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CEO of Total Christophe de Margerie was killed in a plane crash at Moscow’s Vnukovo international airport.
CEO of Total Christophe de Margerie was killed in a plane crash at Moscow’s Vnukovo international airport.
Worldcrunch

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

NEW ISIS OFFENSIVE IN KOBANI
ISIS fighters have launched an assault “on all fronts” in the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani, the director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights toldAFP. The offensive came hours after U.S. airplanes dropped ammunition and medical aid to besieged Kurdish fighters. It also came after Turkey’s apparent policy reversal, as the country is now allowing Iraqi Kurdish fighters to cross into Kobani from Turkey, a decision the U.S. welcomed. Meanwhile, The Independent reports that UK drones now deployed in Iraq will soon carry out reconnaissance flights in Syria and possibly missile strikes without a new parliamentary vote. When Westminster voted to support Iraq strikes against ISIS a month ago, several parliament members said they would oppose such an operation in Syria.

1,622
China has retained its title of world's top executioner, U.S.-based rights group Dui Hua reported today. The country executed 2,400 people in 2013, 1,622 more than the rest of the world combined.

HONG KONG TALKS
Pro-democracy protest leaders and Hong Kong government officials are finally meeting to discuss how to end a weeks-long crisis that has paralyzed part of the city. Such talks have been cancelled twice in recent weeks, and there is little hope that the sides will find common ground because officials insist that Beijing will not consent to demands for more democracy, the South China Morning Post explains. On its live blog, The Wall Street Journal writes that tensions are high at one of the main protest sites and that as many as 2,000 police officers will be deployed.

PISTORIUS GETS FIVE YEARS
South African athlete Oscar Pistorius has been sentenced to a maximum jail term of five years for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, after being found guilty of manslaughter, The Mail and Guardian reports. He was taken directly to a prison in Pretoria.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Kharkiv Revisited: Inside Russia's New Assault On The "Hero City" Of Ukraine

The nation's second-largest city, Kharkiv was quiet for weeks after Ukrainian forces took control. But now it is again under attack as Russia pushes to capture the city that's considered the "gateway" to Ukraine. Die Welt reports from the frontline.

Damages due to Russian shelling in Kharkiv, Ukraine

Alfred Hackensberger

KHARKIV — "Come, I want to show you something," Denys Vezenych says, opening the door of his dental office.

The 40-year-old begins to tell the story in the waiting room: "It was April 16 when the Russian artillery shell hit. The windowpanes were broken, the walls had holes everywhere and the roof was destroyed. But I renovated everything."

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The repairs cost him several thousand euros. "You have to think positively, because life goes on," he explains with a smile. But this attitude is not so present generally in Saltivka, a neighborhood in northeastern Kharkiv. The dental practice may be like new, but the rest of this area in the northeastern Ukrainian city is completely destroyed.

The Russian army has done a great job in its three-month offensive on Ukraine's second largest metropolis. Countless flats have been burned out, the facades of houses have been shot to pieces, entire shopping centers have been bombed. Debris still lie in the streets everywhere.

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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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