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Saadi Gaddafi
Saadi Gaddafi

CRIMEAN LAWMAKERS VOTE TO JOIN RUSSIA
Crimean lawmakers voted unanimously this morning to join the Russian Federation and asked Russia to examine the request. And the region’s Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Temirgaliev announced a March 16 referendum in which voters will answer two questions: whether they want Crimea to become a Russian territory, and whether they want to restore Crimea’s 1992 constitution, which would see it remain in Ukraine but with increased autonomy, RT reports. Ukraine’s interim Economy Minister Pavlo Sheremeta said the referendum was unconstitutional. Yesterday, a Kiev court issued arrest warrants for Crimea’s prime minister and the speaker of the region’s parliament. Read more from Xinhua.

This comes as European Union foreign policy leaders gather in Brussels today for an emergency meeting to discuss possible sanctions against Russia for its role in the Ukraine crisis. It is unclear what the meeting can achieve, as there appears to be no unanimity about what to adopt. While Eastern European countries such as Poland favor tough sanctions and isolation, Germany is said to prefer mediation. According to the BBC, German Chancellor Angela Merkel fears that sanctions against Russia would eventually hurt the EU, as the continent relies on Moscow for 30% of its gas. Earlier today, Brussels announced an assets freeze on 18 Ukrainians including former President Yanukovych and his son. Read more from Euronews.

Writing in The Washington Post, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger sets out his vision for how the crisis should end, calling for total independence for Kiev, both from Russia and the West. Meanwhile, Russian political scientist Sergei Markov expresses pessimism about the escalation in a column for The Moscow Timesentitled “Why There Will Be War In Ukraine.” In The Guardian, British journalist Seumas Milne wrote a scathing column in which he denounces the U.S.’s “new depths of self parody” and explains that the situation in Crimea is “the fruit of Western expansion.”

GADDAFI’S SON EXTRADITED TO LIBYA

Niger has extradited Saadi Gaddafi, the son of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, two and a half years after he fled the country following his father’s death, the BBC reports. He is accused of shooting protesters during the uprising in Libya.

FIVE AFGHAN SOLDIERS KILLED IN U.S. DRONE STRIKE
Al least five Afghan soldiers were killed and another eight were injured in a U.S. drone strike in the eastern province of Logar, The New York Times reports. According to the spokesman for the province’s governor, “The strike was the result of poor coordination between the people on the ground and the operators of the drone.” U.S. officials said the deaths would be investigated.

VENEZUELA BREAKS TIES WITH PANAMA
The Venezuelan government has decided to break its political and economic ties with Panama, citing conspiracy plans and interference in internal affairs, state-backed newspaper Correo Del Orinoco reports. Speaking during the commemorations of the first anniversary of Hugo Chavéz’s passing, President Nicolás Maduro announced the decision, describing Panama President Ricardo Martinelli as a “despicable lackey” who doesn’t represent his people. According to the BBC, an official statement from Panama said Maduro’s words were “unacceptable.”

MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD

NORTH KOREA REJECTS TALKS WITH SOUTH
Authorities in North Korea have rejected Seoul’s offer to discuss regular family reunions from the two Koreas through Red Cross officials, Xinhua reports. But North Korea appears willing to discuss the issue through senior officials, another sign of the recent warming of relations between the two countries. This comes amid certain tensions over test missile launches from Pyongyang. According to AP, South Korea has criticized the North for launching a missile that is said to have narrowly missed a civilian flight.

VERBATIM
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has declared that there are too many national parks there and that the forestry industry should have more access to logging. Read his comments here.

BY THE NUMBERS
Under an interim nuclear deal that has provided Iran limited relief from sanctions and unfrozen some of the country’s oil revenues, South Korea is set to make a $550 million payment to Iran Friday. Read more from Reuters.

CRIME INT’L
Colombia police confiscate cocaine hidden in a baby’s diapers.

JAMIE’S CANTONESE
Speaking cantonese is no easy task, as this video of British chef Jamie Oliver illustrates.

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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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