WHILE YOU SLEPT

Istanbul And ISIS, Kabul Attack, Carla’s Math

SPOTLIGHT: WHAT DOES ISTANBUL ATTACK SAY ABOUT ISIS?

After Tuesday night’s gruesome attack at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport, where the toll now stands at 42 people dead and 239 wounded, Turkish police launched a vast operation that led to the arrest of 13 suspects, AFP reports. Perhaps surprisingly, no organization has so far claimed responsibility for the attack in a country where acts of terror can come from different sources. Turkish authorities have indicated that they believe the Islamic State jihadist group, also known as ISIS and ISIL, is to blame. If confirmed, this could mark a shift in the war against the terror organization even as it loses ground in both Syria and Iraq.

  • Ozgur Mumcu writes in Istanbul daily Cumhuriyet that those responsible for attacks in Turkey use the country to plan and carry out attacks. He blames the assault on the government’s policy toward neighboring Syria, where jihadist groups like the Islamic State have flourished. “The fight against terrorism is left to luck and individual acts of heroism,” Mumcu notes.
  • An analysis in the The Washington Post said the attack appeared to set the stage for an outright war between Turkey and ISIS.
  • Sources quoted in The New York Times struck a more cautious note, saying ISIS is “trying to have it both ways” by “punishing Turkey for starting to act against it” after years of at least passive support, while “leaving enough of a gray area that it avoids a full-on clash with a country that has been valuable to its operations.”


WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY



ISIS FIGHTERS KILLED IN AIRSTRIKES NEAR FALLUJAH

At least 250 ISIS fighters were killed in airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition near the recently recaptured city of Fallujah, Iraq, USA Today reports. The strikes dealt another heavy blow to ISIS, which has lost about 45% of the territory it controlled at its peak last year in Iraq and about 20% of what it once occupied in Syria, according to the Pentagon.


AFGHAN TALIBAN TARGET POLICE IN KABUL

Two huge explosions triggered by a suicide bomber against a police convoy have killed at least 40 Afghan officers just outside Kabul, the BBC reports. The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attack.


â€" ON THIS DAY

Today’s 57-second of History contains impressive footage from 1908 … Check it out here!


UK CONSERVATIVES LEADERSHIP BATTLE

Britain’s ruling Conservative Party is now following in the slippery footsteps of its Labour party opponents, with what is shaping up to be a tough leadership battle following last week’s Brexit vote. Justice Secretary Michael Gove, who campaigned with former Mayor of London Boris Johnson for Britain to leave the EU, announced this morning his desire to become the next party leader and Prime Minister, saying that “Boris cannot provide the leadership or build the team” necessary to achieve Brexit, the BBC reports. Home Secretary Theresa May also launched her leadership bid this morning, as did Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom.


PHILIPPINES’ DUTERTE SWORN IN

The tough-talking Rodrigo Duterte was sworn in as president of the Philippines today in Manila. The 71-year-old vowed to eradicate criminal gangs, and his election seems to have already led to a wave of killings of drug peddlers. See how Duterte was featured in the Philippines press.


600+

An oak tree in New Jersey that’s more than 600 years old and thought to be the oldest in the U.S. is dying but nobody knows why, The Washington Post reports.


â€" WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

Ever wish you could wrest power from dictators, empower opposition movements, spark military interventions abroad and domestic protests? For Italian daily La Stampa, Massimo Russo presents Power & Revolution, a simulator that mirrors real world events: “Players can choose from a number of scenarios: from reforming European states to attempting a coup d"état in Africa. While the game lacks good graphics, the high level of geopolitical realism in Power & Revolution has led several countries as well as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, to use the game to select employees and train them.”

Read the full article, This Video Game Grooms Future World Leaders.


HUMAN BODY PARTS FOUND ON RIO’S OLYMPIC BEACH

Human body parts were found on Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana beach, very close to the area where beach volleyball athletes will compete in this summer’s Olympic Games. Local media notes the finding highlights a heightened level of violence in Rio lately, with at least 10 dead. More in English from AP.


CHINESE V. JAPAN IN EAST CHINA SEA

Chinese military activity in the East China Sea is escalating both at sea and in the air, Japan’s top military commander told reporters in Tokyo. China and Japan are entangled in a dispute over islands in the area.


MY GRAND-PERE’S WORLD

In Your Mummified Face â€" Silkeborg, 1979


VERBATIM

“I can’t do division or simple multiplication,” Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, France’s former first lady and model told Elle magazine, adding she can “lose her temper” when she tries to help the children with the homework. The Italian-French singer also says she could “commit extreme acts like cut his throat or his ears in his sleep” if former French President Nicolas Sarkozy ever cheated on her.


SPECTACULAR WATER RELEASE AT XIAOLANGDI DAM

Cascades of water were released from China’s Xiaolangdi dam on the Yellow River, a yearly event to flush silt from the bottom of a reservoir behind the dam. Check out the spectacular pictures of the release.


â€" MORE STORIES, EXCLUSIVELY IN ENGLISH BY WORLDCRUNCH

BUSTED, MR. DJ

Sven Vath is that good a DJ that he can do his job while watching a soccer game.

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Green

Ecological Angst In India, A Mining Dumpsite As Neighbor

Local villagers in western India have been forced to live with a mining waste site on the edge of town. What happens when you wake up one day and the giant mound of industrial waste has imploded?

The mining dumpsite is situated just outside of the Badi village in the coastal state of Gujarat

Sukanya Shantha

BADI — Last week, when the men and women from the Bharwad community in this small village in western India stepped out for their daily work to herd livestock, they were greeted with a strange sight.

The 20-meter-high small hill that had formed at the open-cast mining dumpsite had suddenly sunk. Unsure of the reason behind the sudden caving-in, they immediately informed other villagers. In no time, word had traveled far, even drawing the attention of environment specialists and activists from outside town.

This mining dumpsite situated less than 500 meters outside of the Badi village in the coastal state of Gujarat has been a matter of serious concern ever since the Gujarat Power Corporation Limited began lignite mining work here in early 2017. The power plant is run by the Power Gujarat State Electricity Corporation Limited, which was previously known as the Bhavnagar Energy Company Ltd.

Vasudev Gohil, a 43-year-old resident of Badi village says that though the dumping site is technically situated outside the village, locals must pass the area on a daily basis.


"We are constantly on tenterhooks and looking for danger signs," he says. Indeed, their state of alert is how the sudden change in the shape of the dumpsite was noticed in the first place.

Can you trust environmental officials?

For someone visiting the place for the first time, the changes may not stand out. "But we have lived all our lives here, we know every little detail of this village. And when a 150-meter-long stretch cave-in by over 25-30 feet, the change can't be overlooked," Gohil adds.

This is not the first time that the dumpsite has worried local residents. Last November, a large part of the flattened part of the dumpsite had developed deep cracks and several flat areas had suddenly got elevated. While the officials had attributed this significant elevation to the high pressure of water in the upper strata of soil in the region, environment experts had pointed to seismic activities. The change is evident even today, nearly a year since it happened.

It could have sunk because of the rain.

After the recent incident, when the villagers raised an alarm and sent a written complaint to the regional Gujarat Pollution Control Board, an official visit to the site was arranged, along with the district administration and the mining department.

The regional pollution board officer Bhavnagar, A.G. Oza, insists the changes "aren't worrisome" and attributes it to the weather.

"The area received heavy rain this time. It is possible that the soil could have sunk in because of the rain," he tells The Wire. The Board, he says, along with the mining department, is now trying to assess if the caving-in had any impact on the ground surface.

"We visited the site as soon as a complaint was made. Samples have already been sent to the laboratory and we will have a clear idea only once the reports are made available," Oza adds.

Women from the Surkha village have to travel several kilometers to find potable water

Sukanya Shantha/The Wire

A questionable claim

That the dumpsite had sunk in was noticeable for at least three days between October 1 and 3, but Rohit Prajapati of an environmental watchdog group Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, noted that it was not the first time.

"This is the third time in four years that something so strange is happening. It is a disaster in the making and the authorities ought to examine the root cause of the problem," Prajapati says, adding that the department has repeatedly failed to properly address the issue.

He also contests the GPCB's claim that excess rain could lead to something so drastic. "Then why was similar impact not seen on other dumping sites in the region? One cannot arrive at conclusions for geological changes without a deeper study of them," he says. "It can have deadly implications."

Living in pollution

The villagers have also accused the GPCB of overlooking their complaint of water pollution which has rendered a large part of the land, most importantly, the gauchar or grazing land, useless.

"In the absence of a wall or a barrier, the pollutant has freely mixed with the water bodies here and has slowly started polluting both our soil and water," complains 23- year-old Nikul Kantharia.

He says ever since the mining project took off in the region, he, like most other villagers has been forced to take his livestock farther away to graze. "Nothing grows on the grazing land anymore and the grass closer to the dumpsite makes our cattle ill," Kantharia claims.

The mining work should have been stopped long ago

Prajapati and Bharat Jambucha, a well-known environmental activist and proponent of organic farming from the region, both point to blatant violations of environmental laws in the execution of mining work, with at least 12 violations cited by local officials. "But nothing happened after that. Mining work has continued without any hassles," Jambucha says. Among some glaring violations include the absence of a boundary wall around the dumping site and proper disposal of mining effluents.

The mining work has also continued without a most basic requirement – effluent treatment plant and sewage treatment plant at the mining site, Prajapati points out. "The mining work should have been stopped long ago. And the company should have been levied a heavy fine. But no such thing happened," he adds.

In some villages, the groundwater level has depleted over the past few years and villagers attribute it to the mining project. Women from Surkha village travel several kilometers outside for potable water. "This is new. Until five years ago, we had some water in the village and did not have to lug water every day," says Shilaben Kantharia.

The mine has affected the landscape around the villages

Sukanya Shantha/The Wire

Resisting lignite mining

The lignite mining project has a long history of resistance. Agricultural land, along with grazing land were acquired from the cluster of 12 adjoining villages in the coastal Ghogha taluka between 1994 and 1997. The locals estimate that villagers here lost anything between 40-100% of their land to the project. "We were paid a standard Rs 40,000 per bigha," Narendra, a local photographer, says.

The money, Narendra says, felt decent in 1994 but for those who had been dependent on this land, the years to come proved very challenging. "Several villagers have now taken a small patch of land in the neighboring villages on lease and are cultivating cotton and groundnut there," Narendra says.

They were dependent on others' land for work.

Bharat Jambucha says things get further complicated for the communities which were historically landless. "Most families belonging to the Dalit or other marginalized populations in the region never owned any land. They were dependent on others' land for work. Once villagers lost their land to the project, the landless were pushed out of the village," he adds. His organization, Prakrutik Kheti Juth, has been at the forefront, fighting for the rights of the villages affected in the lignite mining project.

In 2017, when the mining project finally took off, villagers from across 12 villages protested. The demonstration was disrupted after police used force and beat many protesters. More than 350 of them were booked for rioting.

The villagers, however, did not give up. Protests and hunger strikes have continued from time to time. A few villagers even sent a letter to the President of India threatening that they would commit suicide if the government did not return their land.

"We let them have our land for over 20 years," says Gohil.

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