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Putin’s “Insincere” Olive Branch, Rohingya Refugee Emergency, U.S. Cold Snap

Putin’s “Insincere” Olive Branch, Rohingya Refugee Emergency, U.S. Cold Snap

A woman fights strong winds and snow in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, as a severe winter storm makes its way through the U.S. and parts of Canada

Renate Mattar, Bertrand Hauger, Hugo Perrin and Anne-Sophie Goninet

👋 Dydh da!*

Welcome to Friday, where Volodymyr Zelensky is back in Kyiv as Vladimir Putin claims he wants peace, the UN calls on countries to save Rohingya refugees adrift on a boat and severe winter weather sweeps the U.S. We also look at what has happened to China's anti-government protests (and protesters) three weeks after they were largely quelled by the government.

[*Cornish, UK]

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🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• Zelensky back in Kyiv: President Zelensky recorded a video from his office in Kyiv this morning, after returning from Washington, when he had his first official visit since Russia invaded Ukraine. “I’m at my office,” he said. “We’re working toward victory. We’ll defeat them all.”

• Paris shooting: A man opened fire shortly before noon in Paris’ Kurd Cultural Center in the 10th arrondissement. At least two people were killed and six others wounded before the suspect was arrested.

• Capitol riot panel’s final report: The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 assault on the U.S. Capitol released its long-awaited final report. The 845-page report highlights evidence that former President Donald Trump tried to overturn the 2020 presidential elections. “None of the events of January 6th would have happened without him,” states the report. The committee also recommends banning Trump from ever holding office again.

• North Korea fires ballistic missile: North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles on Friday, according to South Korean officers, marking the 36th time that North Korea has fired missiles this year. The two missiles fired today are believed to have landed in Japanese and South Korean waters.

• UN urges to save Rohingya from starvation: The fate of 190 Rohingya refugees, adrift on a boat somewhere in the Indian Ocean, is getting increasingly worrying, with passengers on the brink of starvation. The UN is once more asking countries in the region, including Malaysia and Bangladesh, to send help and rescue the boat.

• Winter storm disrupts travel in U.S.: Airlines canceled more than 5,000 flights this week as wide areas of the U.S. were hit by a severe winter storm, with extreme winds, cold and snow. Major roads have also been closed across the middle of the United States, as weather forecasts say the worst of the storm is yet to come.

• Bankman-Fried released on record bail: Disgraced cryptocurrency entrepreneur Sam Bankman-Fried has been released on a $250-million bond package — the biggest pretrial bond in history. The FTX founder is facing fraud charges and will await trial while under arrest in his family home of Palo Alto, California.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

Israel’s front pages, like Israel Hayom above, are dominated by Benjamin Netanyahu’s efforts to form a new coalition government, which include an agreement with Itamar Ben-Gvir, the firebrand head of the Jewish Power, and the ultranationalist Religious Zionist party. When sworn in on Jan. 2, Netanyahu will become Israel’s leader for a record sixth time, leading the most right-wing government in the country’s history.

#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

$863 billion

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's government unveiled a record 114.4-trillion yen ($863-billion) budget for the next fiscal year. The unprecedented budget is linked to higher social security costs in the country, as well as Japan’s fast-aging population and military spending due to regional security issues with neighboring China and North Korea.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

What happened to China's protests — and missing protesters?

Protests that engulfed China quickly faded as the government made a U-turn on its strict Zero-COVID policies, even as police sweeps of demonstrators have left families where their vanished loved ones are. Still, the "Blank Paper Revolution"'s cry for democracy may have quietly left its mark.

🇨🇳🚨 Dali Chan, a filmmaker and music lover, joined the protesting crowds in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou and was arrested on Dec. 4. He hasn't been seen since. Dali is hardly the only "disappeared" protester, according to independent Chinese media NGOCN. Dianxin, a 25-year-old university student, is being held in prison in Guangzhou and denied access to a lawyer or her family members. “Now that the Zero-COVID has been loosened, why is my daughter still in jail ?," asks her mother. "What crime has she committed?"

😷 Singapore-based publication The Initium reported that 162 Chinese universities joined in the recent protests, while demonstrations also happened overseas from Paris to New York. But like any social movement, the variety of demands and diverse political views have made it difficult for protesters to unite and keep up the momentum. For most protesters, it was the experience of China's Zero-COVID policy that pushed them to take to the streets. But other demands for human rights and democratic reforms still have not won the hearts of most Chinese.

✊ With many protesters still detained, their fates unclear, it is too soon to turn the page and forget this short-lived movement. Whether or not the revolution will continue, it sparked a fire after 33 years of political indifference in China, forcing Beijing to take notice of potential backlash to its policies. The calls for freedom and reform still echo, especially among the Chinese diaspora, further from governmental control.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

“Our goal is not to spin the flywheel of military conflict but, on the contrary, to end this war.”

— Following Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s visit at the White House, his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that Moscow “will strive for an end” to the war and that all armed conflicts ended “one way or another with some kind of negotiations on the diplomatic track.” But his comments were met with a rebuke from the U.S., with the White House’s national security spokesman John Kirby arguing Putin had “shown absolutely zero indication” that he was willing to negotiate, “quite the contrary.”

✍️ Newsletter by Renate Mattar, Bertrand Hauger, Hugo Perrin and Anne-Sophie Goninet


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Geopolitics

Iranians Can Only Topple The Dictatorship With Help From The West

Inside Iran, people are risking their lives to fight the oppressive Islamic Republic. Now, they need support from compatriots abroad and Western democracies to bring an end to this decades-long fight for democracy.

Photo of protersters in Munich, Germany, in November, after the killing of Mahsa Amini. One protester carries a sign that reads "do something for Iran".

November protest in Munich, Germany, in the wake of the killing of Mahsa Amini

Elahe Boghrat

-OpEd-

For years now, the fate of Iran has been a concern for many Iranians living abroad as migrants or exiles, regardless of their political views or socio-cultural origins.

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