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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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Why Beijing Needs Ukraine To Lose

As the Chinese government puts together what it calls a peace plan for Ukraine, it's also considering sending weapons to Russia. The Biden administration warns China will "pay a real price" if it helps Russia, but Beijing's real goal is to weaken the United States.

Why Beijing Needs Ukraine To Lose
Oleksandr Demchenko

This article was updated on March 21, 2023 at 12:15 PM CST


KYIV — In Moscow for his visit since the Russian invasion, Chinese President Xi Jinping is presenting himself as possible peacemaker to end the war in Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said he is ready to talk with Xi in a bid to stop Beijing from supplying Moscow with weapons.

And yet China has no strategic interest in Ukraine winning the war. Why?

Xi's only priority is establishing a future world order on Beijing's own terms — and the defeat of Ukraine and its allies, particularly the United States, would create an opportunity for Beijing to absorb Taiwan and increase its influence in the Pacific.

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China is the main beneficiary of the full-scale war that Russia has unleashed against Ukraine, viewing the confrontation as a tool to weaken the West.

Like Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese authorities were convinced that Russian troops could capture Kyiv in three days and take control of most of Ukraine within a month. This is probably what Putin and Xi agreed when they met during the Beijing Olympics in Feb. 2022: the Russian leader promised to destroy Ukraine, weakening Europe and eroding the trust other democratic states had in the United States — and in exchange, the Chinese leader assured Putin that he would back Moscow.

Instead, what was hailed as "No. 2 army of the world" was forced to retreat. On Sept. 15, as Ukrainian forces were liberating the Kharkiv region, Putin met Xi in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. After returning to Moscow, Putin announced a partial mobilization.

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