CANADAâ€™S LIBERALS SWEEP TO POWER
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 yesterdayâ€™s general elections, the party was the third political force in parliament. â€œMy 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,â€ Justin Trudeau said during his victory speech in Montreal. â€œThis is what positive politics can do.â€ The 43-year-old pledged to run a $10 billion annual budget deficit for three years to invest in infrastructure and help stimulate Canadaâ€™s anemic economic growth, Reuters reports. Read more in Le Blog.
TYPHOON KOPPU BATTERS PHILIPPINES
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.
SOUTH KOREANS GO NORTH FOR REUNION
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 nationâ€™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 yearâ€™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.
ON THIS DAY
Itâ€™s been four years to the day since Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi was captured and killed. That and more in todayâ€™s shot of history.
RUSSIAN AIRSTRIKES KILL 120 IN SYRIA
At least 120 people, both Syrian rebels and civilians, were killed by Russian airstrikes in Syriaâ€™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.
NEW KNIFE ATTACK IN JERUSALEM
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,â€ The Citizen quoted Oscar Pistoriusâ€™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 uncleâ€™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 â€œimportant for the family that it be emphasized that Oscarâ€™s sentence has not been shortened or reduced.â€ She added that he would now â€œserve this under the strict conditions that govern correctional supervision.â€
MY GRAND-PÈREâ€™S WORLD
INDIAN UBER DRIVER GUILTY OF RAPE
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 Fischkandlâ€™s little Paris shop, no strings attached. And hers isnâ€™t the only one. â€œStanding in front of the hanging rack for adult clothes, Béatrice Lanouar hesitates over a blouse, as if it was going to cost a fortune,â€ Krémer writes. â€œThe 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). â€˜I take what I like. Itâ€™s a real treat,â€™ she says. â€˜Nobody has ever given me anything. But if I donâ€™t wear it, I donâ€™t keep it. You shouldnâ€™t abuse peopleâ€™s generosity.â€™ As soon as she entered the shop, she rushed to the counter to drop off a bra sheâ€™d bought on sale for a few euros. Itâ€™s too big, so she figured someone else could use it. The first â€œMagasin pour rienâ€ (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 itâ€™s just one of many signs that demonstrate that such initiatives are flourishing.â€
Read the full article, In France, The Freecycle Movement Is Going Retail.
A DIFFERENT KIND OF TRAILER
Most people have probably heard or seen the new trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens by now. But hereâ€™s a different kind of trailer, a reminder of what Star Wars is really about: lightsabers and amputations.
Slow Food calls for an action plan to significantly reduce and improve the production and consumption of meat, dairy, and eggs by 2050.
If, as the saying goes, we are what we eat, the same also goes for the animals that end up on our plate. How we feed our own food can have knock-on effects, not just for our own health but also for the planet. We are now aware of the meat and dairy industry's significant carbon footprint, responsible for more than a third of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.
Large-scale cattle productions that favor pure profit over more sustainable practices also add to environmental woes through biodiversity loss, deforestation and pesticide use — with some of the world's richest countries contributing disproportionately: The five biggest meat and milk producers emit the same amount of greenhouse gases as the oil giant Exxon.
The good news is that we could meet — if we would — some of these challenges with an array of innovative solutions, as the fields of farming, breeding and nutrition look at ways to shift from centralized intensive agro industry toward a more localized, smaller-scale and more organic approach to production.
Cows fed corn and grain-based diets may grow larger and are ready to be processed at a younger age — but this requires significant energy, as well as land and water resources; in contrast, grass and hay-fed cows support a regenerative farming model in which grazing can contribute to restoring the health of soil through increased microbial diversity. Compared to highly processed GM crops, natural-grass diets with minimal cereals also lead to more nutrient-rich livestock, producing better quality meat, milk and cheese. Farmers have started focusing on breeding native animal species that are best adapted to local environmental contexts.
This new approach to agricultural practices is closely linked to the concept of agroecology, where farming works in tandem with the environment instead of exploiting it. If mowed a few times a year, for instance, natural meadows produce hay that is rich in grasses, legumes and flowers of the sunflower family, like daisies, dandelions, thistles and cornflowers. These biomes become reservoirs of biodiversity for our countryside, hosting countless species of vegetables, insects and birds, many of which are at risk of extinction. Until recently, these were common habitats in meadows that were not plugged or tilled and only required light fertilization. Today, however, they are becoming increasingly threatened: in the plains, where the terrain is used for monocultures like corn; or in hills and mountains, where fields are facing gradual abandonment.
It is worth noting that extensive agriculture, which requires smaller amounts of capital and labor in relation to the size of farmed land, can actually help curb climate change effects through carbon dioxide absorption. Researchers at the University of California, Davis determined that in their state, grasslands and rangelands have actually acted as more resilient carbon sinks than forests in recent years. Through a system of carbon uptake, these lands provide a form of natural compensation, going as far as canceling the farms' impact on the planet, rendering them carbon "creditors."
In the meantime, grasslands and pastures allow animals to live in accordance with their natural behavioral needs, spending most of the year outside being raised by bonafide farmers who care about animal welfare. A recent study by Nature found that allowing cows to graze out of doors has both psychological and physical health benefits, as they seem to enjoy the open space and ability to lie on the soft ground.
Some might worry about the economic losses that come with this slower and smaller business model, but there are also opportunities for creativity in diversifying activities, like agro-tourism and direct sales that can actually increase a farm's profit margin. This form of sustainable production goes hand-in-hand with the Slow Meat campaign, which encourages people to reduce their meat consumption while buying better quality, sustainable meat.
Others may assume that the only environmentally-conscious diet is entirely plant-based. That is indeed a valuable and viable option, but there are also thoughtful ways to consume meat in moderation — and more sustainably. It also should be noted that many fruits and vegetables have surprisingly large carbon footprints: The industrial-scale cultivation of avocados, for example, requires massive amounts of water and causes great hardship to farming communities in Latin America.
But forging a broad shift toward more "biodiversity-friendly" pastoralism requires action by both those producing and eating meat, and those with the legislative power to enact industry-wide change. It is urgent that policies be put into place to support a return to long-established agricultural practices that can sustainably feed future generations. Although no country in the world today has a defined strategy to decrease consumption while transforming production, governments are bound to play a key role in the green transition, present and future.
In Europe, Slow Food recommends that the Fit for 55 package include reducing emissions from agriculture activities by 65% (based on 2005 levels) by 2050. Agriculture-related land use emissions should also reach net-zero by 2040 and become a sink of -150 Mt CO2eq by 2050. But these targets can only be met if the EU farming sector adopts agroecological practices at a regional scale, and if consumers shift to more sustainable diets. If we are indeed what we eat, we should also care deeply about how the choices we make impact the planet that feeds us.