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Hong Kong Arrests, India-Russia Nuclear Deal, Superbugs

Powerful gales and giant waves battered the coast of Wales for a second day Thursday.
Powerful gales and giant waves battered the coast of Wales for a second day Thursday.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Bailiffs and police officers began a planned clearing operation of Hong Kong’s main protest site this morning, where the Occupy Central movement started more than two months ago. According to the South China Morning Post, dozens of protesters have been arrested, including radical lawmaker "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung, who was dragged away screaming, "We will be back. Democracy will win." Apart from this core of protesters, the operation was met with little resistance, The Straits Times reports. Although it seems that this could be the end of the city’s pro-democracy movement that defied Beijing, The Wall Street Journal writes that “the movement’s legacy may lie not in the reforms it called for, but in the generation it pushed to act.”

Powerful gales and giant waves are battering the coast of Wales for a second day today as a "weather bomb" of low pressure works its way southward across the UK.

Brazil’s Truth Commission published its findings yesterday after nearly three years of study into the crimes of the dictatorship between 1964 and 1985. At least 434 people were victims of brutal torture, which went as far as being locked in a box with extreme temperature changes and having live animals introduced into their bodies, newspaper O Globo reports. Nearly 200 people died and more than 200 others are still officially missing. The commission recommended the 1979 amnesty law be partially revoked so that the military and foreign companies such as Volkswagen, which provided information to the regime, can face trial. The extent of the revelations left President Dilma Rousseff, who herself was tortured at the time as a Marxist guerilla, in tears as she presented the report.


Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko pleaded with Russia during a visit to Australia today.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced at a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin that Russia’s state-owned Rosatom would build at least 12 more nuclear reactors in India by 2035, Reuters reports. The two powers also signed a contract for Russia to export 10 million tons of oil to India every year for the next decade, as Russia continues to develop its commercial ties with developing countries. The ruble, meanwhile, hit record lows this morning even as Russia’s Central Bank hiked its interest rate to 10.5% in a move to strengthen the currency. Read more from The Guardian.

As Les Echos’ Paul Molga reports, one in three people around the world is overweight, and that ratio is growing. "Globesity" investors see that airlines, hospitals, car companies and others must adapt to meet the literally expanding needs. “According to researchers, more than half of this world's obese individuals live in China, India, Brazil, Egypt, Mexico, Pakistan and Indonesia,” the journalist writes. “This fattening of the planet is not about to reverse itself anytime soon, mainly because fast-food chains in emerging countries are peddling their recipe for success already established in the United States and Europe. In India, where 80% of the population doesn't eat beef in accordance with the Hindu religion, the Chicken Maharaja Mac has replaced the Big Mac in a market growing at a pace of nearly 30% per year.”
Read the full article, The Worldwide Rise In Obesity Is A Huge Business Opportunity.

Israeli and Palestinian officials have issued conflicting accounts of the events that led to the death of Palestinian Minister Ziad Abu Ein after a confrontation with Israeli Defense Forces yesterday, Al Jazeera reports. Israel claims that his death was due to a heart failure “brought on by stress,” which might be the result of a soldier grabbing him by the neck. Palestinian civil affairs chief Hussein Al Sheikh said that the autopsy showed the death had been caused by a beating from Israeli soldiers and the inhalation of tear gas, adding that Israeli soldiers had delayed his transfer to a hospital. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for a “swift and transparent investigation.”

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The United States has transferred its last prisoners in Afghanistan to local authorities and closed the controversial detention center near Bagram Air Base where the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” techniques were used on detainees, NBC News reports. The Taliban, meanwhile, continued their bombing campaign, and a suicide blast this morning in Kabul killed at least six soldiers and left another 11 wounded. Data gathered by the BBC shows that 5,042 people were killed in 664 jihadist attacks across 14 countries in November alone, almost half of them attributed to ISIS.

An already complicated relationship between Google and Europe is about to get even more tense after the search giant announced it would shut down its news service in Spain starting in December 2016 ahead of a “Google tax” law that will come into force in January, El País reports. Arguing that “Google News itself makes no money,” Google News head Richard Gingras said the new legislation requiring online news aggregators to pay “fair compensation” to news outlets is “simply not sustainable.” Germany, France and Belgium have already passed similar legislation, but the Spanish law differs in that it declares the payment of the compensation “unavoidable.” In France, the search giant agreed last year to pay 60 million euros into a special fund to help media develop their online offerings.

A team of scientists believe that drug-resistant infections will kill close to 11 million people every year by 2050 if action is not taken, the BBC reports. Developing countries are the most at risk, with a chilling forecast of two million deaths in India alone. Presenting the analysis, economist Jim O’Neill said the necessary costs to prevent such an outcome would amount to $100 trillion. That’s more than 2013’s global GDP, which was just below $75 trillion.

In what is probably the most surreal news to date on U.S. attempts to spark change in Cuba, the AP reports that the U.S. Agency for International Development infiltrated the island’s underground hip-hop scene and recruited unwitting rappers to start an anti-government movement.

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Migrant Lives

They Migrated From Chiapas When Opportunities Dried Up, Orchids Brought Them Home

An orchid rehabilitation project is turning a small Mexican community into a tourist magnet — and attracting far-flung locals back to their hometown.

They Migrated From Chiapas When Opportunities Dried Up, Orchids Brought Them Home

Marcos Aguilar Pérez takes care of orchids rescued from the rainforest in his backyard in Santa Rita Las Flores, Mapastepec, Chiapas, Mexico.

Adriana Alcázar González/GPJ Mexico
Adriana Alcázar González

MAPASTEPEC — Sweat cascades down Candelaria Salas Gómez’s forehead as she separates the bulbs of one of the orchids she and the other members of the Santa Rita Las Flores Community Ecotourism group have rescued from the rainforest. The group houses and protects over 1,000 orchids recovered from El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve, in the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas, after powerful storms.

“When the storms and heavy rains end, we climb to the vicinity of the mountains and collect the orchids that have fallen from the trees. We bring them to Santa Rita, care for them, and build their strength to reintegrate them into the reserve later,” says Salas Gómez, 32, as she attaches an orchid to a clay base to help it recover.

Like magnets, the orchids of Santa Rita have exerted a pull on those who have migrated from the area due to lack of opportunity. After years away from home, Salas Gómez was one of those who returned, attracted by the community venture to rescue these flowers and exhibit them as a tourist attraction, which provides residents with an adequate income.

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