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Ebola Nurse Cured, Pope Overruled, Italy's Baby Bonus

Kung Fu students at the 10th Zhengzhou International Shaolin Wushu Festival
Kung Fu students at the 10th Zhengzhou International Shaolin Wushu Festival

Monday, October 20, 2014

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu announced the country would let Iraqi Kurds cross its border and join Syrian Kurds fighting against ISIS in the city of Kobani, the BBC reports. The announcement came after U.S. aircraft dropped ammunition, small arms and medical supplies to Kurdish fighters in the border town, responding to “an urgent need to resupply” them, The New York Times quotes an official as saying. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is in Indonesia, where he is expected to press southeast Asian leaders to step up their efforts against ISIS. Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation with 250 million Muslims, and authorities believe that hundreds of people in the region have traveled to Syria and Iraq to join the terrorist group’s ranks.

More than 1,800 kung fu students from 63 countries and regions are participating in a three-day kung fu festival that opened Sunday in China.

Teresa Romero, the Spanish nurse who became the first person to contract Ebola outside West Africa, has tested negative for the virus, suggesting she is cured, dailyEl País reports. Although she will have a second test in the next couple of days, a family spokeswoman said she was “very excited” and “eager” to leave confinement.

This comes after most of the 50 people who had direct or indirect contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who died of Ebola in the U.S., were told they were no longer at risk. The World Health Organization also officially declared Nigeria free of Ebola after 42 days with no new cases.

EU foreign ministers are meeting in Luxembourg to try and formalize a joint EU response to the virus. According to AFP, the European leaders could decide to send “a civilian EU mission” to West Africa.

In an editorial, The New York Times praises Cuba’s “impressive role” in the fight against Ebola, saying that its efforts are “putting America’s contributions to shame,” as the impoverished island is prepared to send 460 specially trained doctors and nurses to West Africa.

“God is not afraid of new things," Pope Francis said following a special two-week Synod summit of the world's Catholic bishops on the state of the family. The gathering was notable in its open and often conflicting debate about such issues as homosexuality and the status of divorced and remarried members of the Church.

Germany's foreign intelligence service BND has evidence that pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine are responsible for the July 17 crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in the eastern part of the country with 298 people on board, magazineDer Spiegelreveals. According to a BND presentation to a German parliamentary committee, the rebels captured an air defense missile system at a Ukrainian military base and fired a missile at the plane. If accurate, this would contradict Russia’s claim that the aircraft was shot down by a Ukrainian fighter jet. The BND’s report also shows that Ukraine falsified photographic evidence. Meanwhile, Ukrainian and Russian leaders reached a breakthrough agreement on gas prices for the coming winter, paving the way for Moscow to resume providing its neighbor with supplies. “I can say that Ukraine will have gas, Ukraine will have heating,” President Petro Poroshenko said.

As Die Welt’s Pia Heinemann reports, the only way to eradicate the destructive lionfish, non-native to the Atlantic Ocean and now endangering prey species along the U.S. coast, may be to eat it. “The red lionfish and common lionfish have presumably been in the Atlantic and Caribbean since the 1980s,” the journalist writes. “It is thought that these aquarium fish were turned loose either deliberately or out of ignorance, or possibly that larvae came to this new home with ships' ballast water. In 1992, a Florida aquarium was destroyed by a hurricane, which also resulted in some fish returning to nature.”
Read the full article, Lionfish, A Predator On The Menu.

After two nights of clashes in which several people were injured, Hong Kong protests are entering their fourth week, with the city’s South China Morning Post asking whether the Occupy movement is “spinning out of control.” Talks between the Hong Kong government and protest leaders are scheduled for tomorrow and will be broadcast live, but Reuters explains that “few are expecting any resolution” to end the conflict over the 2017 election. Tension will likely be high at the meeting after Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said in a televised interview that the movement “obviously” included “participation by people, organizations from outside of Hong Kong.” Protest leaders denied the claims that “external forces” were involved and accused Leung of being “irresponsible.” Read more from the BBC.


Two of Japan’s five female government ministers resigned today after allegations that they had misused campaign funds, The Japan Times reports. Justice Minister Midori Matsushima and Trade and Industry Minister Yuko Obuchi had been under intense pressure to resign, even from inside their own government. The resignations are a blow to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who took responsibility for having appointed them, amid growing economic woes. In an interview with the Financial Times, Abe suggested that he might delay a planned consumption tax increase from 8 to 10%, just months after raising it from 5%, a move that is believed to be responsible for a 7.1% second-quarter contraction of the Japanese economy.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has proposed an 80-euro a month baby bonus to new mothers until their child is three years old.

Attention to all American Lit (and geography) majors around the world: Brooklyn Magazine has created a map showing the one book that best represents each of the U.S. 50 states and Washington D.C. (Note that Northern and Southern California and New York City each get their own, which must say something about Brooklyn.)

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Report: Wagner Group Is Back Fighting In Ukraine For First Time Since Aborted Coup

After a sighting by a Ukrainian drone operator, details emerge of how the Russian mercenary group has been redeployed in the strategic Ukrainian city of Bakhmut it had helped conquer earlier this year. That was followed by the dramatic coup and departure from Ukraine led by Wagner's now late leader Yevgeny Prigozhin.

Photo of a Ukrainian soldier walking past a destroyed building

A Ukrainian soldier earlier this month walking in front of a damaged building


Fighters affiliated with the Wagner Group have once again been spotted on the battlefield near Bakhmut in the Russian-occupied Donetsk region, according to a Ukrainian drone operator. This confirmation supports earlier reports from Russian sources regarding the resurgence of Wagner mercenaries near the strategic city in eastern Ukraine.

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

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“Wagner is here,” the drone operator said, adding that the Wagnerites had “quickly changed commanders and returned.”

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