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Historic Taiwan-China Summit, Another Russian Crash, Dylan Auction

Historic Taiwan-China Summit, Another Russian Crash, Dylan Auction


Doses of both silence and skepticism have followed the surprise announcement Tuesday that the leaders of Taiwan and China would meet for the first time in 66 years. Presidents Xi Jinping of China, and Ma Ying-jeou of China will meet on Saturday for what's being dubbed as a "historic" meeting. The leaders are expected to discuss "the peaceful development of cross-Taiwan Straits relations," a Chinese official statement said, amid an otherwise scant coverage in the mainland's media. But the meeting, coming ahead of crucial elections in Taiwan planned for January 2016, is seen by some as an attempt from Beijing to weigh in on the elections. Having already served two terms, Ma Ying-jeou won't be running. His pro-China nationalist party Kuomintang is trailing in the polls.

Read more about Taiwanese skepticism on Le Blog.


A Russian-build cargo plane crashed this morning near the South Sudanese capital of Juba, minutes after take-off, killing at least 41 people, including people on the ground, Reuters reports. A crew member and a child on board however survived the crash. Some of the crew members are believed to be Russian, but the identities of the rest of the people on board aren't yet known. On Twitter, the South Sudan Tribune quoted experts on the site as saying that overload and technical errors were likely responsible for the crash. It comes just four days after a Russian passenger plane crashed after takeoff in Egypt, killing all 224 people aboard.



Volkswagen's ongoing emissions scandal deepened after the German carmaker announced that some of its cars were emitting more carbon dioxide and consuming more fuel than claimed, German business daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitungreports. At least 800,000 vehicles, mostly diesel but also gasoline-powered cars, are believed to be affected by what VW described as an "irregularity" and it will cost the company an estimated 2 billion euros to fix. The company's shares plummeted by more than 10% this morning in early trading, with shares dropping below the 100-euro mark.


Doing business at home is always different than doing business abroad. For China's Caixin, X. Rick Niu reflects on the lessons Chinese firms can draw from the German company's problems in the United States: "Generally speaking, the Chinese firms that expand into the U.S. have already enjoyed considerable success at home. Their goal is to be even bigger and stronger — to lift their brands to new heights. Operating in the U.S., however, means adapting to the country's highly developed legal system and free market economy. Foreign companies, in other words, must adhere to the laws and regulations, and focus on integrity and transparency."

Read the full article, What China Can Learn From The Volkswagen Fiasco.


At least 800,000 people have entered the EU illegally since January and the peak hasn't been reached yet, Fabrice Leggeri, the director of the EU's border agency Frontex told German tabloid Bild. Leggeri also warned that in order to do its job properly, his agency would need double the 775 border officials it currently has at its disposal.


Voters in Ohio overwhelmingly rejected a referendum to legalize recreational marijuana, despite a $25 million campaign in favor of it, The Columbus Dispatch reports. But some form of legalization could still take place in the near future, with representatives saying there's "tremendous support for medical marijuana." Elsewhere on an odd-year Election Day, Airbnb and its participants have won their battle against short-term rentals restrictions, while a new initiative in Seattle could revolutionize campaign financing. Read more from CNN.


Photo: Jin Yu/Xinhua/ZUMA

After 17 months of restoration, Rome's Trevi fountain, one of Italy's most popular attractions, re-opened to the public on Tuesday.


Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta announced this morning his resignation and that of his entire cabinet, after mass protests in the capital of Bucharest demanding they leave office, Jurnalul Naţional reports. The latest protests, fueled by growing discontent over mass corruption, were sparked by a nightclub fire that killed 30 people in Bucharest last Friday. Denouncing those who, according to him, had used the tragic incident for political reasons, he said that the real culprits were "greed and irresponsibility." Read more in English from AP.


Maldives President Abdulla Yameen has declared a state emergency for the next 30 days, ahead of planned anti-government protests organized by the main opposition party, after explosives were found in a car in his residence, Maldives Independent reports. The last few weeks have seen growing unrest, with the arrest of Vice President Ahmed Adeeb for "high treason," over allegations that he was involved in an attempt on the President's life.


"So, my God, I totally insulted an entire country — our first ally — that helped us become free as a nation!" Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush offered a lighthearted apology for mocking France's work ethic in last week's debate. TIME has more.


After 16 years hosting the Daily Show, popular American political comedian Jon Stewart announced he'd signed a four-year deal with premium cable network HBO, where he will initially produce "short-form digital content."


Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated 20 years ago today. This and more in your 57-second shot of history.


An extremely rare copy of Bob Dylan's 1963 LP Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, containing four tracks that were not meant to be pressed on the vinyl, has gone up for auction on eBay, The Vinyl Factory reports. The bidding starts at $100,000 — so you may think twice (it's alright).

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Wagner's MIA Convicts: Where Do Deserting Russian Mercenaries Go?

Tens of thousands of Russian prisoners who've been recruited by the Wagner Group mercenary outfit have escaped from the frontlines after volunteering in exchange for freedom. Some appear to be seeking political asylum in Europe thanks to a "cleared" criminal record.

Picture of a soldier wearing the Wagner Group Logo on their uniform.

Soldier wearing the paramilitary Wagner Group Logo on their uniform.

Source: Sky over Ukraine via Facebook
Anna Akage

Of the about 50,000 Russian convicts who signed up to fight in Ukraine with the Wagner Group, just 10,000 are reportedly still at the front. An unknown number have been killed in action — but among those would-be casualties are also a certain number of coffins that are actually empty.

To hide the number of soldiers who have deserted or defected to Ukraine, Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin is reportedly adding them to the lists of the dead and missing.

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Some Wagner fighters have surrendered through the Ukrainian government's "I Want To Live" hotline, says Olga Romanova, director and founder of the Russia Behind Bars foundation.

"Relatives of the convicts enlisted in the Wagner Group are not allowed to open the coffins," explains Romanova.

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