Monday, November 3, 2014
EAST UKRAINE ELECTIONS
Eastern Ukraine’s rebel-held regions of Donetsk and Luhansk held their own elections yesterday, which Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called a “farce” and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini characterized as a “new obstacle on the path towards peace.” Despite Poroshenko’s calls to ignore the vote, Russian officials said they would “respect the will of the inhabitants of the Southeast,” noting that “the turnout was high.” That’s in stark contrast to the nationwide parliamentary elections in these regions last week, news agency Ria Novosti reports. Commenting on the two polls, French economist and Russia specialist Jacques Sapir warns that Ukraine as we know it is on the verge of breaking apart.
Daredevil Nik Wallenda broke two world records Sunday, walking a tightrope across the Chicago River in front of 60,000 people on live television.
ISIS CAPTURES SECOND SYRIAN GAS FIELD
ISIS fighters claimed via social media that they seized another Syrian gas field, the second in a week, after battles with Syrian government forces, Reuters reports. This came amid more grim news from Iraq, where the government said that the jihadist group had killed 322 members of an Iraqi tribe northwest of Baghdad, according to Gulf News. An online video also emerged showing ISIS fighters laughing while discussing the buying and selling of Yazidi women and young girls on a “slave market” in the Iraqi city of Mosul. The Iraqi army has been struggling to keep ISIS away from Baghdad since the terrorists launched their offensive in late spring, but The New York Times reports that security forces backed by American-led air power are planning to retake the territories lost by the end of 2015 after their own “major spring offensive.”
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Haruki Murakami, one of Japan's best known writers whose work has been widely translated, chided his country for neglecting responsibility for both its World War II aggression and the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
ONE DEAD IN BURKINA FASO PROTESTS
At least one person died yesterday as Burkina Faso’s army opened fire at state TV headquarters to force thousands of protesters and journalists to disperse. It came two days after longtime leader Blaise Compaoré resigned and was replaced by Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Zida, Reuters reports. An army spokesman said that “power does not interest us, only the greater interest of the nation,” and promised to create a “transition body.” The United Nations, meanwhile, reacted to the recent events in the former French colony by threatening to impose economic sanctions if the army doesn’t transfer power back to civilian rule.
As La Stampa’s Paolo Mastrolilli reports, while the “Obama factor” may hurt Democrats elsewhere, the Sioux tribe in South Dakota may tip the scales in the president's favor as control of the U.S. Senate hangs in the balance. “The Native Americans account for just 1% of the total U.S. population and, in general, political parties ignore them,” the journalist writes. “But in South Dakota, they make up 9% of the population and could wind up being the deciding factor. ...Obama himself forged a relationship with the tribes, proposing to end their disputes with a total compensation of about $3 billion, and he's now hoping the votes will swing his party's way.”
Read the full article, Where Native Americans May Decide U.S. Midterm Elections.
SUICIDE ATTACK ON PAKISTAN-INDIA BORDER
Pakistan and India have suspended a daily military ceremony in the border town of Wagah after a suicide blast on the Pakistani side killed at least 55 people and injured more than 150, The Times Of India reports. A terrorist organization called Jundullah and described as “loosely aligned” with the Taliban claimed responsibility for the deadliest attack in Pakistan in months. It is the first time that the ceremony, which attracts large crowds every day, has been called off since the war between the two countries in 1971.
MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD
UN URGES END OF FOSSIL FUELS
In a report the BBC described as “stark,” the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that renewable energies will have to grow from representing 30% of the power sector, as they does now, to 80% by 2050. In its report, the IPCC explains that greenhouse gas emissions “should drop by 40% to 70% globally between 2010 and 2050, falling to zero or below by 2100” to limit global warming to 2° Celsius, the target set by governments. “Leaders must act. Time is not on our side,” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said, speaking at a conference in Copenhagen. The report also notes that much more money is being spent on finding new coal and petroleum reserves than the $400 billion spent globally every year to reduce emissions. Read more from The New York Times.
Europe has lost an estimated 421 million birds in three decades, and modern treatment of the environment is to blame, a study published today in the monthly scientific journal Ecology Letters reveals.
FRANCOISM DEFINED AS DICTATORSHIP
Presenting the 23rd edition of the Diccionario de la Lengua Española, Royal Spanish Academy director José Manuel Blecua told newspaper El País that the definition of “Francoism,” the authoritarian regime of Francisco Franco that ruled Spain from 1936 to 1975, has been changed from “political and social movement with totalitarian tendencies” to “dictatorship.” Two weeks ago, the Spanish Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory criticized the initial definition, arguing that it was “an insult to the victims” of the fascist regime.
Egyptian cinema icon Mariam Fakhr Eddine, who came to prominence in Back Again (1958), died at age 81 this morning at a military hospital in Cairo.
The perils of greeting friends in France are very real, as each region has its own kissing etiquette. Luckily, there’s now a map for that.