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Japan Flooding, Russian Aid To Assad, Nobel For Merkel?

Japan Flooding, Russian Aid To Assad, Nobel For Merkel?


Hungary may be considering deploying its army to help police stem the daily arrival of thousands of refugees at its southern border with Serbia. A new razor wire is being built along the border, and the Hungarian military was also staging border protection exercises yesterday, the BBC reports. Human rights groups have criticized the move. Human Rights Watch official Peter Bouckaert described "appalling conditions in Hungary detention camps for asylum seekers, kept in crowded pens like cattle."

  • Meanwhile, Denmark suspended all rail links with Germany and temporarily closed a highway yesterday after police stopped hundreds of migrants trying to reach Sweden at the border. But Danish train operator DSB announced that traffic would be normalized between the two countries today, newspaper Jyllands-Posten reports.
  • Ireland announced today that it would take in 4,000 refugees over the coming months, The Irish Times reports.


"Russia has never made a secret of its military-technical cooperation with Syria," The Guardian quotes Moscow's foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova as saying yesterday. Confirming that "Russian military specialists are in Syria to help them master the weapons being supplied," she also insisted this presence was not unusual.

  • Western countries have expressed concern recently over signs of a growing Russian presence in Syria. "That will not contribute to solving the conflict," Reuters quoted NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg as saying.
  • Citing military sources, the Russian daily Kommersant reported today that Moscow was supplying Syrian government forces with firearms, grenade launchers and armored personnel carriers. The source said the supplies "are in accordance with international law and in line with all formalities and existing contracts between the Russian and Syrian government."
  • For more on this topic, we offer this Kommersant/Worldcrunch piece, As Tensions Rise With U.S., Russia Teams Up With Iran To Help Assad.


Photo: ebibi via Instagram

More than 90,000 people have fled their homes in the city of Joso, about 50 kilometers northeast of Tokyo, after the Kinugawa River burst its banks today, the Japanese daily Yomiuri Shinbun reports. One woman has been reported missing and at least a dozen people have been injured. According to the Bangkok Post, hundreds of tons of radiation-contaminated water could also be flowing into the ocean from the crippled Fukushima nuclear reactor. The tsunami-like floods, along with landslides, come a day after Typhoon Etau brought heavy rainfall to the region. "This is a scale of downpour that we have not experienced before," chief forecaster Takuya Deshimaru said during a press conference today. "Grave danger could be imminent."


Could German Chancellor Angela Merkel be a potential candidate for the next Nobel Peace Prize? Le Monde seems to think so. In an editorial titled "Angela Merkel, the Pride of Europe," the French daily says, among other glowing commentary, that she has defended "the values of Europe" through her humane and astute management of the refugee crisis.

Read more about France and Merkel in our Extra! feature.


A team of scientists in South Africa claim they have discovered a new human-like species in a burial chamber deep in a cave system near Johannesburg, scientific journal Elife reports. According to the researchers, this discovery could change ideas about our human ancestors. More than 1,500 bones belonging to at least 15 people were found in the cave and thousands more are still expected to be excavated. The species could have lived in Africa up to 3 million years ago.


Happy 82nd birthday to designer Karl Lagerfeld, of Chanel and Fendi fame. That and more in today's shot of history.


ISIS claimed in the latest issue of its publication Dabiq that it was holding two men, a Norwegian and a Chinese, hostage and asked for unspecified ransoms for their release. Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg confirmed this but insisted Oslo "does not pay ransoms," Al Arabiya reports.


Traditional local populations are facing the brunt of the environmental fallout in the massive lake between Bolivia and Peru, Frédéric Faux reports for Le Temps. "We are in the bay of Cohana, where the rivers running from El Alto finally meet Lake Titicaca, in an industrial suburb of La Paz, the Bolivian capital," he writes. "The rivers, visible between banks of totoras — Titicaca's typical reeds — carry along heavy and putrid water. They've spawned endemic pollution, particularly alarming when we consider that this ‘small lake' is on average less than 10 meters deep. But since last April, a new phenomenon alerted lakeside residents. Huge patches of green algae appeared, drifted and decomposed, giving off an unbearable stench. Much of the fauna, deprived of oxygen, did not survive, including renowned giant Titicaca water frogs studied by the great French underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau in the 1970s."

Read the full article, Symbol Of Andean Purity, Lake Titicaca Risks Environmental Nightmare.


The Saudi-led coalition against Yemen's Houthi movement launched airstrikes throughout the country's capital of Sanaa today, in what witnesses quoted by Reuters have described as the fiercest series of attacks on the city in over five months of war. The strikes reportedly hit military bases and the homes of political leaders linked to the Houthi rebels. The coalition has been stepping up airstrikes and troop deployment in the region since a Houthi missile killed at least 60 coalition troops last week.



Russia has begun construction of a huge military base housing ammunition depots and barracks for several thousand soldiers near the Ukrainian border, a project that suggests the Kremlin is digging in for a prolonged standoff with Kiev, Reuters reports.


The Lebanese government approved a plan Wednesday to end the garbage disposal crisis that has been causing major demonstrations in and around Beirut, The Daily Star reports. Agriculture Minister Akram Chehayeb said the plan would transfer garbage management responsibilities to municipalities, which demonstrators demanded.


Susanne Klatten, Germany's richest woman and a major BMW shareholder, said in an interview with Stern magazine that she regards wealth as "a burden." It's a dog's world for the 1%.

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Influencer Union? The Next Labor Rights Battle May Be For Social Media Creators

With the end of the Hollywood writers and actors strikes, the creator economy is the next frontier for organized labor.

​photograph of a smartphone on a selfie stick

Smartphone on a selfie stick

Steve Gale/Unsplash
David Craig and Stuart Cunningham

Hollywood writers and actors recently proved that they could go toe-to-toe with powerful media conglomerates. After going on strike in the summer of 2023, they secured better pay, more transparency from streaming services and safeguards from having their work exploited or replaced by artificial intelligence.

But the future of entertainment extends well beyond Hollywood. Social media creators – otherwise known as influencers, YouTubers, TikTokers, vloggers and live streamers – entertain and inform a vast portion of the planet.

✉️ You can receive our Bon Vivant selection of fresh reads on international culture, food & travel directly in your inbox. Subscribe here.

For the past decade, we’ve mapped the contours and dimensions of the global social media entertainment industry. Unlike their Hollywood counterparts, these creators struggle to be seen as entertainers worthy of basic labor protections.

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