Another Wall For The Road

“UK government has just gone full Trump.” The British announcement yesterday that the construction of the “Great Wall of Calais” is about to begin was bound to arrive at the feet of Donald Trump.

Of course, the New York businessman is far from being the first, or the last, to have the idea of setting up a physical barrier between yourself and your problems. In fact, according to a study published last year on fortified boundaries, out of the 51 walls built around the world since the end of World War II, about half were set up between 2000 and 2014. The hope given by the fall of the Berlin Wall was, it seems, demolished by 9/11.

Even as many have argued that physical walls are ultimately futile, they keep going up. Added to the 50 barriers that separate countries and territories today, now comes a 3.2-million-euro, 1-kilometer-long, 4-meter-high wall separating both sides of the main road that leads to the port of Calais, in northern France, from migrants living in the so-called “Jungle” attempting to board trucks to get to the United Kingdom.

The truck drivers who regularly cross the English Channel and local Calais residents â€" who bear much of the weight of the intractable presence of migrants â€" are likely to have the strongest voices about the plans for the wall, which would cost more than 3 million euros. But ultimately, the decision reflects on all the citizens of Britain and France. Call it a troubling post-script to Brexit with a French touch.


  • The 29th ASEAN summit ends today.
  • NFL season kicks off.
  • It’s World Physical Therapy Day. Get cracking.


Asian leaders attending the ASEAN summit in Vientiane, Laos, played down tensions over the South China Sea in a carefully worded summit statement issued today, Reuters reports. Before the statement was released, China had voiced frustration with countries outside the region "interfering" in rows over the strategic waterway.


Four people have been arrested in France after an abandoned car carrying six gas cylinders was discovered last Saturday near Notre-Dame cathedral, in central Paris, France 24 reports. The owner of the car, who is on French intelligence services’ radicalization watchlist, was arrested but later released because he reported to police on Sunday that his car had been stolen. Authorities are now actively looking for the man’s daughter, 19, who is suspected of links with radical Islam and of having stolen the car.


Here’s your 57-second shot of history, today celebrating, among other things, 25 years of independence for Macedonia!


Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump made back-to-back appearances in the "Commander in Chief" forum, organized in New York last night. The two presidential candidates took very different stands on national security issues, as Donald Trump once again praised Russian President Vladimir Putin. Hillary Clinton described herself as a model of “absolute rock steadiness” on foreign policy. Read more from the Washington Post.


The 2016 Summer Paralympics opened at Rio’s iconic Maracana Stadium on Wednesday evening, 17 days after the end of the Olympics. Bravos, boos and controversies: Read more about the opening ceremony, and see how Brazilian daily O Globo featured the event on its front page here.


Denmark’s taxation minister Karsten Lauritzen announced the country’s government will spend more than $1 million to buy leaked Panama Papers data from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, Danmarks Radio reports. With the information, the Danish government intends to investigate whether up to 600 Danes evaded tax.


Even for those who abhor the Republican nominee, it's important to get the terminology right: “Some people, including at least one former university lecturer, have begun calling Donald Trump a fascist. It is false,” Pierre-Marcel Favre writes for Swiss daily Le Temps. “Let me be clear: I am certainly no fan of this grotesque candidate, but calling him a fascist makes no sense. The word ‘populist’ is already widely misused in Europe, but it arguably applies to the American billionaire. ‘Far-right extremist’ may be debatable, but ’fascist’ is not appropriate in any way. Excessive caricature is noxious.”

Read the full article, No, Donald Trump Is Not A Fascist.


“Europe is like a sleepwalker walking towards a cliff,” Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said in an interview published by French daily Le Monde this morning, ahead of a Euro-Mediterranean summit in Athens.


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggested in private during the G20 summit in China that Turkey and the U.S. were ready to join forces to drive ISIS out of its de facto Syrian capital Raqqa, according to The New York Times. The U.S. State Department did not confirm Erdogan’s statement, but underlined the importance of “local forces” being involved in the fight against the terror group.


Life By The Mountain â€" Chobhar, 1994


The American media company Liberty Media confirmed in a press release yesterday that it is buying the Formula 1 racing business for $4.4 billion. The media firm is buying the stake from the private equity firm CVC Capital, in what is considered one of the biggest deals in sports history.


Apple’s iPhone 7 was unveiled yesterday at the tech giant’s keynote in San Francisco. It is water resistant, has a longer battery life, a new camera and no headphone jack. One Apple executive boasted of the company’s “courage” in removing the headphone jack, which will require an expensive wireless alternative.



You can now acquire the Beverly House, which was featured in Francis Ford Coppola’s movie The Godfather. For a modest $195 million (cue in “offer-he-can’t-refuse” joke), the Beverly Hills mansion comes with 30 rooms, 40 bathrooms, a garden-view bar, a two-story library and billiard room. No horse’s head in the bed included.

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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

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