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Iran Resumes Nuclear Program, Starving South Sudan, Japanese Apology

Hurricane Arthur seen from space.
Hurricane Arthur seen from space.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Israel’s air force and Palestinian militants exchanged fire for another night, with 15 air strikes in Gaza leaving at least 10 Palestinians injured. The New York Times reported that multiple rockets were also fired from across the border, with two Israeli houses hit in the border town of Sderot, though no injuries were reported. This came after violent clashes yesterday, as Palestinians demanded justice for those who kidnapped and burned the body of a 16-year-old Palestinian. That murder came as apparent retaliation following the recovery of the slain bodies of three abducted Israeli teenagers. The investigation into the murder of the young Palestinian is still ongoing, and the BBC explains that his burial, planned for this afternoon, would be delayed while the police carrying a post-mortem examination.

Saudi Arabia is said to have deployed 30,000 troops to its border with Iraq after footage emerged yesterday suggesting that Iraqi soldiers were leaving their posts at the border, Al Jazeera reports. This comes after British analysts said yesterday that Iran had followed in the footsteps of Russia and had sent attack jets to help the Iraqi army fight back the Islamist militant group ISIS.

"There was a wish to humiliate me," the former French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Wednesday evening in an interview on national television. Sarkozy was put under formal investigation Tuesday for allegations of corruption, trafficking influence and receiving information violating professional secrecy.

Famine is likely to plague four million people by August, “if the conflict in South Sudan continues, and more aid cannot be delivered,” the BBC quotes British aid agencies as saying in an alarming report. With over one million people displaced since the crisis turned violent in December 2013, and thousands dead in what some have described as the beginning of an ethnic cleansing, the Disasters Emergency Committee warned it had less than half of the $194 million required to "prevent the growing food crisis in South Sudan from turning into a catastrophe."

Inspired by the active lifestyle of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Pope Francis’s timetable would wear out any 40-something, writes La Stampa’s Andrea Tornielli: “‘He decides his own agenda,’ Vatican's spokesperson Father Federico Lombardi told La Stampa, ‘and has a very intense pace of life because he feels he has been called to serve the Lord with all his might. He never took holidays when he was the Archbishop of Buenos Aires either.’ Even on Tuesdays, the day of the week traditionally free of commitments or private audiences scheduled so the popes could relax a little bit, Francis doesn’t slow down. Instead of using this free morning to rest, he fills it with rescheduled meetings.
Read the full article, Papal Work Ethic: From 4:45 AM Wakeup, Portrait Of A Tireless Pope Francis.


Talks around Iran’s controversial nuclear program are resuming today in Vienna, as Tehran and the five permanent members of the UN’s Security Council plus Germany are looking to reach a solution, with AFP suggesting that they could go “all the way to the July 20 finish line.”

British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne may not know his times tables.

China’s President Xi Jinping is in Seoul where he will meet his South Korean counterpart Park Geun-hye in a visit aimed at reinforcing economic and diplomatic ties between the two countries. According to Reuters, North Korea will also be on the agenda, with President Park expected to ask China to increase its pressure on Pyongyang to end its pursuit of nuclear weapons. The New York Times sees Xi’s visit as a “move that appears to signal his resolve to unsettle America’s alliances in Northeast Asia,” describing the relationship between Seoul and Tokyo, two close American allies, as “frosty.” Meanwhile, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced it would lift some sanctions on North Korea tomorrow, following progress on talks about the kidnapping of Japanese people during the cold War.

Just hours before Tropical Storm Arthur was upgraded to a Hurricane, the International Space Station snapped this photo over the Atlantic.

A video of a Japanese politician apologizing over suspicions that he misappropriated $30,000 of taxpayers’ money has gone viral in Japan. Check out why.

— Crunched by Marc Alves.

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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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