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This Happened

This Happened—December 26: The Mother Of All Tsunamis

In 2004, a 9.1 earthquake struck off the coast of Sumatra in Indonesia, triggering a tsunami and series of tidal waves that became one of worst natural disasters in recorded history

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World Comes To New York, Myanmar School Attack, Vegan Bite

👋 Goedendag!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where world leaders start gathering in New York for the first in-person UN General Assembly since the pandemic, Iran faces growing protests after a young woman died following her arrest by the “morality police” for violating the hijab law and a group of scientists manage to estimate the total number of ants on Earth. Meanwhile, Jan Grossarth for German daily Die Welt unpacks the potential of “hempcrete,” i.e. bricks of hemp used as building material.


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Russia Confirms Odessa Attack, Pope’s Penance Pilgrimage, Hurdles World Record

👋 Wĩmwega!*

Welcome to Monday, where Russia denies then admits to shelling the port of Odessa, Myanmar’s military executes four democracy activists and the pope arrives in Canada for a historic “pilgrimage of penance.” Meanwhile, Global Press Journal looks at Sri Lanka’s ban on agrochemicals and how it has affected the country’s agriculture.

[*Kikuyu, Kenya]

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Why So Many Asian Countries Are Staying Neutral On Putin

Western countries want to isolate Russia on the world stage. But for many Asian countries, the war in Ukraine is distant geographically and economically, and represents an existential debate between dictatorships and democracies.


TOKYO — Vladimir Putin could not have put it better than Zaw Min Tun, the spokesman of the junta in power in Myanmar. “Russia has taken the necessary actions to protect and strengthen its own sovereignty," Min Tun said the day after the invasion of Ukraine. "As a great power, it ensures the balance of world forces, which allows the preservation of peace.”

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The war launched against Ukraine prompted a unanimous condemnation of Russia in Western countries and triggered a coordinated and rapid implementation of very severe sanctions. But the same cannot be said for Asia.

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Hannah Steinkopf-Frank

The Beauty Of Diversity: Pageants Around The World Celebrate Difference

Beauty pageants once rewarded good looks, and maybe some talent on the side. But the events are no longer just a showcase for perfect hair and swimsuits. Innovative pageants around the world celebrate differences and advocate for people with disabilities and LGBTQ+ communities.

Gina Rühl might soon make history as the first Miss Germany with only one arm, an injury she sustained after a life-threatening motorcycle accident. Rühl now uses her platform to advocate for others with disabilities. She told German newspaper Die Welt that she decided to compete in Miss Germany because “I knew that this competition is no longer just about the outer shell, but about who you are and what message you want to convey to people.”

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This is an increasingly common sentiment among beauty pageant contestants, a genre of competition that originally awarded good looks, and maybe some talent on the side. No longer just a showcase for beauty queens, both conventional and more inventive pageants around the world are embracing a more diverse range of contests.

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Bruno Philip

An Old War Is Rekindled On The Myanmar-Thailand Border

For the first time in 20 years, Myanmar regime fighter jets dropped bombs on territory partly controlled by the KNU, an armed group that has been fighting the central government for seven decades and bears the name of a large ethnic minority, the Karen.

MAE SAM LAEP — Seen from the Thai side of the Salouen River, the Burmese army's outpost does not look like much: on the top of a bare hilltop, several shabby bunkers, plank walls and zinc roofs are lined up. There's no living soul, apparently, except for the crowing of a rooster whose stubborn cackle intermittently reaches the other bank. A little higher up, balancing on the void stands the silhouette of a building that looks like a Buddhist pagoda. Strangely enough, a red flag is flying there. The Thai police say that it is a sign of war for their Burmese neighbors.

This isolated outpost is not just a godforsaken hole stunned by the April heat, locked in the torpor of a foggy afternoon awaiting the monsoon rains. It is instead a military barracks of the Tatmadaw (official armed forces of Myanmar), the same forces whose soldiers have in just two months massacred more than half a thousand demonstrators opposing the Feb. 1 military coup.

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Dominique Moisi

Coup de Greed: Myanmar Generals Are Following The Money

How can you hold on to wealth if you are no longer in power?

On February 1, did the Burmese generals declare war on their people? Are we witnessing a tragic repeat of the 1988 uprising, when the Myanmar military brutally suppressed popular protests? Why a military coup, and why now — Wasn't the army still effectively in power? And why did the generals decide to follow Donald Trump's lead and belatedly contest the results of an election, which took place on Nov. 8, and whose outcome was definitive? The National League for Democracy, the party of Aung San Suu Kyi, won a clear victory, with more than 80% of the votes.

The answer begins with the fact that Myanmar's generals were motivated by a mixture of humiliation and fear. Their defeat was simply too absolute. They feared the results at the ballot box would push Suu Kyi's party to upset the delicate balance of power between the civilian government and the military leaders. Above all, they feared a possible constitutional reform that would take away the military's privileges, which allow them to monopolize a large proportion of the country's wealth.

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Bruno Philip

Inside China's Quiet Flex On Myanmar Coup

The coup? What coup? China remains extremely cautious about upsetting its delicate relationship with Myanmar, given the important economic and strategic elements at stake.

China, with its propensity to cover up the truth, has reacted with surreal moderation to the coup d"état perpetrated on Feb. 1 by the Myanmar army. Global Times, the English-language daily paper of the Chinese Communist Party, simply described it as "a major ministerial reshuffle."

Earlier, immediately after the coup, the spokesman for the Foreign Ministry of the People's Republic of China, Wang Wenbin, issued a more terse but significant diplomatic statement: "All concerned parties in Myanmar should settle their differences' in order to "maintain social and political stability."

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Anne Sophie Goninet

Photo of the Week: This Happened In Myanmar

On February 1, Myanmar's military seized power and declared a year-long state of emergency, with commander in chief Min Aung Hlaing taking charge. The coup d'etat follows the national election victory of the party of leader Aung San Suu Kyi, which the armed forces refused to recognize.

Suu Kyi and her party allies have been placed under house arrest and charged with possessing illegally imported walkie-talkies.Since then tens of thousands of Myanmar citizens have taken to the streets to protest against the coup, facing police forces armed with water cannons and rubber bullets.

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eyes on the U.S.
Roy Greenburgh

For Trump's Senate Trial, A Message From The Myanmar Coup

There was really just one element missing for a successful American putsch.

Rewind three months and two days. It's November 8, 2020, and the front pages of virtually every newspaper in the world announce Joe Biden's victory in the U.S. presidential election, settled after several tense days of vote-counting — and in spite of Donald Trump's continued refusal to concede defeat.

There's a straight line from those headlines to the Jan. 6 assault in Washington on the Capitol, as Trump spent the next two months spreading lies and rage in an unprecedented attempt in American history to subvert the results of a national election.

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Laure Gautherin

Watch: OneShot, Rohingya Ethnic Cleansing Began One Year Ago

Saturday marks exactly one year since the Myanmar military began to force the Rohingya out of the Rakhine state in what a top United Nations official later called "a textbook example of ethnic cleansing." At least 700,000 people fled, mostly to neighboring Bangladesh, as efforts to repatriate the Muslim minority to Myanmar continue to stall.

Here is a OneShot video of one of the most dramatic images of Rohingya fleeing for their lives...

Photo: Richard Tsong-Taatarii/ZUMA

Earlier this week, Aung San Suu Kyi — a 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner and de facto leader of Myanmar — continued to treat the issue as a security and diplomatic issue, insisting that there was no specific ethnicity that was targeted. "We, who are living through the transition in Myanmar, view it differently than those who observe it from the outside and who will remain untouched by its outcome," she said.

Meanwhile, new stories of Rohingya being raped and killed and families being separated continue to surface. Many have called for Suu Kyi's Nobel Peace Prize to be revoked — which is highly unlikely — though recently she was stripped of Scotland's Freedom of Edinburgh award.

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From Myanmar To Sinai, Dangers Of A Single Word

Rohingya. Outside of Myanmar, it's a simple word, though not necessarily easy to pronounce. Largely unknown until recently, its utterance now unmistakably evokes persecution, humanitarian tragedy, and what the UN said was "a textbook example of ethnic cleansing" at the hands of government authorities and local militias. But inside the Buddhist-majority country, it's a politically-charged term, the simple mention of which can have devastating consequences.

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