American Empire On The Stump

Beyond the Middle America stump speeches and coast-to-coast pancake breakfast stops, a U.S. presidential elections is also very much a global event. All the talk of the decline of the economic, political and cultural might of the American empire starts sounding a bit premature every four years, as November approaches. So this morning, it’s no surprise to see Hillary Clinton’s return to the campaign trail, after a much-talked about near-fainting episode, on the front pages of newspapers in Spain and Italy, Greece and Chile.

The Democratic candidate’s recent stumbles have brought closer the prospect of victory by her rival, Donald Trump â€" a man the world has watched call for a ban on Muslims, a wall to keep out Mexicans and a cold shoulder to NATO allies. German weekly Der Spiegel writes that this is “Trump’s Hour.” Left-leaning Israeli daily Haaretz summed up much of the sentiment abroad with this morning’s headline: "A Trump Victory Suddenly Seems Possible, Though Still Unthinkable."

Egypt’s Al-Ahram daily felt it even needed to reassure its readers that Trump's often shocking policy statements about Muslims and the Middle East won’t necessarily come to pass. Stands taken by candidates for the White House “do not always get implemented on the ground after they take office."

Meanwhile, the real attraction of this year’s race may not be policy, so much as the psychodrama. Swedish magazine Modern Psykologi takes a look at both the Clinton and Trump presidential campaigns on a psychological level, putting the Donald on its cover under the headline "In Trump's head." The Republican candidate is surrounded by words like "ego", "fear of dying", "us & them", "nationalism" and "terrorist threats." This is how the American Empire may start to look to the rest of the world.


  • Apple's iPhone 7 goes on sale.
  • Mexico celebrates independence day.
  • Bill Murray will be bartending in Brooklyn (today and Saturday).


European Union leaders are gathering today in the Slovakian capital of Bratislava at a special summit focused on security. It will be the first full EU summit since Britain passed a referendum to pull out of the Union, and British leaders will not be in attendance.


Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, who was Italy’s prime minister from 1993 to 1994 and president from 1999 to 2006, has died in Rome at age 95.


Happy birthday to U.S. comedian and writer Amy Poehler, who turns 45 today. That, and more, in your 57-second shot of history.


TV star Domingos Montagner who starred in Velho Chico, Brazil’s most popular telenovela, drowned yesterday in the Sao Francisco river in the northeastern state of Sergipe. The 54-year-old had been swimming with actress Camila Pintanga following a day of shooting when was dragged away by the river's strong currents. Pitanga reportedly cried for help but locals failed to act initially as they believed it was a scene in the soap opera, the BBC reports.


Automaker Fiat-Chrysler announced yesterday the recall of 1.9 million vehicles (including several Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep models) after an airbag defect was linked to three deaths and five injuries, Reuters reports.


Whatever the hopes for Cuba, the country's regime seems keen to follow the profit model for the economy to shore up its political grip. Just like China and Russia. For Latin American daily Clarin, Ricardo Kirschbaum writes: “What Cuba is doing is broadening the horizon for its reforms without ditching its central idea, as it seeks to emulate similar regimes elsewhere. The Communist Party recognized the market principle in its April congress, though within "the functioning of the socialist economy," and the regime looks set to follow the principle of most other systems of its ilk (bar North Korea), which firmly maintain single party rule. We know that while the free market can increase political liberties to some extent, this, as Russia shows, is not inevitable.”

Read the full article, Cuba Embraces Free Market, China-Style.


Polish investigators are suggesting that evidence on the site of the 2010 plane crash that killed then Polish President Lech Kaczynski in Smolensk, Russia, was tampered with â€" rekindling theories according to which Kaczynski was assassinated.

Russia’s Director of the Information and Press Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Maria Zakharova has criticized Polish authorities for their “"irresponsible and provocative statements,” Russian daily Kommersant reports.


Rembrandt In Ecuador â€" Otavalo, 1993


The British Ministry of Defence has said it is “extremely sorry” for the death of an Iraqi teenager who drowned after being forced into a Basra canal by four British soldiers in 2003. Read more in The Guardian.



According to FBI Director James Comey, covering up your personal webcam is a common-sense security measure, The Hill reports. “You do that so that people who don’t have authority don’t look at you … I think people ought to take responsibility for their own safety and security,” he explained at a conference in Washington.

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!

Art installation "Greetings From Giza" by French artist and photographer JR faces the pyramids of Giza in Egypt

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 你好*

Welcome to Tuesday, where violence erupts after Sudan's military coup, Australia finally gets onboard with climate change goals, and Harrison Ford stars in Raiders of the Lost Credit Card. From Bogota, we also see what the capture of drug kingpin Otoniel means for Colombia, a country long stained by cocaine trafficking.

[*Nĭhǎo - Mandarin Chinese]


Saving the planet is really a question of dopamine

The elite of the ecologically minded are set to descend on Glasgow next week for the Cop 26 conference on climate change. But beyond debating policy prescriptions, French daily Les Echos explores the role our own brains have on making the right choices for the planet:

Almost every week, a new scientific study alerts us to the degradation of the environment. And yet, we continue not to change anything fundamental in our systems of production and habits of consumption. Are we all suffering from blindness, or poisoned by denial?

In his popular books Le Bug humain (The Human Bug) and Où est le sens? (Where is the Sense?), Sébastien Bohler, a journalist in neuroscience and psychology, provides a much more rational explanation: The mechanism responsible for our propensity to destroy our natural environment is in fact a small, very deep and very primitive structure of our brain called the striatum.

This regulator of human motivation seems to have been programmed to favor behaviors that ensure the survival of the species.

Since the dawn of humanity, gathering information about our environment, feeding ourselves, ensuring the transmission of our genes through sexual intercourse and asserting our social status have all been rewarded with a shot of dopamine, the "pleasure hormone."

Nothing has changed since then; except that, in our society of excess, there is no limit to the satisfaction of these needs. This leads to the overconsumption of food and addictions to everything from sex to social media — which together account for much of the world's destructive agricultural and energy practices.

No matter how much we realize that this is leading to our downfall, we can't help but relapse because we are prisoners of the dopamine pump in the striatum, which cannot be switched off.

According to Bohler, the only way out is to encourage the emergence of new values of sobriety, altruism and slowness. If adopted, these more sustainable notions could be recognized by the striatum as new sources of dopamine reward. But there's the challenge of promoting inspiring stories that infuse them with value.

Take the photo-collage exhibition "J'agis ici... et je m'y colle" ("I'm taking action here... and I'm sticking to it"), a collection of life-size portraits of residents committed to the energy transition, displayed on the walls of the French coastal city of La Rochelle.

Backed by the French National Center for Street Arts, photographer Martin Charpentier may be employing artistic techniques, but he's also tinkering with neuroscience in the process.

Stefano Lupieri / Les Echos


• Sudan in chaos following military coup: After Sudan's military seized power from the transitional government, defiant anti-coup protesters have returned to the streets of the capital city Khartoum, for a second consecutive day. At least seven people have been killed and 140 injured. Coup leader General Al-Burhan has announced a state of emergency across the country, while the military cut off access to the internet and closed roads, bridges, and Khartoum's airport. Washington condemned the coup and suspended aid, and the U.N. Security Council was expected to discuss Sudan behind closed doors later today.

• Egypt lifts state of emergency in force since 2017: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, announced the end of a four-year-old state of emergency, undoing powers that had given the government sweeping authority to quash protests, make arrests, search people's homes without warrants, and control everyday life in the most populous Arab country.

• Platforms take down Bolsonaro video linking vaccine and AIDS: Facebook, Instagram and YouTube have removed an anti-vaccine video from their respective platforms posted by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Beyond blocking the video, in which Bolsonaro falsely linked the COVID-19 vaccine with developing AIDS, YouTube went further and suspended the far-right leader for a week.

• COVID update: The U.S. will launch a new travel system on November 8, imposing new vaccine requirements for most foreign national travellers and lifting severe travel restrictions over China, India and much of Europe. Meanwhile, authorities in northern China are reimposing lockdown, and other emergency measures as COVID-19 infections spread to 11 provinces.

• Australia pledges net zero emissions by 2050: As one of the world's largest emitters of greenhouse gases per capita and a major exporter of fossil fuels such as coal, Australia has finally committed to becoming carbon-neutral by 2050. This is a target already adopted by most nations heading to next week's COP26 international climate conference, but that Australia had so far refused to pledge.

• Japanese princess loses royal status over wedding: Japan's Princess Mako married her boyfriend Kei Komuro, giving up her royal status. Under Japanese law, female imperial family members lose their status upon marriage to a "commoner" although male members do not.

Raiders of the Lost Credit Card: A tourist returned the credit card of American actor Harrison Ford, who had lost it in Sicily while shooting scenes for the latest Indiana Jones movie.


"Out of control," titles German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, reporting on the release of a series of articles by a consortium of 17 U.S. news outlets, called the "Facebook Papers," that reinforce whistleblower Frances Haugen's claims that the social media giant is prioritizing profits over the well being of its users and society.


$1.01 trillion

After striking a deal to sell 100,000 electric vehicles to car rental firm Hertz, Elon Musk's Tesla has joined Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Google's Alphabet in the club of companies that have reached a $1 trillion valuation.


What the capture of a drug kingpin means for Colombia

While the capture of Otoniel, Colombia's most wanted drug trafficker, made global headlines, Bogotá daily El Espectador writes about the significance of the news for a country that has battled narcotrafficking for decades.

👮 The arrest of the Colombian mobster Dairo Antonio Úsuga David, a.k.a. "Otoniel," is a victory for Colombian intelligence, law-and-order forces and the broader fight against crime. Details of the eight-year-long pursuit of the head of the Gulf Clan, of the tireless and meticulous work, testify to the capabilities that the police and army have managed to develop in the fight against the narco-trafficking that has long been a stain on Colombia.

🇨🇴🇲🇽 Otoniel is responsible for a criminal organization with more than 3,800 members and influence on 12 departments and 128 districts in Colombia (though data from the Bogotá-based Peace and Reconciliation Foundation counts 211 districts). The Gulf Clan sends half the drugs going out of Colombia, and is the main exporter to Mexico. Its ties to the Mexican cartel chief Joaquín "el Chapo" Guzmán are well-documented — and Otoniel had aspired to fill the power vacuum left by Guzmán's capture.

⚖️ Some have observed that the ensuing power vacuum will engender more violence, which is true. But we are, in any case, far from eliminating drug trafficking in Colombia or cutting its tentacles across public life. That shows the limitations of the hard-line response to drugs, when we have seen it is not enough. Still, it is essential in any fight against crime for the state to show its operational capabilities. The message is clear: not even drug overlords are above the law in Colombia.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


"I love Mako. I would like to spend my one life with the person I love."

— Kei Komuro said during a news conference after his wedding with Japan's Princess Mako, the niece of the current emperor and the sister of the likely future sovereign. The princess lost her royal status as a result of her marriage with Komuro, a "commoner."


An art installation "Greetings From Giza" by French artist and photographer JR faces the pyramids of Giza in Egypt, as part of the 2021 exhibition "'Forever Is Now," the first international art exhibition to take place there — Photo: Balkis Press/Abaca/ZUMA

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

Send all commoner and royal well wishes to Mako and Kei — and let us know what the news looks like from your corner of the world! info@worldcrunch.com

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!