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Ukraine State Of Emergency, Amsterdam Standoff, Britney’s Memoir

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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• 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.


“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.


$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.


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


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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The Trumpian Virus Undermining Democracy Is Now Spreading Through South America

Taking inspiration from events in the United States over the past four years, rejection of election results and established state institutions is on the rise in Latin America.

Two supporters of far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro dressed in Brazilian flags during a demonstration in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

Bolsonaro supporters dressed in national colours with flags in a demonstration in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, on November 4, 2022.

Ivan Abreu / ZUMA
Carlos Ruckauf*


BUENOS AIRES — South Africa's Nelson Mandela used to say it was "so easy to break down and destroy. The heroes are those who make peace and build."

Intolerance toward those who think differently, even inside the same political space, is corroding the bases of representative democracy, which is the only system we know that allows us to live and grow in freedom, in spite of its flaws.

Recent events in South America and elsewhere are precisely alerting us to that danger. The most explosive example was in Brazil, where a crowd of thousands managed to storm key institutional premises like the presidential palace, parliament and the Supreme Court.

In Peru, the country's Marxist (now former) president, Pedro Castillo, sought to use the armed and security forces to shut down parliament and halt the Supreme Court and state prosecutors from investigating corruption allegations against him.

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