Welcome to Monday, where the death toll in Russia’s missile strike on an apartment in Dnipro rises to 35, Italy’s most-wanted Mafia boss is captured in Palermo after 30 years in hiding, and an Australian woman runs 150 marathons in 150 days. Meanwhile, Lucie Robequain in French daily Les Echos looks at the “David v. Goliath” parallels between Ukraine-Russia and Taiwan-China.
[*Bodo, India, Nepal & Bengal]
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• Dnipro death toll rises, Russia and Belarus start joint military exercises: The toll has risen to at least 35 people killed, 75 people wounded and 35 still missing after a Russian missile struck an apartment in Dnipro, Ukraine. It is one of the worst attacks on civilians since the war began. Also this morning, Russia and Belarus began joint army exercises involving a "mechanized brigade subdivision" and the two countries announced that they will conduct air force drills until Feb. 1 using all Belarus military airfields.
• World Economic Forum in Davos: “Cooperation in a fragmented world” is the theme of this year’s World Economic Forum, which opens today in Davos, Switzerland. The meeting is expected to draw a record 2,700 attendees, including German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol.
• Italy’s most-wanted Mafia boss arrested: After 30 years on the run, Matteo Messina Denaro was arrested this morning in Palermo, Sicily, at a private clinic where he was undergoing chemotherapy under an alias. Messina Denaro was considered the top boss after the arrests of bosses Totò Riina (1993) and Bernardo Provenzano (2006), with all three chiefs of Cosa Nostra responsible for the killing in the 1990s of prosecutors, police and innocent civilians.
• 50 women kidnapped in Burkina Faso: Some 50 women have been abducted by suspected jihadists in northern Burkina Faso. Residents in Arbinda said two groups of women were taken on Thursday and Friday as they were out gathering leaves and wild fruits because of a severe food shortage. Over the weekend, a small number managed to escape and raise the alarm.
• No survivors in Nepal plane crash: All 72 passengers and crew aboard the Yeti Airlines flight from Kathmandu to the tourist town of Pokhara died on Sunday in the country's deadliest plane crash in 30 years.
• Greta joins Germany protests: German police say they have removed almost all climate activists from Lützerath, a German village that will be dismantled to allow the expansion of a coal mine. Hundreds of officers cleared around 300 activists in an operation that began on Wednesday. Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg joined the protest and denounced "police violence" in removing climate activists from the site, while 15,000-35,000 protesters demonstrated on Saturday supporting the activists.
• Miss USA crowned Miss Universe: R'Bonney Gabriel from the United States was crowned the 71st Miss Universe on Saturday night. Last year, Gabriel was the first Filipino-American to win Miss USA.
“The Tate brothers accuse Romania of being ‘totally corrupt’,” reports Bucharest-based daily România Liberă after internet celebrity and kickboxing champion Andrew Tate and his brother were arrested last month as part of a human trafficking and rape investigation. Over the weekend, Romanian police seized more luxury cars of the controversial online influencer from a Bucharest compound and raided seven more properties.
Marathon runner Erchana Murray-Bartlett has reached Australia’s southern edge after setting out five months ago from the country’s tip. The 32-year-old finished her 6,300 km (3,900 miles) journey on Monday, a marathon every day for 150 days, raising over $100,000 for conservation charity the Wilderness Society. This organization focuses on preserving the environment. She has set a new world record for the most consecutive daily marathons by a woman.
The Taiwan paradox: Preparing for war and ready to do business with China
Large segments of Taiwan seem underprepared or indifferent when it comes to the possibility of Chinese invasion. But some are actively preparing, using Ukraine as a role model, reports Lucie Robequain in French daily Les Echos.
🇹🇼🇨🇳 “There is a kind of collective denial toward the Chinese threat. Many still think that the possibility of an invasion, in the short or medium term, remains very unlikely,” says Raymond Sung, a political expert based in Taipei. In Taiwanese companies too, people remain overly confident. "What’s the point of worrying? Taiwanese are working on the technologies of the future! Thinking about war would just distract them," argues Miin Chyou Wu, head of Macronix, a company that makes memory cards. Though relatively rare, some companies are even expanding in China.
📈 Taiwan has resolved to increase its military capability, but with a reluctance that worries some experts. “Maybe there is some kind of intention, on the military side, of not doing too much. Maybe what they fear is to feed panic and threaten China," says Mathieu Duchâtel, head of the Asia section of the Montaigne Institute in Paris. Military spending seems low, given the tension engulfing Taiwan. The country is investing about 2% of its gross domestic product, which is roughly the same as most Western countries.
🇺🇦 One thing is clear, at least: Taiwan’s role model is Ukraine. The island hopes to prove, too, that David can fight and win against Goliath. Still, it must contend with a major disadvantage not shared by any other country in the world: Taiwan is not recognized by the international community. Only 14 countries recognize Taiwan as a sovereign country, and it is not even recognized by the UN, which stripped the island of its seat in 1971 and gave it to Beijing.➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com
➡️ Watch the video: THIS HAPPENED
With the arrest early Monday of Matteo Messina Denaro, the elusive top Sicilian Mafia boss, the particulars of his biography have begun to circulate. There are facts around his personal life (at least two grown children) and professional life (a hand in some of Italy’s most heinous crimes, including dissolving the body of a rival’s son in acid) — and, of course, the nicknames: One is Diabolik, taken from a popular Italian comic book, and the other is U siccu, Sicilian dialect for “the skinny one.” Having had a slight build in the few photos that had circulated during his 30 years on the lam, he still appeared rather thin in the videos after his capture.
• Inside Russia's "Game Of Thrones" To Succeed Putin — VAZHNYYE ISTORII/IMPORTANT STORIES
• Poland's "Family Values" Obsession Squashes The Rights Of The Individual — GAZETA WYBORCZA• The Rush For Africa Is Getting Crowded — Who Will Be Shut Out? — FRANCE INTER
✍️ Newsletter by Ginevra Falciani, Emma Albright, Bertrand Hauger and Anne-Sophie Goninet
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