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TOPIC: infrastructure

FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War

Gaza's Water Crisis: From Lever Of Occupation To Weapon Of War

Shortages of water, which have ultimately long been controlled by Israel, have long been a brutal reality for the Palestinians of Gaza. Now with the ongoing bombing and siege campaign, the daily search for water has become central to the struggle to survive.

KHAN YOUNIS — Firas, a young Palestinian man from the Gaza Strip, was displaced from eastern Khan Younis to a shelter in the governorate’s center due to the ongoing Israeli bombing. Each day, he carries several empty bottles and makes his way to the Nasser Medical Complex in the south of Gaza, hoping to fill them there.

This water is impotable, but he drinks it anyway. The only other option for him and his family is to stand in line for hours to buy 10 bottles for 12 shekels ($3.08), which is 50% higher than pre-war prices. The water may run out before his turn comes. With the continuing bombing, Firas, like all those displaced to shelter centers, only has the chance to shower every two or three days, depending on the availability of water.

Firas is not alone. Falastin, a displaced woman in her thirties, carries a plastic bag filled with her clothes for half a kilometer to reach a public bathroom in a hospital to take a shower. On her way back, she carries a gallon of water to bring home to her three daughters so they can also shower and wash their clothes. “Imagine walking all this distance and carrying all this weight on my back,” Falastin says.

Ahmad faces a slightly better situation than Firas and Falastin. He hasn’t been displaced yet, but he shares in the daily strip-wide struggle to get water. Ahmad is in charge of the water supply for his family of nine. He walks to a tank at a nearby mosque three times a day while carrying a gallon bottle and fetches 16 liters of water after waiting in line for at least half an hour.

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This Happened — September 19: Mexico City Earthquake

On this day in 1985, an earthquake with a magnitude of 8.0 on the Richter scale struck Mexico City.

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Libya Flood, A "Natural" Disaster Made Of Climate Change And Colonialism

The devastating flood in Libya is the result of the climate crisis, worsened by the country's poor infrastructure, the legacy of European colonialism. These disasters will only become more frequent.


If we still haven't come to terms with the climate crisis and the criminal irresponsibility of the Western world, we need look no further than the harrowing images coming from Libya, a nation devastated by the Mediterranean Storm Daniel.

The death toll is still unknown, with numbers rising everyday. It seems possible that the death toll will surpass 20,000, eclipsing Morocco's earthquake (which, somehow, has better captured the public's attention).

The damage is notable. In the eastern coastal city of Derna, witnesses describe water as much as three meters high. Yet these extreme weather conditions, stemming from an increasingly severe climate crisis, are only heightened by humanity's reckless disregard for the earth.

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Crossing Europe, Sans Gas? My Summer Vacation 'Stress Test' For Electric Cars

The author set off on a three-week vacation trip across Europe in an electric car. Would the charging infrastructure be enough to get all the way, or would they end up stranded without battery, far from home?

BERLIN — "Do we really want to do that?" my wife asked. "Nearly 3,000 kilometers across Europe, in an electric car? We've already failed over much shorter distances."

She was right about that. But it's 2023, and e-mobility has outgrown its niche. It is set to become the new reality — in fact, it already is. After all, we're driving through Europe, not the desert.

After a lot of persuasion, I finally managed to assuage her worries. But I also prepared myself for a fairly big adventure. After all, our three-week vacation tour this year took us not only through Germany, but also Austria, Slovenia, Croatia and Italy.

On our last long electric trip just over a year ago, we got stuck in a charging station jam after only 160 kilometers. The charging park in Nempitz, Saxony-Anhalt, was overrun, and before we could get to the charging point we had to line up and wait for 45 minutes.

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This Happened

This Happened — August 24: Central Italy Earthquake

An earthquake of 6.2 magnitude hit Italy on this day in 2016.

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Alice Facchini

The Fastest Path To Sustainable Cities: A Very Low Speed Limit

Bologna is the first major Italian city to join the city30 initiative, taking on a model that limits the speed of cars in cities to 30 kilometers-per-hour (18.6 mph) and aims to return road space to pedestrians and cyclists.

BOLOGNACity30, a program that lowers the speed limit of major cities to 30 kilometers an hour (18.6 mph), has several goals: it aims to increase road safety, promote sustainable mobility through the reduction of pollution and emissions and to advance the local economy. The new model has already taken hold in various cities around the world, and has now arrived in Italy as well.

Starting in June, Bologna became the first major Italian city to set its speed limit to 30 kilometers per hour. The first Italian city to do so was Cesena, which led the way in 1998, and was followed in 2021 by Olbia.

To become a city30, however, more has to be done than just lowering the speed limit. Rather, it is a broader and more complex intervention, that is both infrastructural and cultural. The urban environment must be redeveloped with the aim of returning public road space to pedestrians and cyclists.

“In Italy, we still consider the road to be solely the realm of the car," says urban planner Matteo Dondè, who specializes in cycling planning, traffic calming and the redevelopment of public spaces. “It is above all a cultural problem: we are the only country where the pedestrian thanks the motorist for stopping at the pedestrian crossing... and if you respect the speed limit you are seen as a loser.”

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This Happened

This Happened - April 18: An Earthquake Hits San Francisco

An earthquake hit San Francisco and its surrounding areas in California this day in 1906. The earthquake, which was caused by the movement of tectonic plates along the San Andreas Fault, was one of the most powerful in American history.

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Christian Putsch and Christina zur Nedden

First Signs The China-Africa Love Affair Is Growing Cold

China has invested billions in multiple African countries in order to expand its influence. But both sides have been quietly scaling back the relationship, as Africans resent one-sided deals and China fears defaults on debt.


JOHANNESBURG — In December, Kenya's new president, William Ruto, broke a taboo that pertains to pretty much every Chinese loan agreement with African governments: the secrecy clause.

Ruto's predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta had refused to publish contracts for billion-dollar projects, citing clauses to that effect. But that caused so much public anger that Ruto made disclosure a campaign promise.

The ominous details relate to the construction of an entirely overpriced rail line from Nairobi to the coastal city of Mombasa worth $3.6 billion. The case explains why Beijing is so keen to keep such contracts confidential.

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This Happened

This Happened—December 29: London Burning

Caused by Nazi bombing raids which set off a series of fires, the Second Great Fire threatened to destroy London. It was ultimately contained, symbolized by the saving of the famed St. Paul's Cathedral.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Anna Akage

Putin’s Kyiv Obsession, From Failed Feb. 24 Blitz To Coming Winter Siege

Kremlin war aims in Ukraine have never been entirely clear. Part of that is due to the setbacks the Russian army has suffered; and now it appears that both the strategic and symbolic objective of reducing the capital of Kyiv to its knees is again very much on Vladimir Putin's mind.

The notion that Vladimir Putin was only interested in the contested southeastern regions of Ukraine vanished on Feb. 24. His so-called “special military operation” was in fact an all-out invasion of the nation — with Kyiv as the central objective.

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Russian forces attacked the capital from the direction of the Chernobyl exclusion zone and Belarus. In addition to regular troops, OMON special police units and troops loyal to Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov were directed toward Kyiv.

High among the orders was the assassination of the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, along with his family and top advisers. Oleksiy Danilov, a top military chief, Russian special forces tried in vain several times to pierce the presidential quarters in the first days of the war.

Those efforts, as well as the wider attempt to capture Kyiv, were repelled by Ukrainian forces, with the battles for the city and its surroundings lasting just over a month. By early April, Moscow was diverting its war effort elsewhere, and the capital would gradually regain some semblance of daily normality.

Nearly nine months later, Russian troops have gained then lost much of the territory they have occupied, and are moving steadily back closer to the border of the 2014 conflict. During this time, the south and east of the country suffered heavy losses, and entire cities were destroyed. The retreat of Russian forces from Kherson earlier this month marked another low moment, with signs that the Ukrainian army is ready to move farther east — and perhaps even head toward the Crimean peninsula.

So where is the Kremlin looking now? Yes, Kyiv again.

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Christoph B. Schiltz

Here Are Four Ways Putin Could Turn The Tide In Ukraine

Ukraine's recent successes on the battlefield have put pressure on Vladimir Putin, who has launched what appear to be desperate attacks on civilians and infrastructure in response. Experts warn that it is dangerous to believe that Russia is bound to fail.


Russia's airstrikes on Ukraine have continued unabated throughout the week.

More than 40 cities have been hit by Russian missiles over a period of just 24 hours, the General Staff of the Ukrainian army announced Thursday. Heavy strikes occurred in the outskirts of Kyiv for several nights in a row. Sirens wailed, people ran in panic through the darkness.

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Thirty percent of the country's energy infrastructure has now been destroyed, according to Ukrainian figures — a dramatic development as rain and cold weather are just around the corner.

Ukraine needs to urgently "defend itself against the terrible Russian attacks on civilians," NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg told the alliance's defense ministers meeting in Brussels earlier this week. The message got through.

Germany and the U.S. made new commitments to supply air defense, and a total of 15 countries signed a declaration of intent for a "European Sky Shield" in Brussels on Thursday. The goal is to "close the gaps" in air defense, said Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht.

But to be clear, as brutal as they are, the Russian missile offensives are the direct result of Ukraine's huge military gains in recent weeks.

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Vazhnyye Istorii/Important Stories

Terror As Strategy: Is There A Method To Putin's Vengeance?

This week’s massive strikes by Russia on Ukrainian territory brought back the terror of the first days of the invasion across the entire country. Were they strategic strikes, or simply a retaliation for Ukraine’s attack on a strategic bridge in Russia-occupied territory in Crimea?


KYIV — The toll continues to rise after Russia's massive missile strikes across Ukraine, including the capital. Emergency services say 19 people were killed, 105 were injured and there was widespread damage to the country's energy infrastructure.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia had struck "with precision-guided weapons at energy, military command and communications facilities."

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But it was clear from the beginning that the strikes also struck residential buildings, civilians and vehicles, which the United Nations warned may amount to a war crime. Indeed, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Russia had two goals: energy facilities and people.

“This is perhaps the most massive blow to Ukraine since the beginning of the war,” says Russian military expert Yuri Fedorov.

Still, Ukrainian military expert Oleksandr Kovalenko put the strikes into perspective, saying that no attack could be as strong as those of Feb. 24, when Russia invaded Ukraine.

“Russia will not be able to repeat that," he said. "It simply will not be able to overcome a one-time blow of that magnitude.”

The question lingers after scenes of bloodshed in cities far from the front line: was there a strategic rationale behind the strikes? And will October 10 represent the beginning to a new phase of the war.

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