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Ukrainian helicopter before being shot down
Ukrainian helicopter before being shot down

UKRAINE LAUNCHES MILITARY OPERATION
The Ukrainian government launched what France24 describes as a “large-scale military operation that included an air assault” to retake the town of Sloviansk in the eastern part of the country. But Pro-Russian militants fought back and shot down at least two helicopters, killing two Ukrainian soldiers, with one dead and one injured among the rebels, The Kyiv Post reported. A sniper fired at a car transporting Russian journalists, news agency Itar-Tass reported.

According to Time correspondent Simon Shuster, separatist ham radio is asking the people of Sloviansk to gather on the city’s main square to record a video appeal for help to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin spokesman said that Moscow considered the attack as “literally destroying the last hope for the viability of the Geneva accords,” RT reports. Meanwhile, Russia’s representative at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe urged the body to act and stop the military assault.

In an interview with the Financial Times yesterday, Ukraine’s Interim Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk accused Moscow of planning clashes during the May Day holidays.

DEADLY CAR BOMB HIT NIGERIAN CAPITAL
At least 19 people were killed after a car bomb exploded on the outskirts of the Nigerian capital of Abuja, just 200 meters from the location of a similar blast that killed 75 people two weeks ago, Vanguard reports. According to a local BBC correspondent, it is unclear why this specific area was targeted, as its population is of mixed religion. But the attackers were likely the Islamist group Boko Haram, who claimed responsibility for last month’s attack. The latest attack comes as Abuja is set to host the World Economic Forum on Africa next week, with world leaders expected to attend.

55
Traffic jams extended as long as 55 kilometers on highways in Beijing, Guangdong and Xian, as millions of Chinese tried to reach vacation destinations on Labor Day, the first day of the national “golden week” holiday.

DOZENS DEAD IN ALEPPO AIR STRIKE
The New York Times published a graphic report about another air strike on an outdoor market in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo that killed 33 people yesterday. Opposition figures describe it “as another deliberate attack on civilians by President Bashar al-Assad’s military aircraft.” This comes amid troubling reports from Saudi Arabian news network Al Arabiya of footage released by the opposition showing that Jihadist group ISIS, which fights alongside the rebels, have captured a number of aircraft belonging to the Syrian army. The planes were apparently unable to be flown and are being repaired. Meanwhile, another suicide car bomb this morning left 18 civilians dead, including 11 children, in Hama. Read more from AFP.

MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD

KERRY IN SOUTH SUDAN
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry landed this morning in South Sudan where he will meet with President Salva Kiir and is expected to hold a phone conversation with exiled rebel leader and former Vice President Riek Machar, AP reports. Kerry will seek to make both sides agree to a ceasefire, in an attempt to put an end to over four months of civil war that Kerry warned yesterday is showing signs of genocide.

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO
As La Stampa"s Paolo Mastrolilli writes, it's been 40 years since Rubik's Cube inventor ErnÅ‘ Rubik released his brain-and-fingers toy to the world. “For some it has become a mania, to the point of international competitions to see who could solve it the fastest,” the journalist writes. “The current record stands at 5.5 seconds. It’s truly an icon of our time. When Edward Snowden went to meet journalists Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras in the Hong Kong restaurant to leak the NSA documents, he told them they’d recognize him because he’d be holding a Rubik’s Cube.” Read the full article, Rubik's Cube Turns 40: A Conversation With Its Inventor.

ZOO’D
Thieves in Australia made off with a sweet haul: a dozen beehives and the 480 kilos of honey inside them, which were worth almost $2,000.

HEALTH RISKS FOR SOUTH KOREAN DIVERS
South Korean officials have warned that divers participating in the search of the sunken ferry are facing health risks because of prolonged swimming in cold and murky waters, with several of them subject to decompression sickness, Yonhap news agency reports. This comes after a diver was hospitalized yesterday after falling unconscious during a mission. More than two weeks after the ferry sank, 76 victims have yet to be found, with their bodies believed to be trapped in unexplored parts of the boat.

VERBATIM
“It's true that you gain weight in America. It's a calorie monster.” AFP reports that some Japanese Godzilla fans think Hollywood has gone and “super-sized” their beloved monster in a new remake.

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Economy

Europe's Winter Energy Crisis Has Already Begun

in the face of Russia's stranglehold over supplies, the European Commission has proposed support packages and price caps. But across Europe, fears about the cost of living are spreading – and with it, doubts about support for Ukraine.

Protesters on Thursday in the German state of Thuringia carried Russian flags and signs: 'First our country! Life must be affordable.'

Martin Schutt/dpa via ZUMA
Stefanie Bolzen, Philipp Fritz, Virginia Kirst, Martina Meister, Mandoline Rutkowski, Stefan Schocher, Claus, Christian Malzahn and Nikolaus Doll

-Analysis-

In her State of the Union address on September 14, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, issued an urgent appeal for solidarity between EU member states in tackling the energy crisis, and towards Ukraine. Von der Leyen need only look out her window to see that tensions are growing in capital cities across Europe due to the sharp rise in energy prices.

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In the Czech Republic, people are already taking to the streets, while opposition politicians elsewhere are looking to score points — and some countries' support for Ukraine may start to buckle.

With winter approaching, Europe is facing a true test of both its mettle, and imagination.

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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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