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EU-Balkan Refugee Plan, Indonesia's Deadly Haze, Street Sheep

EU-Balkan Refugee Plan, Indonesia's Deadly Haze, Street Sheep


Leaders agreed yesterday at a summit of eight EU countries along with Serbia, Macedonia and Albania to create 100,000 places for migrants in the Balkans and Greece as part of German-led efforts to find "a more reasonable way of dealing with the problem," Chancellor Angela Merkel said.

  • Under the deal, Greece will host 50,000 asylum seekers, although Greek leaders were reportedly opposed to the idea initially. Last week saw more than 9,000 migrants reach Greek shores daily, the highest rate so far this year.
  • According to Politico, Balkan countries have also agreed to "refrain from waving migrants through to other countries."
  • Before the summit began, Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar warned that the absence of a solution would mean "the end of the European Union as such." More than 62,000 refugees have crossed into Slovenia, a country of two million people, over the past week. Read more from Reuters.


Indonesia's disaster agency estimates that at least 500,000 people have been suffering from respiratory illnesses since July and the start of mass forest fires caused by slash-and-burn farming, The Straits Times reports. Palm-oil producers in Indonesia have been using that technique, lighting fires intentionally to clear lands more quickly and make way for new plantations, but this year's dry season has made the situation worse than usual. At least 10 people have died from the haze, which some estimate could last for as long as a year. Malaysia and Singapore have also been affected by these techniques, which the Indonesian government has described as a "crime against humanity of extraordinary proportions." According to the Jakarta Post, the Indonesian Palm Oil Producers Association retorted this was part of a smear campaign against the industry.


The Central Committee of China's ruling Communist Party is gathering in Beijing to draw up the country's 13th five-year plan and provide the government with a blueprint until 2020, Channel News Asia reports. By that date, Beijing hopes it will have overcome its recent economic woes and overtaken the U.S. as the world's largest economy. Some significant change could be on the way: Communist Party mouthpiece Study Times wrote that China should join the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership "when the time is right." Read more in English from the South China Morning Post.


"Of course you can't say those of us who removed Saddam in 2003 bear no responsibility for the situation in 2015," former British Prime Minister Tony Blair told CNN, admitting that the Iraq war was the "principal cause" of the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria. He also apologized "for the fact that the intelligence we received was wrong," but said Iraq is still better off without Saddam Hussein. This comes one week after a secret U.S. memo revealed that Blair had agreed to follow the U.S. into war a full year before the conflict started, and just before the publication of a long-awaited British public report into the war.


At least 14 people have died in northern Pakistan after a magnitude 7.5 earthquake struck the Hindu Kush region this morning, Dawn reports. Hundreds of people are also reported wounded. The epicenter of the earthquake was in Afghanistan and tremors were also felt in India, with reports of buildings shaking in New Delhi. This story is developing.



Daniel Scioli, the candidate backed by outgoing left-wing President Cristina Kirchner, came out on top after yesterday's vote in the Argentine presidential election, but his slim victory means he'll face right-wing candidate Mauricio Macri in a runoff next month, Clarín reports. For more on Argentina's future, we offer this El Espectador/Worldcrunch piece, Warming Up For A New, Post-Kirchner Era In Argentina.

  • In Guatemala, meanwhile, TV comedian Jimmy Morales won the second round of the presidential election with more than 67%, after promising zero tolerance on corruption, newspaper Prensa Libre reports.


Photo: Pacific Press/ZUMA

Shepherds guided about 2,000 sheep through the streets of Madrid yesterday, during the annual transhumance festival.


An 18-century Paris gallery has been transformed into a "venue of free and creative exchange," upending the usual relationship between art and the public. "Visitors are encouraged to help themselves to anything and everything, even given bags at the entrance to facilitate carrying their haul," Le Monde writes. "Even the painted eggs that ornament the Grand Staircase are available for the taking. So what's this all about? Is it a bizarre bazaar, an artsy flea market, an alternative art show to protest materialism? It's actually a reinterpretation of a project that was created 20 years ago for London's Serpentine Galleries. Curator Hans-Ulrich Obrist believes the exhibit is "an antidote more necessary than ever against the omnipresence of commerce."

Read the full article, A Paris Exhibit Where The Art Is For The Taking.


The Conservative and Eurosceptic Law and Justice party (PiS) swept to victory in Poland, ousting the ruling center-left and pro-EU Civic Platform in yesterday's parliamentary elections, Gazeta Wyborcza reports. PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski — the twin brother of Poland's late president Lech Kaczynski, who died in a plane crash in 2010 — has promised more spending for the poor and said his party would enshrine more Roman Catholic values into law. Read more in Le Blog.


The World Health Organization is expected to publish a report today showing that processed meats such as bacon and sausage can cause cancer, and that red meat is bad for our health. The meat industry isn't going to like it.


The Football Association was formed in London 153 years ago. That, and more, in your 57-second shot of history.

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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War

The Gaza Ceasefire Is Over, With Western Diplomacy Weaker Than Ever

Diplomacy has failed to stave off a resumption of the war in Gaza. Yes, Israel made clear its goal of destroying Hamas is not complete. But the end of the truce is also one more sign that both the U.S. and Europe hold less sway in the region than they once did.

Smoke rising from a building after an Israeli strike on the city Rafah the in southern Gaza strip.

December 1, 2023: Smoke rising from a building after an Israeli strike on the city Rafah the in southern Gaza strip

Source: Abed Rahim Khatib/ZUMA
Pierre Haski


PARIS — Unfortunately, the end of the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas was predictable. In a previous column this week, I wrote that the question was not whether the war would resume, but rather when (and how) it would resume. Israel has made it clear in recent days that it has not yet achieved its goal of destroying Hamas in Gaza, and that it still intends to do just that.

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Still, international diplomacy has not been idle. U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken arrived in Israel on Thursday: the United States was putting pressure on Israel so that, once the conflict resumed, it would inflict fewer civilian casualties — a more “surgical” war.

It is obviously too early to know if Blinken’s words have been heard. The only question is whether Israel will apply the same massive strategy in the south of the territory as in the north, or if the country will carry out more targeted operations, in a region with a very high population density.

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