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In The News

War In Ukraine, Day 84: What Happens Now To Mariupol Soldiers?

Up to 1,000 Ukrainian troops have reportedly surrendered from the Azovstal steel plant in the port of Mariupol, with all sent to a prisoner camp in Russian-controlled territory in Donbas. Ukrainians are hoping for a prisoner exchange, though Moscow may try some for war crimes.

Mariupol has fallen. The first 300 of the last Ukrainian troops holding out in the Ukrainian port city were taken early yesterday from the Azovstal steel plant toward the Russian-controlled former penal colony in Olenivka, Donetsk region. By Tuesday night, another column of seven buses, accompanied by Russian troops arrived in Olenivka, with a total of up to 1,000 soldiers reportedly surrendered by Wednesday morning.

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Ukrainians have been calling Tuesday’s events an evacuation, but Russia says it is the capture and surrender of Ukrainian troops, BBC Ukraine reports.

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End Of Mariupol Siege, Tripoli Clashes, Looking For Mars Life

👋 Bonjour!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where Russia declares victory in Mariupol as the 82-day siege ends, Biden’s administration lifts some Trump-era restrictions on Cuba and NASA’s rover starts digging around for life on Mars. Meanwhile, America Economia explains how blockchain technology could take the cannabis business to an all-time high.

[*French]

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Finland And Sweden In NATO? It Just Got Complicated

Turkey's Erdogan puts up a veto, while Orban's Hungary plays it coy. Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin throws a curveball.

Following Finland’s and Sweden’s historic decisions to apply for NATO membership, major questions are emerging as to how quickly — if at all — they will become actual members of the military alliance.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, a longstanding NATO member, surprised some observers by coming out strongly against Nordic countries joining.

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"Neither of these countries have a clear, open attitude towards terrorist organisations. How can we trust them?" Erdogan said on Monday. Turkey has accused Nordic countries, particularly Sweden, of harboring extremist Kurdish groups as well as supporters of U.S.-based preacher Fethullah Gülen, a longstanding Erdogan nemesis whom Turkey blames for the 2016 coup attempt.

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Russia Warns Of NATO “Grave Mistake”, Shanghai Aims For Normalcy, Record Pakistan Heat

👋 Grüezi!*

Welcome to Monday, where Russia warns Finland and Sweden that joining NATO would be a “grave mistake,” locked-down Shanghai announces it aims for June 1 reopening, and South Asia’s heat wave becomes untenable. Meanwhile, Peter Huth in German daily Die Welt explains why the Doomsday Clock isn’t ticking quite the same for millennials today as it was for baby boomers.

[*Swiss German]

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In The News
Meike Eijsberg, Anna Akage and Emma Albright

“We Are Here” - Ukrainian Forces Reach Russian Border

After reseizing Kharkiv, Ukrainian soldiers reach the border with Russia. Meanwhile, Moscow continues its assault on Donbas, and has renewed missile strikes of the port city of Odesa.

Ukrainian forces continue to regain more territory in the northeast of the country, and by Monday morning had announced that a battalion had reached the Russian border.

This comes after having taken back control of Kharkiv, the second biggest Ukrainian city, as Russian troops appear to be making a hasty retreat. This latest development continues to indicate the inability of Russian troops to dominate Ukrainian forces.

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After this successful counter-offensive, Ukraine’s defense ministry posted a video showing soldiers gathered around a yellow and blue painted post upon arrival at the Russian border. “Today the 15th of May, Kharkiv's territorial defense forces of Ukraine - 227th battalion, 127th brigade - went to the border with the Russian Federation,” said one soldier. “We are here.”

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In The News
Irene Caselli, Shaun Lavelle, Cameron Manley, and Emma Albright

Sweden May Decide Monday To Join NATO Too

A leading Swedish daily says the government will move toward a decision over the weekend, with the formal application coming as soon as Monday evening. This follows the announcement Thursday that neighboring Finland would seek membership in the Western military alliance, which both countries had long rejected to avoid provoking Moscow.

Sweden is to send in a formal NATO application on Monday, Swedish daily Expressen reported on Friday citing anonymous government sources. The news comes on the heels of the announcement Thursday that neighboring Finland would seek membership in the Western military alliance, which both countries had long rejected to avoid provoking Moscow that has been reconsidered following the invasion of Ukraine.

Expressen, a sometimes sensationalist tabloid that nevertheless often breaks big stories, says that Sweden’s prime minister Magdalena Andersson will call a government meeting Monday, where the historic decision on whether to join NATO will be made. If nothing unforeseen takes place, the report says Sweden plans on submitting the formal application late Monday.

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On Sunday Andersson’s Social Democrats party will decide whether or not to back the initiative which will be crucial in the final government decision. While leftist parties, including the Greens, do not want to give up on Sweden’s neutrality, the Social Democrats are expected to back the NATO plan.

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In The News
Lorraine Olaya, Anne-Sophie Goninet, Lila Paulou and Emma Albright

Russia Vows New Attacks On Kyiv After Moskva Warship Sinks

👋 Сайн уу*

Welcome to Friday, where Russia warns of more strikes on Kyiv as Ukraine claims responsibility for the sinking of the Moskva warship, hundreds are wounded in clashes at Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque, and “Houston, we have a kebab.” In German daily Die Welt, Michael Brendler explores the end-of-life ethical question that has gained new attention during the pandemic: When is it better to turn off life-support equipment?

[*Sain uu - Mongolian]

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Geopolitics
Carl Karlsson

It’s Time To Start Building A Post-NATO World

One month into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, President Joe Biden is in Brussels for an emergency meeting of NATO’s leaders. But for current and potential future members, the very purpose of the alliance is in doubt.

-Analysis-

PARIS — If we are to believe Vladimir Putin, NATO policy of the past three decades forced him to invade Ukraine. Safe to say, we don’t believe Vladimir Putin. Still, the Transatlantic military alliance, which marks 73 years since its founding next week, is a problem.

Ukraine is pleading in vain for membership. The U.S. has made it clear that troops on the ground is off the table and NATO has rejected Ukraine’s pleas for a no-fly zone. President Joe Biden’s goal in arriving for an emergency summit this week in Brussels is to ensure that Western leaders are moving in lockstep to tighten sanctions on Russia and coordinate defense preparations.

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Economy
Carl Johan-Karlsson

Will COVID's Boost For Labor Unions Last? Check The Swedish Model

The pandemic has spurred a resurgence in labor unions around the world. But their return to prominence also raises the question of whether they’re the best way to protect workers in a globalized world.

Unions around the world have been on a steady decline over the last half-century: crippled by globalized economics and confounded by the accelerating changes in our work culture, average trade union membership in OECD countries has fallen from 30% in 1985 to 16% today. In the U.S., one-third of workers belonged to a labor union in the 1950s — a far cry from today’s 10.7%, including a meager 6.4% of private-sector workers.

A pandemic was bound to shake the status quo for the world of labor: from a newfound appreciation for what we’ve come to call “essential” workers to a series of layoffs in other sectors to the Great Resignation, which saw individuals reassess what they really want from their career.

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Geopolitics
Carl-Johan Karlsson

Does NATO Deter Or Provoke Russia? Look To Finland And Sweden For The Answer

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has rekindled the Nordic debate over the possibility of joining NATO, prompting Russian threats. It's a microcosm for the conflict itself.

Like elsewhere, Sweden and Finland have taken historic decisions in the face of Russia's invasion of Ukraine last month — each breaking their respective policy of not providing arms to countries at war, by sending military aid to Kyiv.

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Indeed, for Sweden, the last time it happened was during the Winter War of 1939, when it gave assistance to Finland to counter an invasion by the Soviet Union.

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Green
Carl-Johan Karlsson

Inside Sweden's "100,000-Year" Solution To Bury Nuclear Waste

As experts debate whether nuclear power can become another leading renewable energy source, Sweden has adopted a first-of-its-kind underground depository for nuclear waste — and many countries are following their lead.

As last fall’s climate summit in Glasgow made it clear that the world is still on route for major planetary disaster, it also brought the question of nuclear power squarely back on the agenda. A growing number of experts and policymakers now argue that nuclear energy deserves many of the same considerations as wind, solar and other leading renewables.

But while staunch opponents to nuclear may be slowly shifting their opinion, and countries like France, the UK and especially China plan to expand their nuclear portfolios, one main question keeps haunting policymakers: how do we store the radioactive waste?

In Sweden, the government claims to have found a solution.

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Geopolitics
Carl-Johan Karlsson

Trying To Gauge Russian Ambitions? Look How Nervous Its Nordic Neighbors Are

The eyes of the world are on the Russian-Ukrainian border as Putin threatens an invasion. However, the more vital stage of the Kremlin’s military ambitions is the Baltic Sea, where the likes of bordering countries like Finland and Sweden are mobilizing troops as Moscow tries to undermine the allegiance of the EU and former Soviet states.

While tensions between the U.S and Russia mount with the Kremlin gathering troops at the border of Ukraine, countries farther north are preparing for the worst.

In Sweden, Dagens Nyheter reports that the country of 10 million people deployed armored vehicles and 100 soldiers to patrol streets on the island of Gotland on Friday in response to Russian landing ships sailing into the Baltic Sea. Even if the Swedish Armed Forces announced soon after that the ships were leaving, serious questions about Russia's military ambitions remain.

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Son Of A Gunnar
Carl-Johann Karlsson

Germany or Sweden? Two Models Of Social Democracy Put To The Test

From afar, new Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and incoming German Chancellor Olaf Scholz share much, both in their views and the political system where they rule. But subtle differences, which arose in the rubble of World War II, can be everything.

My dad has died ...

That was my first thought a few Fridays ago when I saw that Netflix had added another series to its growing Nordic-noir category: a six-part crime drama about the 1986 assassination of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme.

Well, OK, my very first thought was trying to guess who they’d picked for the role of Palme’s assassin; but almost immediately after that, my second thought was that indeed, most certainly yes, Gunnar Karlsson had clocked out.

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In The News
Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

Channel Tragedy, Ahmaud Arbery Verdict, 3D-Printed Eye

👋 Hæ hæ!*

Welcome to Thursday, where 27 drown in the English Channel's deadliest migrant crossing on record, three white men in the state of Georgia are convicted for murdering African-American jogger Ahmaud Arbery and the soccer world marks one year since el pibe de oro left us. We also take a look at creative ways to avoid being drafted in countries where military service is obligatory.

[*Hi hi – Icelandic]

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Russia
Carl-Johan Karlsson

How Climate Consensus Could Cool Appetite For Arctic Exploitation

As global warming melts the ice covering parts of the Arctic Ocean, new opportunities are opening up for the exploration of natural resources, including oil. But the accelerating cooperation on climate objectives could wind up saving the Arctic from both business and military interests.

Analysis

PARISMoscow is militarizing the North Pole ... China claims near-arctic state status ... Trump wants to buy Greenland ...

That sampling of headlines from the last few years is a testament to the emergence of the Arctic as a frosty point of potential conflict among the major geopolitical force reshaping our world. Most would still struggle to imagine why this distant place of drifting ice blocks and polar bears, historically considered a place too inaccessible and distant for governments to pay any mind, is suddenly emerging as a frontier of global power play.

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food / travel
Laure Gautherin and Carl-Johan Karlsson

The True Horrors Behind 7 Haunted Locations Around The World

With Halloween arriving, we have dug up the would-be ghosts of documented evil and bloodshed from the past.

When Hallows Eve was first introduced as a Celtic festival some 2,000 years ago, bonfires and costumes were seen as a legitimate way to ward off ghosts and evil spirits. Today of course, with science and logic being real ghostbusters, spine-chilling tales of haunted forests, abandoned asylums and deserted graveyards have rather become a way to add some mystery and suspense to our lives.

And yet there are still spooky places around the world that have something more than legend attached to them. From Spain to Uzbekistan and Australia, these locations prove that haunting lore is sometimes rooted in very real, and often terrible events.

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