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ISIS Loses Ramadi, Comfort Women Restitution, Fictional Refugees

IRAQI FORCES RECLAIM CENTRAL RAMADI

An Iraqi military official said this morning that government forces had "fully liberated" Ramadi, which fell to ISIS last May in an embarrassing defeat. Government forces have been trying to retake the city, the capital of the Anbar province, for weeks. But another official was quick to say that while central Ramadi had been retaken, there were still parts of the city being held by ISIS. "We're being very careful in declaring victory until we have an official announcement from the prime minister's office," the BBC quoted provincial spokesman Muhannad Haimour as saying. ISIS fighters are reportedly still holding "pockets of resistance" and are "capable of launching any attacks on the security forces," Haimour added.


SNAPSHOT

Photo: Ben Cawthra/Rex Shutterstock/ZUMA

A man waits to be rescued from floods in York's town center, as large areas of northern England have been hit by severe flooding after unusually heavy rainfall.


SYRIAN REBELS EVACUATED NEAR LEBANON

At least 130 people, including 70 wounded Syrian rebel fighters and their family members, are being evacuated from the Syrian town of Zabadani, located near the Lebanese border. They will be taken to Beirut and then Turkey under supervision of the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross, the daily L'Orient Le Jour reports. Simultaneously, about 450 wounded people, including women and children, are being evacuated from the Shia villages of Fua and Kefraya, which are held by a collective of rebel groups that include the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front. The evacuation is part of a rare UN-backed deal brokered in September by warring groups in Syria.


8.7 MILLION

Japan will pay $8.7 million to a South Korean fund after the two countries reached a landmark deal today to provide restitution for the fact that Korean "comfort women" were forced into sexual slavery during World War II, The Japan Times reports. "The comfort women issue occurred with the involvement of the Japanese military and the Japanese government acutely feels its responsibility," Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said. The issue has been the source of tension between Seoul and Tokyo for decades. Of the 200,000 mostly Korean women forced into sexual slavery to Japanese soldiers during WWII, only 46 are still alive in South Korea.


TORNADOES KILL 11 IN TEXAS

A series of tornadoes left 11 people dead in and around Dallas, Texas, over the weekend, which left what local authorities describe as "total devastation," according to The Dallas Morning News. Nine twisters reportedly touched down Saturday night. The size of one of the tornadoes, which some witnesses described as being half a mile wide, can be measured in this video expand=1]. At least 43 people have been killed by severe storms in U.S. states over the past few days.


VERBATIM

"This is a full blown operating system where they control most of the code," German researcher Florian Grunow said Sunday during the Chaos Communication Congress in Hamburg, describing North Korea's homegrown computer operating system known as Red Star. "Kim Jong-il said North Korea should develop a system of their own," he added. "This is what they've done." Red Star, which the researcher was able to explore in detail, isn't connected to the World Wide Web and only allows access to state media and officially approved websites. Developed for more than a decade, it reportedly resembles a rudimentary Apple OSX.


SUICIDE BOMB KILLS 1 NEAR IN KABUL

At least one person was killed and 33 wounded this morning when a Taliban suicide bomber detonated explosives near Kabul's airport. Reuters quoted the Afghan Ministry of Public Health as saying that 18 children in a school located near the airport were among the injured. The attack comes a day after Gen. Raheel Sharif, the head of the Pakistani army, visited the Afghan capital with the aim of resuming negotiations with the Taliban.


MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD



BURUNDI PEACE TALKS REOPEN

Peace talks between the Burundi government and the opposition are set to restart in Uganda today for the first time in five months, Jeune Afrique reports. The country has undergone a serious political crisis since Pierre Nkurunziza was re-elected for a third presidential term in July. The opposition sees this as contrary to the new constitution established in 2006 that ended a 12-year civil war.


WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

Some believe names represent more than just a matter of taste, that they destine people to certain fates. But as Marie-Pierre Genecand writes for Le Temps, most everyone can agree that certain names are simply bad choices. "Now comes the question that every future parent thinks about with a mix of anxiety and excitement. Does a name shape a person? Does it have the power to influence the course of life? I think it does. And all the first-name dictionaries think so too. An Irène won't live the same life as a Lola. A Jean-Albert will simply have a different trajectory than a Matteo."

Read the full article, From Gontran To Adolf, The Influence Of Name Choice.


ON THIS DAY


Today is the birthday of Westminster Abbey and the Spider-Man creator. That and more in 57 seconds!


WELCOMING (FICTIONAL) REFUGEES

A survey conducted by conservative polling company WPA Research recently found that 44% of Democrats in the U.S. would welcome refugees from Agrabah, the fictional city in Disney's Aladdin. It comes on the heels of a survey by the Democratic Public Policy Polling in which 30% of Republicans supported bombing the same fictional city.

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Society

Colombia Celebrates Its Beloved Drug For The Ages, Coffee

This essential morning drink for millions worldwide was once considered an addictive menace, earning itself a ban on pain of death in the Islamic world.

Colombia's star product: coffee beans.

Julián López de Mesa Samudio

-Essay-

BOGOTÁ — October 1st is International Coffee Day. Recently it seems as if every day of the calendar year commemorates something — but for Colombia, coffee is indeed special.

For almost a century now we have largely tied our national destiny, culture and image abroad to this drink. Indeed it isn't just Colombia's star product, it became through the course of the 20th century the world's favorite beverage — and the most commonly used drug to boost work output.

Precisely for its stimulating qualities — and for being a mild drug — coffee was not always celebrated, and its history is peppered with the kinds of bans, restrictions and penalties imposed on the 'evil' drugs of today.

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