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Canada's Liberals Win, Freecycle Goes Retail, Star Wars' Lost Limbs

Canada's Liberals Win, Freecycle Goes Retail, Star Wars' Lost Limbs


Justin Trudeau, son of former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, led his Liberal Party to an unexpectedly sweeping victory in general elections yesterday, ending nearly a decade of Conservative rule, the daily National Post reports. Outgoing Prime Minister Stephen Harper conceded defeat and the Conservative party announced his resignation. The Liberals seized a parliamentary majority with a record 184 seats and are credited with about 39.5% of the vote. Before yesterday's general elections, the party was the third political force in parliament. "My friends, we beat fear with hope. We beat cynicism with hard work. We beat negative, divisive politics with a positive vision that brings Canadians together," Justin Trudeau said during his victory speech in Montreal. "This is what positive politics can do." The 43-year-old pledged to run a $10 billion annual budget deficit for three years to invest in infrastructure and help stimulate Canada's anemic economic growth, Reuters reports. Read more in Le Blog.


Photo: Stringer/Xinhua/ZUMA

Typhoon Koppu (also know as Typhoon Lando) has been pounding the Philippines since making landfall Sunday, killing at least 23, injuring many and forcing thousands to relocate. It was downgraded to a tropical storm late Monday, but remains a deadly threat to the archipelago.


In a first round of family reunions since February 2014, 389 South Koreans from 96 families met with 141 North Koreans this morning in the communist nation's Mount Kumgang, along the east coast, the Yonhap News Agency reports. The families had been separated for more than 60 years, since the 1950-1953 Korean war. The two countries have held such reunions sporadically since 1988, depending on the state of their relations. This year's event comes as the two Koreas agreed to de-escalate tensions in August, after a border explosion injured South Korean soldiers.

  • Meanwhile, Yonhap also quoted Lee Chul-woo of the ruling Saenuri Party as saying that North Korea was preparing for a new nuclear test. The test does not, however, appear to be imminent, according to the South Korean spy agency. The move from the North is allegedly because of what the country says are the confrontational policies of the United States and its allies. North Korea last held nuclear tests in 2013, 2009 and 2006, drawing international condemnation.


It's been four years to the day since Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi was captured and killed. That and more in today's shot of history.


At least 120 people, both Syrian rebels and civilians, were killed by Russian airstrikes in Syria's Latakia province last night, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports. The bombings took place in the Jabal Akrad area, which is held by part of the Free Syrian Army. The group confirmed the death of its chief of staff Basil Zamo, formerly a captain in the Syrian military, Reuters reports.


An Israeli soldier was lightly wounded this morning after being stabbed in the West Bank, Haaretz reports. The attacker, a Palestinian who knifed the officer during a confrontation with Israeli security forces, was shot and killed. The last few weeks have been a period of near-daily stabbings and shootings.


"Yes it is true. He is at home already," The Citizenquoted Oscar Pistorius's lawyer Brian Webber as saying. The former Paralympian was released under house arrest yesterday, a day earlier than expected. Pistorius will serve the remainder of a five-year prison sentence at his uncle's house in Pretoria, a year after being sentenced for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. In a statement this morning, Pistorius family spokesperson Anneliese Burgess said it was "important for the family that it be emphasized that Oscar's sentence has not been shortened or reduced." She added that he would now "serve this under the strict conditions that govern correctional supervision."



A Delhi court has found an Indian Uber driver guilty of kidnapping, raping and intimidating a 26-year-old female passenger last year, the BBC reports. For a time after the attack, the company was banned for failing to perform adequate checks on its drivers. Rape has been a highly sensitive issue since a 23-year-old student was gang-raped and murdered on a Delhi bus in 2012.


What if everything were free? Well, as Pascale Krémer writes for Le Monde, it is at Debora Fischkandl's little Paris shop, no strings attached. And hers isn't the only one. "Standing in front of the hanging rack for adult clothes, Béatrice Lanouar hesitates over a blouse, as if it was going to cost a fortune," Krémer writes. "The fifty-something seems to be playing the part of the typical customer, something she doesn't get to do very often nowadays with her state-sponsored job and her 570-euro monthly wage ($640). ‘I take what I like. It's a real treat,' she says. ‘Nobody has ever given me anything. But if I don't wear it, I don't keep it. You shouldn't abuse people's generosity.' As soon as she entered the shop, she rushed to the counter to drop off a bra she'd bought on sale for a few euros. It's too big, so she figured someone else could use it. The first "Magasin pour rien" (shop for nothing), inspired by a similar initiative in Germany, opened in 2010 in the eastern city of Mulhouse. Paris and Rennes, in Brittany, followed suit. But it's just one of many signs that demonstrate that such initiatives are flourishing."

Read the full article, In France, The Freecycle Movement Is Going Retail.


Most people have probably heard or seen the new trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens by now. But here's a different kind of trailer, a reminder of what Star Wars is really about: lightsabers and amputations.

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A Refuge From China's Rat Race: The Young People Flocking To Buddhist Monasteries

Unemployment, stress in the workplace, economic difficulties: more and more young Chinese graduates are flocking to monasteries to find "another school of life."

Photograph of a girl praying at a temple during Chinese Lunar New Year. She is burning incense.

Feb 20, 2015 - Huaibei, China - Chinese worshippers pray at a temple during the Lunar New Yeat

Frédéric Schaeffer

JIAXING — It's already dawn at Xianghai Temple when Lin, 26, goes to the Hall of 10,000 Buddhas for the 5:30 a.m. prayer.

Still half-asleep, the young woman joins the monks in chanting mantras and reciting sacred texts for an hour. Kneeling, she bows three times to Vairocana, also known as the Great Sun Buddha, who dominates the 42-meter-high hall representing the cosmos.

Before grabbing a vegetarian breakfast in the adjacent refectory, monks and devotees chant around the hall to the sound of drums and gongs.

"I resigned last October from the e-commerce company where I had been working for the past two years in Nanjing, and joined the temple in January, where I am now a volunteer in residence," explains the young woman, soberly dressed in black pants and a cream linen jacket.

Located in the city of Jiaxing, over a hundred kilometers from Shanghai, in eastern China, the Xianghai temple is home to some 20 permanent volunteers.

Unlike Lin, most of them only stay for a couple days or a few weeks. But for Lin, who spends most of her free time studying Buddhist texts in the temple library, the change in her life has been radical. "I used to do the same job every day, sometimes until very late at night, writing all kinds of reports for my boss. I was exhausted physically and mentally. I felt my life had no meaning," she says.

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