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Your World This Week, Volume XI

California's Sinking Island

RIO VISTA, CALIFORNIA, USA – NOVEMBER 1, 2009: Dennis Baldocchi, a biogeochemist at the University of California walks along some of the seepage from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta on Sherman Island pasture near Rio Vista, California. The land that his family farmed for three generations is sinking—further below sea level each year. Image Source: Tony Avelar/The Christian Science Monitor/Getty Images

What’s Keeping California’s Engineers And Economists Up At Night? It’s Not The Drought

In spite of California’s historic drought, it is water that keeps engineers, economists and state planners awake at night, says Wired. Indeed, California’s plumbing is in a state of disrepair, with its network of levees essentially amounting to “mounds of dirt,” even when compared to those which failed New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.

Experts note that if enough water were to breach the levees, sea water from the Bay area would rush in and damage the water supply that serves two-thirds of California, translating to three years of further water restrictions in the Golden State. Learn more about the levees and how their failure can affect you—yes, you—at Wired.

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This Is Syria After Nearly 5 Years Of Civil War

In 2011, nationwide protests calling for expanded political freedoms and the subsequent military response to these protests sparked the Syrian Civil War, which has dragged on for four and a half years. The conflict, which initially pitted anti-government forces against those loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, has since escalated into a region-wide battlefield ensnaring combatants from across the globe.

The war has taken a cataclysmic toll on the country. In 2014, the World Bank estimated that four in five Syrians were living in poverty, and unemployment has skyrocketed from 15 percent in 2011 to 58 percent at the end of 2014. Furthermore, the United Nations estimates that nearly 4 million refugees have fled the country with another 7.5 million people internally displaced. Worst of all, the U.N. reported this year that at least 220,000 people have perished since the war started. Explore the all-encompassing devastation that the war has wrought in the images below (warning: some images are graphic):

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Protests In Homs November 2011

A protester faces off with riot police near Homs. Image Source: The Atlantic

Protests

In January 2012, protesters gathered after Friday prayers in Homs. The signs, taken during the initial days of unrest, read: "Your conscience is on trial" and "To the free world; we are waiting for you as we die." Image Source: The Atlantic

Idlib Protests

The northwestern city of Idlib was a locus for resistance during the initial civil uprising. Taken in February 2012, protesters burn an image of Bashar al-Assad. Image Source: the Guardian

Throwing Back Tear Gas

A demonstrator in Homs throws a canister of tear gas back at government security forces. In December 2011, the Syrian government released the gas against the population. Image Source: The Atlantic

Kfar Nebel 2012

In 2012, protesters in Kfar Nebel voice their displeasure at outside powers--specifically Russia and China--who continue to support President Assad. Image Source: The Atlantic

Syrian Civil War Isis Execution

Executions have become a regular facet of life under ISIS: as of July 2015, 3,027 people have been executed by ISIS.

Isis Execution

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant--commonly referred to as ISIS or Daesh--has been the most successful among non-state groups at recruiting fighters. Their videos of gruesome executions have been among their most popular tools at attracting new recruits, especially on social media. In this video, a group of supposed spies for the Syrian regime is bound in a cage and slowly lowered into a pool until they drown.

Fighting Isis

Meanwhile, Kurds have used the Syrian and ISIS conflict as a means to seize territory and gain political support. Here, a Kurdish fighter offers her thoughts on fighting ISIS during a campaign in the northern city of Kobani. The full video of the interview is available below the gallery.

Torture

Atrocities and human rights violations have been documented against all sides in the conflict. Above, a man shows scars from torture he reportedly received at a government detention center. Image Source: The Atlantic

Child Soldiers Syrian Civil War

Abboud, 12, and his brother Deeb, 14, both joined the Free Syrian Army following the death of their two brothers. Image Source: NBCNews.com

Child Soldiers

As manpower has steadily decreased over the war's duration, parties on all sides have enlisted soldiers as young as 11. Image Source: NBCNews.com

Rocket Launcher

In March 2012, a father teaches his 11-year-old son how to use a toy rocket launcher. This photograph, taken in Idlib, Syria, would win a Pulitzer Prize. Image Source: BBC News

Fsa Allepo

Members of the Free Syrian Army shoot at a Syrian army position in the old city of Aleppo in August 2012. Image Source: The Daily Star Newspaper - Lebanon

Aleppo

Rebels in Aleppo play with a bird they recently discovered in an abandoned apartment. A mannequin in the background acts as a decoy for government snipers. Image Source: www.reuters.com

Fruit Vendor

Even among carnage, everyday life still manages to carry on. Here, a fruit vendor offers his goods among the destruction in Aleppo. Image Source: AFP Photo Department on Twitter

Busses In Aleppo

To stabilize life in conflict zones, civilians have stacked buses to act as makeshift shields against government snipers. Image Source: Mail Online

Bus Shields Aleppo

On their way to school, young boys pass by buses stacked on top of each other to prevent sniper fire. Image Source: Mail Online

Destroyed Tank

Though tanks are far from ideal in urban combat, the Syrian military has relied heavily on armored vehicles throughout the war. Destroyed tanks are now a regular part of the Syrian landscape.

Urban Warfare

After years of intense urban warfare, groups have adapted to make use of their surroundings. Travel systems including building-to-building entrances and underground tunnels. These systems are vital as they allow combatants to freely move without making themselves vulnerable in open areas. Image Source: www.reuters.com

Converted Armored Combat Vehicle

Lacking many military supplies at the onset of the civil war, rebel groups were forced to make use of what was available. In 2012, a car in Homs has been converted into an armored vehicle. Image Source: The Atlantic

Improvised Weapons

A combatant uses a slingshot to launch a grenade.

Syria War Displaced

While approximately four million Syrian refugees now live in neighboring countries, over 7.5 million people are estimated to be internally displaced within Syria. Overall, a little over half of the pre-war Syrian population is now considered displaced.

Za'atri Camp Jordan

An aerial photograph of Zaatari refugee camp, which houses over 80,000 Syrian refugees in northwestern Jordan. Image Source: Zaatari refugee camp - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Makeshift Villages

Displaced people have erected makeshift tent villages, as evidenced by this village near the Turkish border. Image Source: The Atlantic

Refugee In Turkey

A Syrian girl uses a bucket to retrieve water for her family in a Turkish refugee camp. The United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees estimates that over one million Syrians now reside within Turkey. Image Source: Telegraph.co.uk

Internally Displaced

Two girls poke their heads out of their school in a displaced persons camp in Atmeh, Syria. Image Source: The Atlantic

Queue For Food Syrian Refugee Camp

Taken in February 2014, several thousand Syrians wait for food to be distributed by the United Nations in a battered Damascus. Image Source: All That Is Interesting

Wound Civilians Arrive At Aleppo Hospital

A family of civilians injured during fighting arrives at an Aleppo hospital. Recent reporting from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimates that over 60,000 civilians have died so far in the conflict.

Field Hospital

A wounded rebel rests in an Aleppo warehouse that has been converted into a field hospital. Image Source: VICE

Fsa Aleppo 2012

Free Syrian Army fighters in Aleppo relax below their weapons in 2012. Image Source: The Atlantic

Fsa Demascus

A Free Syrian Army fighter in Mleiha, near Damascus.

Kurdish Woman

In the Kurdish People's Protection Units--commonly known as the YPG--between five and ten thousand women actively serve and have been instrumental in battles against ISIS in northern Syria and Iraq. Image Source: the Guardian

Snipers Nest In Aleppo

A sniper from an unidentified rebel group looks out of a sniper's nest in Aleppo. Image Source: The Times

Geese

In Damascus, necessity proves to be the mother of invention. Image Source: http://www.cnn.com/2015/08/13/middleeast/syria-yarmouk-front-line/

Homs

"Once a great city, now a wasteland." Homs during the winter of 2013. Image Source: Clarissa Ward on Twitter

Homs Before And After

Referred to as the "capital of revolution," Homs has paid a significant toll as a focal point of the war, as evidenced by the photograph above.

Assad

In an almost completely leveled village, a single fragment of a building stands adorned with a poster of President Assad.

Homs Syria 2012

Abandoned and partially destroyed buildings now make up a significant portion of Homs' cityscape. Image Source: The Atlantic

Syrian Police Officer

A police officer rests in badly damaged headquarters in Damascus. Image Source: www.nytimes.com

Darayya Graffiti

In the Damascus suburb of Darayya, graffiti on a destroyed building examines how the civil war has evolved over time. Image Source: reddit

Yarmouk Demascus

A Free Syrian Army fighter looks over the Yarmouk neighborhood of Damascus. Image Source: UN News Service Section

Kobane Syria

A fighter looks over the remains of Kobani. Image Source: The Huffington Post UK

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And if you liked this post, be sure to check out these popular posts:

In Syria, Kurds Pay The Price Of Driving ISIS Out
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The Ghostly Remains Of Homs, Syria
ISIS, Iraq And Syria Explained
ISIS, Iraq And Syria Explained

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A Tree Grows In…Utah

Arches National Park Utah

Somewhere among the approximately two thousand sandstone arches that compose Arches National Park in Grand County, Utah, sits a tree. While remarkable enough in its own right – the park grounds sit atop a salt bed, which isn’t exactly what you’d consider to be conducuve to flourishing fauna – the tree provides a sharp contrast to its massive surroundings. As a result of the salt, not trees but arches abound in the region, leading approximately 700,000 visitors to the area each year.

Everything You Need To Know About Surrogacy

Surrogacy India

Indian “baby factories” have become a multi-billion dollar industry. Source: Al Jazeera

Considering how perpetually en vogue it is to create and uphold laws about what women can and cannot do with their bodies, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that in some parts of the world, surrogacy is illegal. In case you’re unfamiliar, surrogacy is when a woman carries a baby to term that is not intended to be her own. A woman who cannot have children may seek a willing surrogate into whom she might have her own eggs and her partner’s sperm implanted. Essentially, a surrogate functions as an incubator.

Based on the type of surrogacy and the terms of the agreement, though, the surrogate’s own eggs may be used in the pregnancy — which complicates the idea that the baby isn’t really hers. We explore the legal and political tangle that is surrogacy below:

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