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PA via Reuters Recently arrived Afghan citizens take part in a cricket match with members of Newport Pagnell Town Cricket Club in Buckinghamshire, organised by the club as a gesture to welcome them to the UK.

If the Taliban builds a cricket stadium, will the world come?

The Taliban – which likes to use stadiums for public executions – now has ambitious plans to build a cutting-edge new sports facility for something else: cricket.

Afghanistan is cricket-crazy. Their underdog team pulled off a series of upsets at last year’s world cup – a momentary distraction from the country’s withering economic crisis. And although the squad still plays under the flag of the US-backed pre-Taliban government, they have powerful fans in Kabul – including Anas Haqqani, a Taliban official associated with a notorious terrorist group bearing his name – who provide political cover.

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Russia leaves nuclear test ban treaty in show of public posturing
Russia leaves nuclear test ban treaty in show of public posturing | Europe In :60 | GZERO Media

Russia leaves nuclear test ban treaty in show of public posturing

Carl Bildt, former prime minister of Sweden, shares his perspective on European politics from Stockholm.

What can be done by Europe or others to help the 1.7 million Afghan refugees that are now being expelled from Pakistan back into Afghanistan?

Well, sorry to say the answer is not very much can be done. We are delivering humanitarian aid to some extent, and the UN is there to Afghanistan, but to take care of or to help substantially 1.7 million people that are expelled from Pakistan is going to be very difficult. Relationship with the Taliban regime is virtually non-existent, so it's one of these tragedies that are happening at the same time as we have the Gaza War and the Ukraine War.

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Afghanistan's captain Hashmatullah Shahidi celebrates the team's victory against Pakistan in the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023, at MA Chidambaram Stadium, in Chennai on Monday.

ANI via Reuters

Afghanistan’s cricketers inspire nation with World Cup dream

The streets of Kabul erupted in joy Monday night as Afghans celebrated their national team’s massive upset victory against Pakistan in the Cricket World Cup. It’s a brief moment of elation amid the crushing crises that have immiserated millions since the US withdrawal.

The stunning eight-wicket win against one of the sport’s most celebrated sides put Afghanistan in a four-way tie for a knockout stage berth. They face an uphill climb for a shot at the trophy, though: The mighty South African and Australian teams are sure to put Afghan bowlers and batters through their paces, and they’ll have to beat both Sri Lanka and the Netherlands as well. If they manage to pull it off, waiting in the knockout stages is thus-far undefeated India, playing at home to roaring crowds.

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Students attend their final exam at the secondary school in Burkina Faso


Hard Numbers: Education crisis in Burkina Faso, Chinese formalizes ties with the Taliban, NASA unveils UFO study, Russian oligarchs off the hook

1,000,000: In Burkina Faso, where violence has raged unabated for five years, more than a quarter of schools are closed due to a sharp increase in fighting. The number of closed schools has risen by thirty percent since a coup last year, affecting more than 1,000,000 students and creating a looming education crisis in the country.

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Afghan women demonstrate in the center of Kabul, Afghanistan

Hard Numbers: Afghan women protest, gunman kills two in New Zealand, Eastern Europe seeks import ban extension, Phoenix melts

50: In Afghanistan, where women’s rights have been increasingly restricted since the Taliban returned to power in 2021, 50 women dared to protest in Kabul on Wednesday. The demonstrations were a response to the Taliban closing beauty salons, further restricting the public spaces accessible to women.

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President Volodymyr Zelensky is greeted by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak as he arrives Britain.

Ukraine Presidential Press Office handout via EYEPRESS via Reuters Connect

What We’re Watching: Zelensky and the jets, Pakistan targets TTP militants

Zelensky to British lawmakers: “Give us wings”

President Volodymyr Zelensky embarked on a whirlwind tour on Wednesday, leaving Ukraine for just the second time since Russia’s war began almost a year ago. Making a surprise stop in the UK, Zelensky met with PM Rishi Sunak and King Charles III and charmed British lawmakers at an address in the House of Commons. While the build-up to the trip was shrouded in secrecy, Zelensky was upfront about why he was there, imploring parliament to send Ukraine fighter jets: “We have freedom. Give us wings to protect it,” he said. Some analysts have suggested that Zelensky is moving too fast and isn’t reading the room properly: After all, it was just a few weeks ago that western countries finally agreed to send him battle tanks, and that came only after months of handwringing and negotiations. Sunak, for his part, said he is still considering the request but confirmed that the UK will help train Ukrainian pilots to use NATO-standard jets. Zelensky then headed to Paris, where he made a similar plea to President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, followed by a stop in Brussels where he addressed the European Parliament. Crucially, the US has not committed to sending fighter jets, and given that Washington and Brussels have been in lockstep on supporting Ukraine, this might determine how the Europeans respond for now. Indeed, Poland, one of Ukraine's strongest allies, said it would only move on the request "within the entire formation of NATO."

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Fighting crimes against humanity in a world of crisis
Ukrainians & Russians Should Abide by Human Rights Law | Volker Türk | Global Stage | GZERO Media

Fighting crimes against humanity in a world of crisis

Volker Türk, the new UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, is surprisingly candid about one of his organization's most famous shortcomings.

The Security Council, which includes Russia as a permanent member, is "dysfunctional" on Ukraine. On the other hand, he adds, the General Assembly has seen a sort of revival in how much it's been able to help the country.

In a Global Stage delegate interview on the ground in Davos, Türk tells Ian Bremmer that believes it is critical that the Ukrainians, just as much as the Russians, abide by international human rights law. And he's been in close contact with the Ukrainian prosecutor general, who assures him he is investigating potential war crimes within his country's military.

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Soldiers drive toward North Waziristan during a 2014 military offensive against the Pakistani Taliban.

REUTERS/Ihsan Khattak

As Pakistan confronts the Taliban, Washington backs Islamabad — kind of

Afghanistan and Pakistan are on the brink of direct conflict.

Terror attacks from the Pakistani Taliban — aka the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan or the TTP, who are ideologically affiliated with and politically backed by the Afghan Taliban — are increasing across Pakistan. In the last two weeks, Pakistani intelligence operatives have been gunned down in the country’s biggest province, and a detention facility has been overtaken and officials held hostage.

To defend itself, Islamabad has hinted that it might attack TTP hideouts in Afghanistan … with Washington’s blessing.

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