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UN Reacts To Obama's Shift On Drone Policy

BBC (UK),CNN, WASHINGTON POST (USA)

Worldcrunch

NEW YORK - A key United Nations lawyer leading a probe on the use of drones has praised President Barack Obama's speech on changes to the United States' anti-terrorism policy, which included new more restrictive guidelines for using unmanned aircrafts to strike targets on the ground.

UN attorney Ben Emmerson called Obama's policy a "significant step towards increased transparency," the BBC reported. Pakistan, which has been frequently targeted by U.S. drones, also gave cautious praise to the speech.

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A predator drone firing a hellfire missile (NATO)

Earlier this year, Emmerson, a human rights legal specialist, launched an inquiry to determine the place of drones in the framework of international law by examining 25 attacks in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, the Palestinian territories and Somalia.

Obama's wide-ranging speech Thursday reinforced his commitment to ending the armed conflict with al-Qaeda. And though he said drone attacks would continue, there would be more stringent oversight about how and when they were used, the Washington Post reported.

"It sets out more clearly and more authoritatively than ever before the administration's legal justifications for targeted killing, and the constraints that it operates under," Emmerson said in a statement.

CNN reported that Obama's speech at the National Defense University at Fort McNair came as the U.S. has reached a “crossroads” in its fight against terrorism.

“As our fight enters a new phase, America’s legitimate claim of self-defense cannot be the end of the discussion,” Obama said. “To say a military tactic is legal, or even effective, is not to say it is wise or moral in every instance.”

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Indigenous Women Of Ecuador Set Example For Sustainable Agriculture

In southern Ecuador, a women-led agricultural program offers valuable lessons on sustainable farming methods, but also how to end violence.

Photo of women walking in Ecuador

Women walking in Guangaje Ecuador

Camila Albuja

SARAGURO — Here in this corner of southern Ecuador, life seems to be like a mandala — everything is cleverly used in this ancestral system of circular production. But the women of Saraguro had to fight and resist to make their way of life, protecting the local water and the seeds. When weaving, the women share and take care of each other, also weaving a sense of community.

With the wrinkled tips of her fingers, Mercedes Quizhpe, an indigenous woman from the Kichwa Saraguro people, washes one by one the freshly harvested vegetables from her garden. Standing on a small bench, with her hands plunged into the strong torrent of icy water and the bone-chilling early morning breeze, she checks that each one of her vegetables is ready for fair day. Her actions hold a life of historical resistance, one that prioritizes the care of life through the defense of territory and food sovereignty.

Mercedes' way of life is also one that holds many potential lessons for how to do agriculture and tourism better.

In the province of Loja, work begins before sunrise. At 5:00 a.m., the barking of dogs, the guardians of each house, starts. There is that characteristic smell of damp earth from the morning dew. Sheep bah uninterruptedly through the day. With all this life around, the crowing of early-rising roosters doesn't sound so lonely.

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