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Geopolitics

Germany Divided, India Coal Strike, Fasten Your Smartbelts

Having fun on ice slides Monday at Harbin's Ice and Snow World in northeastern China.
Having fun on ice slides Monday at Harbin's Ice and Snow World in northeastern China.
Worldcrunch

Tuesday, January 6, 2014

GERMANY DIVIDED AS PEGIDA PROTESTS GROW
A record 18,000 people gathered in the eastern German city of Dresden last night for a weekly “anti-Islamization of the West” march, while similar protests are spreading across the country in cities like Berlin, Cologne and Stuttgart. The protesters were met with smaller, opposing rallies denouncing PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West) as racist and xenophobic, while lights were switched off at major sites in disapproval of the weekly demonstration. In the tabloid Bild, 80 public figures from the primary political parties and the media decried the anti-Islamization protests, with former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt calling for his country to “remain open and tolerant.”
Read more in English from Worldcrunch.

ON THIS DAY

Joan of Arc was born 603 years ago today. Find out what else Jan. 6 has given us in
your daily 57-second shot of history.

ISIS PUBLISHES FIRST $2 BILLION BUDGET
The self-proclaimed ISIS caliphate in large areas of Iraq and Syria has published its first annual budget — $2 billion for 2015 with an anticipated $250 million surplus, making it the world’s richest terrorist organization, London-based al-Araby al-Jadeed reports. But Financial Times reports that people in the Iraqi city of Mosul are tired of their taxes and the lack of decent governing structures. “We’ve endured international sanctions, poverty, injustice. But it was never worse than it is now,” one man told reporters. With the price of bread in Syria now equivalent to a third of the daily income of most civilians under ISIS rule, the newspaper concludes that if the caliphate were official, “it would be a country of the poor.”

The months-long battle for Kobani, a Kurdish Syrian town on the Turkish border, continues, and Kurdish fighters said they had gained control of a key district, giving them control over 80% of the town. For more on this, here’s a Syria Deeply/Worldcrunch piece, Fighting ISIS In Kobani, A Syrian Kurd Tells His Story.

MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD


ASIAN STOCKS FALL FOR SECOND DAY
Asian stock markets have continued their slide for a second day, with Tokyo’s Nikkei suffering its biggest drop in 10 months amid growing concern over falling oil prices and the political situation in Greece. This follows similar trends in the West yesterday, particularly in Greece, Italy and France, as well as in the U.S., where both the Dow and S&P 500 registered losses as the price of crude oil fell under $50 per barrel. Read more from USA Today.

100
The political deadlock in Afghanistan continues, and the country is still without a government 100 days after President Ashraf Ghani was introduced and agreed to share power with his rival Abdullah Abdullah, prompting jibes from the Taliban.

BOKO HARAM SEIZES SECOND MILITARY BASE
Thousands of people have fled their homes in the north Nigerian state of Borno after Boko Haram fighters seized a second military base in a week. Many are feared dead in the attack, though no official figure has been released, and other residents are believed to have drowned as they tried to cross a nearby lake to safety. Read more from The Guardian.

VERBATIM
“Minors today are like 007: They have a licence to kill.” — São Paulo’s newly appointed Police Chief Youssef Abou Chahin defended tougher legislation to curb skyrocketing crime by youths in Brazil’s most populated city,Folha de S. Paulo reports.

INDIA COAL WORKERS BEGIN STRIKE
Coal workers in India are beginning a five-day strike today that news agency PTI describes as the biggest industrial action since 1977. Trade unions denounce the “disinvestment” in the state-owned company Coal India and are protesting legislation that would privatize the sector. The strike is expected to affect the production of 1.5 million tons of coal and may hit fuel supplies at power plants.

HOT DOWN UNDER
Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology released figures showing that 2014 was the country’s third hottest since records began in 1910, behind only 2013 and 2005, The Sydney Morning Herald reports. This comes as South Australia is facing its worst bushfires in decades amid soaring temperatures and strong winds.

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO
As Süddeutsche Zeitung’s Charlotte Theile reports, the Swiss Haldigrat ski area became a family business when Kurt Mathis saw that a chair lift was for sale and fell in love with it. “Many ski areas have joined forces in recent years so they can offer more runs, comfortable lifts and perfectly prepared slopes. It's all very different at the Haldigrat, where there are no runs,” Theile writes. “At the valley lift station, there's a map showing areas skiers should avoid — for example, the woods where there is a wildlife reserve. Anybody who goes in and disturbs the animals is fined. The rest is up to the individual. ‘Everything is possible and nothing is certain,’ Mathis says. ‘It’s an uncontrolled skiing area, and you come here at your own risk.’”
Read the full article, Switzerland's No-Slope Anti-Resort For Freestyle Skiers.

FASTEN YOUR SMARTBELTS
Another Consumer Electronics Show has opened in Las Vegas, and this year’s event is poised to highlight wearables above all else. But news of a “smartbelt” that adjusts itself when you’ve eaten too much has prompted widespread mockery, most notably from The Guardian’s Charlie Brooker, who developed his own list of ideas for wearable tech. We, on the other hand, have long been prepared for the next step, The Internet of Bodies.

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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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