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Climate change activists demonstrate in New York.
Climate change activists demonstrate in New York.

U.S. AND ALLIES STRIKE ISIS IN SYRIA
The United States has begun striking ISIS and a new al-Qaeda group named Khorosan in Syria, “unleashing a torrent of cruise missiles and precision-guided bombs from the air and sea,” according to The New York Times. The military said its first direct intervention in the country had been backed by five Arab states — Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates — which “participated in or supported” the attack, aimed at disrupting “imminent attack planning against the United States and Western interests.” Strikes in Aleppo have killed 30 fighters and eight civilians, including three children, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Syria’s Foreign Ministry said Washington informed the country before the airstrike and later said it “supports any international effort that aims at fighting terrorism.” An ISIS fighter told Reuters that the group will respond to the airstrikes, and blamed Saudi Arabia for allowing them to happen.

Meanwhile, the Israeli army said it had shot down a Syrian war plane over the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights region, The Jerusalem Post reports.

UN CLIMATE SUMMIT BEGINS
More than 120 world leaders will be in New York today for the United Nations’ summit on climate change but the absence of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi won’t go unnoticed, The Washington Post reports. Together the two countries represent one-third on the world’s population and are respectively the first and third largest producers of carbon dioxide emissions. In a bid to raise awareness on what the climate could be like in the future, The Weather Channel is airing a special weather forecast from September 2050. According to AP, a global anti-deforestation initiative will be announced, although Brazil’s environment minister said she would not endorse it.

Ahead of the summit, Activists gathered in Battery Park Monday before a mass sit-in, under the banner of Flood Wall Street, to confront Wall Street for financing the climate crisis. "The economy of the 1% is destroying the planet, flooding our homes, and wrecking our communities," the Flood Wall Street website says.

VERBATIM
"Today, I tell you again that the war in Afghanistan is not our war but imposed on us, and we arethe victims," outgoing Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai said in a farewell address today.

UKRAINIAN BUFFER ZONE
East Ukraine rebels in the city of Donetsk have withdrawn their artillery just hours after the Ukrainian military made a similar move following a Saturday agreement to create a buffer-zone, Ria Novosti reports. Russian newspaper Kommersant, meanwhile, quotes the EU foreign policy chief's spokeswoman Maya Kocijancic as saying that Brussels may start reconsidering the economic sanctions imposed on Moscow at the end of the month. In an interview with Reuters, a chief economic adviser at Allianz SE warned that more sanctions against Russia and counter-sanctions could push the EU into recession.

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO
As PortalKBR’s Shadi Khan Saif reports, while cricket is almost a religion in neighboring Pakistan and India, it's only a decade old in Afghanistan — brought to the country by Afghan refugees when they returned home from Pakistan. Afghanistan Cricket executive Noor Muhamamd Murrad says the game fits well with the country’s conservative culture. “Afghanistan is an Islamic country, and the dress-code of this game allows parents to let their sons and daughters to go out and play it,” he says.
Read the full article, Afghanistan Is Falling In Love With Cricket.

ENDING DEFORESTATION
Liberia, the country most hit by the Ebola outbreak, is set to become the first African nation to put an end to deforestation. In return, Norway has pledged to pay $150 million in development aid.

LIBYA APPROVES NEW GOVERNMENT
The elected Libyan Parliament in the city of Tobruk has approved a new government proposed by Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni, one week after rejecting a first cabinet, Reuters reports. Thinni, a former career soldier, has a tough job on his hands, with the country deeply divided by militia fighting since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and with rebel group Libya Dawn recently having formed a rival parliament and government in the capital of Tripoli.

825
Many Syrians may have to survive the coming winter on just 825 calories per day, a World Food Programme official said during closed-door talks in Geneva last week, Reuters reports.

PALESTINIAN KIDNAPPERS KILLED
A spokesperson for the Israeli Defense Forces announced this morning that two Palestinian suspects in the abduction and killing of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank in June were killed in a shootout near a house where they were hiding, Haaretz reports. This comes as Israeli and Palestinian delegations are expected to renew “preliminary negotiations” in Cairo, one month after agreeing on a ceasefire. The operation in the West Bank also led to the arrest of three other suspects involved in the kidnappings, which started the “Bring Back Our Boys” campaign shortly before the military operation in Gaza. It has emerged since that the Israeli government knew early on the abducted teens were dead and misled the public.

A TRUMP TAKEDOWN
Here, John Oliver challenges the dubious Miss USA Pageant claim that it gives $45 million in scholarships to its local and national contestants annually. But he also makes a number of acerbic observations about pageant owner Donald Trump, who has made comment after comment about the importance of beauty. Among them, “It is a little ironic that the Miss USA beauty pageant is overseen by one of the ugliest souls on the planet.”

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Fight Over Tourist Visa Ban For Russians Is Taking Everyone For A Ride

High on the agenda of the Prague summit of Europe’s foreign ministers this week was a proposal to ban tourist visas for Russians, as punishment for Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. But it is ultimately a way to change the subject, and recalls Zelensky’s iconic remark after the war began.

Passengers arrive at Sheremetyevo International Airport, Russia

TASS
Anna Akage

It’s not a new question. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had called for a ban on tourist visa for Russian soon after the war began, and this week it became the center of the Prague summit of European Union foreign ministers.

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Some European Union nations voiced their support soon after it was mentioned by Zelensky, including former Soviet republics and current Russia neighbors, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. They were followed by Finland and the Czech Republic, Denmark, and Poland. Hungary, Portugal, Greece and Cyprus. Germany and France are looking for a compromise that would allow for visas for students, workers of culture and science, as well as people who need entry for humanitarian reason. Perhaps most importantly, however, the U.S. took an unambiguous position against the restrictions.

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Writing contest - My pandemic story
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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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