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In The News

Fight For Bakhmut, Greek Protests Flare, Toblerone Trouble

Photo of ​police forces clashing with demonstrators during anti-government protests that continued in Greece after the deadly train crash last week, with flares of violence Sunday in the capital Athens.

Anti-government protests are continuing in Greece after the deadly train crash last week, with flares of violence Sunday in the capital Athens.

Ginevra Falciani, Inès Mermat, Hugo Perrin and Anne-Sophie Goninet

👋 안녕*

Welcome to Monday, where the fight for Ukraine’s Bakhmut is still raging, national protests turn violence in Greece after last week’s deadly train crash, and Toblerone is forced to change its iconic Matterhorn logo. Meanwhile, we take an international look at the troubling rise in university student suicides.

[*Annyeong - Korean]


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• Russia still unable to take Bakhmut: Russian and Ukrainian forces are fighting in the streets of Bakhmut, with Moscow’s troops still trying to wrest control of the eastern city. The head of Russia's Wagner mercenary force warned that Russia's position is compromised unless his troops get ammunition. Ukrainian military officials are reporting that leaders of Russia's 155th Brigade fighting near the town of Vuhledar, south of Bakhmut, were resisting orders to attack after sustaining severe losses.

• At least 9 dead in Pakistan suicide attack: A suicide bomber riding a motorcycle has rammed into a police truck in Pakistan’s southwestern province of Balochistan, killing at least nine soldiers and wounding another 13. No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack.

• Fire at world’s largest refugee camp: Bangladesh authorities are investigating the cause of a massive fire in a Rohingya refugee camp that hosts more than one million refugees, most of whom have fled persecution in neighboring Myanmar. The Sunday fire has left 12,000 people without shelter but no casualties have been reported.

• China’s new economic growth target and increase in the defense budget: At the opening of the annual gathering of the National People’s Congress (NPC), China has announced to have set an official economic growth target of “around 5%” for 2023 as it seeks to revive its economy after a year of tepid growth because of pandemic measures. It has also announced it will expand its defense budget by 7.2% to roughly 1.55 trillion yuan ($224 billion).

• South Korea to compensate victims of Japan's WWII forced labor: South Korea has announced it would compensate people forced to work in Japanese factories during World War II. The proposal, although welcomed by Tokyo and Washington, who’d been pressing for reconciliation, was met with backlash from some victims who thought it failed to hold Japan accountable for its occupation of the Korean peninsula from 1910-1945.

• UN treaty to protect oceans: Nearly 200 countries have agreed to a legally-binding “high seas treaty” to protect marine life in international waters, which cover around half of the planet’s surface, but have long been essentially lawless. The agreement, two decades in the making, was signed on Saturday evening after two final weeks of negotiations at the United Nations headquarters. The treaty also covers environmental assessments to evaluate the potential damage of commercial activities, such as deep sea mining, before they start and a pledge by signatories to share ocean resources.

• Toblerone forced to change design of logo: The image of the Matterhorn mountain peak will be removed from Toblerone packaging and replaced with a more generic summit after some of the chocolate bar’s production was moved outside Switzerland. The 2017 “Swissness” legislation restricts the use of the national flag, as well as other indicators of Swiss provenance, in foodstuffs that are not produced and whose ingredients are not almost completely sourced in Switzerland.


China’s Jiefang daily devotes its front page to the 14th National People's Congress’ annual parliamentary meeting that kicked off on Sunday in Beijing and will end on March 13. The meeting will formalize Xi Jinping’s unprecedented third term as president while Li Qiang, one of Xi’s closest allies, is expected to replace Li Keqian as premier.



Ukrainian Environmental Protection and Natural Resources Minister Ruslan Strilets reported over 2 trillion Ukrainian Hryvnia — a little over $54 billion — worth of environmental damage caused by Russian attacks, at the United for Justice international conference in Lviv. The calculations made thanks to newly-developed methods and thorough techniques take into account land, air and water pollution, burnt forests, and destroyed natural resources.


Reports of a quiet rise in university student suicides in multiple countries

On top of the traditional troubles some young people face on their own for the first time are the added factors of social media pressure and the effects of the pandemic. The crisis appears to have hit hard in Italy, with other countries, from India to France to the UK, reporting a similar situation.

🎓 Although the causes of youth suicide are varied and complex, there is a longstanding connection for some to the university sphere, as students often describe feeling academic pressure and the weight of unmet familial expectations. Experts warn this is being exacerbated by the isolation coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with the way that social media can feed feelings of inadequacy.

💼 In Italy, experts and student associations say the country's university system deserves some of the blame. Excellence is necessary to succeed, but at the same time, the system allows students to fall behind easily — they can decide when to take a final exam, delaying it as much as a year after finishing a course. Young Italians leaving university face one of the worst rates of youth unemployment in Europe. Even those with excellent grades have a hard time finding a job.

📱 Add to that the way social media pushes a whole special set of "influencers" who have it all, including perfect grades. Italian media fuels the intense competition. “At 23, she is a doctor, model and influencer: ‘For me, sleeping is a waste of time’,” reads the headline of one of the many articles about Carlotta Rossignoli, the young prodigy who graduated from medical school a year early and attributed her success to little sleep and a “strong willpower.”

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


“Our aggressive neighbor has not vanished and will not vanish, so we have to work with that.”

— The ruling center-right Reform party (Eesti Reformierakond) came out on top in Estonia's parliamentary elections Sunday, taking 31.4% of the votes. Party leader and Prime Minister, Kaja Kallas reaffirmed the country’s strong stance against threats from neighboring Russia and emphasized the need to maintain Estonia's security.

✍️ Newsletter by Ginevra Falciani, Inès Mermat, Hugo Perrin and Anne-Sophie Goninet

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Where Imperialism Goes To Die: Lessons From Afghanistan To Ukraine

With multilateral diplomacy in tatters, the fighting gumption of weaker states against aggression by bigger powers is helping end the age of empires.

Man walking past an anti-Putin graffiti on a destroyed wall in

Man walking past an anti-Putin graffiti in Arkhanhelske, near Kherson, Ukraine

Andrés Hoyos


BOGOTÁ — Just a century ago, imperialism was alive and kicking. Today, the nasty habit of marching into other countries is moribund, as can be seen from the plains of Ukraine.

The invasion was part of President Vladimir Putin's decades-long dream of restoring the Russian empire or the Soviet Union, for which he would resort to genocide if need be, like his communist predecessors. Only this time, the targeted victim turned out to be too big a mouthful.

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

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When Putin leaves, sooner or later, with his tail between his legs, this will have been a sorry end to one of the last illusions of empire — unless, of course, China tries a similar move down the line.

This isn't the only imperialist endeavor to have failed in recent decades (and it has, when you think Putin thought his armies would sweep into Kyiv within days). Afghanistan resisted two invasions, Iraq was the setting of another imperialist disaster, as was Kuwait, with a bit of help from the Yankee sheriff on that occasion. In fact, besides some rather targeted interventions, one would have to move back several more decades to find an example of "victorious" imperialism, for want of better words. Which is very good news.

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