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Le Weekend: Earthquake Hits Ancient Sites, Locust Robot, Croissant Cereal

Le Weekend: Earthquake Hits Ancient Sites, Locust Robot, Croissant Cereal

Following the earthquake in Turkey, UNESCO has expressed its worries about the state of destruction of a Roman-era castle in the city of Gaziantep.

Saiyod Nazarov via Instagram

February 11-12

  • Cartoonish fashion
  • Double pride of gay Mayans
  • Paid for clubbing in Berlin
  • … and much more.


What do you remember from the news this week?

1. Who admitted there were “shortcomings” in the response to the deadly earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria?

2. On his London-Paris-Brussels tour, what was Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s big request from EU leaders?

3. Why was Disney forced to remove an episode of The Simpsons in Hong Kong?

4. LeBron James became NBA's all-time leading scorer. Whose record did he beat? Michael Jordan / Kareem Abdul-Jabbar / Magic Johnson / Larry Bird

[Answers at the bottom of this newsletter]


The Big Red Boot has made quite the entrance into the fashion world. New York-based art collective MSCHF has designed these giant, cartoon-like rubber boots, which many on social media have compared to those worn by Japanese manga character Astro Boy. The shoes will go on sale starting Feb. 16 for $350.


• Earthquake destroys ancient sites in Turkey and Syria: The earthquakes that struck Turkey and Syria on Monday, killing more than 19,000 people, also took their toll on a number of historical and architectural wonders. UNESCO has expressed its worries about the state of destruction of a Roman-era castle in the Turkish city of Gaziantep,the ancient Syrian city of Aleppo, the Diyarbakır Fortress, the Hevsel Gardens Cultural Landscape, the stone structures at Göbekli Tepe in Anatolia, the Nemrut Dağ temple and the 6th millennium B.C. Arslantepe Mound.

• Salman Rushdie gives first interview since stabbing: In The New Yorker, Indian-born British-American novelist Salman Rushdie speaks about writing as a death-defying act, in the first interview since his near-fatal stabbing at a U.S. conference last year. Rushdie lost an eye and the use of one hand in the assassination attack, which came 33 years after Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa that called for Rushdie’s death for writing “The Satanic Verses.”

• Mario Vargas Llosa joins prestigious Académie Française: Peruvian novelist, journalist, essayist and former politician Mario Vargas Llosa is joining the ranks of the prestigious Académie Française, France’s highest authority on the usages, vocabulary, and grammar of the French language. The 2010 Nobel Prize for Literature recipient becomes the first member of the Académie not to have written in French, and his appointment has sparked controversy over his proximity to Latin America’s far-right parties and allegations of harassment by a former mistress.

• Deciphering the lost letters of Mary, Queen of Scots: A computer scientist, a pianist and a physicist with a passion for codebreaking have found and deciphered a treasure trove of 57 lost letters written by Mary, Queen of Scots. The secret letters, written in elaborate code during her 19-year-imprisonment, were addressed to the French ambassador to England. Most of them were kept in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris, most of them in a large set of unmarked documents that were also written in cipher.

• Berlin is paying young people to go clubbing: The Berlin Senate Department for Culture and Europe is encouraging young people to go back out into the city by giving them 50 euros to enjoy the city's cultural venues and events. The initiative, starting this month, encourages Berlin youths aged between 18 and 23 to sign up for a youth culture card. The credit can be spent until April 20 at 200 venues across the city, including theaters and several nightclubs.

🇹🇷 The political aftershock of Turkey's earthquake

“Our people who are outside of the buildings attempt to reach their loved ones by their own means among massive bulks of concrete and iron. Hundreds of thousands of Turkish citizens are now homeless. It’s cold. There are no tents; no food, no water.”

For Oksijen, Turkish journalist Ali Yaycıoğlu reports on the heart-wrenching situation of the Turkish survivors from the disastrous earthquake that struck the country on Feb. 6.

Read the full story: The Earthquake Will Change Turkey’s Future — And Could Tip Its Election

🇬🇹 In Guatemala, connecting LGBTQ+ identity and Indigenous spirituality

Making the invisible visible: two gay Mayan K'iche' men in Guatemala talk about how they connect with their Indigenous identities through spirituality. Writing in Agencia Presentes, Teresa Son and Emma Gómez describe the long path both men have taken.

Read the full story: Mayan And Out! Living Proudly As An Indigenous Gay Man

🤰 Shaming mothers: How a network of doctors and influencers profit from pain

In Italy, some doctors, midwives and self-proclaimed experts extol the benefits of pain in childbirth, eschewing anesthesia and c-sections — often life-saving interventions.

In The Post Internazionale, Francesca Bubba presents an exclusive exposé on the industry preaching a return to the ancestral nature of motherhood.

Read the full story: "In Pain You Shall Bring Forth Children" — The Business Behind Suffering In Childbirth


A new sniffer robot that uses the antennae of locusts as a biological sensor, could help advance disease diagnosis and improve security checks, its Israeli developers say. The robot’s future applications could include drug and explosives detection, and even food safety. Locusts are known to have a keen sense of smell, thanks to their antennae that are much more sensitive than existing electronic sniffers.


Move over, cronuts: In a Brooklyn-based “L'appartement 4F” bakery, have been queuing every morning to get their “croissants céréales.” French-born Gautier Coiffard, co-founder of the bakery, says that the fact that each mini-croissant is handmade, just like a regular croissant, justifies the $50-a-box pricetag!


• United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the UN will issue a flash appeal early next week to help reinforce humanitarian aid in Turkey, following the deadly earthquakes.

• The World Government Summit, held in Dubai from Feb. 13 to 15, is expected to gather 10,000 international government officials, celebrities and experts, including Twitter CEO Elon Musk and British actor Idris Elba.

Super Bowl LVII will see the Kansas City Chiefs take on the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, with Rihanna as the headliner of the halftime show.

News quiz answers:

1. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan acknowledged “shortcomings” in his country’s response to the Feb. 6 earthquake that killed more than 20,000 in southern Turkey and Syria.

2. As part of his whirlwind European tour, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met with King Charles and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in London before heading to Paris for talks with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and finally addressing European leaders gathered in Brussels — reiterating his call for Western leaders to provide Kyiv with fighter jets.

3. Disney has removed an episode of The Simpsons cartoon series that included a reference to “forced labor camps” in China from its streaming services in Hong Kong, amid growing censorship concerns.

4. Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James has now scored more points than any other player in NBA history, as he passed Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's 38,387 points — a record that dated back to 1984.

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*Photo: Saiyod Nazarov

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Ukrainians In Occupied Territories Are Being Forced To Get Russian Passports

Reports have emerged of children, retirees, and workers being forced by the Russian military and occupying administration to obtain Russian Federation passports, or face prison, beating or loss of public benefits.

Image of a hand holding a red Russian passport.

Russian passport

Iryna Gamaliy

It's referred to as: "forced passportization." Reports are accumulating of police and local authorities in the Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine requiring that locals obtain Russian passports. Now new evidence has emerged that Ukrainians are indeed being coerced into changing their citizenship, or risk retribution from occupying authorities.

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Ever since late September, when President Vladimir Putin announced Russia hadd unilaterally annexed four regions in eastern and southern Ukraine (Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson), Moscow has been seeking ways to legitimize the unrecognized annexation. The spreading of Russian passports is seen as an attempt to demonstrate that there is support among the Ukrainian population to be part of Russia.

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