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Two Sides Of The Syrian War

Today, the top United Nations human rights official declared that the targeting of eastern Aleppo in Syria constituted war crimes rarely seen before. "The violations and abuses suffered by people across the country, including the siege and bombardment of eastern Aleppo, are simply not tragedies; they also constitute crimes of historic proportions," Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Although we've all heard of the horrors of the Syrian war where President Bashar al-Assad with the help of Russia is fighting rebel groups, we rarely catch a glimpse of the war's striking complexity. Reporting for French newspaper Le Figaro, Georges Malbrunot, offers us a rare on-the-ground view of what's happening in Aleppo, in an article that will be published tomorrow in English on Worldcrunch.

Malbrunot visits the Bustan al-Qasr neighborhood, which divides government-controlled western Aleppo from the eastern part of the city held by rebels, and describes stark differences between the two sides. "In Bustan al-Qasr, the only things the two sides exchange are hostages and dead bodies. On the regime-controlled side, people are still alive as reflected by the clothes drying on balconies. On the rebel side, which holds the Citadel of Aleppo, the few humanitarian volunteers who have been able to enter the area share stories of a lifeless scenery dotted with snipers watching from what's left of local homes," the journalist notes.

"Civilians in eastern Aleppo are paying the heaviest price for Russian airstrikes. More than 350 people have been killed over the past month," Malbrunot writes, adding that a rebel killed a 15-year-old girl in Bustan al-Qasr just hours before he got there. Even as defenders of human rights make strongly-worded speeches in Switzerland, this report is a reminder that a war is claiming lives by the hour in Syria.


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ISIS militants have raided government buildings, killing at least 11 people in and around the oil-rich Iraqi city of Kirkuk, even as Iraqi and Kurdish forces continue their offensive to retake Mosul, Al Jazeera reports.


Negotiations for the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with Canada were stalled late Thursday by Belgium's regional government of Wallonia, local daily La Libre reports. Failure to complete the deal would be a significant blow to Europe's credibility as a trading partner on the international stage, financial news website MarketWatch writes.


Oct. 21, 1879: Thomas Edison invents the light bulb.

Oct. 21, 1980: Kim Kardashian is born.

Coincidence? Discover the truth in today's 57-second shot of history.


"I announce my separation from the United States," Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said yesterday during a visit to Beijing, in what CNN calls the latest sign of his "pivot away from the U.S. and toward China."


WikiLeaks dropped a new batch of Podesta emails last night, allegedly obtained from a secret address used by President Barack Obama prior to his 2008 election.


Unlike the ethnic Uighurs, the Hui are a much more assimilated Muslim minority, which gives them more religious freedom, Cyrille Pluyette writes from Linxia for French daily Le Figaro. "Linxia city has more than 80 mosques for some 250,000 people. ‘We are perfectly free to practice our religion. The mosque is open 24/7, the faithful can come in and pray at any time,' says Ye Wenxin, Yihewani's imam, or ahong to use the Chinese term.

Ye sits in a dark office inside the mosque filled with books. Unlike the Uighurs, the Hui increasingly make pilgrimages to the Islamic holy city of Mecca and can celebrate important religious dates. Hui civil servants are allowed to fast at Ramadan and women can wear Islamic headscarves."

Read the full article, In China, Hui Muslims Enjoy Rare Religious Freedom.


South Africa has formally notified the UN that it wants to withdraw from the International Criminal Court. Read more about it from the BBC.


A 6.2-magnitude earthquake rocked western Japan this morning, the Japan Meteorological Agency reports. No casualties have been reported yet and no tsunami warning was issued, though strong aftershocks are expected in the coming days.


Two of South Korean President Park Geun-hye's closest advisors have been accused of using their influence to coerce big conglomerates into making multimillion-dollar donations to non-profit foundations. The allegations represent "the biggest political crisis of the president's career," writes the Financial Times.


The Condor Offer — Arequipa, 1996



Remember the failed "restoration" of a 19th-century mural of Jesus Christ in Spain four years ago? Well this replacement head for a statue of baby Jesus in Canada may actually be worse.

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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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