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Installation by Dennis Josef Meseg in Berlin, meant to protest lockdown measures.
Installation by Dennis Josef Meseg in Berlin, meant to protest lockdown measures.

Welcome to Thursday, where WHO chides the EU's slow vaccination rollout, two of Hong Kong's best-known democracy leaders are convicted and Japan has a pricey solution for those missing airline food. Buenos Aires daily Clarin also has the scoop on the meat industry's beef with a former Beatle.

• COVID update: The world's second most populous country India starts mass vaccination campaign for people aged 45 and older, as the number of daily cases hits a record high. Brazil has detected a new coronavirus variant in Sao Paulo state, said to be similar to the South African variant. France is about to enter a third national lockdown, with schools closing and travel between different regions banned. Meanwhile, WHO calls the rollout of vaccines in Europe "unacceptably slow".

• Hong Kong pro-democracy activists found guilty: Seven major pro-democracy activists, including media tycoon Jimmy Lai and Hong Kong's "father of democracy" Martin Lee, have been found guilty of unauthorized assembly charges.

• California shooting: Four people were killed and two injured in a shooting in an office building near Los Angeles. An exchange of gunfire with the police left the suspect wounded. So far, no motive for the attack has been given by the authorities.

• Day 4 of Derek Chauvin's trial: A newly disclosed body-camera video displays Derek Chauvin's defending his actions after George Floyd left in an ambulance, with the Minneapolis police officer saying "he Floyd was probably on something" and needed to be under "control".

• Facebook removes Trump video: Donald Trump's daughter-in-law Lara Trump reveals that Facebook removed a clip of an interview with the former U.S. president from its platform. Trump has been banned from the platform, along with Twitter, since the insurrection at the Capitol, in early January.

• Italy bans cruise ships from Venice: The Italian government has officially banned cruise ships from the center of Venice, with 2.2 million euros allocated for the construction of berths outside the lagoon.

• Google cancels April Fools for the second time: With much of the world still mired in the COVID-19 crisis, Google has decided not to make April Fools' Day pranks for the second year in a row. Worldcrunch, likewise, couldn't muster much new humor — but we can't resist sharing some archive footage of foolishness past.

Portada de L

"Endless," laments French regional daily L'Yonne Républicaine, a day after President Emmanuel Macron announced tougher COVID-19 restrictions nationwide.

Argentina's meat industry has a beef with Paul McCartney

It goes without saying that beef is a big deal in Argentina, where barbecuing remains an almost sacrosanct pillar of social life. And yet, as of January, consumption has dropped to an historic low of 41 kilograms per person annually. Could it be that the rise of vegetarianism and veganism are taking a toll? Or could the former Beatles band mate Paul McCartney be to blame for that decline in the BBQ-loving country? asks Colombian daily Clarin.

That's the question Argentine beef lobbyists in what's known as the IPCVA, the meat industry's promotion institute, are asking, as this past January, former Beatles singer Paul McCartney wrote to Argentine President Alberto Fernández to ask him to join the Meat Free Monday initiative. To gauge the impact, IPCVA asked a sample population of 1,100 nationwide how they reacted to such actions on the part of environmental or vegan activists. The result? Seven out of 10 said that such campaigns did not lead to reduced meat consumption. Respondents found such actions ineffective, in other words.

Why, then, are Argentine's cutting back on beef? For money reasons, most likely. That, at least, is the conclusion of the IPCVA, which accuses pro-vegetarian activists of being unnecessarily divisive. Their campaigns merely add to the "the social divides we sadly have in our country," the institute deplores.

In this case, the lobby group argues, there's a "food divide," with people expressing their opposition to one another "in the way each of us manifests his or her way of eating."

Most of the poll's respondents effectively blamed vegans for feeding this gastronomic divide, accusing them of being more "narrow-minded" than meat eaters.

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Geopolitics

NATO Entry For Sweden And Finland? Erdogan May Not Be Bluffing

When the two Nordic countries confirmed their intention to join NATO this week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan repeated his plans to block the application. Accusing Sweden and Finland of' "harboring" some of his worst enemies may not allow room for him to climb down.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared opposition to Finland and Sweden entering NATO

Meike Eijsberg

-Analysis-

LONDON — When Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared his opposition to Finland and Sweden entering NATO, it took most of the West's top diplomatic experts by surprise — with the focus squarely on how Russia would react to having two new NATO members in the neighborhood. (So far, that's been a surprise too)

But now Western oversight on Turkey's stance has morphed into a belief in some quarters that Erdogan is just bluffing, trying to get concessions from the negotiations over such a key geopolitical issue.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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To be clear, any prospective NATO member requires the consent of all 30 member states and their parliaments. So Erdogan does indeed have a card to play, which is amplified by the sense of urgency: NATO, Sweden and Finland are keen to complete the accession process with the war in Ukraine raging and the prospect of strengthening the military alliance's position around the Baltic Sea.

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