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In The News

Russia Declares Martial Law, Anarchy In The UK, HD Pillars Of Creation

“Pillars of Creation” captured by James Webb telescope
Renate Mattar, Anne-Sophie Goninet, Laure Gautherin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Kia ora!*

Welcome to Thursday, where Putin declares martial law in the Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine, UK Prime Minister Liz Truss clings to power and the James Webb telescope keeps wowing space enthusiasts. Meanwhile, Benjamin Quénelle reports for French daily Les Echos from the small Russian town of Ust-Labinsk, where support for Putin’s war remains strong.

[*Māori]

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🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• Martial law in occupied regions in Ukraine: Vladimir Putin says “martial law” may take effect in Ukraine’s occupied territories as soon as today. Ukraine and Western allies have dismissed the move as an illegal measure, with one U.S. official qualifies Russia’s tactics as “desperate”.

• Yen sinks to 1990 low: Japan’s yen currency sunk to 150 against the dollar for the first time since 1990, as the country’s loose monetary policies clash with aggressive U.S. interest rate hikes amid skyrocketing inflation and growing unease about the global economy.

• Chad declares state of emergency over floods: A state of emergency has been declared in Chad as 450,000 hectares of field and 636 localities have been affected by floods.

• France-Germany summit postponed as tensions rise: This regular bilateral meeting between Europe’s two most influential countries, slated next week, will now be held in January. The countries are struggling to find common ground on issues such as gas, defense, and dealing with the economic crisis in the face of the Ukraine War.

• China sees 4x spike in COVID: As Beijing reports 18 new cases of COVID-19, the government is strengthening prevention measures, including three-days lockdown for some residential compounds. Despite increasing frustrations among the population, health authorities are sticking with the country’s inflexible “zero COVID” policy.

• Indonesia bans syrup medication after the death of 99 children: Indonesia has halted sales of all syrup and liquid medication after at least 99 children were believed to have died after taking such medicine. This comes just weeks after reports in Gambia of dozens of child deaths linked to cough syrup.

• Ancient carvings found in Mosul: U.S. and Iraqi archeologists who were working to rebuild the Mashki Gate of Mosul that was bulldozed by ISIS have discovered delicate, 2,700-year-old bas-relief carvings dating back to the time of Assyrian kings.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

London-based daily The I sets out the chaotic state of Liz Truss’ government and Conservative party six weeks after her election. On Wednesday, Home Secretary Suella Braverman resigned through a letter in which she expressed her concerns over the “direction of the government.” The same day, Chief Whip and Deputy chief whip are said to have resigned, later denied by Downing Street. Braverman’s departure occurs five days after the Truss dismissed the finance minister Kwasi Kwarteng. MPs, Tories included, are now questioning Truss’ ability to recover from the turmoil.

#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

$21.45 billion

Tesla is ramping up production of its electric cars amid supply shortages, logistics bottlenecks and rising costs. Though revenue was lower than expected in the three months ending in September, at $21.45 billion, it remained more than 50% higher than last year.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

“We trust Putin” — In Russia's hinterland, support for the war is stronger than ever

Thousands from Moscow and other major cities may have fled Russia to avoid mobilization, but that doesn't paint the full picture. In parts of the country far from the capital, Vladimir Putin still has strong support and no shortage of willing draftees, reports Benjamin Quénelle for French daily Les Echos.

🇷🇺 “There are no cowards here!" Elena, around 30, has a stern gaze, and she doesn’t mince her words. "We're ready to go to Ukraine and fight the West!” The "here" she's referring to is Ust-Labinsk, a small town with a population of fewer than 40,000 in Russia's southern agriculture region of Krasnodar. Far away from Moscow and the misgivings of the urban elite, support for Putin’s war remains strong in the Russian hinterlands. When asked about the fighting in Ukraine, the locals immediately praise the “war” and speak of their pride in sending their men to the front.

🤐 Like millions of Russians, the residents of Ust-Labinsk have listened to all of Vladimir Putin’s speeches about Ukraine and his anti-Western rants. “Here, there are thousands of enthusiastic conscripts,” says Dmitri, a taxi driver and father of three. However, most people cut the conversation short when asked to explain their reasons for supporting the war. “We’re going to a great war. I am ready!” says Yuri, a local honey and apple juice seller. “We are showing our support,” he says. Support for what? “Support, that’s all…” the young man replies with a smile.

❌ Who are the “fascists” being targeted in Ukraine? What are the Kremlin’s aims? Why is the Russian army being pushed back by the Ukrainians, when they thought they would take Kyiv quickly in the spring? What are the economic consequences of the conflict? Like the majority of people in Ust-Labinsk, Svetlana prefers not to answer these kinds of questions. “Let’s talk about nature and the nice weather,” she deflects.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

Scorched earth tactics will not help Russia win the war.

In a speech to the German parliament, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s use of energy and hunger as weapons to break the West’s unity would not help him win the war in Ukraine. Scholz also called for EU countries to “coordinate closely with other gas consumers like Japan and Korea so as not to be in competition with each other.”

✍️ Newsletter by Renate Mattar, Anne-Sophie Goninet, Sophia Constantino, Laure Gautherin and Bertrand Hauger


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Geopolitics

The Taiwan Paradox: Preparing For War And Ready To Do Business With China

Large segments of Taiwan seem underprepared or indifferent when it comes to the possibility of Chinese invasion. But some are actively preparing, using Ukraine as a role model.

Taiwanese tanks fire cannons during a live-fire drill in Pingtung county, Taiwan, on Sept. 7 2022.

Taiwanese tanks fire cannons during a live-fire drill in Pingtung county, Taiwan.

Daniel Ceng Shou-Yi/ZUMA Press Wire
Lucie Robequain

TAIPEI — Hsu has just completed the required four months of military service in Taichung, central Taiwan. He had spread the training over the course of the past four years, training for one month every year. “Many guys go there during the summer. It’s like a summer camp: we go to a shooting range, we make friends,” he explains.

Yet these words seem somehow strange, incongruous, as his country is threatened by one of the most powerful armies in the world. “There is a kind of collective denial toward the Chinese threat. Many still think that the possibility of an invasion, in the short or medium term, remains very unlikely,” says Raymond Sung, a political expert based in Taipei.

In Taiwanese companies too, people remain overly confident. "What’s the point of worrying? Taiwanese are working on the technologies of the future! Thinking about war would just distract them," argues Miin Chyou Wu, head of Macronix, a company that makes memory cards.

Though relatively rare, some companies are even expanding in China. That’s the case with Delta, a Taiwanese flagship that produces equipment essential to a green energy transition (including charging stations and solar panels). Based in the outskirts of Taipei, not far from the Keelung River, Delta recently bought new land last May in Chongqing, southwest China. Their goal is now to expand their electric generator factories.

“We’re not very worried: we know that we won’t be the ones who will solve the conflict with Beijing," says Alessandro Sossa-Izzi, the head of Delta’s communication team. "But our grandchildren’s grandchildren will."

Of course, the Taiwanese government is more concerned.

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