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Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict drives thousands from their homes as death toll mounts

Moscow — Fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani military forces over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh continued Wednesday for the 11th day, with no sign of a ceasefire. More than 300 people have reportedly been killed since the long-simmering dispute erupted in violence on September 27.

The two nations have disputed ownership of the mountainous enclave since becoming independent with the breakup of the former Soviet Union. Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but it has been run autonomously by and is primarily populated by ethnic Armenians.

An official from the regional administration said Wednesday that the fighting had already driven half of Nagorno-Karabakh’s civilian population out of their homes.

Displaced Civilians Arrive In Armenia As Nagorno-Karabakh Clash Grows
Vartanush Avakyan, 92, waits on a bus to ride to Yerevan, Armenia, after leaving her village of Gandzasar due to fighting in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, October 6, 2020 in Goris, Armenia.

Brendan Hoffman/Getty


“According to our preliminary estimates, some 50% of Karabakh’s population and 90% of women and children — or some 70,000-75,000 people — have been displaced,” the Nagorno-Karabakh administration’s rights ombudsman Artak Beglaryan, told the AFP news agency.

The fighting in the Caucasus has ended 25 years of relative peace, delivered by a ceasefire brokered to end a deadly war between the former Soviet republics over Nagorno-Karabakh in the 1990s.

On Tuesday, Azerbaijani officials claimed that Armenian forces had targeted an oil pipeline with cluster munitions, which most nations have banned the use of. The Armenian Ministry of Defense promptly dismissed the accusation, insisting Armenian forces had not targeted any oil or gas infrastructure.

Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh on outline map
The breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, recognized internationally as part of Azerbaijan, is seen in red. 

Getty/iStockphoto


There have been claims from both sides that the other is indiscriminately shelling civilian areas.

Earlier this week, Amnesty International issued a report corroborating information that cluster

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Pandemic drives kitchen remodeling projects

People are “forced to be home” and are “sick of their kitchens,” said Alicia Molenaar, a designer and co-owner of Kitchen Fair in Willmar.

During the pandemic, Kitchen Fair has been swamped with requests from customers looking for a new look and ways to improve functionality and efficiency in their kitchens. “We are really busy,” Molenaar said.

While updating paint or adding a colorful backsplash can be handled by a weekend do-it-yourselfer, a kitchen makeover can benefit from a professional designer.

The process begins with taking measurements of an existing kitchen space and an interview with the homeowner to find out how they use their kitchen, how many people typically cook there at one time and what they want in terms of style and functionality.

Giving a kitchen a new look can be as simple as installing new hardware – where the trend is for larger handles that can fit a man-sized hand – or as complex as totally gutting an existing kitchen and installing new cabinets, countertops, appliances, lighting and flooring.

Molenaar, who’s had 20 years experience as a designer, and fellow Kitchen Fair designer, Bruce Dexter, who has more than 40 years of experience designing kitchens, shared their observations on what’s currently trending in Midwest Minnesota kitchen designs.

Using deep drawers to store dishes and pots and pans are a design favorite, according to Molenaar. For people who are shorter, or those with back and shoulder problems, storing heavy plates and pots below the counter is easier than reaching up into a cupboard.

Unlike old kitchen drawers that could be pulled out three-fourths of the way, full-extension drawers allow even the dark recesses of a drawer to be utilized. Two-tiered cutlery drawers allow silverware to be stored on the first layer and then slid back to reveal lesser-used

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Kingfisher profit boosted as pandemic drives DIY rediscovery

LONDON (Reuters) – The COVID-19 crisis has prompted consumers to rediscover the joy of home improvement, do-it-yourself (DIY) retailer Kingfisher KGF.L said, as it reported a 23% jump in first half profit.

FILE PHOTO: A general view as people queue outside a B&Q DIY store following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Watford, Britain, April 26, 2020. REUTERS/Paul Childs

Shares in the group, which owns B&Q and Screwfix in Britain and Castorama and Brico Depot in France and other markets, were up 7% at 0905 GMT on Tuesday, extending 2020 gains to over 30%, after it also said strong second quarter sales had continued.

Like-for-like sales in the second quarter to July 31 soared 19.5% and are up 16.6% in the third quarter so far.

The pandemic has meant people are spending more time at home, they have fewer leisure options and are traveling less.

“The crisis has prompted more people to rediscover their homes and find pleasure in making them better. It is creating new home improvement needs, as people seek new ways to use space or adjust to working from home,” said Chief Executive Thierry Garnier.

The crisis has also boosted shopping online. Kingfisher’s e-commerce sales soared 164% in the first half and now represent 19% of total sales versus 7% in the same period last year.

The group made a first-half adjusted pretax profit of 415 million pounds ($531 million), beating analysts’ expectations and up from 337 million a year earlier.

Total sales fell 1.3% to 5.92 billion pounds, reflecting the impact of the virus in the first quarter when stores were closed.

Kingfisher ended the half with more than 1 billion pounds of cash, and access to around 3.5 billion pounds of total liquidity.

Given its financial position the group intends to pay back to

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