👋 Grüss Gott!*
Welcome to Thursday, where Ukraine lashed out at Biden’s prediction about Russian intentions, Austria is betting on a new incentive for the unvaccinated, and the Australian city of Adelaide is baffled by a mysterious spate of googly eyes. We also look at Russia’s latest efforts to dismantle the REvil hacking group, at Washington’s request, and what this means in the context of U.S.-Russia tensions over Ukraine.
[*Swabian - Germany]
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🌎 7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW
• Biden’s ambiguous comment on Western response over Russia: U.S. President Joe Biden said he thinks Russia will “move in” on Ukraine during a news conference, warning Russian President Vladimir Putin would pay a “serious and dear price” for invading, while acknowledging there would be a lower cost for a “minor incursion.” The comment sparked outcry in Kyiv, where officials have been meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken as Russian troops amass on Ukraine’s border. This Thursday marks one year since Joe Biden was inaugurated as president of the United States.
• COVID update: The UK will gradually lift COVID-19 measures including mandatory face masks in public places and coronavirus passports for large events, as infections level off in most parts of the country. Meanwhile, Austria’s government announced the launch of a national lottery to encourage unvaccinated citizens to get the jab, as the country is set on passing a bill introducing a national vaccine mandate.
• North Korea hints at restart of nuclear, missile tests: North Korea is considering resuming nuclear and long-range weapons tests as it prepares for “confrontation” with Washington, state news agency KCNA reported.
• Pakistani woman sentenced to death for WhatsApp “blasphemy”: A Pakistani court has sentenced a 26-year-old Muslim woman to death for sharing images on WhatsApp considered to be insulting to Islam’s Prophet Muhammad and one his wives. Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws include a mandatory death penalty for insulting the Prophet Muhammad.
• First relief flights land in Tonga: The first foreign aid planes have arrived in Tonga, with much needed humanitarian supplies, five days after the South Pacific nation was devastated by a volcanic eruption and subsequent tsunami. A state of emergency has been declared and international communications have been restored.
• France mourns death of actor Gaspard Ulliel: French actor Gaspard Ulliel, who gained international attention for his performances in Hannibal Rising and Saint Laurent, was killed in a skiing accident at the age of 37.
• Adelaide’s googly eyes bandit: Oversized googly eyes have been mysteriously appearing for days across the Australian southern city of Adelaide, on the faces of various mascots and of a colonial monument.
🗞️ FRONT PAGE
Peruvian daily El Comercio reports on the oil spill off the coast near Lima, caused by waves linked to Tonga’s eruption and tsunami. Authorities sealed three beaches near the capital and are demanding compensation to Spanish oil giant Repsol, which operates the refinery that leaked 6,000 barrels of oil, for what could be the worst ecological disaster to hit the country in recent history.
A new study revealed that a monster iceberg, also known as A68, was dumping more than 152 billion tons of freshwater in the ocean, every single day at the height of its melting. The A68 “megaberg” (when an entire mass of a glacier breaks off to form a gigantic iceberg) detached from Antarctica in 2017 and began an epic three-and-a-half year 4000-kilometer journey across the Southern Ocean. The ice mass received attention by Christmas 2020 as it approached the warmer climes of the British Overseas Territory of South Georgia, and by early 2021 what was once the world’s biggest iceberg had vanished.
📰 STORY OF THE DAY
REvil bust: Is Russian cybercrime crackdown just a decoy from Ukraine?
This past weekend’s unprecedented operation to dismantle the cybercriminal REvil network in Russia was carried out on a request and information from Washington. Occurring just as the two countries face off over the Russian threat to invade Ukraine raises more questions than it answers.
🇷🇺 🇺🇸 Russian security forces raided 25 addresses in St. Petersburg, Moscow and several other regions south of the capital in an operation to dismantle the notorious REvil group, accused of some of the worst cyberattacks in recent years to hit targets in the U.S. and elsewhere in the West. Russian online media Interfax revealed that this was initiated from a request and information coming directly from Washington. What does it mean that this development came just on the heels of the breakdown in talks between Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin?
💻 Talks in prior months between Biden and Putin have previously touched on the topic of cyber security, with the former accusing his Russian counterpart of doing little to address the problem within his own borders. He called on Putin to take all necessary measures to stem these issues following the attack last July, otherwise, the U.S. would be prepared to shoulder the responsibility itself. So was this operation on REvil a sign that Moscow is ready to crack down on cybercriminals inside Russia? Or is its acting now linked to the showdown over NATO and the Ukraine border?
⚠️ The hope among Western law enforcement officials is that the move is ultimately not linked to the current geopolitical standoff. Yet there is the risk that the operation is ultimately a decoy in the larger battle brewing with the West. The timing, following the failed Biden-Putin negotiations, seems aimed at reminding Washington that such potential cooperation would cease if the United States and its allies impose new harsher sanctions in the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com
There is now a demonstrable effort to make peace.
— The United Nations chief, Antonio Guterres expressed hope Wednesday there could be an opening to resolve the 14 months of conflict in northern Ethiopia, between government and Tigrayan forces. Though he offered no details, Guterres’ statement came after a call with former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, who is the African Union’s chief envoy to the Horn of Africa.
✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Bertrand Hauger and Jane Herbelin
Look out for those googly eyes, and let us know what’s happening in your corner of the world!
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Shakira, Miley Cyrus And The Double Standards Of Infidelity
Society judges men and women very differently in situations of adultery and cheating, and in divorce settlements. It just takes some high-profile cases to make that clear.
BUENOS AIRES — When Shakira, the Colombian pop diva, divorced her soccer star husband Gerard Piqué in 2022, she wrote a song to overcome the hurt and humiliation of the separation from Piqué, who had been cheating on her.
The song, which was made in collaboration with Argentine DJ Bizarrap and broke streaming records, was a "healthy way of channeling my emotions," Shakira said. She has described it as a "hymn for many women."
A day after its launch, Miley Cyrus followed suit with her own song on her husband's suspected affairs. Celebrities and influencers must have taken note here in Argentina: Sofía Aldrey, a makeup artist, posted screenshots of messages her former boyfriend had sent other women while they were a couple.
For some women, breakups coincide with other, big problems. Miley Cyrus needed surgery during her separation, while Shakira's father fell ill. In Argentina, Aldrey realized that her ex-partner, a television actor, had cheated on her over a two-year period in which she had given him care while he had cancer.
Yet women cannot expect an even slate of sympathy when their private lives are publicized. Shakira was jeered online as an "angry woman" and "bad mother" who needed therapy.
So, are these angry women who shouldn't have aired their dirty laundry in public, or is cheating another form of gender violence?
Physician Fernanda Tarica, who founded a Buenos Aires NGO that aids victims of domestic violence, says "cheating and lies cause harm to the other person, so it's unthinkable (they) should not be a kind of violence."
There is firstly "emotional violence when the monogamy pact is broken," she says, and then "in many cases, for different reasons, these women are unable to end the relationship, which creates emotional dependency that in turn becomes power and other forms of violence."
Is the discretion out of shame?
Tarica was surprised by the differing reactions to these three women, but said it's easier to accuse women of making a fuss. This, she said, "is a functional thing in patriarchy. The problem is infidelity, and if someone publicizes it from a position of pain, society's response is to reject it."
There seems to be a prevailing opinion that intramarital abuse should be kept at home. Still, it raises the question: should one protect the abuser over their target? Is the discretion out of shame?
Cognitive psychologist Delfina de Achával says breach of trust in couples provokes "very difficult to process emotions relating to power, possession ... treason and abandonment. de Achával describes the violence of marital infidelity as "symbolic."
"Women don't cry, they cash in," Shakira sings. Well, she certainly did: her song earned a pretty sum (over $2.5 million). But not all divorcees are, or feel, compensated.
In the case of Ana (not her real name), a 42-year-old taxi driver with three children, she threw her husband out of the house after a 20-year marriage. While pregnant with her second child, she began to notice signs of infidelity, until she saw a conversation on Facebook that made her so sick she ended up in hospital. During the pandemic, she realized that she could never divorce her husband, as being a housewife and mother meant she could not work or earn money. She began to take classes to become a professional driver.
This is where Fernanda Tarica sees infidelity as inflicting "important economic violence." She says "there are women who cannot separate because they cannot afford to. They have nothing to live on with their children, so the man does as he pleases. I'll cheat and lie to you, because there is little you can do about it."
This, essentially, is pervasive sexism quietly infringing a (female) citizen's economic rights, says Cintia González Oviedo, head of Bridge the Gap, a gender affairs and diversity consultancy. Even when women can end a marriage and get a job, she says, they often face another problem: fathers who disappear and fail to make child support payments.
González says over 66% of divorced men in the Buenos Aires province do not regularly pay for their children's food, while the province's Women and Gender ministry says barely 10% of divorced males provide "real and effective" economic support.
Miley Cyrus in new music video "Flowers"
Psychiatrist Enrique Stola says that while economic violence in the context of marital abuse should be clearly defined, broadly it is "another expression of the structural violence on women," who are left to care for the children without adequate support from ex-partners. "This happens in all countries, and this violence is chronic and structural, because judges, both male and female, do not take swift measures to help these women in a critical situation," he says.
Men are unable to give their wives or even children a second chance.
Stola, who specializes in gender violence, says economic violence emerges "in all its glory in the course of a separation, though undoubtedly there would have been signs of it (before), beside other types of psychological and symbolic violence." And it can be worse among the wealthy, he says, despite the use of lawyers who often fail to get the woman her fair share of divorce money.
When a well-to-do woman turns to the judiciary, he adds, she "starts to feel what many other women feel, even those from lower economic levels: she is accused of being greedy, wanting to grab all the money and leave none for the man."
Men as victims of infidelity
Fernanda Tarica insists that "very often," when married women have affairs, this is in response to the man's initial deception. Stola sees the state of infidelity as unequal, and suggests many believe women should "always give the man another chance, because that's just the way men are." Yet the same society is hesitant to give women a second chance, he says.
He says men are unable to give their wives or even children a second chance, as power is at stake. They see infidelity as "a blow to their amour propre" that weakens them socially as a cuckold.
"Not that anyone is going to tell them this, but they feel they have lost symbolic power in society," he says. "There is a stark difference in the ways society expects men and women to live through infidelity."
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