What do you remember from the news this week?
1. Which three European leaders pledged their support for Ukraine to become a candidate to enter the EU?
2. John Hinckley was released after spending 41 years in jail for attempting to assassinate which U.S. president?
3. A cafe in Kyiv has created a new croissant shaped after a world leader’s trademark haircut. Is it: Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, or Kim Jong-un?
4. For only the third time in its history, a man has won the annual 36-km race in Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales. What was he running against?
[Answers at the bottom of this newsletter]
History In The Making? A Photo Op À Trois On The Way To Kyiv
In politics (and for those who cover it), we tend to think in twos: runoffs and faceoffs, head-to-head clashes and bilateral summits. But three can be a magic number too.
On Thursday, we watched as the first photos came through of the three European amigos on the early morning train to Kyiv: Italy’s Mario Draghi, France’s Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Olaf Scholz would make for a magical little big story of the day.
No doubt that was part of the calculation: best to avoid the Franco-German duo, and bring the diplomatic weight that these three old guards (and biggest economies) of the European Union carry. It would be rich with narrative. And photos.
There they were welcoming the new day, smiling and chatting around a cozy railcar meeting table: Macron, 44, building on his political boy-wonder status after his recent reelection; Scholz, 64, looking a bit shaky having been welcomed to the world stage with Europe's most dangerous conflict in half-a-century; and Draghi, 74, the steady hand who’s managed global economic crises but never war.
The three carried a message to the world that they were coming (decidedly and consciously: together) to support the Ukrainian people and their own 44-year-old leader, President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Their arrival came as Russia was steadily gaining ground in the eastern Donbas region, and as suspicion was spreading that Europe wanted Zelensky to negotiate with the invaders. No, the three assured their hosts, support was as strong as ever to strive for “victory” over Russia, and more military and humanitarian aid (and economic pressure on Moscow) would be coming.
The other message was that Ukraine’s bid to fast-track its application to join the European Union had their collective support. It is a momentous choice that, as Lucie Robequain of Paris daily Les Echos points out, is as much about Europe as it is about Ukraine.
Still, wartime visits are ultimately about war. And the next photos showed the three Europeans during their tour of the destruction left by the Russian invaders in Iprin, a suburb of Kyiv. The smiles, gone, the talking, ceased.
But the day ended back on the diplomatic front, with Macron, Draghi and Scholz (along with Zelensky and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis who’d come separately after Macron’s visit to Bucharest) speaking before the gathered press and staff.
It’s the kind of photo op of world leaders we’ve grown accustomed to seeing on a near daily basis. Still, the most famous diplomatic photos ever date all the way back to February 1945. And it happened to take place not so far away from Kyiv, on the Black Sea port of Yalta, a city in the contested Crimean peninsula that Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
The photos show Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt bundled up against the winter cold, sitting among their military and diplomatic staff, and the press. The annals of world history tell us the “Big Three” essentially sorted out the post World War II map there in Yalta, paving the way for the Cold War showdown that would dominate the rest of the 20th century.
In retrospect, for better or worse, it can seem like things couldn’t have turned out any differently. But we know reality is never so tidy, and world leaders are both subjects and shapers of events.
And so, one day in the distant or not-so-distant future, we may look back on those photos of Macron, Scholz and Draghi chuckling together on their train ride to Kyiv. What were they saying to each other? And what will we say about how their plans turned out?
— Jeff Israely
• Netflix plans real-life Squid Game reality TV show: Dystopia no more? Netflix is developing a reality TV show inspired by its hit series Squid Game: 456 contestants will compete in children’s games to try and win the final prize of $4.5 million. Unlike in the series, thankfully, losers will only be sent home.
• Queen Elizabeth becomes history’s second-longest serving monarch: Queen Elizabeth II officially overtook Thai monarch Rama IX and his 70 years and 126 days of reign to become the second longest reigning monarch in history, behind France’s Louis XIV, who reigned for 72 years and 110 days.
• BTS announce hiatus: The seven members of popular K-pop group BTS have announced that they will momentarily part ways to focus on their own personal projects.
• 100 Years of Ulysses:Dublin is hosting events in period costumes throughout the week, in celebration of James Joyce’s famously cryptic modernist novel Ulysses, which turned 100 years old. June 16 is known by Joyce fans as “Bloomsday”, a reference to the plot of the novel, centered around a man called Leopold Bloom as he strolls around Dublin on June 16, 1904.
• Queen B enters her Renaissance era: U.S. singer Beyoncé teased the surprise release of her first album in six years, Renaissance, due on July 29.
As Ukraine embarks on its first steps to joining the European Union, Europe is forced to rethink the basic way it functions, as explained by Lucie Robequain in French daily Les Echos. Of course, Kyiv will face its own set of challenges leading up to an offer of membership, such as eradicating corruption. But the EU will have to find the courage and ambition it has previously lacked to expand the number of member countries, adjust the requirements and above all give it greater political authority.
Read the full story: Ukraine In The EU — For A Europe That Is Wider And Deeper
The Ukraine war has brought changes to the Russian schools as Vladimir Putin’s regime has intensified the push of its agenda into classrooms. In addition to structural changes and “patriotic education,” teachers and students alike now live in an uncertain atmosphere where pupils are encouraged to snitch on each other. From the 12-year-old dissident to the teacher facing 10 years in prison, this piece from German daily Die Welt explores the return of groupthink in Russian classrooms.
Read the full story: The Return Of Groupthink In Russian Classrooms
We know now, sadly, that Brazil indigenist Bruno Pereira and British journalist Dom Phillips were murdered in Brazil’s Amazon. But there are still more questions than answers. Phillips was researching a book about preservation and sustainable development in the Amazon and Pereira had been fighting for years to preserve the Javari Valley when the two disappeared. Independent Brazilian media Agência Pública retraces Pereira and Phillips’ last days.
Read the full story: In The Amazon, Retracing The Last Steps Of Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira
Twitter went wild after Warner Bros. dropped the first official photo of Canadian actor Ryan Gosling’ transformation as Ken, for Greta Gerwig’s upcoming Barbie movie, set to be released on July 23, 2023.
Researchers in the United States and South Korea have developed a tiny edible QR code as a tool to combat fake pharmaceutical products. The code, which consists of a pattern made by fluorescent silk proteins, can be affixed onto an individual pill, tablet or capsule, or placed into a bottle of liquid medicine. Users can then scan the code with a smartphone, to get information about a particular medicine in a more secure, harder-to-counterfeit way.
Australia’s Andrew Redmayne became the man of the match when he sent his country to the World Cup finals — in style. In an inter-continental playoff on Monday against Peru, Redmayne was brought on as a substitute goalkeeper for the shootout, three minutes before the end of the game. The dancing & grinning goalie became an instant hero as he stopped Luis Advincila from scoring.
• The World Health Organization (WHO) will convene an emergency committee next week to decide if the recent monkeypox outbreak is a public health emergency of international concern — the WHO’s highest level of warning, which currently applies to the COVID-19 pandemic and polio. Monkeypox has spread to at least 39 countries this year, including countries in parts of Africa where the virus is endemic.
• Monday will mark World Refugee Day, as designated by the United Nations. This year will focus on the right to seek safety.
• Bulgaria’s government will face a no-confidence vote next week after its main opposition party filed a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Kiril Petkov’s government over its economic policy.
• New Zealand will celebrate its first Matariki public holiday on Friday. It will be the first public holiday to recognize Te Ao Māori, also known as the Māori world view.
News quiz answers:
1. During their official visit to Kyiv, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that they support Ukraine’s bid to apply for entry into the European Union.
2. John Hinckley, who attempted to assassinate U.S. President Ronald Reagan in 1981, was fully released after 41 years. Hinckley had been found not guilty by reason of insanity for the shooting, which seriously injured Reagan and three others.
3. A cafe in Kyiv has released its new pastry in tribute to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s support of Ukraine. His disheveled blond hair has inspired a croissant topped with wavy meringue and vanilla ice cream that has become a best-selling delicacy.
4. Ricky Lightfoot, a British runner, won the 22.5 mile “Man v. Horse” race, which has pitted people against horses since 1981. This year, he won against 1,000 people and 50 horses, beating the fastest horse by two minutes.
✍️ Newsletter by Worldcrunch
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*Photo: Filippo Attili/ANSA/ZUMA