Welcome to Thursday, where heavy fighting and shelling rock eastern Ukraine, Germany calls out Iran for its nuclear ambitions, and the art world mourns the passing of “visceral” painter Paula Rego. Meanwhile, our This Happened video format explores one of the most iconic photographs of the Vietnam War, which just turned 50.
[*Ojibwe - Canada]
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• Severodonetsk will determine fate of Donbas: Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky declared that the outcome of ongoing fighting in Severodonetsk will likely determine the fate of the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine. The statement comes as Ukrainian forces are being pushed to the outskirts of the city, and pleading for more weapons from Western allies to turn the tide.
• Gun restriction bill passes House: The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a new gun control bill in the wake of a series of recent shootings across the country. The bill raises the age limit for purchasing semi-automatic weapons and includes federal bans on high capacity magazines, bump stocks and DIY “ghost guns.” It will now need the support of 10 Republicans in order to pass the Senate and become a law.
• Iran suspected of increasing nuclear efforts: Iran is suspected of making efforts to increase their nuclear capabilities, according to German intelligence. The German domestic intelligence agencies have detected a significant increase in Iranian attempts to procure materials in Germany for their nuclear programs.
• Mass graves in Syria: An anonymous whistleblower told U.S. Senators that mass graves are still being dug in Syria to bury victims of torture, bombardment, and slaughter as Bashar al-Assad’s regime continues to rule the country with a tight grip. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been killed and millions have been displaced over the course of the Syrian civil war.
• Harvey Weinstein to be charged in UK: American film producer and convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein is now being charged with indecent assault in the UK by the Crown Prosecution Service.
• EU to ban combustion engines by 2035: EU lawmakers have endorsed a plan to ban combustion engine cars by 2035. The EU also endorsed a requirement that auto manufacturers reduce carbon emissions by 55% from 2021 to 2030. The new legislation aims to put more pressure on companies to develop new electric vehicles.
• Thailand legalizes growing and trade of cannabis: Thailand has removed cannabis from its banned narcotics list, meaning that people can now grow and sell the plant legally. Recreational use of cannabis is still banned, but restaurants will be allowed to offer cannabis infused menus with items containing less than 0.2% concentration of the psychoactive component THC. Thailand hopes that allowing the trade of cannabis will boost agriculture and tourism.
Portuguese daily Publico pays tribute on its front page to Paula Rego, “the painter who always did what she wanted to do,” who died at 87 years old in London. The Portuguese-born British artist was known for her visceral works and feminist stands, challenging traditional representations of women in art.
The Panama-flagged Nord Joy fuel tanker had to pay $375,000 to Indonesian naval authorities after it was detained on suspicion of anchoring illegally in Indonesian waters off Singapore. According to Reuters, this is not an isolated incident: A dozen ships had to make similar unofficial payments of about $300,000 to be released by the Indonesian navy last year. A navy spokesman denied finding any evidence of such a transaction, saying collecting unofficial payments to release ships was “strictly prohibited”.
This Happened 50 years ago: Napalm Girl
Taken 50 years ago, “Napalm Girl” has become a timeless symbol of the horrors of war, capturing Vietnamese civilians fleeing their village after it had been hit by airstrikes. But the “girl” in question at the center of the photograph — Phan Thị Kim Phúc — also has a story to tell that stretches beyond that defining 20th-century moment.
🇻🇳💥 Kim was born in the small village of Trang Bang in South Vietnam in 1963. Despite the war around her, she has recalled her early years with fond memories, growing up on her family’s farm. One day, Kim was playing in the local temple courtyard when she heard a deafening noise. A plane swooped down, and suddenly her surroundings erupted in smoke and flames. “I don’t remember running and screaming, Nóng quá, nóng quá! ('Too hot, too hot!'),” she told The New York Times recently. “But film footage and others’ memories show that I did.”
📸 Vietnamese photographer Nick Ut, who was working for the Associated Press, shot the photo, on June 8, 1972, showing a nine-year-old Kim and other villagers fleeing after the U.S.-backed South Vietnamese airforce fighters dropped incendiary napalm bombs over Trang Bang and the surrounding area. Kim is seen naked and screaming after ripping off her burning clothes, and Ut immediately picked her up after snapping the image and brought her to a hospital where doctors at first didn’t expect her to survive.
✊ At times, Kim says she resented Ut for allowing her disfigured naked body to be displayed so publicly, but ultimately remains a strong defender of what the photo stands for. The two remained close, with Kim referring to Ut as “Uncle Ut,” but they wouldn’t see each other for another 17 years after the photo was taken. Kim ultimately made it to Canada, where she now heads the Kim Foundation International, an organization which provides support for victims of war.
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“What’s true in the United States is true in every country. Trickle-down economics does not work.”
— At the opening gala ceremony of the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, Joe Biden suggested a new economic partnership between the U.S., Latin America and the Caribbean in an attempt to counter China’s economic power in the region. The Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity would “help economies grow from the bottom up and the middle out, not the top down,” the U.S. president pledged. Biden added that countries in the Americas had to invest “in making sure our trade is sustainable…(and) demonstrate to our people the incredible power of democracies to deliver concrete benefits and make life better for everyone”.
✍️ Newsletter by Lisa Berdet, Lila Paulou, Joel Silvestri and Anne-Sophie Goninet
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