Iraq Oil Exports Hit Record in June; Output Climbing

Iraq exported 3.187 million barrels of oil a day in June, its oil ministry said. It was a 1.37 percent increase over May. The ministry also reported that at the end of June Iraq was pumping 4.388 million barrels per day.

The Iraqi exports, as a whole, increased even though flow through Ceyhan, Turkey, fell from 451,000 barrels per day in May to 167,000 bpd in June, Reuters reported. A payment dispute within Iraq has cut back the shipments.

UN: Iraq Casualties Rise to 1,466 in June

Deaths in Iraq due to fighting rose to 1,466 in June, the United Nations reported, higher than the 1,031 recorded in May. The UN said that increased deaths among soldiers and militia accounted for much of the rise.

Western Iraq has been a battleground between the IS caliphate and the Baghdad government in the southeast and the Kurdish autonomous forces in the north. IS forces have overrun much of the western desert provinces, and have captured Ramadi, 63 miles west of Baghdad, and the major oil refinery at Baiji, 117 miles up the Tigris River from Baghdad.

IS Egyptian Group Strikes 15 Sinai Targets

A group affiliated with the IS caliphate killed at least 50 security personnel in the northern Sinai region of Egypt today. The attacks centered on checkpoints at Sheik Zuweid, although a suicide car bomb exploded at an officers club in Al-Arish. A group called the Sinai Province of the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Ukraine Halts Russian Gas Purchases After Price Talks Collapse

Ukraine said it would not buy natural gas from Russia after negotiations over prices failed. Russia said it would maintain its price of $247 per 1,000 cubic meters with a discount of about $40. Ukraine sought a deeper discount. Ukraine officials said they would buy natural gas from other sources but seek to resolve the issue with Russia before the heating season.

Saudis to Build World's Largest Solar Seawater Desalination Plant

Saudi Arabia initiated a project to building the world's largest solar desalination plant. The plant, on the Persian Gulf coast at Al Khafji City, will produce 60,000 cubic meters of water daily when the plant begins operation in 2017. The Spanish firm Abengoa will integrate the solar panels into the plant's system.

Humanitarian Open Street Map Team: GIS as Relief Work

This network uses the the open source Open Street Map GIS system to assist disaster relief workers. Primarily, volunteers trace buildings, bridges or other items of interest that would illustrate how a locale looked before disaster struck. Thus, relief workers who encounter a destroyed area would be able to estimate where a building was before an earthquake or landslide, and possibly rescue people who are still trapped inside.

Human Trafficking in Thai Seafood Industry

This study looks at the influx of trafficked workers into the seafood industries of Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries. The US State Department in 2014 downgraded Thailand's compliance status with human trafficking norms. The study calls for a renewed effort during the 2015 monsoon season to put better practices in place before more trafficking resumes when the rains recede.