When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Hong Kong's "Occupy Central" protesters on Tuesday
Hong Kong's "Occupy Central" protesters on Tuesday
Worldcrunch

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

ISIS SHOWS OFF CAPTURED U.S. WEAPONS
ISIS fighters released a video in which they appear to be in possession of at least one cache of weapons dropped two days ago by U.S. military aircraft and intended to supply Kurdish fighters battling against the terrorist group in the Syrian border town of Kobani, The Daily Telegraph reports. U.S. military officials said they were investigating the video but insisted that the “vast majority” of supplies ended up in the right hands. The weapons showed by ISIS include hand grenades, ammunition and rocket-propelled grenade launchers. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights warned that ISIS fighters could have seized more than one cache. Meanwhile, news emerged that three American teenage girls were arrested in Germany this weekend by FBI agents. According to U.S officials, the three Colorado girls, aged 15, 16 and 17, were on their way to Turkey, from where they hoped to join ISIS militants in Syria. They have since been returned to their families.

EBOLA HOPES: SERUM AND VACCINE?
A serum made from the blood of cured Ebola patients will be available in Liberia, the nation worst hit by the virus, within weeks while test of two potential vaccines will begin in two weeks, with the first results expected by the end of the year, the BBC reports, quoting a World Health Organization official. NBC meanwhile announced that a cameraman diagnosed with Ebola after filming in Liberia has now been cured.

TENT CITY
A sea of tents covers the streets of Hong Kong as the "Occupy Central" pro-democracy movement continues to occupy the city's central district.

NO RUSSIA-UKRAINE DEAL ON GAS
Hopes that a crucial gas deal between Russia and Ukraine would be signed yesterday failed to materialize. The Financial Times reports that the deal was scuttled after Moscow asked for guarantees from Kiev’s Western supporters that the Ukrainian government could pay for the supplies,. Despite agreeing earlier to a knockdown price of $385 per thousand cubic meters as long as Kiev paid its bills in advance, Russia is still awaiting the payment of $3.1 billion in two tranches this year to cover Ukraine’s gas debt to Gazprom.

UN TO LAUNCH GAZA WAR INQUIRY
Ban Ki-moon said yesterday that the United Nations would “move forward” with an independent investigation into attacks on UN facilities during Israel’s military operation in Gaza this summer, including an attack on a UN school which left several Palestinians dead, Al Jazeera reports. The investigation is also expected to look into Israeli claims that Hamas used the facilities to hide weaponry. Speaking about the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip enclave and the need of humanitarian relief, the UN’s Secretary General said the “clock is ticking” and urged donors, who recently pledged a total of $5.4 billion in aid to “quickly materialize” their promises into concrete assistance as winter approaches.

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO
Writing in Tel Aviv-based Calcalist, Doron Peskin takes a closer look at the details after the fanfare surrounding the $5.4 billion pledged by Arab and Western governments to rebuild Gaza. “It is clear to all that the key to rebuilding Gaza is construction materials entering Gaza from either Israel or Egypt. Israel is concerned about the materials' end use — who's responsible for their transfer and who receives them. If these are Hamas members, as was the case in the aftermath of previous conflicts, they would certainly end up being used for rehabilitating Hamas tunnels and development of additional capabilities.”
Read the full article: Don't Count On That $5.4 Billion Pledge To Rebuild Gaza.

FAREWELL
Ben Bradlee, the top editor of the Washington Post during the Watergate scandal that toppled President Richard Nixon, has died at the age of 93. Here’s the Post’s own obituary of its longtime executive editor.

WHY SOUTH KOREA TORE DOWN "XMAS TREE" TOWER
South Korea has demolished a tower near the border with North Korea that used to provoke angry reactions from the officially atheist neighbor when it was decorated as a Christmas tree, news agency Yonhap reports. A Defense official said the decision was solely motivated by risks that the tower might collapse, but the destruction’s timing, just one week after top military officials from the two countries met for the first time in seven years, has led some observers to suggest it might be part of a “burgeoning reconciliatory mode.” This also comes amid Pyongyang’s decision to release Jeffrey Fowle, one of the three American citizens imprisoned in North Korea.

MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD
[rebelmouse-image 27088285 alt="""" original_size="610x600" expand=1]

TOTAL SEEKS SUCCESSOR(S)

The board of French oil giant Total is holding an emergency meeting to decide on a new chief executive, after the death of Christophe de Margerie in a plane accident in Moscow late Monday. According to French business newspaper Les Echos, the company will decide to split the functions of chairman and chief executive previously held by de Margerie, a move that would then need to be approved by the company’s shareholders. Meanwhile, the driver of the snowplow that collided with the plane carrying de Margerie as it was taking off said he had “lost his bearings” and “didn’t notice” he was driving on the runway, AFP reports. His lawyer also denied claims that his client was drunk, explaining that he doesn’t drink because of a heart condition, though a medicine he might have taken contains alcohol.

BEST AGE TO DIE?
A top bioethics official at the US National Institutes of health has declared that the “full arc of life” is finished by the age of 75. Then it’s time to go ...

£55
Family doctors in England are to be paid £55 ($88) for each patient they diagnose with dementia in the six months up to next March, the National Health Service in England has announced. Critics have called it an ethical travesty.

VIOLIN HISTORY, CRASH COURSE
With 44 songs packed in just 12 minutes, this expand=1] video takes you through the history of violin and shows some of the best and most famous pieces ever written. Do check the YouTube page of collectivecadenza expand=1] for more instruments, you won’t regret it. If you are more the saxophone type, here’s something just in from our Hit It! feature.

Keep reading... Show less
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Geopolitics

Russia's Military Failures Are Really About Its Soldiers

No doubt, strategic errors and corruption at the highest ranks in the Kremlin are partly to blame for the Russian military's stunning difficulties in Ukraine. But the roots run deeper, where the ordinary recruits come from, how they are exploited, how they react.

Army reserve soldiers go to Red Square to attend a Pioneer Induction ceremony

Anna Akage

To the great relief of Ukraine and the great surprise of the rest of the world, the Russian army — considered until February 24, the second strongest in the world — is now eminently beatable on the battlefield against Ukrainian forces operating with vastly inferior firepower.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

After renouncing the original ambitions to take Kyiv and unseat the Ukrainian government, the focus turned to the southeastern region of Donbas, where a would-be great battle on a scale comparable to World War II Soviet victories has turned into a quagmire peppered with laughable updates by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov on TikTok.

The Russians have not managed to occupy a single significant Ukrainian city, except Kherson, which they partially destroyed and now find difficult to hold. Meanwhile, Ukrainian civilians are left to suffer the bombing of cities and villages from Lviv to Odessa, with looting, torture and assorted war crimes.

The reasons for both the poor performance and atrocities are many, and include deep-seated corruption and lack of professionalism up through the highest ranks, including Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who had never served in the army, and arrived in his position only because of his loyalty to the No. 1 man in the Kremlin.

Keep reading... Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

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.

Watch Video Show less
MOST READ