The World Today for March 15, 2024

Listen to Today's Edition
Voiced by Amazon Polly


Vladimir the Determined


Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of the late Russian dissident Alexei Navalny, is urging Russians to protest when their country holds its presidential election from March 15 to 17. In a video rebroadcast on the BBC, Navalnaya called for voters to swamp polls and either tear up their paper ballots or write “Navalny” on them.

Navalny died in a penal colony in the remote Russian Arctic last month. He ran against Russian President Vladimir Putin in past presidential campaigns and was an outspoken critic of the Kremlin. But he was serving a number of prison sentences on different charges, including a 19-year sentence on an “extremism” conviction, the Associated Press reported.

Navalny’s grave at Borisovsky Cemetery in Moscow has become a pilgrimage site for pro-democracy Russians who oppose Putin’s authoritarianism, his lack of respect for human rights, and aggression against Ukraine and wherever else targeting Russia’s so-called “near abroad” neighbors.

“I didn’t think that he would be killed in prison,” said an unnamed Russian who spoke to the New York Times as they came to pay their respects. “I thought he would actually get out, and it would be a turning point, and everything would change. I haven’t fully processed Navalny’s death. For now, I don’t know, I don’t have any vision of the future … forces of evil are closing in.”

Navalny’s passing likely heralds the end of a disciplined anti-Putin political movement for the foreseeable future, concluded World Politics Review.

In the meantime, it’s a near certainty that Putin will win the Russian presidential elections, earning a fifth term in office set to last six years. Analysts say the ballot would be neither free nor fair. Russian officials have barred the only other figure capable of garnering votes, opposition politician Boris Nadezhdin, due to technicalities regarding signatures in support of his candidacy, reported the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

For his part, Putin wants a robust vote that demonstrates that he is in command of the Russian political system, explained the Council on Foreign Relations, and that he is popular.

An ex-KGB spy, Putin, 71, is Russia’s longest-serving leader since Josef Stalin in the Soviet era, wrote Al Jazeera. If he can serve out his full term in office to 2030, he will have governed the country longer than anyone since Peter the Great, the tsar who died in 1721, added Rod Thornton, a professor in international studies at King’s College London, in the Conversation. Under current Russian laws, Putin would then be eligible to run once more for a term lasting through 2036.

Still, Thornton warns that Putin is under pressure externally and internally, especially because of the war in Ukraine. “He may win these presidential elections in March, but just how long he can remain in power … may be uncertain.”


The Blacklist


The foreign minister of South Africa this week said that citizens of the country taking part in Israel’s war on Gaza will face prosecution when they return home, adding to tensions with Israel after South Africa accused it of genocide at the International Court of Justice, the Associated Press reported.

At an event discussing South Africa’s support for Palestine and the petition filed at the United Nations’ Hague-based top court, Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor said she “already issued a statement alerting those who are South African and who are fighting alongside or in the Israeli Defense Force,” or IDF.

“We are ready. When you come home, We’re going to arrest you,” she warned.

The foreign ministry added that dual citizens of Israel and South Africa arrested for participating in the war could have their South African citizenship revoked.

While the number of South Africans participating in Israel’s war effort is unclear, numbers published in other countries, such as France, have sparked discussions over creating similar measures, the Anadolu Agency noted.

Meanwhile, Israel has declined to provide the number of foreign soldiers in the IDF’s ranks. Nonetheless, the IDF is currently attempting to determine which nations might follow South Africa’s lead, Israel’s Haaretz reported. It plans to contact soldiers with dual nationality and advise them on visiting their home countries. Citizens of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Latvia are already banned from flying to these countries for security reasons.

South Africa’s latest move has deepened a rift with Israel, following a court case launched by the former against the latter on charges of genocide, ongoing in the Hague. In response, Israel has accused South Africa of being complicit with the Palestinian militant group Hamas, whose attack on Israel on Oct. 7 left more than 1,200 dead and triggered the current war.

Pandor rejected claims that her government had a political agenda in its support for Palestinians in the run-up to elections later this year.

She said that the relationship between her country and Palestine is one “of freedom fighters, of activists, of nations that share a history. A history of struggle for justice and freedom,” referring to South Africa’s history of racial segregation, known as Apartheid.

South Africa has accused Israel of conducting an apartheid against Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The Populist’s Popularity


Far-right politician Geert Wilders this week dropped his bid to become the Netherlands’ next prime minister, citing a lack of support during ongoing coalition talks – even though his party won most seats in the November parliamentary elections, the Associated Press reported.

On Wednesday, Wilders said he did not have the full support of all the three parties he was negotiating with to form a ruling right-wing coalition. He later described the decision to drop his leadership aspirations as unfair and “constitutionally wrong.”

His decision comes months after his nationalist, anti-Islam Party of Freedom (PVV) won 37 seats in the 150-seat lower house of parliament. Observers suggested that the PVV’s victory meant that Wilders would have a shot at leading a country that has long prided itself on its tolerant society.

But months of coalition talks between the PVV and three other parties – all together holding a comfortable majority of 88 seats – have yet to yield any results.

To end the political deadlock, Kim Putters, the mediator overseeing coalition talks, proposed a “program Cabinet” composed of representatives from the four main parties involved, alongside external experts.

Putters said that such an arrangement was essential given the fragmented nature of Dutch politics, noting that both majority and minority cabinets were unworkable.

He added that the new prime minister should be named “at a later date,” but did not elaborate on when or how that could happen.

Wilders criticized the technocratic nature of the proposed government.

Even so, he toned down his disappointment, noting that his decision to drop his leadership drive was aimed at prioritizing the interests of his party and its supporters over his own ambitions.

Dutch lawmakers will weigh the merits of Putters’ proposal and decide on the next steps in the process.

A Moment of Respite


Warring tribes in Papua New Guinea agreed to a temporary ceasefire this week, putting a halt to years of revenge killings in the country’s remote highlands that escalated last month, Radio New Zealand reported.

Under the three-month unconditional ceasefire, tribes from the central Enga province agreed to stop the violence and work together with the government to bring an end to their years-long conflict.

However, the parties did not reach any agreement to surrender their weapons.

The recent conflict among tribes began more than three years ago, resulting in hundreds of dead and forcing thousands to flee their homes.

Calls for a ceasefire came after 64 tribespeople were killed during a single ambush in February.

The new agreement warned that the clashes have led to a “humanitarian crisis.”

Fighting among Papua New Guinea’s highland clans has been going on for centuries, but an influx of mercenaries and automatic weapons has worsened the cycle of violence, according to Agence France-Presse.


Here Be Dragons

It took two decades, but paleontologists finally uncovered the complete fossilized remains of a prehistoric “Chinese dragon,” CNN reported.

Named Dinocephalosaurus orientalis, the marine creature was a 16-foot-long reptile that swam around what is now China more than 240 million years ago.

In their paper, the research team explained that some of the dragon’s fossils were initially found in 2003 in southern China. Study author Li Chun – who found the first fossils – determined that it was a new species after discovering some bone fragments.

But the recent conclusion came after scientists studied five newer specimens over the years, including a fully articulated fossil that offered a “beautiful complete specimen from the tip of the nose right down to the tip of the tail,” according to co-author Nick Fraser.

“It’s curled around in this sort of figure of eight and … it’s very reminiscent of a Chinese dragon,” he noted.

Fraser and his team suggested that the D. orientalis was suited for marine environments: It had 32 vertebrae and a long neck that helped it catch fish. Researchers also found evidence of fish remains in the stomach region of one fossil, as well as flippered limbs.

The authors are still unclear about how the extinct animal used their neck, but added that it does resemble another ancient – and puzzling – marine reptile, Tanystropheus hydroides.

“The only thing that I can come up with is that they were feeding in the waters that had rocks, and perhaps crevices, in them,” said Fraser. “And they were using their long necks to probe and move into some of these crevices and maybe get prey that way.”

Thank you for reading or listening to DailyChatter. If you’re not already a subscriber, you can become one by going to

Not already a subscriber?

If you would like to receive DailyChatter directly to your inbox each morning, subscribe below with a free two-week trial.

Subscribe today

Support journalism that’s independent, non-partisan, and fair.

If you are a student or faculty with a valid school email, you can sign up for a FREE student subscription or faculty subscription.

Questions? Write to us at

You don't have credit card details available. You will be redirected to update payment method page. Click OK to continue.