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A Buddhist monk makes the three finger salute during pro-democracy protests in Bangkok, Thailand.
A Buddhist monk makes the three finger salute during pro-democracy protests in Bangkok, Thailand.

Welcome to Wednesday, where Brazil's Bolsonaro faces the worst crisis of his presidency, Aung San Suu Kyi makes a "healthy" appearance, and a kid gets nuclear (tweeting) powers. And thanks to L'Espresso journalist Maurizio Di Fazio, we tune in from a safe distance to the dangerous and sometimes violent Italian branch of the anti-vaxxers movement.

• COVID and military put Bolsonaro at risk: As Brazil hits a new record daily COVID-19 death toll, President Jair Bolsonaro faces the biggest political crisis of his presidency, with chiefs of the army, navy and air forces all resigning at the same time. Sources say the three heads of the armed forces were facing pressure from the president to show him greater loyalty and public support.

• Pfizer says its COVID-19 vaccine works for kids: The Pfizer/BioInTech jab has proven 100% effective in children ages 12-15 during testing, opening the way for a wider vaccination campaign across the population. Meanwhile, Germany bans AstraZeneca to those under 60 following a similar decision by Canada after additional reports of rare blood clots caused by the anti-COVID vaccine.

• U.S cuts ties with Myanmar: The U.S. says it will cut trade ties with Myanmar and has recalled its diplomats over the military coup and ongoing crackdown that has led to more than 500 deaths. Arrested pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi looks "in good health", according to one of her lawyers.

• Fighting Escalates in Eastern Ukraine: Both Ukraine and Russia issued statements Tuesday noting the worsening of a conflict over the contested territory of Donetsk.

• Deliveroo fails to deliver: Disappointing debut on the London stock market for gig economy food delivery company Deliveroo, with shares dropping 30% amid concerns over its economic health and working conditions.

• €1 for Timbuktu: The ICC has ruled that Mali and UNESCO were to receive one euro in reparation for the damage caused to several mausoleums and the sacred gate of a mosque in Timbuktu — a symbolic gesture meant to reflect the "inestimable universal value" of the buildings destroyed by jihadists in 2012.

• Nuclear gibberish: A cryptic tweet (;l;;gmlxzssaw) on the official account of the U.S. Strategic Command — which runs the country's nuclear weapons force — turned out to be the doing not of a hacker, but of a "very young child" fiddling with their parent's unattended account. Reassuring.

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In The News

War in Ukraine, Day 92: Is Severodonetsk The Next Mariupol?

Russian troops are attempting to encircle Severodonetsk, the last key city remaining under Ukrainian control in the Luhansk region, as Vladimir Putin looks to claim victory in a war that is not going Moscow's way. But will the toll be for civilians?

Inside a shelter in Severodonetsk.

Meike Eijsberg, Shaun Lavelle and Cameron Manley

Severodonetsk, the last key city remaining under Ukrainian control in the Luhansk area, is now the focal point of Russia’s war. In 2014, it had been recaptured from the pro-Russian separatists in a hard-fought battle by Ukrainian forces. Now, eight years later, Moscow is launching an all-out attack to try to take it back again.

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Alex Crawford, a Sky News correspondent in the region, says Russian forces have the means to conquer the city that in normal times has a population of circa 100,000 — and Moscow will be eager to cite it as the “victory”. But, Crawford wrote, “the path to victory comes – like the capture of the port city of Mariupol – strewn with the broken and battered bodies of the city's citizens.”

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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