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Rouhani at the World Economic Forum with foreign minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif
Rouhani at the World Economic Forum with foreign minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif
Wang Siwei/Xinhua/ZUMA

GENEVA TALKS CONTINUE OVER SYRIA’S FUTURE
Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN mediator for peace in Syria, will hold separate meetings with representatives of the Syrian government and of the opposition in a bid to bring them to the negotiating table ahead of tomorrow’s talks in Geneva. According to the BBC, it’s still not clear whether the two delegations will meet directly.

TEMPORARY TRUCE IN KIEV
Vitaly Klitschko, a leader of the Ukrainian opposition who had threatened to lead the protesters “on the offensive” yesterday, said pro-EU protesters and the police have agreed to an 8 p.m. truce local time, RT reports. Meanwhile, he and other opposition leaders will meet with President Viktor Yanukovych.

  • Speaking at a meeting in Davos, Switzerland, Ukraine Prime Minister Mikola Azarov likened Klitschko to “extremists,” saying the “call to arms” was unconstitutional and that most Ukrainians didn’t support it, Interfax reports.

  • Several thousand people demonstrated outside the U.S. embassy in Kiev late yesterday to call for the pro-EU movement’s barricades to be removed and to denounce what they see as American interference in internal affairs. Read more from Interfax.

KHODORKOVSKY’S COHORT TO BE FREED
The Russian Supreme Court reduced the jail sentence of Platon Lebedev, who was convicted along with partner Mikhail Khodorkovsky of tax evasion and theft after funding opposition parties to the displeasure of President Vladimir Putin. Ria Novosti reports that Lebedev could be released as early as today, though the court ruled that he and Khodorkovsky, who was released last month, still need to pay $550 million in taxes from their former oil company Yukos.

FIVE POLICEMEN KILLED IN EGYPT
Five police officers were killed at a security checkpoint by masked gunmen on motorbikes in the town of Beni Suef, south of Cairo, Al Jazeera quotes the Egyptian Interior Ministry as saying. Attacks on police have been common since the July 2013 ousting of Mohamed Morsi, with some 250 officers killed.

NSA PROGRAM ILLEGAL, WATCHDOG SAYS
The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, an independent watchdog, said in a report that the bulk collection of phone data has achieved “minimum” benefits in the fight against terrorism, arguing the NSA program is illegal and should end. Read more from The New York Times.

BUS CRASH IN TURKEY
At least 21 people have died in a bus accident in Central Turkey that also left 22 other passengers injured, newspaper Hurriyet reports. The crash, one of the worst in the country in recent years, took place during the night, when the driver lost control of the vehicle due to intense fog and ice on the road.

FOTO
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addressed attendees at the World Economic Forum in Davos today, making the case for investment in the Iranian economy, which he hopes will benefit from lifted sanctions and a warmer relationship with the West.

CRIME INT’L
A French history teacher was briefly detained at the Cracow airport after visiting Auschwitz. Read what happened.

BY THE NUMBERS
Toyota is the best-selling car brand in the world two years running.

MOST INTRIGUING HEADLINE EVER?
This sensational headline from UK newspaper Daily Mirror caught our attention: GHOST ship crewed only by CANNIBAL rats feared to be heading for Britain. You’re welcome.

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Green

Fading Flavor: Production Of Saffron Declines Sharply

Saffron is well-known for its flavor and its expense. But in Kashmir, one of the flew places it grows, cultivation has fallen dramatically thanks for climate change, industry, and farming methods.

Photo of women harvesting saffron in Kashmir

Harvesting of Saffron in Kashmir

Mubashir Naik

In northern India along the bustling Jammu-Srinagar national highway near Pampore — known as the saffron town of Kashmir —people are busy picking up saffron flowers to fill their wicker baskets.

During the autumn season, this is a common sight in the Valley as saffron harvesting is celebrated like a festival in Kashmir. The crop is harvested once a year from October 21 to mid-November.

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