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Christians Flee Iraq, Obama On Ebola, Guinness Misunderstood

Hundreds have been evacuated from the fast-moving Rowena wildfire near Portland
Hundreds have been evacuated from the fast-moving Rowena wildfire near Portland

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Thousands of Iraqi Christians are fleeing Qaraqosh, the minority’s largest town in the country, after the Islamic State (IS) — the militant group previously known as ISIS — seized it early today.This follows the withdrawal of Kurdish forces from the area, the BBC reports.

Qaraqosh is located between Mosul, the main town IS controls in Iraq, and Erbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region. In mid-July, Islamist militants issued an ultimatum to the town’s 50,000 Christians: either convert to Islam, pay a special tax, or leave the city. At least a quarter of the region’s Christians are reported to have left Qaraqosh and surrounding towns.

The Chaldean archbishop of Kirkuk and Sulaymaniyah described the situation as a “tragedy” and called upon the “UN Security Council to intervene immediately,” the French dailyLe Monde quoted him as saying.

Meanwhile, some 40,000 other Iraqi minorities, the Yazidi, are stranded around Mount Sinjar, a mountain in the country’s northwest. They face slaughter at the hands of jihadists surrounding them below — and dehydration if they stay, The Guardian reports. At least 130,000 people, mostly from the Yazidi stronghold of Sinjar, have fled to the Kurdish north or to the town of Erbil, which is facing a major refugee crisis.

A fast-moving brush fire prompted the evacuation of 275 homes Thursday in Rowena, about 75 miles east of Portland in northern Oregon.

There is increasing controversy about the use of ZMapp, an experimental drug used to treat two Americans infected with the deadly Ebola virus in Liberia. The antibody cocktail has only been tested on animals and hasn’t yet been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for broad use, Bloomberg reports.

"We've got to let the science guide us," U.S. President Barack Obama said at a news conference following a three-day summit with African leaders. "I don't think all the information is in on whether this drug is helpful. What we do know is that the Ebola virus — both currently and in the past — is controllable if you have strong public health infrastructure in place.”

Meanwhile, a Spanish priest infected with the virus while in Liberia has been transported back to Madrid, making him the first person brought to Europe for treatment, Euronews reveals.

For more about the Ebola epidemic, we offer this exclusive reportage from Le Monde’s Rémi Barroux, who travels into the heart of West Africa where the deadly virus is spreading: Into The Ebola Triangle, As Doctors Risk All To Stop The Spread.

Top Khmer Rouge leaders Nuon Chea, 88, and Khieu Samphan, 83, have been jailed for life after being convicted by a UN-backed tribunal in Cambodia of crimes against humanity, Reuters reports. The two men, who respectively served as Pol Pot’s deputy and head of state, are the first top-level leaders to be held accountable for the Maoist regime’s crimes, which is thought to have killed up to two million people between 1975 and 1979.

Hamas leaders said today they would not agree to renewing the Gaza ceasefire that ends tomorrow unless Israel meets some of its demands. “It cannot be renewed without real achievements,” Al Jazeera quoted Ismael Radwan, the leader of the Palestinian militant movement, as saying. Hamas also wants Israel’s blockade on Gaza lifted and the release of Palestinian prisoners, as Israel calls for the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip. At least 1,875 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and 67 Israelis, mainly soldiers, have been killed in the conflict.

He's always the victim.” In closing arguments today in the Oscar Pistorius murder trial, prosecutor Gerrie Nel described the accused as “vague, argumentative and mendacious,” casting the South African athlete on trial for the 2013 murder of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp as always placing blame elsewhere, The Guardian reports.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has issued an immediate, one-year ban on fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, milk and dairy imports from the United States, the European Union, Australia, Canada and Norway, according to RT. It follows an order from President Vladimir Putin to ban or limit food imports from countries that imposed sanctions on Russia for its annexation of Crimea and its support of Ukrainian separatists.


Yemeni troops killed seven suspected al-Qaeda militants Thursday when they tried to attack an army facility in the volatile region of Wadi Hadramout, where the government is perceived to be weak, Reuters reports.

New statistics from Uruguay’s National Observatory against Violence and Crime show that it’s three times more likely that a murder will take place in the nation's capital of Montevideo than in New York. Read more here.

Bud-loving Americans just don’t get Guinness. Stale U.S. sales of the sudsy dark brew have forced the company to adapt and create a lager U.S. drinkers are expected to find more palatable.

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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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