6 min read

Diaspora Death Doulas are changing the way people die.

The last article I reported as a freelancer, back in June last year, finally came out this week with the launch of a new website about death called the Inevitable.rip.  

The story is about a group of "death doulas" in Baltimore who use traditions from Africa and the Caribbean to accompany the dying. It's about death, magic, and the ways diaspora communities maintain traditions. It's precisely the kind of story I hope to showcase more often through LAZO LETTERS, and I hope you'll read it.

Also, if you like this newsletter and you can afford it, please pay $2 a month for a subscription by clicking the link below. That amount will help pay for the coffee I need to write this. ☕☕

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I hope you have a wonderful Sunday. If you didn't have time to follow world news this week, I've got you covered.

What I'm writing:

• A resolution by Rep. Joaquin Castro calls for Paul Rusesabagina of Hotel Rwanda fame to be released on humanitarian grounds.  To many, Rusesabagina is a hero. The 67-year-old hotelier-turned-political activist helped shelter over 1,000 people from death during the genocide in his country in the 1990s. But back in Rwanda, President Paul Kagame claims that Rusesabagina is a terrorist. I dig into Rusesabagina's ties to the National Liberation Front, which is accused of terrorism, and why a U.S. citizen and paid foreign agent testified against him.

• I spoke with Ukraine's former Defense Minister, Andriy Zagorodnyuk, about the potential military scenarios if Russia escalates (this article is unlocked).

• As U.S. officials warn that Russia could launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine at any moment, attempts to pass bipartisan legislation to sanction Moscow have stalled in Congress.

• Politicians in Bosnia and Hercegovina argue that the State Department is pushing for a model of electoral reform that would reinforce ethnic divisions.

• You can listen to me talk about Russia, Ukraine, and Poland on Julie Mason's morning show on SiriusXM.

What I'm reading:

• The U.K.'s Ministry of Defense released what it called Russia’s possible “axis of invasion." Moscow’s troops in the east and others in Crimea would aim to seize parts of Ukraine up to the Dnieper River, targeting towns like Mykolaiv and Mariupol.

• Russia is building lists of high-profile political opponents to capture or kill if it invades Ukraine, U.S. officials told Foreign Policy.

• Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called for a meeting with Russia and other members of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the BBC reports.

• All diplomatic personnel left the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv. A “core staff” of diplomatic and consular officials have set up operations in the Western city of Lviv, the Wall Street Journal reports. The U.K soon followed suit.

• U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered the 160 U.S. troops in Ukraine to train local forces to leave the country and reposition elsewhere, CNBC reports.  

• In a staged televised meeting, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told Russian President Vladimir Putin that there was still a diplomatic path ahead, while Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that “large-scale drills” around Ukraine were coming to an end, the New York Times reports.

• Russia’s Defense Ministry said some troops deployed from military districts bordering Ukraine are being loaded into trains and trucks and sent back to their garrisons, the New York Times reports. U.S. officials say there is no evidence this withdrawal has taken place.

• U.S. officials obtained intelligence that Russia’s announced military pullback from Ukraine’s border was a deliberate ruse to mislead, the Washington Post reports.

• The U.S. mission to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe released a statement claiming there are around 190,000 Russian personnel near Ukraine’s borders.

• Some Russian troops are moving closer to Ukraine’s border, including with medical supplies, and being put into firing positions, ABC News reports.

• A senior Russian military official said that Russia is ready to open fire on foreign ships and submarines that illegally enter its territorial waters, Reuters reports.

• During a meeting in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin told German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that energy cooperation between the two countries is a priority for Russia, Reuters reports.

• Several groups of Russians have been writing open letters to Vladimir Putin calling for an end to the saber-rattling and threats of war, Politico Europe reports. Among the signatories are Andrei Makarevich, a veteran Russian rock star, and Leonid Ivashov, a retired colonel-general known as a nationalist with anti-Western views.

• Russian-backed rebels and Ukrainian forces accused each other of firing across the ceasefire line in eastern Ukraine, Reuters reports.

• The leaders of Eastern Ukraine's separatist regions, Donetsk and Luhank, announced they are evacuating civilians to Russia. Researchers discovered that the videos announcing the evacuations, allegedly made and released Friday, were made days before.

• U.K. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss Tweeted that “Reports of alleged abnormal military activity by Ukraine in Donbas are a blatant attempt by the Russian government to fabricate pretexts for invasion."

• During remarks at the United Nations, Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused Russia of planning to manufacture a pretext for an attack that could include “a fake, even a real, attack using chemical weapons," Reuters reports.

• Also at the UN, Russia formally accused Ukraine of pursuing “genocide” against Russian speakers, accusations which western officials have dismissed as disinformation, the Wall Street Journal reports.

• NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg confirmed plans for further battle groups to bolster NATO’s eastern flank, including a French-led group in Romania. “I regret to say this is the new normal in Europe,” he said, according to Politico Europe.

• Russian government-backed hackers acquired sensitive information on the development and deployment of U.S. weapons by breaching U.S. defense contractors over the last two years, according to a government advisory.

• Russian government hackers have likely penetrated Ukrainian military, energy, and other critical computer networks, according to newly declassified U.S. intelligence reported on by the Washington Post.

• Ukrainian officials blamed Russia for a cyberattack that hit the country’s defense ministry and at least two banks on Tuesday, Reuters reports. The U.S. later said the GRU, the Russian military intelligence,

• The European Union's top court ruled that the EU has the right to withhold payments from member states that violate the rule of law, the Washington Post reports. Lili Bayer at Politico Europe has an explainer on what comes next.

• The mobile phones of two Polish citizens with close links to an opposition senator were targeted with NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware, the Guardian reports.

• In Spain, a power struggle between Isabel Ayuso, the President of the Community of Madrid, and the party chief of the conservative Popular Party, Pablo Casado, was revealed when Ayuso accused Casado and his allies of trying to “destroy” her. She also said they hired detectives to spy on her, the Guardian reports.

• European Parliament President Roberta Metsola launched a sanctions procedure against Bulgarian MEP Angel Dzhambazki, who was caught making what appeared to be a fascist salute in the European Parliament chamber, according to the Politico Europe Playbook. The MEP says he was just waving. There's a video. Decide for yourself.

• The Biden administration is considering offering Temporary Protected Status to Afghans already in the United States, the Hill reports.

• Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked powers under the 1988 Emergencies Act to give police “more tools” to bring order in response to chaos from the so-called Freedom Convoy demonstrations against vaccine mandates and coronavirus restrictions, the Washington Post reports.

• Under the emergency powers the Canadian Prime Minister invoked, financial institutions will get sweeping powers to halt the flow of funding to the Freedom Convoy protests, the BBC reports.

• An alleged plot by a foreign power to interfere with Australia’s parliamentary processes has stoked fears ahead of Australia’s upcoming election, the Washington Post reports.

• Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega’s government took five private universities under state control in the government’s latest crackdown on dissent, the New York Times reports.

• Amnesty International accused fighters affiliated with the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) of committing atrocities, including gang rape and assault in Ethiopia’s Amhara region, CNN reports.

France and several of its Western allies announced that they would begin a “coordinated withdrawal” of their military forces from Mali.

What the State Department says:

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You can also contact me for any reason by writing to c.maza@protonmail.com.