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Nepal Devastation, Israel Strikes Syria, Rubik's Cube Record

NEPAL CONTINUES TO DIG OUT

Photo: Pratap Thapa/Xinhua/ZUMA

Rescue operations continue to find survivors in Nepal after Saturday’s 7.8-magnitude earthquake. The latest official figures number the dead at 3,726 with more than 6,000 injured. Dozens are also believed to have died in neighboring China and India. The death toll is likely to rise as rescue teams reach remote villages. Thousands of survivors have fled from the capital Kathmandu after violent aftershocks. Rescue operations for up to 150 climbers stranded on Mount Everest have also begun. Follow the latest updates on The Guardian’s live blog.

  • According to UNICEF, nearly 1 million children were “severely affected” by the earthquake and need urgent humanitarian assistance. The organization warns that on top of food, water and power shortages, there’s a great risk of waterborne diseases.
  • The violent earthquake also devastated landmarks in and around Kathmandu, including four UNESCO World Heritage sites, the BBC reports.
  • Another casualty is the country’s tourism industry, which accounted for more than 8% of Nepal’s GDP in 2013. A travel industry analyst told The International Business Times that “in the short term, Nepal is going to see its tourism fall to near zero levels” because of the scope of the destruction.
  • Here’s how Nepal’s Himalayan Times is covering the earthquake’s fallout.

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

In our alway-plugged-in era of immediate gratification, some of us are nevertheless willing and eager to wait ages to buy the latest smartphone or eat a certain hamburger from a truck, Le Monde writes. “The ultramodern paradox: In our society of immediacy, where we find it intolerable that a website takes a few seconds to open, we are ready to spend hours waiting for some particular product or service. How to explain this seemingly incongruent behavior?

Read the full article, That Mind-Boggling Post-Modern Waiting-In-Line Paradox.


ISRAELI STRIKES IN SYRIA

The Israeli air force has hit several targets in Syria, both north of Damascus and near the Syria-Lebanon border, striking weapons allegedly destined for the terror group Hezbollah, Al Jazeera reports. According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the Israeli defense spokesperson refused to confirm or deny the report, which comes after two recent attacks in Syria also attributed to Israel. Another strike on the Syria-Israel border last night killed three militants who were allegedly trying to place a bomb on the fence.

  • An al-Qaeda-led rebel coalition is gaining ground in northern Syria and has captured a town in the Idlib province. This development, coupled with tensions inside the Syrian regime, are leading some observers to predict a collapse of President Bashar al-Assad and his government, four years after the war began.

ON THIS DAY


Sierra Leone became independent from the United Kingdom 54 years ago today. Time now for your 57-second shot of history.


DEADLY PROTESTS IN BURUNDI

Protests in Burundi continue for a second day after at least five people were killed in clashes with the police and pro-government militants yesterday, Reuters reports. The protests began in reaction to Saturday’s announcement by President Pierre Nkurunziza that he would run for a third-term in June, angering opponents who are calling it a violation of the constitution, which outlines a two-term limit. But his supporters argue that his first term doesn’t count because he was appointed by lawmakers and not popularly elected.


MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD



GERMANY IGNORED FLIGHT RISKS PRE-MH17

The German government knew that flying over eastern Ukraine was risky but failed to warn German companies, a diplomatic cable written two days before the July 2014 crash of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 shows. According to Süddeutsche Zeitung, three airplanes from the German company Lufthansa flew over eastern Ukraine on the day MH17 crashed, including one in the same area just 20 minutes before. Dutch investigators have yet to publish the results of their investigation into the cause of the crash. The West has accused pro-Russian rebels of shooting down the aircraft while Moscow has blamed Ukrainian forces.


‘O LUNA MIA

It’s Monday, which means that Simon, Italy’s most trusted astrologer, is back with your weekly horoscope.


NIGERIA-SOUTH AFRICA ROW

The recent wave of xenophobic violence in South Africa, in which at least seven people have been killed, has sparked diplomatic discord with Nigeria after the country recalled its ambassador in Pretoria, Vanguard reports. Taking a swing at its rival for economic and political dominance on the continent, South Africa retorted that it was “curious for a sisterly country to want to exploit such a painful episode,” and said the decision to recall its ambassador was an “unfortunate and regrettable step.”


5.25 SECONDS

American teenager Collin Burns has broken the world record for solving a Rubik’s Cube. He did in 5.25 seconds, 0.3 seconds faster than the previous record.

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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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