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Hong Kong

ISIS Nears Baghdad, Hong Kong Protests, Potato Salad Party

Hong Kong protesters
Hong Kong protesters

ISIS fighters are close to entering the Iraqi capital of Baghdad despite U.S. airstrikes in the area, with the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East saying that they are “less than two kilometers away,” The Independentreports. The newspaper also notes that ISIS and the al-Nusra front are working together in “a loose coalition” to fight attacks from the U.S.-led operation.

In an interview with CBS, President Barack Obama said that Washington had both underestimated the strength of ISIS and overestimated the capacity of the U.S.-trained Iraqi army to fight the terrorist group.

Meanwhile, the U.S. and its allies have continued targeting ISIS positions in northern and eastern Syria, including the country’s largest gas plant, The Washington Postreports. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the strikes also hit grain silos, killing civilians. Read more from Reuters.

Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong are still occupying the streets after yesterday’s intervention by riot police, who arrested many demonstrators but failed to disperse the crowds despite firing tear gas. To protect themselves, the thousands of protesters, most of them students, are wielding umbrellas, leading some to describe the expanding rallies against China’s decision to limit democratic reform in Hong Kong the “Umbrella revolution.”

“We’ve never seen anything like this, never imagined it,” said protester Kevin Chan, a 48-year-old factory manager said.

For more, check out this Worldcrunch piece, The View From Instagram: Hong Kong's Democracy Protests.

Despite a ceasefire, three civilians were killed and another five wounded in the rebel-held city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, as city authorities described a “tense” situation with artillery fire throughout the night, AFP reports. A military spokesman told Reuters that a shell fired by pro-Russians killed seven Ukrainian soldiers near the Donetsk airport, where fighting has scarcely stopped since the ceasefire was signed. This comes after rebel forces uncovered a fourth mass grave this weekend in areas previously controlled by the Ukrainian army.

After two weeks of grounded flights, Air France pilots finally called off their strike yesterday, but not before costing the airline more than 280 million euros ($355 million) in revenue, or about 20 million euros for each day of deadlock.

Ashraf Ghani has been sworn is as the new president of Afghanistan in the country’s first democratic transition. The ceremony was preceded by a suicide bomb explosion near the Kabul airport, which Reuters reports left many dead and wounded. Ghani vowed to work for peace and to put an end to corruption, but the BBC explains that his government’s first task will be to sign a deal allowing U.S. troops to remain in the country after the end of the year, a move that Ghani’s predecessor Hamid Karzai opposed.

The estimated death toll of a massive volcanic eruption in Japan Saturday reached 36 this morning after five more bodies were found on the slopes of Mount Ontake, The Japan Times reports. Twenty-four bodies still remain on the mountain where the eruption continues, but toxic gases and ash have forced authorities to suspend the recovery operation. But a government spokesman said that the eruption would not affect the restart of a nuclear power plant in a different volcanically active area.

The European Union is expected to impose a “record fine of as much as several billions of euros” against Apple, the world’s richest company, for taking illegal aid from the Irish state for more than two decades. The company struck a deal with authorities to pay less than 2% in taxes in exchange for jobs, according to the Financial Times.

The man behind the $55,000 Kickstarter campaign for a potato salad threw a huge public party over the weekend — with 3,000 pounds of potatoes. The rest of the money will be used to support charities fighting hunger and homelessness.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Black Sea Survivor: Tale Of A Ukrainian Special Agent Thrown Overboard In Enemy Waters

This is a tale of a Ukrainian special forces operator who wound up surviving 14 hours at sea, staying afloat and dodging Russian air and sea patrols.

Black Sea Survivor: Tale Of A Ukrainian Special Agent Thrown Overboard In Enemy Waters

Looking at the Black Sea in Odessa, Ukraine.

Rustem Khalilov and Roksana Kasumova

KYIV — During a covert operation in the Black Sea, a Ukrainian special agent was thrown overboard and spent the next 14 hours alone at sea, surrounded by enemy forces.

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

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The agent, who uses the call-sign "Conan," agreed to speak to Ukrainska Pravda, to share the details of nearly being lost forever at sea. He also shared some background on how he arrived in the Ukrainian special forces. Having grown up in a village in a rural territory of Ukraine, Conan describes himself as "a simple guy."

He'd worked in law enforcement, personal security and had a job as a fitness trainer when Russia launched its full-scale invasion on Feb. 24, 2022. That's when he signed up with the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Main Directorate of Intelligence "Artan" battalion. It was nearly 18 months into his service, when Conan faced the most harrowing experience of the war. Here's his first-hand account:

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