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Geopolitics

Rousseff Leads, Cow Doping, Nobel Prize Week

Muslims pray at a China mosque Sunday during the Eid al-Adha festival.
Muslims pray at a China mosque Sunday during the Eid al-Adha festival.

ISIS ASSAULT OF KOBANI CONTINUES
ISIS fighters are gaining ground in Syria’s Kurdish town of Kobani, on Turkey’s border, forcing a wave of Kurdish civilians to try to cross into Turkey, where the police repeatedly used tear gas to disperse them and the press. Those who managed to cross the border told Guardian journalists stories of ISIS torturing, mutilating and raping civilians. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a desperate Kurdish woman blew herself up near ISIS positions, killing several jihadists, though it is unclear how many exactly.

"I am obviously pretty scared to die, but the hardest part is not knowing, wondering, hoping, and wondering if I should even hope at all," Abdul-Rahman Kassig, a U.S. hostage threatened at the end of latest ISIS beheading video, wrote in a letter to his parents.

This weekend also saw Sunni militants believed to be from the al-Qaeda-linked group al-Nusra Front attack Lebanon’s Shia group Hezbollah on the border between Lebanon and Syria. Read more from the BBC.

MASS GRAVES FOUND IN MEXICO
Investigators in Mexico uncovered at least 28 badly charred bodies in mass graves as they were searching for 43 students who have been missing since they clashed with the police more than a week ago. The identification of the bodies could take up to two weeks, but there appears to be little doubt that they are the missing students, and witnesses told CNN that the police had orchestrated and participated in their killing.

8.7 LITERS
Italian Gianmario Ghirardi won this year's World Cow-Milking Championship over the weekend in Lenna, Italy, and set a new world record by extracting 8.7 liters of milk in 2 minutes from his bovine partner Mirka. But now he and the two other top finishers are facing doping allegations.

ROUSSEFF LEADS IN FIRST ROUND
Incumbent Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff won the first round of the country’s presidential election, but her 42% share of the vote means that she will face second-place center-right candidate Aécio Neves in the second round in three weeks, newspaper Folha de S. Paulo reports. Despite her strong lead, the outcome for Rousseff is the worst registered by her Worker’s Party in 12 years. As Reuters explains, the new campaign will see two visions of development oppose each other, with Rousseff’s state-led capitalism against the market-friendly policies Neves has promised.

EURO DISNEY RECAPITALIZATION
Euro Disney shares plunged 15% in early trading this morning, after the group running the first tourist attraction in Europe announced it had agreed to a $1.25 billion refinancing package to cut its crippling debt, Bloomberg reports This comes amid a sharp fall in the number of visitors at Disneyland Paris. Under the plan, the group’s parent company Walt Disney Co will infuse more than $520 million in cash and convert debt into equity. Read more from AFP.

HONG KONG PROTESTS DWINDLE
Hong Kong civil servants returned to work this morning as thousands of demonstrators left protest sites, leaving only a few hundred in the streets, the South China Morning Post reports on its live blog. Protest leaders and the government have started preliminary talks, but there has been little progress. According to a BBC correspondent, there is still a large number of students in the streets, suggesting “they will not give up as easily as the authorities had hoped.”

MH370 UNDERWATER SEARCH RESUMES
The hunt for the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which disappeared with 239 people on board in March, has resumed with an underwater search more than 6 kilometers deep in the southern Indian Ocean, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. Three ships, including one equipped with special sonar technology, are taking part in the operation, which could last up to a year.

NOBEL PRIZE SEASON BEGINS
It’s Nobel Prize time again and the prize in physiology or medicine was awarded to John O'Keefe, May-Britt Moser and Edvard Moser for their discovery of “a positioning system, an ‘inner GPS’ in the brain that makes it possible to orient ourselves in space.” Next up, the Nobel Prize in Physics, which will be announced tomorrow morning.

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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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