Russia tightens security on Crimea bridge after huge blast:
On Saturday, a large explosion caused the partial collapse of Russia’s controversial Crimea bridge. Since this incident, Russia has tightened security around the bridge. Destroyed parts of the bridge were removed by Russian officials, who immediately began repairs and got traffic moving again by Saturday evening. CCTV footage shows a white truck driving along the bridge in the early hours of Saturday morning and then a large explosion. Criticism has been raised in Russia about how the truck could pass through state-of-the-art security controls, with Russian war bloggers calling for retaliation. The explosion is a major blow to Russia as the bridge is an important supply route for the Russian military fighting in Ukraine and a symbol of its power in the Black Sea region. It casts further doubt on whether Russia's war in Ukraine is going to plan, with the Kremlin previously claiming that there was no risk to the bridge, despite Kyiv's threats. Ukrainian officials mocked and joked about the explosion, but have not directly claimed responsibility. Russia has opened a criminal investigation in connection with the incident, with some Russian lawmakers urging Putin to upgrade the “special military operation” in Ukraine to a “counterterrorism operation”. This would allow the Kremlin to broaden the powers of security agencies, ban rallies, tighten censorship, introduce restrictions on travel and expand the partial military mobilization that Putin ordered last month.
Lebanon's currency plummets again amid financial crisis and political deadlock:
People wait outside a currency exchange shop to exchange money in Beirut, Lebanon, January 5, 2022. Picture taken January 5, 2022. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir
Since the year’s start, Lebanon's currency has lost more than 15% of its value. This puts greater pressure on the population which is already facing poverty. The Lebanese pound, which has lost more than 90% of its value since 2019, was trading at a new low of more than 33,000 to the dollar on Tuesday from 27,400 on Dec. 31. It had traded at 1,500 before the economy was crushed by a mountain of debt. President Michel Aoun held a series of meetings on Monday and Tuesday to win support for a national dialogue conference to discuss the economic crisis among other issues, but he has so far only secured backing from his close allies. Others, including rivals from Aoun's Christian community, have rejected the proposal. Some have said talks must wait until a parliamentary election in May, while others have said the cabinet needs to meet first. To add further uncertainty, Aoun's six-year term as president ends later this year. Protesters took to the streets in several areas of the country on Monday night, burning tires and voicing anger at the dire economic situation amid political deadlock.
Somalia Drought Brings Famine Near:
Hamdi Yusuf, a malnourished child, is held by her mother in Dollow, Somalia, Sept. 21, 2022.
Somalia is facing its worst drought in living memory. This drought, which started two years ago, has astonished resilient herders and farmers by lasting four failed rainy seasons. The fifth season is underway and likely will fail too, along with the sixth early next year. This could lead to a rare famine declaration being made this month, the first significant one anywhere in the world since Somalia's famine a decade ago. The UN says half a million such children are at risk of death, "a number, a pending nightmare, we have not seen this century." Some flee their communities at night to escape the fighters' attention, with men and even young boys often being forbidden to leave. One woman says no one from her community was allowed to leave, and people who received assistance from the outside would be attacked. To make matters worse, ready-to-use therapeutic food crucial to the recovery of children could run out in the coming weeks. Humanitarian workers describe having to take limited resources from the hungry in Somalia to treat the starving, complicating efforts to get ahead of the drought. The true toll of the dead is still unknown, but aid organization Islamic Relief says over 300 children have died in the last three months in rural areas.