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In The News

Taiwan Tensions, Berlusconi In Hospital, Best (And Worst) Public Transit

Image of Protests in Simi Valley, California, after U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a bi-partisan Congressional delegation and Taiwan President Tsai Ing-Wen met at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

Protests in Simi Valley, California, after U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a bi-partisan Congressional delegation and Taiwan President Tsai Ing-Wen met at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Tsai is the first Taiwan president to meet with a U.S. House Speaker on U.S. soil, drawing the ire of China.

Ginevra Falciani, Inès Mermat, Anne-Sophie Goninet and Hugo Perrin

👋 Mogethin!*

Welcome to Thursday, where French President Emmanuel Macron and EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen talk business and Ukraine war with Xi Jinping, Italy’s former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is in intensive care, and Berlin gets the gold for public transportation. Meanwhile, we feature a report of a 17-year-old orphan from the Ukrainian city of Mariupol who’d been forced to go to Russia, and then tried (and failed) to escape back to Ukraine.

[*Yapese - Micronesia]


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China moves warships after Taiwan-U.S. meeting: China has launched military drills in response to a much-anticipated meeting between Taiwan's president Tsai Ing-wen and U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a week after Tsai was feted in New York with a leadership award. Beijing had vowed a "resolute response" and sent warships into the waters around the self-governed island. Tsai's visit comes amidst growing hostility and distrust between the U.S. China.

• Macron counting on Xi to “bring Russia to its senses”: On his state visit to China, French President Emmanuel Macron has urged his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to use his influence to help stop Russia's war in Ukraine. Xi said France and China had the "ability and responsibility" to safeguard world peace. Traveling along with European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, and a large French business delegation, Macron is also seeking to bolster trade ties after years of deteriorating relations between the West and China.

• Wagner advances in Bakhmut as Ukraine gears up for counterattack: Russian forces spearheaded by mercenaries of the Wagner Group seized the center of the eastern city of Bakhmut, though Ukrainian defenders report they were still holding the Russian army at bay. At the same time, pro-Russian civilians were evacuating southern occupied regions as thousands of Ukrainian soldiers completed their overseas training for a counteroffensive that could come later this month.

• Saudi Arabia and Iran agree to reopen embassies during Beijing talks: Saudi Arabia and Iran’s Foreign Ministers met in Beijing on Thursday to discuss key details in the resumption of their bilateral relations following a landmark agreement mediated by China last month. In the highest-level meeting between the two sides in more than seven years, the Ministers agreed to reopen embassies and consulates in their respective countries and to examine ways to expand their cooperation, including the resumption of flights, mutual trips from official delegations and the private sector, and facilitating visas.

• Silvio Berlusconi in intensive care: Four-time Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was admitted to intensive care with breathing problems late Wednesday. The 86-year-old, whose media empire has made him a billionaire, is being treated in a cardiac unit of Milan's San Raffaele hospital. There has been no official comment on his condition, but Italian daily Corriere della Sera quotes sources saying he has been diagnosed with leukemia.

• India’s first Apple store: Apple Inc. revealed the look of its first retail store in India, based on the black and yellow artwork patterned after Mumbai's iconic taxis. The store is still in barricades and is likely to open this month. India has become a big market for the California-based company, which launched an online retail store in the world's second-largest smartphone market in 2020.

• The world’s best cities for public transit are in Europe and Asia: Time Out, the publisher of global city guides, polled 20,000 people in 50 cities to find out how they feel about their local mass transit systems. The top ten is entirely composed of destinations in Asia and Europe, with Berlin landing in the number one spot. The highest entry from North America is New York City at number 15, and no other continents are represented — better luck next year, Buenos Aires, Doha and Melbourne.


“Zelensky thanks Poland”: Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza reports on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s first formal visit to close ally Poland since the start of the Russian invasion in February 2022, a visit during which he expressed his gratitude to Poland for its unconditional support to Ukraine. During their meeting, Polish president Andrzej Duda awarded Zelensky the Order of the White Eagle, Poland’s highest honor.



India’s national railway company has reported that more than 13,000 cattle were hit by trains in 2022 — a 24% increase since the latest report three years ago. Despite efforts to improve railway safety and reduce these incidents, the lack of fencing along India’s vast railway network covering over 67,546 miles and the free roaming of cattle make it a challenging problem to solve.


Russia boasts of capturing a Ukrainian orphan who'd tried to return home

Last spring, after Moscow's troops occupied Mariupol, minors with no parents were forced from the southern city to go to Russia. One 17-year-old recently tried to escape, and return home to be with his sister in Ukraine. He didn't make it — and Russia proudly shared the story.

🇷🇺 A 17-year-old Ukrainian who'd been forcibly taken from occupied Mariupol to Russia at the start of its full-scale invasion was trying to return home, but was captured by Russian security forces at the border with Belarus and will be sent back to Russia. Bogdan Ermokhin’s story illustrates the often unknown fates of thousands of Ukrainian minors who have been forcibly relocated to Russia since the start of the invasion.

🚨 Dmytro Lubinets, Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, responded to the announcement, saying, “It should be noted that this young man has Ukrainian citizenship. His forced transfer to the territory of the aggressor country is therefore not ‘rescue,’ as Lvova-Belova [the so-called ombudsman for Children's Rights in Russia] says, but a crime.”

❓ The Ukrainian website Children of War reports the deportation of 16,226 Ukrainian children to Russian territory. So far, only 308 have been returned home. According to experts, the Russian authorities are "re-educating" at least 6,000 Ukrainian children with Russian propaganda and ideology. What is happening to these children, as well as Ukrainian teenager Bogdan Ermokhin, remains unclear.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


“Were there to be a crisis as a result of China's actions over Taiwan, that would have repercussions for quite literally every country on earth.”

— In an interview with Euronews, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned that any attempt by China to forcefully change the status quo with China would have worldwide repercussions and “terribly disruptive effects on the global economy.” Beijing has vowed to reunite Taiwan, which it considers a breakaway province, with the mainland. Blinken’s comments come as China has condemned the meeting between Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California.

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

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For Seniors, Friendship May Be More Important Than Family

Even if the aging and elderly tend to wind up confined to family circles, Argentine academics Laura Belli and Danila Suárez explore the often untapped benefits of friendship in our later years.

Photograph of two elderly women and an elderly man walking arm in arm. Behind the, there are adverts for famous football players.

Two elderly women and a man walk arm in arm

Philippe Leone/Unsplash
Laura F. Belli and Danila Suárez Tomé

Updated Dec. 10, 2023 at 10:10 p.m.

BUENOS AIRES — What kind of friendship do people most talk about? Most often it is childhood or teenage friendships, while friendships between men and women are repeatedly analyzed. What about friendships among the elderly? How are they affected when friends disappear, at a stage when grieving is already more frequent?

Argentines Laura Belli and Danila Suárez Tomé, two friends with PhDs in philosophy, explore the challenges and benefits of friendship in their book Filosofía de la amistad (Friendship Philosophy).

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They consider how friendships can emerge later in life, in profoundly altered circumstances from those of our youth, with people living through events like retirement, widowhood, reduced autonomy or to a greater or lesser degree, personal deterioration. All these can affect older people's ability to form and keep friendships, even if changes happen at any stage in life.

Filosofía de la amistadexplores the place of friendships amid daunting changes. These are not just the result of ageing itself but also of how one is perceived, nor will they affect everyone exactly the same way. Aging has firstly become a far more diverse experience, with increasing lifespans and better healthcare everywhere, and despite an inevitable restriction in life opportunities, a good many seniors enjoy far greater freedom and life choices than before.

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