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Geopolitics

ISIS Seizes Stronghold, Napa Quake, Hemingway's Tab

A 6.0-magnitude earthquake struck the heart of Napa Valley early Sunday, injuring more than 100 and damaging historic building and roads.
A 6.0-magnitude earthquake struck the heart of Napa Valley early Sunday, injuring more than 100 and damaging historic building and roads.
Worldcrunch

Monday, August 25, 2014

ISIS SEIZES SYRIAN ARMY BASE
The terrorist group ISIS has gained control of a Syrian army air base near Raqqa, in the country’s north, after days of intense fighting during which at least 346 ISIS fighters and more than 170 Syrian troops were killed, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The air base was the province’s last stronghold of President Bashar al-Assad’s government forces, but Syrian media said the army was “regrouping.” Read more from Reuters.

The al-Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda-linked jihadist group, freed American freelance journalist Peter Theo Curtis, who was abducted in Syria nearly two years ago. No ransom was paid, The New York Times reports. Meanwhile, the British ambassador the the U.S. told CNN that investigators were “close” to identifying the alleged British ISIS fighter who was filmed beheading journalist James Foley last week. According toThe Independent, the young man could be a former London rapper who left the country to fight alongside Syria rebels.

EARTHQUAKE ROCKS CALIFORNIA
A 6.0 magnitude earthquake hit the northern California Bay Area between Napa and Vallejo at 3:20 a.m. local time, causing extensive damage to buildings in the two cities and leaving more than 100 injured, SF Gate reports. In Napa, what is now considered the strongest earthquake to hit the area since 1989 also ruptured water mains and gas lines, causing many gas leaks while firefighters were battling against at least six fires. The quake is also bad news for the renowned regional wine industry, which according to The Wall Street Journal represents $13 billion a year in Napa County and employs 46,000 people. California Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency. This comes as a wildfire is threatening 650 homes near the town of Weaverville in Northern California. Read more from AP.

FAREWELL
Britain's Richard Attenborough, an actor and Oscar-winning director, died Sunday, five days before his 91st birthday.

POSSIBLE NEW GAZA CEASEFIRE
Egypt, acting as mediator, could be hours away from announcing a one-month ceasefire agreement in Gaza, according to both Israeli military sources and Palestinian sources quoted by Ma’an news agency. The Islamic Jihad movement has agreed to the deal, but there are conflicting reports about the response from Hamas. Israel is said to have agreed.

The agreement proposes open border crossings between the Gaza Strip, Israel and Egypt, as well as new negotiations within a month. Airstrikes, meanwhile, continued over the weekend amid rocket fire, with 16 killed yesterday and the total Palestinian death toll standing at 2,120.

Tehran announced it would “accelerate the arming of the West Bank” after allegations that the Iranian army had shot down an Israeli drone above one of their uranium enrichment sites.

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO
At an age when his friends are just learning basic reading and writing, 6-year-old Kautilya Pandit can answer complicated questions about world geography, per capita income, gross domestic product and global politics. And asKBR reports, “His analytical powers and incredible ability to remember facts have left everyone so spellbound that the local media has nicknamed this child prodigy living in northern India's Kohand village ‘Google boy.’”
Read the full article, India's Child Prodigy, Also Known As "Google Boy."

$5 BILLION
Afghanistan Finance Minister Omar Zakhilwal says the country's ongoing deadlock over the presidential election has already cost the economy an estimated $5 billion.

KIEV TRIES TO HOLD OFF RUSSIAN TANKS
Ukraine’s security spokesman Leonid Matyukhin told AFP that government forces were engaged in a battle against “a convoy of several dozen tanks and armored vehicles,” which he said had entered Ukraine from Russia. These claims come after the Ukrainian authorities celebrated Independence Day yesterday with a military march in Kiev that was “intended to send a message of defiance to Russia,” Reutersreports. Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko announced that $3 billion would be spent by 2017 to re-equip the army. The rebels replied by parading captured soldiers in Donetsk.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was in Kiev Saturday, said a planned meeting tomorrow in Minsk with presidents Vladimir Putin and Petro Poroshenko "certainly won't result in a breakthrough" in the ongoing crisis.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced Moscow’s intention to send a second humanitarian convoy to eastern Ukraine within the next few days, news agency Ria Novosti reports.


MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD


CONGO EBOLA OUTBREAK
Ebola is spreading from West Africa, as the Democratic Republic of Congo confirmed an outbreak of the deadly virus in northern parts of the country. Speaking to theBBC, Congolese Health Minister Felix Numbi explained that 13 people had already died. But he noted that it was a different strain than what has plagued West Africa. At least 1,427 people have died from Ebola since the first outbreak this year. The Japanese government said it was prepared to provide an experimental drug if the World Health Organization requests it.

HEMINGWAY AND THE RITZ
Seventy years ago today, Ernest Hemingway liberated the Ritz Hotel bar in Paris while Allied forces retook the French capital from the Nazis. And the American writer celebrated victory in due form, running up a tab for 51 dry Martinis. Read more about this story from AFP.

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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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