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Obama's ISIS strategy, Pistorius verdict, Drowsy thief

Catalan separatists in Barcelona
Catalan separatists in Barcelona

Sept. 11, 2014

On the eve of today’s 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, World Trade Center attacks, President Barack Obama vowed to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the Mideast’s ISIS terror group, also known as ISIL. Saying he had authorized air strikes against the jihadist group in Syria and the deployment of 475 more military advisers to Iraq, he outlined a $500 million plan to train and arm “moderate” Syrian rebels in a base in Saudi Arabia.

“We will degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism strategy,” Obama said during the televised speech to the nation last night. Read more here.

Although the president was careful to stress that this would not be a ground war like those in Iraq and Afghanistan, The New York Times notes that his decision extends the “legacy of war,” that he may “pass his successor a volatile and incomplete war, much as his predecessor left one for him.”

Haaretz columnist Chemi Shalev says that yesterday’s speech showed Obama is not “George Bush the cowboy” but that “he also made clear, without admitting as much even to himself, that he is no longer the old Obama either.”

South African Judge Thokozile Masipa ruled this morning that paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius is not guilty of premeditated murder in the killing of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine Day’s in 2013, citing a lack of evidence. She also appeared to rule out second-degree murder, explaining that he could not have “reasonably foreseen” that the shot fired through the toilet door would kill the victim. The full verdict hasn’t been read yet, but BBC correspondent Andrew Harding wrote on Twitter that a verdict of culpable homicide is “likely.” Follow CNN’s blog for live updates.

More than half of Chinese people think their country could go to war with Japan in the future, a poll by Genron NPO and China Daily shows. Read more here.

The Yemeni government and the Shia Muslim Houthi rebels have reached an agreement, Reuters reports, ending weeks of bloody protests in the capital of Sanaa. As part of the deal, a new government will be formed within 48 hours. This comes just days after the crisis escalated dramatically when hundreds of rebels tried to storm the government headquarters.


Richard Kiel, the 7-foot-tall actor best-known for his role as the (literally) steel-toothed villain Jaws in James Bond films, has died at the age of 74. Kiel had been admitted to a hospital in Fresno, California, though the cause of death was not immediately known.

The ozone layer that protects the earth from cancer-causing ultraviolet rays is showing its first signs of thickening in years, according to a UN report. Scientists say that the ozone hole that appears every year over Antarctica has stopped growing bigger and will start shrinking in a decade. Read more from Reuters.

Almost a month after she attacked a mushroom forager in the Italian mountains of Trentino while protecting her 8-month-old cubs, Daniza the bear is dead. She was captured by a task force of rangers that had been deployed to capture her, but she did not survive the anesthesia she was given. Read more about Daniza’s ordeal from Worldcrunch’s Zoo’d blog.

Royal Bank of Scotland has announced plans to relocate its head office to London if voters support Scottish independence in next week’s election. It’s a move that Lloyds Bank could also imitate, the BBC reports. The Times explains that the Scottish referendum is inspiring separatist movements around the world.

After all, a life of crime can be really exhausting.

Crunched by Marc Alves.

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A Refuge From China's Rat Race: The Young People Flocking To Buddhist Monasteries

Unemployment, stress in the workplace, economic difficulties: more and more young Chinese graduates are flocking to monasteries to find "another school of life."

Photograph of a girl praying at a temple during Chinese Lunar New Year. She is burning incense.

Feb 20, 2015 - Huaibei, China - Chinese worshippers pray at a temple during the Lunar New Yeat

Frédéric Schaeffer

JIAXING — It's already dawn at Xianghai Temple when Lin, 26, goes to the Hall of 10,000 Buddhas for the 5:30 a.m. prayer.

Still half-asleep, the young woman joins the monks in chanting mantras and reciting sacred texts for an hour. Kneeling, she bows three times to Vairocana, also known as the Great Sun Buddha, who dominates the 42-meter-high hall representing the cosmos.

Before grabbing a vegetarian breakfast in the adjacent refectory, monks and devotees chant around the hall to the sound of drums and gongs.

"I resigned last October from the e-commerce company where I had been working for the past two years in Nanjing, and joined the temple in January, where I am now a volunteer in residence," explains the young woman, soberly dressed in black pants and a cream linen jacket.

Located in the city of Jiaxing, over a hundred kilometers from Shanghai, in eastern China, the Xianghai temple is home to some 20 permanent volunteers.

Unlike Lin, most of them only stay for a couple days or a few weeks. But for Lin, who spends most of her free time studying Buddhist texts in the temple library, the change in her life has been radical. "I used to do the same job every day, sometimes until very late at night, writing all kinds of reports for my boss. I was exhausted physically and mentally. I felt my life had no meaning," she says.

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