Friday Briefing: European Leaders Travel to Ukraine

We cover European leaders’ pledges to support the Ukrainian war effort and Trump’s presidential candidate in Colombia.

The leaders of France, Italy, Germany and Romania met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky Thursday in Kyiv, where they expressed support for making Ukraine a candidate for EU membership, and said they would continue to support Ukraine’s military efforts, despite suggestions to the contrary. .

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who have come under fire in recent days for their perception that they are seeking to pressure Zelensky into peace talks with Russia, stressed that their support was genuine: “On your side in the long run to defend your sovereignty, territorial integrity and freedom,” Macron said. . “This is our goal, we have no other and we will achieve it.”

Macron said the four leaders had expressed support for Ukraine’s candidacy to join the European Union. “Ukraine belongs to the European family,” Schulz added.

European leaders also visited Irbin, a suburb of Kyiv where investigators are looking into reports of Russian atrocities during the war. Russia dismissed their trip as an empty symbolism. Dmitry Medvedev, the former Russian president, sarcastically described the leaders as “European experts on frogs, liver and pasta”.

Frequency: Ukrainian officials fear pressure to negotiate an end to the war with Russia over the 2014 and 2015 Minsk agreements, under which the Ukrainians offered concessions in exchange for a Russian ceasefire, which was never implemented.

Trapped: With all the bridges connecting the twin Ukrainian cities of Lysekhansk and Severodonetsk destroyed and fighting still raging, thousands of civilians were left trapped inside one of the bloodiest battles of the war to date.

Schoolchildren around the world have long learned that Hong Kong was a British colony. But students in Hong Kong will soon teach a different lesson: It wasn’t.

A new novel pushed by Beijing – which dismisses how the British saw their relationship with the city – will be taught explicitly to high school students in Hong Kong through at least four new textbooks to be released in the fall.

The textbook material is still under review by principals, teachers, scientists and staff at the Hong Kong Education Office, but appears to be intended for classrooms. Local news sites published excerpts from this week’s drafts, and The Times has seen proof copies of teachers.

Excerpts from textbooks reinforce the position of the Chinese Communist Party on Hong Kong. “British aggression violated the principles of international law, so its occupation of Hong Kong should not have been recognized as lawful,” the teacher’s copy of a textbook says.

quotable: One pro-democracy activist said that the novel “is an abbreviation of saying, ‘Hong Kong has always been a part of China, so the people of Hong Kong can never claim the right to self-determination.'”

wider effort: The article is part of a broader campaign by China’s supreme leader, Xi Jinping, to reform Hong Kong’s schools, to “protect young minds” and to raise loyal and patriotic citizens.

Rodolfo Hernandez, a 77-year-old businessman and former mayor, has emerged as Colombia’s most disruptive presidential candidate in decades, impressing voters – and a huge TikTok fan base – with a Trump-like “swamp drain”.

He is one of two candidates left in Sunday’s election for head of state, the third largest in Latin America, with the winner taking control at a pivotal moment in the country’s history.

Hernandez promoted himself as a model of democracy, a successful businessman who kept his promises and cared for the poor. But a Times reporter traveled to Bucaramanga, the mountainous city where he built his empire and once served as mayor, and found a different picture: an anti-corruption candidate indicted for corruption, an austerity advocate. The burn policies led to a hunger strike by city employees and a building magnate who once pledged to build 20,000 homes for the poor never materialized.

Discount: Hernandez faces Gustavo Petro, the former rebel and longtime senator who hopes to become Colombia’s first left-wing president. Their electoral success – and they are nearly tied in the polls – reflects the anti-establishment fervor that has swept Latin America as poverty and inequality long ago intensified during the pandemic.

Diablo is one of the most successful video game franchises, from one of the biggest developers in the world, Blizzard Entertainment. But the latest entry in the series, “Diablo Immortal,” has received overwhelmingly negative reviews from critics who say the game’s payment model is predatory.

Diablo Immortal is free to download on PC and mobile devices, but it hosts a shop where players can use real money to buy items to upgrade their token gear. These improvements are not guaranteed. In essence, players pay for a virtual scratch ticket. By some estimates, it could take thousands, if not tens of thousands, of dollars to fully upgrade a character.

Belgium and the Netherlands will not get “Diablo Immortal” as a result of anti-gambling rules prohibiting these types of games. And on Metacritic, the review aggregator, users rated the PC version of the game 0.2 out of 10 – among the lowest of any Blizzard game. – German Lopez

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