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The Latest: Biden's Myanmar Sanctions, China-India Breakthrough, Cinemas For Gamers

University students in Athens clash with police forces during a protest against a government bill that would allow the creation of a special campus police force and disciplinary councils in national universities.
University students in Athens clash with police forces during a protest against a government bill that would allow the creation of a special campus police force and disciplinary councils in national universities.

Welcome to Thursday, where the WHO has given the green light to the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for all ages, U.S. imposes sanctions on Myanmar and we go to France for a big parenting fail. We also explore the troubled relationship between oil and politics in Venezuela.

• COVID-19 latest: The World Health Organization has backed the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for adults of all ages, even in people aged over 65, which some countries have advised against. The UK variant is likely to "sweep the world," says the head of genetic surveillance programme, as the strain, first identified in September 2020, has already been detected in 86 countries.

• Biden's Myanmar sanctions: U.S. President Joe Biden has signed an executive order to impose sanctions on the leaders of Myanmar's coup as well as to block access to $1 billion of government funds.

• Trump's trial: Prosecutors to wrap up their opening arguments on the third day of Donald Trump's impeachment trial. Day 2 was marked by the presentation of new, violent footage of the Jan. 6 Capitol riots which the former U.S. president stands accused of inciting.

• China-India breakthrough: India and China have begun pulling back troops from part of their disputed Himalayan border in what is seen as a breakthrough nine months after the deadly clash in Ladakh.

• Belarus' "People's Assembly": Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko has launched an "All-Belarusian People's Assembly" of 2,700 delegates to ostensibly discuss constitutional reforms. Opponents say its a smokescreen for Lukashenko to consolidate power.

• Tokyo Olympics chief to step down: Tokyo Olympics chief Yoshiro Mori is set to resign following "inappropriate" sexist comments about women, which sparked public debate in Japan about gender equality.

• Geeky piggys: Scientists in the U.S. have found that pigs can play video games with their snouts.

Today's edition of The Hindu, the Indian daily based in the southern city of Chennai, leads with coverage of the China-India border dispute, as well as the latest in the ongoing standoff between the Indian government and Twitter over content removal and freedom of expression.

Venezuela's PDVSA, mixing big oil and leftist politics

Venezuela's Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), once among the world's most powerful oil firms, was transformed and largely gutted under Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro. But the story is more complicated than it may seem, writes Gustavo Bazzan in Argentinian daily Clarin.

Amid anxiety in Argentina over the state of the country's main oil firm, YPF — with problems of debt, management and an uncertain future under a socialist government — people are inevitably making comparisons with Venezuela's PDVSA another South American energy giant that was a victim of politicized mismanagement. Still, the Argentinian firm's fate so far is not comparable with the havoc wreaked on PDVSA under the governments of presidents Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro.

With Venezuela sitting, in nominal terms at least, on the world's biggest oil reserves, PDVSA would inevitably become a cash cow, as it generated some 90% of the country's foreign currency earnings, before and after Chávez. It would have been naïve to think it could be free of political influence. Yet experts in the sector widely agree that since its creation on Jan. 1, 1976, PDVSA has largely worked as a "state within a state."

PDVSA went bankrupt after Chávez was elected president in Feb. 1999. Seven years before he had tried and failed to take power through a coup against President Pérez. The firm went bankrupt a second time after an oil strike in 2002. After the strike, Chávez decided on a management overhaul, dismissing top directors and firing 18,000 technicians who constituted 40% of the firm's staff. In other words: He removed the brains behind the firm.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

Weak parenting, cops called in

Parenting can be a tricky thing.

Who can safely say they've never, in the heat of the moment, brandished over-the-top threats to try to get unruly offspring to comply? And who ever follows through?

Well the scene earlier this week inside a family home in Limoges, France, was looking familiar, as reported by local radio station France Bleu Limousin:Facing their 15-year-old son's refusal to clear the table after dinner, Papa and Maman launched the not-so-credible We'll-call-the-cops ultimatum. But this time, they followed through and dialed #17, the emergency police number in France, to report a "big family dispute."

When officers arrived, after making sure that everyone was fine, they had a lecture for the parents, that the situation "was more a matter of lack of authority than a police concern."

All clear then — that is, except for the table.

➡️ Keep up with all the planet's police reports and plot twists on Worldcrunch.com


That's the hourly price that cinemas in South Korea are charging individual gamers to rent out their screens. Renting out the "giant-screen" video game experience is a new attempt for movie houses to compensate for the loss of revenue during lockdown rules.

We're not still where we want to be.

— European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has acknowledged the shortcomings of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Europe, admitting to the European Parliament that "we were late to authorize. We were too optimistic when it came to massive production." The rates of vaccination in EU countries are a fraction of those in the U.S., UK and Israel.

Reuters is an international news agency headquartered in London, UK. It was founded in 1851 and is now a division of Thomson Reuters. It transmits news in English, French, Arabic, Spanish, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Japanese, Korean, Urdu, and Chinese.
The New York Times (sometimes abbreviated to NYT) is an American daily newspaper, founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. It has won 117 Pulitzer Prizes, more than any other news organization. Its daily circulation is estimated to 1,380,000.
The Hindu, started in 1878 as a weekly, became a daily in 1889 and from then on has been steadily growing to the circulation of 15,58,379 copies (ABC: July-December 2012) and a readership of about 22.58 lakhs. The Hindu's independent editorial stand and its reliable and balanced presentation of the news have over the years, won for it the serious attention and regard of the people who matter in India and abroad. The Hindu uses modern facilities for news gathering, page composition and printing
Clarin is the largest newspaper in Argentina. It was founded in August 1945 and is based in Buenos Aires.
The BBC is the British public service broadcaster, and the world's oldest national broadcasting organization. It broadcasts in up to 28 different languages.
Founded as a local Manchester newspaper in 1821, The Guardian has gone on to become one of the most influential dailies in Britain. The left-leaning newspaper is most recently known for its coverage of the Edward Snowden leaks.
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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

That Man In Mariupol: Is Putin Using A Body Double To Avoid Public Appearances?

Putin really is meeting with Xi in Moscow — we know that. But there are credible experts saying that the person who showed up in Mariupol the day before was someone else — the latest report that the Russian president uses a doppelganger for meetings and appearances.

screen grab of Putin in a dark down jacket

During the visit to Mariupol, the Presidential office only released screen grabs of a video

Russian President Press Office/TASS via ZUMA
Anna Akage

Have no doubt, the Vladimir Putin we’re seeing alongside Xi Jinping this week is the real Vladimir Putin. But it’s a question that is being asked after a range of credible experts have accused the Russian president of sending a body double for a high-profile visit this past weekend in the occupied Ukrainian city of Mariupol.

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Reports and conspiracy theories have circulated in the past about the Russian leader using a stand-in because of health or security issues. But the reaction to the Kremlin leader's trip to Mariupol is the first time that multiple credible sources — including those who’ve spent time with him in the past — have cast doubt on the identity of the man who showed up in the southeastern Ukrainian city that Russia took over last spring after a months-long siege.

Russian opposition politician Gennady Gudkov is among those who confidently claim that a Putin look-alike, or rather one of his look-alikes, was in the Ukrainian city.

"Now that there is a war going on, I don't rule out the possibility that someone strongly resembling or disguised as Putin is playing his role," Gudkov said.

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