Welcome to Thursday, where NATO allies accuse Russia of lying about withdrawing troops from Ukraine border, Airbus and Airbnb post record profits, and a soccer match sees a major national anthem woopsie. For French daily Les Echos, Johanne Courbatère de Gaudric looks at the surprising health benefits hiding in a bottle of perfume.
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• NATO says Russia lying about troop withdrawal: NATO allies called out Moscow for claiming it was moving troops back to their bases when instead it was actually augmenting its presence at the border with Ukraine. A senior White House official reported that some 7,000 extra Russian forces had arrived in recent days near the border. British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss warned that Russia could drag out the Ukraine crisis for “months,” challenging the West's united security front. On the ground, meanwhile, Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian rebels exchanged allegations that each had fired across the ceasefire line in eastern Ukraine.
• EU-AU summit 2022: The sixth European Union-African Union summit begins on Thursday in Brussels. Leaders from both continents will aim to recalibrate economic and strategic ties between European and African nations amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a recent wave of coups d’état in Africa and the worsening effects of climate change.
• Israeli missiles strike Syria: Syrian state-controlled news agency SANA reported that Israel fired several missiles targeting the town of Zakieh, located on the outskirts of Damascus. This is the second Israeli aerial strike on Syria this month.
• Airbnb & Airbus lead travel sector rebound from pandemic: Short-term-stay booking platform Airbnb announced a $55 million profit for the fourth quarter, significantly outperforming pre-pandemic levels, and bouncing back from huge losses in 2021. Meanwhile European planemaker Airbus also reported record revenues for 2021 of $4.8 billion, its highest-ever profits, contrasting with its $1.3-billion loss in 2020.
• Australia's largest coal-run power plant to close in 2025: Australia's largest coal-fired power station has announced it will shut in 2025, seven years earlier than scheduled, as a developing renewable energy mix, particularly wind and solar power, has considerably reduced the profitability of the plant.
• Dozens killed in landslides near Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro: At least 94 people have died in mudslides and flash flooding in Petrópolis, in the Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro after hours of torrential rain.
• Anthem mixup at soccer tournament: The Tournoi de France, hosted by the French Football Federation, bringing together international female soccer teams, was off to an awkward start as the Finnish players were treated to the sound of the Albanian anthem by mistake.
Brazilian daily Extra devotes its front page to the “devastating” landslides and flash floods, which have killed at least 94 people in the city of Petrópolis, near Rio de Janeiro. The death toll could rise as rescue efforts are underway.
In a move to expand its influence in eastern Ukraine, Russia has issued passports and citizenship to 720,000 residents of rebel-held areas in the region thanks to a simplified procedure, as well as membership in the Kremlin’s ruling party and other perks. According to Donetsk’s migrant service, the number of residents applying for Russian passports has increased in the past few weeks, amid growing tensions with Ukraine.
What's that smell? The perfume industry's upcycling savoir faire
The circular economy is a hot trend, being embraced by everything from fashion to home decor. But one industry has been upcycling for decades. And the benefits and potentials go far beyond the environment. Soon, your perfume might help you fight stress and even wrinkles, writes Johanne Courbatère de Gaudric in French daily Les Echos.
♻️ Xavier Brochet, director of innovation for natural products at Firmenich, the world's largest fragrance business, explains that in perfumery, the implementation of upcycling dates back to the increasing industrialization of perfumery in the early 20th century, when the production of ingredients began to be rationalized to increase their yield and quality while optimizing costs. For instance, for essential oils from woods such as cedar, the distilleries moved directly to Texas or Virginia, to the same sites as the sawmills that process lumber for furniture or construction.
👃 The final key element in the success of upcycling is the potential that new raw materials bring to the ingredients palette available in perfumery. LMR laboratories based in Grasse, which specializes in natural ingredients and was founded by Monique Rémy, is exemplary in this respect. "One of the first products Monique launched in the late 1980s was a beeswax extract obtained by collecting beehive cells. It was followed by ingredients such as carrot essence, obtained thanks to the sorting differences of the seed companies," says Bertrand de Préville, general manager of LMR.
🧘 Composition laboratories, brands and all the major players in the industry agree that upcycling is at the heart of their current concerns. "Today's end customers expect more than just nice-smelling perfumes. They now want products that embrace the environmental cause and provide additional benefits related to well-being," says Bertrand de Préville. Each company has its own strategy for meeting these specifications. IFF is testing the cosmetic and aromachological benefits of its upcycled materials. For example, Oakwood (from oak) has relaxing properties and promotes memory.
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First, we had the Swedish activists’ campaign of “flygskam” or “flight shame” to discourage people from traveling in polluting airplanes in the face of the climate crisis. Now Austrian winter sport lovers must face: skischam or “skiing shame.” According to daily Die Presse, the campaign is spreading in Austria, where winter sports are extremely popular, highlighting the use of snow cannons and artificial snow to cover otherwise green-brown landscapes. Adding to the would-be shame is the fact that several coronavirus clusters originated in ski stations, including the popular Ischgl resort in 2020.
Colombia: “Feminist” candidate Ingrid Betancourt accused of blaming rape victims
When Ingrid Betancourt announced last month she was running for president of Colombia, the celebrated former hostage said a central focus of her candidacy would be women's issues. After a candidate debate on Tuesday night, those issues have arrived in the worst possible way.
Asked by university students what society could do to better protect women's safety, Betancourt said that women's issues "concern us all," but then added: "Many times we realize, especially in the poorest neighborhoods, that women let themselves get raped, let themselves get raped by people very close to the family or let themselves get followed by criminals, who follow their route, know where they are going to go and they are predators that are chasing them who are totally unprotected.”
After her statement, candidate Camilo Romero, part of the leftist coalition, Pacto Histórico drew attention to what Betancourt had said, saying women didn't "let themselves" be followed or raped.
Enrique Gómez Martínez, a right-wing candidate, brushed off the statement, arguing that it was a language mix-up: "Don't mistreat a woman who has spoken French for 20 years,” a reference to Betancourt's dual nationality with France and French education. In French "se faire violer" means "to be raped" and has no victim-blaming connotations, unlike the Spanish "se hace violar," that she used.
But perhaps the most damning part of Betancourt's comments is that she was referencing only poor women. The other top female presidential candidate Francia Márquez Mina tweeted that the comment "legitimizes class, sexist and patriarchal violence."
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In the last 100 days, street art murals supporting Ukrainian resistance have appeared everywhere from Kyiv to Syria. Here's a look at the most moving and powerful murals.
KYIV — "Art is our weapon. Culture is a form of resistance"
These words belong to Shirin Neshat, an Iranian political refugee, photo artist and film director living and working in exile in the United States.
Art forms the context and culture that decides how society will perceive certain historical events, and, as a result, which society will be the winner of the war. So, this statement brings us to the Ukrainian art of the last 100 days. This is the art of information resistance.
Films, books and paintings based on the events after February 24 are just appearing in the authors’ minds. The CHESNO movement (from the Ukrainian word "honestly") decided to make a selection of street art about the war as part of the exhibition "Information Front: Boards, Murals, Graffiti." They want to preserve these cultural and artistic voices.
In Ukraine, large murals are the main form of traditional street art, as they will not be erased by housing and communal services the next day. This has not changed in the last 100 days.
Murals around Ukraine
"Holy Javelin" has become the most discussed mural. Designed by a Canadian journalist of Ukrainian origin, Christian Boris, the mural adorns Aviaconstructor Antonov Street in Kyiv.
The ancient tradition of painting icons has been modernized. Instead of swords or spears, the mural depicts the FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missile system. However, its combination with a religious symbol — a halo — aroused the discontent of the Council of Churches. At their request, the halo was erased.
Another mural by Konstantin Kachanovskyin Rivne, a city in west Ukraine, has a similar theme. It depicts a Ukrainian woman with a weapon in her hands.
The ancient tradition of painting icons has been modernized.
And a mural artists Anton Kravchenko and Oleksandr Fastovets in Poltava, a city in central Ukraine, features soldiers, a dog and a kitten. In the center of the picture is a girl in national dress with a wreath on her head with loose ribbons. She holds the coat of arms of Ukraine. To her left are border guards, and to her right the infantry of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Next to her is an Azov fighter with a cat in his arms, and on the ground is the dog Patron, who helps rescuers clear mines in liberated territories.
And in the Obolon district of Kyiv, a mural by artist Oleksandr Korban reads: "Warrior sewing together the flag of Ukraine." It depicts the hands of the military sewing together a flag that symbolizes the country. The mural was created during the liberation of Irpin and Bucha.
Ukrainian artist Sasha Korban created this symbolic mural in Kyiv.
Street art around the world supporting Ukraine
Street art in Ukraine often takes places against the backdrop of air raids in shelling. But in the safer streets of cities around the world, murals have also appeared in the last 100 days.
"Faces of Heroes and Victims" can be seen on the wall of the Street Museum in Amsterdam. Street artist Magdalena Anopsi painted portraits of two Ukrainians who died in this war. Who are they?
Vitaliy Skakun, 26 years old, junior combat engineer. He sacrificed his life to blow up the bridge. He died on February 24, at the beginning of Russia's war against Ukraine. He died defending his country. And a girl, Polina, was killed on March 19 together with her parents on the streets of Kyiv. She was a 4th grade student.
Murals also honor living heroes. Zakhar Nechypor, a Ukrainian actor, became famous for a New York Times viral report about civilians who sought to defend their country and overcrowded military recruiting centers in the early days of the war. Now Zakhar's face as a collective image of courageous civilians adorns the town of Letterkenny in the north of Ireland.
The painter of that mural, Ciarán Dunlevy, said: “It is honoring their exceptional courage, strength, humanity and power. We want them to know that the Irish people stand with them in solidarity and love."
Symbols of resistance
In addition to the heroic fate of Ukrainians, artists pay great attention to the symbols of spirit and struggle.
"Rooster from Borodianka" is a symbol of the unbreakable spirit of Ukrainian people that adorns the city of St. Gallen in eastern Switzerland. The mural has an inscription in Ukrainian: "No to war." The ceramic clay rooster became famous all over the world after the Prime Minister of the UK Boris Johnson received the same roosters as a gift during his visit to Kyiv.
Artists pay great attention to the symbols of spirit and struggle.
"Ukrainian Resistance" is a digital remake of the work by Banksy, who donated 100,000 euros to the largest children’s hospital in Ukraine from the sale of one of his works.
Instead of the usual flower bouquet, previously depicted in Banksy's work, sunflowers appeared in the remake as a symbol of Ukrainian resistance. Even hackers from Anonymous shared this photo on their Twitter.
"Ukrainian Resistance" is a remake of the work by Banksy, with sunflowers replacing the bouquet from the original work.
Empathy for the Ukrainian people
"To Ukraine with Love" is a work that refers us to the title of the James Bond film From Russia with Love. The title symbolizes the change of feeling in the global community.
In Corie Mattie's work, Putin's disembodied head is being carried away from one of the streets of Los Angeles to Ukraine. The author added QR codes to her mural. The link leads to a website where you can donate or find information about the war in Ukraine.
One of the main themes for art objects in the world has become empathy for the tragedy of the Ukrainian people. So in Tbilisi, they created an object supporting Ukraine in the war.
Even more moving is the picture on the wall of a house bombed by Russian troops in Syria. "Solidarity of Syrians with Ukrainians" is how the artist Aziz Al-Asmar signed his work.
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