Ukraine Lockstep, Meta vs. Europe, Farewell Ye Olde Pub
Welcome to Tuesday, where the West shows unity on Ukraine, Meta threatens to pull Facebook and Instagram from Europe, and it’s last orders for England’s oldest pub. French daily Les Echos’ correspondent Frédéric Schaeffer slides down the ski slopes in China, where the Olympics have boosted the development of winter sports.
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🌎 7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW
• Ukraine update: U.S. President Joe Biden warned on Monday that the controversial Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline between Russia and Germany would be stopped if Vladimir Putin orders an invasion of Ukraine. Biden also stressed that he and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz were working “in lockstep,” to deter Russian aggression. Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron will meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv today to discuss the situation, a day after high-stakes talks at the Kremlin.
• COVID update: Hong Kong reported a record 625 coronavirus cases and introduced new coronavirus restrictions on Tuesday. In New Zealand, hundreds of demonstrators against vaccine mandates and COVID-19 restrictions drove in convoy to the capital Wellington on Tuesday, clogging the street outside the Parliament for hours. Meanwhile, Malaysia's coronavirus recovery council says it plans on fully reopening the country’s borders as early as March 1, as part of plans to accelerate economic recovery.
• New virulent HIV strain: A study led by the University of Oxford highlights the discovery of a new HIV variant, with higher virulence and more damaging health impacts. However, the researchers also show that the variant has been circulating in the Netherlands for years and remains receptive to treatment.
• Australian parliament apologizes to sexual harassment victims: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, along with leading lawmakers, has apologized to employees of the federal Parliament for a culture of pervasive sexual assault, bullying and harassment in the nation's halls of power.
• Meta threatens to close down Facebook and Instagram in Europe: Social media giant Meta warns it may have to shut down Facebook and Instagram in Europe, if European data regulations keep preventing the company from transferring user data back to the U.S. The company says it is still confident an agreement will be worked out in the coming months.
• Beijing Winter Olympics: Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai made a public appearance to watch skier Eileen Gu win gold in the women’s freestyle Big Air competition at the Beijing Olympics. Meanwhile, U.S. figure skater Nathan Chen scored a world record of 113.97 points in the individual men’s short programme on Tuesday. Chinese figure skater Zhu Yi has faced intense criticism on Chinese social media after she fell several times on the ice, pushing the national team out of the medals.
• 1,000-year-old English pub to close its doors: Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, a pub located north of London which claims to be the oldest in Britain, operating since 793 AD, is being forced to close its doors due to financial problems worsened by the coronavirus pandemic.
🗞️ FRONT PAGE
French daily Libération features France’s president Emmanuel Macron and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin during their meeting in Moscow on Monday, facing each other at both ends of a long table (see original photo here), to discuss a potential “de-escalation of the Ukrainian crisis.”
#️⃣ BY THE NUMBERS
British multinational oil and gas company BP recorded an annual profit of $12.85 billion in 2021, its highest in eight years, partly thanks to soaring natural gas and electricity prices around the world due to tight gas supplies and higher demand.
📰 STORY OF THE DAY
China's ski boom is bigger than the Olympics
In 10 years, skiing has exploded in China. The Winter Olympic Games in Beijing and the growing middle class have served as springboards for this craze, reports French daily Les Echos’ correspondent Frédéric Schaeffer. Are we seeing the beginnings of a great skiing nation or should we put on the breaks?
⛷️ Skiing started in China in the mid-1990s when the northern city of Harbin hosted the Asian Winter Games. But it is only in the last 10 years that the practice has really taken off. The Winter Olympics in Beijing have had an accelerating effect, with winter sports becoming a national issue pushed by the country's highest authorities. Known for its long-term planning, the communist regime immediately published a "snow plan" for 2016-2025. It is said that winter sports will represent a market of one trillion yuan (156 billion dollars) in 2025.
🏔️ The development of skiing in China goes hand in hand with the explosion of the middle class and the fourfold increase in disposable income in 10 years. Han Yuanjun, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Tourism, says: “This corresponds perfectly to the expectations of a category of the population in search of a new way of life and leisure.” The mountains are also an escape from the pollution of the big cities. At Thaiwoo, a resort near Beijing where Club Med is about to open a village, the information panel gives both the temperature and the pollution index.
⚠️ There are many challenges to make skiing in China a long-term success and to prevent the momentum from falling back like in Japan and South Korea. Koreans did not catch the ski fever at all after the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics. "Over there, skiing was sold as entertainment and quickly went out of fashion," says consultant Laurant Vana. Learning is a major issue because the first experiences are often disappointing. It’s impossible to replicate the traditional methods of teaching alpine skiing over a week, as is done in the Alps, with Chinese skiers in search of immediate satisfaction and autonomy.
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Tooting a horn is not an expression of any great thought I'm aware of.
— Canada’s judge Hugh McLean has ordered protesting truckers in Ottawa to stop honking their horns for the next 10 days following complaints from local residents and business owners. The “Freedom Convoy” protests, which started as demonstrations against vaccine requirements for truckers crossing the U.S.-Canada border, have been paralyzing Ottawa’s city center for more than a week, prompting its mayor to declare a state of emergency on Monday.
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