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New VW Scandal, Mother Teresa Miracle, Skype-Diving

New VW Scandal, Mother Teresa Miracle, Skype-Diving

ISIS STRIKES BACK, BUT FAILS

More than 300 ISIS fighters launched a vast attack against Kurdish forces in several locations near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, but their assault was repelled by the Kurdish fighters backed by U.S.-led airstrikes, The Washington Post reports. At least 180 jihadist fighters are reported to have been killed in what's described as "the most intense fighting that northern Iraq has seen this year." The attack, which the newspaper says shows the "resilience" of ISIS, also highlights the difficulties lying ahead for the recapture of Mosul.


ISRAEL, TURKEY RESTORE TIES

Israel and Turkey have begun normalizing their relations, five years after the Israeli navy attacked a Turkish flotilla carrying activists to Gaza and killed 10 of them, Haaretzreports. Under a preliminary agreement, Israel will pay Turkey $20 million in compensation and Turkey will drop all claims against Israel. TheFinancial Times notes that the deal paves the way for cooperation on natural gas, with talks of an undersea pipeline to export Israeli gas to Turkey. This comes amid high tensions between Turkey and its main gas supplier, Russia.


SNAPSHOT

Photo: Tao Zhang/NurPhoto/ZUMA

A worker carves a large snow sculpture in preparation for the 28th International Snow Sculpture Art Expo in Harbin, northern China, which opens on Dec. 20.


MIRACLE CONFIRMED FOR MOTHER TERESA

Pope Francis has officially recognized a second miracle attributed to Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mother Teresa, paving the way for her sainthood, Catholic newspaper Avvenirereports. The canonization of the iconic Albanian-born nun will likely take place next year, in September, according to the Italian newspaper. Mother Teresa was beatified in 2003 by Pope John Paul II, six years after her death.


ON THIS DAY


From ballet theatres to outer space, here's Dec. 18 in 57 seconds.


SECOND SMOG RED ALERT IN BEIJING

Chinese authorities in Beijing have issued their highest pollution warning for a second time in the past eight days. They are forecasting at least four days of thick smog and the pollution index is expected to exceed 500 in some parts of the city, well above the 25 considered as the maximum safe level by the World Health Organization. Read more from Reuters.


MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD



$5 MILLION

Martin Shkreli, the young CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals and KaloBios Pharmaceuticals whose name became synonymous with ever-rising drug prices, was released on a $5-million bond after he pleaded not guilty to various charges of security fraud. Prosecutors believe he ran his businesses like "a Ponzi scheme."


BOOST FOR BRAZIL'S DILMA IN IMPEACHMENT SAGA

The Brazilian Supreme Court ordered a complete overhaul of impeachment procedures, in a move that could potentially throw a lifeline to besieged president Dilma Rousseff, Folha de S. Paulo reports. The decision to scrap a lower house commission set up to deal with the impeachment procedure and instead give that power to the Senate, where Rousseff enjoys greater support, is a blow to her opponents, and especially her main rival, the lower house speaker Eduardo Cunha.


WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

Bicycles with electric motors are becoming more popular and controversial at the same time. Environmentalists wonder if cyclists are losing their carbon neutrality in pursuit of an extra boost, Süddeutsche Zeitung's Marco Völklein reports: "This is the so-called S-Pedelec, a bicycle fitted with an electrical motor that can reach speeds of up to 27 mph. An insurance registration number is marked underneath the saddle, and a bulky battery is attached to the down tube which in turn powers the motor situated within the chain rings. For those who ride actual racing bikes without electrical help, such as Köhler, this bicycle is a sacrilege. ‘It's not sports equipment,' he says."

Read the full article, The E-Cycle, Pedaling That Fine Line Of Ecology And Utility.


VW'S EX-BOSS STILL ON PAYROLL

Despite officially resigning in September at the height of Volkswagen's emissions scandal, former VW CEO Martin Winterkorn is still on the company's payroll and could earn millions until his contract terminates at the end of 2016, an investigation by Germany's business dailyHandelsblatt and TV network ZDF reveals. Read more here.


SKYPE DIVING

This expand=1] young Irishman thought he'd surprise his parents by Skype-calling them while … skydiving. (Warning: Contains profanity. And awesomeness.)

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Society

In Northern Kenya, Where Climate Change Is Measured In Starving Children

The worst drought in 40 years, which has deepened from the effects of climate change, is hitting the young the hardest around the Horn of Africa. A close-up look at the victims, and attempts to save lives and limit lasting effects on an already fragile region in Kenya.

Photo of five mothers holding their malnourished children

At feeding time, nurses and aides encourage mothers to socialize their children and stimulate them to eat.

Georgina Gustin

KAKUMA — The words "Stabilization Ward" are painted in uneven black letters above the entrance, but everyone in this massive refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya, calls it ya maziwa: The place of milk.

Rescue workers and doctors, mothers and fathers, have carried hundreds of starving children through the doors of this one-room hospital wing, which is sometimes so crowded that babies and toddlers have to share beds. A pediatric unit is only a few steps away, but malnourished children don’t go there. They need special care, and even that doesn’t always save them.

In an office of the International Rescue Committee nearby, Vincent Opinya sits behind a desk with figures on dry-erase boards and a map of the camp on the walls around him. “We’ve lost 45 children this year due to malnutrition,” he says, juggling emergencies, phone calls, and texts. “We’re seeing a significant increase in malnutrition cases as a result of the drought — the worst we’ve faced in 40 years.”

From January to June, the ward experienced an 800 percent rise in admissions of children under 5 who needed treatment for malnourishment — a surge that aid groups blame mostly on a climate change-fueled drought that has turned the region into a parched barren.

Opinya, the nutrition manager for the IRC here, has had to rattle off these statistics many times, but the reality of the numbers is starting to crack his professional armor. “It’s a very sad situation,” he says, wearily. And he believes it will only get worse. A third year of drought is likely on the way.

More children may die. But millions will survive malnutrition and hunger only to live through a compromised future, researchers say. The longer-term health effects of this drought — weakened immune systems, developmental problems — will persist for a generation or more, with consequences that will cascade into communities and societies for decades.

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