January 30, 2015
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Welcome to Monday, where Russia targets the Ukrainian port city of Odessa, Hollywood writers reach a tentative deal with studios, and an Ethiopian athlete shatters the women's marathon world record. Meanwhile, Ukrainian online newspaper Ukrainska Pravda tells the harrowing tale of “Conan”, a Ukrainian special forces operator who got lost at sea and survived 14 hours afloat, dodging Russian patrols, before being rescued.
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• Russian shelling in Odessa port: The port of Odessa, in southern Ukraine, has sustained "significant damage" following Russian strikes overnight, which also left two dead. Russian shelling also killed at least three people and wounded nine others in the nearby regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.
• Ethnic Armenians flee Karabakh: Thousands of ethnic Armenian refugees are reportedly fleeing Nagorno-Karabakh following Azerbaijan's seizure of the disputed region last week. More than 3,000 people have so far crossed into Armenia from the enclave, which is home to a majority of some 120,000 ethnic Armenians. Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is set to meet with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to discuss the situation in the breakaway region. Read more about the “Nagorno-Karabakh Debacle” here.
• Hollywood writers and studios reach tentative deal: Screenwriters in the U.S. say they have reached a tentative deal with studio bosses. While the agreement still needs to be ratified by members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA), which represents more than 11,000 writers, this marks a significant turning point in the nearly five-month-long strike — the longest strike to affect Hollywood in decades. Insiders say a deal with the writers could also spur a resolution to a parallel strike with the industry’s actor guild that began in July.
• France to withdraw ambassador and troops from Niger: President Emmanuel Macron announced that France will withdraw its ambassador and end all military cooperation with Niger, some two months after a coup in the West African country. The decision follows months of animosity and protests against the French military presence in its former colony. The military junta, which seized power in Niger in July, welcomed the move. For more, read this analysis by Pierre Haski for France Inter: France Leaves Niger: Exposing The Empty Shell Of Post-Colonialism.
• Four dead in Kosovo monastery stand-off: Kosovo and Serbia have traded accusations over a deadly stand-off between ethnic Serb gunmen and police in northern Kosovo. One policeman and three of the gunmen were killed during a siege of a Serbian Orthodox monastery in Banjska village on Sunday. Kosovo's Prime Minister Albin Kurti accused Serbia of supporting the armed group, while Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said Kosovo officials bore ultimate responsibility for the deaths.
• Italian Mafia boss Messina Denaro dies: Italian Mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro, one of the country's most wanted men until his capture earlier this year, has died. The 61-year-old had been the reigning “boss of bosses” of the notorious Cosa Nostra Mafia and spent 30 years on the run before he was arrested in January. He was being treated for cancer at the time of his arrest and was moved from prison to hospital last month. After Denaro’s arrest, Worldcrunch translated this article from Italian daily La Stampa reporting from Campobello di Mazara, the small Sicilian town where he’d been living freely and openly, surrounded by neighbors who somehow never saw him.
• NASA capsule carrying largest asteroid samples lands on Earth: A NASA space capsule carrying the largest soil sample ever collected from the surface of an asteroid has landed in the Utah desert, some seven years after the mission’s launch. The capsule, released from the robotic spacecraft OSIRIS-REx as the mothership passed within 108,000km (67,000 miles) of Earth, touched down in a designated landing zone west of Salt Lake City.
Canadian daily Le Journal de Montréal covers the “big awkward blunder” by the Canadian Parliament, after 98-year-old Yaroslav Hunka, who was honored on Friday in a session attended by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and visiting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, was revealed to have been a World War II Nazi soldier. Speaker Anthony Rota hailed Hunka as a “Ukrainian hero” during the parliament session, and Hunka received applause from Parliament members. But on Sunday, the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights group, issued a statement outlining the crimes of Hunka’s division, the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS, and demanded an apology to “every Holocaust survivor and veteran of the Second World War who fought the Nazis.”
Ethiopia’s Tigst Assefa shattered the women's marathon world record in Berlin on Sunday, chopping off more than two minutes from the previous best, with an official time of 2 hours 11 minutes and 53 seconds. The previous record had been set by Kenyan Brigid Kosgei in Chicago in 2019. “I didn't expect to run this fast,” Assefa said after the race. In the men’s event, Kenyan athlete Eliud Kipchoge became the first man to win five Berlin marathons.
Ukrainian online newspaper Ukrainska Pravda features a tale of a Ukrainian special forces operator who wound up surviving 14 hours at sea, staying afloat and dodging Russian air and sea patrols.
🎖️ The agent, who uses the call-sign "Conan," agreed to speak to Ukrainska Pravda, to share the details of nearly being lost forever at sea. Conan had worked in law enforcement, personal security and had a job as a fitness trainer when Russia launched its full-scale invasion on Feb. 24, 2022. That's when he signed up with the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Main Directorate of Intelligence "Artan" battalion. It was nearly 18 months into his service, when Conan faced the most harrowing experience of the war.
💥 In mid-August, we carried out a special operation in the Black Sea. An enemy plane began firing 30-caliber bullets from an automatic cannon in our boat. We retaliated, but our team had already used most of our ammunition. Our saving grace was having an exceptional skipper who skillfully navigated us out of the danger zone. However, during one of the extreme maneuvers, I was tossed overboard. I found myself around 130 kilometers from the shore, with no way to call for help.
🌊 My initial emotion was absolute panic. Stranded at a huge distance from the shore with only the dark ocean beneath me, I was taken over by fear. I fixated on my only reference point in the distance — the constant flame of one of the gas production towers, visible both day and night, approximately 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) from where I had entered the water. I understood that I had to collect my thoughts and adapt to the grim likelihood that no rescue would arrive anytime soon.
➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com
➡️ Watch the video: THIS HAPPENED
“It’s like trying to make a bike out of wood rather than steel.”
— In the pages of the Financial Times, LEGO’s head of sustainability Tim Brooks has justified the Danish toymaker’s decision not to proceed with efforts to make its trademark bricks from recycled plastic bottles, saying the new material would have caused higher carbon emissions. In 2021, LEGO had announced it was looking at more sustainable alternatives to the oil-based ABS the company mainly relies on. CEO Niels Christiansen also commented on the decision, saying that “In the early days, the belief was that it was easier to find this magic material” but that after testing hundreds of materials, “that doesn’t seem to be there.”
• France Leaves Niger: Exposing The Empty Shell Of Post-Colonialism — FRANCE INTER
• Brazil's Evangelical Surge Threatens Survival Of Native Afro-Brazilian Faith — AGÊNCIA PÚBLICA
• Gùsto! How · What · Where Locals Eat (And Drink) In Hamburg — WORLDCRUNCH
✍️ Newsletter by Emma Albright, Valeria Berghinz and Anne-Sophie Goninet
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