Your briefing on Wednesday: Russia is bombing the East

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Good morning. We’re talking about Russia’s aggressive turn east, South Africa’s catastrophic flooding, and Myanmar’s collapsing health system.

Moscow stated that its offensive for control of eastern Ukraine was underway as it bombed hundreds of targets overnight in the industrial heart of the country.

Ukraine said it resisted Russia’s initial thrust, but the embattled region is bracing for a full-scale attack. Hundreds of thousands of civilians are still trapped there. Here’s the latest.

The Pentagon estimated that Russia had already moved 8,000 to 11,000 additional soldiers east and had tens of thousands more in reserve. The sprawling offensive could reshape the conflict.

Analysis: Russia’s military campaign seems much more methodical than that of the early days of the war. Ukraine and Pentagon officials said Russian forces appear to be engaged in “shaping operations,” which are smaller attacks that are often the precursors to larger troop movements or diversion from other fronts.

Tactics: Ukrainians use internet memes and sell merchandise to gain international public support. It functions.

State of the war:

  • At least 1,000 civilians were trapped in a large steel factory in Mariupol, along with Ukrainian troops engaged in what appeared to be the city’s last defense.

  • At least three people were killed in a Russian artillery attack in Kharkov.

Other updates:


More than 440 people have died and nearly 4,000 homes have been destroyed after catastrophic flooding swept through the Durban area last week. About four dozen people remain missing and survivors struggle to get their lives back on track.

“This is probably one of the worst things I’ve seen,” said one rescuer. “Just the extent of the devastation.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a state of disaster on Monday. “We are a nation united in our sorrows,” he said.

The government is planning to clean up and restore the area, while also trying to recover dozens of bodies believed to have been buried under mud or washed up in the sea. Much of the death and destruction took place in thin shack settlements built by people who could not otherwise afford stable housing.

Analysis: A series of powerful storms recently devastated southern and eastern Africa, killing hundreds and destroying communities already struggling with poverty. For many, the floods have highlighted the growing toll of climate change, especially on the most socio-economically vulnerable communities.


In recent weeks, security forces in Myanmar have stepped up their crackdown on doctors who oppose the military junta, arresting them in their homes and hospitals. The soldiers have revoked the licenses of prominent doctors and searched hospitals for wounded resistance fighters.

As a result, Myanmar is now one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a medical worker. At least 140 doctors have been arrested since the coup; 89 of them are still behind bars, according to a human rights organization. At least 30 doctors have been killed, another human rights group said.

Analysis: Myanmar faces an ongoing health emergency, with a severe shortage of medical professionals and a chronic lack of resources. Many hospitals and clinics are closed. Anti-regime doctors estimate that hundreds of people die each week because emergency surgery is not performed.

citable: dr. Kyaw Swar was conducting an operation when soldiers came looking for him. He hid in the operating room and continued. “If they had found us, they would have arrested us,” he said. “But I won’t run away while operating on a patient. It is not a crime for a doctor to treat patients.”

Working from home has given Japanese corporate workers a chance to rethink their priorities, both personally and professionally. Many want more flexibility, autonomy and control – as opposed to the country’s traditional non-stop job-for-life model.

Developing countries do not always keep official death registers. Nine out of ten deaths in Africa and six out of ten worldwide are unrecorded.

That could have far-reaching consequences: The WHO estimates that by the end of 2021, 15 million people around the world had died from the coronavirus pandemic – more than double the existing official toll of six million.

In another effort, investigators are going door-to-door to try to create an electronic loss record: an “electronic verbal autopsy.”

In countries like Sierra Leone, they survey an entire village and interview people about those who have died in the past two years. The information goes to a nationwide survey, which doctors assess to classify each death.

It is an extremely labour-intensive approach. But in Sierra Leone, where a vast majority of people die from preventable or treatable causes, it is necessary.

The country started its digital autopsies in 2018. The first big surprise was that malaria was the biggest killer of adults in Sierra Leone. The second was better news: The maternal death rate was half what the UN estimated, suggesting the government’s efforts are paying off.



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