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Italy Quake, Once The Dust Has Settled

Two days after an earthquake tore through central Italy, the dust is settling on the razed buildings, and the hope of finding survivors in the rubble is fading away. The first burials of victims took place this morning, only hours after Prime Minister Matteo Renzi declared a state of emergency for the worst-hit areas and pledged 50 million euros to rebuild devastated towns, according to Italian daily Il Messaggero.

As with every natural disaster, we keep an eye on escalating tolls. At least 268 people were killed and more than 400 were wounded by the 6.2-magnitude quake. Dozens are still missing. Hundreds of aftershocks, including a 4.7-magnitude tremor early this morning, are putting the lives of thousands of rescue workers at risk.

But the images are often more potent than numbers: The drone expand=1] footage of the streets of Amatrice — one of the worst-hit villages — taken by the Italian fire and rescue service, brings back memories of the L'Aquila quake in 2009, which killed more than 300 in the Abruzzo region. In an op-ed, Italian daily Corriere della Sera focuses on the lessons we should learn from past earthquakes and the need to build structures that are resistant to them.

As is often the case, many are wondering what could have been done to avoid such a high toll in a famously earthquake-prone region. The dust may be settling, but the questions are only beginning to be raised.



A bomb-laden truck targeting a police station killed 11 officers and wounded dozens early this morning in the Cizre district of southeastern Turkey, state-run Anadolu Agency reports. Although no one has claimed responsibility for the attack, authorities are blaming members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).


Two gunmen belonging to al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab group killed at least six people at a beach restaurant in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, setting off a car bomb before opening fire, Al Jazeera reports.


From the Vatican to NYC, here's your 57-second shot of History.


Syrian state news agency SANA reports that a deal was signed today between rebel fighters and the Syrian army to evacuate families from the Damascus suburb of Daraya. The settlement ends one of the longest-standing sieges in Syria's five-year civil war.


In 2012, Serge Desazars left his well-paid job in fashion to start looking for black diamonds: Tuber melanosporum — a.k.a. "black truffle." For French daily Les Echos, Stéphane Frachet met the businessman-turned-mushroom hunter — and his dogs: "Serge Desazars admits it bluntly: He's ‘addicted' to truffles. In 1996, aged 26, he planted truffle oaks on 1.5 acres next to the family house. ‘He used to train his dog in Paris' public gardens by hiding truffles in the soil,' says Adrienne, his wife, laughing as she remembers her husband down on all fours, his hands in the soil to feel the precious mushrooms. ‘People would look at him as if he was a freak. Many thought he was a crackpot.'"

Read the full article, From Fashion To Truffle Hunting, A Businessman's Tale.


As yesterday marked the 100th birthday of the National Park Service, U.S. President Barack Obama pledged to create the world's largest protected marine area by expanding Hawaii's Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument to 600,000 square miles, the Honolulu Civil Beat reports. During his presidential terms, Obama has permanently protected more than 265 million acres of public land and water — more than any other president.


To celebrate the late Mother Teresa's birthday, who would have turned 106 today, here's one of Worldcrunch's exclusive, 15-second Quote/Unquote videos, featuring words of wisdom from the Skopje-born nun and missionary.


"From the start, Donald Trump has built his campaign on prejudice and paranoia," U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said yesterday at a rally in Reno, Nevada, about the Republican nominee. The declaration came a day after Trump called her "a bigot."


Fishing Fashion — Nazaré, 1963


According to Bloomberg, ride-sharing giant Uber lost at least $1.27 billion in the first half of 2016. Most of the losses can be blamed on subsidies for the company's drivers.



Humor website Cracked.com sat down with two "conlangers," that is, linguists in charge of creating fictional languages for movies and TV shows like Avatar and Game of Thrones. And their stories are fülgentasblikk.

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The Pope's Health Feeds Succession Rumors — And Deeper Questions About The Church

It is not only the health of the Pope that worries the Holy See. From the collapse of vocations to the conservative wind in the USA, there are many ills to face.

Photograph of Pope Francis holding his hand against his forehead.

October 4, 2023 - Pope Francis concelebrates the Holy Mass with the new Cardinals at the Vatican

Evandro Inetti/ZUMA
Gianluigi Nuzzi

Updated Dec. 4, 2023 at 6:05 p.m.

ROME — "How am I? I'm fine... I'm still alive, you know? See, I'm not dead!"

With a dose of irony and sarcasm, Pope Francis addressed those who'd paid him a visit this past week as he battled a new lung inflammation, and the antibiotic cycles and extra rest he still must stick with on strict doctors' orders.

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The Pope is dealing with a sensitive respiratory system; the distressed tracheo-bronchial tree can cause asthmatic reactions, with the breathlessness in his speech being the most obvious symptom. Tired eyes and dark circles mark his swollen face. A sense of unease and bewilderment pervades and only diminishes when the doctors restate their optimism about his general state of wellness.

"The pope's ailments? Nothing compared to the health of the Church," quips a priest very close to the Holy Father. "The Church is much worse off, marked by chronic ailments and seasonal illnesses."

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