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North Korea

Kurdish Gains In Kobani, Kim's Back, NYC Rats

Kim Jong-un's first public appearance since Sept. 3.
Kim Jong-un's first public appearance since Sept. 3.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Kurdish fighters battling ISIS jihadists in Kobani, Syria, near the Turkish border, announced this morning that they regained control of the strategically crucial Tall Shair hilltop following air strikes by the U.S.-led coalition. ISIS captured it more than 10 days ago. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, there was heavy fighting east and south of Kobani Monday, while ISIS reportedly carried out three suicide bomb attacks. The Observatory now says ISIS controls about half the city.

Meanwhile, Turkish fighter jets bombarded Kurdish rebel positions Monday in Turkey’s Hakkari province near the Iraqi border,Hürriyet reports. This is the first major raid on the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) since a ceasefire agreement was signed in March 2013. The Kurdish targets were allegedly involved in “assassination, armed incidents and attacks on security bases” after last week’s nationwide protest, Hürriyet reports. These bombardments have sparked outrage among Kurds, after Turkey still refuses to help Kobani.

The U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition is set to meet today in Washington to work on a strategy to counter the terrorist organization. More than 20 countries, including Turkey and Saudi Arabia, are participating in the talks.

Kim Jong-un has made his first public appearance since Sept. 3, according to a series of pictures published by North Korea's KCNA.

A Sudanese UN worker who became infected with Ebola in Liberia died in a Leipzig, Germany, hospital early today, Die Welt reports. The 56-year-old man is the first victim of the deadly virus in Germany. He had been flown in from Liberia Thursday. After his arrival at Leipzig’s St. Georg Clinic, doctors labeled his condition “highly critical, but stable.” But this morning medical staff said he died “despite intensive medical measures and maximum efforts by the medical team.”

The UN worker was Germany’s third patient infected with the virus. A Ugandan doctor contaminated in Sierra Leone has been treated in Frankfurt since Oct. 3, and an Ebola-infected Senegalese World Health Organization worker was released from a Hamburg hospital on Oct. 4 after being successfully treated for the virus.

Health experts still don’t know how a nurse became infected with Ebola while treating a patient in a Texas hospital, The New York Times reports. The nurse has received a plasma transfusion donated by a doctor who beat the virus, the AP reports.

"We have to rethink the way we address Ebola infection control,” Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Monday during a press conference. “Even a single infection is unacceptable," The UN Security Council is set to meet in New York Tuesday to discuss the spread of the virus.

At least 4,033 people have died from Ebola since the outbreak of the virus in West Africa, according to the CDC.

I defend the right of the Catalan people to choose their own future," Catalonia President Artur Mas i Gavarró now says of the Nov. 9 referendum on the region's independence, contradicting an earlier statement that it had been cancelled.

Hong Kong police used sledgehammers and chainsaws today to dismantle the pro-democracy barricades near government offices and the city’s financial center, the South China Morning Post reports. This reopened Queensway, a major city road, for the first time since the protests began more than two weeks ago. Other major protests remained active in the Admiralty and Mong Kok districts.

For more on the impact of the protests, read this Caixin/Worldcrunch piece, Will Occupy Central Trigger Recession in Hong Kong?

Clashes between the pro-democracy movement and opponents intensified yesterday, as hundreds of people reportedly converged in the Admiralty district to remove barricades. At least 22 people were arrested after tense scuffles broke out between both parties.

More than 100 people surrounded the headquarters of the Hong Kong daily newspaper Apple Daily Tuesday night. This is believed to be part of an ongoing effort to stop the newspaper’s operations. The protesters believe its coverage is favorable to the pro-democracy protests. The Apple Daily is banned in mainland China.

Follow live coverage of the events from the South China Morning Post.

The number of rat complaints in the Big Apple shot up by more than 2,200 in 2013 to reach 24,586, as scientists revealed they found pathogens unknown to science by examining dozens of New York rats.

Russian hackers exploited a bug in Microsoft Windows and other software to spy on computers used by NATO, the European Union, Ukraine and companies in the energy and telecommunications sectors, according to Reuters. The Washington Post also reports that the hackers are “probably working for the government.”

As Le Monde writes, Patrick Modiano’s Nobel Prize for Literature win last week was excellent news, the perfect answer to the the Cassandras of national decline and lovers of French bashing. “So the Swedish academy's decision is a bit like a thumbing of the nose at the apostles of déclinisme,” the newspaper writes. “Despite recurring announcements of the decline — indeed imminent death — of French culture and particularly its literature, the prize is a feather in the French cap and a tribute to France's capacity to maintain its rank among nations.”
Read the full article, Vive French Literature! What Modiano's Nobel Means For France.

Typhoon Vonfong was leaving Japan’s northeast coast this morning, but not before killing at least two people and injuring 91 others, The Japan Times reports. The storm hit the Kagoshima Prefecture in the southwest, the Osaka Prefecture in the west and inland of Tokyo Monday, causing airport and railway disruptions.

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Today marks the second in South African athlete Oscar Pistorius’ sentencing hearing in Pretoria. According to the BBC, the prosecution was discussing the athlete’s charity work and the kind of punishment he would face for the homicide of Reeva Steenkamp in February 2013. Pistorius faces up to 15 years in jail, although Judge Thokozile Masipa may suspend the sentence or impose a fine.

Proving once again that it is among the world’s more progressive nations, Denmark is planning to ban beastiality, which remains legal in some U.S. states. “That is happening for numerous reasons,” the country’s food and agriculture minister Dan Jorgensen, told the Danish tabloid Ekstra Bladet. “The most important is that in the vast majority of cases it is an attack against the animals.”

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What To Do With The Complainers In Your Life — Advice From A South American Shrink

Argentines love to complain. But when you listen to others who complain, there are options: must we be a sponge to this daily toxicity or should we, politely, block out this act of emotional vandalism?

Photo of two men talking while sitting at a table at a bar un Buenos Aires, with a poster of Maradona on the wall behind them.

Talking in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Martín Reynoso*

BUENOS AIRESArgentina: the land of complainers. Whether sitting in a taxi, entering a shop or attending a family dinner, you won't escape the litany of whingeing over what's wrong with the country, what's not working and above all, what we need!

We're in an uneasy period of political change and economic adjustments, and our anxious hopes for new and better leaders are a perfect context for this venting, purging exercise.

Certain people have a strangely stable, continuous pattern of complaining: like a lifestyle choice. Others do it in particular situations or contexts. But what if we are at the receiving end? I am surprised at how complaints, even as they begin to be uttered and before they are fully formulated, can disarm and turn us into weak-willed accomplices. Do we have an intrinsic need to empathize, or do we agree because we too are dissatisfied with life?

Certainly, agreeing with a moaner may strengthen our social or human bonds, especially if we happen to share ideas or political views. We feel part of something bigger. Often it must seem easier to confront reality, which can be daunting, with this type of "class action" than face it alone.

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