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Two years after the last cavalcade, Their Majesties the Magi of the East returned yesterday to bring the illusion and sweets to the little ones. The streets of Malaga were once again illuminated by floats, story characters and especially by the joy of children.

Two years after, their Majesties the Magi of the East returned.

Anne-Sophie Goninet and Jane Herbelin

👋 Hallo!*

Welcome to Thursday, where Kazakhstan police kill dozens of protesters, Australia revokes No-Vax Djokovic’s visa and an Argentine judge gets caught on camera kissing an inmate. We also look at the measures countries around the world are implementing to force the hands of unvaccinated citizens to get the jabs.

[*Flemish]


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🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

Kazakh police kill dozens of protesters as Russia deploys paratroopers: Police in Kazakhstan have killed dozens of anti-government rioters who tried to seize administrative buildings amid mass unrest in Kazakhstan, as a Russian-led military approved a peacekeeping force to the Central Asian country in an operation to restore order in the main city, Almaty.

COVID update: France's parliament approved President Emmanuel Macron's plans for a vaccine pass after a tumultuous debate whipped up by Macron's comments that he wanted to "piss off" the unvaccinated, and as the country hit a new record of more than 332,000 new COVID-19 cases in 24 hours. India acknowledged the first confirmed death linked to the Omicron variant, out of 2,630 cases so far. Meanwhile, Italy made vaccines mandatory for over 50-years-olds.

Australia cancels top tennis player Djokovic’s visa over vaccine exemption: World No. 1 men’s tennis player Novak Djokovic has had his visa to enter Australia revoked on his arrival in Melbourne and was told to leave the country following a 10-hour standoff with government officials amid a backlash over a vaccine exemption. A court will decide on his deportation on Monday.

Biden to blame Trump for “chaos and carnage” one year on Capitol Riot: U.S. President Joe Biden will blame Donald Trump for the “chaos and carnage” of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot in a speech marking the anniversary of the attack. Rather than reaffirm the durability of the union, as presidents typically do, he will emphasize the dangers of its collapse.

Australia, Japan sign historic defense pact amid China concerns: Japan and Australia have signed a historic agreement to cooperate closely on defense in the latest step to reinforce security ties against the backdrop of China's rising military and economic clout in the region. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the treaty, which was signed during a virtual summit on Thursday, would “contribute to a secure and stable Indo-Pacific”.

Toxic gas kills six in India after illegal chemical dump: Six people at a dyeing and printing mill in India were killed and another 25 were hospitalized after inhaling toxic gas caused by an illegal dump of waste chemicals, officials said on Thursday. Negligence and lack of safety norms often contribute to such accidents in India.

Argentine judge caught kissing convicted cop killer: An Argentinian judge was caught on CCTV kissing a convicted cop-killer serving a life sentence, after trying to get him a reduced sentence. Argentine judicial authorities opened disciplinary action against the judge to probe alleged “inappropriate conduct''.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

USA Today devotes its front page of the anniversary of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, with quotes reflecting on the event one year later and testimonies of people who still struggle with the emotional and physical wounds experienced that day.


#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

8,699

Authorities in South Africa’s Cape Town confiscated 8,699 bottles of alcohol — the equivalent of 5,000 liters — during the end-of-year celebrations on public beaches and elsewhere, in an effort to prevent people from “driving drunk or swimming drunk, or getting involved in a fight or an accident or hurting someone else,” a city spokesman said. South Africa has already implemented four alcohol bans throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

New vaccine requirements around the world are getting nasty

Countries are going all-in on virtually forcing citizens to get vaccinated: From the French President openly acknowledging his readiness to make life unpleasant for the unvaccinated to un-jabbed Canadians not qualifying for unemployment benefits to Greeks imposing monthly fines on the unvaccinated.

⚠️ Last year, as vaccination campaigns went into full swing across the world, governments and health authorities found creative ways to encourage people to get the COVID-19 vaccine, from VIP testimonials to lotteries to donuts. But as several parts of the globe are experiencing huge surges in infections with the Delta and Omicron variants, we seem to be past the time for celebrity endorsements and free snacks. Or as a public health official in Hong Kong said recently: “enough carrots, time for the stick.”

💉 The Vatican, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Indonesia were among the first countries last year to make vaccination compulsory, and now more countries are implementing thorough vaccine mandates. In Europe, French lawmakers are currently conducting heated debates concerning the legislation to turn the country’s current “pass sanitaire” into a vaccine passport. If the bill passes, proof of a negative COVID-19 test would no longer be sufficient to go to bars and restaurants or access a number of cultural activities — people would need proof of full vaccination.

💰🛑 In Asia, Singapore's government has been covering the medical expenses of COVID-19 patients throughout the pandemic. But it has recently been announced that starting in December, it would stop paying medical treatment for patients who are “unvaccinated by choice,” arguing that they “make up a sizeable majority of those who require intensive in-patient care and disproportionately contribute to the strain on our healthcare resources.”

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

"It was in poor taste."

— In an interview for magazine InStyle, Israeli actress Gal Gadot addressed the controversial star-studded Imagine video posted in March 2020 during the height of the pandemic, which had been widely mocked on social media for being tone-deaf. It “wasn't the right timing, and it wasn't the right thing,” Gadot added.

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet and Jane Herbelin


Emily in Paris or that Imagine video … What’s more cringe? Let us know what is happening in your corner of the world!

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Geopolitics

Russia's Military Failures Are Really About Its Soldiers

No doubt, strategic errors and corruption at the highest ranks in the Kremlin are partly to blame for the Russian military's stunning difficulties in Ukraine. But the roots run deeper, where the ordinary recruits come from, how they are exploited, how they react.

Army reserve soldiers go to Red Square to attend a Pioneer Induction ceremony

Anna Akage

To the great relief of Ukraine and the great surprise of the rest of the world, the Russian army — considered until February 24, the second strongest in the world — is now eminently beatable on the battlefield against Ukrainian forces operating with vastly inferior firepower.

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

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After renouncing the original ambitions to take Kyiv and unseat the Ukrainian government, the focus turned to the southeastern region of Donbas, where a would-be great battle on a scale comparable to World War II Soviet victories has turned into a quagmire peppered with laughable updates by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov on TikTok.

The Russians have not managed to occupy a single significant Ukrainian city, except Kherson, which they partially destroyed and now find difficult to hold. Meanwhile, Ukrainian civilians are left to suffer the bombing of cities and villages from Lviv to Odessa, with looting, torture and assorted war crimes.

The reasons for both the poor performance and atrocities are many, and include deep-seated corruption and lack of professionalism up through the highest ranks, including Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who had never served in the army, and arrived in his position only because of his loyalty to the No. 1 man in the Kremlin.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

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