👋 გამარჯობა!*Welcome to Monday, where civilians are being evacuated from Mariupol as Europe looks for a way out of its Russian energy reliance, Spain’s government is hit by the Pegasus spyware and New Zealand reopens for the first time in two years. We also look at the real reasons behind Elon Musk’s interest in Twitter.
[*Gamarjoba - Georgian]
• Civilians evacuated from Mariupol: A first group of evacuees have been transported out of the besieged city of Mariupol early Monday as humanitarian organizations worked to evacuate more civilians. Both civilians and soldiers still remained trapped in the Azovstal steel works, in the port of the last bastion of resistance to the Russian invasion.
• Europe in emergency talks on Russian energy reliance: European Union energy ministers are holding emergency talks to respond to Moscow’s demand that gas imports be paid for in rubles, after Russia cut off gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland last week over the currency issue. The EU said this weekend it is looking for ways to implement a ban on imports of Russian oil by the end of the year.
— Read all the latest at War in Ukraine, Day 68 —
• Spanish government hit by Pegasus spyware: Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and Defense Minister Margarita Robles’ mobile phones were hacked twice by Israeli Pegasus spyware in May and June 2021. It is an “illegal and external intrusion,” the Defense Minister said on Monday, as lots of data were extracted.
• Philippines fire: Eight people, including six children, have died in a Philippines housing fire, in the capital city Manila.
• UN chief power back to civilians: In Dakar, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged juntas in Guinea, Mali and Burkina Faso (three West African countries hit by jihadists-led coups in recent years) to give power back to civilians, to allow for a return to a “constitutional order.”
• Easing of COVID-19 restrictions: After two-years of COVID-19, New Zealand’s borders reopen to vaccinated people coming from Australia and 60 other countries including the U.S., the UK and Singapore. Greece and Italy also ease their restrictions for domestic and international flights ahead of peak tourism season.
• Eid Mubarak: Muslims today are celebrating the end of the holy month of Ramadan marked with Eid al-Fitr. They gather around the world for large meals to break the fast with family and friends.
British daily The Independent reports on the “safe passage operation” coordinated by the UN, Russian and Ukraine officials as well as the Red Cross to evacuate civilians trapped at the Azovstal steel plant in the city of Mariupol, the last stronghold of resistance to the Russian siege. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said a first group of about 100 people had been successfully evacuated and the operation is still underway.
U.S. startup Yuga Lab, which created the “Bored Ape” series of NFTs, has raised approximately $285 million worth of cryptocurrency by selling tokens that are designed to grant holders access to a metaverse the company says it’s building. Users will be able to buy plots of land in the virtual world game called “Otherside.”
Elon Musk wants Twitter for the big data, not the free speech
Oligarchs of the “Second Gilded Age” in the likes of Elon Musk are already able to influence the public's minds through media ownership. But getting a hand on Twitter means having access to its users' data and exploiting it for financial purposes, writes Nolan Higdon in The Conversation.
⚠️🗞️ Media scholars have aired concern for decades that unfettered wealth and tepid government regulation have enabled a handful of corporations to dominate news media coverage in the U.S. Indeed, the companies that produce the majority of news media in the U.S. has dwindled from 50 in the 1980s to roughly six today. This consolidation of the media industry in the hands of wealthy individuals is especially concerning for a healthy democracy, which necessitates that the electorate has access to an abundance of diverse views and free-flowing information.
📲 Musk is not simply a modern version of a 19th century oligarch. His power goes beyond shaping public discourse with narrowly framed stories and the removal of select content. He will also have a vast amount of personal data under his discretion. For example, when using Twitter content or products, Twitter collects data and stores what web pages the user accessed, as well as their IP address, browser type, operating system and cookie information.
🤐 Musk has said his purchase of Twitter is motivated by his support of free speech. But this runs counter to his reputation for actively seeking revenge against those who criticize his businesses. Under his leadership. Moreover, social media platforms such as Twitter are not conducive to “true” free speech. By making decisions about what content users do and do not see, social media companies, it could be argued, are interfering with speech.
➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com
The lowest level of racism against Jews is to accuse Jews themselves of antisemitism.
— Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid replied to his Russian counterpart’s interview with Italian TV network Mediaset, in which Sergey Lavrov insisted that Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky is a “Nazi,” despite being Jewish. Lavrov said that “Hitler also had Jewish blood” and that “the wise Jewish people say that the fiercest anti-Semites are usually Jews.” Lapid called the statement “unforgivable and outrageous.”
✍️ Newsletter by Lisa Berdet, Anne-Sophie Goninet and Bertrand Hauger
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