👋 Bună ziua!*
Welcome to Thursday, where a blaze at a Taiwan tower kills at least 46, a suspect is in custody in the deadly Norway bow-and-arrow attack and scientists try to count walruses from space. We also take a look at what unites and opposes Russia's Vladimir and Ukraine's Volodymir.
🌎 7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW
• Taiwan tower blaze kills at least 46: A fire at a 13-floor residential and commercial tower in Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan, has killed at least 46 and injured dozens more. The cause of the blaze is still under investigation.
• Five killed in Norway bow-and-arrow attack: A man armed with a bow and arrow killed five people and injured two others in a series of attacks in the Norwegian town of Kongsberg, near Oslo. A 37-year-old Danish man, previously flagged to the police over fears of radicalization after he converted to Islam, has been apprehended and questioned overnight.
• Beirut protest turns deadly: Gunfire at a Hezbollah-led protest killed at least three in Beirut. The demonstrators were calling for the removal of the judge investigating last year's explosion at the Lebanese capital's port. Army tanks were deployed in the area.
• COVID update: New Zealand reports its biggest rise in COVID-19 cases in six weeks with all cases located in Auckland, which raises prospects of a further extension of lockdown restrictions beyond next week. Meanwhile, a group of experts is tasked with investigating how the pandemic emerged, in what WHO calls a "last chance to understand the origins of this virus."
• Kenyan world record runner stabbed to death: The 25-year-old Kenyan athlete, who broke the women-only 10,000-meter road record last month has been found stabbed to death at her home in Iten. Her husband is suspected, with police saying he has gone missing.
• Carbon emissions from rich countries rose rapidly in 2021: Emissions from the world's 20 richest countries are flaring up again this year as the global economy rebounds, according to a new study. Its authors say that the continued use of fossil fuels is undermining efforts to reverse warming temperatures. China, India, and Argentina are expected to exceed their 2019 emissions levels.
• Walrus counting from space: Researchers are on the hunt for "citizen scientists" to search for walruses through satellite images, from their own computers. The project aims to give conservationists a better understanding of how global warming is affecting the species.
🗞️ FRONT PAGE
Colombian daily El Espectador asks "How much longer?" after fans at a recent football match between Colombia and Brazil defied current rules about wearing face masks, which rekindled debate in the country about strict regulations regarding the use of masks to combat the spread of COVID-19.
#️⃣ BY THE NUMBERS
Poland is planning to spend some 1.6 billion zlotys ($404 million) to build a border wall to prevent migrants illegally entering from Belarus, which has become a transit country for thousands from the Middle East and Africa seeking to arrive in the European Union. The conservative government approved the construction after Poland, which is part of the EU, had already started building a barbed wire fence along the border that did not manage to prevent migrants from crossing over.
📰 STORY OF THE DAY
Russia and Ukraine, the meaning of a bad status quo
Despite being parties of one conflict and neighbors and comrades of the same historical events, it is now obvious that Russia and Ukraine — or at least their very different leaders, Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky — are living in opposing realities, writes Anna Akage.
🇷🇺🇺🇦 The best we can say about the recent visits of U.S. Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland to Moscow with top European officials Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel to Kyiv was that these high-level meetings ensured the status quo in the longstanding Russia-Ukraine conflict. But that is a status quo measured in dead negotiations in the Normandy Format over the simmering war on the border and the status of Crimea. It is the status quo of the shared disapproval of the situation, and the clarity of the opposing directions chosen by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky.
🤝 Moscow has achieved what it wanted: Direct negotiations with the Americans regarding Ukraine have now been resumed. Notably, the request for Nuland's meeting with his Russian counterparts came directly from Washington. It was their initiative and, as Nuland put it, the aim was to construct "stable and predictable relations."To make it possible, the Russians lifted sanctions on Nuland, just as the Americans spared a number of Russian diplomats from punitive measures. And it is the U.S., not the EU, that Putin wants to negotiate with
⏸️ Hopes and demands are what's guiding the Ukrainian president. Still Zelensky must contend with the fact that from Moscow he's seen as not a fully autonomous figure and from the European Union as a little boy who can wait.Zelensky is eager to negotiate with his Russian counterpart; he talks almost every week about the need to meet with Putin either one-on-one or in the Normandy format. But the negotiations are on hold — just as they were during the presidency of his predecessor, Petro Poroshenko.
➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com
"I hope I never recover from this"
— Canadian actor William Shatner (a.k.a. Star Trek's Captain Kirk) tearfully described his 10-minute journey of boldly going to the edge of space and back. Aboard Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin capsule, Shatner, 90, became the oldest person to be beamed up into space.
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