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NFL.COM, AP, REUTERS (USA)

Worldcrunch

After two days of marathon negotiations, the National Football League (NFL) has reached an agreement to end a labor dispute with its regular game referees, ending three weeks of questionable calls that had threatened the integrity of the sport, Reuters reports.

Welcome back regular refs; it's been too long: yhoo.it/PqxvF7 @mikesilver

— Yahoo! Sports NFL (@YahooSports_NFL) September 27, 2012

The agreement hinged on working out pension and retirement benefits for the officials, who are part-time employees of the league.

Replacement referees worked the first three weeks of the 2012 season, triggering a wave of outrage that threatened to disrupt the rest of the season.

Now that the NFL Official's strike is over, the replacement refs can back to their regular jobs in Congress.

— Don Nichols (@TheDairylandDon) September 27, 2012

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told NFL.com that the refs will be back on the field starting Thursday night, for the game between the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens.

After a missed call cost the Green Bay Packers a win on a chaotic final play at Seattle on Monday night, it became clear that a tentative agreement had to be reached to end the lockout that began in June, AP reports.

Thank you, Packers, for being the lambs sacrified to get both sides serious about getting the deal done and then reaching the agreement.

— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) September 27, 2012

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Ukraine’s Offensive Raises A Big Question: Is It Time To Attack Inside Russia?

The successful Ukrainian counteroffensive in the northeast has brought Kyiv’s troops to the border, now with the artillery capacity to strike inside Russian territory. What are risks of launching a “counter-invasion”? What are risks of not doing so?

Yurii Rylchuk/Ukrinform/ZUMA

Anna Akage

The Ukrainian Armed Forces' startling counter-offensive has entered its fifth day, with overnight news outdated by lunchtime as the advance continues at a pace unprecedented since the start of the war. Since the beginning of September, the Ukrainian army has liberated more than 3,000 square miles of territory in the northeastern Kharkiv region.

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Meanwhile in Moscow, President Vladimir Putin appears to be in denial as his troops collapse and retreat, and his generals panic. Putin spent the weekend presiding over the grand opening of a new Ferris wheel in Moscow, and his spokesman released a statement saying all is going according to plan.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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