October 11, 2016
Premium stories from Worldcrunch's own network of multi-lingual journalists in over 30 countries.
1. What was the top percentage claimed by pro-Russian forces to have voted in favor of annexation in the referendums in the four occupied regions of Ukraine?
2. Giorgia Meloni will become Italy's first female prime minister. What is the name of her far-right party?
3. Eliud Kipchoge broke his own marathon record by 30 seconds in Berlin, finishing in 2:01:09. What country does Kipchoge hail from?
4. Liverpool and Glasgow are vying to host what cultural event next year: The World’s Fair / The first Spring Olympics / The Eurovision song contest / The 60th International Art Exhibition?
[Answers at the bottom of this newsletter]
As a testament to how quickly false information can spread online, rumors surrounding China’s president Xi Jinping began popping up on Twitter for the past week with the hashtag #Chinacoup, saying the leader had been overthrown and put under house arrest. The speculation, originally posted by an exiled Chinese journalist, gained even more traction after a Beijing correspondent for a German news outlet tweeted a thread sarcastically covering the faux-coup as real news, which was then picked up by a major TV news channel in India.
• Roger Waters & Ukraine/Russia war: Concerts of Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters were canceled by venues in Krakow, Poland, following comments he made about the war in Ukraine. Waters criticized the supply of weapons by the West in an open letter to Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska. The artist, who was declared “persona non grata” in Poland for only addressing one side of the conflict, responded by writing another open letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin urging him to bring an end to the war through a ceasefire and peace talks.
• Chess world in turmoil: Two scandals have rocked checkered chess boards this week. First, Norwegian grandmaster Magnus Carlsen, who had abruptly resigned from a game against U.S. player Hans Niemann, accused him of cheating on Monday. Niemann denied it, although he admitted to having cheated in the past. Then on Tuesday, Israeli grandmaster and chess commentator Ilya Smirin was sacked by the International Chess Federation for making sexist comments during the Women's Grand Prix in Kazakhstan. Smirin admitted he had privately suggested that chess is “maybe not for women” and praised a woman for “playing like a man.”
• "AI am your father”: James Earl Jones, 91, has officially retired as Darth Vader’s iconic breathy voice, which he last interpreted for a voice cameo back in 2019. His job will be taken over by Ukrainian startup Respeecher thanks to an AI program that will be able to recreate his voice for further Star Wars projects.
• Myanmar OnlyFans model sentenced to six years in jail: Former doctor and model Nang Mwe San has been sentenced to six years in jail by a military court in Myanmar for “harming culture and dignity” after she posted pictures on adult subscription site OnlyFans. As the first person in Myanmar to have been jailed for OnlyFans content, it has been noted that Nang Mwe San has taken part in protests against the military.
• K-pop sweeps into Saudi Arabia: The Middle East, like other parts of the world, has been hit by the K-pop craze. Saudi Arabia will be holding the annual Korean culture convention KCON for the first time from Sept. 30 to Oct. 1. A dozen K-pop acts also took place in Abu Dhabi earlier this month, while Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Culture visited Seoul in June to discuss collaboration in the cultural field with a major K-pop producer.
After Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “partial mobilization” of the country to fight in the war in Ukraine, thousands of people are fleeing the country. Important Stories, an independent Russian-language news site, spoke to three of the many thousands who have chosen to leave their country. These testimonies convey the dilemma of leaving one’s country or fighting in a way they don’t believe in.
Read the full story: Why I Fled: Meet The Russian Men Choosing Exile Over Putin's War
In December 2016, with the arrival of Donald Trump to power in the U.S., Spanish independent magazine La Marea organized a debate with prominent analysts to collect the responses the left was devising in the face of this wave that threatens the basic principles of a democracy. Six years later, their insights are more urgent and insightful than ever, especially after Giorgia Meloni was just elected Italy’s president.
“Fascism is going to be a reality in the whole of Europe in less than five years. And it is a complicated fascism because it is much more subtle. It does not have a face as familiar and it’s harder to distinguish when it’s coming.” That was the prediction back then by prominent Spanish politician Pablo Iglesias, who has since retired from politics.
Read the full story: We Still Don't Know How To Fight Fascism — 2016 Warnings Coming To Life
In West and North Africa, families of migrants who've vanished have come together to support each other and pay tribute to their family members. On Sept. 6, 2022 in the town of Zarzis, in the south of Tunisia, families of people who went missing during migration marched with sympathetic activists, holding banners and slogans in hopes of someday finding out the truth and getting justice for their loved ones.
Read the full story: Across Africa, Families Of Migrants Lost At Sea Join Forces For Comfort And Justice
Air conditioners are commonly singled out for their harmful environmental impact and greenhouse gas emissions. But their use is predicted to increase significantly as temperatures rise across the world. As an answer to this issue, a research team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has developed a passive cooling systemwhich relies on evaporation and radiation, but not electricity, to produce cooler air. The device can provide up to 9.3 °C of cooling from the ambient temperature.
The London Sheep Drive and Livery Fair celebrated its 10th anniversary last Sunday, gathering more than 1,000 Freemen of London for a tradition that dates back to the 12th century. Freemen were originally members of the city craft guilds and allowed to bring their sheep into the city without a bridge toll to sell them at the market. When cars started taking over the roads in the 20th century, the tradition disappeared — but the Worshipful Company of Woolmen revived it a decade years ago. A fab-ewe-lous event for passersby and tourists who were able to snap woolesome photos of sheep trotting across London Bridge.
Here’s the latest Dottoré! piece from the notebook of Neapolitan psychiatrist and writer Mariateresa Fichele:
"Dottoré, I know a lot of flags, and let me tell you why. I grew up in the province of Caserta, and — like everybody in those days — my parents owned a piece of land, and they would take me with them to farm it.
I remember there were other kids in the fields around us. But then, slowly, we were the only ones left because everybody was selling the land, making a lot of money off of it too.
Papà wouldn't listen to reason and he kept the land. But in the meantime, instead of farmers, trucks began to arrive. Many many trucks, unloading thousands of barrels and burying them into the ground.
I would look at the trucks' license plates: They had flags on them, all of them different, from all over the world. So I bought a book and learned them, one by one. My parents and I didn't speak any of those languages so we couldn't ask these people what they were doing, but one day I heard my father say :
'They must be dumping garbage — good, it makes for good fertilizer!’
Yet, Dottoré, Mamma and Papà died young from cancer, and I was diagnosed with schizophrenia at 18. Now, you may think this is another persecution I suffer from. But that garbage, in my opinion, was not manure — it was poison!"
Giovanni, 56, died a week ago. Unfortunately, on this point, he probably wasn't paranoid at all.
➡️ Read more from our Dottoré! series on Worldcrunch.com
• Brazil is set to have its first round of presidential elections on Oct. 2. Candidate Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is leading over current President Jair Bolsonaro according to a poll released by IPEC. Lula reached 48% of voters' support against 31% for Bolsonaro a week before Election Day. If no candidate reaches more than 50% in the first round, a run-off between the top two finishers will take place Oct. 30.
• A delegation from Sweden’s Ministry of Justice will arrive in Turkey on Oct. 5. Scheduled talks involving senior officials will deal with Sweden’s NATO application as well as the extradition of “criminal terrorists” from Sweden to Turkey.
• Cambodia Culture Week in Vietnam 2022 is taking place until Oct. 2 in Ho Chi Minh city and the Mekong Delta province. The event is organized in honor of the 55th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two nations.
• Paris Fashion Week will last until Oct. 5, with the world’s top designers showcasing their Spring/Summer 2023 collections. Leathers and monochromes will be taking the main stage, with furs and feathers expected to make a comeback.
News quiz answers:
1. According to Russian officials, 93% of votes cast in the Zaporizhzhya region were in favor of being annexed by Moscow, 87% in the Kherson region, 98% in Luhansk and 99% in Donetsk.
2. Far-right Brothers of Italy leader Giorgia Meloni is poised to become the country’s first ever female Prime Minister as she vowed to “govern for all Italians.”
3. Eliud Kipchoge set a new world record at the Berlin marathon, breaking his own previous record by 30 seconds. The Kenyan double Olympic champion has won 15 out of the 17 marathons he has run through his career.
4. Liverpool and Glasgow are the two cities vying to host the 2023 Eurovision song contest, organized by the United Kingdom on behalf of Ukraine, which can’t host the event because of the war.
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*Photo: Peter Gercke/dpa/ZUMA
It's no longer accurate to say the "rise" of the far-right — fascism is already here. After Trump's election, a group of prominent analysts gathered to discuss how the left could fight back. Six years later, their insights are more urgent and insightful than ever.
For Vladimir Putin, there are "four new regions of Russia."
Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.
Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.
Then there is Mariupol, under siege and symbol of Putin’s cruelty. In the largest city on the Azov Sea, with a population of half a million people, Ukrainians make up slightly less than half of the city's population, and Mariupol's second-largest national ethnicity is Russians. As of 2001, when the last census was conducted, 89.5% of the city's population identified Russian as their mother tongue.
Between 2018 and 2019, I spent several months in Mariupol. It is a rugged but beautiful city dotted with Soviet-era architecture, featuring wide avenues and hillside parks, and an extensive industrial zone stretching along the shoreline. There was a vibrant youth culture and art scene, with students developing projects to turn their city into a regional cultural center with an international photography festival.
There were also many offices of international NGOs and human rights organizations, a consequence of the fact that Mariupol was the last major city before entering the occupied zone of Donbas. Many natives of the contested regions of Luhansk and Donetsk had moved there, taking jobs in restaurants and hospitals. I had fond memories of the welcoming from locals who were quicker to smile than in some other parts of Ukraine. All of this is gone.
Putin is bombing the very people he has claimed to want to rescue.
According to the latest data from the local authorities, 80% of the port city has been destroyed by Russian bombs, artillery fire and missile attacks, with particularly egregious targeting of civilians, including a maternity hospital, a theater where more than 1,000 people had taken shelter and a school where some 400 others were hiding.
The official civilian death toll of Mariupol is estimated at more than 3,000. There are no language or ethnic-based statistics of the victims, but it’s likely the majority were Russian speakers.
So let’s be clear, Putin is bombing the very people he has claimed to want to rescue.
Putin’s Public Enemy No. 1, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, is a mother-tongue Russian speaker who’d made a successful acting and comedy career in Russian-language broadcasting, having extensively toured Russian cities for years.
Rescuers carry a person injured during a shelling by Russian troops of Kharkiv, northeastern Ukraine.
Yes, the official language of Ukraine is Ukrainian, and a 2019 law aimed to ensure that it is used in public discourse, but no one has ever sought to abolish the Russian language in everyday life. In none of the cities that are now being bombed by the Russian army to supposedly liberate them has the Russian language been suppressed or have the Russian-speaking population been discriminated against.
Sociologist Mikhail Mishchenko explains that studies have found that the vast majority of Ukrainians don’t consider language a political issue. For reasons of history, culture and the similarities of the two languages, Ukraine is effectively a bilingual nation.
"The overwhelming majority of the population speaks both languages, Russian and Ukrainian,” Mishchenko explains. “Those who say they understand Russian poorly and have difficulty communicating in it are just over 4% percent. Approximately the same number of people say the same about Ukrainian.”
In general, there is no problem of communication and understanding. Often there will be conversations where one person speaks Ukrainian, and the other responds in Russian. Geographically, the Russian language is more dominant in the eastern and central parts of Ukraine, and Ukrainian in the west.
Like most central Ukrainians I am perfectly bilingual: for me, Ukrainian and Russian are both native languages that I have used since childhood in Kyiv. My generation grew up on Russian rock, post-Soviet cinema, and translations of foreign literature into Russian. I communicate in Russian with my sister, and with my mother and daughter in Ukrainian. I write professionally in three languages: Ukrainian, Russian and English, and can also speak Polish, French, and a bit Japanese. My mother taught me that the more languages I know the more human I am.
At the same time, I am not Russian — nor British or Polish. I am Ukrainian. Ours is a nation with a long history and culture of its own, which has always included a multi-ethnic population: Russians, Belarusians, Moldovans, Crimean Tatars, Bulgarians, Romanians, Hungarians, Poles, Jews, Greeks. We all, they all, have found our place on Ukrainian soil. We speak different languages, pray in different churches, we have different traditions, clothes, and cuisine.
My mother taught me that the more languages I know the more human I am.
Like in other countries, these differences have been the source of conflict in our past. But it is who we are and will always be, and real progress has been made over the past three decades to embrace our multitudes. Our Jewish, Russian-speaking president is the most visible proof of that — and is in fact part of what our soldiers are fighting for.
Many in Moscow were convinced that Russian troops would be welcomed in Ukraine as liberating heroes by Russian speakers. Instead, young soldiers are forced to shoot at people who scream in their native language.
Starving people ina street of Kharkiv in 1933, during the famine
Putin has tried to rally the troops by warning that in Ukraine a “genocide” of ethnic Russians is being carried out by a government that must be “de-nazified.”
These are, of course, words with specific definitions that carry the full weight of history. The Ukrainian people know what genocide is not from books. In my hometown of Kyiv, German soldiers massacred Jews en masse. My grandfather survived the Buchenwald concentration camp, liberated by the U.S. army. My great-grandmother, who died at the age of 95, survived the 1932-33 famine when the Red Army carried out the genocide of the Ukrainian middle class, and her sister disappeared in the camps of Siberia, convicted for defying rationing to try to feed her children during the famine.
On Tuesday, came a notable report of one of the latest civilian deaths in the besieged Russian-speaking city of Kharkiv: a 96-year-old had been killed when shelling hit his apartment building. The victim’s name was Boris Romanchenko; he had survived Buchenwald and two other Nazi concentration camps during World War II. As President Zelensky noted: Hitler didn’t manage to kill him, but Putin did.
Genocide has returned to Ukraine, from Kharkiv to Kherson to Mariupol, as Vladimir Putin had warned. But it is his own genocide against the Russian-speaking population of Ukraine.