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FILE PHOTO: A volunteer stirring food to be distributed to people in Omdurman, Sudan, September 3, 2023.

REUTERS/El Tayeb Siddig/File Photo

Hard Numbers: Crisis deepens in Sudan, Infernos rage in Chile, Moon is shrinking, Japan welcomes digital nomads, NJ scores World Cup final, Swift's lucky numbers

8,000,000: The United Nations reported this week that 10 months of violent conflict in Sudan have displaced nearly 8 million people and caused at least 12,000 deaths. The war between the rebel Rapid Support Forces and the Sudanese Army has left nearly half of Sudan's population in need of aid and the International Criminal Court investigating allegations of war crimes.

112: At least 112 people are dead and 190 missing in wildfires consuming the central regions of Chile, including the historic port city of Valparaiso. Arson is suspected to have ignited the blaze that burned over 106,255 acres during the intense heatwave sweeping South America.

150: Over millions of years, the moon has shrunk by 150 feet in diameter – and now, scientists are growing concerned. The shrinking, caused by the cooling of the moon's molten core, has led to the formation of thrust faults and “moonquakes” that could pose risks to future lunar missions, notably at its south pole.

10,000,000: If you’ve got a yen to work in Japan, this is your lucky day. To boost tourism, the country will be offering a “specified activities” visa to digital nomads from 49 countries and territories, including the self-employed. This will allow them to work remotely and stay for up to six months as long as they earn an annual income of 10 million yen, or $68,300. The program is expected to start in late March.

39: FIFA World Cup released the schedule and locations of games for the 2026 tournament, which will be played in Mexico, the US, and Canada. At 39 days, it will be the longest World Cup in history, culminating with a final to be played in “New York/New Jersey” (which means MetLife stadium in … New Jersey). Among other curiosities, close observers noted that there’s a chance of a knockout round match between the US and England on July 4 in Philadelphia. Get your 1776 on …

4: Last night, Taylor Swift became the first artist to win four Grammy awards for album of the year with "Midnights." The pop star, who now has 14 statues on the mantle, thanked her fans by announcing that her new album, “The Tortured Poets Department,” will drop on April 19. And for those wondering where she will be on Feb. 11, the Embassy of Japan in Washington, DC, tweeted on Friday that the singing superstar can “comfortably” get from her concert in Tokyo on Saturday to Las Vegas on Sunday in time to see her “guy on the Chiefs” play in the Super Bowl.

The Smart Lander for Investigating Moon, aka SLIM, is seen in this handout image taken by LEV-2 on the moon, released on Jan. 25, 2024.

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), TAKARA TOMY, Sony Group, Doshisha University /via REUTERS

Comeback kid: Japan’s moon lander resurrected by the sun

Hey Alexa, play “The Power” by Snap! Japan’s moon lander has come back to life after it was put to sleep for over a week to save juice. The spacecraft, known as Slim (no relation to Eminem), has power again after an awkward, upside-down landing initially prevented sunlight from hitting its solar panels. It just needed to wait for a change in the sunlight’s direction.
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The H-2A rocket launched at Tanagashima Space Center in Minamitane Town, Kagoshima Prefecture, on Sept. 7, 2023.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration/The Yomiuri Shimbun via Reuters

Japan is shooting for the moon, literally

This weekend, Japan will attempt to become the fifth country to successfully land on the moon. The spacecraft “Moon Sniper” begins its 20-minute descent at midnight Tokyo time on Friday, armed with a small robot rover designed by the same Japanese toy company that brought us Bayblades and Transformers.

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Tens of thousands of Icelandic women, including Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir (pictured), are expected to strike from paid and unpaid jobs on Tuesday in a protest against gender inequality.

REUTERS/Juan Medina

Hard Numbers: Iceland’s women stop cold, Zimbabwe faces fresh epidemic, China-Philippines high seas crash, oil majors keep betting on oil, moon gets older overnight

48: For the first time in 48 years, the women of Iceland are going on strike. The one-day work stoppage on Tuesday — which the country’s PM, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, will take part in — will spotlight unequal pay between men and women, as well as gender-based violence. Although Iceland tops the list for global gender pay equality among countries, women still earn 21% less than men in some jobs.

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A Soyuz-2.1b rocket booster with a Fregat upper stage and the lunar landing spacecraft Luna-25 blasts off from a launchpad at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the far eastern Amur region, Russia, on Aug. 11, 2023.

Roscosmos/Vostochny Space Centre/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

Fly me to the moon – or maybe not

Russia’s first lunar mission in 47 years made contact of the wrong kind this weekend when its Luna-25 spaceship crash-landed on the surface of the moon. According to the Russian space program Roscosmos, the craft, also called the Luna-Glob-Lander, “switched to an off-design orbit” before it met its demise.

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Artemis and the lunar economy


Listen: There is a big difference between NASA’s current Artemis program and its Apollo program of five decades ago. This time, there is a long-term plan for humans on the moon. “We don't want to just touch it and come back and say we're done. We want to go there and stay there,” says NASA astronaut Raja Chari. He adds, “To do that, we need to go where there's resources.”

In the latest episode of Next Giant Leap, a podcast produced in partnership between GZERO and Canadian space company MDA, Raja Chari tells host Kevin Fong that the most valuable known resource on the moon is water ice, which could be used to sustain life in lunar bases. Water ice is most abundant in craters around the moon’s south pole. NASA is enlisting commercial companies such as SpaceX, Astrobotic Technology, and MDA to help get its astronauts to the polar region and in a position to ‘live off the land’ there.

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Mission to the Moon, with Artemis II astronaut Jeremy Hansen


Listen: In November 2024, astronaut Jeremy Hansen will take one giant leap for both space exploration and his country, Canada. He will be the first non-American to fly to the moon. Hansen has been selected as one of the four crew members of Artemis II - the NASA-led mission to send humans to and around the moon for the first time in more than fifty years.

In the first episode of Next Giant Leap, a podcast produced in partnership between GZERO Media and the space company MDA, Jeremy Hansen tells host Kevin Fong why he believes humanity needs to return to the moon, and how a successful Artemis 2 flight will pave the way for the first attempt to land two people on the lunar surface since the Apollo era.

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Finland joins NATO in face off against Russia
Finland joins NATO, bolstering Russia's strategic foes | World In :60 | GZERO Media

Finland joins NATO in face off against Russia

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week on World In :60.

With Finland officially joining NATO, what does it mean for Russia?

Well, this is exactly what Putin did not want to have happen, right? Ostensibly, the reason for his invasion into Ukraine was because Ukraine was moving towards NATO and that was unacceptable. Of course, now you've got 800 additional miles of border with very well-defended Finland, part of NATO as of today, facing off against Russia. This is just one of many examples, but a very important, not just symbolic, one of how Putin made a very serious misjudgment in the way the West would respond to that invasion.

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