Welcome to Friday, where Israel agrees to daily four-hour humanitarian pauses in Gaza, Mexico officials find 123 migrants trapped in a trailer, and an entire eye is successfully transplanted for the first time. Meanwhile, Alberto Simoni in Italian daily La Stampa looks at U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s notably discreet approach to diplomacy.
[*Kanuri, Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon]
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• Israel/Gaza update: A U.S. National Security Council spokesperson said that Israel will begin implementing daily four-hour military pauses in areas of northern Gaza amidst growing appeals for a ceasefire. But Israel’s Defense Minister stated that these pauses would not “detract from the war fighting.” Meanwhile, a number of news outlets have rejected Israel’s accusation that four freelance photographers had been somehow involved in the Oct. 7 attack before documenting it. Israel has accused the freelancers working for Reuters, AP, CNN and The New York Times of documenting the attack too quickly, a sign that they had possible prior knowledge of what was planned.
• U.S. talks with China and India: U.S. envoy for climate change John Kerry says talks with his counterpart in China were successful, and the two countries had “come up with some agreements.” Meanwhile, top cabinet officials of India and the U.S. are meeting in New Delhi today to boost defense cooperation and align policy objectives “in the face of urgent global challenges.”
• 123 migrants found trapped in a trailer in Mexico: Authorities in Mexico have found 123 migrants, including 34 children, locked into a trailer in the central state of San Luis Potosi. The alarm was sounded by local residents who heard cries coming from within the trailer box, and the migrants were then provided with food and medical assistance.
• Spain’s Prime Minister agrees to controversial deal with Catalan separatists: Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has reached an amnesty agreement with the Catalan separatist party, which was condemned by his conservative opponents. In July, the Spanish elections were won by the conservative Popular Party but they were unable to form a majority, and this amnesty deal would cement the socialist bid for power through majority seats. However, the deal has sparked ongoing right-wing protests throughout Spain.
• U.S. approves first vaccine against Chikungunya: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first vaccine against Chikungunya, a virus which spreads through infected mosquitoes that the FDA identified as an “emerging global health threat.” The vaccine will be named lxchiq, and will soon be rolled out in countries where the disease is most prevalent, typically tropical regions in Africa, Southeast Asia and parts of the Americas.
• First successful whole-eye transplant: A surgical team at NYU Langon Health successfully performed the first-ever whole-eye transplant on a living person, military veteran Aaron James. He had been working as a power lineman when he accidentally touched a live wire and damaged the left side of his face, including his eye. Today, James’ eye and face is healing from the transplant, and although he cannot yet see, he hopes that vision will come in time.
• Outrage in Ghana after a 300-year-old tree is cut down: Ghanan authorities have launched a man-hunt for the people responsible for cutting down a famous 300-year-old kola tree, which was believed to have healing powers. Photographs of the felled tree, located in the town of Feyiase, sparked outrage from Ghanians as it went viral online.
Milan-based daily Corriere Della Sera has dedicated its front page to the announcement by the Israeli government that it will allow “humanitarian pauses” in response to increasing international pressure. The four-hour pauses are intended to allow Gazans in the north to flee south through humanitarian corridors, and will be announced three hours in advance — according to White House National Security Spokesman John Kirby. The number of Palastinians already killed in the conflict, according to the Palestinian health Ministry on Wednesday, has exceeded 10,800 and includes more than 4,400 children. Stay up to date on our international coverage of the Israel-Hamas war here.
For the first time, a team of researchers from Oxford University have captured on video a rare, long-beaked echidna, in Indonesia. The porcupine-like mammals, named Zaglossus Attenboroughi (Attenborough’s long-beakedechidna) after British biologist and TV personality David Attenborough, were previously thought to be extinct. The spiked species is estimated to be at least 200 million years old.
Blinken's faceless diplomacy — a secret weapon for post-war peace?
Reserved, not accustomed to the spotlight, capable of taking a step back and not overshadowing the president. In this time of crisis, Antony Blinken navigates geopolitics with the president's full trust, writes Alberto Simoni in Italian daily La Stampa.
🇺🇸 It is undeniable that, when looking at the names of the heads of U.S. diplomacy over the past 30 years, it's difficult to find someone with less charisma or a weaker resume than Blinken. Colin Powell was a decorated general; Hillary Clinton was already a presidential aspirant and senator (not to mention her role as First Lady); John Kerry was his party's presidential nominee, and Madeleine Albright was the brightest star in the U.S. foreign policy constellation. And Blinken? Maybe the best description for him is super-technician.
🤝 But Blinken enjoys the full trust and support of No. 1: Joe Biden. Blinken once described his bond with Biden to be akin to that of father and son. He has been working with Biden since 2002, both in the Senate and later at the White House as an assistant in the National Security Council. It was he who encouraged Biden to align himself with Bush on the Iraq war; Biden wanted to give the president more limited powers, but Blinken convinced him otherwise.
✡️ What sets his resume apart is how Blinken's vision is shaped, even permeated, by his own personal history. The son of Judith Frehm Pisar, a UNESCO envoy, and Donald Blinken, ambassador to Hungary, he was also raised by his stepfather Samuel Pisar, a lawyer and Holocaust survivor. At the second wedding of his mother, a Catholic marrying a Jew, a ceremony officiated according to two rituals, Blinken sees his lived experience within the Middle East conflict. In his first mission to Israel, he presented himself not only as Secretary of State but also as a Jew.
➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com
➡️ Watch the video: THIS HAPPENED
“Expansion of the scope of the war has become inevitable.”
— In a phone call with his Qatari counterpart, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian claimed that the “scope of the war” would likely expand in response to the “expansion of the intensity” of Israel’s campaign in Gaza. Iranian-backed groups have been launching attacks against Israel and its allies in the region, particularly the United States, since Oct. 7 — presumably in solidarity with the Palastinians in Gaza. An estimated 45 U.S. troops have been injured on American bases in Iraq and Syria after recent strikes. Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed militia of Palastinians in Southern Lebanon, as well as the Houthis, another Iranian-backed Shia group based in Yemen, have launched missiles and rockets at Israel itself. The Israeli Defense Forces and the United States have responded to such efforts with retaliatory strikes, as American naval forces have moved into the surrounding waters — the most recent addition being a nuclear submarine with the apparent goal of discouraging Iran from escalating the war. For more, read this article from Persian-language, London-based media Kayhan: What If Iran Quietly Ditched Hamas To Avoid A Regional War?
✍️ Newsletter by Valeria Berghinz, Anne-Sophie Goninet and Jakob Mieszkowski-Lapping
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