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Iraq

Iraq Refinery Battle, Poroshenko's Peace Plan, Balotelli/Queen Kiss

Kurdish forces are trying to reclaim the eastern Iraq city of Jalawla, after it fell to al-Qaeda-inspired insurgents.
Kurdish forces are trying to reclaim the eastern Iraq city of Jalawla, after it fell to al-Qaeda-inspired insurgents.
Worldcrunch

Friday, June 20, 2014

BATTLE RAGES AROUND IRAQ OIL REFINERY
The Iraq army is still trying to push back ISIS jihadists, who are surrounding the country’s biggest oil refinery in Baiji. The Iraqi air force, meanwhile, claimed to have killed as many as 70 fighters in air strikes just north of Baghdad to prevent the group’s advance towards the capital. Yesterday, U.S. President Barack Obama announced that 300 military advisers would assist Iraqi security forces, hinting at the possibility of a “targeted and precise military action” that could reach beyond Iraq and also into Syria.

POROSHENKO TO UNVEIL PEACE PLAN
Later today Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko is due to present a 14-point peace plan to end ongoing fighting in eastern Ukraine. The plan, which was leaked to the Ukrainian media, is said to propose decentralized powers, early local and parliamentary elections, and the creation of a 10-kilometer buffer zone on the border with Russia, the BBC reports. This comes as fights in the east continue despite an announced ceasefire from Ukrainian troops earlier this week. According to Reuters, separatists refused to lay down their weapons, and a spokesman for Kiev’s “anti-terrorist operation” claimed that 300 pro-Russian fighters were killed yesterday.

VERBATIM
“If we beat Costa Rica, I want a kiss, obviously on the cheek, from the UK Queen,” Italian soccer player Mario Balotelli tweeted Thursday night. If England is to stay in the World Cup, Italy must beat Costa Rica tonight and Uruguay next week.

CAR BOMB KILLS DOZENS IN SYRIA
At least 34 civilians were killed and more than 50 were wounded in a car bomb explosion in a government-controlled area near the Syrian city of Hama. According to state-backed news agency Sana, “Terrorists blew up a truck loaded with about three tons of explosive materials,” causing extensive damage to the village’s buildings. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the death toll could rise, given the critical condition of some of the wounded. More than 160,000 people are believed to have died since the conflict began over three years ago.

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO
As Clarin’s Pablo Maas writes, the digital economy promised to create markets that were by definition fluid. But even in the so-called "sharing" economy of mobile applications, there are bound to be winners and losers. “They break into regulated markets like hotels or passenger transport without paying the costs (taxes, municipal fees, insurance) that raise the price of their established competitors' services,” the journalist writes of companies such as Uber, which has inspired taxi drivers to protest across Europe and the United States. “They have emerged from Sillicon Valley, where a concentration of investment funds gives them enormous financial leverage. Even before being floated on the capital markets, such firms can attain colossal price tags, $10 billion in the case of Airbnb and $18 billion for Uber.”
Read the full article, Uber And Friends: Old Math Of The New Economy.

CRITICAL NUMBER OF GLOBAL REFUGEES
The number of people forced to flee their homes because of conflicts around the world has exceeded 50 million for the first time since World War II, a report by the United Nations’ Refugee Agency shows. Speaking from Geneva, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres said that the figure, driven up by the situation in war-torn parts of the world such as Syria, the Central African Republic and South Sudan, showed that “we are not facing an increasing trend, we are really facing a quantum leap.” In 2013 alone, 10.7 million people were newly displaced. “Peace is today dangerously in deficit,” Guterres warned. Read more from The New York Times.

MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD


FAREWELL
Gerald "Gerry" Goffin, the New York-born songwriter behind the Shirelles' "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" and Aretha Franklin's "(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman," died Thursday in Los Angeles at age 74.

MH370 SEARCH MOVES SOUTH
The hunt for missing flight MH370 will move south following the release of new data suggesting that the plane could have crashed in an area located 1,800 kilometers west of Perth that was first searched after the aircraft went missing three months ago, Australia’s ABC reports.

BRITISH ACCENTS GALORE
Ever dreamed of being able to switch from a Cockney to a Glaswegian accent at will? This woman can do those and at least 15 others. Watch expand=1] and learn.

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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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