WHILE YOU SLEPT

Superbugs Crawl Onto Agenda

In our globalized world, climate change, economic collapse and all sorts of warfare (nuclear, biological, cyber, etc.) are viewed as the most terrible and frightening danger threatening our planet. But scientists recently pointed to an imminent threat that could wipe out the human race â€" the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria or, simply, “superbugs.”


Today, the United Nations General Assembly will dedicate a high-level meeting to the issue of “antimicrobial resistance”. It would only be the fourth time that the 193 member states discuss public health. With about 700,000 deaths a year attributed to superbugs, including 23,000 in the U.S. alone, scientists believe it’s an issue as pressing as climate change. By 2050, the yearly death toll could reach 10 million worldwide.


An article published in Vox rightly warns that our consumption of antibiotics is “out of control,” and not just to treat humans, but farm animals too. This bacterial evolution could make some diseases such as gonorrhea untreatable, reversing more than a century of medical progress. And it could have a bone-chilling effect on our economy. The World Bank in a report earlier this week warned that “drug-resistant infections could cause global economic damage on par with the 2008 financial crisis.”


As pharmaceutical companies appear more worried about wrapping up big mergers, it’s time for the UN to rise to the occasion, show its relevance, and lead the way.



WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY



U.S. ACCUSES RUSSIA FOR SYRIA AID CONVOY ATTACK

The United States holds Russia responsible for the bombing of a UN humanitarian convoy in the Syrian city of Aleppo on Monday night, after a seven-day ceasefire, The New York Times reports. Some 20 civilians are believed to have been killed in the air strikes, which destroyed 18 of the 31-truck convoy, and the UN suspended all aid convoys in Syria as a result. The Russian Foreign Ministry denied the claims, saying that Russian aircraft weren’t in the area and that the Syrian air force doesn’t have the capabilities of carrying out night operations, Tass reports. Instead, Moscow accused Washington of trying to “distract attention from a strange ‘error’” that led to warplanes of the U.S.-led coalition bombing Syrian forces fighting against ISIS in Deir ez-Zor on Saturday.


LULA TO FACE TRIAL

Former Brazilian President Lula da Silva will stand trial over corruption and money laundering charges as part of the ongoing probe around state-oil company Petrobras, Folha de S. Paulo reports. Lula, who is also accused of failing to declare a luxury penthouse in the resort of Guarujá, said the charges were a “farce, a big lie,” adding that he was “a man with a clear conscience.”


â€" ON THIS DAY

Who you gonna call? Well, Bill Murray and wish him a happy birthday. That, and more, in your 57-second shot of history.


VERBATIM

“Each of us as leaders, each nation can choose to reject those who appeal to our worst impulses and embrace those who appeal to our best,” Barack Obama said in his last speech to the UN General Assembly, warning of the dangers of isolationism.


VIOLENT PROTESTS IN NORTH CAROLINA

Twelve police officers were injured in protests in Charlotte, North Carolina, that erupted in reaction to yesterday’s fatal shooting of an armed black man by a police officer, USA Today reports. Police said that 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott was holding a gun and presented “an imminent deadly threat to the officers.” The incident followed the release of a video of Oklahoma police shooting an unarmed man.


â€" WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

More and more coffee growers are going organic in Colombia. A boost for the environment, the trend is also improving lives, as producers in the coastal Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta can attest. For Colombian daily El Espectador, Tatiana Pardo Ibarra reports: “The Anei project isn't just friendly to the environment: It also benefits 538 families from the Arhuaco, Kogi, Wiwa and Kankuamo tribes, which now export the fruits of their labor to places like the United States, Japan, Canada and the EU.

The families work in 64 communities or settlements in the Sierra Nevada, using practices that follow the native view of the universe. They engage in rituals, offerings and dances like the zamuyuna to ensure a good quality harvest. They are always protective of seynekun (mother nature) and guided by mamos, spiritual leaders that send their energy toward the earth.”

Read the full article, Aroma Of Organic, The Gradual Greening Of Colombian Coffee.


NEW YORK BOMBING SUSPECT CHARGED

The New York bombing suspect, 28-year-old Ahmad Khan Rahami, was charged in federal court yesterday with several crimes, including the use of weapons of mass destruction, The New York Times reports. In his journal, investigators have found references to “Brother Osama bin Laden,” and to the killing of “kuffars” (infidels). Police believe Rahami had been “meticulously planning” his attack, at least since June.


$258,000

Donald Trump used more than a quarter-million dollars from his charity to settle lawsuits in which his businesses were involved, in dealings that The Washington Post says may have violated legislation against “self-dealing”.


â€" MY GRAND-PERE’S WORLD

Enough On My Plate â€" Rio de Janeiro, 1992


HUMAN WASTE AS CLEAN ENERGY

In its quest for clean, renewable energy, carmaker Toyota is turning to one of the least likely places you’d think of. Read more from Quartz.


BRANGELINA SPLIT, WAX EDITION

Following yesterday’s news of Angelina Jolie filing for divorce from Brad Pitt, the Madame Tussaud wax museum had to follow suit.


MORE STORIES, EXCLUSIVELY IN ENGLISH BY WORLDCRUNCH

BOT DYLAN

Robots have started making music on their own. And we’re not even talking about Daft Punk.

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A check operation in Indian-administered Kashmir, following a spate of targeted attacks on the region's Hindu minority

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Здраво!*

Welcome to Friday, where Joe Biden vows to protect Taiwan from China, Alec Baldwin accidentally kills a cinematographer, and can you guess what day it is TODAY? We also have a report from a researcher in San Diego, USA on the sociological dark side of food trucks.

[*Zdravo - Macedonian]

💡  SPOTLIGHT

Iran-Saudi Arabia rivalry may be set to ease, or get much worse

The Saudis may be awaiting the outcome of Iran's nuclear talks with the West, to see whether Tehran will moderate its regional policies, or lash out like never before, writes Persian-language media Kayhan-London:

The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said earlier this month that Iranian and Saudi negotiators had so far had four rounds of "continuous" talks, though both sides had agreed to keep them private. The talks are to ease fraught relations between Iran's radical Shia regime and the Saudi kingdom, a key Western ally in the Middle East.

Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian has said that the talks were going in the right direction, while an Iranian trade official was recently hopeful these might even allow trade opportunities for Iranian businessmen in Saudi Arabia. As the broadcaster France 24 observed separately, it will take more than positive signals to heal a five-year-rift and decades of mutual suspicions.

Agence France-Presse news agency, meanwhile, has cited an unnamed French diplomat as saying that Saudi Arabia wants to end its costly discord with Tehran. The sides may already have agreed to reopen consular offices. For Saudi Arabia, the costs include its war on Iran-backed Houthis rebels fighting an UN-recognized government in next-door Yemen.

Bilateral relations were severed in January 2016, after regime militiamen stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran. Amirabdollahian was then the deputy foreign minister for Arab affairs. In 2019, he told the website Iranian Diplomacy that Saudi Arabia had taken measures vis-a-vis Iran's nuclear pact with the world powers.

He said "the Saudis' insane conduct toward [the pact] led them to conclude that they must prevent [its implementation] in a peaceful environment ... I think the Saudis are quite deluded, and their delusion consists in thinking that Trump is an opportunity for them to place themselves on the path of conflict with the Islamic Republic while relying on Trump." He meant the administration led by the U.S. President Donald J.Trump, which was hostile to Iran's regime. This, he said, "is not how we view Saudi Arabia. I think Yemen should have been a big lesson for the Saudis."

The minister was effectively admitting the Houthis were the Islamic Republic's tool for getting back at Saudi Arabia.

Yet in the past two years, both sides have taken steps to improve relations, without firm results as yet. Nor is the situation likely to change this time.

Iran's former ambassador in Lebanon, Ahmad Dastmalchian, told the ILNA news agency in Tehran that Saudi Arabia is doing Israel's bidding in the region, and has "entrusted its national security, and life and death to Tel Aviv." Riyadh, he said, had been financing a good many "security and political projects in the region," or acting as a "logistical supplier."

The United States, said Dastmalchian, has "in turn tried to provide intelligence and security backing, while Israel has simply followed its own interests in all this."

Furthermore, it seems unlikely Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei will tolerate, even in this weak period of his leadership, the kingdom's rising power in the region and beyond, and especially its financial clout. He is usually disparaging when he speaks of Riyadh's princely rulers. In 2017, he compared them to "dairy cows," saying, "the idiots think that by giving money and aid, they can attract the goodwill of Islam's enemies."

Iranian regime officials are hopeful of moving toward better diplomatic ties and a reopening of embassies. Yet the balance of power between the sides began to change in Riyadh's favor years ago. For the kingdom's power has shifted from relying mostly on arms, to economic and political clout. The countries might have had peaceful relations before in considerably quieter, and more equitable, conditions than today's acute clash of interests.

Beyond this, the Abraham Accord or reconciliation of Arab states and Israel has been possible thanks to the green light that the Saudis gave their regional partners, and it is a considerable political and ideological defeat for the Islamic Republic.

Assuming all Houthis follow Tehran's instructions — and they may not — improved ties may curb attacks on Saudi interests and aid its economy. Tehran will also benefit from no longer having to support them. Unlike Iran's regime, the Saudis are not pressed for cash or resources and could even offer the Houthis a better deal. Presently, they may consider it more convenient to keep the softer approach toward Tehran.

For if nuclear talks with the West break down, Iran's regime may become more aggressive, and as experience has shown, tensions often prompt a renewal of missile or drone attacks on the Saudis, on tankers and on foreign shipping. Riyadh must have a way of keeping the Tehran regime quiet, in a distinctly unquiet time.

Kayhan-London

🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• Biden vows to defend Taiwan: U.S. President Joe Biden said the United States would come to Taiwan's defense if it were attacked and had a commitment to defend the island nation that China claims as its own. The White House clarified for the second time in three months that U.S. policy on the subject has not changed, and declined further comment when asked if Biden had misspoken.

• Call on China to respect Uyghurs: A statement from 43 countries denounced China's human rights record at the United Nations over the reported torture and repression of the mostly Muslim Uyghurs, as well as the existence of "re-education camps" in Xinjiang. The declaration calls on Beijing to allow independent observers immediate access. In response, Cuba issued a rival statement shortly afterwards on behalf of 62 other countries claiming "disinformation".

• Alec Baldwin fires prop gun, kills cinematographer: U.S. actor Alec Baldwin fatally shot cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza after discharging a prop gun on the set of his new movie, near Santa Fe. The accident is being investigated.

• Berlusconi acquitted: Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was acquitted of judicial corruption charges. The 85-year-old media mogul had been accused of seeking to bribe guests present at his infamous "Bunga Bunga" parties to lie about the evenings as part of an underage prostitution case.

• COVID health workers death toll: A new WHO working report estimates that between 80,000 and 180,000 health and care workers may have died from COVID-19 between January 2020 and May 2021. The same report also noted that fewer than 1 in 10 healthcare workers were fully vaccinated in Africa, compared with 9 in 10 in high-income countries, and less than 5% of Africa's population have been vaccinated.

• Seven killed in Russian gunpowder factory blast: An explosion at the Elastik gunpowder and chemicals plant southeast of Moscow killed at least seven people, while nine are still missing.

• Aye aye, CAP'n: HAPPY CAPS LOCK DAY, FOLKS!

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

Dutch daily De Volkskrant pays tribute to "sound master" and renowned classical conductor Bernard Haitink, who died at 92. Born in Amsterdam, Haitink made more than 450 records and led some of the world's top orchestras in the span of his 65-year career.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

The food truck, a sign that the white and wealthy are moving in

In San Diego, California, researcher Pascale Joassart-Marcelli tracked how in the city's low-income neighborhoods that have traditionally lacked dining options, when interesting eateries arrive the gentrification of white, affluent and college-educated people has begun. In The Conversation she writes:

🥡 In 2016 in City Heights, a large multi-ethnic San Diego neighborhood, a dusty vacant lot on the busiest boulevard was converted into an outdoor international marketplace called Fair@44. There, food vendors gather in semi-permanent stalls to sell pupusas, lechon (roasted pig), single-sourced cold-brewed coffee, cupcakes and tamarind raspado (crushed ice). Just a few blocks outside the gates, informal street vendors — who have long sold goods such as fruit, tamales and ice cream to residents who can't easily access supermarkets — now face heightened harassment.

🤑 Cities and neighborhoods have long sought to attract educated and affluent residents – people whom sociologist Richard Florida dubbed "the creative class." The thinking goes that these newcomers will spend their dollars and presumably contribute to economic growth and job creation. Food, it seems, has become the perfect lure. It's uncontroversial and has broad appeal. It taps into the American Dream and appeals to the multicultural values of many educated, wealthy foodies.

🏙️ My analysis of real estate ads for properties listed in City Heights and other gentrifying San Diego neighborhoods found that access to restaurants, cafés, farmers markets and outdoor dining is a common selling point. San Diego Magazine's home buyer guide for the same year identified City Heights as an "up-and-coming neighborhood," attributing its appeal to its diverse population and eclectic "culinary landscape," including several restaurants and Fair@44. When I see that City Heights' home prices rose 58% over the past three years, I'm not surprised.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

€6.65 million

The remains of "Big John," the world's largest triceratops skeleton ever found, were sold at auction for a European record price of 6.65 millions euros in Paris to a private anonymous collector from the U.S. The 200 pieces of the skeleton were unearthed in 2014 in South Dakota and reassembled by specialists in Italy.

👮🎮  IN OTHER NEWS

Police bust Mexican drug gang recruiting boys via online video games

Police in Mexico have intervened to rescue three minors, aged 11 to 14, from recruitment into a drug gang that had enticed them through online gaming.

A top Mexican police agency official Ricardo Mejía Berdeja, said the gang had contacted the youths in the south-central city of Oaxaca, chatting through a free-to-download game called Free Fire, which involves shooting at rivals with virtual firearms.

Calling himself "Rafael," another player of the same age, the suspected gang member offered one of the youths work "checking radio frequencies and watching out for police presence" in Monterrey, northern Mexico, reported national daily El Heraldo de México. The pay was unusually good — 8,000 pesos (almost $400) every two weeks — and the youth called two friends who also wanted to get in.

The three boys were set to take the bait, but an anonymous Mexican intelligence agent following the exchange while also posing as youth playing Free Fire, ultimately led police to a safe house in Santa Lucía del Camino, outside Oaxaca.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

"I just want to make China understand that we are not going to step back."

— U.S. President Joe Biden vowed to defend Taiwan if it came under attack from China, an assertion that seems to move away from the U.S. stated policy of "strategic ambiguity." His administration is now facing calls to clarify this stance on the island.

📸  PHOTO DU JOUR

Paramilitary soldiers are conducting a check operation in Indian-administered Kashmir, following a spate of targeted attacks on the region's Hindu minority that have left at least 33 dead since early October. The region, claimed in full by both India and Pakistan, has been the site of a bloody armed rebellion against India since the 1990s — Photo: Adil Abbas/ZUMA

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

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