The ills of the Smartphone industry go beyond the meltdown of Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7. A market sector that was still booming not so long ago is now expected to suffer losses this year for the first time, and is forecast to stagnate for the foreseeable future, a recent report from tech research and advisory company Gartner showed.


Following the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco, Samsung’s shares continued to fall today. The burning issue for the South Korean company now clearly is lost revenue, with Reuters putting the figure as high as $17 billion, as Samsung had expected to sell some 19 million units of the now-scrapped device. But analysts warn that the short-term sales hit may just be a prelude to a deeper sullying of the company’s reputation.


Of course, Apple is largely expected to profit from Samsung’s woes. But this can’t hide the fact that sales of the latest iPhone models have been anything but satisfactory. Some have gone as far as to suggest we’ve already past the peak of the smartphone market. The answer to the “then, what comes next?” question may be a still-to-be-imagined device or innovation â€" but a different response could be that burning smartphones might be the perfect message to say the never-ending hunt for consumer consumption is illusory and potentially dangerous. Not to mention environmentally unsustainable.



WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY

  • The National Hockey League begins its 100th season.
  • UN Spanish Language Day.


RUSSIAN AIR FORCE PRESENCE IN SYRIA “INDEFINITE”

Russian senators ratified this morning a Russia-Syria agreement for the “indefinite deployment” of Russia’s air task force in Syria, news agency Tass reports. One Russian official said the move was “the first but far from the last step" towards consolidating the country’s positions "not only in Syria and in the Middle East, but also in the whole world." This comes amid rising tensions between Moscow and Western leaders in Washington, London and Paris, as airstrikes on the besieged city of Aleppo continue. See French daily Le Figaro’s front page today.


GUNMEN TARGET SHIA IN KABUL ATTACK

At least 14 people were killed and 36 wounded in attacks that targeted Shia Muslim worshippers in Kabul as they commemorated one of their most important religious holidays, AFP reports. No organization has yet claimed responsibility.


â€" ON THIS DAY

Happy 44th birthday to the man behind Borat, Brüno and Ali G! Get ready for your 57-second shot of history here.


VERBATIM

“Now you find a situation in which the guy says stuff that nobody would find tolerable if they were applying for a job at 7-Eleven,” U.S. President Barack Obama told a campaign rally in Greensboro, North Carolina, in a jibe aimed at Donald Trump. The Republican candidate meanwhile lashed out at the GOP establishment, which has largely left him, and said “the shackles have been taken off me.”


LAWYERS OF PARIS TERRORIST QUIT

The two lawyers of Salah Abdeslam, the last known survivor of the terrorist commando behind the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris, will no longer defend him because of his decision to remain silent, they told BFM TV.


â€" WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

The well-publicized death of the popular Vatican exorcist, Gabriele Amorth, and an award-winning documentary have stirred new interest in ridding the devil from within. For Italian daily La Stampa, Lorenzo Cresci and Giacomo Galeazzi met with several modern-day exorcists: “Every exorcist carries a crucifix and holy water, always ready to recite the deliverance prayer to coax out demons from the possessed. Even the Vatican has addressed the need for exorcists. Pope Benedict XVI once warned there was a need for an exorcist in each diocese in the world. Pope Francis frequently refers to the dangers of Satan in his sermons. But there aren’t enough exorcists to meet the growing demand. There are only seven exorcists in Sardinia’s 10 dioceses. Elsewhere in Italy, the exorcism "industry" is booming. The number of exorcists in Milan has doubled, while an exorcism hotline was launched in Rome.”

Read the full article, Speak Of The Devil, Inside Italy’s Boom Of Exorcisms.


UN WARNS OF CONGO CRISIS

The UN envoy to the Democratic Republic of Congo warned of “extreme risk” of all-out violence in the country amid a deepening political dispute over the future of President Joseph Kabila, Reuters reports. His mandate, the last authorized by the country’s constitution, expires this year but officials have said that logistical and budget restrictions will prevent elections from taking place until Dec. 2018, something his opponents see as an attempt to hold on to power.


â€" MY GRAND-PERE’S WORLD

Without Further Commercialism â€" Polperro, 1995


11 HOURS

That’s how long it took a British data specialist to make tea using a WiFi kettle.


MORE STORIES, BROUGHT TO YOU BY WORLDCRUNCH

STANDING ON GUADELOUPE

The Isle of Wight and Zanzibar are no longer big enough to fit the entire population of the world. But a recent study has shown that the 7.4 billion inhabitants of our planet (as of July 2016) could all fit on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, with a distribution of 4.5 people per square meter.

Support Worldcrunch
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A tribute to the 30,000 Iranian political prisoners murdered in Iran in 1988

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

👋 Laba diena!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where Afghanistan's Taliban demand to speak at the United Nations, China takes a bold ecological stand and we find out why monkeys kept their tails and humans didn't. Business magazine America Economia also looks at how Latin American countries are looking to attract a new generation of freelancers known as "digital nomads" in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

[*Lithuanian]

🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• Taliban ask to speak at UN: With global leaders gathered in New York for the 76th meeting of the UN General Assembly, Afghanistan's new rulers say their country's previously accredited United Nations ambassador no longer represents the country, and have demanded a new Taliban envoy speak instead. Afghanistan is scheduled to give the final intervention next Monday to the General Assembly, and a UN committee must now rule who can speak.

• Four corpses found on Belarus border with Poland: The discovery of bodies of four people on Belarus-Poland border who appear to have died from hypothermia are raising new accusations that Belarus is pushing migrants to the eastern border of the European Union, possibly in retaliation over Western sanctions following the contested reelection of the country's strongman Alexander Lukashenko. The discovery comes amid a surge of largely Afghani and Iraqi migrants attempting to enter Poland in recent weeks.

• China to stop building coal-burning power plants abroad: Under pressure to limit emissions to meet Paris climate agreement goals, China announces an end to funding future projects in Indonesia, Vietnam and other countries through its Belt and Road initiative.

• Turkey ratifies Paris climate agreement: Following a year of wildfires and flash floods, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced at the UN that Turkey will become the last G-20 country to ratify the emissions-limiting accords. Turkey already signed the agreement in 2016, but has yet to hold a vote in parliament.

• Mass evacuations following Canary Islands volcano: More than 6,000 people have fled the Spanish archipelago as heavy flows of lava have buried hundreds of homes. Four earthquakes have also hit the Canaries since the Sunday eruption, which could also cause other explosions and the release of toxic gas.

• Rare earthquake hits Melbourne: The 5.9 magnitude quake struck near Melbourne in southern Australia, with aftershocks going as far Adelaide, Canberra and Launceston. Videos shared on social media show at least one damaged building, with power lines disrupted in Australia's second largest city. No injuries have been reported.

• The evolutionary tale of tails: Charles Darwin first discovered that humans evolved to lose this biological trait. But only now are New York scientists showing that it was a single genetic tweak that could have caused this shift, while our monkey relatives kept their backside appendages.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

"The roof of Barcelona" — El Periodico daily reports on the latest delay from what may be the longest-running construction project in the world. Work on the iconic Barcelona church La Sagrada Familia, which began all the way back in 1882 as the vision of master architect Antoni Gaudí, was slated to be completed in 2026. The Barcelona-based daily reports that a press conference Tuesday confirmed that the deadline won't be met, in part because of delays related to COVID-19. Officials also provided new details about the impending completion of the Mare de Déu tower (tower of the Virgin), the first tower of the temple to be completed in 44 years. Although it is currently the second tallest spire of the complex, it will become the highest point of the Sagrada Familia, reaching 172.5 meters thanks to an illuminated "great cross."

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

Latin America, the next mecca for digital nomads

Latin American countries want to cash in on the post-pandemic changes to the fundamental ways we work and live, in particular by capitalizing on a growing demand from the new wave of remote workers and "youngish" professional freelancers with money to spend, reports Natalia Vera Ramírez in business magazine America Economia.

💻🏖️ Niels Olson, Ecuador's tourism minister, is working hard to bring "digital nomads" to his country. He believes that attracting this new generation of freelancers who can work from anywhere for extended visits is a unique opportunity for all. Living in a town like Puerto López, he wrote on Twitter, the expat freelancer could "work by the sea, live with a mostly vaccinated population, in the same time zone, (enjoy) an excellent climate, and eat fresh seafood." For Ecuador, the new influx of visitors with money to spend would help boost the country's economy.

🧳 While online-based freelancers already hopped from country to country before COVID-19, the pandemic has boosted their current numbers to around 100 million worldwide. The Inter-American Development Bank estimates there could be a billion roaming, digital workers by 2050. Some European countries already issue visas for digital nomads. They include Germany, Portugal, Iceland, Croatia, Estonia and the Czech Republic, but in the Americas, only four countries make the list, namely Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Panama and Costa Rica.

💰 In August 2021, Costa Rica approved a law for remote workers and international service providers, intended to attract digital nomads and make its travel sector more competitive. The law provides legal guarantees and specific tax exemptions for remote workers choosing to make the country their place of work. It allows foreign nationals earning more than $3,000 a month to stay for up to a year in the country, with the ability to renew their visa for an additional year. If applicants are a family, the income requisite rises to $5,000.


➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

$2.1 billion

Google announced yesterday it will spend $2.1 billion to buy a sprawling Manhattan office building, in one of the largest sales of a building in U.S. history. The tech giant plans on growing its New York workforce to more than 14,000 people.

📣 VERBATIM

It is sickening and shameful to see this kind of president give such a lie-filled speech on the international stage.

— Opposition Brazilian congresswoman Vivi Reis in response to President Jair Bolsonaro's inflammatory 12-minute speech at the UN General Assembly. The unvaccinated head of state touted untested COVID-19 cures, criticized public health measures and boasted that the South American country's environmental protections were the best in the world.

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Hannah Steinkopf-Frank & Bertrand Hauger

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We are grateful for reader support to continue our unique mission of delivering in English the best international journalism, regardless of language or geography. Click here to contribute whatever you can. Merci!
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