Welcome to Friday, where at least 30 are killed in a Russian rocket strike on a Ukrainian train station, Ketanji Brown Jackson is confirmed as the U.S. Supreme Court’s first-ever Black woman justice and polls are tightening between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen ahead of Sunday’s French presidential elections. La Stampa reporter Francesco Semprini follows the Ukrainian Special Forces patrolling the streets of Kharkiv in search of pro-Russian saboteurs.
[*Marhaba - Arabic]
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• Dozens dead in missile strike at Ukraine train station:Two rockets have struck a railway station in Kramatorsk, in eastern Ukraine, killing at least 30 and wounding more than 100. The city’s mayor said at the time of the attack, there were some 4,000 people at the train station, which has been used to evacuate civilians as Russia vows to escalate its war efforts in the region. Meanwhile, the U.S. Congress has voted to impose economic restrictions on Russia, removing Russia’s “most favored nation” trade status and banning oil imports. The UN also voted yesterday to remove Russia from its Human Rights Council over recent accusations of torture and war crimes in Bucha.
• First Black woman confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court: Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, 51, has been confirmed to the Supreme Court following a 53-47 vote by the Senate. She will start her work in several months once Justice Stephen Breyer retires.
• Tel Aviv attack: A Palestinian gunman opened fire last night at a bar in Tel Aviv’s city center, killing two people and wounding 12 others. Israeli security forces have killed the gunman. It is the latest in a series of attacks that have killed 13 over the past month.
• Race tightens on eve of French elections: Ahead of the first round of the French presidential elections Sunday, President Emmanuel Macron’s lead in polls is shrinking over far-right rival Marine Le Pen, with leftist candidate Jean-Luc Mélanchon in third place. The top two finishers will face off in the decisive second round on April 24.
• Pakistan no-confidence vote update: Last Sunday Prime Minister Imran Khan had called an election after the deputy speaker of parliament blocked a vote of no-confidence against him. Pakistan’s Supreme Court has ruled the decision to block a vote of no-confidence against Khan to be unconstitutional. A vote of confidence for Khan will now be set for Saturday.
• Nancy Pelosi tests positive for COVID-19: U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, 82, tested positive for COVID. Her spokesman, Drew Hammill, said on Thursday that she was asymptomatic and is fully vaccinated and boosted. She was recently seen hugging former President Barack Obama and standing close to President Joe Biden, who so far has tested negative.
• Researchers have rejuvenated a woman’s skin cells: The skin cells of a 53-year-old woman are now equivalent to those of a 23-year-old. Cambridge scientists claim they could use this technique with other tissues in the body, with the goal to develop treatments for age-related diseases like diabetes, heart disease and neurological disorders. The technology used is similar to the one used to create Dolly, the first cloned sheep, in 1996.
“Terrorism in the heart of Tel Aviv,” titles Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, reporting on the shooting that left two people dead and a dozen others wounded at a bar in a busy area of the Israeli city. The gunman, who was killed by security forces following a manhunt, was identified as a 28-year-old Palestinian man from the city of Jenin in the West Bank. The attack is the latest in a series of violent incidents that have increased tensions between Israel and the Palestinian territories.
According to the World Health Organization, up to 65% of Africans have been infected with COVID-19 in the past two years. This amounts to 800 million people, or 100 times more than previously thought.
Ukraine night patrol: Elite forces hunt Russian spies — and house parties
A La Stampa reporter in Kharkiv joins the Ukrainian Special Forces patrolling the streets in search of pro-Russian saboteurs. But the military police teams also have to deal with those violating the curfew, which can become a deadly offense during war.
🚨 The appointment is set at 10.30 p.m. in one of the operational centers of the national police. The special teams begin patrolling Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city, before midnight. The goal: to identify anyone wandering around the city without permission — looters, vagrants, and saboteurs in particular. The latter are agents recruited by Moscow to facilitate attacks with drones, missiles and artillery. They're a real thorn in the side for the Ukrainians who, at night, engage in a city-wide hunt to drive out anyone who may represent a danger to the city's security.
🤝 "Saboteur activity has been notable since the early days of the war," explains one of the hooded agents. Next to him is a colleague of lean build, from Azerbaijan. "I'm from Baku, but I've been working with the Ukrainian police for a long time — this is also our war," he says, confirming the amity between the two countries. Azerbaijanis were also present on Kyiv's fronts, engaged in fighting side by side with Volodymyr Zelensky's forces.
🔍 "The saboteurs' targets are strategic infrastructure. They also gather information for the Russians about what's going on in the city, where the Ukrainian military and police are, but also point out civilian targets, for example, schools," explains another policeman who speaks in fluent French. Targets are flagged with electronic devices or by traditional methods, perhaps marking them so they may be located by drones. To date, 26 of these saboteurs have been captured, says the Azerbaijani officer.
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I am feeling a deep sense of pride in who we are as a nation.
— As Ketanji Brown Jackson became the first Black woman confirmed on the U.S. Supreme Court, Kamala Harris, who herself made history when she became the first Black woman to serve as Vice President, shared her joy as she presided over the confirmation vote.
✍️ Newsletter by Lisa Berdet, Emma Albright, Bertrand Hauger and Anne-Sophie Goninet
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