Welcome to Wednesday, where talks are underway in Qatar to prolong the ceasefire between Hamas and Israel, the 41 Indian workers who had been trapped in a tunnel for 17 days have all been rescued, and Kyrgyzstan votes to alter its flag design because of a flower. Meanwhile, Guillaume Ptak for French daily Les Echos reports from the frontlines in Donetsk, Ukraine, where a bitter winter is setting in and a deadly DIY drone war rages on.
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• Push to extend Israel-Hamas truce on last day of ceasefire deal: Talks are under way in Qatar to secure a second extension to the truce in the Israel-Hamas war as the agreed pause in fighting nears expiration. The discussions, involving the two parties as well as the United States, Qatar and Egypt were focused on the length of the extension and exchange of captives.
• U.S. military aircraft crashes in sea off Japan: A U.S. military aircraft with six people on board has crashed off Yakushima Island in southwestern Japan. Japan's Coast Guard said one person had been found dead near the crash site of the CV-22 Osprey hybrid plane. Japan's NHK broadcaster said the plane's left engine was on fire as it was trying to land at Yakushima Airport on Wednesday.
• Trial of Hong Kong’s pro democracy leaders comes to a close: Hong Kong’s largest-ever state security trial has entered its closing phase, with pro-democracy activists linked to massive street protests in 2019 charged under a China-imposed national security law. The trial of the 16 activists, accused of conspiracy to commit subversion, began closing arguments on Wednesday. If convicted, the defendants face life in prison.
• Trapped Indian workers rescued after 17 days: The 41 Indian workers rescued from a tunnel in Uttarakhand state after being trapped inside for 17 days are safe and recuperating in hospital. The workers were trapped inside the tunnel on Nov. 12 after a portion of it collapsed due to a landslide.
• Pope Francis cancels trip to COP28 on doctor's orders: Pope Francis has canceled his trip to Dubai for the United Nations climate conference on doctor’s orders, while he is recovering from lung inflammation, the Vatican said. Francis, who turns 87 next month, was scheduled to leave Rome on Friday to address the COP28 meeting first thing Saturday morning.
• Australia gives national apology to survivors of the Thalidomide scandal: Australia's Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has given a national apology to survivors of the thalidomide scandal and their families. It comes over 60 years after the morning sickness drug started causing birth defects in babies globally. “This apology takes in one of the darkest chapters in Australia's medical history,” Albanese told parliament on Wednesday.
• Kyrgyzstan national flag tweak: Kyrgyzstan's parliament voted on Wednesday to alter the design of the national flag that is supposed to depict a yellow sun with 40 rays on a red background. Critics, including President Sadyr Japarov, said its central element looked instead like a sunflower, which in the local culture symbolizes fickleness and servility. The Central Asian nation's flag was designed in 1992 after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Colombian daily El Espectador devotes its front page to the revelations made by the Centre for Climate Reporting that the president of the COP28 summit Dr Sultan al-Jaber, who’s also the head of the United Arab Emirates' state oil company, was using the event as an opportunity to strike oil and gas deals. The UAE team didn’t directly answer the accusations and said that “private meetings are private.” The COP28 will kick off on Thursday in Dubai and is due to be attended by 167 world leaders.
The Slovenian government has begun refunding thousands of fines issued to citizens who broke masking or social distancing laws during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill for these refunds was passed in September by the current justice minister, Dominika Švarc Pipan, as a way to reconcile the excessive policing of the past governments. Aside from the €1.7 million ($1.87 million) due to be refunded, the offending people’s records will be cleaned and ongoing penalties will be halted.
On the Donetsk frontline, where kamikaze drones are everyone's weapon-of-choice
In Ukraine, kamikaze drones have gradually overtaken artillery as the main threat to soldiers — on both sides of the frontline. Meanwhile, a bitter winter is taking over life in the trenches, reports Guillaume Ptak in French daily Les Echos.
🇺🇦🇷🇺 With slow, methodical movements, the soldier grabs an explosive shell that he attaches to a drone. For several months, Andrii and his fellow soldiers have used these makeshift weapons to bomb Russian vehicles, soldiers and positions in eastern Ukraine. But, as Andrii explains, the advantage that Ukrainian drone operators had at the start of the invasion has gradually disappeared, as Russians too quickly learned how to leverage these unconventional, precise and ever lethal weapons.
⚰️ In recent months, drones have even replaced artillery as the main cause of death on the frontline. “Now, drones are responsible for the majority of losses, both on the Russian and Ukrainian side,” explained Evgenii, an officer of the 28th brigade, during an earlier conversation in a Donetsk cafe. Lacking air defense systems to effectively cover the entire front, the Ukrainian army had to adapt its tactics in the face of this new threat. “As you can see, we have to move at night,” says Andrii.
💥 Bohdan, a soldier with the 10th Mountain Assault Brigade “Edelweiss,” describes how he narrowly escaped a drone strike during a recent mission: “We had just entered a shelter when the device spotted us and its pilot tried to crash him inside. Fortunately, it missed us and exploded a few meters away.” If the two warring parties have adopted this new technology, Russian production capacities are much greater than those of Ukraine.➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com
➡️ Watch the video: THIS HAPPENED
“We invite him to visit Gaza to see the extent of the massacres and destruction.”
— In a press conference in Beirut, senior Hamas official Osama Hamdan has invited Elon Musk into Gaza, a day after the tech billionaire visited a kibbutz that was targeted by the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel. In his visit to Israel, Musk also met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog, declaring his commitment to support the country and stop the spread of hatred. Hamdan said that a Musk visit to Gaza would be “in compliance with the standards of objectivity and credibility.”
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