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In The News

Turkey Hits Kurdish Targets In Iraq, Nobel, U2 Vegas Extravaganza

Photo of U2 performing at Las Vegas’ new $2.3-billion Sphere venue over the weekend.

U2 performing at Las Vegas’ new $2.3-billion Sphere venue over the weekend.

Emma Albright, Valeria Berghinz, Michelle Courtois, Laure Gautherin and Anne-Sophie Goninet

👋 Ello-hay!*


Welcome to Monday, where Turkey strikes Kurdish rebel targets in northern Iraq hours after a suicide blast hit Ankara’s interior ministry, a UN mission arrives in Nagorno-Karabakh and the Nobel Prize season kicks off. Meanwhile, Wiktoria Bielaszyn, in Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza, reports on the suspected spy network operated by the Russian Orthodox Church through its clergy members abroad, particularly in the U.S.

[*Pig Latin]

✅  SIGN UP

This is our daily newsletter Worldcrunch Today, a rapid tour of the news of the day from the world's best journalism sources, regardless of language or geography.

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🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• Turkey strikes Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq after Ankara blast: Turkey says it has carried out a number of airstrikes on Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq, hours after a suicide blast hit Turkish interior ministry headquarters in Ankara. Some 20 targets of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) group were “destroyed'” in the aerial operation, including caves, shelters and depots, according to Ankara. The PKK said Sunday morning's bombing in the capital, which injured two policemen, was carried out by an affiliated group.

• EU foreign ministers back Kyiv after Slovakian populist party victory could end aid: The populist party of former Prime Minister Robert Fico that wants to stop military aid to Ukraine and is critical of the European Union and NATO, has won Slovakia’s election. The SMER-SSD party scored 23.3%, beating the centrist Progressive Slovakia (PS) that gathered 17% of the votes. EU foreign ministers gathered in Kyiv today in a strong sign of support for Ukraine’s war effort. Read why Viktor Orban is so happy with the results in Slovakia.

• UN mission arrives in Nagorno-Karabakh, a first in 30 years: A United Nations mission has arrived in Nagorno-Karabakh during a mass exodus of ethnic Armenians from the region after Azerbaijan recaptured the breakaway enclave last month. The mission, led by a senior UN aid official, is the global body’s first access to the region in about 30 years. For more, read this analysis by Pierre Haski for France Inter, translated from French by Worldcrunch: The Return Of Ethnic Cleansing: Why Nagorno-Karabakh Matters, And Isn't Over Yet.

• Ten dead after Mexico church roof collapses: At least 10 people, including three children, were killed when the roof of a church collapsed in northern Mexico. The collapse happened on Sunday afternoon local time as around 100 people were attending a baptism at Santa Cruz church in Ciudad Madero.

• At least 38 injured in blaze at police complex in Egypt: A fire at a police complex in Egypt has injured at least 38 people, according to emergency services and local media. Firefighters managed to contain the blaze at the facility in Ismailia, and local hospitals have been placed on alert.

• Early voting begins in Australia’s Indigenous Voice referendum: Early voting has begun in parts of Australia for a landmark referendum on creating an Indigenous body that can advise Parliament on matters affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The referendum itself is scheduled for October 14, and voting is compulsory. As early voting began, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese hit the streets of Melbourne, the capital of Victoria, to rally support for the “yes” vote.

• Nobel Prize in Medicine: Hungarian-born Katalin Kariko and Drew Weissman of the U.S. have won the 2023 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their research that led directly to the first mRNA vaccines to fight COVID-19, made by Pfizer and Moderna.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

Spanish daily ABC features the "infernal dawn" that shocked the southeastern city of Murcia early Sunday, after a fire that engulfed three nightclubs, killing at least 13. The blaze broke out in the Fonda Milagros nightclub at about 6 a.m. local time before spreading to neighboring clubs. The death toll is expected to rise as rescue workers are still pulling bodies from the burnt down buildings. The origin of the fire is currently under investigation.

💬 LEXICON

Whoosh

In order to ease the country’s severe traffic jams and reduce its carbon footprint, Indonesian President Joko Widodo has launched the country’s first high-speed railway. The project, backed by China under its Belt and Road initiative, is called Whoosh: a Bahasa Indonesian acronym that stands for Waktu Hemat, Operasi Optimal, Sistem Handal, which translates to Timesaving, Optimal Operation, Reliable System. Widodo also added that the name is inspired by the sound of a “rushing high-speed train.” The train connects the capital Jakarta to Bandung, a top economic hub. Read this recent article in German daily Die Welt, now in English on Worldcrunch: The West Has An Answer To China's New Silk Road — With A Lift From The Gulf.

📰 STORY OF THE DAY

The Russian Orthodox Church has a Kremlin spy network — and now it's spreading abroad

The Russian Orthodox Church has long supported Russia’s ongoing war effort in Ukraine. Now, clergy members in other countries are suspected of collaborating with and recruiting for Russian security forces, reports Wiktoria Bielaszyn in Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza.

🚨 On Sept. 21, Bulgaria deported Russian Archimandrite Vassian, guardian of the Orthodox parish in Sofia, along with two Belarusian priests. In a press release, the Bulgarian national security agency says that clergy were deported because they posed a threat to national security. Bulgaria is not the only country accusing Archimandrite Wassian of working for Russian security services. Radio Svoboda has reported that he was among three Russian diplomats recognized as persona non grata by North Macedonia.

🔍 Even stronger charges were brought in the U.S. against another Russian Orthodox priest, Dmitry Petrovsky. After analyzing his activities as part of his work in the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, the FBI accused him of recruiting agents among priests and parishioners of Orthodox churches in the U.S. for the Russian services.

🇷🇺🇺🇸 Citing FBI sources, Russian investigative journalists Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan found that Petrovsky may have been cooperating with the Russian services for years, under the guidance of Patriarch Kirill, who has long been loyal to the Kremlin and openly supports the war in Ukraine. In May 2021, FBI officers found files on Petrovsky's computer, which included documents on prominent Orthodox priests in the U.S. According to FBI agents, this data was intended to help Pietrowski to blackmail other members of the Orthodox clergy.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

“We will not walk away.”

— U.S. President Joe Biden has vowed to maintain support for Ukraine amid military funding cuts. On Saturday, a last-minute congressional budget deal, which was pushed as a temporary measure to avoid government shutdown, excluded $6 billion intended for Kyiv. Despite some rising Republican discontent with the aid given to Ukraine, Biden reiterated on Sunday that “We cannot, under any circumstances, allow U.S. support to Ukraine to be interrupted,” with some suggesting that a separate bill be soon passed on the issue. For more on the topic, we offer this Gazeta Wyborcza article.

✍️ Newsletter by Emma Albright, Valeria Berghinz, Michelle Courtois, Laure Gautherin and Anne-Sophie Goninet


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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War

Why Yemen May Be The Real Trigger Risk For Middle East Escalation

The Iran-backed Yemeni rebel group Houthis have seized a vessel in the Red Sea’s shipping route and took the ship’s 25 crew members hostage. It’s just the latest sign that the spillover from Gaza may arrive first from the south.

Houthi supporters in Sanaa, Yemen, gather during a rally to show support to Palestinian people in Gaza on October 18, 2023.

Houthi supporters in Sanaa, Yemen, gather during a rally to show support to Palestinian people in Gaza on October 18, 2023.

Elias Kassem

-Analysis-

Since the war against Hamas exploded last month in Gaza, international diplomats and war-game analysts have been looking at the map of the Middle East to gauge if and where the conflict might escalate.

Though much of the attention has been on Lebanon-based Hezbollah across Israel’s northern border, it's best right now to look south instead.

For the latest news & views from every corner of the world, Worldcrunch Today is the only truly international newsletter. Sign up here.

The Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen, known as Houthis, have escalated their attacks on Israel and its interests, fueling already mounting concerns that the war in Gaza could spill over into a regional conflict.

On Sunday, the rebels said they seized a cargo vessel in the Red Sea crucial shipping route, south of Israel, and took the ship’s 25 crew members hostage.

The escalation by the Houthis and other Iranian-backed militias in the region, including missile attacks by Hezbollah on northern Israel have increased concerns the war between Israel and the Palestinian militants in Gaza could spread across the region, with even more explosive global consequences.

Analysts say the latest Houthi move aims to add more pressure on Israel and its closest ally, the U.S., as the war in Gaza continues unabated. They also say that as the situation becomesincreasingly dire in the Palestinian enclave, Iran may be left with no choice but to escalate tensions through its proxies in the region.

Sunday’s seizure came hours after the group threatened to target Israel-linked vessels off Yemen, as part of their response to the war in Gaza. The rebels have also launched barrages of missiles and explosive-laden drones on Israel since the war began on Oct. 7.

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