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Muslims pray at a China mosque Sunday during the Eid al-Adha festival.
Muslims pray at a China mosque Sunday during the Eid al-Adha festival.

ISIS ASSAULT OF KOBANI CONTINUES
ISIS fighters are gaining ground in Syria’s Kurdish town of Kobani, on Turkey’s border, forcing a wave of Kurdish civilians to try to cross into Turkey, where the police repeatedly used tear gas to disperse them and the press. Those who managed to cross the border told Guardian journalists stories of ISIS torturing, mutilating and raping civilians. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a desperate Kurdish woman blew herself up near ISIS positions, killing several jihadists, though it is unclear how many exactly.

"I am obviously pretty scared to die, but the hardest part is not knowing, wondering, hoping, and wondering if I should even hope at all," Abdul-Rahman Kassig, a U.S. hostage threatened at the end of latest ISIS beheading video, wrote in a letter to his parents.

This weekend also saw Sunni militants believed to be from the al-Qaeda-linked group al-Nusra Front attack Lebanon’s Shia group Hezbollah on the border between Lebanon and Syria. Read more from the BBC.

MASS GRAVES FOUND IN MEXICO
Investigators in Mexico uncovered at least 28 badly charred bodies in mass graves as they were searching for 43 students who have been missing since they clashed with the police more than a week ago. The identification of the bodies could take up to two weeks, but there appears to be little doubt that they are the missing students, and witnesses told CNN that the police had orchestrated and participated in their killing.

8.7 LITERS
Italian Gianmario Ghirardi won this year's World Cow-Milking Championship over the weekend in Lenna, Italy, and set a new world record by extracting 8.7 liters of milk in 2 minutes from his bovine partner Mirka. But now he and the two other top finishers are facing doping allegations.

ROUSSEFF LEADS IN FIRST ROUND
Incumbent Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff won the first round of the country’s presidential election, but her 42% share of the vote means that she will face second-place center-right candidate Aécio Neves in the second round in three weeks, newspaper Folha de S. Paulo reports. Despite her strong lead, the outcome for Rousseff is the worst registered by her Worker’s Party in 12 years. As Reuters explains, the new campaign will see two visions of development oppose each other, with Rousseff’s state-led capitalism against the market-friendly policies Neves has promised.

EURO DISNEY RECAPITALIZATION
Euro Disney shares plunged 15% in early trading this morning, after the group running the first tourist attraction in Europe announced it had agreed to a $1.25 billion refinancing package to cut its crippling debt, Bloomberg reports This comes amid a sharp fall in the number of visitors at Disneyland Paris. Under the plan, the group’s parent company Walt Disney Co will infuse more than $520 million in cash and convert debt into equity. Read more from AFP.

HONG KONG PROTESTS DWINDLE
Hong Kong civil servants returned to work this morning as thousands of demonstrators left protest sites, leaving only a few hundred in the streets, the South China Morning Post reports on its live blog. Protest leaders and the government have started preliminary talks, but there has been little progress. According to a BBC correspondent, there is still a large number of students in the streets, suggesting “they will not give up as easily as the authorities had hoped.”

MH370 UNDERWATER SEARCH RESUMES
The hunt for the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which disappeared with 239 people on board in March, has resumed with an underwater search more than 6 kilometers deep in the southern Indian Ocean, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. Three ships, including one equipped with special sonar technology, are taking part in the operation, which could last up to a year.

NOBEL PRIZE SEASON BEGINS
It’s Nobel Prize time again and the prize in physiology or medicine was awarded to John O'Keefe, May-Britt Moser and Edvard Moser for their discovery of “a positioning system, an ‘inner GPS’ in the brain that makes it possible to orient ourselves in space.” Next up, the Nobel Prize in Physics, which will be announced tomorrow morning.

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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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