World this week
Germany and the United States announced that they will send advanced battle tanks to Ukraine, offering what one expert called an "armoured punching force" to help Kyiv break combat stalemates as the Russian invasion enters its 12th month. The announcement marked the first stage of a coordinated effort by the West to provide dozens of the heavy weapons, which Ukrainian military commanders said would enable counter-offensives, reduce casualties and help restore dwindling ammunition supplies.
American President Joe Biden said the U.S. will send 31 M1 Abrams tanks, reversing months of persistent arguments by Washington that they were too difficult for Ukrainian troops to operate and maintain. The U.S. decision followed Germany's agreement to send 14 Leopard 2 A6 tanks from its own stocks. Germany had refused to send the Leopards unless the U.S. put its Abrams on the table, not wanting to incur Russia's wrath without the U.S. making a similar commitment.
India blocked a BBC documentary that examines Prime Minister Narendra Modi's role during 2002 anti-Muslim riots and banned people from sharing it online, but authorities were scrambling to halt screenings of the program at colleges and restrict clips of it on social media, a move that has been decried by critics as an assault on press freedom. The two-part documentary "India: The Modi Question" has not been broadcast in India by the BBC, but India's federal government blocked it over the weekend and banned people from sharing clips on social media, citing emergency powers under its information technology laws.
Twitter and YouTube complied with the request and removed many links to the documentary. The ban set off a wave of criticism from opposition parties and rights groups that slammed it as an attack against press freedom. It also drew more attention to the documentary, sparking scores of social media users to share clips of the movie on WhatsApp, Telegram and Twitter.
Facebook parent Meta said it will restore former President Donald Trump 's personal account in the coming weeks, ending a two-year suspension it imposed in the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection. The company said in a blog post it is adding "new guardrails" to ensure there are no "repeat offenders" who violate its rules, even if they are political candidates or world leaders. "The public should be able to hear what their politicians are saying - the good, the bad and the ugly - so that they can make informed choices at the ballot box," wrote Nick Clegg, Meta's vice president of global affairs.
Clegg added that when there is a "clear risk" to real-world harm, Meta will intervene. Facebook suspended Trump on Jan. 7, 2021, for praising people engaged in violent acts at the Capitol a day earlier. But the company had resisted earlier calls - including from its own employees - to remove Trump's account.
Taliban ministers told a senior UN official they plan to draw up new guidelines to allow Afghan women to work in some humanitarian operations. Martin Griffiths told the BBC he had received "encouraging responses" from a wide range of Taliban ministers during talks in Kabul, even if last month's edict banning Afghan women working for NGOs is not reversed. With Afghan women playing a crucial role in delivering aid, there is concern the ban is endangering urgent life-saving humanitarian operations in the country.
"It's worth remembering that, this year, Afghanistan is the biggest humanitarian aid programme in the world ever," Griffiths said. This year, agencies will try to reach 28 million Afghans, more than half the population, including six million who are 'knocking on famine's door'. In the past two weeks, more than 126 Afghans have perished in freezing temperatures, collapsing from hypothermia, or overcome by toxic fumes from gas heaters.
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