Missiles Hit Kharkiv, Peshawar Mosque Blast, God’s Racket
Welcome to Monday, where Russian missiles hit residential buildings in Kharkiv, a blast at a Peshawar mosque kills at least 28, and Serbia celebrates “God’s racket.” Meanwhile, we have a look at how the world had long viewed California as the epitome of the American Dream, but is now worrying about the Golden State’s many woes — including the first-ever major layoffs at the internet giants of Silicon Valley.
[*Swati, Eswatini and South Africa]
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🌎 7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW
• Russian shelling kills civilians in Kharkiv and Kherson: A missile hit a block of flats in Kharkiv, killing one woman, injuring at least three others and causing widespread damage. Three people were also killed in the southern city of Kherson amid renewed Russian shelling. Also, while Germany confirms that it will not send fighter jets to Ukraine, a top European official declared that Russia is attempting to shift the war to a conflict “against NATO and the West.”
• Pakistan mosque bombing kills dozens: At least 32 people were killed and 150 others wounded in an explosion at a mosque in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. Authorities have yet to confirm how the attack was carried out.
• South Korea drops indoor COVID policies: South Korea has scrapped a face mask mandate for most indoor public places in a major step to loosen COVID-19 rules, but many residents are opting to keep wearing coverings due to lingering concerns over infections. People are still required to wear the masks in public transport and medical facilities.
• Blinken starts Middle East tour: U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has arrived in Egypt, the start of a three-day tour that will also see him meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders amid renewed tensions. The war in Ukraine and Iran’s nuclear program are also high on the agenda.
• Mass shooting in South Africa: Two gunmen killed eight people and wounded three others at a birthday party in Johannesburg on Sunday, with a manhunt underway to find the killers.
• Auckland floods: At least four people have died and a state of emergency order continues in Auckland, after floods were set off by the worst downpour on record in the New Zealand city. New Zealanders are bracing for more heavy rains this week with more severe weather alerts.• RIP Wednesday: U.S. actress Lisa Loring, who rose to fame as the character Wednesday in the original 1960s Addams Family TV series, has died of a stroke at age 64.
🗞️ FRONT PAGE
Czech daily Deník devotes its front page to retired NATO general Petr Pavel, who beat former Prime Minister Andrej Babis with more than 58% of the vote in an election run-off to become the fourth president of the Czech Republic. Pavel, who advocates for the country’s anchor in the EU and NATO as well as for support for Ukraine, will replace pro-Russian and eurosceptic President Milos Zeman in March.
#️⃣ BY THE NUMBERS
A year after he was banned from participating in the Australian Open over his refusal to get vaccinated against COVID-19, Serbian tennis champion Novak Djokovic beat Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas to win a 22nd Grand Slam, leveling up with Spaniard Rafael Nadal and marking the return of “Nole” as world n.1. The achievement was celebrated by Serbia’s daily Blic on its front page, which called Djokovic “God’s racket.”
📰 STORY OF THE DAY
Eyes On U.S. — California, the world is worried about you
As an Italian bestseller explores why people are fleeing the Golden State, the international press also takes stock of unprecedented Silicon Valley layoffs. It may be a warning for the rest of the world.
🇺🇸🧳 For as long as we can remember, the world has seen California as the embodiment of the American Dream. Today, this dream may be fading — and the world is taking notice. A peek at the Italian list of non-fiction best-sellers in 2022 includes California by Francesco Costa, a book that looks to explain why 340,000 people moved out of the state last year, causing a drop in its population for the first time ever. Why are all these people leaving a state that on paper looks like the best place in the world to live?
💸 The causes are manifold: rising crime, frequent wildfires and a stagnating yet increasingly polarized political debate. Two mass shootings this past week in California add to a deepening social anxiety. Still, the main reason is ultimately economics, particularly the cost of living in big cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco. Indeed, the latter — San Francisco, and the nearby Silicon Valley — is getting plenty of attention in recent weeks, as the giants of the internet that sparked the most recent of California’s many gold rushes are forced to downsize for the first time.
⚠️ From Europe, there may be a similar dynamic at play, as the cost of living in cities like Rome or London is becoming increasingly unaffordable. Costa says what happens in the Golden State is a distant warning for the rest of us. “California's crisis is unique in the world, but its reasons are not exclusively Californian: we are beginning to see them here too," he writes. "California forces us to question our reality and invites us to be careful what we wish for, because we might get it."
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📹 THIS HAPPENED VIDEO — TODAY IN HISTORY, IN ONE ICONIC PHOTO
➡️ Watch the video: THIS HAPPENED
“Boris, I don't want to hurt you but, with a missile, it would only take a minute.”
— UK former Prime Minister Boris Johnson says Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened him with a missile strike during a phone call right after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine where he’d warned Putin that the war in Ukraine would lead to serious Western sanctions and military involvement from NATO. Johnson went on to downplay Putin’s threat in what he called a most “extraordinary” phone call: “He was just playing along with my attempts to get him to negotiate.”
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