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Biden-Putin Summit In Limbo, Australia Reopens, Ye’s Beef

The Beijing Winter Olympics ended with a closing ceremony on Sunday at the Bird’s Nest stadium

Lorraine Olaya and Anne-Sophie Goninet

👋 Adishatz!*

Welcome to Monday, where Russia denies reports of upcoming Biden-Putin summit, the Queen has COVID and Kanye West is making a list of beefs. Meanwhile, we look at how China’s "great health wall" is making life for foreign businesses and foreign workers more and more difficult.

[*Occitan - France]

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🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• Biden-Putin summit up in the air: Conflicting reports about a possible summit between U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin open another week consumed by the risk of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Kremlin denies overnight reports of summit between the leaders brokered by French President Emmanuel Macron. Meanwhile, a growing number of commercial airlines, including Lufthansa, Air France and Singapore Airlines have suspended flights to Kyiv, as well flights over Belarus where Russia troops have remained near the Ukrainian border following joint exercises.

• COVID update: Australia reopens its borders to foreign visitors after two years of COVID-related closures. Queen Elizabeth II has tested positive for COVID-19, and is exhibiting mild symptoms.

• Burning ferry in Greece: The search continues for 10 missing passengers of an Italian ferry that caught fire on Friday. The ferry, anchored off the coast of Corfu, continues to burn for a fourth day. On Sunday, the body of a Greek man was discovered inside the ship after a total of 281 people have been rescued.

• Client data leak at Credit Suisse: A client data leak exposed thousands of Credit Suisse accounts that were held in past decades ranging from the 1940s to 2010s. Credit Suisse faces various allegations, some of which include accusations of clients involved in money laundering, drug trafficking and other crimes. The leak has affected more than 18,000 accounts.

• Airstrike kills seven children in Niger: A Nigerian Army airstrike targeting ‘bandits’ mistakenly killed seven children and wounded five more in Niger.

• Winter Olympics: Beijing celebrated the end of The Olympic Winter Games with a closing ceremony. The Olympic flag passed on to two Italian cities, Milan and Cortina d'Ampezzo, where the 2026 Olympic Winter Games will take place.

• Ye’s beef list: U.S. rapper Kanye West responded to a list of “Kanye Beefs” posted on Twitter that included Taylor Swift, Drake, South Park and Peppa Pig (!), writing on his Instagram: “Come on guys… This list is twice as long,” adding Apple, Spotify, Tik Tok, Black History Month, and the whole cast of SNL.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

French daily Libération devotes its front page to France’s diplomatic efforts to resolve the Ukrainian crisis, after President Emmanuel Macron spoke with both U.S. President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in an attempt to broker a bilateral summit and stave off what the West fears is an imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine.

#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

16

For the second straight Winter Games, Norway was the top medal winner in Beijing, tallying 16 golds (a new Olympic record) and 37 medals overall. Norway, with a population just over 5 million, outstripped all other nations, winning medals in nine of the 15 sports. Russia was second in overall medals (32), while Germany was second in golds (12).

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

China’s zero COVID policy starts to scare away foreign business

For almost two years, the country where COVID-19 emerged has been living virtually cut off from the rest of the world. And in the realm of business, China's zero COVID policy has had serious consequences on foreign workers and companies, which may last beyond the pandemic, reports French daily Les Echos’ correspondent Frédéric Schaeffer.

🛑🛂 China has erected a "great health wall" at its borders, horrified at the prospect of seeing the virus reappear from abroad. For almost two years, the country has been largely cut off from the world. Locked in a strategy of zero tolerance toward the virus, Beijing is hunting so-called "imported" cases. At the end of March 2020, China introduced an almost total ban on the entry of foreign nationals into the country. And it no longer renews the passports of its citizens, except for compelling reasons.

📉 Conversely, tens of thousands of foreigners find themselves stranded in China, unable to return to their countries of origin unless they leave Chinese soil for good. According to the latest consular figures, the number of French nationals in mainland China (excluding Hong Kong) fell by 11% last year to 12,400. There are now four times as many French people living in Luxembourg as in China! A business leader says, "There is a real moral fatigue among expatriates, some of whom have not seen their family and friends for almost three years.”

💼 The travel restrictions have a heavy impact on foreign companies. "This is their number one, two and three problem!" says Joerg Wuttke, president of the European Chamber of Commerce in China. The main difficulty is the turnover of staff and the impossibility of bringing in talent for one-off assignments. An executive of a French service company says, "In addition to visa problems, no one is rushing to work in China knowing the quarantine conditions and the near impossibility of leaving the country for an unknown period of time.”

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

I urgently call on the Russian government, on the Russian president: Don't play with human lives.

— German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said ahead of a meeting of European Union foreign ministers to discuss the Ukraine crisis on Monday, pointing to Russia and Belarus’ military drills on the border and the recent increase in fighting in eastern Ukraine. “Come back to the negotiating table. It is in your hands,” Baerbock urged Russia.

✍️ Newsletter by Lorraine Olaya and Anne-Sophie Goninet

Counting medals and Kanye beefs. Let us know what’s happening in your corner of the world!

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Ideas

Artificial Satellite Pollution, Perils For Biodiversity In Space And On Earth

Exploiting space resources and littering it with satellite and other anthropogenic objects is endangering the ecosystem of space, which also damages the earth and its creatures below.

Image of the small satellite NanoRacks-Remove Debris satellite deployed into space by the ISS

Thomas Lewton

Outer space isn’t what most people would think of as an ecosystem. Its barren and frigid void isn’t exactly akin to the verdant canopies of a rainforest or to the iridescent shoals that swim among coral cities. But if we are to become better stewards of the increasingly frenzied band of orbital space above our atmosphere, a shift to thinking of it as an ecosystem — as part of an interconnected system of living things interacting with their physical environment — may be just what we need.

Last month, in the journal Nature Astronomy, a collective of 11 astrophysicists and space scientists proposed we do just that, citing the proliferation of anthropogenic space objects. Thousands of satellites currently orbit the Earth, with commercial internet providers such as SpaceX’s Starlink launching new ones at a dizzying pace. Based on proposals for projects in the future, the authors note, the number could reach more than a hundred thousand within the decade. Artificial satellites, long a vital part of the space ecosystem, have arguably become an invasive species.

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