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In The News

Sudan Ceasefire, Biden Announces 2024 Bid, Chinese Shots

Photo of a baby crying during ​April 25 that marks the 37th National Childhood Vaccination Day in China. Ouch!

April 25 marks the 37th National Childhood Vaccination Day in China. Ouch!

Emma Albright, Ginevra Falciani, Sophie Jacquier, and Anne-Sophie Goninet

👋 Yokwe!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where violence in Sudan diminished overnight amid a 72-hour truce, U.S. President Joe Biden announces he will run for re-election in 2024, and a study links eating fried foods to feeling, well, fried. Meanwhile, Ramón Oliver in Spanish media Ethic explores the spreading phenomenon of technophobia in our AI age, and explains how it can be cured.

[*Marshallese, Marshall Islands]


Ukraine's spring counteroffensive has been delayed again — here's why

Analysts have been talking about a Ukrainian counteroffensive since the end of last year. But when, where and how it will happen is still a closely guarded secret, thrown into further turmoil by the embarrassing leaks from inside the U.S. Defense Department. Ultimately, however, there are other factors that matter more, report Yevhen Buderatskyi, Olha Kyrylenko, Roman Romaniuk and Roman Kravets in Ukrainian online newspaper Ukrainska Pravda.

All last winter and into the spring, media and military analysts talked about the Russian offensive in Donbas and the upcoming Ukrainian counteroffensive. But military and political leaders say all of this talk is nothing more than reading tea leaves. According to the secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council, Oleksiy Danilov, at most five people know where and when the Ukrainian counteroffensive will begin.

In early February, top Ukrainian military and political leaders held closed-door briefings for G7 diplomats. At the time, the counteroffensive was planned for April or May. But in early April, secret Pentagon documents were leaked to the public on gaming servers.

The head of Ukraine's Main Intelligence Directorate, Kyrylo Budanov, believes that this was a Kremlin information operation to strike at relations between Ukraine and the U.S., while other Ukrainian military officials believe that the U.S. will benefit the most from it: both Kyiv and Moscow discovered that Washington has a wide range of data on their forces.

Still, the Ukrainian military says the U.S. leak hasn't disrupted planning. "This data leak will not affect the counteroffensive in any way. There is no word about our real plans," says a senior Ukrainian security official. "We have plans, the General Staff has approved them, and we are moving slowly. The next couple of months will be difficult."

The forecast for when the counteroffensive will start has already shifted to May or June. But the reason for these changes is not the leaked documents, but spring rain and flooding, which complicates military logistics and the movement of heavy equipment, as well as delayed weapons shipments from Ukraine's allies.

"The world loves winners. Understand that if we show success and the ability to win during the counteroffensive, this will be key to our partners' willingness to continue to help us. Without victories, it won't be easy to maintain support. Therefore, we need to win," explains one politician in the Presidential Administration.

The success of the military operations will determine the further course of events in many areas: from the very existence of Ukraine within its borders and its place in the geopolitical game, to purely domestic political developments. [...]

Read the full Ukrainska Pravda article by Yevhen Buderatskyi, Olha Kyrylenko, Roman Romaniuk and Roman Kravets, translated into English by Worldcrunch.


• Ceasefire in Sudan: Fighting in Sudan diminished overnight after the army and a rival paramilitary force agreed to a 72-hour truce. But gunfire could still be heard on Tuesday while Arab, Asian and Western nations were racing to extract their citizens from the country. It is the fourth attempt to stop the fighting which began on April 15, with previous truces not being respected.

• Biden for 2024: U.S. President Joe Biden has announced he will run for re-election in 2024 in a pre-recorded video posted online this morning. Biden said it was a pivotal moment in history, with freedoms and rights under threat. "This is not a time to be complacent," he said. "That's why I'm running."

• Russia’s Lavrov hosts UN meeting on “international peace”: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was “causing massive suffering and devastation” at a UN Security Council meeting chaired by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Meanwhile Ukraine’s allies condemned the Russia-convened meeting at the UN and called it a “cynical exercise”.

• Guatemala pledges support for Taiwan: Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei has pledged his unconditional support for Taiwan on Tuesday. This comes as China is stepping up pressure on the handful of countries that still maintain formal ties with the island. Guatemala is one of the only 13 countries with official diplomatic ties with China-claimed Taiwan.

• Mob lynch and set fire to suspected gang members in Haiti: More than a dozen suspected gang members in Haiti were lynched and their bodies set on fire by residents in the capital Port-au-Prince. The United Nations warned that insecurity in the city had “reached levels comparable to countries in armed conflict”.

• Fox News and CNN (coincidentally) fire big stars on same day: Fox News on Monday fired right-wing commentator Tucker Carlson, the U.S.’s highest-rated cable TV host. This comes less than a week after Fox settled a defamation lawsuit from the voting machine company Dominion over the cable network's coverage of the 2020 presidential election, including lies repeatedly reported by Carlson. Meanwhile, just hours later, CNN announced it was firing its veteran anchor Don Lemon, who co-hosted its morning show, after accusations of misogyny and conflict with other staffers.

• And you thought French fries made you happy…: A research team in Hangzhou, China, found that frequent consumption of fried foods, especially French fries, was linked with a 12% higher risk of anxiety and 7% higher risk of depression than in people who do not consume fried foods.


South Korean daily The Dong-a Ilbo devotes its front page to the upcoming South Korea-U.S. summit. South Korea's President Yoon Suk Yeol will meet his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden in Washington on Wednesday as part of a seven-day state visit. The leaders are expected to expand the security partnership between the two countries, amid increasing fears over North Korea’s growing military capabilities.



Water storage levels in parts of Italy are less than half their normal levels and the country is bracing for a second consecutive year of severe drought. Major lakes are well below their seasonal average levels, among them the northern Lake Garda has reached its lowest point with about 38% of its capacity.


ChatGPT v. Luddites: How AI has triggered a new wave of technophobia

Fear of technology is contagious, linked to the rapid evolution of breakthroughs and their impact. So what exactly is technophobia in our AI age... and can it be cured? asks Ramón Oliver in Spanish magazine Ethic.

😨💻 Technophobia, digital phobia or cyberphobia are some of the terms that designate a phenomenon that is spreading almost as fast as the developments it opposes. Innovations such as artificial intelligence, 5G, the internet of things or big data provoke as much admiration and curiosity in some people as dread in others. “The feeling of fear of the unknown and of what takes us out of our comfort zone is normal,” says Viviana Konstantynowsky, a computer engineer and innovation expert.

🤖 The detractors of technology take different forms and positions. There are those who simply feel insecure because they are overwhelmed by its continuous advances, and there are those who reject it outright because they believe that robots and machines will destroy their way of life. The latter follow in the footsteps of the Luddites of the first Industrial Revolution, artisans who sabotaged the first mechanized looms because they were destroying jobs.

⚠️ Technological fear has devastating effects. “It paralyzes us and prevents us from moving towards our goals,” says Konstantynowsky, who warns about the negative effects of so-called “limiting beliefs.” The expert speaks of “a perception of reality that prevents us from growing, prevents us from facing new challenges and hinders our decision-making.”

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com



Video game manufacturer Nintendo has revealed that it has altered the Japanese name of a character in The Super Mario Bros. Movie, ahead of the movie's debut in the country later this month. The character will be renamed from "Blackie" (ブラッキー) to "Spike" (スパイク) in Japanese, which matches the name used in Europe and the United States. Nintendo did not give a reason for altering the name, although there is speculation that the previous name could have been interpreted as a racist insult.


“Let’s finish the job.”

— U.S. President Joe Biden announced he will run for re-election in 2024, posting a video on Twitter alongside the message: “Every generation has a moment where they have had to stand up for democracy. To stand up for their fundamental freedoms. I believe this is ours.”


April 25 marks the 37th National Childhood Vaccination Day in China. Ouch! — Photo: Cfoto/ZUMA

✍️ Newsletter by Ginevra Falciani, Sophie Jacquier, Inès Mermat and Anne-Sophie Goninet

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Brazil's Evangelical Surge Threatens Survival Of Native Afro-Brazilian Faith

Followers of the Afro-Brazilian Umbanda religion in four traditional communities in the country’s northeast are resisting pressure to convert to evangelical Christianity.

image of Abel José, an Umbanda priest

Abel José, an Umbanda priest

Agencia Publica
Géssica Amorim

Among a host of images of saints and Afro-Brazilian divinities known as orixás, Abel José, 42, an Umbanda priest, lights some candles, picks up his protective beads and adjusts the straw hat that sits atop his head. He is preparing to treat four people from neighboring villages who have come to his house in search of spiritual help and treatment for health ailments.

The meeting takes place discreetly, in a small room that has been built in the back of the garage of his house. Abel lives in the quilombo of Sítio Bredos, home to 135 families. The community, located in the municipality of Betânia of Brazil’s northeastern state of Pernambuco, is one of the municipality’s four remaining communities that have been certified as quilombos, the word used to refer to communities formed in the colonial era by enslaved Africans and/or their descendents.

In these villages there are almost no residents who still follow traditional Afro-Brazilian religions. Abel, Seu Joaquim Firmo and Dona Maura Maria da Silva are the sole remaining followers of Umbanda in the communities in which they live. A wave of evangelical missionary activity has taken hold of Betânia’s quilombos ever since the first evangelical church belonging to the Assembleia de Deus group was built in the quilombo of Bredos around 20 years ago. Since then, other evangelical, pentecostal, and neo-pentecostal churches and congregations have established themselves in the area. Today there are now nine temples spread among the four communities, home to roughly 900 families.

The temples belong to the Assembleia de Deus, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and the World Church of God's Power, the latter of which has over 6,000 temples spread across Brazil and was founded by the apostle and televangelist Valdemiro Santiago, who became infamous during the pandemic for trying to sell beans that he had blessed as a Covid-19 cure. Assembleia de Deus alone, who are the largest pentecostal denomination in the world, have built five churches in Betânia’s quilombos.

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