EU-Balkan Refugee Plan, Indonesia’s Deadly Haze, Street Sheep

EU-Balkan Refugee Plan, Indonesia’s Deadly Haze, Street Sheep


Leaders agreed yesterday at a summit of eight EU countries along with Serbia, Macedonia and Albania to create 100,000 places for migrants in the Balkans and Greece as part of German-led efforts to find “a more reasonable way of dealing with the problem,” Chancellor Angela Merkel said.

  • Under the deal, Greece will host 50,000 asylum seekers, although Greek leaders were reportedly opposed to the idea initially. Last week saw more than 9,000 migrants reach Greek shores daily, the highest rate so far this year.
  • According to Politico, Balkan countries have also agreed to “refrain from waving migrants through to other countries.”
  • Before the summit began, Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar warned that the absence of a solution would mean “the end of the European Union as such.” More than 62,000 refugees have crossed into Slovenia, a country of two million people, over the past week. Read more from Reuters.


Indonesia’s disaster agency estimates that at least 500,000 people have been suffering from respiratory illnesses since July and the start of mass forest fires caused by slash-and-burn farming, The Straits Times reports. Palm-oil producers in Indonesia have been using that technique, lighting fires intentionally to clear lands more quickly and make way for new plantations, but this year’s dry season has made the situation worse than usual. At least 10 people have died from the haze, which some estimate could last for as long as a year. Malaysia and Singapore have also been affected by these techniques, which the Indonesian government has described as a “crime against humanity of extraordinary proportions.” According to the Jakarta Post, the Indonesian Palm Oil Producers Association retorted this was part of a smear campaign against the industry.


The Central Committee of China's ruling Communist Party is gathering in Beijing to draw up the country’s 13th five-year plan and provide the government with a blueprint until 2020, Channel News Asia reports. By that date, Beijing hopes it will have overcome its recent economic woes and overtaken the U.S. as the world’s largest economy. Some significant change could be on the way: Communist Party mouthpiece Study Times wrote that China should join the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership “when the time is right.” Read more in English from the South China Morning Post.


“Of course you can’t say those of us who removed Saddam in 2003 bear no responsibility for the situation in 2015,” former British Prime Minister Tony Blair told CNN, admitting that the Iraq war was the “principal cause” of the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria. He also apologized “for the fact that the intelligence we received was wrong,” but said Iraq is still better off without Saddam Hussein. This comes one week after a secret U.S. memo revealed that Blair had agreed to follow the U.S. into war a full year before the conflict started, and just before the publication of a long-awaited British public report into the war.


At least 14 people have died in northern Pakistan after a magnitude 7.5 earthquake struck the Hindu Kush region this morning, Dawn reports. Hundreds of people are also reported wounded. The epicenter of the earthquake was in Afghanistan and tremors were also felt in India, with reports of buildings shaking in New Delhi. This story is developing.



Daniel Scioli, the candidate backed by outgoing left-wing President Cristina Kirchner, came out on top after yesterday’s vote in the Argentine presidential election, but his slim victory means he’ll face right-wing candidate Mauricio Macri in a runoff next month, Clarín reports. For more on Argentina’s future, we offer this El Espectador/Worldcrunch piece, Warming Up For A New, Post-Kirchner Era In Argentina.

  • In Guatemala, meanwhile, TV comedian Jimmy Morales won the second round of the presidential election with more than 67%, after promising zero tolerance on corruption, newspaper Prensa Libre reports.


Photo: Pacific Press/ZUMA

Shepherds guided about 2,000 sheep through the streets of Madrid yesterday, during the annual transhumance festival.


An 18-century Paris gallery has been transformed into a “venue of free and creative exchange,” upending the usual relationship between art and the public. “Visitors are encouraged to help themselves to anything and everything, even given bags at the entrance to facilitate carrying their haul,” Le Monde writes. “Even the painted eggs that ornament the Grand Staircase are available for the taking. So what’s this all about? Is it a bizarre bazaar, an artsy flea market, an alternative art show to protest materialism? It’s actually a reinterpretation of a project that was created 20 years ago for London’s Serpentine Galleries. Curator Hans-Ulrich Obrist believes the exhibit is “an antidote more necessary than ever against the omnipresence of commerce.”

Read the full article, A Paris Exhibit Where The Art Is For The Taking.


The Conservative and Eurosceptic Law and Justice party (PiS) swept to victory in Poland, ousting the ruling center-left and pro-EU Civic Platform in yesterday’s parliamentary elections, Gazeta Wyborcza reports. PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski â€" the twin brother of Poland's late president Lech Kaczynski, who died in a plane crash in 2010 â€" has promised more spending for the poor and said his party would enshrine more Roman Catholic values into law. Read more in Le Blog.


The World Health Organization is expected to publish a report today showing that processed meats such as bacon and sausage can cause cancer, and that red meat is bad for our health. The meat industry isn’t going to like it.


The Football Association was formed in London 153 years ago. That, and more, in your 57-second shot of history.

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Preparing a COVID-19 vaccine booster in Huzhou, China.

Hannah Steinkopf-Frank, Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Ciao!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where Brazil's senate backs "crimes against humanity" charges against Jair Bolsonaro, the UN has a grim new climate report and Dune gets a sequel. Meanwhile, German daily Die Welt explores "Xi Jinping Thought," which is now being made part of Chinese schools' curriculum.



• Senators back Bolsonaro criminal charges: A Brazilian Senate panel has backed a report that supports charging President Jair Bolsonaro with crimes against humanity, for his alleged responsibility in the country's 600,000-plus COVID-19 deaths.

• Gas crisis in Moldova following Russian retaliation: Moldova, one of Europe's poorest countries, has for the first time challenged Russia's Gazprom following a price increase and failed contract negotiations, purchasing instead from Poland. In response, Russia has threatened to halt sales to the Eastern European country, which has previously acquired all of its gas from Gazprom.

• New UN climate report finds planned emission cuts fall short: The Emissions Gap Report 2021 concludes that country pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions aren't large enough to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5 °C degrees this century. The UN Environment Program predicts a 2.7 °C increase, with significant environmental impacts, but there is still hope that longer term net-zero goals will curtail some temperature rise.

• COVID update: As part of its long-awaited reopening, Australia will officially allow its citizens to travel abroad without a government waiver for the first time in more than 18 months. Bulgaria, meanwhile, hits record daily high COVID-19 cases as the Eastern European's hotel and restaurant association is planning protests over the implementation of the vaccination "green pass." In the U.S., a panel of government medical advisors backed the use of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for five to 11-year-olds.

• U.S. appeals decision to block Julian Assange extradition: The United States said it was "extremely disappointed" in a UK judge's ruling that Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, would be a suicide risk of he traveled across the Atlantic. In the U.S., he faces 18 charges related to the 2010 release of 500,000 secret files related to U.S. military activity.

• Deposed Sudan prime minister released: Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has been released from custody, though remains under heavy guard after Sudan's military coup. Protests against the coup have continued in the capital Khartoum, as Hamdok has called for the release of other detained governmental officials.

Dune Part 2 confirmed: The world will get to see Timothée Chalamet ride a sandworm: The second installment of the sci-fi epic and global box office hit has officially been greenlit, set to hit the screens in 2023.


Front page of the National Post's October 27 front page

Canadian daily National Post reports on the nomination of Steven Guilbeault, a former Greenpeace activist, as the country's new Environment minister. He had been arrested in 2001 for scaling Toronto's CN Tower to unfurl a banner for Greenpeace, which he left in 2008.


Chinese students now required to learn to think like Xi Jinping

"Xi Jinping Thought" ideas on socialism have been spreading across the country since 2017. But now, Beijing is going one step further by making them part of the curriculum, from the elementary level all the way up to university, reports Maximilian Kalkhof in German daily Die Welt.

🇨🇳 It's important to strengthen the "determination to listen to and follow the party." Also, teaching materials should "cultivate patriotic feelings." So say the new guidelines issued by the Chinese Ministry of Education. The goal is to help Chinese students develop more "Marxist beliefs," and for that, the government wants its national curriculum to include "Xi Jinping Thought," the ideas, namely, of China's current leader. Behind this word jam is a plan to consolidate the power of the nation, the party and Xi himself.

📚 Starting in September, the country's 300 million students have had to study the doctrine, from elementary school into university. And in some cities, even that doesn't seem to be enough. Shanghai announced that its students from third to fifth grade would only take final exams in mathematics and Chinese, de facto deleting English as an examination subject. Beijing, in the meantime, announced that it would ban the use of unauthorized foreign textbooks in elementary and middle schools.

⚠️ But how does a country that enchants its youth with socialist ideology and personality cults rise to become a world power? Isn't giving up English as a global language the quickest way into isolation? The educational reform comes at a time when Beijing is brutally disciplining many areas of public life, from tech giants to the entertainment industry. It has made it difficult for Chinese technology companies to go public abroad, and some media have reported that a blanket ban on IPOs in the United States is on the cards in the next few years.

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"I'm a footballer and I'm gay."

— Australian soccer player Josh Cavallo said in a video accompanying a tweet in which he revealed his homosexuality, becoming the first top-flight male professional player in the world to do so. The 21-year-old said he was tired of living "this double life" and hoped his decision to come out would help other "players living in silence."


Why this Sudan coup d'état is different

Three days since the military coup was set in motion in Sudan, the situation on the ground continues to be fluid. Reuters reports this morning that workers at the state petroleum company Sudapet are joining a nationwide civil disobedience movement called by trade unions in response to the generals' overthrow of the government. Doctors have also announced a strike.

Generals in suits At the same time, the military appears firmly in control, with deposed Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok allowed to return home today after being held by the coup leaders. How did we get here? That's the question that David E. Kiwuwa, a professor of international relations at the University of Nottingham, takes on in The Conversation:

"Since the revolution that deposed Omar el-Bashir in 2019, the military have fancied themselves as generals in suits. They have continued to wield enough power to almost run a parallel government in tension with the prime minister. This was evident when the military continued to have the say on security and foreign affairs.

Economy as alibi For their part, civilian officials concentrated on rejuvenating the economy and mobilizing international support for the transitional council. This didn't stop the military from accusing the civilian leadership of failing to resuscitate the country's ailing economy.

True, the economy has continued to struggle from high inflation, low industrial output and dwindling foreign direct investment. As in all economies, conditions have been exacerbated by the effects of COVID-19. Sudan's weakened economy is, however, not sufficient reason for the military intervention. Clearly this is merely an excuse."

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471 million euros

Rome's Casino di Villa Boncompagni Ludovisi, better known as Villa Aurora, will be put up for auction in January for 471 million euros ($547 million). The over-the-top price tag is thanks to the villa having the only known ceiling painting by Renaissance master Caravaggio.

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

Who wants to start the bidding on the Caravaggio villa? Otherwise, let us know what the news looks like from your corner of the world!!

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