The U.S. military launched an air assault on dozens of sites in Iraq and Syria used by Iranian-backed militias and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds force Friday, in the opening salvo of retaliation for the drone strike that killed three U.S. troops in Jordan last weekend, officials told The Associated Press. President Joe Biden and other top U.S. leaders had been warning for days that America would strike back at the militias, and they made it clear it wouldn’t be just one hit but a “tiered response” over time. The officials confirming the initial strikes spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss military operations not yet announced - AP

Russia's foreign ministry on Friday condemned a decision by Ecuador to hand over Russian-made military hardware to the United States for use in Ukraine as a "reckless" breach of contract, the RIA news agency reported. The Ecuadorean government said last month it would take up an offer from Washington to swap what it called "Ukrainian and Russian scrap metal" for advanced U.S. equipment worth $200 million. The United States has said the arms it gets from Ecuador will be sent to Ukraine to help bolster its forces on the battlefield against Russia. Maria Zakharova, the Russian foreign ministry's spokeswoman, told RIA that Ecuador's decision was made under pressure from external forces. "Such a reckless decision was taken by the Ecuadorian side under serious pressure from outside interested parties," she said - Reuters

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Russia Implements Ban on VPN Advertisement Ahead of Presidential Election
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Russia Implements Ban on VPN Advertisement Ahead of Presidential Election

The blockade has been a topic of discussion for some time and will likely further restrict the information flow ahead of the upcoming presidential election on March 17.

China has demanded that Ukraine immediately remove more than a dozen Chinese companies from a list of firms designated as "international sponsors of war", saying it wanted Kyiv to "eliminate negative impacts". The remarks came after Reuters reported that China's ambassador in Kyiv had told senior Ukrainian government officials last month that the inclusion of the companies on the list could hurt bilateral ties. "China firmly opposes the inclusion of Chinese enterprises in the relevant list and demands that Ukraine immediately correct its mistakes and eliminate negative impacts," a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson told Reuters after the report was published. It did not specify what those impacts may be - Reuters

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Residents of Odesa owe their municipality a whopping $80-million dollars for utilities such as heat and electricity, Suspilne reported. Piles of unpaid utility bills are common sites in the lobbies of apartment buildings after many people fled due to the war.

CNN Philippines has discontinued operations, ending nearly a decade of delivering English-language news to one of Asia's most vibrant democracies. The channel stopped broadcasting on Wednesday because of mounting financial losses. Nine Media Corp., the broadcaster's parent company, suffered losses of 5 billion pesos ($88.5 million) since it began broadcasting in March 2015, local media reported. In October 2014, the broadcaster secured a brand and content license deal with Turner Broadcasting System Asia Pacific to air CNN-related programming. This arrangement was renewed in 2019 and was supposed to run through to December this year. The demise of CNN Philippines comes as misinformation increasingly plagues the world's media landscape. In 2022, Facebook's Global Politics and Government Outreach Director Katie Harbath said the country was "patient zero" in the global war against disinformation. CNN Philippines is the country's predominantly English-language news channel, airing on cable and pay television. The company has around 300 employees, according to local news reports. Employees of CNN Philippines and other Filipino journalists expressed their sadness on social media - Nikkei Asia

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The death toll in the Gaza Strip has surpassed 27,000, in addition to the more than 66,000 injured by Israeli attacks, according to the health ministry. In the south of Gaza, Israeli forces have flattened entire neighborhoods in Khan Younis. Thousands have been forced to flee to nearby Rafah - packed into overcrowded camps and amid unsanitary conditions - PBS The Newshour

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wrote on X that he is horrified about the killing of civilians in Gaza, specifically in the Al-Amal hospital compound on Friday. He asserted that hospitals must be protected and called for a cease-fire.

This review is reprinted with the author’s permission from his World Briefing blog. See the original here.

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