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President Barack Obama and Ukraine Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk
President Barack Obama and Ukraine Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk

KERRY AND LAVROV MEET IN LONDON
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov are meeting today at the American ambassador’s residence in London, two days before the Crimean vote on whether to join the Russian Federation, The Washington Postreports.

  • Kerry is expected to warn Lavrov that a Russian decision to “annex” the disputed region could trigger more sanctions against Moscow. Western leaders have repeatedly called the referendum “illegal,” and Ukraine’s Interim Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk said Kiev wouldn’t recognize the result. But Russian President Vladimir Putin claims it is in accordance with international law. According to AFP, Russia asked the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to send observers to monitor the poll. The result of Sunday’s vote will be announced 10 days later, the BBC explains.

  • The Wall Street Journal reports that Ukraine’s interim government asked Washington for arms, ammunition and intelligence support, a U.S. official says President Obama is wary of exacerbating an already tense relationship with Moscow and only agreed to send military rations.

  • This comes after deadly clashes between pro-Maidan and pro-Russian protesters in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk yesterday. At least one person died, stabbed to death,Euronews reports. According to RT, another 29 were injured.

  • The referendum in Crimea also has repercussion on stock markets. AFP reports that Moscow was falling by 4% at midday, while Bloomberg writes that European stocks were falling this morning.

  • As Russian media organizations and the Kremlin said their websites had been attackedby hackers, the spokesman for Russia’s Foreign Ministry accused Washington of banning Russian journalists from Obama’s joint press conference with the Ukraine PM Wednesday. “It seems that in Washington, where they so love to talk about freedom of speech and journalists' rights, they are not ready to follow these principles themselves, preferring to deal only with ‘approved’ media propagating the ‘required’ information,” he said.

  • On the economic front, some in Tehran are noting that if Russia cuts off gas to the West over Crimea, there’s always the “Iran Option.

PLANE SEARCH EXTENDED TO INDIAN OCEAN
The search for Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 was extended to the Indian Ocean, with the United States sending surveillance teams there to help find the plane and its 239 passengers who went missing Saturday, the BBC reports. New data from military radar indicate the aircraft was “deliberately” flown west, hundreds of miles off its planned course. Meanwhile, South China Morning Post reports that Chinese scientists observed a “seismic event” on the sea floor northeast of Malaysia on the day the plane went missing. The Guardian examines the sometimes contradictory claims made this week.

EIGHTH BODY FOUND IN HARLEM RUBBLE
Another body was found last night in the rubble of the two Harlem buildings destroyed by an explosion Wednesday, taking the death toll to eight. ABCreports that investigators are searching for at least one more body. The cause of the explosion has not been determined with certainty yet, but it appears that a water main break may have contributed to the gas line rupture. Read more from The New York Times.

GAZA TRUCE
Air raids on the Gaza strip continued for a second night in a row in retaliation for rockets fired on Israel, despite an Egyptian-brokered truce that took effect at 2 p.m. yesterday. The truce seemed to be holding this morning, AFP quoted a military source as saying, but Haaretz later reported that a rocket was fired at southern Israel from Gaza.

THE CITY OF SMOG?
Authorities in Paris are making public transportation free today through Sunday in an effort to combat severe pollution in the French capital that is being exacerbated by unseasonably warm weather. Take a look.

GUNFIRE IN NORTHERN NIGERIA
Residents of Maiduguri in northeast Nigeria awoke to the sound of gunfire and explosions this morning, after suspected Islamist fighters from Boko Haram attacked military barracks, AP reports. More than 500 people have died at the hands of the jihadist group since the beginning of this year.

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO — LE MONDE ON CRYONICS
Maxime Vaudano explores the singular world of cryonics, the quest to freeze one’s body after death in the hope of being brought back to life in the future. Invented in the U.S. in the 1960s, it is spreading internationally, though laws differ from country to country. Like some 2,000 people around the world, the 35 British members of Cryonics UK have applied to join the quest for immortality. They must, however, wait until they are pronounced dead. It's indeed illegal to cryonize people alive, although some think it would increase the chances of waking up. But once the death certificate is issued, the association can legally do as it pleases with the body, provided that the family of the deceased authorizes it. Read the full Le Monde/Worldcrunch article, Afterlife On Ice: Inside The World Of Cryonics.

MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD

TIME TO PLAY?
Check out this cool game in which you have to match and combine powers of 2 until reaching 2048. But be warned: It’s VERY addictive!

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China

How China's Mass Protest Took The World By Surprise — And Where It Will End

China is facing its biggest political protests in decades as frustration grows with its harsh Zero-COVID strategy. However, the real reasons for the protests run much deeper. Could it be the starting point for a new civic movement?

Photo of police during protests in China against covid-19 restrictions

Security measures during a protest against COVID-19 restrictions

Changren Zheng

In just one weekend, protests spread across China. A fire in an apartment block in Urumqi in China’s western Xinjiang region killed 10, with many blaming lockdown rules for the deaths. Anti-lockdown demonstrations spread to Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan, Chengdu and other cities. University students from more than half of China's provinces organized various protests against COVID restrictions.

Why and how did the movement spread so rapidly?

At the core, protesters are unhappy with President Xi Jinping's three-year-long Zero-COVID strategy that has meant mass testing, harsh lockdowns, and digital tracking. Yet, the general belief about the Chinese people was that they lacked the awareness and experience for mass political action. Even though discontent had been growing about the Zero-COVID strategy, no one expected these protests.

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