👋 اسلام عليكم*
Welcome to Tuesday, where Russian President Vladimir Putin lambasts the West in his much-awaited state of nation speech, a new 6.4-magnitude earthquake kills at least six in Turkey, and you’ll wish you’d held onto that old iPhone. Meanwhile, for Portuguese-language digital magazine Questão de Ciência, Natalia Pasternak gauges whether The Last of Us and its fungus-linked zombie apocalypse is actually so far-fetched.
[*Ssalamū ‘lekum - Darija, Morocco]
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• Putin's fiery state of the nation speech, Biden heads to Poland: President Vladimir Putin vowed to continue with Russia’s year-long war in Ukraine in a strongly worded state-of-the-nation speech Tuesday, blaming the war on the West and lashing out at LGBTQ rights. This comes after U.S. President Joe Biden’s surprise Monday visit to Kyiv, with Biden due to meet Polish President Andrzej Duda to discuss collective efforts to support Ukraine and make a speech rallying support for Ukraine.
• More Ukraine aid from Japan and U.S.: Japan has pledged $5.5 billion in humanitarian aid to Ukraine, nearly quadrupling the amount of money Tokyo has promised to Kyiv since Russia invaded the country a year ago. It also joined Western allies in imposing strict sanctions on Russia over its invasion. Meanwhile U.S. President Joe Biden announced an additional $500 million in weapons for Ukraine.
• Another earthquake in Turkey: Six people were killed in the latest earthquake to strike the border region of Turkey and Syria, just two weeks after a massive quake killed more than 47,000 people. Monday’s earthquake, of 6.4 magnitude, was centered near the Turkish city of Antakya and was felt in Syria, Egypt and Lebanon.
• Search continues after storms in São Paulo: At least 40 people have been killed in flooding and landslides in Brazil’s São Paulo, with dozens still missing and the number of casualties is expected to rise. Rescue workers are still searching for people trapped in flooded homes.
• Israel declares temporary pause on new West Bank settlements: Israel has said it will pause building new settlements in the occupied West Bank for the “coming months”. Last week, Israel announced the legalization of nine unauthorized outposts and approved the planning and building of nearly 10,000 new housing units in existing settlements. They are considered illegal under international law.
• Rescue mission under way for hostages in Papua New Guinea: Police in Papua New Guinea have launched a rescue mission after a group of foreign citizens and local guides were taken hostage by armed criminals in a remote region of the country. Police said negotiations are ongoing to secure the hostages’ release and they would use “all necessary force” to free them. The police statement said the group is being held at Fogoma’iu village in the Southern Highlands province.
• South Korea recognizes same-sex couple rights: A South Korean court has delivered a landmark ruling by recognizing the rights of a same-sex couple for the first time. The ruling in the case was brought by a gay couple, So Seong-wook and Kim Yong-min. So had sued South Korea’s National Health Insurance Service (NHIS) in 2021 because it had terminated benefits for his partner, Kim, after the service discovered they were a gay couple.
Istanbul-based daily Milliyet reports on “The neverending nightmare” after a new powerful earthquake shook the southern province of Hatay, killing at least six, just two weeks after a massive quake hit the Turkey-Syria border, killing more than 47,000 people.
A first-generation 2007 iPhone, that originally cost $599, sold for more than $63,000 at an online auction. Its owner, tattoo artist Karen Green, had received it as a gift and never opened the box of this “first-edition” rarity.
The Last Of Us? How climate change could spawn a deadly zombie fungus
The TV series The Last of Us, where a fungal infection creates a pandemic that turns people into violent zombies offers hints of what could become more possible as global warming creates the conditions for the spreading of killer fungi, writes Natalia Pasternak in Portuguese-language digital magazine Questão de Ciência.
🍄🐜 How much of this is a true story? There really are fungi that infect and alter the behavior of insects. One of these, the Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, inspired the creator of the videogame The Last of Us. Popularly known as Cordyceps, the fungus produces spores — reproductive cells — that infect ants and multiply in the haemolymph, an insect's blood. After a few days, ants begin to show changes in behavior.
🧠 Is it possible, then, for a zombie fungus to infect humans — maybe as a result of climate change, as The Last of Us suggests? It's unlikely. These parasites are highly specialized: one species of parasite infects only one species of host. Fungi that infect certain ants are not the same as those that infect caterpillars or cicadas. Furthermore, global warming seems unfavorable to the parasite.
🦟 While the zombie pandemic is just fiction, global warming may indeed make the world more conducive to emerging diseases — caused not by highly specialized fungi, but more likely by mosquito-borne viruses becoming endemic in regions that were once too cold, or by bringing people into more regular contact with other species that can exchange microorganisms with us.
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➡️ Watch the video: THIS HAPPENED
“They started the war.”
— In his annual state of the nation address at the Gostiny Dvor conference center in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin denied responsibility for the war in Ukraine and blamed the West for starting it, claiming Russia only “used force in order to stop it.” At the end of the speech, which comes just days before the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion, Putin promised to “respond to any challenges.”
• The HIV-Positive Ugandans Putting Anti-AIDS Campaign At Risk — GLOBAL PRESS JOURNAL
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