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Russian flagship fires a missile in the Black Sea.

A file photo of the RTS Moskva missile cruiser during exercises. The ship has suffered major damage in the Black Sea, prompting the evacuation of its crew. Ukraine claims that one of its anti-ship missiles struck the Russian Navy vessel, while Moscow blames an accident.

Lisa Berdet, Lila Paulou and Emma Albright

👋 Tere!*

Welcome to Thursday, where a major Russian warship has been seriously damaged in the Black Sea, South Africa’s flooding toll tops 300, and Elon Musk bids to buy (all of) Twitter. Meanwhile, from the Netherlands, Frieda Klotz chronicles the eventful history of the Dutch clinic that’s been at the forefront of transgender medical care for kids.

[*Estonian]

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🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

Ukraine update: Russia’s most powerful warship Moskva has been damaged and completely evacuated in the Black Sea due to fire. The Ukrainian forces claim their cruise missiles hit the ship while Moscow says the explosion is accidental.

U.S. sends weapons package to Ukraine: Joe Biden announced that Washington will provide $800 million worth of helicopters, cannons and other military equipment to Ukraine forces to defend against the Russian offensive in the East, as requested by Kyiv. It is the first time since the beginning of the war that the U.S. agrees to send heavy weapons to Ukraine.

South Africa floods death toll passes 300: According to local authorities, the death toll reached 300 after major floods caused by heavy rains wreaked havoc on the east coast of South Africa. Officials said it is “one of the worst weather storms in the history of our country.”

New Zealand court to allow extradition to China: A New Zealand court ruled on the extradition to China of a suspect facing murder charges. Kyung Yup Kim, a South Korean who has a permanent residency in NZ, is accused of the murder of a woman in Shanghai in 2009.

NYC subway shooter arrested: A 62-year-old man suspected of the New York subway shooting that injured 23, has been arrested “without incident” after a 30-hour manhunt.

Musk makes offer to buy Twitter outright: Tesla founder Elon Musk, who already owns a 9% stake in Twitter, has made a bid to buy the social network outright for $41 billion, saying the company needs to go private to fix key problems.

NASA spies largest comet ever:The largest comet ever seen has been discovered by U.S. space agency astronomers. Known as Bernardinelli-Bernstein, the comet is no threat to Earth and will be at its closest to the Sun in 2031.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

British daily The Times, reports that Britain has earmarked $157 million to send undocumented migrants on a one-way flight to Rwanda. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the plan to target illegal immigration in southeast England, where thousands of migrants have arrived in small boats over the past year.

#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

$6,222.36

That is the highest bid on the NFT of Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey’s first-ever tweet (“just setting up my twttr”), as its owner aims to resell it to give half to charity. That’s just 0.2% of the $2.9 million the buyer originally paid for — leading the owner to say he “may never sell it.”

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

How a Dutch clinic pioneered pediatric transgender healthcare

The Amsterdam-based Center of Expertise on Gender Dysphoria was founded in the 1970’s. The goal of this clinic was to work with young children and their parents to address gender identity issues, writes Frieda Klotz for Undark.

⚧️ Gender dysphoria is the experiencing of distress that occurs when a person’s gender identity does not match the sex they were assigned at birth. For some, the negative feelings go away with time, however for others, the distress continues into the years leading up to puberty. These young people can then come to the clinic and embark on a treatment protocol that lasts around six months where they are closely accompanied by professionals.

🏥🛑 This clinic also known as “the Dutch clinic”— was one of the rare places in the world where children could receive transgender medical care. After results were published showing the effectiveness of the protocol, this practice became widely influential. But there are still a lot of unanswered questions regarding this practice. And the Dutch clinic is receiving backlash from right-wing politicians, religious conservatives or health care associations that would like to see this practice banned while some physicians criticize the clinic for being too slow in the path of gender transition.

⚠️ The Dutch clinic is cautious in providing aid and support between each intervention and some clinicians now say this is too conservative and could even harm some young patients who would be better off receiving immediate interventions. But the clinic believes that the scientific uncertainties call for providing as much care as needed in order to fully explore the scope of identity.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

We got him.

— After a 30-hour search, NYC Mayor Eric Adams announced the arrest of New York subway shooter Frank R. James saying “My fellow New-Yorkers, we got him.”

✍️ Newsletter by Lisa Berdet, Lila Paulou and Emma Albright


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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Confronting The Dangers Of A War Reporter

Of the some 9,000 journalists believed to have arrived in Ukraine to report on the war, many were under-prepared. A course in France is now training them on how to face the harsh realities of conflict and teaching them essential survival techniques.

The objective of the training is not for journalists to learn how to face dangers but mainly how to avoid them.

Marina Alcaraz

BEAUVAIS — The ground is soaked with blood. A young man screams, struggling to make himself heard amid the gunfire. The bullet-proof vest with the word "PRESS" emblazoned on it seems insignificant in this moment of horror. Under Russian fire, his colleague has to extract him before he bleeds to death. He only has a few seconds to decide how to transport the injured man, who is weighed down by his equipment. Just a few more seconds to evaluate the severity of the wounds. Two serious injuries, a wounded eye… There are only a few minutes to save his life by applying a tourniquet and taking his pulse before calling emergency services, which will in any case only arrive two hours later.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

The crackling of the bullets, the adrenaline, the fear and the silence that follows… the whole scene is utter chaos. Except this is not Ukraine, where the war is still raging. It's a shooting range about 75 kilometers north of Paris.

Emergency training

This simulation is the result of a course organized for journalists and technicians who work in danger zones. In May, a dozen employees of the French public broadcaster — some with experience, others without — spent a week in immersive training. This meant a few days of preparation before leaving for or returning to Ukraine.

In order to cover the war, which takes place just a few hours' flight from Paris, media organizations sent a huge amount of reporters — some 9,000 accredited journalists, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Young freelancers also went of their own accord, sometimes without even the most basic survival knowledge.

"Ukraine has created a sort of training emergency," says Jean-Christophe Gérard, security director of media company France Médias Monde. "The 'press' vest or badge no longer offers the protection it used to.”

Yan Kadouch, an editor and participant in the course, says: "I have been on several fronts, but often behind the army. In Ukraine, I really felt unsafe. With the artillery fire, it's a lottery."

In danger zones, every decision can lead to death

In Ukraine, eight journalists have lost their lives since the start of the war and 16 have been wounded, according to numbers by RSF. The death of French journalist Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff a few weeks ago has left its mark. "He had not even taken any irresponsible risks. This tragedy reminded us how dangerous this war is," says Omar Ouahmane, a senior reporter at Radio France, who has been doing this job for years.

Patrick Chauvel, a veteran photo journalist, agrees. "Unfortunately, you don’t have to go to the front to be killed. In Ukraine, the military uses very heavy weapons, which are rarely seen elsewhere." This training was actually born out of a tragedy: the kidnapping and murder of two French journalists working in 2013 in Mali. Since 2015, this course has welcomed a total of 460 journalists and technicians from audiovisual and print media.

What war preparation involves

Participants are trained by former members of the military. The objective is not to learn how to face dangers but mainly how to avoid them. A bullet-proof vest or even a chemical suit is not enough in Ukraine. It is important to “always be vigilant,” says Michael Illouz, a security expert. “Knowing how to react in certain situation is already a good start.”

For example, in the heat of the first aid exercise, none of the trainees remembered how many shots were fired, and none thought to put on gloves before touching their colleague's wounds. A lot of the advice given is common sense: do not carry your backpack behind you in a minefield to prevent something falling out, do not step too far away from your car to relieve yourself, do not stand next to the armed forces.

To confront them with other possible situations, the journalists are placed in a messy room: an overturned table, chairs on the floor and a pack of cigarettes with a file still intact, in broad daylight. “Everything that seems incoherent should alarm you: there could be explosives,” warns Stéphane Ulhen, a former army mine expert, now a security consultant.

“In danger zones, every decision can lead to death,” he emphasizes. In 2017, three journalists working for a French television program were killed during a mine explosion in Mosul, Iraq. A big part of the training is also focused on gestures that can save a life, following the acronym MARCHE (M = Massive bleeding, A = Airway, R = Respiration, C = Circulation, H = Head & Hypothermia, E = Everything else).

“Bleeding out is the number one cause of preventable death," says Fabrice Simon-Chautemps, a former army paramedic and now a trainer. And the training is quite rigorous: the participants are, for example, capable of treating an evisceration or a thoracic wound affecting the lungs as a first aid measure.

Journalists as targets

Shortly before the terrorist attacks hit Paris on Nov. 13, 2015, a production manager had taken the course. That evening, because she lived in the neighborhood, she went to get her first aid kit and was able to save lives by applying tourniquets.

“It is essential to have first aid skills. Journalists have died because people around them did not know what to do. For example, thanks to this knowledge, I was able to compress a wound on my stomach I had gotten in Panama, with a piece of my shirt and my belt, while waiting for the paramedics that only arrived a few hours later,” says Chauvel.

Even without traveling across the world, the trainees learn how to stay safe in a large crowd. Many journalists were targeted during anti-vaccination protests in France. “A journalist has become a target in certain cases,” says Jean-Christophe Gérard. “Some media outlets assign security guards to them, but I don't think that's the solution: the job is all about going out into the field, being in contact with people, whereas the bodyguard is more likely to try to get in the way. In any case, he wouldn’t be able to do much against an angry crowd.”

But the training is also intended to make people aware of their limits. One of the participants admits never having worn a bullet-proof vest and says they are “extremely heavy” (20-26 lb). Another one is afraid of not having the physical strength to carry someone on their shoulder in case of a real injury.

“I realize that I have been lucky in the past,” says journalist Marie-Pierre Vérot, who decided to take the course. “I have already found myself in complicated situations, for example in the middle of gunfire in a house in Indonesia. My first reflex was to hide under a table, which does not really protect from bullets. I will now take further precautions and think more about possible outcomes.”

A journalist taking pictures in the village of Komyshuvakha, southern Ukraine, after it was bombarded by Russian forces

Dmytro Smoliyenko/Ukrinform/ZUMA

The fixer's role 

Many of the journalists think that the course (marketed at $4,300) should also be followed by their managers, who do not necessarily realize the potential threats, whether those are physical or digital. "Journalists often leave with their personal phones and computers full of documents. If they are captured, there is a risk of finding their sources, for example," says Guillaume Barcelo, an expert in information systems security.

In conflict zones, teams of two or three people are usually tracked by their editors, who help them manage logistics. The journalists must then follow precise protocols with prohibitions and missions. But, in the end, they are the ones who are best able to perceive the danger on the ground, along with the fixer. The fixer is a key component in war reporting. They translate, give guidance on the ground, and bring their network of contacts. In some cases, they even drive and find witnesses. In fact, they take the same risks as their Western colleagues and even risk more reprisals. A fixer in Ukraine generally costs between 250 and 350 dollars a day, but the rate can go up depending on the danger.

Some have become addicted to the field

Some of them are journalists in their own countries, while others come from civil society organizations, “but they all have a sense of resourcefulness,” says Charles Villa, a reporter who has just made a documentary on the profession. In Ukraine, Villa was "surprised to see many fixers taking up arms... Now, with the influx of foreign journalists, some of them who had never done this before are participating.” Especially women. Given the difficulty of finding the right people, some American television stations used specialized protection companies like Chiron, with bodyguards who accompanied the journalists.

If the profession of war reporter is accompanied by a hint of heroism, these journalists are not at all reckless. "Fear is our life insurance," says Omar Ouahmane, who has covered several conflicts.

“We are not looking for adrenaline," says Charles Villa, who attended a training course organized by the army in the south of France a few years ago. "War reporters are mostly reasonable and rational. They seek to emerge in terms of their career, while living extraordinary situations. Some have become addicted to the field," adds Denis Ruellan, a researcher in information and communication sciences and an author of books on war reporters.

A cellar in Chechnya

War reporters know about anxiety. Journalists or technicians in dangerous areas have all come close to serious trouble or even death. Charles Villa has risked his own life on several occasions, in Yemen, or in the Congo when he came face to face with a local warlord. Each one of them recounts with humility the moment when everything changed. Omar Ouahmane remembers a report in Sirte (a city in Libya) where the experienced Dutch photographer, Jeroen Oerlemans, was shot in front of him while crossing a street. "What saved me was that I took some time to observe before I went to follow him."

Patrick Chauvel spent a few hours in a cellar in Chechnya, sure that he was going to stay there and managed to get out by running at the right moment. Not everyone was so lucky.

So what drives war reporters to do their jobs? “I love adventure, the physical side, meeting extraordinary people, living history," answers Patrick Chauvel.

”It is in conflict zones that humanity stands out the most," adds Omar Ouahmane.That’s where we belong as journalists."

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