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As Russia launched an invasion into his home country last Thursday, Ukranian photographer Vitaliy Raskalov found himself a world away in Mexico City. When I spoke with him over Telegram on Sunday evening, he was busy organizing a shipment of bulletproof vests to his homeland. All of it will be paid for with cryptocurrency.
Over the past six months, Raskalov has been selling a collection of his photographs as nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, on OpenSea, the biggest marketplace for such wares. Since the war began last week, all of the proceeds from the set, which consists of shots taken atop skyscrapers and other wincingly tall structures, are being donated to Ukraine's resistance.
Thus far he's raised about 4 ether, or just over $10,000, which he says is going toward equipment like helmets, flashlights and those bulletproof vests.
"I'm out of the country, I'm not able to take weapons and defend my country," he said, "but at the same time I'm able to collect money, to raise money, to help."
Human-induced climate change is being felt the world over, posing an increasing threat to human health and wellbeing, ecosystems, societies and business. The impacts are uneven, disproportionately affecting those least able to deal with them, and they're outpacing our ability to adapt, according to a major scientific report released by the United Nations' chief climate science organization on Monday.
"I have seen many scientific reports in my time, but nothing like this," said António Guterres, the secretary-general of the United Nations during a press conference that introduced the report. "Today's IPCC report is an atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership."
"This report reveals all people on the planet are getting clobbered by climate change."
If the four-day event that concluded in Orlando, Florida, on Sunday night was any indication, the conservative base of the party is much more interested in the upcoming congressional mid-term elections in November and defeating Democrats than they are about Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Some of the top Republican officeholders in the party, like Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis, Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Florida Senator Rick Scott, didn't mention Ukraine at all in their speeches.
Donald Trump, who took the stage on Saturday night, offered a quick condemnation of the invasion, but spent more time defending his interactions with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that led to his first impeachment and his statements earlier this week calling Russian President Vladimir Putin a "genius". He added that Nato nations and current US leadership were dumb.
At issue is the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to limit emissions from power plants under the landmark Clean Air Act.
The 6-3 conservative majority court on Monday sounded sceptical of the EPA's authority to issue broad regulations.
But it is so far unclear how the justices will rule in this case.
The justices took up an appeal from 19 mostly Republican-led states, led by coal producer West Virginia and joined by some of the nation's largest coal companies, which challenges the EPA's power.
A ruling that limits the EPA's authority may undercut the Biden administration's plans to cut the country's greenhouse emissions in half by 2020.
The Guardian, all editions
Belarus may be preparing to send its soldiers into Ukraine in support of the Russian invasion, perhaps as soon as this week, according to a US defence official, amid mounting concern about Minsk’s military preparations.
Belarus has already been used as a staging post by Russian forces, who gathered there on the pretext of joint military exercises before last week’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Now there is increasing evidence that Minsk may be moving towards becoming an explicit participant in the war.
On Monday it announced it was revoking its non-nuclear status after a referendum, allowing Russian weapons to be placed in Belarus
. The move provoked rare protests in the country.
The Guardian, US Edition
Legal pressures are mounting for Donald Trump’s ex-lawyer Rudy Giuliani as the US justice department and the House panel investigating the January 6 assault on Congress are both investigating a “false electors” scheme which Giuliani reportedly helped lead to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 election.
The Guardian, US Edition
The Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine is less effective in children aged five to 11 than in adolescents and adults, according to new data from New York state health officials.
The study was carried out during the Omicron variant surge but was made public at a time of rapidly dropping cases and hospitalizations in New York and elsewhere.
The Guardian, all editions
The prosecutor of the international criminal court (ICC) in The Hague has announced that he will launch an investigation into possible war crimes or crimes against humanity in Ukraine.
Karim Khan said that although Ukraine was not a member of the ICC, it had awarded jurisdiction to the court. He said that there was grounds to open an investigation based on a previous preliminary investigation on Crimea and the Donbas published last year, and on current events in Ukraine.
“I have already tasked my team to explore all evidence preservation opportunities,” Khan, a British lawyer, said.
The Guardian, UK Edition
Kremlin-backed television station RT could lose its licence to broadcast in the UK after media regulator Ofcom launched 15 separate investigations into its news coverage of the war in Ukraine.
The English-language channel, once known as Russia Today and fronted by several British presenters and journalists, has repeatedly echoed President Putin’s narrative of the invasion. It has consistently referred to the invasionas a “special military operation” and focused on how Russia is supposedly protecting breakaway regions from Ukrainian aggression.
British broadcasting rules allows politically biased coverage providing the output still meets the standards of ‘due impartiality’ – meaning viewers are still exposed to alternative viewpoints.
The Guardian, UK Edition
Oligarchs and kleptocrats will no longer be able to hide their ownership of property through companies based in overseas territories, the business secretary said on Monday, but refused to give a date for when the change would come into force.
In a move brought forward by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Kwasi Kwartengsaid there would be a register showing the ultimate beneficial ownership of foreign-owned UK properties – a move that was first promised under David Cameron.
Kwarteng said the legislation would “send a clear warning to those who have or who are thinking about using the UK property market to launder ill-gotten gains, particularly those linked to the Putin regime.”
The Guardian, Australian Edition
It was a wall of water. A record-breaking and relentless deluge that lasted days and flooded towns and cities along Queensland’s south-east coast, submerging thousands of homes and leaving at least eight people dead.
As the water spreads to northern New South Wales, how did the so-called “rain bomb” develop? And why has Queensland’s capital flooded again just 11 years after the devastation of 2011?
Wednesday, 23 February
The Bureau of Meteorology warns that an area of low pressure over the south coast of Queensland is dragging in moisture from the Coral Sea to the north and then lifting it over the coastline. There has been torrential rain for two days and there is much more to come.
The Guardian, Australian
A Ukrainian sailor has been arrested in Mallorca and faces charges of attempting to sink a yacht owned by Alexander Mikheev, the CEO of the Russian arms exporter Rosoboronexport and former head of the Russian helicopter federation. The boat is moored in the harbour of Port Adriano.
The unnamed man, who has been employed for the past 10 years as a mechanic on the Lady Anastasia, Mikheev’s 48-metre, £5m yacht, said he felt he had to do something after seeing footage of a Russian rocket attack on a block of flats in Kyiv, his home town. The defendant told the judge that he believed the rocket had been manufactured by Mikheev’s company.
Once on board the vessel he told the crew members, most of whom are also Ukrainians, to abandon ship. He allegedly then went to the engine room and opened a large valve in an attempt to sink the yacht. The crew members, aided by port staff, intervened to prevent the sinking.
The Guardian, International Edition
Switzerland, a bastion of neutrality through two world wars, has decided to adopt wholesale swingeing EU sanctions against Russia, potentially freezing billions of dollars in assets and further increasing the pressure on the Russian economy. Swiss national bank data showed that Russian companies and individuals held assets worth more than $11bn in Swiss banks in 2020.
The Federal Council also announced it had banned five oligarchs close to Vladimir Putin from entering the country. Flights from Russia are being banned, although this will not apply to flights carrying diplomats.
Switzerland had until now adopted very limited measures, including barring Swiss companies from taking on new business with three Russian oligarchs named by the EU as sanctions targets last week. Switzerland is obliged by law to adopt UN sanctions but has a choice over how it responds to EU measures. Its refusal to do more last week was heavily criticised by the EU for letting neutrality and Swiss banking laws become complicity.
As Russia’s war on Ukraine enters another day, with reports of hundreds killed in less than a week, there are rising questions about what President Vladimir Putin is trying to achieve.
According to Cristian Nitoiu, lecturer in Diplomacy and International Governance at Loughborough University London, there should be no misunderstanding about Russia’s motives; Putin is concerned with nothing less than revisionist politics and great power fantasies, he told Al Jazeera.
“The long-term goals of Russia following the end of the Cold War have been to recover the great power status of Soviet Union, to be seen as equal by the West and to be able to influence political developments in its smaller neighbours like Ukraine, Moldova or Kazakhstan,” he said.
However, Ukraine has been incorporating itself into the Western orbit of influence, and thus going against Putin’s interests.
As Russia’s economy gets hammered by sanctions, China has emerged as the key player with the potential to lessen its partner’s economic pain.
But amid Moscow’s deepening international isolation, there are growing signs that Beijing’s willingness to throw its strategic partner an economic lifeline may only go so far.
Even as Beijing has refused to term Russian President Vladimir Putin’s assault on Ukraine an “invasion” and condemned Western-led sanctions, Chinese state-owned financial institutions have been quietly distancing themselves from Russia’s beleaguered economy.
The moves suggest a careful balancing act by Beijing as it seeks to buttress ties with Moscow without openly violating sanctions, which could jeopardise its access to key Western export markets and the US dollar-centric international financial system.
Amidst news of fighting in Ukraine, refugees at the country's western borders and Russian attacks on Kyiv, Russian President Vladimir Putin made a statement on Sunday that stood out, one that sent a chill around the world.
"I order the defense minister and the chief of the general staff of the Russian armed forces to put the deterrence forces of the Russian army into a special mode of combat service," Putin said in a televised address.
The "deterrence" the president referred to includes nuclear forces, which immediately raised concerns about a possible escalation of the war against Ukraine.
A senior US Defense Department official said in a briefing on Sunday that Putin invoking Russia's nuclear capability was "not only an unnecessary step for him to take but an escalatory one." And NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called the order "irresponsible," telling US broadcaster CNN that "this is dangerous rhetoric."
Turkey is set to implement an international convention on naval passage through two of its strategic straits, which would allow them to limit the movement of Russian warships between the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea.
Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey's foreign minister said on Sunday that the situation in Ukraine had become a war, a declaration that authorizes Ankara to activate the Montreux Convention and ban Russian war vessels from entering the Black Sea through the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits.
"In the beginning, it was a Russian attack," Cavusoglu said in an interview with broadcaster CNN Turkish." Now it has turned into a war."
"Turkey will implement all provisions of Montreux Convention in a transparent manner," he added.
The decision comes three days after Kyiv had asked Ankara to close the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits to Russian ships.
But what does the Montreux Convention entail and how could its implementation affect the war between Russia and Ukraine?
Hong Kong is reeling under a crushing wave of omicron infections, with hospital systems stretched thin and dead bodies piled up at hospitals as mortuaries are filled up to capacity, Tony Ling, president of Hong Kong Public Doctors' Association, said on Monday.
Health Secretary Sophia Chan told Hong Kong Commercial Radio on Monday that authorities were "discussing" imposing a citywide lockdown when asked about it, which marks a U-turn from the government's previously held position to test people through March instead of locking down.
"From a public health perspective, to bring out the best effect of compulsory universal testing, we need to reduce people's movement to some extent," she added. People should stay at home and avoid going out as much as possible, Chan said.
The government is expected to introduce economic measures to mitigate the fallout from Russia's invasion of Ukraine -- especially its impact on global energy prices -- after the cabinet meets later on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha called a meeting with his deputies and relevant agencies to discuss the ongoing developments in Ukraine, as tensions continue to escalate, government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said on Monday.
The crisis, he said, will undoubtedly have an impact on the economy, which will range from higher oil prices to volatilities in the equity and cryptocurrency markets.
An "extreme" atmospheric river was barreling into the Pacific Northwest on Monday, and with it will come the threat of flooding and avalanches, forecasters say.
"It will be an active stretch of days across the Northwest as we leave February in the rearview mirror and start the month of March," AccuWeather meteorologist Alex DaSilva said. "A parade of storms will keep the weather active across the Northwest through Wednesday."
Meteorologists said rainfall amounts will range from 2 to 4 inches early this week from Portland, Oregon, to Seattle, and locally higher amounts are possible on the windward sides of the mountains.
Federal health officials have relaxed mask recommendations for Americans living in areas of low or medium risk of COVID-19, but almost one-third of the U.S. population is not supposed to breathe a sigh of relief.
What are they supposed to do?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a color-coded map by counties revealing guidelines suggesting who could get reprieves from wearing masks indoors in their county. It's based on hospitalizations, hospital capacity and case numbers, the latter of which has dominated the metrics.
Green is good; it means low transmission. Yellow is medium transmission and orange is high transmission. Almost all of Connecticut is in the green. Almost all of West Virginia is orange. Most states are a mix.
Houston Public Radio
Pilar Hernandez was hoping the nightmare for her family was over.
For months last year, transgender advocates in Texas fought a group of bills in the legislature seeking to ban transition care by arresting parents and delicensing doctors who provide transition care to children. Several of those bills died, but the ordeal scared Hernandez, the mother of a 17-year-old transgender boy in Houston.
Last week, those fears resurfaced: Attorney General Ken Paxton issued an opinionthat defined providing access to certain gender-affirming treatment as child abuse, leaving some parents worried about the safety of their families and some advocates concerned about the well-being of trans kids in Texas.
"I had this fantasy that this year we’ll be able to at least rest a little," Hernandez said while fighting back tears. "I think we all have post traumatic stress syndrome from last year, so this brings everything back."
The Screen Actors Guild Awards happened on Sunday night — the first of the guilds to give out their big prizes this season. The guilds — your Screen Actors Guild, but also your Directors Guild and your Producers Guild and your Writers Guild — make particularly interesting predictors of Oscar season (unlike, for instance, the Golden Globes), because they are chosen by some of the same voters. That can make guild awards solid predictors, or at least as solid as any. For instance, before Parasite won what was originally considered a longshot best picture Oscar two years ago, it picked up a win at the SAG Awards, and that's when its win for best picture started to look like a shot that was not quite so long.
Reasons to be Cheerful
A new kind of out-of-town visitor likes to check out the famous Brandenburg Tor in Berlin these days: Louisiana crawfish scuttles through the site when it rains. After business consultants Lukas and Juliane Bosch learned three years ago that they had become invasive in Berlin, the couple had an aha-moment. “We read that the invasive species has no natural enemies in the ecosystem,” Lukas says, which is why they’d come to run rampant. “That logic only works if you omit humans from the food chain.”
Why not simply eat the invaders? After all, the crawfish is a delicacy in Louisiana because it tastes almost like lobster. Together with Berlin gourmet chef Andreas Michelus, the couple started buying the crawfish from a licensed fisherman, developed recipes and bought a food truck. Their company, Holycrab!, was born. “Why fly exotic ingredients around the world when they live outside your front door?” the founders ask. “If you can’t beat them, eat them.”
The main challenge was getting Germans interested in trying new foods, “so we put it in dishes people were already familiar with, such as crab rolls or ‘pasta di plague,’” Juliane says. When the crawfish season ended in the fall, they switched to wild boar and Nile goose, which are also invasive.
The crew of the Overnight News Digest consists of founder Magnifico, regular editors side pocket, maggiejean, Chitown Kev, eeff, Magnifico, annetteboardman, Rise above the swamp, Besame and jck. Alumni editors include (but not limited to) Interceptor 7, Man Oh Man, wader, Neon Vincent, palantir, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse (RIP), ek hornbeck (RIP), rfall, ScottyUrb, Doctor RJ, BentLiberal, Oke (RIP) and jlms qkw.