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Syria, Stakes Of A Fragile Ceasefire

A photograph of five-year-old Omran Daqneesh, covered in dust and blood after an Aug. 17 airstrike in the Syrian city of Aleppo wrenched our hearts, and reminded us that the country's civil war is not just some geopolitical football. Omran was lucky to survive. Tens of thousands of other children have not, including Omran's own 10-year-old brother, Ali.

It's not clear if the recent one-week-long ceasefire negotiated between the U.S. and Russia is driven more by geopolitics or the recent burst of public empathy for the likes of Omran and Ali. Nonetheless, beginning last night, Syrian government troops were supposed to stop bombing certain rebel-held areas and humanitarian aid was finally due to reach the many civilians in need. In turn, rebels were supposed to cut off their affiliation with militants formerly linked to al-Qaeda.

But just a few hours after the ceasefire was slated to start, government helicopters reportedly dropped barrel bombs on an Aleppo neighborhood and troops shelled a route intended for humanitarian aid, The Washington Post reports. Syrian media loyal to the government accused rebels of attacking a southern province. Still, according to UK-based monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, there were no civilian casualties in the first 15 hours of the truce.

In a better world, the haunting image of Omran's face, one eye wounded shut, would lead directly to a lasting negotiated settlement in Syria. We hold no illusions that the real world doesn't work quite that way. But if even temporary ceasefires can't hold, the empathy that Omran inspired is bound to be another victim of this endless war.



Two U.S. B-1 bombers flew over South Korea today in a show of force and solidarity with Seoul after North Korea's nuclear test last week, Reuters reports.


Everybody's favorite moustachioed plumber turns 31 today! That, and more, in your 57-second shot of history.


Austria's government confirmed yesterday that the rerun of this year's presidential election would be postponed to Dec. 4, due to problems with faulty glue in the envelopes provided for postal votes. Interior Minister, Wolfgang Sobotka, took the decision after envelopes arrived at counting stations already open, and thus invalid, The Guardian reports.


Detox? Schmetox, according to Swiss daily Le Temps' Julie Rambal: "Online, the word demonstrates magical properties in attracting readers with such headlines as: ‘10 Delicious Detox Water Recipes To Cleanse Your Body', ‘Top detox diets', ‘Cleanse Your Body With These Detox Teas', and ‘Want To Lose Weight & Cleanse Your System? Try A Birch Sap Detox'. Women's magazines have even started talking about a jet black ‘detox ice cream' made out of ‘black coconut ash' and set to become the latest summer trend in New York.

Gian Dorta, a doctor at Lausanne University Hospital, is annoyed by the detox trend.

‘These detox things mark the return of charlatanism,' she says. ‘We have absolutely no need for detoxification since the human body does it itself with the liver and the kidneys, which are dedicated elimination organs.'"

Read the full article, That Pure Marketing Scam We Call Detox.


Several pieces believed to be from missing flight MH37O were recovered in southeastern Madagascar and handed to Australian officials for verification, The Australian reports. The Boeing 777 is believed to have crashed in the southern Indian Ocean on March 8, 2014 with 239 passengers and crew on board.


Three Syrian nationals aged 17, 18 and 26 were arrested in a series of pre-dawn raids in the German states of Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony on suspicion of belonging to terror group ISIS. According to a statement from Germany's Federal Public Prosecutor's office quoted by Deutsche Welle, the three men had come to the country in November with the intention of "carrying out a previously determined order from ISIS or to await further instructions."


Stars And Strifes — Philadelphia, 1990


That's the record prize money netted by the men's and women's singles champions, Switzerland's Stanislas Wawrinka and Germany's Angelique Kerber, at this year's US Open tennis championship.



The world's second largest meteorite — weighing 68,000 pounds — has been discovered about 500 miles northwest of the Argentine capital Buenos Aires. The area where it was found — rightly called "Campo del Cielo" meaning the "Field of the Sky" — was hit by a meteor shower 4,000 years ago. The largest known meteor remains Hoba, a massive piece of iron of about 110,000 pounds, discovered in Namibia a century ago.

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Life On "Mars": With The Teams Simulating Space Missions Under A Dome

A niche research community plays out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another planet.

Photo of a person in a space suit walking toward the ​Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

At the Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

Sarah Scoles

In November 2022, Tara Sweeney’s plane landed on Thwaites Glacier, a 74,000-square-mile mass of frozen water in West Antarctica. She arrived with an international research team to study the glacier’s geology and ice fabric, and how its ice melt might contribute to sea level rise. But while near Earth’s southernmost point, Sweeney kept thinking about the moon.

“It felt every bit of what I think it will feel like being a space explorer,” said Sweeney, a former Air Force officer who’s now working on a doctorate in lunar geology at the University of Texas at El Paso. “You have all of these resources, and you get to be the one to go out and do the exploring and do the science. And that was really spectacular.”

That similarity is why space scientists study the physiology and psychology of people living in Antarctic and other remote outposts: For around 25 years, people have played out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another world. Polar explorers are, in a way, analogous to astronauts who land on alien planets. And while Sweeney wasn’t technically on an “analog astronaut” mission — her primary objective being the geological exploration of Earth — her days played out much the same as a space explorer’s might.

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