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Hillary Holds, Dilma Sinks, Sodom Found

U.S.-RUSSIA TALKS OVER SYRIA CAMPAIGNS

U.S. and Russian officials are expected to meet today for a third round of talks to discuss safety procedures in their respective Syrian campaigns after what the BBC describes as a "near-miss" on Saturday. American and Russian warplanes were reportedly in visual contact and within miles of each other. According to U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, an agreement to prevent potential accidental conflict between planes could take place "in very short order," Voice of America reports. Yesterday, the Russian Defense Ministry said Russian warplanes in Syria had carried out 88 sorties and hit at least 86 ISIS targets, saying this resulted in the elimination of the most part of ISIS ammunition, heavy vehicles and equipment."


VERBATIM

Photo: Josh Haner/NYT /ZUMA

"I'm a progressive, but I'm a progressive who likes to get things done," was the statement that won yesterday's first Democratic debate for Hillary Clinton, according to The Washington Post. The two-hour long debate was largely dominated by the former First Lady and Bernie Sanders, who Clinton at one point accused of not being tough enough on gun legislation. The two also disagreed over the role of Edward Snowden's revelations on the NSA, though both would want him to face trial. By the Google metric, however, Sanders was the clear winner.


ISRAEL SEALS OFF EAST JERUSALEM

Hundreds of Israeli troops were deployed over night in Israeli cities and in the Palestinian areas of Jerusalem as part of measures aimed at curbing the recent violence in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, Ynet News reports. Three Israelis were killed Tuesday, including two in an attack on a public bus. According to The Times of Israel, another Israeli man was stabbed in the chest by a fellow Israeli who "mistook him for an Arab." The victim survived.


TALIBAN WITHDRAW FROM KUNDUZ

Taliban insurgents announced yesterday they had withdrawn from the Afghan city of Kunduz, 15 days after they seized it, leaving behind many destroyed buildings, The New York Times reports. Kunduz is also the location of a Doctors Without Borders' hospital bombed in U.S.-led airstrikes on Oct. 3, which the humanitarian NGO says was a war crime.


ON THIS DAY


The whims of history bring together Nikita Khrushchev and Winnie-the-Pooh, on today's 57-second shot of history.


NORTH KOREA FLIRTS WITH CAPITALISM

A South Korean news report says the Pyongyang regime is encouraging North Koreans to open private banks, and the first ATM machines have been sighted in the capital. Read more here.


VW CUTS INVESTMENTS

Volkswagen has announced annual spending cuts of 1 billion euros as part of the German brand's effort to make savings to pay for future fines and settle lawsuits, not to mention repairs after the emergence of the diesel emissions scandal, the Financial Times reports. VW has already set aside 6.5 billion euros, but some analysts believe the scandal could cost the carmaker more than 30 billion euros. The London-based daily says the scandal could have serious repercussions in Eastern European countries, where many VW components are manufactured.


BELGIANS TOAST MEGA-BEER MERGER

This is how the front page of Brussels-based business daily De Tijd looked this morning after the mega beverage merger that it says ensures that the "biggest pint in the world is Belgian."


61%

The pressure keeps piling on Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff. On top of the imminent threat of impeachment, a poll published today in newspaperFolha de S. Paulo shows that 61% of its readers want the center-left leader to resign, with an overwhelming 77% judging her government's action "bad or terrible." Addressing her party's conference yesterday, Rousseff said she had a "clean biography" and lambasted her opponents, calling them "putschists" and "moralists without morals." Read more in English from AFP.


WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

Typically reliant on solid argument and logical persuasion, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is now turning to the humanity of Germans on the refugee crisis, Thorsten Denkler writes for Süddeutsche Zeitung. It's a revolutionary approach — and a big political risk — for the world's most powerful woman: "This time around, Merkel stands alone. Her party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), is largely lined up against her now, especially at the grassroots level. Her cabinet of ministers is wobbling on its formerly secure pedestal, and Interior Minister Thomas de Mazière has made it abundantly clear that he's unconvinced by Merkel's ‘we can do it' attitude."

Read the full article, Germany's Refugee Crisis And The Remaking Of Angela Merkel.


FORMER BURKINA FASO LEADER AUTOPSIED

An autopsy of the remains of Burkina Faso's Thomas Sankara showed the African Che Guevara was "purely and simply riddled with bullets" during a 1987 coup that saw his former brother-in-arms Blaise Campaoré take power, AFP reports. Sankara's official death certificate says he died of "natural causes," and Campaoré, who was himself removed from power in an uprising last year, had repeatedly opposed the exhumation of Sankara's remains during his rule.


MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD



CITY OF SODOM FOUND?

Archaeologists believe they have discovered the ruins of the infamous city of Sodom, which the Bible says was destroyed by God, in Jordan. According to the researchers, the location and the size of the city matches Biblical descriptions. Evidence shows the site was suddenly abandoned, and was uninhabited for 700 years before being partly rebuilt.


LONDON CHURCH BELLS RING FOR 24 HOURS

Residents within earshot of the South London church of St George The Martyr will probably be forgiven for any bad words they might have used Monday and Tuesday as the church's bells rang non-stop for 24 hours. But the church's cool response to Twitter messages probably partly made up for the disturbance.

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Coronavirus

Chinese Students' "Absurd" Protest Against COVID Lockdowns: Public Crawling

While street demonstrations have spread in China to protest the strict Zero-COVID regulations, some Chinese university students have taken up public acts of crawling to show what extended harsh lockdowns are doing to their mental state.

​Screenshot of a video showing Chinese students crawling on a soccer pitch

Screenshot of a video showing Chinese students crawling

Shuyue Chen

Since last Friday, the world has watched a wave of street protests have taken place across China as frustration against extended lockdowns reached a boiling point. But even before protesters took to the streets, Chinese university students had begun a public demonstration that challenges and shames the state's zero-COVID rules in a different way: public displays of crawling, as a kind of absurdist expression of their repressed anger under three years of strict pandemic control.

Xin’s heart was beating fast as her knees reached the ground. It was her first time joining the strange scene at the university sports field, so she put on her hat and face mask to cover her identity.

Kneeling down, with her forearms supporting her body from the ground, Xin started crawling with three other girls as a group, within a larger demonstration of other small groups. As they crawled on, she felt the sense of fear and embarrassment start to disappear. It was replaced by a liberating sense of joy, which had been absent in her life as a university student in lockdown for so long.

Yes, crawling in public has become a popular activity among Chinese university students recently. There have been posters and videos of "volunteer crawling" across universities in China. At first, it was for the sake of "fun." Xin, like many who participated, thought it was a "cult-like ritual" in the beginning, but she changed her mind. "You don't care about anything when crawling, not thinking about the reason why, what the consequences are. You just enjoy it."

The reality out there for Chinese university students has been grim. For Xin, her university started daily COVID-19 testing in November, and deliveries, including food, are banned. Apart from the school gate, all exits have been padlock sealed.

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