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Algerian Crash, Kerry's Truce Proposal, Space Geckos

Men dressed as Phi Ta Khon take part in Bangkok's "happiness party" organized by the Thai military.
Men dressed as Phi Ta Khon take part in Bangkok's "happiness party" organized by the Thai military.

Friday, July 25, 2014

French President François Hollande confirmed in televised comments today that French soldiers reached the wreckage of Algerian Airlines flight AH5017 in Mali, and retrieved one of the plane's two black boxes. None of the 110 passengers and six crew members survived.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told RTL Radio that the government was considering the possibility the plane had been shot down by Islamists who have been fighting French troops in Mali. “We think the plane went down due to weather conditions, but no hypothesis can be excluded as long as we don't have the results of an investigation.” Cazeneuve said. “Terrorist groups are in the zone. ... We know these groups are hostile to Western interests.”

The Telegraph has pieced together heart-breaking details about many of the victims on the flight.

After more than 800 deaths in Gaza in 18 days of fighting, including a deadly attack on a school yesterday in the Gaza town of Beit Hanoun, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is proposing a weeklong humanitarian truce beginning Sunday, The New York Timesreports.

Among the key sticking points: Hamas wants economic blockades on Gaza lifted, while Israel wants to be able to maintain its forces in Gaza during any negotiated ceasefire.

Yesterday’s elementary school attack came after hundreds of Palestinian evacuees seeking shelter in a UN-run school came under heavy fire, leaving 16 people dead and more than 100 wounded. Among the casualties were women, children and infants, The Washington Post reports.

Violence has spread to the West Bank where demonstrations were held in response to the UN school bombing. At least two protesters were killed Thursday night in clashes with Israeli police in Ramallah city, just north of Jerusalem, Al Jazeera reports. Palestinians have called more demonstrations for today.

In an air strike today in Gaza, two women, one of them pregnant, were killed.

Hamas also said today that it had fired three rockets at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport.

International concerns continue to grow over the war’s impact on civilians, which rights groups estimate account for about 80% of the casualties so far. One-quarter of those are children. UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos has said it’s “almost impossible" for Palestinians to shelter from Israeli air strikes in the densely populated territory.

Thailand’s military is doing its best to “return happiness to the people” by organizing a six-day street festival in Bangkok.

Turkish daily Radikal’s Fehim Tastekin reports on the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIS) in Syria, and what it means for the Assad regime and its opponents in the war-torn country. “The opposition groups hope the new situation will pave the way for more weapons to come their way,” Tastekin writes. “However, the outside supporters of these opposition groups, the United States foremost, wants them to direct all their energy to the battle against ISIS.” Will a rising division among rebels mean less credibility for the Syrian opposition?
Read the full article, From Syria To Iraq, Can Allies Of Circumstance Take Down Jihadists?

This video captures the emotion of a Palestinian mother, who finds her son in a clinic after thinking he had been killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza.

Amid criticism of its mostly toothless reaction to Russian aggression, European governments decided to “turn the screw on Russia a notch tighter Thursday in response to Moscow's actions in Ukraine,” The Wall Street Journal writes. EU officials are considering sanctions that “would disrupt Russian financing and imports of energy and defense-related products, a significant shift in Europe's approach so far of mainly penalizing individuals.” Read more here.

It has been a black week in aviation history, possibly one of the worst in terms of deaths, as 464 people have died in airliner disasters over the past seven days. The question of civilian aviation safety above war zones is the subject of this Süddeutsche Zeitung piece in English via Worldcrunch: MH17, Costs And Consequences Of Open Air Space.

Reuters reports that McDonald’s has stopped selling chicken nuggets in Hong Kong after realizing that its Shanghai supplier, a U.S.-owned company in China, was implicated in a Chinese food scandal. A TV report Sunday showed workers at the company, Shanghai Husi Food, using long-expired meat and using food that had fallen on the floor.

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A Russian satellite with five mating geckos, some plant life and insects — all put on board for experimental purposes — has, perhaps not shockingly, ceased responding to mission control, The Washington Report reports. It is unclear if a Barry White CD is on board.

— Crunched by Liz Garrigan.

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Parenthood And The Pressure Of Always Having To Be Doing Better

As a father myself, I'm now better able to understand the pressures my own dad faced. It's helped me face my own internal demands to constantly be more productive and do better.

Photo of a father with a son on his shoulders

Father and son in the streets of Madrid, Spain

Ignacio Pereyra*


When I was a child — I must have been around eight or so — whenever we headed with my mom and grandma to my aunt's country house in Don Torcuato, outside of Buenos Aires, there was the joy of summer plans. Spending the day outdoors, playing soccer in the field, being in the swimming pool and eating delicious food.

But when I focus on the moment, something like a painful thorn appears in the background: from the back window of the car I see my dad standing on the sidewalk waving us goodbye. Sometimes he would stay at home. “I have to work” was the line he used.

Maybe one of my older siblings would also stay behind with him, but I'm sure there were no children left around because we were all enthusiastic about going to my aunt’s. For a long time in his life, for my old man, those summer days must have been the closest he came to being alone, in silence (which he liked so much) and in calm, considering that he was the father of seven. But I can only see this and say it out loud today.

Over the years, the scene repeated itself: the destination changed — it could be a birthday or a family reunion. The thorn was no longer invisible but began to be uncomfortable as, being older, my interpretation of the events changed. When words were absent, I started to guess what might be happening — and we know how random guessing can be.

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