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Photo of a crowd of Hindu devotees performing rituals during the month-long Madhav Narayan festival in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Hindu devotees at the Madhav Narayan festival in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Jane Herbelin and Anne-Sophie Goninet

👋 សួស្តី*

Welcome to Wednesday, where Putin sends mixed messages on Ukraine showdown, Tonga goes into lockdown and the Queen is victim of a special typo. From Germany, Die Welt uncovers a system of parents and doctors defying national regulations to have children under 5 vaccinated.

[*Susadei - Khmer, Cambodia]


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🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• COVID update: Germany has registered a record 208,498 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, as the country’s total number of infections passes the 10-million mark. Tonga, which had registered zero infections since closing its borders in March 2020, will go into lockdown after positive tests of two port workers helping distribute international aid in the wake of last month’s volcanic eruption and tsunami. Meanwhile, the Winter Olympic torch relay kicked off in Beijing, for a journey which was reduced to three days due to COVID-19 restrictions.

• Putin’s mixed message for U.S.: In his first comments on the U.S.-Russia standoff over Ukraine in more than a month, Russian president Vladimir Putin accused the U.S. and its allies of ignoring the country’s top security demands on NATO’s expansion, but said Moscow was willing to ease tensions.

• Coup attempt in Guinea Bissau, several killed: The president of Guinea Bissau Umaro Cissoko Embaló said he has survived a coup attempt after attackers tried to kill him and his cabinet at the government palace. Four attackers and two guards have been reported killed.

• Japan parliament adopts rare resolution on human rights in China: Japan’s parliament has adopted a rare resolution expressing concerns over what it called the “serious human rights situations” in China, including the "genocide" perpetrated gainst its Uyghur Muslim population, and Hong Kong.

• Whoopi Goldberg suspended over Holocaust remark: Whoopi Goldberg has been suspended for two weeks from ABC News U.S talk show after falsely saying the Holocaust was “not about race” as it involved "two groups of white people." Goldberg apologized for the comments Monday night.

• India to launch digital rupee: India's finance minister announced the country will introduce a digital version of the rupee as early as this year, and impose a 30% tax on incomes from virtual currencies.

• Royal typo: 10,800 tea cups, mugs and plates were produced in China and sent to be sold in the United Kingdom, to mark The Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. The only problem: an inscription misspelling the event as “Platinum Jubbly”.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

“Weapons of mass confusion,” titles Ukrainian daily Vesti, writing that while the West continues to supply weapons to Ukraine to resist a potential invasion from Russia, experts argue that this is not “in line with the military strategies of the 21th century.”

💬  LEXICON

Candlemas

Candlemas, from Old English candelmæsse, also called El día de la Candelaria in Spanish, is a Christian holiday commemorating the presentation of Jesus at the Temple. The celebration occurs 40 days after Christmas, on Feb. 2. As tradition goes, many Mexicans buy garments to dress up miniature dolls symbolizing baby Jesus. A Mexican artisan told La Prensa Latina that he was hopeful for an economic recovery thanks to sales surrounding the traditional Candlemas celebration, returning this year in spite of the pandemic.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

Where parents and doctors dare to vaccinate under-5 kids against COVID

No country has approved the COVID-19 vaccines for small children, with trials still underway and Pfizer awaiting FDA authorization in the U.S. for under-5-year-olds. Berlin-based daily Die Welt’s reporter Anna Parrisius met the founders of an association in Germany that has decided not to wait, connecting parents who want to vaccinate their babies and toddlers with doctors willing to go "off-label" and defy national regulations.

💉🧒 Anja Kunz saw the COVID-19 vaccination as the only means to get out of isolation with her son Leon, who has a heart condition. Kunz had her child vaccinated when he was four years old — without assent from the European Medicines Agency. For children under five, the approval is still pending. As a result of complications following a heart surgery in the fall of 2020, Leon was considered a high-risk patient. The mother said she "begged" for vaccination from the doctors, but no one was willing to do it.

🧑⚕️ In August 2021, Kunz founded a network that in November gave rise to the portal u12schutz ("U12 protection"), which Kunz put together with other parents. "Right now, we get 200 to 300 inquiries a day. Many are concerned about increased COVID outbreaks in daycare centers, worried that their child could suffer long-term damage after COVID," says Luisa Martin, another founder, and mother of three. Across Germany, more than 60 doctors are willing to administer vaccines now. "Many also use our network because they want to remain anonymous, afraid of being attacked by vaccination opponents."

⚠️ Family doctor Wolfgang von Meissner vaccinates even the youngest children, because he wants to protect them from long-term effects of COVID. "In that age group, you don't really know how many are going to get it," he says. "But the vaccine in my view is clearly the lesser risk." But Jakob Maske, spokesman for the professional association of pediatricians and adolescents, currently considers vaccination for children under the age of five to be "medically inappropriate." In this age group there are so far very rare cases of severe consequences or long-term damage.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

624

American football quarterback legend Tom Brady announced he was officially retiring from the National Football League (NFL) after 22 seasons and seven Super Bowl titles. Regarded as the greatest quarterback of all time, Brady holds several NFL records, with 84,520 passing yards, 624 touchdown passes and 243 regular season wins.

✍️ Newsletter by Jane Herbelin and Anne-Sophie Goninet


Worldcrunch copy editors would love a “jubbly” mug from the Queen. Let us know what’s happening in your corner of the world!

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Kharkiv Revisited: Inside Russia's New Assault On The "Hero City" Of Ukraine

The nation's second-largest city, Kharkiv was quiet for weeks after Ukrainian forces took control. But now it is again under attack as Russia pushes to capture the city that's considered the "gateway" to Ukraine. Die Welt reports from the frontline.

Damages due to Russian shelling in Kharkiv, Ukraine

Alfred Hackensberger

KHARKIV — "Come, I want to show you something," Denys Vezenych says, opening the door of his dental office.

The 40-year-old begins to tell the story in the waiting room: "It was April 16 when the Russian artillery shell hit. The windowpanes were broken, the walls had holes everywhere and the roof was destroyed. But I renovated everything."

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The repairs cost him several thousand euros. "You have to think positively, because life goes on," he explains with a smile. But this attitude is not so present generally in Saltivka, a neighborhood in northeastern Kharkiv. The dental practice may be like new, but the rest of this area in the northeastern Ukrainian city is completely destroyed.

The Russian army has done a great job in its three-month offensive on Ukraine's second largest metropolis. Countless flats have been burned out, the facades of houses have been shot to pieces, entire shopping centers have been bombed. Debris still lie in the streets everywhere.

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