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Putin Orders Troops Into Ukraine, Colombia Legalizes Abortion, Chess Prodigy

The death toll from flash floods and landslides in the Brazilian city of Petropolis has risen to 165, as rescue workers and residents are still searching for bodies in the rubble, nearly a week after the disaster

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Hannah Steinkopf-Frank and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Asham!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where Vladimir Putin orders troops into eastern Ukraine, Boris Johnson announces lifting of all COVID restrictions and a 16-year-old chess prodigy beats the world champion. From China, we also look at how a recent video of a woman in chains has put the spotlight on the horrible treatment of the mentally ill in the country’s rural areas.

[*Oromo - Ethiopia and Kenya]

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🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• Ukraine military escalation and sanctions: Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered troops into eastern Ukraine with many Western leaders calling for sanctions. In a speech late Monday, Putin recognized separatist republics and suggested the potential of a larger military campaign, claiming Ukraine is a country “created by Russia.”

• Johnson ends COVID rules in England: Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that all COVID-related restrictions will end on Thursday in England, including mandatory self-isolation and free testing. Dealing with its worst outbreak of the pandemic, Hong Kong has ordered citywide COVID-19 testing by March as Chinese officials have told Hong Kong a lockdown will be necessary to curb infections.

• Dozens killed in Burkina Faso gold mine explosion: About 60 people were killed in a large blast at an unauthorized gold-panning site in southwest Burkina Faso. Victims include women and children, who regularly work in the country’s makeshift gold mines.

• Trump’s new social media launched: Former President Donald Trump has released a new social media app, Truth Social, after being banned from Facebook and Twitter. Like other social media platforms, it has profiles and a main feed, but posts are called “Truths.”

• Colombia decriminalizes abortion: Colombia’s constitutional court has voted to decriminalize abortions up to 24 weeks of gestation. It’s the latest in a series of Latin America countries, including Argentina and Mexico, that have recently loosend their policies on abortion.

• Tonga submarine cable restored: Following January’s volcanic eruption and tsunami that cut Tonga off from the rest of the world, the remote Pacific island nation’s communication was finally reconnected to the internet today.

• Indian teenager beats world chess champion Magnus Carlsen: Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa, 16, bested the 31-year-old Norwegian Grandmaster Magnus Carlsen in an online tournament. How did Praggnanandhaa celebrate his win? “It’s about time to go to bed as I don’t think I will have dinner at 2.30 in the morning,” he said after his 39-move victory.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

Publimetro Colombia reports on the decision of Colombia’s Constitutional Court to rule in favor of legalizing abortion up until 24 weeks of a pregnancy — a major victory for abortion rights advocates, who have campaigned for two decades to remove the procedure from Colombia’s criminal code.

#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

Today’s date (provided you are using the dd/mm/yyyy format, or 2/22/22 and 22/2/22) is both a palindrome and an ambigram, meaning that it can be read backwards as well as upside down. It won’t happen again until 08/02/2080.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

Video of chained woman shines light on China's treatment of mental illness

A recent video of a chained woman has raised the alarm of the poor treatment of the mentally ill in China. It's worse for women in rural areas, where the stigma around mental illness is high, report Zhao Qiliu and Yi Xiaoai in Chinese-language digital media The Initium.

⚠️ Just before Chinese New Year ended recently, a video went viral on China’s web. In a shabby space attached to a house in Feng County, a woman, named Yang Mouxia, is seen wearing an iron chain and a lock around her neck. The woman has a mental disorder. Several people online asked if she is the same person, who went by the name of Li Ying, who'd disappeared from Sichuan Province 26 years ago at the age of twelve. However officials in Feng County say Yang’s DNA doesn’t match with that of the missing teenager Li. Yang’s case has triggered public anger and once again stirred up dark memories of the not uncommon practice of trafficking women in China.

👰 For many of those working on China’s health and mental disability issues, the experience of Yang Mouxia does not surprise them, even if they are angry. “Such misfortune is very common in the rural areas. These women are the most marginalized beings,” said Wang Ling, who has conducted research on the situation of people with mental disorders in rural China. It is very common that old unmarried men in rural areas will marry women with mental or intellectual disabilities by paying higher betrothal money to their families. Abducted women also make up some of these brides.

❌ As psychiatrist Wang Hao noted, a decade ago it was even much more common in the rural areas to lock up a family member suffering from mental disorders. Trying to counter this issue, the country launched the Severe Mental Disorder Management and Treatment Project subsidized by Central Government, also known as the “Unlocking program”, back in 2004. In addition, a comprehensive management team should guide a patient care and support team. But in practice, as the case of Yang Mouxia showed, the so-called management and treatment system has failed.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

You didn't want us to be friends, but you didn't have to make an enemy of us.

— Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a fiery televised speech Monday evening, in which he announced the formal recognition of the independence of the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics, the two pro-Russian rebel-controlled regions in eastern Ukraine. Russia’s leader denounced Ukraine’s growing security ties with the West and made several remarks about the history of the country and its formation as a republic, seemingly casting doubts on its right to self-determination.

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Hannah Steinkopf-Frank and Bertrand Hauger

Are you more 🤯 by a chess prodigy or a palindrome day? Let us know what’s happening in your corner of the world!

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Economy

Europe's Winter Energy Crisis Has Already Begun

in the face of Russia's stranglehold over supplies, the European Commission has proposed support packages and price caps. But across Europe, fears about the cost of living are spreading – and with it, doubts about support for Ukraine.

Protesters on Thursday in the German state of Thuringia carried Russian flags and signs: 'First our country! Life must be affordable.'

Martin Schutt/dpa via ZUMA
Stefanie Bolzen, Philipp Fritz, Virginia Kirst, Martina Meister, Mandoline Rutkowski, Stefan Schocher, Claus, Christian Malzahn and Nikolaus Doll

-Analysis-

In her State of the Union address on September 14, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, issued an urgent appeal for solidarity between EU member states in tackling the energy crisis, and towards Ukraine. Von der Leyen need only look out her window to see that tensions are growing in capital cities across Europe due to the sharp rise in energy prices.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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In the Czech Republic, people are already taking to the streets, while opposition politicians elsewhere are looking to score points — and some countries' support for Ukraine may start to buckle.

With winter approaching, Europe is facing a true test of both its mettle, and imagination.

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