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People walk by barricades in Odessa’s historical city center

Odessa gets ready for renewed Russian offensive

Anne-Sophie Goninet and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Ahoj!*

Welcome to Thursday, where Ukraine braces for fresh Russian attacks, Tunisia’s political crisis deepens, and Bruce Willis retires from acting for medical reasons. Writing for German daily Die Welt, Mandoline Rutkowski also explores what Putin’s war against Ukraine means for the country’s LGBTQ community.

[*Slovak]

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🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• Ukraine braces for new Russian assault in east, ceasefire in Mariupol: Ukrainian forces are preparing for fresh Russian attacks in the east, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian government is sending buses to Mariupol in the hope of evacuating trapped civilians and deliver humanitarian aid, after Russia declared a one-day ceasefire in the port city.

• South Korea successfully tests first solid-fuel space rocket: South Korea said it had conducted its first successful launch of a solid-fuel space rocket, six days after North Korea announced it carried out its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test since 2017. Seoul said it was an “important milestone” in the country’s ability to monitor its neighbor.

• Tunisian president dissolves parliament, deepens political crisis: Tunisia’s President Kais Saied announced he was dissolving the country’s parliament, after it voted to repeal presidential decrees suspending the chamber and giving the leader near-total power. Kais Said had suspended parliament and dismissed the Prime Minister in July 2021.

• Australian journalist faces spy charges in China trial: Chinese-born Australian journalist Cheng Lei has gone on trial in a closed-door Beijing court on spying charges after being detained for more than 19 months. The news presenter, who was working for Chinese state broadcaster CGTN, was arrested last year on suspicion of “illegally supplying state secrets overseas.”

• Sri Lanka to turn street lights off as economic crisis worsens: Sri Lanka will turn off its street lights to save electricity as the island nation faces its worst economic crisis in decades and is struggling with power cuts for up to 13 hours a day for failing to make payments for fuel imports.

• Bruce Willis gives up acting after aphasia diagnosis: U.S. actor Bruce Willis is stepping away from his acting career at age 67 after the action star was diagnosed with aphasia, a medical condition affecting cognitive abilities.

• World's longest wooden roller coaster is extending: The Beast at Kings Island in Ohio, U.S., which has held the record for the world’s longest wooden roller coaster since 1979 with a length of of 3,759 feet, will extend by an extra two feet because of “offseason retracking and reprofiling work.”

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

Barcelona-based sports daily Mundo deportivo devotes its front page to the soccer quarterfinal of the UEFA Women's Champions League between Madrid and Barcelona, which broke the record for the largest attendance for a women’s soccer match, with 91,553 fans packed into Camp Nou, Europe’s largest soccer stadium. Barcelona won 5-2 against its Madrid rival to secure a place in the semifinals.

💬  LEXICON

Earendel

The Hubble Space Telescope has observed the most distant single star ever, some 28 billion light-years away. Astronomers have nicknamed the massive star (estimated to be 50 to 500 times bigger than our sun) Earendel, derived from Old English meaning “morning star.”

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

LGBTQ Ukrainians taking up arms: We have even more to fear from Putin

With his war against Ukraine, Russian leader Vladimir Putin is also waging a campaign against LGBTQ people. For him, they represent dangerous “pseudo-values” of the West. Despite the threat, many of them remain in Ukraine, and are fighting back, reports Mandoline Rutkowski in German daily Die Welt.

🏳️🌈⚠️ For the LGBTQ community, the situation in Ukraine is particularly threatening right now. That's because Vladimir Putin, in attacking Ukraine, is also waging a campaign against LGBTQ people, who in his eyes represent a threat to the Russian nation and its "traditional values" — and must be fought. A report last month in The New York Times, for example, cites a letter from the U.S. government to the United Nations that Washington has "credible information" that Russia has designed kill lists with names of Ukrainian LGBTQ activists.

✊ But despite the threat from the Russian aggressor, many gay, lesbian and trans people are resisting, including those standing up for their country directly on the front lines. They are also helping to cushion the consequences of the invasion away from the battle lines. Anton, an activist, is coordinating housing for displaced LGBTQ people in the city of Lviv. Although he's scared, he's not thinking of quitting his job. “If I stop, if other LGBTQ activists stop, who will help us?”

❌ The threat Putin poses to LGBTQ people in Ukraine is already shown by his treatment of them in his own country. Since 2013, "homosexual propaganda" in front of minors — such as statements about same-sex relationships or simple sex education — has been punishable by the law. In 2020, Putin had marriage formally and exclusively enshrined in the constitution as a union between a man and a woman. Many LGBTQ organizations are also on a list of "foreign agents," making their work much more difficult.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

I’m still kind of processing what happened.

— During a standup show in Boston, comedian Chris Rock addressed for the first time the infamous “Slapgate” incident at the 94th Academy Awards show that saw Will Smith go up on stage and smack him after he cracked a joke about Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s hair.

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet and Bertrand Hauger


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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

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