Welcome to Monday, where violence rocks Sudan's capital Khartoum for the third day, Europe reacts to Poland and Hungary’s ban on Ukraine grain imports, and Sydney is no longer Australia’s biggest city. Meanwhile, Rome-based daily La Stampa looks at the glaring discrepancy between Italy’s high-speed and regional train lines, a kind of metaphor for the country's two-class society.
[*Susadei - Khmer, Cambodia]
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• Intense fighting rocks Sudan capital for third day: Sudan’s capital Khartoum was bombarded for a third day in deadly fighting between rival military factions that threatens to derail the nation's stumbling shift from autocracy to civilian rule. At least 97 civilians have been killed and 365 injured since the fighting started early Saturday between armed forces and the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces. The U.S. called for a ceasefire Monday as the deadliest clashes in recent decades have also spread to other parts of Sudan.
• EU calls Poland and Hungary’s Ukraine grain ban “not acceptable”: A spokesperson of the European Commission has called Poland and Hungary’s ban on grain “not acceptable.” The ban on grain and other food imports from Ukraine is aimed at protecting local agricultural sectors. After Russia's invasion blocked some Black Sea ports, large quantities of cheap Ukrainian grain ended up staying in Central European states due to logistical bottlenecks, which has impacted local farmers.
• Putin critic jailed for 25 years in Russia: Outspoken Kremlin critic Vladimir Kara-Murza was jailed for 25 years by a Moscow court on Monday, the harshest sentence of its kind since Russia invaded Ukraine. The court found the 41-year-old dual Russian-U.K. citizen guilty of treason and other offenses, which he has denied.
• Former Indian MP shot dead live on TV: Atiq Ahmed, a former Indian Member of Parliament who was convicted of kidnapping, and was also facing murder and assault charges, was shot dead along with his brother while he was being interviewed live on TV. As they took questions from reporters outside a hospital, three men posing as journalists fired more than 20 rounds of bullets at them from close range before surrendering to the police. The assailants are believed to be Hindu nationalists, who stated that they also carried out the killings to gain notoriety.
• Myanmar’s military plans to release prisoners to mark the traditional New Year: Myanmar’s military has announced plans to release 3,113 prisoners, including 98 foreigners, to mark the country’s traditional New Year. The statement by the military on Monday did not specify whether those imprisoned for opposing its power grab in February 2021 would be freed.
• Alabama birthday party shooting: Four people were killed and 28 others injured in a shooting at a 16th birthday party on Saturday night in Dadeville, Alabama, the latest mass shooting in the U.S.
• Melbourne overtakes Sydney as Australia's biggest city: Melbourne has overtaken Sydney as Australia's most populous city for the first time since the 19th Century gold rush, following a boundary change that included the area of Melton. The latest government figures, from June 2021, put Melbourne's population at 4,875,400 — 18,700 more than Sydney.
Japanese daily Mainichi Shimbun reports on the failed attack on Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishima on Saturday, when an explosive device was thrown in his direction during a speech at the port city of Wakayama. A 24-year-old suspect was arrested at the scene. The Japanese leader, unharmed, has vowed to increase security at G7 meetings taking place in his country next month. The attack comes nine months after former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot dead at a political rally.
Japanese gaming giant Sega has agreed to buy Rovio Entertainment, the maker of mobile game phenomenon Angry Bird, for $776 million. Sega, known for its Sonic the Hedgehog character, said the decision was fueled by the aspiration to "strengthen its position" in the global gaming industry.
Two-track nation: What Italy's trains say about the limits of progress
Crossing Sicily by train can take as long as a flight from Rome to New York. The tracks and carriages are outdated, the trains rarely leave on time. Meanwhile, the country's high-speed train lines are state-of-the-art and decidedly punctual. It's a metaphor (and more) for Italy's two-class society, writes Gabriele Romagnoli in Italian daily La Stampa.
⏱️ Italy’s high-speed and regional train lines travel on another network of tracks, have different signs, are prisoners of narrower boundaries. Above all, they follow their own time schedules. The country is on two different time zones when traveling by rail: that of the streamlined convoys of Trenitalia and Italo that more or less respect what is promised on the departures board, and that of regional trains, which subvert all expectations by questioning not only the “when” (it will arrive) but also the “if.”
🚆 They almost never share the same station. If they do, high-speed trains have their own space, underground and invisible. They are worlds apart even before they leave. Upstairs, a diverse group of people stands, harried, and huddled together in front of many parallel tracks. Below is a huge space, with only four tracks. Yet, arrivals and departures are constant, and the haste of passengers is repaid. Above is a constant announcement of delays.
📆 Regional convoys age, but continue to travel. On the Roma Beach route, they are 33 years old on average, 21 years older than the national average. They pass every half hour instead of every 15 minutes. Petitions were signed against the “chicken coops” (platforms and convoys) and people got a “sottiletta” (an additional train every hour and a half).
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