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Turkey

Syrian Kurds, Mars Climate Change, Car-Free Day

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

SYRIAN KURDS FLEE ISIS
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.

VERBATIM
"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.

BLAIR: MIDEAST TROOPS SHOULD FIGHT ISIS
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.

SIERRA LEONE ENDS EBOLA LOCKDOWN
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.

STUDYING CLIMATE CHANGE ON MARS
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 RIVALS END POLITICAL FEUD
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.”

FAREWELL
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.

GERMANS TO SUE UKRAINE OVER MH17
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.

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO
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.

WORLD CAR-FREE DAY STALLS IN BEIJING
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

A Decisive Spring? How Ukraine Plans To Beat Back Putin's Coming Offensive

The next months will be decisive in the war between Moscow and Kyiv. From the forests of Polesia to Chernihiv and the Black Sea, Ukraine is looking to protect the areas that may soon be the theater of Moscow's announced offensive. Will this be the last Russian Spring?

Photo of three ​Ukrainian soldiers in trenches near Bakhmut, Ukraine

Ukrainian soldiers in trenches near Bakhmut, Ukraine

Anna Akage

Ukrainian forces are digging new fortifications and preparing battle plans along the entire frontline as spring, and a probable new Russian advance, nears.

But this may be the last spring for occupying Russian forces.

"Spring and early summer will be decisive in the war. If the great Russian offensive planned for this time fails, it will be the downfall of Russia and Putin," said Vadym Skibitsky, the deputy head of Ukrainian military intelligence.

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Skinitysky added that Ukraine believes Russia is planning a new offensive in the spring or early summer. The Institute for the Study of War thinks that such an offensive is more likely to come from the occupied territories of Luhansk and Donetsk than from Belarus, as some have feared.

Still, the possibility of an attack by Belarus should not be dismissed entirely — all the more so because, in recent weeks, a flurry of MiG fighter jet activity in Belarusian airspace has prompted a number of air raid alarms throughout Ukraine.

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