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Second Mass Grave, Japan's Nuclear Restart, Table Tennis Foul

Filipino children playing in a cemetery near Manila as the country prepares for All Saint's Day
Filipino children playing in a cemetery near Manila as the country prepares for All Saint's Day

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

In a new video showing captive British journalist John Cantlie, and which The Washington Post calls “bizarre,” ISIS claims that the battle for the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani is “is coming to an end. The Mujahideen are just mopping up now.” The video, made to look like a news report, begins with footage allegedly shot from an “Islamic State Army” drone. Then Cantlie calmly says that Western reports about the battle are false, before adding that that Western journalists are receiving their news only from "Kurdish commanders and White House press secretaries.”

This comes after ISIS and the al-Qaeda affiliated al-Nusra Front launched a violent offensive against Syrian government forces in the town of Idlib and almost seized it, beheading 70 Syrian army soldiers, The Independent reports. Syrian forces managed to recapture a government building and to prevent the town’s takeover.

Children play next to stacked graves at the municipal cemetery of Navotas city, north of Manila. Millions of Filipinos are expected to flock to cemeteries all over the country to visit departed relatives and loved ones as they mark All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day Nov. 1-2.

Japanese authorities have approved restarting a nuclear power plant in the southwest Kagoshima Prefecture, the first such move since 2011’s Fukushima disaster, Reuters reports. But The Kyushu Electric nuclear plant still needs to pass operational safety checks and won’t be restarted until next year. This morning, security works at the crippled Fukushima power plant were suspended after heavy wind ripped off a part of the dome around the plant’s first reactor, but the level of radiation is reportedly unchanged.

As Le Monde’s Florence Beaugé reports, grave doubts about the health and capacity of longtime President Bouteflika are pulling Algeria apart at the seams. A massive protest by police was an especially damaging manifestation of the state of things. “By rebelling, the police, until then considered to be a cornerstone of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s "system," dealt a symbolic blow to the power in place,” the journalist writes. “The breach is open. Not only do the angry policemen’s action weaken a regime standing on its last legs, but it is an indicator of a deeper unease across Algeria. Such is the state of affairs in the North African country, six months after 77-year-old Bouteflika started his fourth term in office, following his partial recovery from a grave health crisis that sent him to France for a months-long convalescence.”
Read the full article, Algeria, An Authoritarian Regime Without A Leader.

The U.S. federal government has issued new guidelines for treating potential Ebola patients, in an attempt to end what The Washington Post describes as a “chaotic brawl involving politics, science and the law” over the quarantine controversy. Under the new guidelines, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that “high-risk” people avoid working outside the home, but it stopped short of the more drastic home-confinement measures that have been taken in New York and New Jersey. The Pentagon, meanwhile, seemed to be setting its own course, requiring that all Army personnel returning to their home base in Italy from Liberia, the country worst hit by the disease, be held in quarantine for 21 days. AFP reports that in the Czech Republic, blackmailers are threatening to spread the deadly virus unless they are paid one million euros worth of Bitcoins.

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Mexican investigators working on the disappearance of 43 students after a protest last month have discovered a second mass grave south of the town of Iguala, The Los Angeles Times reports. They were led to the site by information from gang members arrested over the weekend. They confessed they had custody of a “large number” of students and confirmed reports that the Iguala mayor and his wife, the sister of major drug cartel lieutenants, had ordered a police attack on the students before they were handed to the gang. The authorities are examining whether the bodies found at the newly uncovered mass grave are those of the missing students. According to officials, similar tests in a first mass grave found that the 38 bodies were not those of the students.

Chinese table tennis champion Zhang Jike was stripped of the $45,000 prize he had just won at the Liebherr World Cup championship in Düsseldorf, Germany, for destroying advertising panels with a slightly over-the-top victory kick.

Pro-democracy protesters gathered today to commemorate the one month anniversary of Hong Kong’s “Umbrella Movement,” and to denounce police violence, AFP reports. The future of the movement is still uncertain, and opposition to the protests seems to be on the rise with a petition signed by 552 doctors describing the protests as a “cancer” damaging Hong Kong’s core values, the South China Morning Postreports.

John Spinello, the inventor of the highly popular game Operation, can’t afford the $25,000 for a real-life oral surgery, having sold his creation’s rights to a toy company for just $500 before Hasbro acquired it. A crowdfunding campaign has been launched to help him pay the bill.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

The Russian Orthodox Church Has A Kremlin Spy Network — And Now It's Spreading Abroad

The Russian Orthodox Church has long supported Russia’s ongoing war effort in Ukraine. Now, clergy members in other countries are suspected of collaborating with and recruiting for Russian security forces.

Photo of Russian soldiers during mass at an Orthodox church in Moscow.

Russian soldiers during mass at an Orthodox church in Moscow.

Wiktoria Bielaszyn

WARSAW — Several countries have accused members of the Russian Orthodox clergy of collaborating with Russian security services, pushing Kremlin policy inside the church and even recruiting spies from within.

On Sept. 21, Bulgaria deported Russian Archimandrite Vassian, guardian of the Orthodox parish in Sofia, along with two Belarusian priests. In a press release, the Bulgarian national security agency says that clergy were deported because they posed a threat to national security. "The measures were taken due to their actions against the security and interests of the Republic of Bulgaria," Bulgarian authorities wrote in a statement, according to Radio Svoboda.

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These reports were also confirmed by Russia's ambassador to Bulgaria, Eleonora Mitrofanova, who told Russian state news agency TASS that the priests must leave Bulgaria within 24 hours. “After being declared persona non grata, Wassian and the other two clerics were taken home under police supervision to pack up their belongings. Then they will be taken to the border with Serbia" she said.

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