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Iran's Deadline, Spacecraft Launches, Cairo Roller Derby

The Soyuz capsule launches from Kazakhstan
The Soyuz capsule launches from Kazakhstan

Monday, November 24, 2014

Last-minute talks in Vienna hold little hope that Iran will reach an agreement with world powers today, the deadline, about the country’s nuclear program and the lifting of economic sanctions. U.S. officials admitted yesterday that negotiations might be extended for a second time, The New York Times reports. British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said that all sides would make “one last push,” although he acknowledged that they were “still quite a long way apart, and there are some very tough and complex issues to deal with.” A source close to the negotiations told Reuters that they were expected to adjourn and resume in Oman next month.

A capsule carrying three astronauts from Russia, the United States and Italy launched into space from Russia's manned space facility in Kazakhstan early this morning, docking less than six hours later with the International Space Station above the Pacific Ocean, near the coast of Ecuador.

ISIS militants in Syria and Iraq are abducting children as young as nine and brainwashing them to turn them into fighters, the UN secretary-general's special representative for children and armed conflict told AP. Although the Free Syrian Army and the al-Nusra Front have also been reported to use children in the Syrian war, ISIS goes beyond anything seen before — and in a “systematic and organized way.”

The Guardian reports that U.S.-led airstrikes in Syria are bringing even moderate rebel fighters closer to ISIS, with some forging alliances or even defecting to the terrorist group.

A fierce battle in Iraq’s Anbar province, west of Baghdad, is unfolding as Iraqi military are resisting ISIS attempts to seize the province capital Ramadi. At least 37 people have died since the battle started Friday, according to CNN.

"The state of Texas should not execute severely mentally ill people. It’s barbaric and unbecoming of a civilized society," the Dallas Morning News wrote in an editorial today as the Dec. 3 execution of Scott Panetti, a mentally ill man convicted in 1995 for murdering his in-laws, approaches.

At least 45 people were killed Sunday in Afghanistan during a suicide explosion at a volleyball match. It happened just after the country’s parliament approved deals allowing NATO and U.S. troops to remain in the country after the withdrawal of most foreign troops next month. It also emerged over the weekend that U.S. President Barack Obama has approved plans to extend the American mission in Afghanistan. Read more from The Washington Post.

Russia is suffering losses at a rate of about $40 billion per year because of Western sanctions and $90 billion to $100 billion from the drop in the oil prices, Reuters quoted Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov as saying today.

During what The Jerusalem Post describes as a “stormy cabinet meeting in which shouts were repeatedly heard from the room,” the Israeli cabinet approved a bill officially defining the country as the nation-state of Jewish people, emphasizing its Jewish character above its democratic nature, The New York Times reports. Rights group branded the bill, which requires the parliament’s approval, as racist, and there are fears that it might further inflame tensions with the Arab-Israeli minority. Observers believe it may also pose a risk to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition, although government ministers against the bill did not commit to voting against it in the parliament on Wednesday.


Security researchers at Symantec have discovered an “extraordinary” computer malware that has been used at least since 2008 in “spying operations against governments, infrastructure operators, businesses, researchers, and private individuals,” the company said. Nicknamed “Regin,” the malware is similar, though more advanced, than Stuxnet, which was used to sabotage the Iranian nuclear program and is believed to have been created by the U.S. and Israel. Symantec suggested that the “significant investment of time and resources” into making Regin meant that “a nation state is responsible.” According to the Financial Times, telecom companies in Russia, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Ireland and Iran were among the targets.

As Die Welt’s Britta Nagel reports, the award-winning Milan building Bosco Verticale has the equivalent of 2.5 acres of forest built into it. “The Bosco Verticale could be described as an attempt to bring the forestland Milan so urgently needs back to the built-up city,” the journalist writes. “The 20,000 shrubs and 800 trees on the balconies, covering a total surface of 8,900 square meters, incidentally serve aesthetic purposes, but they are primarily meant to ensure a better micro-climate in the apartments, filtering dust particles from the air and producing oxygen.”
Read the full article, Bosco Verticale, The Forest Living In A Milan Highrise.

While the town of Ferguson, Missouri, was awaiting the grand jury decision on the police killing of teenager Michael Brown Saturday, police shot and killed a 12-year-old black boy who was playing with a toy gun. According to CNN, the attorney for the victim’s family, Tamir Rice, doesn’t believe the shooting was racially motivated. The two officers, who were responding to a 911 call about a “probably fake” gun, shot the teenager twice after he allegedly refused to put his hands up. “He had his whole life ahead,” the boy’s father told NBC News. “To be 12 years old — he doesn't know what he's doing. Police, they know what they're doing.”

Egypt may be in the grips of a military regime that is silencing speech and arbitrarily arresting its citizens, but it’s not all fear and oppression. We give you the Cairo women’s roller derby team.

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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War

BDS And Us: Gaza's Toll Multiplies Boycotts Of Israel And Its Allies — Seinfeld Included

In Egypt and elsewhere in the region and the world, families and movements are mobilizing against companies that support Israel's war on Gaza. The power of the people lies in their control as consumers — and the list of companies and brands to boycott grows longer.

A campaign poster with the photo of a burger with blood coming out of it with text reading "You Kill" and the Burger King logo

A campaign poster to boycott Burger King in Bangkok, Malü

Matt Hunt/ZUMA
Mohammed Hamama

CAIRO — Ali Al-Din’s logic is simple and straightforward: “If you buy a can (of soda), you'll get the bullet too...”

Those bullets are the ones killing the children of Gaza every day, and the can he refuses to buy is “kanzaya” – the popular Egyptian soft drink. It is just one of a long list of products he had the habit of consuming. Ali is nine years old.

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The clarity and simplicity of this logic has pushed Ali Al-Din to boycott all the products on the lists people are circulating of companies that have supported Israel since the attacks on Gaza began in October. His mother, Heba, points out that her son took responsibility for overseeing the boycott in their home.

A few days ago, he saw a can of “Pyrosol” insecticide, but he thought it was one of the products of the “Raid” company that was on the boycott’s lists. He warned his mother that this product was on the boycott list, but she explained that the two products were different. Ali al-Din and his younger brother also abstained from eating any food from McDonald's. “They love McDonald’s very much,” his mother says. “But they refuse.”

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