Welcome to Thursday, where Finland moves toward NATO membership, North Korea reports its first COVID-19 outbreak and lockdown and Barbie gets hearing aids. Meanwhile, Spanish independent magazine La Marea meets with Turkish Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk to discuss his latest book, the pandemic and freedom of expression in Turkey.
[*Selam, Amharic - Ethiopia]
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• Finland set to join NATO “without delay”: Finland looks certain to join NATO after the country’s president and prime minister released a joint statement saying they are in favor of joining the military alliance. Sweden may soon follow suit.
• First war crime trial against Russian soldier: The 21-year-old commander of the Kantemirovskaya Tank Division, currently in Ukrainian custody, is expected to be the first Russian to face trial for alleged war crimes. The young officer is accused of murdering a 68-year-old man.
— Read all the latest at War in Ukraine, Day 78 —
• Abortion rights bill blocked in Senate: A Senate bill that would protect abortion rights failed to get the necessary 60 votes. The legislation was an attempt to thwart the Supreme Court’s impending overturning of the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion, which was revealed in a press leak earlier this month.
• COVID update: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un orders a strict nationwide lockdown after the first cases of Omicron variant were detected in Pyongyang. Meanwhile, the U.S. has passed the one-million death mark in what President Joe Biden called a “tragic milestone.”
• Aramco knocks Apple off top spot of most valuable companies: Saudi Arabia’s Aramco has overtaken tech giant Apple as the world’s most valuable company, after Apple shares fell by more than 5% in New York yesterday. It is the first time the oil and gas producer has held the top spot since 2020.
• U.S. drug overdose deadliest record: According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 108,000 people would have died of drug overdose in the U.S. in 2021, setting a new grim record. Most victims died from opioids amid a surge during the COVID-19 pandemic.
• Barbie unveils doll with hearing aids: American doll manufacturer Barbie has announced the launch of its first-ever doll that has hearing aids. The doll is the newest addition to a more inclusive and diverse line that also includes a Ken doll with the skin condition vitiligo.
Israeli daily Haaretz devotes its front page to the death of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh who was shot dead while covering an Israeli military operation in the West Bank city of Jenin. The broadcaster has accused Israel’s security forces of deliberately targeting the 51-year-old Palestinian reporter; meanwhile, the UN Human Rights office called for an “independent, transparent investigation into her killing.”
Google has added 24 new languages to its translation tool, Google Translate, making it a total of 133 languages available on the platform. These include dialects from the Americas (Quechua, Guarani and Aymara), northern India (Bhojpuri, used by 50 million people also in Nepal and Fiji), Central Africa (Lingala, spoken by 45 million), and the Maldives (Dhivehi, 300,000 speakers).
Orhan Pamuk on pandemics, press freedom and an eye on Erdogan's defeat
Nights of Plague is the latest book by the Turkish Nobel Prize winner, a fictional rendering based on historical reality that draws parallels (political and health-wise) between the past and the present, reports Manuel Ligero in Spanish independent magazine La Marea.
🇹🇷 Orhan Pamuk is a kind of Bosphorus Bridge of literature: He unites two continents, two cultures, two philosophical and religious visions that have, over the centuries, tenaciously turned their backs on each other. In his country, as the authoritarian drift of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has deepened, the author and public intellectual has progressively become a thorn in the side of the government.
📖😷 In Nights of Plague, Orhan Pamuk mixes real and fictional characters to tell a story of politics, crime-solving, and healthcare crises. The action takes place in 1901, in Minguer, an imaginary island in the Mediterranean in which the bubonic plague breaks out. The Ottoman Empire tries to contain the disease and is forced to impose strict sanitary measures that upset part of the population. Sounds familiar? Pamuk began writing it in 2016 and, when the coronavirus pandemic broke out, he was forced to change some passages so as not to appear opportunistic.
🤐 To illustrate the political situation in his country, the writer turns to a member of Erdogan's government cabinet: “We have a Minister of Justice [Bekir Bozdag] who proudly announces that they are building new prisons. With pride! As if they were hospitals!" Pamuk laments the Erdogan government's attacks on freedom of expression. "Without freedom of expression, there is no democracy. This has happened in the last six or seven years, before the eyes of all humanity," he says.
➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com
Repentance is going to be very difficult for Vladimir Putin.
— During an interview with LBC, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed doubt for the possibility of mending the relationship between Russia and the West if Vladimir Putin ever repents. "He has grossly violated human rights, international law; he's guilty of absolutely barbaric onslaught on a totally innocent country - and to renormalise would be to make the mistake we made in 2014," Johnson added.
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