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New Mariupol Evacuations, COVID Toll Much Higher, Antarctica Deep Discovery

An Ukrainian mine-clearer searches for unexploded material following fighting with Russian troops at the Hostomel Airfield, in the Kyiv region

Lisa Berdet, Lila Paulou and Anne-Sophie Goninet

👋 Mbote!*

Welcome to Friday, where a new attempt to evacuate civilians from Mariupol is underway, the White House appoints its first Black press secretary and scientists make a surprising discovery in Antarctica. Meanwhile, Die Welt’s Alfred Hackensberger reports from what is commonly known as “Ukrainian Switzerland” turning a tourist destination into the front line of the war.

[*Lingala - DRC and Republic of the Congo]

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🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• Mariupol civilians rescue bid underway: A new attempt to evacuate civilians trapped in the Azovstal plant in Mariupol is underway according to a senior Ukrainian official. About 200 civilians, including at least 20 children, are believed to be still in bunkers under the steel plant.

• Germany to send more weapons to Ukraine, as tensions ease between Berlin and Kyiv: Germany will send more heavy weapons to Ukraine, including seven self-propelled howitzer artillery systems. This came as Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky and Germany’s President Frank-Walter Steinmeier spoke, as lingering tensions between the two countries may be dissipating.

— Read all the latest at War in Ukraine, Day 72

• Conservatives face major defeat in UK local elections: Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative party suffered major losses in local elections across the UK on Thursday. Several Conservative leaders have already called the resignation of Johnson, whose “party gate” scandal is blamed for the poor showing.

• First U.S. Black press secretary: U.S. President Joe Biden appointed 44-year-old Karine Jean-Pierre as his new press secretary. She is both the first Black person and first LGBTQ to hold this position, set to take over on May 13 for Jen Psaki.

• Attack in Elad: In the sixth terrorist attack in Israel since March 22, a gunman opened fired in Elad, near Tel Aviv, killing three people and injuring four. The unidentified shooter is still on the run.

• Xi Jinping defends Zero-COVID-19 policy: Chinese leader Xi Jinping has spoken out on COVID-19, sending warning against anyone who would “distort, question and challenge” the country’s zero-COVID policies. These measures imply strict lockdown and mass testing of the population, threatening China’s economy.

• Antarctica deep discovery: A vast fresh and salt water reservoir has been discovered by scientists for the first time deep below in the ice sheet in West Antarctica. The volume of water contained in these below-water sediments is equivalent to a several hundred meters deep reservoir.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

Turkish daily Haber Ekspres devotes its front page to Turkey’s inflation rate which has soared to almost 70% in April year-on-year a two-decade high. According to the daily, experts are calling for the state to support low and middle income groups impacted by the rising prices.

#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

14.9 million

The World Health Organization announced on Thursday that there were 14.9 million deaths associated with COVID-19 by the end of 2021, or three times more than the previously cited official toll (5.4 million). Almost half of these deaths were counted in India, where some 4.7 million people died because of the pandemic, accounting for nearly a third of the total deaths.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

In Donbas, a resort town becomes the new frontline

The battle for the Donbas is being waged across small villages, in what is commonly known as “Ukrainian Switzerland.” They are now paying the price for Russia’s defeat in Kyiv, risking to forever change this longtime tourist destination, reports Alfred Hackensberger in German daily Die Welt.

🇺🇦🧳 A few kilometers from this quaint village, internet and cell phone reception has suddenly vanished. Clouds of smoke rise from the region's familiar pine forests that stretch deep green to the horizon. The village of Sviatohirsk has indeed long been a holiday destination in the north of the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine, commonly known as “Ukrainian Switzerland.” For generations, Ukrainians would come here for vacation. But now there is war here in Sviatohirsk. For three weeks now, the Russian army has been attacking the small town with just 4,000 inhabitants.

💥 Sviatohirsk is getting a taste of the scorched earth policy that Russian troops are applying in Ukraine. The army leadership has learned from its mistakes in Kyiv. Only when everything has been destroyed on a large scale will the ground troops advance. The blitzkrieg strategy with which it wanted to take the Ukrainian capital within a few days in February failed miserably. Now Putin’s army is relying on brute force in the form of artillery and rocket fire.

🚑 Masha has set up an aid center in a former toy store. The 21-year-old organized evacuations and medical care for the remaining population of Sviatohirsk. Around 500 people do not want to leave their homes. “Mainly elderly people and children need our help,” Masha says, wearing a black top and camouflage pants. “The most urgent needs are insulin, medicines for heart problems and asthma.” She comes to Sviatohirsk almost every day, even though the city could soon fall into Russian hands. She is not afraid, she says, “someone has to help the people.”

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

This proposal is equivalent to an atomic bomb dropped on the Hungarian economy in this form.

— Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban told Radio Kossuth that a proposed EU ban on Russian oil would devastate his country’s economy, which is particularly dependent on energy imports from Russia. Orban did say he was still willing to find a compromise.

✍️ Newsletter by Lisa Berdet, Lila Paulou and Anne-Sophie Goninet


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Society

Colombia Celebrates Its Beloved Drug For The Ages, Coffee

This essential morning drink for millions worldwide was once considered an addictive menace, earning itself a ban on pain of death in the Islamic world.

Colombia's star product: coffee beans.

Julián López de Mesa Samudio

-Essay-

BOGOTÁ — October 1st is International Coffee Day. Recently it seems as if every day of the calendar year commemorates something — but for Colombia, coffee is indeed special.

For almost a century now we have largely tied our national destiny, culture and image abroad to this drink. Indeed it isn't just Colombia's star product, it became through the course of the 20th century the world's favorite beverage — and the most commonly used drug to boost work output.

Precisely for its stimulating qualities — and for being a mild drug — coffee was not always celebrated, and its history is peppered with the kinds of bans, restrictions and penalties imposed on the 'evil' drugs of today.

Keep reading...Show less

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