No breakthrough in talks in Turkey, no backing down for Jussie Smollett, no Facebook ban on calls for violence against Russian soldiers in Ukraine, and no ban on same-sex marriage in Chile.
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UKRAINE - WHAT'S THE LATEST?
- The Mayor of Kyiv said half of the capital city's residents have left. According to Al Jazeera, that is roughly two million people.
- Russian forces are said to have moved "three miles closer to Kyiv in the last 24 hours," according to BBC News.
- The talks between Russia and Ukraine's Foreign Ministers in Turkey on Thursday failed to reach any breakthrough.
- Facebook made headlines overnight for allowing posts calling for violence towards Russian soldiers in Ukraine, and President Putin.
"As a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine we have temporarily made allowances for forms of political expression that would normally violate our rules like violent speech such as 'death to the Russian invaders.' We still won't allow credible calls for violence against Russian civilians." - A statement from Meta, Facebook's parent company
- In Ireland, nearly 12,000 people have pledged a place for Ukrainian refugees to stay. An RTÉ News article noted it took "a few months" to reach a thousand pledges in 2015 during the Syrian refugee crisis.
- Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich was sanctioned by the UK government. Below is the most helpful piece we've seen on what this means.
KEEPING AN EYE...
President Biden, along with G7 countries and EU member states, is expected to announce later a plan to revoke normal trade relations with Russia.
Russia currently has a "favoured nation status" as a trading partner. The plan would have to be approved in congress, and be subject to the normal processes in the other countries.
"Stripping Russia of its favoured nation status paves the way for the United States and its allies to impose tariffs on a wide range of Russian goods, which would further ratchet up pressure on an economy that is already heading into a 'deep recession'". - Context from Reuters
ON TODAY'S AGENDA
US Vice President Kamala Harris will be in Romania today, following her visit to Poland on Thursday.
As CNN noted, the visit "is meant to demonstrate American commitment at a deeply uncertain moment for the region".
ALSO HAPPENING TODAY...
In Northern Ireland, the leaders of the five main political parties will issue an apology today to victims of historical abuse in both church and state-run institutions.
In what RTÉ News described as "the biggest child abuse inquiry in UK history", it looked at the abuse of hundreds of children over 70 years.
Worth noting: The apology was supposed to be delivered by Northern Ireland's First and Deputy First Minister. Earlier this year, the DUP withdrew from the First Minister position amid tensions over the Northern Ireland protocol.
WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?
Actor Jussie Smollett has been sentenced to 150 days in jail for staging a fake attack and insisting he was the victim of a hate crime.
What is this all about? Three years ago, Smollett - who is Black and gay - claimed two assailants attacked him late at night, shouting a Trump slogan at him, covered him in a "chemical substance", and threw a noose around his neck. Within weeks, police accused the actor of staging the incident. During the trial late last year, the two assailants testified that Smollett paid them to carry out the staged attack.
In court on Thursday, Smollett once again insisted he was innocent, and also repeatedly said he was "not suicidal".
"If I did this then it means I stuck my fists in the fear of Black Americans in this country for over 400 years, and the fears of the LGBTQ community... I did not do this, and I am not suicidal, and if anything happens to me when I go in there, I did not do it to myself, and you must all know that." - Jussie Smollett in court Thursday
Worth noting: the reported attack in 2019 came at an incredibly polarised time politically in the US. Smollett received a lot of support, including from the current vice president, Kamala Harris - with many quick to condemn President Trump for his role in inciting racism. The interview 👇🏽 from days after the reported attack makes for an astonishing watch in light of him being found guilty of staging it.
The world's coronavirus death toll is likely to be three times higher than current official figures, researchers suggest.
Official figures currently suggest more than six million people have died from coronavirus, but studies of excess deaths in 191 countries and territories put that figure closer to 18 million people.
Worth noting: it was two years ago today when the World Health Organisation first declared the spread of coronavirus a "pandemic".
In the South American country of Chile, same-sex couples are now legally permitted to get married.
The law - which passed in December to the surprise of many - came into effect on Thursday.
BBC News described Chile as an "overwhelmingly Catholic country".
- BBC News: Satellites show Russia convoy regrouping near Kyiv
- The Guardian: Drone footage shows Ukrainian ambush on Russian tanks
- The Financial Times: Ukraine accuses Russia of Mariupol hospital bombing 'atrocity'
- Al Jazeera: Russian military convoy near Kyiv 'dispersed, re-deployed'
- The Irish Times: Fears grow for 1,000 jobs linked to construction firm Roadbridge
RTÉ News also had a fascinating article this morning which is absolutely worth reading - why a Russian embassy expansion alarmed the Irish Government.
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ON A LIGHTER NOTE...
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