When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Russia Bristles, Pentagon Viagra Budget, Veggie Tech Wear

CALL FOR PEACEKEEPERS RANKLES RUSSIA
Russia reacted strongly to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s call yesterday for UN peacekeepers to be deployed in eastern Ukraine. Russian UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin said it “raises suspicions that he wants to destroy the Minsk accords,” the BBC reports. Pro-Russian rebels encircling the town of Debaltseve had refused to lay down their weapons despite the ceasefire that officially began Sunday, claiming the town was their own territory.

  • According to French President Francois Hollande’s office, the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France talked on the phone earlier today, during which both Poroshenko and Putin denounced the ceasefire breach and called for full implementation of the Minsk agreement.

ON THIS DAY
[rebelmouse-image 27088667 alt="""" original_size="320x245" expand=1]
On Feb. 19, 1963,
Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique was published. Time for your 57-second shot of history.

OBAMA VS. EXTREMISM
During a counter-extremism summit in Washington, U.S. President Barack Obama urged more than 60 countries to join the fight against violent extremism and terrorist groups such as ISIS. “We are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam,” he said, adding that it was crucial “to confront squarely and honestly the twisted ideologies” that target young people,The New York Times reports. This came amid claims that ISIS is harvesting organs from slain civilians for money. The United Nations said it would launch an investigation.

  • Libya’s foreign minister, meanwhile, asked the UN to lift a weapons embargo to help the army fight the rise of an ISIS-affiliated group. But critics have repeatedly blamed the lack of a functioning government since the 2011 uprising as the main reason for the rise of extremist groups.

VERBATIM
“It was like a near-death experience without the inconvenience of coming close to dying,” Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste told the BBC about his 400 days in an Egyptian prison.

GREECE REQUESTS LOAN EXTENSION
After days of tough negotiations, Greece has formally asked the European Union for a six-month extension of its current bailout program in a last-ditch effort to avoid running out of cash at the end of the month, AFP reports. Eurozone finance ministers will meet in Brussels tomorrow afternoon to discuss a potential agreement. Greece has been trying not to renew the current bailout program and the austerity measures attached to it, but the loan request will buy the government some time to begin implementing reforms.

SNAPSHOT
Photo above: Cheong Kam Ka/Xinhua/ZUMA
People in Macau, southeastern China, perform a “dragon dance” Thursday to ring in the Year Of The Sheep.

$41.6 MILLION
The Pentagon spent $84 million on erectile dysfunction drugs for active and retired service members last year, including $41.6 million on Viagra alone, a report in The Military Times shows.

NIGER VILLAGE BOMBED
At least 37 people were killed Tuesday after a military plane dropped a bomb on a village in Niger, on the border with Nigeria. Survivors are blaming the Nigerian army for the attack, CNN reports. Nigerian officials have denied the charge, saying the army wasn’t conducting air raids against Boko Haram that day. According to Radio France Internationale, the bomb fell on a mosque during a funeral ceremony. The incident is likely to worsen an already tense situation between the two countries, as Boko Haram threatens the whole region.

FRANCE REGISTERS DEFLATION
Consumer prices in France fell 1% in January, meaning the year-on-year inflation rate was -0.4%, the lowest since 2009, business dailyLes Échos reports.

MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD
[rebelmouse-image 27088668 alt="""" original_size="610x600" expand=1]


JEB BUSH HIS “OWN MAN”
Possible Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush distanced himself from the legacies of his father and brother in a speech outlining his vision for U.S. foreign policy, CNN reports. “I love my father and my brother,” the former Florida governor said. “I admire their service to the nation and the difficult decisions they had to make. But I am my own man.” But The Washington Post reports that 19 of his 21 advisors, including neoconservative hawk Paul Wolfowitz, worked for his father or brother, sometimes both. He also slammed Obama’s foreign policy, which he said had “left America less influential in the world,” and sided with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the issue of Iran’s nuclear program. Iran and U.S. officials will resume negotiations tomorrow.

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO
As Clarin’s Berto Gonzalez Montaner reports, architectural and planning innovations have given new life to Bilbao, Spain, transforming it from a grey post-industrial city into a trendy tourist destination. “‘This used to be all filth,’ a local recalled of the area before. ‘All the industrial and sewage waste ended up in the river, which was completely polluted and gave off an unbearable stench. When it rained a lot and the sea rose, the waters of the Nervion could not be evacuated, so there was flooding. All the way to the Arriaga theater at the gates of the old quarter there were up to four meters of water!’ But when they took the polluting factories out of town, created the treatment plant and cleaned the river, everything changed.”
Read the full article, The Story Of Bilbao: Clean A River, Save The City.

VEGGIE TECH WEAR
Forget about Google Glass or the Apple Watch. This Japanese wearable tomato machine is the real deal.

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Fight Over Tourist Visa Ban For Russians Is Taking Everyone For A Ride

High on the agenda of the Prague summit of Europe’s foreign ministers this week was a proposal to ban tourist visas for Russians, as punishment for Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. But it is ultimately a way to change the subject, and recalls Zelensky’s iconic remark after the war began.

Passengers arrive at Sheremetyevo International Airport, Russia

TASS
Anna Akage

It’s not a new question. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had called for a ban on tourist visa for Russian soon after the war began, and this week it became the center of the Prague summit of European Union foreign ministers.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

Some European Union nations voiced their support soon after it was mentioned by Zelensky, including former Soviet republics and current Russia neighbors, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. They were followed by Finland and the Czech Republic, Denmark, and Poland. Hungary, Portugal, Greece and Cyprus. Germany and France are looking for a compromise that would allow for visas for students, workers of culture and science, as well as people who need entry for humanitarian reason. Perhaps most importantly, however, the U.S. took an unambiguous position against the restrictions.

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in
Writing contest - My pandemic story
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

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.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ