Start your day smarter with the most important world news, plus intriguing and offbeat stories.
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Start your day smarter with a dossier on the most important world news, rounded off with a shot of intriguing and offbeat stories. Like the president, you deserve no less.
May 17, 2022
Ukraine has given up its defense of the Azovstal steel plant and 264 fighters have been evacuated so far. Sweden and Finland’s plans to join NATO were dealt a major blow by Turkey’s announcement that it would reject their applications. The White House has its first black press secretary, while France appointed its second female prime minister. And Sri Lanka’s new prime minister announced that the island nation is down to its last day of fuel. All this and more in today’s PDB.
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Ukraine Evacuates Azovstal Defenders, Praises Their Heroism
Ukraine has stopped defending the steel plant near Mariupol, and 264 fighters — including 53 who are badly injured — have been evacuated to areas controlled by Russian-backed rebels. A deal has been reached whereby the troops will be exchanged for captured Russian soldiers. The Ukrainian military praised the fighters as “heroes of our time” who would be remembered “forever in history.” Their brave stand gave Ukraine “the opportunity to prepare and create the defensive frontiers on which our troops are still present today and give a decent counterpoint to the aggressor,” said Ukraine’s general staff of the armed forces on Facebook. (Sources: BBC, NYT)
Erdogan Says Turkey Won’t Approve Sweden and Finland’s NATO Bids
The two Nordic nations’ hopes of a quick ratification process have been dealt a major blow by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s assertion that they shouldn’t even bother trying to convince Turkey of their eligibility. Turkey accuses them of harboring members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party — a group it considers to be a terrorist organization — and followers of Fethullah Gulen, who’s accused of orchestrating a 2016 coup attempt. “Neither of these countries have a clear, open attitude towards terrorist organizations. How can we trust them?” said Erdogan. All 30 members of NATO must approve membership applications. (Sources: Reuters, BBC)
Karine Jean-Pierre Becomes White House’s First Black Press Secretary
“I am a Black, gay, immigrant woman,” said Jean-Pierre in her opening remarks. “The first of all three of those to hold this position. I would not be here today if it were not for generations of barrier-breaking people before me. I stand on their shoulders.” But then it was down to the grisly business of updating the world on the day’s news: The fallout from a racist shooting in Buffalo, the latest on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and President Biden’s decision to send troops to Somalia. Elsewhere, Elisabeth Borne became the second female prime minister in France’s history. (Sources: The Guardian, France24)
Running on Empty
Crisis-Hit Sri Lanka Is Down to Its Last Day of Fuel
“At the moment, we only have petrol stocks for a single day. The next couple of months will be the most difficult ones of our lives,” said Sri Lanka’s new Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. The country also faces a shortage of essential medicines. The COVID-19 pandemic, rising oil prices and tax cuts by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa have plunged Sri Lanka into its worst economic crisis since independence in 1948. Protests last week killed nine and led to the resignation of the president’s brother, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. Wickremesinghe’s appointment was meant to appease protestors, but they want the president gone.(Source: Reuters)
Here are some things you should know about today:
Red Flag. Payton Grendon, the 18-year-old accused of killing 10 people at a Buffalo supermarket Sunday, was allowed to purchase a gun despite writing in a school project that he wanted to commit a murder-suicide. He told authorities it was “a joke.” (Source: NYT) Coup thwarted. Mali’s military government, headed by two-time coup leader Assimi Goita, says it’s quelled an attempted coup led by army officers backed by an unnamed Western nation. (Source: Al Jazeera) Burnout. New research shows 1 in 6 Americans lives in an area with significant wildfire risk, revealing that a broad swath of the country not usually associated with wildfires is now under threat. (Source: WaPo)
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Are Reshuffled Genes the Reason Cephalopods Are so Smart?
Scientists have long wondered why octopuses, squids and cuttlefish — aka coleoid cephalopods — are so ingenious. They plan for the future, solve problems and have the largest nervous systems of all invertebrates. Now researchers think they may be approaching an answer. Two recent studies with coauthors in common have observed huge chromosomal rearrangements and around 500 novel gene clusters among coleoid cephalopods. Cephalopods have “all these weird and wonderful ways of increasing their complexity and diversity in ways that vertebrates have never even attempted,” said Culum Brown, a biologist at Macquarie University in Australia, who was not involved in the study. (Source: The Scientist)
Fun in the Sun?
Climate Change Is a Disaster, So Why Do We Glamorize It?
Open an article about the war in Ukraine and you’re likely to see photos of burned-out buildings and/or the wailing relatives of victims of Russian atrocities. Read a story about heat waves and climate change, however, and your eyes are likely greeted by snaps of happy semi-clad families frolicking in the nearest available water source. Recent analysis of media coverage in the U.K., the Netherlands, France and Germany has shown that stories that include the keywords “climate change” and “heat wave” often contain images of “fun in the sun.” Researchers argue that the disconnect between text and images is “problematic.”(Source: The Guardian)
Three-Month-Old Giraffe Gets Leg Braces to Correct Limb Disorder
Msituni — meaning freedom fighter in Swahili — was born Feb. 1 at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park with her two front limbs bending the wrong way. Desperate, staff turned to Ara Mirzaian, an orthotics expert who’s helped everyone from Paralympians to kids with scoliosis. Giraffes’ front limbs are more like arms, so the braces he had to create were akin to those you’d use on a human wrist — albeit several times larger. By the time the custom braces were ready, one leg had already been fixed by a modified human brace. Ten days of wearing Mirzaian’s brace fixed the other leg.(Source: AP)
‘Cease and Desist’
Pub in British Village of Vogue Tells Magazine Where To Get Off
Strike a pose. A pub owner in the Cornish village of Vogue was sent a lawyer’s letter by British Vogue demanding he change his establishment’s name. “As soon as I realized what they were trying to do, I went ‘you’re not having me, my handsome,’” said Mark Graham, owner of the Star Inn at Vogue. Graham wrote back asking if the magazine had sought the permission of his village when they started in 1916, before concluding: “In answer to your question whether we would change our name, it is a categorical NO.” Vogue’s now acknowledged they made a mistake. (Sources: AP, Mirror)
Meet the UK’s First Openly Gay Male Soccer Player Since 1990
Yesterday, 17-year-old Jake Daniels of Blackpool Football Club became the U.K.’s first male professional player to come out since Justin Fashanu made history 32 years ago. “For a long time I’ve thought I would have to hide my truth because I wanted to be … a professional footballer,” said Daniels. But after speaking to his family, club and teammates he realized there was no need to continue living a lie. “Now is the time to do it,” he said. “I feel like I am ready to tell people my story. I want people to know the real me.”(Source: The Guardian)
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