Panama Papers, Polish Abortion Law, Spain Time Travel

Panama Papers, Polish Abortion Law, Spain Time Travel


A massive leak of more than 11 million documents has exposed an immense network of offshore shell companies, many of them illegal. The documents â€" dubbed the “Panama Papers” â€" were obtained by German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung and reveal the involvement of 72 current and former heads of state.

  • The Australian Taxation Office is investigating more than 800 high-net-wealth Australian clients of the secretive Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca, which is the focus of the leaked tax haven records, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.
  • Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson â€" one of many public officials whose offshore holdings were revealed â€" walked out of an interview with the Swedish television company SVT in March after being asked about his relationship to the offshore company Wintris.
  • In an interview with Bloomberg today, the head of a major Russian state-owned bank, Andrey Kostin, dismissed allegations that President Vladimir Putin is linked to as much as $2 billion in offshore transactions. He also rejected allegations that the bank made unsecured loans to a close friend of the president through a Cyprus-based subsidiary.
  • Argentinian President Mauricio Macri admitted being part of a family offshore company during his time as Buenos Aires mayor, Argentine daily La Nacion reports. The leaked documents show that Macri was director and vice president of a company managed by Mossack Fonseca. The Macri administration issued a statement yesterday saying that Macri was never a stakeholder in the ghost company but that he did play an occasional role as CEO.
  • Suspended UEFA Chief Michel Platini relied on Mossack Fonseca to help him administer an offshore company created in Panama in 2007, the same year he was named president of UEFA, the Union of European Football Associations, Le Monde reports. Platini is currently serving a six-year ban from football over a $2 million payment from FIFA President Sepp Blatter. Platini, readers may recall, famously said in an interview last year, “I’m not a money man.”
  • Argentinian football star Lionel Messi is threatening to sue Spanish paper El Confidencial for defamation after the Panama Papers release suggest he engaged in tax fraud, Spanish media outlet El Economista reports. Documents produced by the Madrid-based daily show both the signatures of Messi and his father in acquiring the dormant Mega Star Enterprises via a Uruguayan buffer company.


The death toll from floods triggered by torrential rains in northwestern Pakistan and parts of Kashmir has risen to 57, Business Standard reports. The heavy downpours that began on Saturday caused landslides and the collapse of dozens of homes.


Photo: Cristian Cristel/Xinhua/ZUMA

Feathers flew Saturday as people participated in a giant pillow fight during International Pillow Fight Day in Bucharest, Romania.


Migrants from Greece began arriving in Turkey today under an EU deal aimed at stopping the influx of migrants and refugees into Europe, Reuters reports. Ankara has agreed to take back all migrants from Greece who don’t qualify for asylum in return for the EU taking in thousands of Syrian refugees directly from Turkey and rewarding the country with more money, early visa-free travel and progress in its EU membership negotiations.


Le Monde takes a close look at the evolution of raï music, which was born in North Africa but became hugely popular in France in the 1980s. Today, with both religious and ethnic lines hardening, the music is still present, though far more discreet. “The change is an indicator of how much different ethnic communities are closing in on themselves. To find it, one has to look in its new settings â€" in the ‘shisha cafes,’ which in theory do’"t sell alcohol but nevertheless resist the pressures of a hardening Islam that now considers cabarets to be places of ill repute. Here, ‘céfrans’ (‘white people’ in French slang) are few, almost absent.”

Read the full article, How North African Rai Music Survives In The Age Of Jihad.


Thousands of people participated in a pro-choice rally in Poland yesterday to oppose the conservative ruling party’s plan to outlaw abortion completely, even in cases of rape, incest and to save the life of the mother, The Guardian reports. Poland already has one of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe. Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza has a video of Warsaw churchgoers leaving mass as priests read out a letter from the bishops’ conference calling for Poland’s limited abortion rights to be scrapped.



The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) says al-Nusra Front spokesman Abu Firas was killed alongside another 20 militants in an airstrike in northwestern Syria yesterday, CNN reports. While the observatory has said that the strike was carried out by Russian or Syrian aircraft, rebel sources say it appeared to have the hallmarks of a U.S. drone strike.


Former Spanish opposition leader Mariano Rajoy has proposed changing the country’s time zone and giving workers more continental working hours, Spanish daily El País reports.


Spanish newspaper El Mundo reports from the far southern tip of the Iberian peninsula, in Gibraltar â€" affectionately known as “the Rock” â€" which has long been under British control. Locals and the government alike there are opposed to “Brexit,” a British exit from the European Union, which is up before a national referendum this summer. Read more in English here.


Grumpy Cat celebrates four years of Internet fame today. That and more in today’s shot of history.

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Art installation "Greetings From Giza" by French artist and photographer JR faces the pyramids of Giza in Egypt

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 你好*

Welcome to Tuesday, where violence erupts after Sudan's military coup, Australia finally gets onboard with climate change goals, and Harrison Ford stars in Raiders of the Lost Credit Card. From Bogota, we also see what the capture of drug kingpin Otoniel means for Colombia, a country long stained by cocaine trafficking.

[*Nĭhǎo - Mandarin Chinese]


Saving the planet is really a question of dopamine

The elite of the ecologically minded are set to descend on Glasgow next week for the Cop 26 conference on climate change. But beyond debating policy prescriptions, French daily Les Echos explores the role our own brains have on making the right choices for the planet:

Almost every week, a new scientific study alerts us to the degradation of the environment. And yet, we continue not to change anything fundamental in our systems of production and habits of consumption. Are we all suffering from blindness, or poisoned by denial?

In his popular books Le Bug humain (The Human Bug) and Où est le sens? (Where is the Sense?), Sébastien Bohler, a journalist in neuroscience and psychology, provides a much more rational explanation: The mechanism responsible for our propensity to destroy our natural environment is in fact a small, very deep and very primitive structure of our brain called the striatum.

This regulator of human motivation seems to have been programmed to favor behaviors that ensure the survival of the species.

Since the dawn of humanity, gathering information about our environment, feeding ourselves, ensuring the transmission of our genes through sexual intercourse and asserting our social status have all been rewarded with a shot of dopamine, the "pleasure hormone."

Nothing has changed since then; except that, in our society of excess, there is no limit to the satisfaction of these needs. This leads to the overconsumption of food and addictions to everything from sex to social media — which together account for much of the world's destructive agricultural and energy practices.

No matter how much we realize that this is leading to our downfall, we can't help but relapse because we are prisoners of the dopamine pump in the striatum, which cannot be switched off.

According to Bohler, the only way out is to encourage the emergence of new values of sobriety, altruism and slowness. If adopted, these more sustainable notions could be recognized by the striatum as new sources of dopamine reward. But there's the challenge of promoting inspiring stories that infuse them with value.

Take the photo-collage exhibition "J'agis ici... et je m'y colle" ("I'm taking action here... and I'm sticking to it"), a collection of life-size portraits of residents committed to the energy transition, displayed on the walls of the French coastal city of La Rochelle.

Backed by the French National Center for Street Arts, photographer Martin Charpentier may be employing artistic techniques, but he's also tinkering with neuroscience in the process.

Stefano Lupieri / Les Echos


• Sudan in chaos following military coup: After Sudan's military seized power from the transitional government, defiant anti-coup protesters have returned to the streets of the capital city Khartoum, for a second consecutive day. At least seven people have been killed and 140 injured. Coup leader General Al-Burhan has announced a state of emergency across the country, while the military cut off access to the internet and closed roads, bridges, and Khartoum's airport. Washington condemned the coup and suspended aid, and the U.N. Security Council was expected to discuss Sudan behind closed doors later today.

• Egypt lifts state of emergency in force since 2017: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, announced the end of a four-year-old state of emergency, undoing powers that had given the government sweeping authority to quash protests, make arrests, search people's homes without warrants, and control everyday life in the most populous Arab country.

• Platforms take down Bolsonaro video linking vaccine and AIDS: Facebook, Instagram and YouTube have removed an anti-vaccine video from their respective platforms posted by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Beyond blocking the video, in which Bolsonaro falsely linked the COVID-19 vaccine with developing AIDS, YouTube went further and suspended the far-right leader for a week.

• COVID update: The U.S. will launch a new travel system on November 8, imposing new vaccine requirements for most foreign national travellers and lifting severe travel restrictions over China, India and much of Europe. Meanwhile, authorities in northern China are reimposing lockdown, and other emergency measures as COVID-19 infections spread to 11 provinces.

• Australia pledges net zero emissions by 2050: As one of the world's largest emitters of greenhouse gases per capita and a major exporter of fossil fuels such as coal, Australia has finally committed to becoming carbon-neutral by 2050. This is a target already adopted by most nations heading to next week's COP26 international climate conference, but that Australia had so far refused to pledge.

• Japanese princess loses royal status over wedding: Japan's Princess Mako married her boyfriend Kei Komuro, giving up her royal status. Under Japanese law, female imperial family members lose their status upon marriage to a "commoner" although male members do not.

Raiders of the Lost Credit Card: A tourist returned the credit card of American actor Harrison Ford, who had lost it in Sicily while shooting scenes for the latest Indiana Jones movie.


"Out of control," titles German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, reporting on the release of a series of articles by a consortium of 17 U.S. news outlets, called the "Facebook Papers," that reinforce whistleblower Frances Haugen's claims that the social media giant is prioritizing profits over the well being of its users and society.


$1.01 trillion

After striking a deal to sell 100,000 electric vehicles to car rental firm Hertz, Elon Musk's Tesla has joined Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Google's Alphabet in the club of companies that have reached a $1 trillion valuation.


What the capture of a drug kingpin means for Colombia

While the capture of Otoniel, Colombia's most wanted drug trafficker, made global headlines, Bogotá daily El Espectador writes about the significance of the news for a country that has battled narcotrafficking for decades.

👮 The arrest of the Colombian mobster Dairo Antonio Úsuga David, a.k.a. "Otoniel," is a victory for Colombian intelligence, law-and-order forces and the broader fight against crime. Details of the eight-year-long pursuit of the head of the Gulf Clan, of the tireless and meticulous work, testify to the capabilities that the police and army have managed to develop in the fight against the narco-trafficking that has long been a stain on Colombia.

🇨🇴🇲🇽 Otoniel is responsible for a criminal organization with more than 3,800 members and influence on 12 departments and 128 districts in Colombia (though data from the Bogotá-based Peace and Reconciliation Foundation counts 211 districts). The Gulf Clan sends half the drugs going out of Colombia, and is the main exporter to Mexico. Its ties to the Mexican cartel chief Joaquín "el Chapo" Guzmán are well-documented — and Otoniel had aspired to fill the power vacuum left by Guzmán's capture.

⚖️ Some have observed that the ensuing power vacuum will engender more violence, which is true. But we are, in any case, far from eliminating drug trafficking in Colombia or cutting its tentacles across public life. That shows the limitations of the hard-line response to drugs, when we have seen it is not enough. Still, it is essential in any fight against crime for the state to show its operational capabilities. The message is clear: not even drug overlords are above the law in Colombia.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


"I love Mako. I would like to spend my one life with the person I love."

— Kei Komuro said during a news conference after his wedding with Japan's Princess Mako, the niece of the current emperor and the sister of the likely future sovereign. The princess lost her royal status as a result of her marriage with Komuro, a "commoner."


An art installation "Greetings From Giza" by French artist and photographer JR faces the pyramids of Giza in Egypt, as part of the 2021 exhibition "'Forever Is Now," the first international art exhibition to take place there — Photo: Balkis Press/Abaca/ZUMA

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

Send all commoner and royal well wishes to Mako and Kei — and let us know what the news looks like from your corner of the world! info@worldcrunch.com

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