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Major Russian Advance, Pakistan Mosque Toll Rising, Bear On Mars

Major Russian Advance, Pakistan Mosque Toll Rising, Bear On Mars

Rescue teams are scrambling to extract people trapped in the rubble after a suicide bombing struck a mosque in the city of Peshawar in Pakistan. The death toll of the attack, one of Pakistan's bloodiest in years, has risen to 92

Emma Albright, Ginevra Falciani and Anne-Sophie Goninet

👋 Konta!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where Russian forces reportedly advance in southeastern Ukraine, the death toll in yesterday's mosque attack in Pakistan rises to 92 and NASA snaps a beary odd photo on the red planet. Meanwhile, Aytug Özçolak in independent online Turkish news site Diken looks at the economic evidence of the chumminess between Russia’s Putin and Turkey’s Erdogan.

[*Papiamento, Dutch Caribbean]

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🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• Russian force advances in major assault in Ukraine: A large Russian force has advanced in a major new assault on a Ukrainian-held bastion in southeastern Ukraine. Russian officials have claimed the advance had secured a foothold in the coal-mining town of Vuhledar. Kyiv has acknowledged heavy fighting there but says it has repelled the push so far and inflicted heavy losses on the Russians.

• China claims COVID wave is ending as economy rebounds: China’s wave of COVID-19 is “coming to an end”, health officials have claimed following the lunar new year holiday period ending with no new surge in infections. The Chinese government released figures on Tuesday showing a major rise in tourism and hospitality activity compared to the same time last year as part of what the International Monetary Fund says is part of a broader economic rebound that would bold well for the global economy.

• Pakistan death toll rises in mosque blast: The death toll has risen to 92 after a suicide bombing Monday at a mosque in the city of Peshawar, Pakistan. Rescue operations continue, with nine people pulled alive from the rubble so far.

• Bolsonaro seeks U.S. tourist visa: Former Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro has applied for a six-month tourist visa to remain in the United States despite calls for any U.S. visas held by Bolsonaro to be revoked after recent violent protests in Brazil. The former President will remain in the U.S. while his application is pending.

• U.S. stops granting export licenses for China's Huawei: The Biden administration has stopped approving licenses for U.S. companies to export most items to China's technology company Huawei. Though it had faced U.S. export restrictions over the past several years, the U.S. Department of Commerce had granted licenses for some American firms to sell certain goods to the company, which is now expected to cease.

• France hit with second strike: A second nationwide strike has disrupted French electricity production, public transport and schools as workers protested against the government's plans to raise the retirement age.

• A bear on Mars: A camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter snapped a photo of a formation in the shape of the face of a bear. Two beady eyes are formed by two craters and a hill with a "V-shaped collapse structure" resembles a snout while a "circular fracture pattern" outlines the head.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

Peruvian daily El Comercio reports on Peru’s Congress resuming debate Tuesday on a bill to move forward elections after lawmakers failed to reach an agreement. The move aims at ending the ongoing anti-government protests which have left at least dozens dead and resolve Peru’s political crisis that started when president Pedro Castillo was arrested and removed from office last December. The daily also features a photograph of the country’s army and national police which have freed the Panamericana Sur highway, ending an 11-day blockade.

💬  LEXICON

бункерного деда

A leak of the source code repository of Yandex Search, Russia’s largest search engine, has revealed that the company censors results for pictures and videos that feature Russian President Vladimir Putin and Z symbols alongside unflattering terms or expressions, independent Russian news website Meduza reports. One of the mostly widely censored monikers for Putin is “bunker grandfather” (бункерный дед, "bunkernogo dieda"), a reference to the now-70-year-old leader’s hunkering down during the past 11 months of war.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

It's a golden era for Russia-Turkey relations — just look at the numbers

On the diplomatic and political level, no world leader speaks more regularly with Vladimir Putin than his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. But the growing closeness of Russia and Turkey can also be measured in the economic data. And the 2022 numbers are stunning, reports Aytug Özçolak in independent online Turkish news site Diken.

🇷🇺🇹🇷 Ankara has committed billions of dollars to buy the Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile system, and contracted with Russia to build Turkey's first nuclear power plant. The countries’ foreign policies are also becoming increasingly aligned. But the depth of this relationship goes much further. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaks to Russian President Vladimir Putin more than any other leader: 16 times in 2022, and 11 times in 2021.

⛴️💰 But no less important is the way the two countries are increasingly tied together by commerce. In 2015, China was the number one source of exports to Turkey, having shipped $24.8 billion of goods to Turkey that year, followed by Germany at $21.3 billion and Russia at $20.3 billion. This ranking remained unchanged for the next three years, until Russia took a narrow lead in 2018 and 2019. China returned to the top in 2020 and 2021, but in 2022, Russia took first place by a long shot: $54.3 billion.

🏠 Finally, let’s check the real estate market. Previously, people from Middle Eastern countries were the top buyers of housing in Turkey — in particular Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Iran. But that changed in 2022, when there were more than twice as many Russian buyers as Iranians. Russians bought three times as many properties in Turkey in 2022 compared to the previous year. After taking first or second place for years, Iraqis are now in third place while Iranians, among the top five since 2015, are sitting in second, behind Russia.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

+93%

The number of endangered rhinos poached in Namibia reached an all-time high last year, with 87 animals (61 black and 26 white rhinos) compared with 45 in 2021 — a 93% increase. Most of the rhinos were found in Etosha, Namibia’s largest park.

✍️ Newsletter by Emma Albright, Ginevra Falciani, Anne-Sophie Goninet and Bertrand Hauger


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Society

Tales From A Blushing Nation: Exploring India's 'Issues' With Love And Sex

Why is it that this nation of a billion-plus has such problems with intimacy and romance?

Photo of Indian romance statues

Indian romance statues

Sreemanti Sengupta

KOLKATA — To a foreigner, India may seem to be a country obsessed with romance. What with the booming Bollywood film industry which tirelessly churns out tales of love and glory clothed in brilliant dance and action sequences, a history etched with ideal romantics like Laila-Majnu or the fact that the Taj Mahal has immortalised the love between king Shahjahan and queen Mumtaz.

It is difficult to fathom how this country with a billion-plus population routinely gets red in the face at the slightest hint or mention of sex.

It therefore may have come as a shock to many when the ‘couple-friendly’ hospitality brand OYO announced that they are “extremely humbled to share that we observed a record 90.57% increase in Valentine’s Day bookings across India.”

What does that say about India’s romantic culture?

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