believes Apple should comply with the FBI's request to unlock the iPhone used by one of the two San Bernardino terrorists without triggering the destruction of data stored on the device, the Financial Times reports. "This is a specific case where the government is asking for access to information," Gates said. "They are not asking for some general thing. They are asking for a particular case." Apple has so far refused, casting it as a civil liberties issue.



Greek police began removing migrants from the Greek-Macedonian border this morning after more passage restrictions imposed by Macedonian authorities left hundreds stranded, Reuters reports.


Austrian bartender Edin Mehic was recently fined 70 euros for burping too loud at a fun park in Vienna. The ticket, which he posted on Facebook, says he "violated public decency." Mehic explained he had just eaten a kebab with "too many onions."

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In Northern Kenya, Where Climate Change Is Measured In Starving Children

The worst drought in 40 years, which has deepened from the effects of climate change, is hitting the young the hardest around the Horn of Africa. A close-up look at the victims, and attempts to save lives and limit lasting effects on an already fragile region in Kenya.

Photo of five mothers holding their malnourished children

At feeding time, nurses and aides encourage mothers to socialize their children and stimulate them to eat.

Georgina Gustin

KAKUMA — The words "Stabilization Ward" are painted in uneven black letters above the entrance, but everyone in this massive refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya, calls it ya maziwa: The place of milk.

Rescue workers and doctors, mothers and fathers, have carried hundreds of starving children through the doors of this one-room hospital wing, which is sometimes so crowded that babies and toddlers have to share beds. A pediatric unit is only a few steps away, but malnourished children don’t go there. They need special care, and even that doesn’t always save them.

In an office of the International Rescue Committee nearby, Vincent Opinya sits behind a desk with figures on dry-erase boards and a map of the camp on the walls around him. “We’ve lost 45 children this year due to malnutrition,” he says, juggling emergencies, phone calls, and texts. “We’re seeing a significant increase in malnutrition cases as a result of the drought — the worst we’ve faced in 40 years.”

From January to June, the ward experienced an 800 percent rise in admissions of children under 5 who needed treatment for malnourishment — a surge that aid groups blame mostly on a climate change-fueled drought that has turned the region into a parched barren.

Opinya, the nutrition manager for the IRC here, has had to rattle off these statistics many times, but the reality of the numbers is starting to crack his professional armor. “It’s a very sad situation,” he says, wearily. And he believes it will only get worse. A third year of drought is likely on the way.

More children may die. But millions will survive malnutrition and hunger only to live through a compromised future, researchers say. The longer-term health effects of this drought — weakened immune systems, developmental problems — will persist for a generation or more, with consequences that will cascade into communities and societies for decades.

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