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Ukraine's Shaky Truce, HSBC Free Fall, Oscar Speeches

Ukraine's Shaky Truce, HSBC Free Fall, Oscar Speeches

UKRAINE TRUCE STILL SHAKY
An already shaky ceasefire in eastern Ukraine is threatening to collapse further after a blast killed two people yesterday at a march commemorating the first anniversary of former president Viktor Yanukovych’s ousting. Ukrainian authorities said they arrested four people who had been armed and trained in Russia, Reuters reports. Pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian forces nevertheless exchanged prisoners over the weekend, as planned by the Minsk agreement 10 days ago. Kiev, however, said today that it couldn’t start withdrawing heavy weapons from the frontline as their opponents were still firing. Both sides are expected to start the withdrawal in the following days.

  • Ukraine’s deputy foreign minister told CBC Radio that Kiev was preparing for “full-scale war” against Russia and urged its western supporters to “stiffen up in the spine a little” and provide Ukrainian forces with lethal weapons “to defend ourselves.” U.S. Sen. John McCain, a fervent supporter of sending weapons to Kiev, made a similar plea on CBS’ Face The Nation. “I’m ashamed of my country. I’m ashamed of my president. And I’m ashamed of myself that I haven’t done more to help these people,” he said.
  • A report in The Sunday Times featuring an interview with an elite soldier who has been training pro-Kiev forces claimed that six out of 10 casualties in the Ukrainian army, which consists mostly of volunteers and conscripts, were due to “friendly fire” and their “inability to handle weapons.” According to UN figures, close to 5,700 people have been killed since the conflict erupted last April.

GREECE TO PRESENT CRUCIAL REFORMS
The recently elected anti-austerity government in Greece has until tonight to present a list of reforms its international creditors will accept in order to secure a four-month bailout deal reached on Friday. According to Germany’s tabloid Bild, Athens is preparing to hit oligarchs as well as oil and cigarette smugglers with new measures against tax evasion. These could bring in an estimated $8.3 billion in new tax revenue. Read more from the BBC.

VERBATIM
Photo above: Lisa O'Connor/ZUMA
“This Oscar belongs to all those people battling ALS,” said a euphoric Eddie Redmayne as he accepted the best actor award for his portrayal of disabled physicist Stephen Hawking in The Theory Of Everything. Check out the other notable speeches on Radio Times and the complete list of winners in The Los Angeles Times.

ON THIS DAY

Seventy years ago today, the American flag was raised on Iwo Jima. Time for your 57-second shot of history.

FRANCE DEPLOYS AIRCRAFT CARRIER AGAINST ISIS
France has bolstered its participation in the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS with the deployment of its Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier in the Arabian/Persian Gulf for an eight-week mission, French newspaper Le Figaro reports. Last week, the Pentagon announced plans to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul in April or May. The timing of the aircraft carrier’s deployment suggests it might have a role to play in that operation.

  • The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights announced that coalition strikes have killed 1,600 people since they began Sept. 23. A very large majority of the casualties (1,465) were reportedly ISIS militants. Another 73 were fighters with the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front. Sixty-two were civilians.
  • Speaking to The Independent, a senior Kurdish official claimed that private donors from Gulf states were still paying ISIS, except this time it was doing so “so that it promises not to carry out operations on their territory.” Fuad Hussein did not name the countries, though their description appears to match Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which have faced similar accusations in the past.

$1.9 BILLION
Apple announced plans to spend $1.9 billion on the construction of two new data centers in Ireland and Denmark that will be entirely powered by renewable energy. CEO Tim Cook said described it as the company’s “biggest project in Europe to date.”

HSBC PROFITS DROP AMID SWISS LEAKS SCANDAL
British bank HSBC saw its pre-tax profits fall 17% in 2014 after what the company described as a “challenging year” in which it was hit by multimillion fines for currency market manipulation, Business Insider reports. This also comes after a series of revelations that the bank had helped people (from politicians to drug dealers and terrorist supporters) evade taxes using hidden accounts in Switzerland. In its latest report, The Guardian reveals that HSBC’s chief executive, Stuart Gulliver, sheltered $7.6 million of his own money in a tax-free Swiss account.

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO
Handbags made out of volleyball nets and soda cans, courtesy of one of the sisters of the Fendi family used to face assaults by animal rights activists: “But what does Ilaria Venturini Fendi do? She designs handbags. No surprise there. What is a surprise is what the bags are made of: bits and pieces of fabric she buys in the factories of other Italian designers; safari tents; old volleyball nets; trash bags; soft drink cans. They are pieces of patchwork art, and no way can you tell that the materials used were originally destined for the garbage heap.”
Read Silvia Ihringfull's article for Die Welt, Ilaria Venturini Fendi, From Animal Rights Target To Slow Luxury Queen.

FERRY SINKS IN BANGLADESH
At least 69 people have died in a ferry accident in central Bangladesh yesterday, with emergency workers still battling to recover several people missing, AFP reports. Poor safety standards for ferry transportation are a recurring issue in Bangladesh. Yesterday’s accident is the second in a fortnight.

‘O LUNA MIA
Check out this week's horoscope, straight from the Eternal City.

BRITISH MPS IN “CASH FOR ACCESS” ALLEGATIONS
Jack Straw and Malcolm Rifkind, two former British foreign secretaries, are in hot water after they were caught on camera offering to use their influential positions for a minimum of 5,000 pounds ($7,700) a day. The former government officials made the offer to journalists from The Daily Telegraph and a broadcaster from Channel 4 who were posing as representatives of a fictitious Chinese company. Straw, a foreign secretary under Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair, even boasted that he operated “under the radar” to change EU rules and Ukrainian legislation on behalf of a company in exchange for money. The two denied the accusations, with Straw saying he had fallen into a “very skillful trap.”

MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD

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Spencer Tunick Nude Installation in Israel

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Salam!*

Welcome to Monday, where the UK pays homage to slain MP David Amess, Myanmar frees thousands of prisoners, and Facebook gets ready to build its "metaverse." Please fasten your seatbelts: Worldcrunch also takes stock of the long-lasting effects — good and bad — the pandemic has had on the air travel industry.

[*Azeri - Azerbaijan]

🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

Myanmar to free political prisoners: Myanmar's junta chief Min Aung Hlaing has announced the release of 5,636 prisoners who had been jailed for protesting the coup that ousted the civilian government in February 2021.

• Powerful Haiti gang behind the kidnapping of U.S. missionaries: The notorious 400 Mawozo gang is believed to be behind the kidnapping in Haiti of a group of Christian missionaries, including 16 U.S. citizens and one Canadian. The brazen kidnapping on Saturday comes as crime is spiking since the killing of President Jovenel Moise in July.

• UK to pay tribute to David Amess: British lawmakers will pay homage in parliament to colleague David Amess, who was stabbed to death Friday in what was described by the police as a "terrorist incident." Officers arrested a 25-year-old suspect whose father, Harbi Ali Kullane, worked as a media adviser to a former prime minister of Somalia.

• COVID update: Russia has registered more than 34,000 cases of new infections in the past 24 hours, a new record since the start of the pandemic. Meanwhile, police in the northeast Italian city of Trieste used water cannons to clear striking dockworkers protesting Italy's new requirements that all employees be vaccinated.

• At least 26 killed in floods in India: Torrential rain has triggered floods and landslides in India's southern coastal state of Kerala, killing at least 26 people.

• Facebook to hire 10,000 in EU to develop "metaverse": The U.S. social media giant plans to hire 10,000 workers in the European Union over the next five years to build a "metaverse," a virtual reality version of the internet that the company touts as the future.

Punishing parents for children's bad behavior: After limiting gaming hours for minors, China is now considering legislation to reprimand parents if their children exhibit "very bad behavior" or commit crimes.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

Colombian daily El Espectador dedicates its front page to Alex Saab, "owner of the secrets" of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The Colombian businessman, wanted by U.S. authorities for allegedly laundering money on behalf of Venezuela's government, has been extradited from Cape Verde to the U.S. where he is scheduled to appear in court today.

#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

4.9%

China's economy registered its slowest pace in a year as the country faces a looming energy crisis with power shortages and increasing pressure on its property sector. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the period between July-September rose 4.9%, the weakest numbers since the third quarter of 2020 and significantly lower than forecasts. The world's second-largest economy faces a debt crisis linked to the China Evergrande Group debt crisis, while energy shortfalls have dropped factory output to its weakest since early 2020, when heavy COVID-19 curbs were in place.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

7 ways the pandemic may change the airline industry for good

Will flying be greener? More comfortable? Less frequent? As the world eyes a post-COVID reality, we look at ways the airline industry has been changing through a pandemic that has devastated air travel.

⛽ Cleaner aviation fuel: With air travel responsible for roughly 12% of all CO2 emissions from transport, and stricter international regulation on the horizon, the industry is increasingly seeking sustainable alternatives to petroleum-based fuel. In Germany, state broadcaster Deutsche Welle reports that the world's first factory producing CO2-neutral kerosene recently started operations in the town of Wertle, in Lower Saxony. The plant, for which Lufthansa is set to become the pilot customer, will produce CO2-neutral kerosene through a circular production cycle incorporating sustainable and green energy sources and raw materials

.🛃 Smoother check-in: The pandemic has also accelerated the shift towards contactless traveling, with more airports harnessing the power of biometrics — such as facial recognition or fever screening — to reduce touchpoints and human contact. Similar technology can also be used to more efficiently scan physical objects, such as explosive detection. Ultimately, passengers will be able to "check-in" and go through a security screening anywhere at the airports, removing queues and bottlenecks.

✈️ The billion-dollar question: Will we fly less? At the end of the day, even with all these (mostly positive) changes that we've seen take shape over the past 18 months, the industry faces major uncertainty about whether air travel will ever return to the pre-COVID levels. Not only are people wary about being in crowded and closed airplanes, but the worth of long-distance business travel, in particular, is being questioned as many have seen that meetings can function remotely, via Zoom and other online apps.


➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

"The crimes committed that night are unforgivable for the Republic."

— Emmanuel Macron became the first French president to commemorate the killing of as many as 200 Algerian independence protesters by Parisian police in 1961. For 40 years, French officials ignored the massacre, which took place a year before Algeria gained its independence from France after an eight-year war. In 2012, French President François Hollande acknowledged the killings for the first time on a visit to Algeria, and Macron took it further by attending Sunday's commemoration at the site where the events happened in the French capital. Still, many had hoped the French President would go further and take responsibility for a "state massacre," for a crime many historians consider the most violent repression of a peaceful demonstration in post-War Europe.

📈💥  IN OTHER NEWS

​Low trust, high risk: The global rise of violence targeting politicians

The deadly stabbing of British Parliament Member David Amess confirms an ongoing study on trust and governance in democracies around the world: It's bad. In The Conversation, James Weinberg — the study's author and a lecturer in Political Behavior at the University of Sheffield — writes:

⏪ The assassination of Amess, who was stabbed to death in his constituency on Friday, is a tragic moment for democracy. What makes it even more devastating is that such a catastrophic failure is not without precedent or predictability. Labour MP Jo Cox was shot at her constituency surgery in 2016. Before her, another Labour MP, Stephen Timms, survived a stabbing in 2010. And Andrew Pennington, a Gloucestershire county councilor, died in a frenzied attack in 2001 while trying to protect local Liberal Democrat MP Nigel Jones.

☝️ Beyond these critical junctures in the public debate about politicians' safety, elected representatives must live with an increasingly insidious level of popular cynicism that threatens violence on an almost daily basis.

🇬🇧🇳🇿🇿🇦 Not only are these experiences of abuse or threats of physical violence felt across both sides of the political aisle in the UK — they also appear to be growing more common in other democratic contexts where the climate of politics has been presumed to be both calmer and more volatile, from New Zealand to South Africa.


Read the full piece from The Conversation, now on Worldcrunch.com

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

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