Welcome to Friday, where a shooting at a Jehovah's Witness meeting hall in Germany leaves eight dead, Xi Jinping is re-elected for an unprecedented third term as China’s president, and NASA warns of a potential danger for Valentine’s Day … 2046. Meanwhile, Buenos-Aires-based news agency Agencia Presentes looks at the suicide of a 12-year-old Argentine transgender boy and the way it was reported by the media.
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• Deadly shooting in Hamburg: Eight people were killed in a shooting at a Jehovah's Witness place of worship in Hamburg, Germany. The gunman was among the dead. According to the German press, the attacker was a former member of the Jehovah’s Witness community who was not a known “extremist”. The investigation is ongoing.
• Ukraine update: CNN reveals that Russia has been capturing some of the U.S. and NATO-provided weapons and equipment left on the battlefield in Ukraine and sending them to Iran where the U.S. believes the country will try to reverse-engineer the systems. Meanwhile, nearly half a million people are without power in Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, after Thursday’s Russian missile strike.
• Xi Jinping begins third term as China’s president: China's leader Xi Jinping has secured a third term as president from the country's parliament and was also named commander of China’s two million-strong People’s Liberation Army. This follows a consolidation of power that has made Xi, 69, China's most dominant leader in generations.
• Train rams into public bus in Lagos, killing six: A train crashed into a public bus in Nigeria’s commercial hub of Lagos leaving six dead and injuring dozens of others. In Africa's most populous nation, many roads are poorly maintained leading to accidents that claim thousands of lives every year.
• Mexico cartel turns in own men over U.S. kidnappings: Reports from the Mexican border city of Matamoros say a splinter group of the Gulf Cartel, called the Scorpions Group, has apologized for kidnapping four U.S. citizens last week, killing two of them, and has turned over the men it says are responsible. A letter was allegedly left with the men which apologized to the people of Matamoros, to the U.S. victims and their families, and to a Mexican woman killed last week when the gang fired on a white minivan the Americans were traveling in.
• Micronesia accuses China of bribery over Taiwan bid: The outgoing leader of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), one of the world’s tiniest countries, has accused China of bribing officials as part of a bid to take over self-ruled Taiwan. In a 13-page letter sent to Congress and state governors, President David Panuelo accused Beijing of carrying out a campaign of “political warfare” that included overt activities and covert actions. China has denied the accusations.
• NASA spots 2046 asteroid danger: According to NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination office, a newly-discovered asteroid, about the size of an Olympic swimming pool, has a “small chance” (1 in 625) of colliding with Earth 23 years from now, on Valentine’s Day 2046.
Malaysian daily The Star devotes its front page to the country’s former Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin who has been charged with four counts of abuse of power involving $51.40 million and two counts of money laundering. The charges are connected to the awarding of government contracts to help building contractors during the coronavirus pandemic.
Seoul is building the world’s tallest spokeless Ferris wheel: the “Seoul Ring” standing at a vertigo-inducing 180-m (591-ft) tall will be able to welcome up to 1,440 people. The wheel will operate using electromagnetic technology instead of traditional spokes.
What a Barcelona suicide tells us about trans bullying and media blind spots
The case of 12-year-old twins, one of whom was transgender, who jumped off a balcony after being bullied, led experts in trans childhoods to reflect on how to better protect children. And how to talk about it, writes Maria Eugenia Luduena for Buenos-Aires-based news agency Agencia Presentes.
🌈 In Barcelona, two 12-year-old Argentine twins, Leila and Iván, climbed on two chairs on a balcony and jumped from a third floor window. They left farewell letters, in which they wrote that they had been bullied for their Argentine accent. They had been living in Spain for two years — and Iván had been teased at school for his transgender identity. Leila, who survived and is in very serious condition, wrote on that piece of paper that she was jumping in solidarity with her brother.
📰 While the facts and circumstances are being investigated, many media outlets have reported the news without respecting Iván's gender identity, treating him as a female and mentioning his former name. Some, appealing to supposed journalistic accuracy, have inserted a disclaimer among their notes that states: “There is only evidence of the desire of the minor, aged 12, to be treated as a man through indirect sources. Neither his family nor his closest environment have spoken yet."
💬 For Gabriela Mansilla, who is the mother of Luana, the first trans girl to have access to a document that respects her gender identity, more information is needed so that families can embrace their children and so that the media can share the news appropriately. “We need urgent awareness to look at children but also at us as a society, and how we behave towards these bodies that make us uncomfortable. Let it be clear: these are preventable deaths. This is a social trans-homicide,” she says.
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— Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has rejected calls for the United States military to intervene to stem drug cartel violence in Mexico, saying such a move would violate the country’s sovereignty and that his government was “not going to permit any foreign government to intervene in our territory, much less that a government’s armed forces intervene.”
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