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"Catastrophic Destruction” In Ukraine, Japan Upholds Same-Sex Marriage Ban, HK Restaurant Sinks

A man rides his bike through Dmytrivka, Ukraine, near the capital Kyiv, where the remains of Russian tanks and military equipment destroyed earlier in the war lie along the street.

Lila Paulou, McKenna Johnson, Joel Silvestri and Lisa Berdet

👋 Avuxeni!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where “catastrophic destruction” is reported in eastern Ukraine, Japan upholds a same-sex marriage ban and an iconic Hong Kong restaurant is now feeding the fish. Meanwhile, an English Professor reflects in The Conversation on the linguistic implications of the Ukraine war and censorship on speech and silence.

[*Tsonga, South Africa and Mozambique]

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🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• Russia-Ukraine update: Governor of Eastern Luhansk region Serhiy Haidai reports “catastrophic destruction” in the controlled-city of Lysychansk. Haidai also said that fights were currently raging “in the industrial zone of Severodonetsk,” as the region is almost entirely occupied by Russian forces.

• Belgium repatriates ISIS relatives: Six women and 16 children born to Islamic State fathers were repatriated to Belgium, in the biggest airlift of this kind bringing back the relatives of jihadists from Syria, the authorities announced.

• Georgians rally for EU membership: Tens of thousands of Georgians marched in Tbilisi for Georgia’s EU membership bid, waving Georgian, Ukrainian and EU flags after the demand was deferred last week by the European Commission.

• Israel’s prime minister to dissolve parliament: Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced the dissolution of his weakened coalition and called for new elections, which will be the fifth in three years. Foreign Affairs Minister Yair Lapid will take over from Bennett as early as next week until a new government is sworn in.

• Heavy rains in China: About 200,000 people have been evacuated and more than 2,700 houses were destroyed in Southern China, in the heaviest torrential rain the country is experiencing in 60 years. According to the authorities, the damage so far is estimated at more than $254 million.

• Same-sex marriage ban upheld in Japan: Japanese court ruled that the government’s ban on same-sex marriage does not violate the constitution, dealing a setback to LGBTQ+ rights activists. Japan is the only G7 country that doesn’t recognize same-sex unions.

• Iconic Hong Kong restaurant sinks: The Jumbo Kingdom, Hong Kong’s iconic floating restaurant and tourist attraction, has sunk in the South China Sea. This comes less than a week after it was towed away from the harbor of the city.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

Today’s front page of Catalan language daily Segre, based in Lleida, Spain, shows the mayor of Alòs de Balaguer walking in an ash-gray calcined forest. Its title “fires under control” brings great relief after six days of firefighters battling against wildfires in Catalonia.

#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

$103.5 million

Dmitry Muratov, the Russian editor-in-chief of independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, has auctioned off his Nobel Peace Prize medal for $103.5 million. He said that all will go to help refugees from the war in Ukraine.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

The Russian art of protesting through silence

In The Conversation, English Professor Jacob Edmond takes a look at the creative ways that Russian journalists, writers and artists are turning forced silence into powerful statements.

📣 What would you do if your country launched a war of aggression, causing tens of thousands of deaths and displacing millions? What if the price of protest or even posting objections on social media was arrest and imprisonment? What if even mentioning the word “war” online, in print, or on the street was illegal? Would you speak out, or keep quiet and bide your time? They are questions of ethical, familial, and national obligations. They are questions of personal risk, strategy and tactics. They are questions about how best to speak through silence.

🗞️ One powerful if all too brief example of how silencing can be turned into speech is Novaya Gazeta, the independent Russian news outlet that held out longest against the new censorship regime. Throughout March, Novaya Gazeta held up official lies for ridicule. Following new censorship laws, the newspaper used blanks to mark the silencing of any mention of the war: “Asked whether he is ready to stop the ___ , Putin answered ‘no’.” Newsagents began refusing to sell certain issues, and by March 28 Novaya Gazeta received its second official warning and was forced to close. The dance with censorship — the newspaper’s attempt to speak through silence — had come to an end.

🤐 Russian writers and artists living abroad who oppose the war also have a vexed relationship to speech and silence. Latvia-based poet Kuzmin has turned his energies towards helping Ukrainian refugees and translating and disseminating Ukrainian poetry. Kuzmin argues for prioritizing Ukrainian over Russian voices in this time of war. Other Russians living abroad dismiss this view, insisting their work must carry on regardless of the war and that the silencing of Russian culture serves no end. “Should we shoot ourselves in the leg out of solidarity? What is the benefit of that?,” asks the film director Kirill Serebrennikov.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

You’re my hero.

— U.S. actor and Goodwill ambassador Ben Stiller met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, Ukraine. In the meeting, the actor commended Zelensky for quitting his own acting career to lead his country and rally the world in support of its people.

✍️ Newsletter by Lila Paulou, McKenna Johnson, Joel Silvestri and Lisa Berdet

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Society

An End To The Hijab Law? Iranian Protesters Want To End The Whole Regime

Reported declarations by some Iranian officials on revising the notorious morality police patrols and obligatory dress codes for women are suspect both in their authenticity, and ultimately not even close to addressing the demands of Iranian protesters.

photo of women in Iran dressed in black hijabs

The regime has required women cover their heads for the past 41 years

Iranian Supreme Leader'S Office/ZUMA
Kayhan-London

-Analysis-

The news spread quickly around Iran, and the world: the Iranian regime's very conservative prosecutor-general, Muhammadja'far Montazeri, was reported to have proposed loosening the mandatory headscarf rules Iran places on women in public.

Let's remember that within months of taking power in 1979, the Islamic Republic had forced women to wear headscarves in public, and shawls and other dressings to cover their clothes. But ongoing protests, which began in September over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in police custody over her headscarf, seem to instead be angling for an overthrow of the entire 40-year regime.

Che ba hejab, che bi hejab, mirim be suyeh enqelab, protesters have chanted. "With or Without the Hijab, We're heading for a Revolution."

Montazeri recently announced that Iran's parliament and Higher Council of the Cultural Revolution, an advisory state body, would discuss the issue of obligatory headscarves over the following two weeks. "The judiciary does not intend to shut down the social security police but after these recent events, security and cultural agencies want to better manage the matter," Montazeri said, adding that this may require new proposals on "hijab and modesty" rules.

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