Boko Haram Horrors, Bracing Greece, Cuban Wifi‏

Boko Haram Horrors, Bracing Greece, Cuban Wifi‏

Photo: Zhao Yingquan/Zuma​


At least 148 people have been gunned down by suspected Boko Haram fighters in separate attacks across northeastern Nigeria over the the past few days, Vanguard reports. According to witnesses, gunmen stormed villages, entered homes and mosques before rounding up people and shooting at them. The New York Times quotes officials in the region as saying that recently elected President Muhammadu Buhari’s “belligerent tone” could have sparked a stronger response from the Islamist group.


A major offensive led by Islamist groups, among them the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front, is taking place in Aleppo, with the Syrian army replying with airstrikes, AFP reports. Anti-Assad forces have been in control of the eastern part of the city for three years but they now seek to take the whole city and impose Sharia law, the BBC quotes the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights as saying. The attack on Syria’s largest city has prompted Turkey to deploy additional troops on its border north of Aleppo.


“Mr Hollande, welcome me in France,” Julian Assange wrote in an open letter to France’s President. In the letter, published by Le Monde, the Wikileaks founder asks for asylum in France to be reunited with his youngest son and the boy’s French mother, and says that “only France is in a position to offer me the protection I need from political persecution.” France quickly rejected the request.


Major rallies will take place today in Athens ahead of Sunday’s referendum, with both supporters of “Oxi” (no) and “Nai” (yes) holding marches at the same time, according to Greek Reporter. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is expected to take part in the rally against accepting the last creditors’ proposal of an extended bailout without debt relief in exchange for more austerity measures.

  • In a report published yesterday, the IMF, one of Greece’s creditors under the current bailout, admitted that the cash-strapped country needed an extra 60 billion euros in funds as well as a debt relief to create “a breathing space” and stabilise the economy, The Guardian reports. For the newspaper’s financial editor, the confession is “a double-edged blessing for Alexis Tsipras.”
  • Meanwhile, the amount of money Greek citizens can withdraw from their accounts daily has been lowered from 60 to 50 euros because 20 euros notes are running out. The head of the Hellenic Chambers of Commerce says that Greek banks are now down to their last 500 million euros in cash reserves.


How many certificates or other public documents does a Chinese citizen need through a typical lifetime? A senior official of China's Communist party recently reckoned the answer is 103. Beijing-based Economic Observer looks into the weight of the Chinese bureaucracy on the way people live their lives. And the absurdity of it all. “A newborn baby changing residence needs a proof of non-criminality. A Chinese grown man who lists his mother as the emergency contact person on a form is required by the authorities to “prove your mom is your mom.” Read the full article: The Bureaucratic Nightmare Of Just Living In China


Malaysia will push for a United Nations-backed tribunal to prosecute the suspects behind the downing of the Malaysian Airlines aircraft last summer in eastern Ukraine, the BBC reports. Ukraine and the West have accused pro-Russian separatists of shooting down the place, while Russia rejected the claims and blamed Ukrainian forces. A Dutch-led multinational team is investigating the incident.


Brazil’s antitrust watchdog Cade is investigating 15 of the world’s largest banks amid suspicions they colluded to manipulate the price of the country’s currency, the real, between 2007 and 2013, business newspaper Valor Econômico reports. According to Cade, representatives for the banks discussed and implemented anti-competitive practices via Bloomberg chat rooms and called themselves “the cartel” or “the mafia.” Read more in English from Reuters.


A senior Israel Defense Forces officer shot dead a 17-year-old Palestinian who was throwing stones at IDF vehicles this morning near the occupied West Bank village of al-Ram.


It’s been another bad week for Chinese stocks and the Shanghai Composite Index has now lost close to 30% since a peak on June 12, CNBC reports. According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the richest people in China and Hong Kong have lost as much as $34 billion in June alone.


Amazon is planning to change its rules to pay self-published authors, remunerating them by page read rather than by ebook downloaded. According to The Guardian, authors could receive as little as $0.006 per page read, meaning that those who write shorters works such as children books would end up losing a lot of royalties.


July 3 was a bad day for both Mohammed Morsi and Jim Morrison. Find out in 57 seconds what happened On This Day.


Wi-Fi is finally coming to Cuba, a move that could be the beginning of the popularization of the Internet on the island, where only 3.4% of the population have access. But at $2 per hour, the price is still prohibitive for most, with the average monthly wage at $20.


Mastercard believes it just came out with the perfect plan to lure millennials: Enabling them to pay with selfies.

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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.

➡️


"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!

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