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Kazakhstan Order, India COVID Spike, Multilingual Dogs

India has registered 117,110 new COVID cases, a five-fold increase in a week and the most since early June 2021

Anne-Sophie Goninet and Jane Herbelin

👋 Saluton!*

Welcome to Friday, where order has been restored in Kazakhstan, with a very heavy hand and help from Russia, North Korea bows out of the Beijing Olympics because of COVID and a new study shows dogs have multilingual skills. Meanwhile, Negar Jokar writes in Persian-language media Kayhan-London about the ways that Iran hounds refugees who have fled to Turkey.

*Keep your eye out 😉 tomorrow for the first edition of our Weekend newsletter, which will be a variation (not variant!) on what we deliver with Worldcrunch Today every Monday through Friday. We’ll let you discover demain the special name we’ve given our new weekly edition!


[*Esperanto]

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🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• COVID update: As global COVID-19 cases top 300 million, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments today about whether to allow President Joe Biden’s administration to impose COVID vaccination mandates on millions of American workers, with a final decision expected within a few weeks. Meanwhile, North Korea will not attend the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing, citing COVID-19 concerns. German chancellor Olaf Sholz will meet regional leaders today to implement new measures to tackle the surge in Omicron cases. In India, the Omicron variant has driven infections to a 7-month high.

• Kazakhstan: Russian troops help restore order after dozens killed: President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev announced constitutional order has been mostly restored in Kazakhstan’s main city of Almaty, a day after Russia sent paratroopers to tamp down a nationwide uprising and dozens of people were killed in clashes on the streets. Tokayev called protesters “bandits” and “armed criminals” and said he had told security forces to “fire without warning.”

• Japan and U.S. to strengthen security alliance: Japan and the United States have agreed to sign two new defense agreements, including a five-year deal over sharing the cost of U.S. military presence in Japan, amid concern of China’s increasing regional assertiveness.

• India arrests alleged creator of app “selling” Muslim women: A 20-year-old engineering student has been arrested by the Indian police, suspected to be behind the “Bulli Bai” app that had shared pictures of more than a hundred Muslim women without their consent to put them “on sale.” The app was taken down a week ago.

• Djokovic spends night in Australian immigration detention: World No. 1 men’s tennis player Novak Djokovic has spent a night in a Melbourne immigration detention hotel as he awaits a resolution to his legal battle to enter the country to compete in the Australian Open. Australian authorities said they were investigating the visas of other foreign tennis players.

• Film director Peter Bogdanovich dies at 82: American Oscar-nominated director of The Last Picture Show and Paper Moon Peter Bogdanovich has died at the age of 82.

• Dogs can recognize different languages, study finds: Researchers in Hungary found that dogs can distinguish between languages, after examining how the brains of 18 canines reacted when listening to excerpts from the story The Little Prince in Spanish and Hungarian.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

International weekly magazine The Economist splashes its front page with a provocative illustration of Russian President Vladimir Putin as Moscow continues to assert itself in its region (Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarus) and take a hard line in relations with the West.

📣 VERBATIM

There are better ways than doing boosters every six months.

Akiko Iwasaki, an immunologist at Yale University, said, adding that other strategies could “get us out of this forever-boosting kind of a situation.” Advisers who counseled Joe Biden before he took office urged the U.S. president to come up with a new strategy for living with COVID rather than seeking to stamp it out.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

How Tehran hunts down Iranian refugees in Turkey

Iran's clerical regime is able to sabotage asylum applications, prompt deportations and, failing that, beat and murder Iranian political refugees in Turkey, reports Negar Jokar in Persian-language media Kayhan-London.

🇮🇷🇹🇷 After Iran's 1979 revolution, Iranians with different views to those of the new, clerical regime felt obliged to leave the country. Over the years, a range of events and factors included prison executions in the 1980s and the suppression of student protests in Tehran in 1999. One place that has become a temporary refuge for them is Turkey. Currently, it hosts around 40,000 Iranian refugees, many of whom have spent years of their lives here, hoping in fact to move on and settle in another country as a safe haven.

🛑 Political dissidents are particularly vulnerable, and their precarious conditions have also given the Islamic Republic and its agents a much freer hand in threatening them in Turkey. On the one hand, refugees must live and act with extreme caution to avoid being located, and on the other, the United Nations and related agencies have done almost nothing to support them. In past years, the Islamic Republic has acted in a range of ways against Iranian political refugees in Turkey, including having them beaten, kidnapped or shot.

🤐 To silence activists and refugees in Turkey, Iran's agents use several methods. Given the scope and breadth of the Iranian regime's tentacles in Turkey, it is not very difficult to localize Iranian activists. Often Iran's agents engage in falsifying papers or documents to hinder Iranians' refugee application processes, ensuring they are finally deported. The easiest way for the regime to threaten and silence these exiles is to hinder and obstruct their efforts to win asylum, as it no longer needs to kidnap and shoot them.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

💬  LEXICON

Бандит

Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said that the city of Almaty was attacked by 20,000 “bandits”, referring to the protesters, adding that the use of force will continue and allowing security forces to “fire without warning.”

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet and Jane Herbelin

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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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