Welcome to Thursday, where Russian air strikes cut power at Europe's largest nuclear plant, thousands of Turkish women defy a ban on protest in Istanbul and Japan cracks down on “sushi terror” pranks. Meanwhile, a reporter from Ukrainska Pravda gains rare access to the people who chose to stay and survive in basements in their Ukrainian towns destroyed by Russian shelling.
[*Salam - Kyrgyz]
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🌎 7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW
• Russia airstrikes: More than 80 Russian missiles have been fired at cities across Ukraine in a sustained overnight barrage, the biggest in weeks. At least nine people have been killed and power at Europe's largest nuclear plant in Zaporizhzhya has been lost, leading a UN official to issue an urgent warning. The attacks hit cities from Kharkiv in the north to Odessa in the south and Zhytomyr in the west. Attacks on the capital Kyiv have also been reported. The Ukrainian military claimed it successfully shot down 34 cruise missiles and four of the eight Iranian-made Shahed drones which were fired.
• Georgia to drop “foreign agents” draft law after protests: Georgia's ruling party has said it will withdraw a controversial draft law, in the face of mass protests and widespread international criticism. Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in Tbilisi this week in anger as a Russian-style law began its passage through parliament which would have labeled NGOs and media taking over 20% of funding from abroad as “foreign agents.”
• Women in Istanbul defy ban on protests on International Women’s Day: Thousands of Turkish women defied a ban on protests Wednesday evening on International Women's Day and rallied in the city of Istanbul for what they called a "feminist night march." Police prevented them from reaching Taksim Square in the city center but allowed them to carry on with their march for a while, before using tear gas to disperse them. In 2021, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan withdrew the country from the Istanbul Convention, a human rights treaty of the Council of Europe opposing violence against women and domestic violence.
• TikTok launches Project Clover to allay China security fears: TikTok has launched security measures in an effort to reduce concerns it could be made to share user data with China. Project Clover will see a separate security company "monitor data flows" — and TikTok will make it harder to identify individual users in data. This measure is a response to the European Commission’s ban of the app from staff devices.
• U.S. Senator McConnell in hospital: U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has been taken to hospital after a fall at a Washington DC hotel during a private dinner. Mr McConnell, 81, is serving a seventh term in the Senate.
• Europe’s second-warmest winter on record: Europe is emerging from its second-warmest winter on record, exceeded only by the winter of 2019-20, as climate change continues to intensify. The average temperature in Europe from December to February was 1.4 degrees Celsius (2.8 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than the 1991-2020 average for the Boreal winter season.
• Japanese police arrest 3 for taking part in “sushi terrorism” pranks: Japanese police have arrested three people over "sushi terror": viral, unhygienic pranks that are threatening the world-famous feature of sushi conveyor belt restaurants. The spontaneous series of viral videos began last month with a clip of a man licking a soy sauce bottle on a sushi train.
🗞️ FRONT PAGE
German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine devotes its front page to the street protests in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi. The crowds were protesting against a controversial Russian-style law, which would have classified non-government and media groups as “foreign agents” if they receive more than 20% of their funds from abroad. The ruling party withdrew the bill Thursday morning following the protests.
#️⃣ BY THE NUMBERS
U.S. President Joe Biden is expected to unveil his 2024 spending plan, aiming to curb the nation's $31 trillion deficit by nearly $3 trillion over the next 10 years. Biden’s plan reportedly hinges on tax increases, while Republicans are pushing for sharp cuts to domestic spending.
📰 STORY OF THE DAY
Last holdouts: The basement lives of Ukrainians who refuse to flee frontline towns
Russian shells hit frontline cities Siversk and Lyman every day, but some people are refusing to abandon their homes. Life has gone underground. A year since the beginning of the Russian invasion, a reporter from Ukrainska Pravda meets people surviving in basements — their towns destroyed, but still alive.
💥 Lyman came under daily artillery and rocket bombardment when Russian forces attacked the city in May 2022. Ukrainian forces took the city back five months ago. Houses are still in ruins, but streets and sidewalks have been cleared. Lyman is like a time capsule, with sidewalks for tourists still visible among the ruins — but there are no excursions, no souvenir shops. Of 51,000 residents, only about 7,000 have remained.
🏠 We talked to Lyuba at the entrance to the basement of her five-storey house. During the intense shelling, it was "densely populated." In addition to Lyuba, it is home to the church sexton, Yurii, a pensioner who used to be a blacksmith in railway workshops. "The basements in the houses are different," says Lyuba. "Some are unfenced, where people sleep like in a gym. But in our basement, there are rooms for each apartment. Now, everyone has personal bomb shelters."
⚡ The military administration of Siversk distributes individual hygiene kits to each person every month. Generators have been distributed — one for every two or three basements, and gasoline for generators is free, as is drinking water and food. At the same time, officials from the military administration are constantly trying to convince people to leave because of the daily shelling. But people stay in the basements.
➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com
📹 THIS HAPPENED VIDEO — TODAY IN HISTORY, IN ONE ICONIC PHOTO
➡️ Watch the video: THIS HAPPENED
“Tucker Carlson is not credible.”
— In what’s been described as an “extraordinary rebuke,” White House spokesperson Andrew Bates has lambasted conservative Fox News host Tucker Carlson over his depiction of the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riots as “mostly peaceful chaos” earlier this week.
👉 MORE FROM WORLDCRUNCH
• Iran, How A Clerical Regime Has Undermined Religion Itself — KAYHAN-LONDON
• NGO Crackdowns Are Spreading, In Both Dictatorships And Democracies — WORLDCRUNCH
• Menstruation Must Be Talked About And Treated — Like Any Other Health Issue — THE WIRE
✍️ Newsletter by Ginevra Falciani, Emma Albright, Anne-Sophie Goninet and Bertrand Hauger
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