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Sweden Recognizes Palestine, Ebola Slows In Liberia, New Emoticon

The SF Giants defeated the Kansas City Royals Wednesday to win the World Series
The SF Giants defeated the Kansas City Royals Wednesday to win the World Series

Thursday, October 30, 2014


Sweden today became the first EU member in Western Europe to officially recognize Palestine, a month after the country's prime minister announced intentions for the controversial move during his inaugural address. "It is an important step that confirms the Palestinians' right to self-determination," Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom wrote in the daily newspaperDagens Nyheter. "Some will state this decision comes too soon. I am afraid, rather, that it is too late."

Israel summoned Sweden's ambassador to protest and express disappointment, Al Monitorreports. U.S. officials have said a Palestinian state could only come through a negotiated solution between Israelis and Palestinians. "It is too bad that the government of Sweden has chosen to adopt the measure that does a lot of damage and has no benefits," the Jerusalem Post quoted Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman as saying. "Sweden must understand that relations in the Middle East are much more complicated than self-assembly furniture at IKEA."

This comes amid growing tension in East Jerusalem after settlement announcements, weeks of repeated clashes, and this morning’s Israeli police killing of a Palestinian suspected of trying to kill hard-line Jewish activist Yehuda Glick, the AP reports. Glick was shot three times yesterday outside a conference promoting Jewish access to Temple Mount, the location of the Al-Aqsa mosque, the third holiest site in Islam. In response, Israeli forces completely sealed off the site for the first time since 1967, and a spokesman for Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas branded the decision a “declaration of war.”

Meanwhile, on the Gaza border, Egypt began demolishing hundreds of houses and displacing thousands of people to create a buffer zone after a week of deadly attacks in the Sinai. Egypt has accused Hamas of the attacks, though the group has denied them. According to Euronews, each displaced family is being given 900 Egyptian pounds ($125) to pay rent elsewhere for three months, while compensation for their destroyed property is being calculated.

The World Health Organization has expressed cautious optimism about news that the spread of the Ebola virus in Liberia, the worst-hit country, is slowing, Reuters reports. Though the WHO revised down the number of deaths in Liberia by 300 — for a total death toll of 4,922 — Assistant Director General Bruce Aylward was careful to say that that the epidemic remains a crisis. “A couple of burials go wrong, it can start a whole new set of transmission chains, and the disease starts trending upward again,” he warned. Writing in The Guardian, Dr. Jeremy Farrar of the charity organization Wellcome Trust says that crucial actions taken in the last 10 days suggest that “it is finally becoming possible to see some light.”

San Francisco Giants players pour out of the dugout after third baseman Pablo Sandoval catches a pop-up by the Kansas City Royals' Salvador Perez, to end a 3-2 Giants victory in Game 7 of the World Series on Wednesday at Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium.

In the hills south of Rome, another kind of "liberation community" is preparing for a very different future. La Stampa’s Erica Manniello and Manuela Murgia met the humans behind the project and their "non-human" companions — the dogs, cats, sheep, goats, pigs, geese, turtles and rabbits they have rescued from farms, pet shops or laboratories and who now live free in the countryside. “They're also anti-speciesist here, convinced that no species is superior to another, which means they're very careful not to objectify animals,” the journalists write. “We try not to treat them as objects, which is what some animal rights activists do — conveying too much love, and often frustration on them too,” says eight-year resident Piero Liberati.
Read the full article, Italy's Vegan Commune Where Animals And Humans Are Equals.

Thousands of protesters stormed Burkina Faso's parliament building this morning ahead of a vote on whether to allow President Blaise Compaore to extend his 27-year-rule, the BBC reports. Pictures that local reporters posted on Twitter show the building on fire, and the military has reportedly opened fire to disperse the protesters, who have been demonstrating against the president’s plan for the past two days.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai has announced she will donate the $50,000 she was given for winning the World Children's Prize to reconstruct UN schools in Gaza that Israel bombed during the recent conflict.


NATO has reported that, since Tuesday, there has been an “unusual level of air activity” from Russian military aircraft over Europe. It has intercepted four groups of jets over the Black Sea, the Baltic Sea, the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. According to the BBC, NATO has reported intercepting Russian aircraft more than 100 times this year, three times more than last year, as tensions between the West and Moscow over the Ukrainian conflict remain high. This morning, France’s Finance Minister Michel Sapin said that the conditions were still “not met” to deliver the first of two Mistral warships to Russia, adding that Moscow must play a “positive role” before France can honor the contract. Read more from France 24.

A disaster official has said there is no hope of finding any survivors after a mudslide buried more than 100 workers’ houses at a tea plantation in central Sri Lanka. "I have visited the scene, and from what I saw I don't think there will be any survivors," the official told AP. There are conflicting reports about the possible number of people buried in the mud, with villagers saying the official figure of “less than 100” is too low and that the death toll could exceed 200.

Political geeks rejoice. There’s a new emoticon in town. Can you guess who it represents?

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Finally Time For Negotiations? Russia And Ukraine Have The Exact Same Answer

The war in Ukraine appears to have reached a stalemate, with neither side able to make significant progress on the battlefield. A number of Western experts and politicians are now pushing for negotiations. But the irreconcilable positions of both the Russian and Ukrainian sides make such negotiations tricky, if not impossible.

photo of : Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, left, presents a battle flag to a soldier as he kisses it

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky presents a battle flag to a soldier at the Kyiv Fortress, October 1, 2023.

Ukraine Presidency/Ukrainian Pre/Planet Pix via ZUMA
Yuri Fedorov


The Russian-Ukrainian war appears to have reached a strategic impasse — a veritable stalemate. Neither side is in a position at this point to achieve a fundamental change on the ground in their favor. Inevitably, this has triggered no shortage of analysts and politicians saying it's time for negotiations.

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These conversations especially intensified after the results of the summer-autumn counteroffensive were analyzed by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Valerii Zaluzhny, with not very optimistic details.

Though there are advances of the Ukrainian army, it is mostly “stuck in minefields under attacks from Russian artillery and drones,” and there is a increasing prospect of trench warfare that “could drag on for years and exhaust the Ukrainian state.”

Zaluzhny concluded: “Russia should not be underestimated. It suffered heavy losses and used up a lot of ammunition, but it will have an advantage in weapons, equipment, missiles and ammunition for a long time," he said. "Our NATO partners are also dramatically increasing their production capacity, but this requires at least a year, and in some cases, such as aircraft and control systems, two years.”

For the Ukrainian army to truly succeed, it needs air superiority, highly effective electronic and counter-battery warfare, new technologies for mining and crossing minefields, and the ability to mobilize and train more reserves.

China and most countries of the so-called global South have expressed their support for negotiations between Russia and Ukraine. Meanwhile in the West, certain influential voices are pushing for negotiations, guided by a purely pragmatic principle that if military victory is impossible, it is necessary to move on to diplomacy.

The position of the allies is crucial: Ukraine’s ability to fight a long war of attrition and eventually change the situation at the front in its favor depends on the military, economic and political support of the West. And this support, at least on the scale necessary for victory, is not guaranteed.

Still, the question of negotiations is no less complicated, as the positions of Russia and Ukraine today are so irreconcilable that it is difficult to imagine productive negotiations.

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