A stand-off over payments for Russian energy, a devastating diagnosis for Bruce Willis, and the first public reactions from Chris Rock.
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WEDNESDAY'S TOP LINES
Tom Parker, a singer in the British boyband The Wanted, died Wednesday following a battle with terminal brain cancer.
Parker - who was 33 - revealed he had an inoperable tumour back in 2020. In a statement on Instagram, his wife Kelsey said he died "peacefully earlier today with all of his family by his side".
Actor Bruce Willis is "stepping away" from acting, after being diagnosed with aphasia.
According to his daughter Rumer Willis, the condition is "impacting his cognitive abilities".
In a really helpful article, CNN described aphasia as a "devastating condition", adding it "steals a person's ability to communicate, making it difficult to write or speak or even understand what others are saying".
How common is this condition? More common than Parkinson's Disease, cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy.
"Approximately 1 million people, or 1 in 250 in the United States today, are living with aphasia." - ASHA, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
UKRAINE - WHAT'S THE LATEST?
A lot of the reports today on the war focus on President Putin.
For example, both UK and US officials - the White House and GCHQ, the British spy agency - have suggested Putin's advisers are "afraid to tell him the truth" about how badly the war is going.
The White House also said Putin was not being told the full extent of the economic impact of sanctions on Russia.
What else? According to British intelligence cited by BBC News, Russian troops are "demoralised, short of equipment and refusing to carry out orders".
THE ENERGY ANGLE
The most read stories in The Guardian and The Financial Times this morning both relate to Germany (and Austria) possible rationing their energy supplies.
Why? Over a payment stand-off with Russia. President Putin wants to be paid in the Russian currency of roubles, and set a deadline of this for March 31. This only applies to a list of "unfriendly countries" - basically, the ones that imposed sanctions.
Anyway, Germany currently isn't up for meeting that demand, and would rather ration its supplies. The Guardian said that stance is "likely to plunge the EU’s largest economy into recession".
Ever wanted to know more about Europe's reliance on Russian energy? You can read our recent piece 👉🏽 - Bad Energy? Europe's Reliance on Russian Oil and Gas.
ON TODAY'S AGENDA...
In Belgium, NATO's Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is expected to present the Western military alliance's annual report.
Meanwhile in Qatar, the final draw for the World Cup will be made today at the 2022 Fifa Congress. The World Cup kicks off - pun intended - in November.
Will Smith was asked to leave the Oscars on Sunday after slapping Chris Rock but "refused", according to The Academy.
The Academy also acknowledged they "could have handled the situation differently".
Meanwhile, Chris Rock received two standing ovations in his first shows since the incident. Rock also alluded to not having spoken to Smith privately since the incident on Sunday, which was watched by millions on live tv.
"I don't have a bunch of s*** about what happened, so if you came to hear that, I had like a whole show I wrote before this weekend. And I'm still kind of processing what happened, so at some point I'll talk about that s***. And it'll be serious and it'll be funny, but right now I'm going to tell some jokes." - Chris Rock
KEEPING AN EYE...
Today marks the deadline for abortion services to be provided in Northern Ireland, a deadline that is not expected to be met.
What's the background here? Abortion has been legal in Northern Ireland since 2019, but little has been done to actually provide the service due to political disagreement. The Democratic Unionist Party, for example, are staunchly opposed to abortion, but Westminster voted to legalise it at a time when Stormont's power sharing arrangement had collapsed.
What's the latest on this? A number of reports last week said the UK government - aware the deadline was unlikely to be met - is "taking legal steps to override the Northern Ireland executive" and directly instruct health authorities to provide the service. BBC News said Westminster will "intervene" on this after Northern Ireland Assembly elections in early May.
- BBC News: Smith refused to leave Oscars after slap - Academy
- The Guardian: Germany could ration power if fuel standoff continues - as it happened
- The Financial Times: Germany and Austria plan for gas rationing over payment stand-off with Russia
- Al Jazeera: Putin being misled by advisers on Ukraine war, West says
- The Irish Times: Putin demands Mariupol surrender amid fresh Kyiv attacks
Tell a friend ✌🏽 We received a very generous shout-out yesterday, leading to 200+ new Instagram followers and plenty of new subscribers.
It makes all the difference - and we're so grateful!
Why? Because the celebrity - who has two children with rapper Tyga and Rob Kardashian - tweeted about having to sell three of her cars, because she is not receiving any child support. The post went viral when both fathers responded to an Instagram post about it.
While you can see Kardashian's comments below, Tyga also responding, saying;
"I pay 40k a year for my son's school & he lives with me Mon-Sat. Why would I pay child support lol." - Tyga
ON A LIGHTER NOTE...
Not sure why this made me laugh, but it did.