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This week’s Monday Briefing turns the spotlight on Xi Jinping’s visit to Russia: a peacemaking venture or an emphatic display of solidarity with Putin? In other news, in France the survival of Macron’s government hangs in balance, Trump continues to invoke violence over possible indictment, the final part of the UN’s IPCC report urges immediate climate action, and much, much more. 

Spotlight: What does Xi’s visit to Russia forecast for the war in Ukraine?

On Wednesday, Xi Jinping completed a three-day visit to Moscow, his first since the launch of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. While US officials argue that China is still weighting Russia’s request to supply it with weapons, there was no mention of it in this week’s talks between Putin and Xi. The decision to supply Russia with weapons would expose China to severe sanctions and draw the country into a proxy war with NATO. On these grounds, analysts believe that there is no evidence China wishes to engage militarily in the Russo-Ukrainian conflict. Instead, Beijing was careful to portray the visit as a “journey of peace”, during which Xi contrastingly managed to both solidify the “strategic partnership of coordination” with Putin and call for a ceasefire in Ukraine.

Indeed, as Xi tried on his peacemaker hat he hardly succeeded in maintaining a neutral stance. The Chinese leader arrived in Moscow just days after the International Criminal Court had issued an arrest warrant for Putin. Xi, who during the visit referred to Putin as his “dear friend”, refused to condemn Russia’s invasion and war crimes. Further proof of China’s solidarity with Russia lies in Xi’s 12-point peace plan which advocates for the end of Western sanctions without the withdrawal of Russian forces from the occupied territories in Ukraine. Even though China’s plan is undoubtedly a non-starter for Ukraine and its Western backers, the EU’s foreign policy chief believes that it has at least made it “very clear” to Russia that it should avoid nuclear escalation. This appears to have partly settled fears of Russian nuclear attacks, as far as that is possible given Russia’s unpredictable politics, and following, on Saturday, Putin’s decision to store nuclear weapons in neighboring Belarus. 

Despite the fact that China’s recent foreign policy has been centred around undermining Western intervention in international conflicts, China is coming to occupy a role of growing importance in international relations. Three senior EU figures: Spain’s prime minister Pedro Sánchez, French president Emanuel Macron, and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen will travel to China next month. The EU is said to also be pushing for Xi to speak to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy. 

Around the World 

The French government survived two no-confidence votes. On Monday, a motion of no confidence backed by several opposition parties including the Green and Socialist parties failed to succeed, falling short of just 9 votes from the required 287. The vote comes after the government tried pushing for a law that would raise the retirement age from 62 to 64. Last week, French PM Elisabeth Borne had even tried using her constitutional power to pass the bill without a vote. The events sparked angry protests through many French cities, some of which have turned violent. On Thursday, unions claimed as many as 3.5 million protesters gathered across the country to demonstrate their opposition to the bill.   

Global warming set to reach 1.5C in the near-term, UN reports. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has found that the risks of warming are now greater than previously thought at the last assessment in 2014, with some regions around the world having already reached the limits of what they could adapt to. The report however claims humanity has the means to curb and adapt to the predicted climate change, even suggesting that their previously imposed goal is still achievable. However, to find ourselves on track to stay under the imposed limit, 1.5ºC warmer than pre-industrial times, the world will require a “quantum change in climate action” according to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

Related:  Il giorno che mi ha cambiato la vita 

Sweden passes NATO accession bill as it waits on ratification. “It goes without saying that we will be able to become members by Vilnius”, these were the words of the Swedish Foreign Minister ahead of the vote of the parliament that passed the bill allowing the country to become part of NATO with an overwhelming majority. Sweden, together with Finland, had asked to join the Alliance as a response to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. After the approval of the Parliament what separates these two countries to become NATO members is the ratification of the memberships by Turkey and Hungary. Turkish and Hungarian authorities declared themselves ready to ratify Finland’s membership on March 27th, but not Sweden.

Rahul Gandhi Expelled from India’s Parliament. On Friday, the India’s main opposition leader was convicted for defamation for a remark he had made 4 years prior about Prime-Minister Narenda Modi. The verdict ruled him ineligible to participate in meetings of the lower house of the Indian Parliament. For some, the ruling is proof of Modi’s recent tendencies to use the law to silence opponents.

Trump, Escalating Attacks, Raises Specter of Violence if He Is Charged. Last Friday, former American President Donald Trump predicted “potential death and destruction” may result from the current investigations involving him, lead by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. The now candidate for the 2024 elections has assumed an active position in retaliating against his expected indictment on the case concerning payments of hush-money to porn-star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 elections. Mr Trump took to his own social media platform, Truth Social, to protest in a manner that began with apparent outrage and escalated into threats and personal attacks with increasingly racist rhetoric directed at district attorney Bragg. On Saturday, the candidate held a rally where he proceeded to honor the January 6 rioters, criticize other candidates and members of the “witch hunt”, and refer to the 2024 elections as his follower’s “final battle”. The choice of the location for the rally, Waco, was very telling. The Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump group, claimed “his choice of Waco on the anniversary of the Branch Davidian standoff was to embrace the rightwing extremists who gave him the violent protests he craves. His followers got the message, loud and clear”.

Israel passes law shielding PM from being removed amid protests over judicial changes. Israeli Parliament approved a bill stating that only the PM himself or the cabinet with a two-thirds majority can declare the prime minister unfit for office. Opposition politicians condemned the new law describing it as a way to protect the PM, Benjamin Netanyahu, who is facing an ongoing corruption trial. For months now, thousands of Israelis have regularly protested in the streets condemning a deterioration of the country’s democracy. 

Hotel Rwanda’s Paul Rusesabagina released from prison. The 68-year-old known for the role he played in saving over 1000 people during the Rwandan Genocide was moved from prison to the residence of Qatar’s ambassador on Saturday morning. He had been previously sentenced to serve 25 years in prison in Rwanda for taking part in a so-called “terrorist” organization, claim which he denied. Rusesabagina is now expected to be transported to Qatar, and then further to the US. According to a government’s spokesperson, Rwanda’s decision results from a wish to “reset” ties with Qatar and the United States.

Russia accused of taking Belarus ‘nuclear hostage’ with deal to station missiles there. On Saturday, President Vladimir Putin announced it would store nuclear weapon equipment in neighboring Belarus. He also claimed that Russia will start training Byelorussian soldiers and will continue military investments in the country. Ukraine has responded, accusing the Kremlin of working towards destabilizing Belarus internally. In addition, Belarus’ opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya condemned Putin’s statements and claimed the move “grossly contradicts the will of the Belarusian people”.

Spain’s Pedro Sanchez survives no-confidence vote by overwhelming margin. While Spain prepares for new elections in December, the far-right party Vox fields a motion of no confidence against the progressive coalition government guided by Sanchez. Just like the previous attempt by Vox to outset the government through a motion of no-confidence, it failed with little to no support.

Related:  Monday Briefing 01/05/2023

Colombia suspends ceasefire with the country’s main drug trafficking cartel. Colombian President Gustavo Petro has announced the end of a cease-fire with drug-trafficking cartel Gulf Clan. Less than four months from announcing a multitude of cease-fires with major cartels, the president’s new approach to an attempted peace has suffered a major blow. In stark contrast to his predecessor, Ivàn Duque, instead of enforcing military action Mr Petro has vowed to end hostilities via a more diplomatic approach. His hand however was forced as he claimed that in the past week the Gulf Clan were responsible for an attack on an aqueduct and inciting protests from illegal gold miners, which led to clan members shooting police officers. The president publicly stated “from this moment, there is no cease-fire” and that there is “obviously no possibility of negotiation” while the Gulf Clan continues on partaking in illegal activities.

Lawmakers in Uganda have passed a new bill that would introduce additional criminal offences for homosexuality. Homosexual acts were already condemned by Uganda’s law, but the new bill, the toughest anti-gay legislation in the whole continent, introduced new crimes and introduced death penalty in certain cases. This bill has been accused to be a tool of the government to distract the population from its economic failures. Among the other elements of the law “Property owners also face risk of being jailed if their premises are used as a “brothel” for homosexual acts or any other sexual minorities rights’ activities”.

Italian News 

Maternità surrogata, ecco cosa prevede la stretta voluta da Fdi. Una nuova stretta sulla maternità surrogata. Dopo la manifestazione arcobaleno a Milano e le polemiche in Senato potrebbe essere questa la nuova mossa della maggioranza sul tema dei diritti. La ministra Eugenia Roccella ha chiarito la posizione del governo: «L’utero in affitto è un mercato dei bambini». Da tempo Fratelli d’Italia ha chiesto di mettere all’ordine del giorno delle Camere la discussione della proposta di legge a prima firma di Maria Carolina Varchi che prevede che la gestazione per altri diventi un reato universale. E tra martedì e mercoledì il presidente della commissione Giustizia Ciro Maschio (FdI) convocherà l’ufficio di presidenza per incardinarla. 

Manifestazione a Milano il 21 marzo: strade chiuse e orari di metro, bus e tram Atm per il corteo. Torna dopo 13 anni a Milano la manifestazione per la 28esima Giornata della Memoria e dell’Impegno, in ricordo delle vittime di mafia. La organizza l’associazione Libera martedì 21 marzo. Il corteo è partito alle 9 circa da Corso Venezia e si è concluso in Piazza Duomo. Al termine dello stesso, sono stati letti i nomi di tutti coloro che sono stati vittime della mafia. 

La classifica delle migliori università del mondo: ci sono la Sapienza, il Politecnico di Milano e la Bocconi. La Sapienza si conferma prima al mondo negli studi classici per il terzo anno di fila, davanti alle storiche rivali Oxford e Cambridge. Ma il QS Ranking by subject, la classifica mondiale che valuta le università in base ai diversi corsi di studio, porta quest’anno risultati eccellenti anche per altre università italiane: sono nelle posizioni di testa, con piccoli cambiamenti rispetto al 2022, il Politecnico di Milano in Architettura e Design e in Ingegneria, la Bocconi in Economia, Marketing e Finanza, la Normale di Pisa in studi classici e la Luiss in Scienze Politiche e internazionali. Il Qs ranking by subject è una classifica internazionale incentrata – contrariamente ad altri ranking come il Times Higher Education e l’Arwu di Shanghai – sull’aspetto reputazionale, cioè sulla considerazione di cui un’università gode presso professori e ricercatori di altri atenei e presso i datori di lavoro. Un criterio che ha sollevato diverse critiche in quanto gli esperti di Qs possono fare consulenza alle università per aiutarle a migliorarne il gradimento. 

Alla Camera si accende un dibattito riguardo l’invio di armi all’Ucraina: Meloni contro Conte. La vigilia dell’appuntamento di Bruxelles registra il massimo grado di incomunicabilità fra maggioranza e opposizione. Le parole più dure le spende Giuseppe Conte: «Le devo riconoscere che lei la faccia ce la mette, ma è una faccia di bronzo», come quella che lei ieri in Senato «ha detto di mettere sulle armi» da inviare in Ucraina. Per Conte questo governo sta contribuendo «ad avvicinare il mondo ad una guerra nucleare». Inoltre, quando inizia il dibattito i banchi del governo sono privi di esponenti del partito di Salvini. Per Carlo Calenda «sono già in crisi». La Lega è quella che più spinge per una riflessione sull’invio di armi a Kiev.  

Related:  Monday Briefing 24/04/2023

Bocconi news

Bocconi&Jobs is finally back with new work opportunities and webinars specifically tailored to Bocconi students’ needs and aspirations! The event will take place from the 3rd to the 5th of April both online and on campus, and will feature conferences with employers, panel discussions, and a job fair. Registrations are open until the 29th of March. 

For those who want to escape the busy campus life, Bocconi has opened a new mindfulness area for meditation and relaxation. Located in Via Bocconi 12, the space will offer several yoga and meditation classes to students, as well as silent spots to relax and recharge. For more information, access the link here.

Questione di Prospettiva: i quotidiani italiani e le ONG

Sfogliare distrattamente i quotidiani italiani questa mattina è più che sufficiente per constatare come la tematica di cui si discute continui a essere l’immigrazione. Non l’immigrazione in quanto fenomeno sociale o demografico, ma l’immigrazione in quanto terreno di scontro tra il governo – il quale vede l’immigrazione illegale come un problema di sicurezza e di conseguenza affrontabile tramite operazioni di polizia – e le opposizioni, che quali ritengono che l’immigrazione illegale sia un problema umanitario, che va affrontato innanzitutto tramite operazioni di salvataggio. 

Se ne parla, tra gli altri motivi, perché la nave ONG Louise Michel, che per intenderci è la nave dell’artista Banksy, è in questo momento bloccata al largo di Lampedusa dopo aver effettuato quattro operazioni di salvataggio, in attesa di capire dove e quando le sarà concesso attraccare a riva e far sbarcare le centinaia di persone al momento a bordo. Secondo il governo e la Guardia Costiera, le ONG come la Louise Michel violano il decreto Immigrazione e “con le loro continue chiamato” sovraccaricano le comunicazioni, intralciando i salvataggi di migranti da parte della Guardia Costiera. Secondo le ONG invece sono governo e Guardia Costiera che prima con il decreto Immigrazione e poi con le ultime accuse impediscono il salvataggio dei migranti in mare. 

Si tratta di una situazione paradossale, ben riassunta dalla contrapposizione tra due titoli di apertura di oggi. Da un lato, Repubblica titola “ONG sotto attacco.” Dall’altro, Il Giornale titola “Le ONG ostacolano i soccorsi.” Al di là di come la si pensi sulla questione, fa impressione accostare questi due titoli perché sembra quasi che si parlino a vicenda: Repubblica denuncia dei presunti attacchi alle ONG che Il Giornale incarna perfettamente con il proprio titolo. Come spesso accade, a qualificare una notizia non sono tanto i fatti quanto le parole scelte dai giornali per raccontarli.  

In case you missed it

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In the latest issue, the Tra I Leoni editorial team takes us on a journey around the world with the scope of highlighting the events and news that really matter. 

Carlotta Caromani, con l’associazione studentesca Keiron, ha trattato del bias confermativo e del fenomeno del verificazionismo.

Gonçalo Almeida assesses the current situation of the banking system in the weekly finance column Week at Close. 

Author profile

Every week, your TiL Monday Briefing 🗞: you better read it with a cup of coffee! ☕️

Current members of the team are Bojan Zeric, Elisa Latora, Dragos Ile, Olimpia Vitali, Marco Visentin, Federica Di Chiara, Chiara Binello and Chiara Todesco

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