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Syrian Kurds, Mars Climate Change, Car-Free Day

Turkish authorities clamp down at border crossings.
Turkish authorities clamp down at border crossings.

Turkish authorities have closed some of the country’s border crossings with Syria after ISIS’ advance has caused some 130,000 Syrian Kurds to flee to Turkey over the past two days, the BBC reports. But after clashes with the refugees on the border, with Turkish troops using water canons and tear gas, British newspaper The Independent writes, “Turkey accused of colluding with ISIS,” as the jihadist group on Saturday released 49 Turkish diplomats and their families held captive for three months. Meanwhile, Kurdish fighters in Syria said they had halted ISIS’s march towards the city of Kobani, located near the border with Turkey.

"I don't think it's one of those things we should hang around with forever," New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said today of the country's flag. Key plans a referendum on ditching the Union Jack in favor of a new flag sometime next year.

Former British Prime Minister and the UN's Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair said that ground troops were needed to defeat ISIS, though he said the lack of “appetite for ground engagement in the West” meant this could be done by local powers. This comes as the terrorist group called on militants to attack Egypt’s security forces while an alleged document posted online tells fighters that “the best thing you can do is to strive to your best and kill any disbeliever, whether he be French, American, or from any of their allies.”

437,500 EUROS
The marriage document signed by the future Napoleon I and his fiancée Marie Josephe Rose Tascher de La Pagerie, or Josephine — dated March 8, 1796 — sold at auction yesterday for 437,500 euros.

A controversial three-day curfew aimed at containing the Ebola outbreak has ended in Sierra Leone, with authorities hailing the lockdown as successful. They were able to identify dozens of new infections and locate at least 92 bodies. Meanwhile, pupils in Nigeria won’t be returning to school today in at least 15 of the country’s 36 states because teachers are demanding safety measures to protect them and their students, Punch reports.

NASA’s Mars spacecraft Maven began orbiting around our neighbor planet yesterday as part of a year-long mission to study how the Red Planet’s climate changed over time, causing it to lose its atmosphere. According to AFP, the findings could tell scientists more about the planet’s potential to support life, both in the past and in the future, with the first manned visits planned for 2030.

Afghanistan’s two presidential candidates have put an end to months of discord over the June election result and reached a deal for a “unity government.” Ex-World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani will become the new president while his opponent Abdullah Abdullah will be granted a CEO role equivalent to that of a prime minister. The U.S. welcomed the deal and voiced hope that a crucial security agreement could be signed within a week. Dubai-based newspaper Gulf News writes in an editorial that the new government has a tough job on its hands and that “the spotlight will also be on the international community on whom the new government will rely for aid to see it through the first few challenging years.”

Emmy-winning actress and singer Polly Bergen, perhaps best known for her roles opposite Gregory Peck in Cape Fear and the first woman president in Kisses for My President, has died at age 84.

The families of the three German citizens who died in the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine in July are planning to sue Ukrainian authorities for negligence and will demand 1 million euros per victim, German tabloid Bild am Sonntag reported. The families’ lawyer, Elmar Giemulla, argued that Ukraine should have closed its airspace if it couldn't guarantee the security of planes above the conflict zone. "Since that didn't happen, Ukraine is liable for damages," he said. Read more in English from Deutsche Welle.

As Die Welt’s Dennis Sand reports, DJ Antoine is one of the most successful DJs on the planet, with more than 60 CD releases, over three million audio recordings sold, 39 Gold Awards, seven Platinum Awards, four Double Platinum Awards, etc. He is in fact the perfect prototype for the new DJ. “In the 1980s, a DJ was basically a manual worker whose role was to get people to dance,” Sand writes. “The music he played was the important thing, and there was no cult of personality. Things changed in the 1990s, and DJs became artists who didn't just mix other peoples' music but created their own too. In the new millennium, DJs went from artists to rock stars and became classic pop products.”
Read the full article, A Night Out With DJ Antoine And Paris Hilton.

Today is World Car-Free Day, an annual occasion to ditch your wheels in favor of more sustainable transportion. Unfortunately, the initiative doesn’t seem to be gaining traction in Beijing.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Wagner Group 2.0: Why Russia's Mercenary System Is Here To Stay

Many had predicted that the death last month of Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin meant the demise of the mercenary outfit. Yet signs in recent days say the private military outfit is active again in Ukraine, a reminder of the Kremlin's interest in continuing a private fighting formula that has worked all around the world.

Photograph of a Wagner soldier in the city of Artyomovsk, holding a rifle.

Ukraine, Donetsk Region - March 24, 2023: A Wagner Group soldier guards an area in the city of Artyomovsk (Bakhmut).

Cameron Manley


“Let’s not forget that there is no Wagner Group anymore,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov had declared. “Such an organization, in our eyes, does not exist.”

The August 25 statement from came less than two days after the death of Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of the infamous Russian mercenary outfit, as questions swirled about Wagner's fate after its crucial role in the war in Ukraine and other Russian military missions around the world.

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How could an independent military outfit survive after its charismatic founder's death? It seemed highly unlikely that President Vladimir Putin would allow the survival of a group after had launched a short-lived coup attempt in late June that most outside observers believe led to Prigozhin's private airplane being shot down by Russian forces on August 23.

"Wagner is over,” said the Kremlin critic and Russian political commentator Maksim Katz. “The group can’t keep going. There’s the possibility that they could continue in parts or with Defense Ministry contracts, but the group only worked with an unofficial agreement between Putin and Prigozhin.”

Yet barely a month later, and there are already multiple signs that the Wagner phoenix is rising from the ashes.

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