Closing In On Bakhmut, More West Bank Violence, Messi’s FIFA Crown
👋 Dobrý deň!*
Welcome to Tuesday, where Russian troops close in on Bakhmut, violence continues in the West Bank and The Weeknd makes Spotify history. Meanwhile, La Stampa recounts the events that led to the tragic shipwreck off the coast of Italy in which at least 64 migrants were killed.
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🌎 7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW
• Russians closing in on Bakhmut: Russian forces appear closer than ever in their weeks-long drive to conquer the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut. The forces, including mercenary fighters from the Wagner Group, are trying to cut the Ukrainian defenders' supply lines to the city and force them to surrender or withdraw. That would give Russia its first major prize in more than half a year and could open the way to the capture of the last remaining urban centers in the Donetsk region.
• Israeli-American killed in West Bank as tensions run high: A 26-year-old Israeli-American has been shot and killed in the occupied West Bank, near the city of Jericho. The shooting occurred after Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian villages on Sunday night, with dozens of cars and houses lit on fire. Israeli and Palestinian officials pledged to de-escalate tensions at a summit Monday in Jordan.
• Pakistan launches trafficking probe after refugee boat tragedy: Pakistani authorities have launched an investigation to find alleged traffickers following the refugee boat sinking that left at least 64 people dead. Out of the estimated 200 people on the boat, at least 20 were Pakistanis.
• Belarus President Lukashenko visit to China: Chinese leader Xi Jinping is preparing to receive Belarus’ President Alexander Lukashenko, an ally of Russia, to hold talks with Chinese officials in Beijing. This visit comes amid warnings from the United States officials that China may be considering providing Moscow with military aid in its war in Ukraine.
• Hong Kong scraps COVID mask mandate after almost 1,000 days: Hong Kong has announced it will scrap its mask mandate on March 1st, ending the territory’s last major coronavirus measure after almost 1,000 days. Hong Kong followed China’s zero-COVID police for most of the pandemic but had begun slowing down on strict restrictions last year. The city hopes to attract back visitors and kickstart businesses.
• North Korea and radical change in agriculture: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has called for a “radical change” in agricultural production amid concerns over reported food shortages in the country. Analysts say the current food shortages were triggered by a combination of poor harvests and extreme weather, as well as lockdowns and reduced trade with China during the COVID-19 pandemic.
• Lionel Messi named FIFA men’s player of the year: Argentina’s World Cup-winning captain Lionel Messi has been named FIFA men’s player of the year. Spain’s Alexia Putellas, who won the Ballon d’Or last year, was named women’s player of the year.
🗞️ FRONT PAGE
Brazilian daily O Globo dedicates its front page to President Silvio Da Silva Lula getting a bivalent shot against COVID-19, launching a nationwide vaccination campaign. This vaccine protects against the first strains of the coronavirus and increases immunization against the Ômicron variant. The campaign is addressing people over 70 and immuno-suppressed and should open to the rest of the population in a second stage. It is part of a wider project of the Brazilian government to increase the vaccination rate of citizens against other diseases as well as encouraging younger generations to get anti-COVID booster shots after vaccine skepticism spread through the rule of Lula’s predecessor Jair Bolsonaro.
#️⃣ BY THE NUMBERS
The Weeknd has become the first artist to surpass 100 million monthly listeners on the music streaming platform Spotify. He surpassed Miley Cyrus (82.5 million listeners), Taylor Swift (80.3 million) and Drake (68.6 million).
📰 STORY OF THE DAY
After four days at sea, a migrant tragedy plays out just 200 meters from Italy's shore
Dozens of migrants are confirmed dead, with many more casualties feared. Survivors say the crew threw people overboard, with land finally in sight after a perilous Mediterranean journey from Turkey, reports Niccolò Zancan in Italian daily La Stampa.
🌊 “When we saw the lights, we thought we were safe," recounted one of the survivors. “‘They’re coming for us!’ we all started to shout. But the crew started throwing boys down, pulling them by the arms and throwing them into the sea. Panic broke out on board. The boat flipped.” An estimated 150 to 180 people were on board the trawler, having already survived a terrifying crossing from Turkey. But at least 74 didn't make it, confirmed dead, having drowned just 200 meters from arriving in Europe.
🏥 Among the confirmed 74 casualties, many of them minors. Eighty-two people have been rescued by Monday morning. Many more cannot be found, although no one can say exactly how many. Twenty-one boys and children are hospitalized in the pediatric ward of nearby Crotone hospital.
🇮🇹 It was a boat loaded with the future. A blue wooden fishing boat, now completely destroyed by the waves, smashed to pieces between the surf and the shoreline. We've seen this all before. The same story arriving near the coastlines of Lampedusa, Malta, Portopalo di Capo Passero: nothing changes, except the names of the dead. And this time, they had arrived so close.
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📹 THIS HAPPENED VIDEO — TODAY IN HISTORY, IN ONE ICONIC PHOTO
➡️ Watch the video: THIS HAPPENED
“I wouldn't leave if I were desperate because I have been taught to be responsible.”
— Italy’s Minister of the Interior Matteo Piantedosi is under fire for his controversial comments on Sunday's shipwreck off the southern Italian coast, in which at least 63 people died. Speaking after a meeting with authorities in the Crotone province of Calabria, where the migrant tragedy took place, Piantedosi said that "desperation can never justify travel conditions that endanger the lives of one's children." Piantedosi, who led efforts in his country’s recent crackdown on migration under new far-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, added that he’d been taught “not to always ask what my country can do for me, but what I can do for my country" — comments deemed “unworthy” and “unbearable” by leader of the centrist Azione party Carlo Calenda.
👉 MORE FROM WORLDCRUNCH
• Big Business, No Red Phone: Why U.S. v. China Is A Different Kind Of Cold War — LES ECHOS
• Another World Leader Stokes Racist Fears Of Immigration — In Tunisia — FRANCE INTER
• Mongolia Is Late To The Internet, And Falling Prey To Digital Fraud — GLOBAL PRESS JOURNAL
✍️ Newsletter by Emma Albright, Ginevra Falciani, Bertrand Hauger and Anne-Sophie Goninet
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