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In The News

Wagner Pulls Out Of Bakhmut, Korean Military Drills, RIP Tina Turner

Wagner Pulls Out Of Bakhmut, Korean Military Drills, RIP Tina Turner

A South Korean tank fire during South Korea-U.S. joint military drills in Pocheon, South Korea.

South Korean Defence Ministry
Emma Albright, Yannick Champion-Osselin, Sophie Jacquier and Anne-Sophie Goninet

👋 Ha’u!*

Welcome to Thursday, where the Russian Wagner paramilitary group says it has started withdrawing from the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, the U.S. and South Korea launch live fire military drills near the North Korean border and “the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll” Tina Turner dies at age 85. Meanwhile, Bartosz T. Wielinski in Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza shows how Poland’s ruling PiS party is up to its old scapegoating antics again, this time with Ukraine as its target.

[*Hopi, Arizona, U.S.]


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• Wagner forces begin withdrawal from Bakhmut: Wagner forces have begun withdrawing from Bakhmut and will hand over positions to the Russian army, according to the mercenary group’s chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, claiming to have captured Ukraine’s city. Meanwhile, the New York Times reported that U.S. sources believe a drone attack on the Kremlin earlier this month was probably orchestrated by a Ukrainian special military or intelligence unit.

• South Korea, U.S. troops to hold live-fire drills near border with North Korea: The South Korean and U.S. militaries conducted large live-fire drills near the border with North Korea on Thursday, despite the North’s warning that it won’t tolerate what it calls an invasion rehearsal on its doorstep. The drills mark 70 years since the establishment of the military alliance between Seoul and Washington.

• DeSantis joins White House race, tripped up by chaotic Twitter launch: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis had a rocky start to his 2024 presidential election campaign on Wednesday when glitches plagued an online forum announcing his candidacy hosted by Twitter owner Elon Musk. The Twitter broadcast of the hour-long launch interview lost sound for extended stretches and thousands of users were either unable to join or were dropped.

• Iran successfully launches ballistic missile: Iran successfully test-launched a ballistic missile with a potential 1200 mile-range on Thursday, two days after the chief of Israel's armed forces raised the prospect of "action" against Tehran over its nuclear program.

• UN celebrates 75 years of peacekeeping: The United Nations is marking the 75th anniversary of U.N. peacekeeping on Thursday, with a ceremony honoring the more than 4,200 peacekeepers who have died since 1948 when the U.N. Security Council first voted to send military observers to the Middle East.

• Suez canal traffic returns to normal after a ship was stranded: Tugboats refloated a large ship that had been stranded for several hours in the Suez Canal on Thursday. Sources said shipping traffic through one of the world's busiest waterways had returned to normal around six hours after the incident began and three-and-a-half hours after the vessel was refloated.

• Tina Turner dies at 83: Queen of Rock’n’roll, Tina Turner has died at age 83. Turner had suffered a number of health issues in recent years including cancer, a stroke and kidney failure. After escaping an abusive marriage with her husband Ike Turner, she went on to find great success as a solo artist in the 1980s.


Like many other international newspapers (Brazil’s Folha de S. Paulo, Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine or Italy’s La Repubblica) French daily Libération pays frontpage homage to music royalty Tina Turner, who died yesterday at 83. One of the most influential pop icons, whose career spanned six decades, including a legendary comeback in the 1980s, the “Queen of Rock 'n' Roll” was known for her dynamic stage presence and hits including “Proud Mary”, “We Don’t Need Another Hero” or “What's Love Got to Do With It”.


$950 billion

Shares in California-based technology company Nvidia surged nearly 30% as demand for its AI hardware booms. Its forecast revenue was also 50% higher than Wall Street estimates, as its artificial-intelligence chips are being purchased to power services like ChatGPT. This has solidified its place as the world's most valuable chipmaker and one of Wall Street's most prized companies with a current stock market value of $950 billion.


Why Poland's ruling party has suddenly turned on Ukraine — with the wounds of history

The Polish government has recently demanded official apologies from Kyiv (which is busy fighting off the Russian invasion) for historic war crimes committed by Ukrainian nationalists against ethnic Poles during World War II. The ruling PiS party is up to its old tricks of scapegoating for votes, writes Bartosz T. Wielinski in Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza.

🇵🇱 In the midst of rising tensions between the otherwise close allies, Lukasz Jasina, the spokesman for the Polish Foreign Ministry unequivocally demanded that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky issue a public apology to Poland for historic crimes in the Volhynia region. In that ugly chapter of World War II, Ukrainian nationalists killed up to 100,000 ethnic Poles, including many women and children, in what is widely considered an act of ethnic cleansing.

🇺🇦 Jasina's statement, which appeared on May 19 in Onet.pl, Poland's largest online news platform, resulted in exactly what he wanted: a declaration that Poland has stopped unconditionally supporting the Ukrainian war effort, and a forecast that Polish-Ukrainian relations will emerge as a new issue ahead of this coming fall's national elections.

🗳️ The current ruling party is not guaranteed to win a Parliamentary majority. That has left longtime PiS party leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, to once again reach for his tried-and-true methods. A new scapegoat has been found. For PiS, it is the ungrateful Ukrainians, who Poles have helped from the very first days of Russia’s invasion — taking in refugees, sending its own tanks and planes — who now do not want to account for their own criminal history towards Poland.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


“A year has passed and not much has changed.”

A year after the school shooting in southern Texas, where two teachers and 19 children were murdered, Berlinda Arreola, the 50-year-old grandmother of Amerie Jo Garza, a 10-year-old victim, told Al Jazeera: “We want justice and accountability for all law enforcement involved.” Victim's family members have been requesting changes in gun regulations for a year, without much success. “I’m angry. We’re angry,” Belinda Arreola added.

✍️ Newsletter by Emma Albright, Yannick Champion-Osselin, Sophie Jacquier and Anne-Sophie Goninet

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food / travel

Inside The Search For Record-Breaking Sapphires In A Remote Indian Valley

A vast stretch of mountains in India's Padder Valley is believed to house sapphire reserves worth $1.2 billion, which could change the fate of one of the poorest districts of Jammu and Kashmir.

Photo of sapphire miners at work in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kishtwar district

Sapphire mining in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kishtwar district

Jehangir Ali

GULABGARH — Mohammad Abbas recalls with excitement the old days when he joined the hunt in the mountains of Jammu and Kashmir’s Kishtwar district to search the world’s most precious sapphires.

Kishtwar’s sapphire mines are hidden in the inaccessible mountains towering at an altitude of nearly 16,000 feet, around Sumchan and Bilakoth areas of Padder Valley in Machail – which is one of the most remote regions of Jammu and Kashmir.

“Up there, the weather is harsh and very unpredictable,” Abbas, a farmer, said. “One moment the high altitude sun is peeling off your skin and the next you could get frostbite. Many labourers couldn’t stand those tough conditions and fled.”

Abbas, 56, added with a smile: “But those who stayed earned their reward, too.”

A vast stretch of mountains in Padder Valley nestled along Kishtwar district’s border with Ladakh is believed to house sapphire reserves worth $1.2 billion, according to one estimate. A 19.88-carat Kishtwar sapphire broke records in 2013 when it was sold for nearly $2.4 million.

In India, the price of sapphire with a velvety texture and true-blue peacock colour, which is found only in Kishtwar, can reach $6,000 per carat. The precious stone could change the socio-economic landscape of Kishtwar, which is one of the economically most underdeveloped districts of Jammu and Kashmir.

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