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Russian Airstrikes Continue, Historic Mediterranean Deal, Taxing Cow Burps

Russian Airstrikes Continue, Historic Mediterranean Deal, Taxing Cow Burps

Ukrainian refugees and German people at an organized protest in Munich.

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Laure Gautherin and Sophia Constantino

👋 Moien!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where Russian airstrikes continue to pound Ukrainian cities, a “historic” maritime deal is reached between Lebanon and Israel and New Zealand wants to tax cow burps. Meanwhile, Egypt's Mada Masr looks at the issues plaguing some of the country’s Christian churches, stemming from lack of proper infrastructure and financial support.



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• Ukraine update: Russia is continuing its airstrikes on cities in Ukraine for the second straight day. The missiles were launched from two Russian aircrafts at around 7 a.m. local time on Tuesday, according to the Ukrainian military, which claimed four missiles were shot down.

• Lebanon and Israel reach “historic” maritime border deal: Lebanon and Israel have reached an agreement to demarcate a disputed maritime border between the neighboring countries in the gas-rich Mediterranean Sea. Negotiations between the two sides, which remain technically at war, have been taking place for more than a decade.

• Thai PM orders tighter gun control: Following a gun and knife attack on a daycare center last week in which a total of 36 people including 24 children were killed, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha ordered law enforcement to tighten its rules on gun ownership and crackdown on drug use.

• The case for 2nd Scottish independence referendum: The UK Supreme Court will hear arguments today on whether Scotland can organize a second independence referendum in October 2023, without the London government’s consent. A first vote organized in 2014 had seen a victory of the “no” campaign with 55% against independence.

• China steps up anti-COVID measures in megacities: After a rise in COVID-19 infections, large Chinese cities are starting to ramp up testing, along with closing schools, entertainment venues and tourist spots. Authorities reported 2,089 new infections on October 10, their highest level since August 2020.

• Haiti protests against government call for foreign intervention: Thousands of people have taken to the streets in Haiti’s capital city Port-au-Prince to protest against the government’s call to seek foreign military assistance to deal with endemic insecurity and gang-related violence. Several protesters were shot and one person was reported to have been killed.

• New Zealand proposes cow, sheep burp tax to curb emissions: New Zealand’s government proposed a tax on the greenhouse gasses farm animals emit with their bodily functions like burping or urination. Federated Farmers, the industry’s main lobby group, condemned the proposal, which they said would “rip the guts out of small-town New Zealand” and affect food production if farmers sell their farms to avoid the tax.


“Las Tejerias hurts,” reads the front page of Caracas-based Últimas Noticias alongside a picture of the catastrophic landslide caused by floods that swept through the town of Las Tejerias, central Venezuela, over the weekend. The death toll has risen to 36 and rescuers are still searching for 56 missing people. President Nicolas Maduro, also pictured on the front page, visited the area yesterday to help coordinate the victims’ support.


$972 million

U.S. online retail giant Amazon unveiled its plans to invest 1 billion euros ($972 million) over the next five years to increase its European fleet of electric vehicles. As part of Amazon’s goal to get to net-zero by 2040, the investment includes bumping up the company’s number of electric delivery vans from 3,000 to 10,000, and 1,500 long-haul electric trucks in cities like London, Paris and Munich. Deliveries by e-cargo bikes and on foot will also be increased.


Egypt's overcrowded Christian churches are a fire risk — building new ones is risky too

After a fire at a church in August killed 42 people, Egypt's Christians are worried about the fate of their places of worship, which lack proper infrastructure and financial support to meet safety standards. But, as Egypt's Mada Masr reports, this is not a new problem, and it is one that has been ongoing for years, during which Christians were not given permission to set up churches.

⛪ Established by Father Bakhoum Matta in 1995, the St. Demiana Church in the neighborhood of Imbaba, in northern Giza, started out in an apartment before the community later purchased the entire building. The church was established without a permit. “In those days, it was almost impossible to build a church, or even conduct renovations or repairs to existing churches,” Father Hedra Makram, the parish priest at St. Demiana says. At the time, only the country’s president had the power to authorize permits to establish churches. However, per a 1934 decree, before any application could be presented to the president, 10 vague conditions had to be satisfied.

⚠️ A study published by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights concluded that these stipulations are tantamount to a ban on building churches, forcing Christians to set up churches in residential buildings to practice their religious rites. “St. Demiana serves a parish of almost 1,000 families. Every man comes to the church accompanied by his wife and children,” says Father Ghaios Bekhit. “About 1,200 people attend the mass, despite the building capacity standing at an 800-person maximum,” adds Makram. “The building is not designed to facilitate the smooth entry and exit of churchgoers, nor is it fully equipped to meet safety and security standards.”

⚖️ While deposed President Hosni Mubarak made changes to regulations governing church repair, the stipulations for construction only changed in 2016, when the government ratified new legislation. The legislation made provision for the formation of a committee to facilitate the licensing of existing churches. On the ground, however, not much has changed. Abu Sefein and many other churches in Imbaba still receive large numbers of churchgoers daily, while lacking the infrastructure to safely accommodate them.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


This is a terrorist state that must be deterred in the strongest possible ways.

— At a United Nations General Assembly meeting set to discuss the annexation of its four partly-occupied regions, Ukraine declared Russia a “terrorist state” following its missile attacks on Kyiv and other large cities. “Russia has proven once again that this is a terrorist state that must be deterred in the strongest possible ways,” said Sergiy Kyslytsya, Ukraine’s ambassador to the UN. Vassily Nebenzia of Russia did not address the missile attacks but defended the recent annexation of the four Ukrainian regions.

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

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Smaller Allies Matter: Afghanistan Offers Hard Lessons For Ukraine's Future

Despite controversies at home, Nordic countries were heavily involved in the NATO-led war in Afghanistan. As the Ukraine war grinds on, lessons from that conflict are more relevant than ever.

Photo of Finnish Defence Forces in Afghanistan

Finnish Defence Forces in Afghanistan

Johannes Jauhiainen


HELSINKI — In May 2021, the Taliban took back power in Afghanistan after 20 years of international presence, astronomical sums of development aid and casualties on all warring sides.

As Kabul fell, a chaotic evacuation prompted comparisons to the fall of Saigon — and most of the attention was on the U.S., which had led the original war to unseat the Taliban after 9/11 and remained by far the largest foreign force on the ground. Yet, the fall of Kabul was also a tumultuous and troubling experience for a number of other smaller foreign countries who had been presented for years in Afghanistan.

In an interview at the time, Antti Kaikkonen, the Finnish Minister of Defense, tried to explain what went wrong during the evacuation.

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“Originally we anticipated that the smaller countries would withdraw before the Americans. Then it became clear that getting people to the airport had become more difficult," Kaikkonen said. "So we decided last night to bring home our last soldiers who were helping with the evacuation.”

During the 20-year-long Afghan war, the foreign troop presence included many countries:Finland committed around 2,500 soldiers,Sweden 8,000,Denmark 12,000 and Norway 9,000. And in the nearly two years since the end of the war, Finland,Belgium and theNetherlands have commissioned investigations into their engagements in Afghanistan.

As the number of fragile or failed states around the world increases, it’s important to understand how to best organize international development aid and the security of such countries. Twenty years of international engagement in Afghanistan offers valuable lessons.

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