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Photo of heavy snowfall is disrupting life in Kashmir, where traffic was suspended and power supply was cut in several areas after transmission lines and poles were damaged.

Heavy snowfall in Kashmir

Anne-Sophie Goninet and Lorraine Olaya

👋 नमस्ते*

Welcome to Wednesday, where sanctions multiply against Russia, Ukraine is set to declare a month-long state of emergency and China warns against making Taiwan comparisons. Meanwhile, Britney Spears scores a big publishing deal for a tell-all memoir. We also have La Stampa's Francesca Mannocchi exclusive on-the-ground reportage at one of Afghanistan’s rigid, boys-only madrasas near Kabul where the next generation of students is being shaped by the Taliban.

[*Namaste - Hindi]

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🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• Ukraine updates: The Ukrainian security council declares a nationwide state of emergency for 30 days, as Kyiv urges Western nations to impose more sanctions on Russia. Various countries including the UK, U.S. and Japan have already announced sanctions. Germany has halted approval of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline after Russia recognizes the Luhansk and Donetsk regions as independent states. U.S. President Joe Biden refuses to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin unless Russia pulls back its troops.

• Another devastating Madagascar tropical storm: Cyclone Emnati is the latest of four major tropical storms to hit Madagascar in the last month. These consecutive storms have already left nearly 200 people dead and increased issues of food insecurity. Emnati has caused extensive damage to homes and raises many concerns over flooding and food shortages.

• Amsterdam Apple Store hostage situation resolved: Amsterdam police end a hostage situation at an Apple store in Leidseplein after nearly five hours. The 27-year-old suspect, armed with a pistol and automatic rifle, demanded a ransom of 200-million euros in cryptocurrency and a safe exit out of the building. The suspect is now in custody and the hostage, a 44-year-old British man, is safe.

• Uganda proposes penalties for anti-vaxxers: A new law proposed in Uganda’s parliament would impose fines and jail sentences of six months for those refusing to be vaccinated.

• Climate activists block access to German airports: Members of the climate activist group Uprising of the Last Generation blocked roads to airports in Munich, Frankfurt and Berlin. The group demands the government do more to end food waste.

• UEFA urged to relocate Champions League final match: Amid the Ukraine Crisis, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other politicians are urging the European soccer federation UEFA to strip Russia from hosting the Champions League final. The match is scheduled to be played at the Gazprom Arena in St Petersburg on May 28.

• Bear burglar on the run: A massive bear named Hank the Tank is wanted by California police. Hank has broken into almost 40 locked and occupied homes in the Lake Tahoe area in the last six months. Officials have received more than 150 calls about Hank, who is still at large … and large.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

“Putin the invader,” writes Polish tabloid daily Fakt, asking “what will the West do now?” after the Russian president ordered troops into eastern Ukraine and recognized the independence of the two pro-Russian rebel-controlled regions of Donbas and Luhansk.


#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

$15 million

Britney Spears has landed a “record-breaking” publishing deal for a tell-all memoir about her rise to fame, her relationship with her family and her experience living under a conservatorship for more than a decade, with publisher Simon & Schuster securing the deal for the pop star’s memoir for $15 million.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

Taliban education, inside a madrasa Islamic school shaping Afghanistan's future

No girls, no science, no foreign languages, only the Koran. This is how the Taliban want to erase the generation of students educated for 20 years by the "Western usurpers." La Stampa's Francesca Mannocchi visits one of the rigid, boys-only madrasas near Kabul.

🇦🇫🕌 The Al-Jami'a Al-Islamiya Al-Mohammadia-Kabul madrasa in Qala Haidar Khan, a village outside Kabul, was founded by Shaik Mohammad Zahed Azizkhel, a scholar from Logar province who is specialized in religious studies and also a jurist known worldwide for his publications. He first came to the village ten years ago to give short seminars to 500 local students. There were no books, not enough space, but no one gave up. Students listened to him while sitting in the cold. They slept on the floor to hear him again the next day. "His lessons were our challenge to the previous regime," says Mufti Masroor.

📚❌ Since coming to power, the Taliban have insisted that the country no longer needs the young graduates of the last 20 years. The ones who were taught by the usurping armies to change the country's traditions. Minister of Education Abdul Baqi Haqqani made it clear in his first meeting with university teachers: “The graduates we inherited from the occupation years are useless.” Learning languages and science was declared irrelevant. The Taliban banned girls from schools and called Koranic schools “the only scholarship the country needs.”

❓ Mufti Hayatullah Masroor says that here, in the madrasa of the village near Kabul, specialization does not exist: No English, no mathematics. "Maybe one day we will include these subjects in our curriculum, but it is definitely premature to think about it now." But without specializations, it's hard to make the government work. If education is one of the main goals of the new Taliban policy, is it legitimate to ask who and with what skills will solve the banking paralysis? Who will operate the administrative and diplomatic machinery? Who will buffer the humanitarian crisis?

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

Taiwan is not Ukraine.

— China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said, following comments from UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson who warned the West’s failure to provide support to Ukraine could have damaging consequences worldwide, including for Taiwan, which is viewed by China as part of its territory. “Taiwan has always been an inalienable part of China. This is an indisputable legal and historical fact,” Hua Chunying added.

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet and Lorraine Olaya


Waiting for Hank the Tank to write his tell-all memoir. Let us know what’s happening in your corner of the world!

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Economy

Europe's Winter Energy Crisis Has Already Begun

in the face of Russia's stranglehold over supplies, the European Commission has proposed support packages and price caps. But across Europe, fears about the cost of living are spreading – and with it, doubts about support for Ukraine.

Protesters on Thursday in the German state of Thuringia carried Russian flags and signs: 'First our country! Life must be affordable.'

Martin Schutt/dpa via ZUMA
Stefanie Bolzen, Philipp Fritz, Virginia Kirst, Martina Meister, Mandoline Rutkowski, Stefan Schocher, Claus, Christian Malzahn and Nikolaus Doll

-Analysis-

In her State of the Union address on September 14, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, issued an urgent appeal for solidarity between EU member states in tackling the energy crisis, and towards Ukraine. Von der Leyen need only look out her window to see that tensions are growing in capital cities across Europe due to the sharp rise in energy prices.

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In the Czech Republic, people are already taking to the streets, while opposition politicians elsewhere are looking to score points — and some countries' support for Ukraine may start to buckle.

With winter approaching, Europe is facing a true test of both its mettle, and imagination.

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