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​Ukrainian national flags placed to represent Ukrainians killed by Russian troops

Ukrainian national flags placed to represent Ukrainians killed by Russian troops at Maidan Square, Kyiv

Lisa Berdet, Lila Paulou and McKenna Johnson

👋 Lasso fyafulla!*

Welcome to Friday, where two British prisoners are sentenced to death in eastern Russian-occupied Ukraine, the committee investigating the U.S. Capitol Riot holds its first hearing and tourists get a hefty fine for damaging a Rome landmark. Meanwhile, Russian daily Kommersant looks at how the global food crisis triggered by the war in Ukraine can be stopped.

[*Tamang - Nepal]

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🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• Two Britons and a Moroccan sentenced to death in Donetsk: A court of Russian proxy in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, has sentenced British nationals Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner, and Moroccan Brahim Saadoun, who were fighting for Ukraine, to the death penalty for “mercenary activities.” Their lawyer said they will appeal the decision, which British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has called a “sham judgment”.

• France, Germany, UK urge Iran to finalize nuclear deal: France, Germany and the United Kingdom have urged Iran to finalize the nuclear deal that has been stalling since March and to “cease its nuclear escalation.” This deal would revive the one in effect from 2015 to 2018, which reduced Iran’s economic sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear activities.

• Capitol Riot hearing debuts: During the first evening of the House hearing on the January 6 2021 Capitol Riot, former president Donald Trump was accused of being responsible for an attempted coup by motivating rioters that the election had been stolen. The hearing was broadcast on national television, showing never before seen footage of the assault and testimonies from Donald Trump’s team and daughter Ivanka Trump.

• 2,000 people evacuated in Spain due to wildfire: Spanish authorities had 2,000 people evacuated in the southern region of Andalucia as a wildfire could worsen in the next days by a forecasted heatwave. Some 1,000 firefighters and supporting crew have been deployed in the region.

• Blood found in search for missing pair in Brazil: Police in Brazil are investigating blood found on a fisherman’s boat as part of the search for British journalist Dom Phillips and local indigenous expert Bruno Pereira, who have been missing since Sunday. Pereira had received threats regarding his work against illegal fishing.

• Malaysia to abolish mandatory death penalty: Malaysian authorities have confirmed that they will put an end to the enforcement of mandatory death penalty in a number of 11 offenses including murder and terrorism. Alternative sentences will be considered by judges. There are currently more than 1,300 people on death row in Malaysia, most of them convicted of drug offenses.

• Britney Spears says I do: American pop icon Britney Spears got married to longtime boyfriend Sam Asghari in an intimate Los Angeles ceremony Thursday. Her former husband Jason Alexander, whom she was briefly married to in 2004, attempted to crash the wedding venue before being arrested by the police.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

British dailyThe Daily Telegraph devotes its front page to British citizens Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner who were sentenced to death on Thursday by pro-Russian officials in Eastern Ukraine. The two soldiers were captured in Mariupol and accused of fighting as mercenaries for Ukraine.

#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

$27,000

Two U.S. tourists have been slapped with a $27,000-fine and banned for six months from the Piazza di Spagna in Rome for intentionally pushing a scooter down the iconic “Spanish Steps”, causing damage to the famous site.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

Yes, the war has caused a major food crisis — but Russia can't fix it alone

For many countries, the global food crisis has already begun. As enough food to feed the world for several weeks remains trapped in Ukraine, Russia and Turkey met to discuss the problem. But they cannot solve it alone, says independent Russian daily Kommersant.

🗣️ Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was in Ankara to talk to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu this week to discuss Ukrainian grain and he tried to strike an optimistic tone. Turkey has reported that the Ukrainian side is ready to clear mines from its harbors, which the Russians say has prevented exports. However, so far the negotiation process is taking place without Ukraine itself, and stolen grain is being taken out of the country through Crimea and the occupied territories.

🌾 There is also the question of Russian wheat, which also takes a large share of the international market. Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov insisted that the impending crisis is not caused by the blockade of Ukrainian ports, but by unprecedented sanctions against Moscow. U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken responded that food was not part of any sanctions package, and no one had banned Russia from trading grain. Then Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov intervened and said that wheat is really not under sanctions, which is not the case with Russian merchant ships. They cannot be insured or allowed into ports, so trade has de facto stopped.

🇷🇺🇺🇦 Kommersant's sources are sure that only lower grain prices can smooth the consequences of the food crisis. These, in turn, depend on the volume of supply. Russia and Ukraine play the key role here: together they provide the market with about a third of the grain and 67% of sunflower. However, as long as both countries are engaged in a military conflict, observers are not optimistic.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

President Trump summoned the mob, assembled the mob and lit the flame of this attack.

— U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney directly blamed former President Trump for the Jan. 6, 2022 Capitol riot during the first of eight public hearings by the committee that has investigated the attack for the past 11 months. During her lengthy opening statement, Cheney, the vice chairwoman of the committee and daughter of former U.S. VP Dick Cheney, also said the panel would present evidence that Trump was part of a “sophisticated seven-part plan” to overturn the 2021 presidential election.

✍️ Newsletter by Lisa Berdet, Lila Paulou and McKenna Johnson


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Can machines be ironic?

Charles Barbour

What was your first reaction when you heard about Blake Lemoine, the Google engineer who announced last month the AI program he was working on had developed consciousness?

If, like me, you’re instinctively suspicious, it might have been something like: Is this guy serious? Does he honestly believe what he is saying? Or is this an elaborate hoax?

Put the answers to those questions to one side. Focus instead on the questions themselves. Is it not true that even to ask them is to presuppose something crucial about Blake Lemoine: specifically, he is conscious?

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