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Shimon Peres RIP, With Middle East Peace So Far Away

Shimon Peres, whose six decades of public service included stints as both Israel's prime minister and president, has died at the age of 93, two weeks after suffering a stroke. The joint 1994 Nobel Peace Prize laureate played a defining role for Israel since its founding in 1948, serving as an aide to the first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and later working secretly with the French to establish Israel as a nuclear power, recalls Le Monde.


But it was a negotiated peace in the war-torn region that drove the second half of Peres' career, most notably as one of the architects of the Oslo Accords that earned him the Nobel alongside fellow Israeli Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.


Writing in Haaretz, New Jersey-based rabbi, writer and teacher Eric H. Yoffie reminds us that Peres "made it clear, publicly and privately, that he did not expect peace tomorrow or the next day," but that he was nonetheless "an optimist not blinded by messianism."


As world leaders prepare to fly to Israel for Peres' funeral, it is worth noting that it was another September day, 23 years ago, that Peres, Rabin and Arafat were joined together on the White House lawn by President Bill Clinton for a momentous gesture. Just this week, Israel's current leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, met with the two major candidates seeking the White House. He may have spoken to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump about addressing the endless Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But for now, it's only words. Rest in peace.



WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY



AMNESTY SLAMS THAILAND'S "CULTURE OF TORTURE"

The military governing Thailand since a 2014 coup has allowed "a culture of torture and other ill-treatment to flourish across the country," Amnesty International said in a report published today. Bangkok's authorities threatened activists with arrests to stop the launch of the report, the watchdog said.


— ON THIS DAY

From William the Conqueror to Brigitte Bardot, here's your 57-second shot of history!


VERBATIM

"We want to make Mars seem possible in our lifetimes," Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk said yesterday as he unveiled his ambitious vision for the future of manned expeditions to the red planet, which could begin as early as 2022.


FIRST PAY CUT FOR SAUDI OFFICIALS

Lawmakers in Saudi Arabia are taking a 20% pay cut, a first in the country as it grapples with low oil prices, the Financial Times reports. Austerity measures are expected to affect all parts of the public sector, which employs two-thirds of working Saudis.


— WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

Italy is, still, a deeply sexist country. A recent murder and suicide remind one mother why part of her shuddered at the thought of having a baby girl. As part of Worldcrunch's exclusive Rue Amelot collection of international essays, Italian journalist Barbara Sgarzi writes: "I can't help but notice that an entire Italian town, faced with the horrific, repeated rape of a young girl, says that she was asking for it. I can't help but see that a man whose lover has left him can turn into a killer because, from his perspective, his partner is nothing more than an object that cannot and must not free itself from his possession.

There are countless numbers, statistics, red shoe demonstrations, another woman murdered, it goes on and on. I can't ignore that Tiziana Cantone killed herself because someone, betraying her trust, put sex videos online, and so popular wisdom has it that if you're a woman who likes having sex freely, you're a slut who deserves to be pilloried, whereas if you're a man you're cool, we'll have T-shirts printed with your face on them."

Read the full article, Sexism, Italian-Style: Bad News For My Eight-Year-Old Daughter.


$60 MILLION

Wells Fargo is clawing back $60 million — $41 million from chief executive John Stumpf and $19 million from former retail banking head Carrie Tolstedt, the company announced yesterday amid an investigation into the bank's sales practices. The division run by Tolstedt created more than 2 million sham accounts to meet sales targets. Customers had been charged overdraft fees as a result.


BABY WITH DNA OF THREE PARENTS

A recent and controversial technique that combines the DNA of three people has given a couple from Jordan a baby boy, the first birth using this procedure, New Scientist reports.


— MY GRAND-PERE'S WORLD

That's Advertisement — Digby, 2001


JAPAN PROPOSES VENUE CHANGES TO CUT OLYMPICS COSTS

A Tokyo government panel reviewing the cost of organizing the 2020 Summer Olympics is set to propose three major venue changes in a bid to bring down what Japan Today describes as "ballooning costs." The rowing and canoeing events could be moved some 400 kilometers from the capital as a result.


MORE STORIES, BROUGHT TO YOU BY WORLDCRUNCH

DISPUTE-DAY

An argument between a Spanish spy and his homesick wife came close to ruining World War II's D-Day, previously secret MI5 files reveal.

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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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