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In The News

Biden In Kyiv, Deadly Brazil Floods, Shattering Koons

Photo of U.S. President Joe Biden meeting Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, in a surprise visit that marks Biden’s first trip to Ukraine since Russia started its invasion nearly a year ago.

U.S. President Joe Biden meets with Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, in a surprise visit.

Ginevra Falciani, Emma Albright and Anne-Sophie Goninet

👋 Bonos díes!*

Welcome to Monday, where U.S. President Joe Biden makes a surprise visit to Kyiv, dozens are killed in Brazil storms, and a Jeff Koons balloon sculpture popped into shards. Meanwhile, our latest edition of “Eyes on U.S.” focuses on the Republicans v. Democrats standoff over migrant buses — with a new Canadian angle.

[*Asturian, Spain]


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• Biden’s surprise arrival in Kyiv: U.S. President Joe Biden made a surprise visit to Kyiv early Monday — his first trip to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began nearly one year ago. The arrival, which was kept under tight wraps, took place as air raid sirens rang out around Kyiv. Biden was greeted by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and declared that Russian President Vladimir Putin “thought he could outlast us. I don’t think he’s thinking that right now. He has just been plain wrong. And one year later, the evidence is right here in this room, we stand here together.” In a statement published by the White House, Biden announced a new delivery of critical equipment and additional sanctions.

• North Korea fires more missiles: North Korea launched two more ballistic missiles off its east coast on Monday. Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of leader Kim Jong Un said North Korea's use of the Pacific as a "firing range" would depend on the behavior of U.S. forces. The launches come just two days after North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) into the sea off Japan's west coast, prompting the United States to hold joint air exercises with South Korea and separately with Japan on Sunday.

• Dozens killed in Brazil storms: At least 36 people have been killed in flooding and landslides in Brazil's São Paulo state. Dozens of people are missing and while the number of dead is expected to rise, rescue workers say they hope to pull some of those trapped in flooded homes out of the mud alive. Carnival celebrations have been canceled in a number of cities.

• Footballer Christian Atsu's body returned to Ghana: The body of 31-year-old footballer Christian Atsu, who died after an earthquake hit Turkey two weeks ago, has been returned to his native Ghana. Atsu, who had played for the Hatayspor club, was found dead on Saturday under his home in southern Turkey. More than 44,000 people are confirmed dead across southeastern Turkey and northern Syria. Turkey has ended most search and rescue operations, though they are still underway in 40 buildings in two provinces.

• Meta to experiment with paid subscriptions for Facebook & Instagram: After Twitter, Meta is also testing a new subscription service – Meta Verified – that would let Facebook and Instagram users pay to have a verified account. Testing will begin in New Zealand and Australia this week and will roll out to other countries soon, according to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg. For $11.99 per month on the web or $14.99 per month on Apple and Android operating systems, Meta will use a government identification to verify a user’s account and give it a blue badge.

• Jimmy Carter to receive hospice care: Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter is receiving hospice care at his home after a series of short hospital stays, the Carter Center announced. The charity created by the 98-year-old former president said that Carter "decided to spend his remaining time at home with his family and receive hospice care instead of additional medical intervention."

• Visitor accidentally shatters Jeff Koons balloon dog sculpture: A $42,000 blue balloon dog sculpture created by artist Jeff Koons broke into tiny shards when a visitor accidentally kicked its podium during the opening cocktail of the Bel-Air Fine Art, at Art Wynwood, a contemporary art fair in Miami.


Brazilian daily newspaper, O Estadão de S. Paulo, devotes its front page to the floods that have hit coastal areas of Brazil’s southeast, causing flooding and landslides that have killed at least 36 people and displaced hundreds.



Beijing announced it would give out a monthly cash subsidy of 40 yuan (a little under $6) to low-income residents as food inflation accelerates in China. The modest allowance was not well received by the public, with one user reacting on Weibo: “40 yuan? Are you serious? [When] the low-income people take the subway to collect the money and then they return, they lose 8 yuan.” Last week, crowds of retirees took to the streets in a rare protest against cuts to their medical benefits in the cities of Wuhan and Dalian, as the country’s economy struggles to recover after the effects of the “Zero-COVID” policy.


Eyes on U.S. — Democrats, Republicans and Canadians in standoff over migrant buses

Republicans and Democrats have been engaged in political ping-pong over migration, bussing migrants from red to blue states. Now the issue has reached Canada as the migrants are pushed ever further north.

🛂 The island of Martha’s Vineyard off the coast of Cape Cod has found itself at the center of a political storm around immigration. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis bought airline tickets for 50 asylum seekers to fly there from Texas in protest against President Joe Biden’s policies on immigration. Since then, thousands of migrants have been bussed to Democrat-run northern cities from the Republican-run states of Texas, Arizona and Florida.

🇺🇸🇨🇦 But the latest news is that migrants’ journeys don’t stop there — now being moved even further north, bounced around like balls in a game of political ping-pong. Authorities in New York City have begun shuttling them up to the Canadian border. And Quebec premier François Legault is demanding New York stop the buck-passing bus rides, which he says are straining the province’s asylum system.

📈 The news this week has added to pressure from Quebec for the Canadian national government to negotiate with the U.S. and close a legal loophole that allowed almost 40,000 people to cross into Canada last year via Roxham Road, a stretch of country road in upstate New York. Last year saw record traffic at the crossing, which spans the border between northern New York State and Quebec.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


“We do not accept the United States' finger-pointing on China-Russia relations.”

— Asked during a daily briefing in Beijing about U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken's comments that China is considering providing weapons to Russia, China’s Foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said that Beijing would not bow to “coercion and pressure” from Washington. Blinken told CBS that China was now "considering providing lethal support" to Moscow ranging "from ammunition to the weapons themselves."

✍️ Newsletter by Ginevra Falciani, Emma Albright and Anne-Sophie Goninet

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The Pope's Health Feeds Succession Rumors — And Deeper Questions About The Church

It is not only the health of the Pope that worries the Holy See. From the collapse of vocations to the conservative wind in the USA, there are many ills to face.

Photograph of Pope Francis holding his hand against his forehead.

October 4, 2023 - Pope Francis concelebrates the Holy Mass with the new Cardinals at the Vatican

Evandro Inetti/ZUMA
Gianluigi Nuzzi

Updated Dec. 4, 2023 at 6:05 p.m.

ROME — "How am I? I'm fine... I'm still alive, you know? See, I'm not dead!"

With a dose of irony and sarcasm, Pope Francis addressed those who'd paid him a visit this past week as he battled a new lung inflammation, and the antibiotic cycles and extra rest he still must stick with on strict doctors' orders.

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The Pope is dealing with a sensitive respiratory system; the distressed tracheo-bronchial tree can cause asthmatic reactions, with the breathlessness in his speech being the most obvious symptom. Tired eyes and dark circles mark his swollen face. A sense of unease and bewilderment pervades and only diminishes when the doctors restate their optimism about his general state of wellness.

"The pope's ailments? Nothing compared to the health of the Church," quips a priest very close to the Holy Father. "The Church is much worse off, marked by chronic ailments and seasonal illnesses."

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