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Scotland's day of reckoning
Scotland's day of reckoning

SCOTLAND’S MOMENT OF TRUTH
The time has come for Scottish voters to decide whether they want to live in an independent Scotland or remain part of the United Kingdom. Polling stations will be open until 10 p.m. local time ,and the results are expected by tomorrow morning, though the counting could take longer than usual, as authorities believe the turnout will be historically high, with 97% of the electorate having registered to vote, the BBC explains.

POROSHENKO TO MEET OBAMA
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko will be in Washington today for a meeting with President Barack Obama focused on economic and military aid, The Washington Post reports, although it is “far from clear” whether Poroshenko will obtain “a substantial new pledge” of U.S. support. This comes amid growing hopes that the conflict in eastern Ukraine might be nearing an end. A fragile two-week-old ceasefire is still in place, and Moscow has welcomed Kiev’s pledge to allow more autonomy to rebel-held regions, AFP reports. Meanwhile, a team of BBC reporters said they had been attacked in southern Russia.

HITLER’S FOOD TASTER TALKS
The only survivor of Adolf Hitler’s 15 young food tasters has broken her silence on what life was like at “Wolf’s Lair” headquarters during World War II. “There were constant rumors that the British were out to poison Hitler,” Margot Wölk told a German television program of her job to make sure the Nazi leader’s food wasn’t poisoined. “Some of the girls started to shed tears as they began eating because they were so afraid. We had to eat it all up.” Read more in English from The Independent.

NEW AID FOR SYRIAN REBELS
The U.S. House of Representatives yesterday approved President Obama’s $500 million plan to train and arm the “moderate” Syrian fighters who oppose both President Bashar al-Assad and ISIS forces, while the U.S. President renewed his promise that American troops would not be involved on the ground. Reuters reported this morning that ISIS fighters had seized 16 Kurdish villages in northern Syria in their march towards Ayn al-Arab, the third-largest Kurdish city in Syria.

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO
As Caixin reports, while criticism of medical care in China grows, public hospitals are offering a solution that is laughably shallow: “‘stewardess nurses,’ sporting smart uniforms, pretty faces and nice airs while providing services such as greeting people with smiles at the entrance, offering cups of water or opening the elevator door for patients.”
Read the full article, A Bogus Cure For Chinese Hospitals: Airline-Style Hostesses.

CHINA SEEKS CLOSER TIES WITH INDIA
Chinese President Xi Jinping began a three-day visit to India yesterday, the first by a Chinese head of state in eight years, aimed at boosting cooperation between the two countries through increased investment and trade, AP reports. This is a win-win situation for both, according to The New York Times, as China can “channel billions of dollars into Indian infrastructure and manufacturing projects, allowing Mr. Modi to pursue the jobs-creation agenda that was at the heart of his campaign.” The meetings between Xi Jinping and India Prime Minister Narendra Modi come amid ongoing reports in the Indian press of face-offs on the border. Read more from The Indian Express.

“Xi Jinping's thinking is more realistic and more open-minded,” Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama said of the Chinese head of state.

APPLE’S IOS8 LOCKS OUT POLICE
Apple released its latest iPhone operating system iOS8 yesterday, and in doing so the company announced that the new encryption system included in the software update makes it impossible for them to unlock iPhones and iPads to the police, even with a search warrant, The Washington Post reports. The move represents a big step away from what critics have denounced as Apple’s close collaboration with the U.S. government and the NSA in particular. Apple also published a new section on its website dedicated to privacy, defending its policy in the wake of the scandal that followed the leak of personal celebrity photos.

A “MONSTER” BLACK HOLE
Astronomers using data from the Hubble Space Telescope have found what NASA calls “an unlikely object in an improbable place — a monster black hole lurking inside one of the tiniest galaxies ever known.” Read more here.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Searching For Marianna, A Pregnant Doctor From Mariupol Held Captive By The Russians

We’ve heard about the plight of the soldiers-turned-prisoners from Mariupol. Here are some traces of the disturbing fate of a young female doctor who’s been taken away.

A paper dove reads "Mariupol" at a shelter for displaced children in Uzhhorod, western Ukraine.

Paweł Smoleński

"Wait for me, because I will return…"

Marianna Mamonova wrote these words to her family, among the text messages and short phone calls that are the only remaining fragments used to piece together her recent past. We also have a photo of her, posted on Russian websites, where she looks into the lens, gaunt and exhausted, signed with a number like a concentration camp prisoner.

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Until the Russian-Ukrainian war, Mamonova’s biography was available to anyone who wanted to know. She was born in 1991, studied at the Ternopil Medical University, and later at the Kyiv Military Academy. After completing her studies, she was sent to work in the coastal city of Berdiansk. Her mother says that this is where her daughter's dream came true: She’d always wanted to be a military doctor, and worked in Berdiansk for three years, receiving the rank of officer in the Ukrainian army.

Beginning in 2014, she’d worked stints as a front-line doctor in the Donbas region, and when Russia invaded Ukraine in February she went to war again. This time in Mariupol.

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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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