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In The News

Evacuating Kupiansk, Train Crash Death Toll Rises, Obesity 4 Billion

Evacuating Kupiansk, Train Crash Death Toll Rises, Obesity 4 Billion

Large-scale protests have rocked Greece for the second consecutive day in the wake of Tuesday's train crash near Larissa, which killed at least 57.

Ginevra Falciani, Inès Mermat, and Anne-Sophie Goninet

👋 Здравейте*

Welcome to Friday, where Kyiv orders evacuation of Kupiansk, the death toll in Tuesday's train crash in Greece rises to 57, and half the world risks being overweight by 2035. Meanwhile, we take an exclusive look at the changes afoot in beauty pageants around the world, in terms of gender inclusivity.

[*Zdraveite - Bulgarian]


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• Ukraine orders evacuation of Kupiansk, Bakhmut is surrounded: Ukraine has urged families and those "with limited mobility" to leave Kupiansk, as Russia seeks to re-take the eastern Ukrainian city it left last year. Meanwhile, the Wagner group says its troops have “practically encircled” Bakhmut. As the battles continue on the front line, Thursday’s brief encounter between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov — the first meeting since the war began between senior Russian and U.S. officials — has had no immediate reverberations.

• Death toll train collision rises as public anger grows in Greece: The death toll from Tuesday's train crash near Larissa has increased to 57. Rail workers held a one-day strike on Thursday to protest government neglect, while more than 2,000 people protested for a second day in Athens and Thessaloniki. A government minister said austerity during Greece's economic crisis in the 2000s had contributed to a lack of investment in the railways.

• Belarusian Nobel Prize winner Bialiatski sentenced to 10 years in jail: Belarusian Nobel Peace Prize-winning pro-democracy activist Ales Bialiatski has been sentenced to 10 years in jail, alongside human rights activists Valiantsin Stefanovic and Uladzimir Labkovich. The decision has been denounced as a “shameful injustice” by the main opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya.

• Cambodian opposition leader sentenced for treason: Kem Sokha, Cambodia's most prominent opposition leader, has been sentenced to 27 years under house arrest in a trial critics said was politically motivated. Sokha, former leader of the now-dissolved Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), denies charges he conspired with foreign powers to overthrow the autocratic government of Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has been in power since 1985.

• High-profile U.S. lawyer found guilty of double murder: A jury in South Carolina has found former lawyer Alex Murdaugh guilty of murdering his wife and son after a high-profile trial that gripped America for nearly two years. He now faces 30 years to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

• Half the world will be overweight by 2035: More than half the world's population will be classified as obese or overweight by 2035 if action is not taken, the World Obesity Federation warns. More than four billion people will be affected, with rates rising fastest among children and in low or middle-income countries in Africa and Asia.

• Tennessee restricts trans treatment and drag shows for children: Republican Gov. Bill Lee has signed laws banning drag performances in front of children and restricting medical treatment for transgender youth.


“The oceans have been waiting for protection for years,” titles Dutch daily De Volkskrant as United Nations countries are meeting today to finally agree on a treaty to protect the oceans after years of debates. The treaty’s sticky points include the creation of marine protected areas and the establishment of environmental impact assessment rules for development. “The oceans are on the front line of the war that humans are waging against nature,” the daily writes.


$1.87 billion

Embattled Indian conglomerate Adani Group has announced it has secured an investment of $1.87 billion from U.S.-based asset management firm GQG Partners, which bought shares in four of the group’s companies. This is the first major investment made public by the firm since it was accused of financial fraud and stock market manipulation by a short seller’s critical report, causing the loss of some $135 billion in market value for Adani Group's seven stock market-listed companies. The firm has denied the allegations.


Meet the transgender women breaking into the world's top beauty pageants

After years of resistance, more and more major beauty pageants are selecting transgender women to compete. It's shaking up ideas about inclusivity, questioning the modern world’s beauty standards — and perhaps redefining gender itself.

👑 Jenna Talackova’s selection to compete for Miss Universe Canada in 2012 was a watershed moment for both beauty pageants and transgender rights. Talackova won the title of Miss Congeniality, and many hoped it would pave the wave for more trans pageant contestants around the world. It would take awhile, but just over a decade later, the revolution that Talackova sparked is finally gaining momentum.

🇪🇸 In 2018, 26-year-old Ángela Maria Ponce became the first openly transgender woman to win Miss Universe Spain and the first transgender contestant of Miss Universe. Since winning her title, Maria Ponce has modeled for top-end magazines, including Vogue Spain, and agencies. She has also worked to reduce stigma around LGBTQ+ people, saying that her mission since winning Miss Universe Spain has been to convey a message of “equality, respect and diversity”.

🇺🇸 Brían Nguyen, a 19-year-old student, made Miss America history when she became the first transgender woman to win the Miss Greater Derry title, which allows her to compete for the title of Miss New Hampshire next year. She is the first transgender title holder within the Miss America Organization.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


“Do not provide weapons to the Russian aggressor.”

— German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has warned China against sending weapons to Russia, and urged Beijing to use its influence in Moscow "to demand the withdrawal of Russian troops.” Discussions between Germany and other partners are being held with the government in Kyiv about "future security commitments for Ukraine," Scholz said. The German head of state will be meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden at the White House today.

✍️ Newsletter by Ginevra Falciani, Inès Mermat, and Anne-Sophie Goninet

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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War

How Biden's Mideast Stance Weakens Israel And Emboldens Iran

The West's decision to pressure Israel over Gaza, and indulge Iran's violent and troublesome regime, follows the U.S. Democrats' line with the Middle East: just keep us out of your murderous affairs.

Photo of demonstration against U.S President Joe Biden in Iran

Demonstration against U.S President Joe Biden in Iran.

Bahram Farrokhi


The Israeli government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is weak both structurally and for its dismal popularity level, which has made it take some contradictory, or erratic, decisions in its war against Hamas in Gaza.

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Other factors influencing its decisions include the pressures of the families of Hamas hostages, and the U.S. administration's lukewarm support for this government and entirely reactive response to the military provocations and "hit-and-run" incidents orchestrated by the Islamic Republic of Iran and its allies, which include Hamas. Israel has also failed to mobilize international opinion behind its war on regional terrorism, in what might be termed a full-blown public relations disaster.

The administration led by President Joe Biden has, by repeating the Democrats' favored, and some might say feeble, policy of appeasing Iran's revolutionary regime, duly nullified the effects of Western sanctions imposed on that regime. By delisting its proxies, the Houthis of Yemen, as terrorists, the administration has allowed them to devote their energies to firing drones and missiles across the Red Sea and even indulging in piracy. The general picture is of a moment of pitiful weakness for the West, in which Iran and other members of the Axis - of Evil or Resistance, take your pick - are daily cocking a snook at the Western powers.

You wonder: how could the United States, given its military and technological resources, fail to spot tankers smuggling out banned Iranian oil through the Persian Gulf to finance the regime's foreign entanglements, while Iran is able to track Israeli-owned ships as far aways as the Indian Ocean? The answer, rather simply, lies in the Biden administration's decision to indulge the ayatollahs and hope for the best.

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