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Welcome to Friday, where fighting resumes in Gaza after the temporary ceasefire between Israel and Hamas expired, a COP28 deal is signed for a fund to pay for climate damage in poor countries and a rapper breaks a billboard record with a flute. Meanwhile, Mastercard is arriving in China following Xi Jinping’s “dinner diplomacy” last month in San Francisco, reports Chinese-language media The Initium.
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• Israel resumes Gaza assault after rockets fired, heavy fighting reported: Fighting has resumed in Gaza when a temporary ceasefire between Israel and Hamas expired after seven days. Both sides have blamed each other for the violence restarting after more than 100 hostages were released by Hamas in exchange for 240 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says dozens of people have been killed since the Israeli bombardment resumed overnight. Read more in this piece translated by Worldcrunch on how Western diplomacy has failed to stave off the resumption of the war in Gaza.
• Heavy gunfire in Guinea-Bissau: Heavy gunfire was reported in Guinea-Bissau's capital on Friday morning hours after some National Guard soldiers went to free a detained minister and a senior state official. Members of the National Guard took the officials before seeking refuge in barracks south of the capital. Special forces then intervened after attempts to negotiate failed, resulting in an exchange of gunfire.
• Poor countries win 30-year fight for climate cash at COP28: Delegates at the COP28 have agreed to launch a long-awaited fund to pay for damage from climate-driven storms and drought in developing countries. The EU, UK, U.S. and others announced contributions totalling around $400 million for poor countries reeling from the impacts of climate change. This rapid signing surprised experts, as such deals are normally sealed at the last minute of the conference after days of negotiations.
• Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny faces new charges: Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny said on social media on Friday that he had been informed of new criminal charges against him. Navalny, 47, is already serving sentences in a penal colony totalling more than 30 years. Having spent much of the past two years in solitary confinement, the activist faces a range of alleged misdemeanors. In comments issued through his associates, he said he had now been charged under Article 214 of the penal code, which covers vandalism.
• Meta shuts 4,800 Facebook accounts over alleged China-based influence operation: Meta has removed nearly 4,800 fake Facebook accounts that were part of a China-based influence campaign aimed at spreading polarizing content about U.S. politics ahead of the 2024 presidential election. Meta said the network of accounts drew from both liberal and conservative sources while resharing genuine posts by politicians and news outlets under fake identities.
• Photographer Elliott Erwritt dies at 95: Legendary photographer Elliott Erwitt, known for his candid and often funny black-and-white images, has died at 95. Born in Paris to Russian parents, Erwitt moved to the U.S. as a child. He captured major moments including an infamous spat in 1959 between then U.S. Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev.
• Rapper Andre 3000 breaks billboard record with flute song: Rapper Andre 3000, an artist who has been famous as both a solo act and part of the hip-hop duo Outkast, has broken a Billboard record for the longest song to ever crack the Billboard Hot 100. Fittingly, his flute hit also has a long title: “I Swear, I Really Wanted to Make a ‘Rap’ Album But This Is Literally the Way the Wind Blew Me This Time.” Andre 3000, now 48, has suggested that he may have aged out of the hip-hop game.
The Brazilian daily Folha de S. Paulo dedicates its front page to Brazil’s invitation to join the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, which came “amid COP28.” The United Nations climate conference is underway in Dubai, with the theme being the end of fossil fuels.
For the first time since 1970, South Korean life expectancy has gone down: from 83.6 to 82.7 years. The cause is a spike of deaths caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, with South Korea being one of 29 nations which saw a reduction in life expectancy because of the virus.
How a Xi Jinping dinner in San Francisco may gave sealed Mastercard's arrival in China
The credit giant becomes only the second player after American Express to be allowed to set up a bank card-clearing RMB operation in mainland China, reports Liu Qianshan in Chinese-language digital media The Initium.
💳 It appears that one of the biggest beneficiaries from Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to San Francisco was Mastercard. The U.S. credit card giant has since secured eagerly anticipated approval to expand in China's massive financial sector, having finally obtained long sought approval from China's central bank and financial regulatory authorities to initiate a bank card business in China through its joint venture with its new Chinese partner.
🇨🇳 The major credit card companies, VISA, Mastercard, and American Express, have long looked to break into the Chinese market. In 1987, the Bank of China issued the first Mastercard instrument in mainland China, which was also the first bank card in China. However, the RMB clearing market in China had been monopolized in the early years by the state-owned UnionPay, which was promoted by the central bank and co-sponsored by 85 Chinese banking institutions.
💸 In June 2016, the central bank officially released the Measures for the Administration of Bank Card Clearing Institutions, and China's RMB clearing market was officially opened to the outside world. This was one of the key outcomes of the eighth round of the US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue held that year. Still, business is tough. According to media reports, China's card payment rates are low due to the semi-marketized nature of the sector, and most payment companies are struggling in the face of fierce competition and rising operating expenses.
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A senior Paraguayan official said he was fired this week after signing a cooperation memorandum with purported officials from the “United States of Kailasa,” which was presented to him as a South American island nation… but is in fact a fictitious country. “They came and expressed a wish to help Paraguay. They presented several projects, we listened to them and that was that,” the chief of staff to the agriculture minister said. The document signed by the two parties, which has since been dismissed, was considering the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two “countries.” The motive of the fake officials is not known.
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✍️ Newsletter by Emma Albright, Anne-Sophie Goninet and Valeria Berghinz
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