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Ukraine Gains & Putin Signs, Musk-Twitter Saga Back On, Chemistry Nobel

Covered by flowers graves of soldiers who died defending Ukraine at the cemetery of Bucha, near Kyiv.

Fresh graves of soldiers who died defending Ukraine at the cemetery of Bucha, near Kyiv.

Sophia Constantino, Laure Gautherin, Anne-Sophie Goninet and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Hei!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where Ukraine continues to advance on the ground while Putin officially signs annexation, Elon Musk’s Twitter bid is back on, and the Nobel in Chemistry goes to three “click chemistry” scientists. Meanwhile, Argentine writer Ignacio Pereyra has a different take on the meaning of Federer and Nadal’s recent PDA that the whole tennis world was gushing over.



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• Ukraine update: Kyiv troops continued to gain territory on the day that Vladimir Putin officially signed a law formalizing the annexation of the four Russian-occupied Ukrainian regions. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said there is “no contradiction whatsoever” about the loss of territory just annexed, adding “They will be with Russia forever and they will be returned."

• U.S. & South Korea test fire missiles: A day after North Korea fired a ballistic missile over Japan, the South Korean and U.S. militaries responded by launching their own missiles into the Sea of Japan. Both militaries fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the water "to precisely strike a virtual target," the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

• Universal chargers in EU by 2024: The European Parliament has voted in a new regulation requiring a common charger standard for all mobile devices sold in the EU by the end of 2024. Under the new rules, all mobile phones, tablets, laptops and cameras sold in the EU will be required to have a USB Type-C charging port.

• 25 killed in Indian bus crash: At least 25 people have died after a bus veered off the road and fell into a ravine in Pauri Garhwal district of Northern India on Tuesday night.

• Elon Musk Twitter deal: After months of legal drama, Elon Musk says he is willing to proceed with the $44 million deal to buy Twitter on previously agreed upon terms. Musk and Twitter had set a court appearance for October 17, but with multiple legal advisors warning him against attempting to walk away from the deal, it seems the Tesla founder has changed his mind.

• Nobel in chemistry: The Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded on Wednesday to Carolyn R. Bertozzi, Morten Meldal and K. Barry Sharpless, for their work in the development of click chemistry and bio-orthogonal chemistry.

• Slovenia legalizes same-sex marriage and adoption: The Slovenian parliament passed an amendment on Tuesday allowing same-sex couples to marry and adopt, making it the first Eastern European country to do so. The change comes after Slovenia's July ruling that the law defining marriage as only between a man and a woman discriminated against gay and lesbian couples.


South Korean daily JoongAng Ilbo reports on North Korea’s launch of a ballistic missile over Japan for the first time in five years, prompting South Korea, Japan and the U.S. to conduct their own military drills in response. The missile had traveled 4,500 km before falling into the Pacific Ocean — far enough to hit the U.S. island of Guam.


€9.1 million

Following a bidding frenzy, a Chinese vase which was expected to fetch around €2,000 at auction was sold for €9.121 million at the Osenat auction house in Fontainebleau, near Paris. The owner had inherited the blue-and-white Tianqiuping vase from his late grandmother who was a keen art collector and had owned the decorative object for 30 years. While an expert had determined the item was from the 20th century and therefore not rare, collectors believed it was actually a very rare example of an 18th-century Tianqiuping vase.


Federer and Nadal, or the privilege of being celebrated for crying

The picture of the two tennis stars holding hands and crying has already become iconic. Is there a risk that we are glorifying the gesture of two privileged, heterosexual, white men? Or can it also show a way forward for men to show vulnerability? Ignacio Pereyra, whose Recalculating explores masculinity and fatherhood, has his doubts about all the collective weepiness and self-congratulation.

😢 The scene of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal holding hands and crying represents a good opportunity for us men to ask ourselves some important questions like those posed by Argentina’s Mujeres Que No Fueron Tapa ("Women Who Did Not Make The Frontpage") project: "In which cases are men allowed to cry? When and under what circumstances are they allowed affection and tenderness?" In other words, it's not a matter of showering Nadal and Federer with praise, but of contextualizing their gesture to see what value it may have and who it may — or may not — be able to affect.

❓ Their beautiful and human gesture — which was also glorified to excess — offers the possibility to talk about power structures, about who is and who isn’t allowed to show vulnerability (which many would inaccurately call “weakness”). Because what Federer and Nadal were celebrated for had already been done before by many other men and women, costing them huge suffering. Why, then, can these two stars involuntarily cash in on this gesture, endearing them even more to the public?

🤝 What we need to criticize is not the gesture per se but a certain overreaction to it, which, I think, gives us an important clue to think about why it happens that way and what we can do with that. Something as symbolic as those tears and that hand-holding can be an excuse to address this issue and turn that image into a political gesture. Let's take advantage of the fact that there are people, especially men, who are perhaps discovering that they can show themselves to be vulnerable, sensitive and sad ... and that this will not make them weak or less liked!

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


It will be happiness for the parents and good physical training for the children.

— Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has recommended that children be called upon to help harvest apples and potatoes. Having once worked as a manager at a Soviet collective farm, Lukashenko is no stranger to controversial statements: Responding to accusations of child labor, the longtime Vladimir Putin ally said, “What kind of exploitation is it if a person goes to work for just five or six hours?"

✍️ Newsletter by Sophia Constantino, Laure Gautherin, Anne-Sophie Goninet and Bertrand Hauger

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How Iran's Supreme Leader Is Short-Circuiting Diplomacy To Forge Alliances In Arab World

Iran's Supreme leader Ali Khamenei recently sent out a special envoy to ease tensions with wealthy Arab neighbors. He's hoping to end the country's international isolation and dismal economic conditions that contributed to last year's mass protests.

Image of Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei smiling, a portrait of himself behind him.

Ayatollah Khamenei on March 21st, 2023, delivering his annual speech in the Imam Reza's (pbuh) shrine, on the first day of 1402 Persian New Year.



Needing to revive its diplomatic options and financial ties with the Middle East, Iran's embattled regime recently sent a senior security official and former defense minister — instead of members of the diplomatic corps — to talk business with regional powers that have been keeping Iran at arm's length.

After a surprise deal in mid-March to restore diplomatic ties with the Saudi monarchy, Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, traveled to the United Arab Emirates, meeting with officials including the federation's head, Sheikh Muhammad bin Zaid Al Nahyan. His meetings are expected to ease the flow of regional money into Iran's economy, which is practically on pause after years of international sanctions. After Abu Dhabi, Shamkhani went to Baghdad.

Shamkhani was effectively acting as an envoy of Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and supplanting the country's diplomatic apparatus. This wasn't the first time an Iranian foreign minister has been sidelined in crucial international affairs.

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