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Gaza Ceasefire Cracks, Yukos Verdict, Hygienic Fist Bumps

"Shadows of war" in Gaza
"Shadows of war" in Gaza

Monday, July 28, 2014

The UN Security Council agreed on a statement during an emergency midnight meeting calling for “an immediate and unconditional humanitarian ceasefire” in the Gaza war between Israel and Hamas that has killed more than 1,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and more than 40 Israeli soldiers in just three weeks, the AP reports.

Gaza fighting had in fact eased over the weekend, including a 12-hour truce on Saturday, followed by pressure from the United States and the UN to extend it. Hamas has requested a 24-hour truce to mark the three-day Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which starts today.

Both in statements to the press and at the UN, Israeli officials were skeptical about Hamas respecting a ceasefire.

Israeli jets struck three sites in Gaza today, the AP reports, with military officials telling the news agency the strike was a response to a rocket launched at Israel.

Reuters has a video of a Palestinian baby delivered this week from a mother killed by an Israeli air strike.

The UN’s top human rights official said in a statement today that shooting down Malaysian Flight MH17 — which crashed in eastern Ukraine July 17, killing all 298 people aboard — may amount to a war crime, The New York Times reports. As the newspaper notes, the UN official, Navi Pillay, did not ascribe blame for the deadly attack. Her assessment came as the UN issued its fourth monthly report on the chaos in eastern Ukraine, which estimates that at least 1,129 people have been killed and 3,442 wounded there since mid-April. News reports today said that in the latest weekend fighting at least eight civilians were killed in the rebel strongholds of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Young survivors of April’s South Korean ferry disaster testified today in the trial of the 15 crew members charged with abandoning the vessel, saying passengers were told to stay onboard and were left to rescue themselves, ITV reports. “We said to ourselves, ‘Why aren't they coming in?’” one student testified. More than 300 people died, including scores from a single high school.

As Süddeutsche Zeitung’s Norbert Meiszies writes, Route 66 may have gone the way of the largely abandoned as interstates became faster and easier for U.S. travelers. Still, the stretch of 2,448 miles between Chicago and Los Angeles has since evolved into a clichéd symbol of freedom and independence. “Most of the businesses, hotels, gas stations and diners that used to exist along Route 66 didn’t survive the change,” the newspaper writes. “They had to close, and have since been quietly falling into decrepitude. The Mother Road herself has suffered: Tufts of grass grow through cracks in the asphalt, while the wind and weather do the rest. Route 66 now survives because of the charm of disuse — and pretty well in some cases, such as New Mexico's 66 Diner in Albuquerque and the El Rancho Hotel in Gallup, both of which have achieved cult status.”
Read the full article, Route 66, Cruising The Most American Road Of Them All.


The Hague’s arbitration court ruled today that Russia must pay $51.6 billion to shareholders of the defunct oil giant Yukos for expropriating its assets, “a big hit for a country teetering on the brink of recession,” as Reuters characterized the decision. The group won less than half of their $114 billion claim, which will help them recover some of the money lost when the Kremlin seized the company.

According to an investigation by French online journal Mediapart, at least 20% of elected members of Parliament have given jobs to close relatives to be paid with public money — including 52 wives, and dozens of children.

Boko Haram militants in Nigeria kidnapped the wife of Cameroon's vice prime minister and killed at least three people Sunday in the northern town of Kolofata, Reuters reports. A local religious leader who also serves as the town mayor was also kidnapped along with five members of his family.
Die Welt has more on the Islamist extremist group in this Worldcrunch piece, How The West Underestimated Boko Haram.

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Vincenzo Nibali won the Tour de France, cruising into Paris on Sunday, to become the tenth Italian to win the world’s top cycling race. The 29-year-old is just the sixth rider in history to have won all three grand tours, adding to his wins at the Vuelta a España in 2010 and Giro d'Italia in 2013. Read more from ESPN.

The traditional handshake is so square and old-school — and can, you know, spread disease. According to a new study published today in that bastion of light reading, the American Journal of Infection Control, the fist bump of the sort Barack Obama is so fond is a much safer way to greet people. “If the general public could be encouraged to fist-bump, there is genuine potential to reduce the spread of infectious disease,” says researcher Dave Whitworth. Read more from the Washington Post.

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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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