Monday, September 1, 2014
UKRAINE FORCES LOSE AIRPORT AHEAD OF TALKS
Ukrainian government forces pulled out of the international airport in Luhansk after an assault by pro-Russian rebels, even as Ukrainian and Russian officials are preparing to meet in Minsk for another round of talks, the BBC reports.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said he hoped Monday’s talks would focus on reaching an “an immediate ceasefire, without conditions,” urging Kiev forces to retreat from positions where “they can harm the civilian population.” This came after Sunday’s suggestion by Vladimir Putin that Kiev should discuss the issue of “statehood in southeastern Ukraine” with rebel leaders. Read more from The Washington Post.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko reiterated accusations of “direct and open aggression” from Russia.
U.S., IRAN AND IRAQ ALLIANCE BREAKS SIEGE OF AMERLI
Iraqi soldiers backed by Iran and American strikes have broken ISIS’s siege of Amerli where, according to Al Jazeera, “12,000 people have been trapped for over two months with dwindling food and water.” The New York Times notes that this operation is the first time that the three countries “worked with a common purpose on a battlefield” and that it could mark a turning point in the relationship between Washington and Tehran. According to the UN, at least 1,420 people were killed in Iraq in August.
PAKISTAN POLITICAL CRISIS DEEPENS
The political crisis in Pakistan escalated further after a group of anti-government protesters stormed the state broadcaster PTV’s building Monday while others clashed with the police near government buildings. At least three people were killed today in the violence. Pakistani daily Dawn reports that the army has since “escorted protesters out” of PTV’s offices and secured the building. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who has so far refused protester demands to step down, is expected to address the Parliament tomorrow.
ISLAMIST MILITIA CONTROLS U.S. EMBASSY IN LIBYA
Footage emerged this weekend of an Islamist militia group, Dawn of Libya, enjoying the comforts of the deserted U.S. embassy in Tripoli, with the Los Angeles Times characterizing the images as “emblematic of Libya in free fall.” One of the group’s commanders told AP that they have been in control of the residential compound for one week, and the group also controls the Libyan capital and its international airport. Deborah Jones, the U.S. ambassador to Libya who was moved with the rest of the staff to Malta earlier this summer, confirmed the footage looks to have been shot at the embassy’s residential annex.
High speed lovers, start your environmentally friendly engines! As French daily Les Echos writes, all eyes are now on the first world championship of electric cars, to be held Sept. 13 in Beijing. Get used to the name: it's called Formula E: “Like Formula One, racers accumulate points through each race, with the winner raking in five million euros. For the first season, all teams are composed of two drivers, using the same car. The French automobile industry is central to the construction of the vehicle: a Spark Renault SRT_01E with a Renault engine, Michelin tires and a Williams battery. Each team has four cars since the battery only lasts for 40 minutes — meaning that in the middle of the race, drivers must make e-pit stops, and jump into another car!”
Read the full article, Formula E, Revving Up A Green Rival To Formula 1.
ISRAEL ANNOUNCES MASSIVE WEST BANK LAND GRAB
Israel’s Civil Administration in the West Bank announced yesterday the appropriation of 988 acres of land in the occupied Palestinian territories of the West Bank, the biggest land grab in 30 years according to anti-settlement group Peace Now. The U.S. State Department urged Israel “to reverse this decision,” saying it was “counterproductive to Israel's stated goal of a negotiated two-state solution with the Palestinians.” Read more from Haaretz.
MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD
BY THE NUMBERS
An estimated 1.67 billion euro worth of pesetas, the Spanish currency replaced by the euro in 2002, are still sitting in safes, socks, tin cans buried in the ground and under mattresses around the country.
James Brady, Lauren Bacall, Robin Williams and six other notable passings during the past month.
NOT JUST FOOD AND WATER
Japan’s fear of a devastating earthquake in a central part of the country, where more than 40% of the country’s toilet paper supply comes from, has led the government to launch a campaigncalling on people to stock up on loo rolls. Not sure that will be enough to help the stagnant economy though.