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Nepalese people hold candles in memory of the 16 Nepalese Sherpa guides killed in an avalanche on Mount Everest in Katmandu on April 30, 2014. An unprecedented shutdown of Mount Everest after the worst ever accident on the world's highest peak has left grieving Nepalese Sherpa guides and their families fearing for their livelihoods. The avalanche on April 18 that tore through a group of Sherpas — who were hauling gear up the mountain for their foreign clients before dawn — left 16 people dead and three others seriously wounded.

- AFP/Getty Images

NEW YORK – Sitting here, catching up over ice coffees, over the Independence Day holidays in New York, the tales of life and death on mountain slopes and factory floors are a world away.

That’s unfortunate, but understandable as the latest sad headline has long replaced those about the deadliest accident in Mount Everest’s history less than three months ago, killing 16 Nepalese guides, or the news of a factory collapse in Bangladesh just over a year ago, killing more than a 1,000 garment workers.

For many Americans and indeed people of all nationalities caught up in our increasingly consumer-driven society, little thought is given to the people who make our goods or provide the services that will help ensure we get what we want, when we need it.

We have sought to begin to change that, keeping the attention on supply chains and the practices and tragedies that plague many of the products and services – from the latest summer outfits to the vacations of a lifetime – sourced often in Asia for America’s consumers.

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FARC-EP leftist guerrilla commander Andres Paris (L) reads a statement next to commander Jesus Santrich, at the Convention Palace in Havana before peace talks with the Colombian government, on May 12, 2014. The Colombian government has been engaged in peace talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) since November 2012, and President Juan Manuel Santos has made the effort a central feature of his presidency and his bid for re-election May 25. The FARC has been at war with the state since 1964. Considered Latin America's longest-running insurgency, the fighting has left hundreds of thousands dead and displaced 4.5 million.

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BOGOTA, Colombia — Colombia beat Greece 3-0 in its first World Cup Soccer Match, but the biggest contest for the Colombian people ended as Juan Manuel Santos survived a run-off election against Oscar Iván Zuluaga to remain president for four more years.

Santos won approximately 51 percent of the vote while Zuluaga came in second place with about 45 percent. The “third candidate,” an option to vote for “no one,” drew slightly more than 4 percent.

These elections were framed by economic development, social inclusion, international relations, the military’s role in society and the choice between war and peace.

Santos’s reelection bodes well for the peace process. Peace negotiations have been underway with the FARC in Havana, Cuba since 2012 and active negotiations with the National Liberation Army (ELN) were announced just five days before the election. While nearly every political party and politician uses the internal armed conflict as political fodder, this is the first time a negotiated peace seems possible, finally placing the emphasis on victims’ rights.

However, two additional issues are sticking points: amnesty for crimes such as massacres, kidnapping, drug trafficking and acts of terrorism and the legitimate participation of former guerrillas in the Colombian political system.

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A Myanmar Buddhist monk walks in front of a billboard advertising telecoms firm Ooredoo in Yangon on June 5, 2014. Radical Myanmar Buddhist monks are urging a boycott of telecoms firm Ooredoo because it hails from Muslim-majority Qatar, despite its promise to boost access to affordable mobile phones, a cleric said.

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RANGOON, Myanmar — Anyone visiting Myanmar’s commercial capital Rangoon cannot help but notice the saturation of billboards advertising the rollout of mobile phone services by Qatar-based telecommunication company Ooredoo.

Ooredoo won one of two licenses in an emerging and lucrative telecom market, yet it is the target of a boycott, spearheaded by Buddhist monks upset that the company is owned by the government of a Muslim country.

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QUITO, ECUADOR: A panoramic view of Pichincha Volcano in the city of Quito, 02 October 1998.

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QUITO, Ecuador — The Andean Countries are looking to significantly boost their domestic energy production on an unprecedented scale. Currently, there are 151 proposals to build hydroelectric dams in four Andean countries, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador. If built, they would mean a 300 percent increase over the current number of dams in these countries.

Ecuador, in particular, has launched hydroelectric infrastructure projects to enhance the country's electricity production capacity resulting from a recent increase in per capita electricity consumption.

The rise can be attributed to steady macro-economic growth and government policies that have provided segments of the Ecuadorian population with newfound access to services such as electricity, telephone and Internet.

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A Bahraini demonstrator, protecting his face from tear gas, looks on during clashes with riot police after anti-government protesters tried to retrieve the body of their comrade Abdul Aziz al-Abbar at Salmaniya hospital, on June 19, 2014 in the village of Daih, west of Manama. Al-Abbar, 27, died from his wounds on February 23, after he was shot during clashes between police and protesters.

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MANAMA, Bahrain — In her new book, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says “Bahrain was an exceptionally complicated case” for Washington when mass protests broke out in my country in 2011. Her justification for not doing more to press for an end to the Bahrain government crackdown is that “America will always have imperfect partners… and we’ll always face imperatives that drive us to make imperfect compromises.”

The Bahraini people are struggling for democracy. They are the casualties of those political compromises. I was convicted for criticizing the government. I’ve just come out of two long, difficult years in prison. My mother died when I was there, and without information about the outside world I had no idea about what was going on in my country.

When I was released at the end of my sentence on May 24, I saw how much Bahrain had changed it is change for the worse. There is more violence; villages are big attacked by Bahrain security forces on a daily basis, people are being killed, but international governments are even more quiet now about what is happening than before I went to jail.

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A woman shops for food items near a display of bottes of soda at a superrmarket in Rosemead, California on June 18, 2014, a day after a bill in California that would require soft drinks to have health warning labels failed to clear a key committee. Under the measure, sugary drinks sold in the most populous US state would have had to carry a label with a warning that sugar contributes to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay and the legislation, which would have been the first of its kind in the United States, passed the state Senate in May, but on it failed to win enough votes in the health commission of the California State Assembly on June 17, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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SEATTLE, Washington — We all know the world is getting heavier, but here’s the scary truth: the problem is reaching epic proportions — so much so that no single country in the world has seen a drop in obesity rates over the last three decades.

Today, 2.1 billion people — nearly one-third of the world’s population — are either overweight or obese. Globally, that breaks down to an estimated 37 percent of adults and 14 percent of children. Among kids, rates of overweight and obesity have increased nearly 50 percent in the last 33 years, setting these children up for a lifetime of preventable health issues.

A recent Lancet study shows that the rise in global obesity rates since 1980 has been rapid, substantial and widespread in both the developed and the developing worlds. While rates in developed countries have begun to stabilize, rates of both overweight and obesity remain on the rise in the developing world; nearly two-thirds of the word’s obese live in the world’s poorest countries. This problem is only expected to intensify as incomes in low and middle-income countries rise.

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TORONTO, Canada — Last week, a court in Iran’s Kerman province sentenced seven staff members from a popular technology and gadgets site, Narenji, to a very ambiguous 1 to 11 years in jail.

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The Saint Sophia cathedral is reflected in the glasses of a new volunteer recruit of the Ukrainian army 'Azov' battalion, after a military oath ceremony in Kiev and before his contingent heads to eastern regions, on June 23, 2014.

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PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island — Putin’s annexation of Crimea and the massing of Russian troops on Ukraine’s eastern border have pushed a divided society into armed conflict. The big question now is what, if anything, can be done to prevent a full-fledged civil war.

At a minimum, Petro Poroshenko’s new government will have to exercise exceptional political and military leadership if Kiev is to reassert control without destroying all possibilities for rapprochement with the country’s Russian-speaking minority.

Putin still holds most, if not all, of the trump cards. He has also made it clear that Moscow’s preferred “solution” to Ukraine’s problems lies in federalization. Early in the crisis, Secretary of State Kerry seemed to concur, though recently Washington has stopped using the term.

Nonetheless, there is no shortage of Western politicians, pundits and scholars who see federalism as the only way for Ukraine to accommodate its linguistic, religious and regional differences.

This embrace of “Ukrainian Federalism” by Western observers is troubling, given the evidence that Putin is interested in a weak and divided Ukraine and not a just and functional one.

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Syrian refugee children sit on a United Nations High Commission for Refugees barrier as they wait to be registered at a refugee camp in Bar Elias, in the Lebanese Bekaa valley, on May 30, 2014.

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PORTLAND, Oregon —
The charcoal drawing was slightly larger than a man’s thumbprint. Adjusting my sense of scale, I studied the tiny sketch: a tree, bare of its leaves, straining under a stiff wind.

“It’s a small drawing, but it has big meaning,” said the artist, 15-year-old Youssef. The small tree, he said, represents him. The wind that had blown the leaves from the branches represents the forces that try to blow him off course. The roots — Youssef’s friends, family and education — hold the tree firm.

Youssef is one of more than 150 adolescents — Syrian refugees and their host community peers — who participated in focus groups organized by the global humanitarian agency Mercy Corps earlier this year.

We were seeking insight into how to best support the hundreds of thousands of youth from Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, victims of more than three years of conflict. One day they will carry the responsibility of rebuilding a broken country and shoring up a fractured region.

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BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan — The fight for LGBT rights has in recent years created a rift that has separated much of the world into two camps and forced everyone to take sides. That rift is widening, reaching faraway places. On June 17, it reached my motherland, Kyrgyzstan, and my country is positioning itself on the wrong side of history.

At one time, after the end of the Soviet Union, Kyrgyzstan was considered Central Asia's only democracy — an island of human rights in a stormy sea of authoritarianism and human desolation. Since then, my country has steadily regressed — a deterioration fueled by the warring political clans inside the country and by stronger neighbors, like Russia, outside the country.

Kyrgyzstan has now taken yet another step toward sinking into that deep, dark sea.

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