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Eastern Ukraine Elections, End Of Fossil Fuels, French Kisses

Daredevil Nik Wallenda walking a tightrope Sunday in Chicago
Daredevil Nik Wallenda walking a tightrope Sunday in Chicago

Monday, November 3, 2014

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 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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

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In Northern Kenya, Where Climate Change Is Measured In Starving Children

The worst drought in 40 years, which has deepened from the effects of climate change, is hitting the young the hardest around the Horn of Africa. A close-up look at the victims, and attempts to save lives and limit lasting effects on an already fragile region in Kenya.

Photo of five mothers holding their malnourished children

At feeding time, nurses and aides encourage mothers to socialize their children and stimulate them to eat.

Georgina Gustin

KAKUMA — The words "Stabilization Ward" are painted in uneven black letters above the entrance, but everyone in this massive refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya, calls it ya maziwa: The place of milk.

Rescue workers and doctors, mothers and fathers, have carried hundreds of starving children through the doors of this one-room hospital wing, which is sometimes so crowded that babies and toddlers have to share beds. A pediatric unit is only a few steps away, but malnourished children don’t go there. They need special care, and even that doesn’t always save them.

In an office of the International Rescue Committee nearby, Vincent Opinya sits behind a desk with figures on dry-erase boards and a map of the camp on the walls around him. “We’ve lost 45 children this year due to malnutrition,” he says, juggling emergencies, phone calls, and texts. “We’re seeing a significant increase in malnutrition cases as a result of the drought — the worst we’ve faced in 40 years.”

From January to June, the ward experienced an 800 percent rise in admissions of children under 5 who needed treatment for malnourishment — a surge that aid groups blame mostly on a climate change-fueled drought that has turned the region into a parched barren.

Opinya, the nutrition manager for the IRC here, has had to rattle off these statistics many times, but the reality of the numbers is starting to crack his professional armor. “It’s a very sad situation,” he says, wearily. And he believes it will only get worse. A third year of drought is likely on the way.

More children may die. But millions will survive malnutrition and hunger only to live through a compromised future, researchers say. The longer-term health effects of this drought — weakened immune systems, developmental problems — will persist for a generation or more, with consequences that will cascade into communities and societies for decades.

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