Biden considers NATO troop reinforcement amid Russia-Ukraine standoff
Amid the standoff between Russia and Ukraine, the US and other Western countries continue to provide Ukraine with military assistance. Now, the Biden administration is weighing sending more troops to countries like Poland and Romania to reinforce NATO allies in Eastern Europe. Also, the rate of global chemical pollution exceeds the planet’s ability to absorb it, threatening the stability of ecosystems and human health. Plastic pollution, pesticides, and industrial materials are top concerns, according to a new study. Plus, the tiny Pacific island of Tuvalu has struck a deal with US-based internet company Go Daddy to manage its highly coveted internet address: .tv.
China continues to take extreme measures to curb COVID
As COVID-19 cases rise in China, even by small numbers, the government continues to take drastic measures to contain the outbreaks. Measures include a hamster cull in Hong Kong, and thousands stuck in shopping malls for 48-hour quarantines in Shanghai. And US State Department officials traveled to Sudan this week to help mediate the ongoing political crisis in Sudan following the military coup in October. They condemned the use of "disproportionate" force against protesters. Plus, more than 700 years ago, the poet and Sufi mystic Rumi started spinning as a form of meditation. The practice of his modern descendants, known as the "whirling dervishes,” is misunderstood and between commercialism and tradition, even in Konya, where it began.
Russia-Ukraine tensions continue
Ongoing tensions between Russia and Ukraine continue as Russia has amassed tens of thousands of troops near its border with Ukraine. What will Russia's President Vladimir Putin do next? Also, US President Joe Biden’s foreign policy team has brought experience and an emphasis on diplomacy to US engagement abroad. But that hasn’t always been enough to prevent crises from spiraling. Plus, Joy Crookes is one of the UK's breakout recording artists from the past year. Born in London to a Bangladeshi mother and Irish father, she is a student of history and brings the same rigor to her music.
Tonga officials worry that with aid comes COVID
International aid is beginning to mobilize for Tonga after an underwater volcano erupted on Saturday. But officials are concerned that admitting aid workers will bring COVID-19 into a country that has remained almost entirely free of the coronavirus. And Cubans who took to the streets to demonstrate against their government last July are paying a heavy price. Dozens have appeared in court in recent weeks, and some are facing decadeslong sentences. Plus, do you have a doppelgänger somewhere out there in the world? When Francois Brunelle was younger, people told him he looked like the main character in the British sitcom, "Mr. Bean." He now captures photos of unrelated "twins" across the globe.
Tonga govt calls volcanic eruption an ‘unprecedented disaster’
The island of Tonga's isolation is impacting efforts to meet humanitarian needs or to even assess conditions days after the volcanic eruption. The Tongan government has called the situation an "unprecedented disaster." And in Mexico on Monday, journalist Margarito Martínez Esquivel was shot dead outside his home in Tijuana. Authorities have launched an investigation, but details remain unclear. Plus, women in Malawi who don’t fit into social norms have sometimes been accused of witchcraft. Former colonial rulers attempted to curb witchcraft accusations by imposing laws, but citizens often don’t respect or legitimize these laws.
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