Toxic Air And 300 Million Kids

You’d want to be just about anywhere but the Indian capital of New Delhi today. Smog choked the city and triggered warnings that even healthy people were at risk of respiratory problems. Air pollution typically peaks in Delhi at this time of the year, driven in part by firecrackers burned to celebrate Diwali, the Hindu festival of light, which fell on Sunday this year.

But it’s not just India that has an air pollution problem. A report published today by the United Nations Children’s Fund found that 300 million children in the world breathe highly toxic air, many of them based in South Asia. That’s almost one in seven children inhaling air that has pollution levels six or more times higher than what international guidelines consider safe. UNICEF’s report comes a week before the UN’s COP 22 climate conference in Morocco, where the agency is calling for world leaders to cut air pollution in their countries.

“Air pollution is a major contributing factor in the deaths of around 600,000 children under five every year â€" and it threatens the lives and futures of millions more every day,” UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake noted in a preview of the report.

A looming US election that keeps getting dirtier, the nuclear potential of North Korea, wars in the Middle East and Ukraine are no doubt worthy of the loud headlines you’ll read today. But we should read and reread these two UN statistics: 300 million kids poisoned by the air they breathe, 600,000 facing death. Pollution is an insidious killer that too long has gone by unnoticed.



The FBI has obtained a warrant to search the emails discovered on the computer of Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of Hillary Clinton’s top aide Huma Abedin, in connection to the federal investigation into the Democratic candidate’s handling of classified information, USA Today reports. FBI agents became aware of the possible emails’ relevance a few weeks ago, and questions are being raised as to why the information wasn’t disclosed earlier, The Washington Post reports. With just eight days before the election, Clinton now leads Trump by just 1% in the latest Washington Post/ABC poll, and a professor who has successfully predicted presidential races for the past 30 years says the Republican candidate will win.


The earth shook again yesterday in central Italy. At magnitude 6.6, the quake was the strongest yet to hit the country in 36 years. The tremors were felt in Rome, where cracks have appeared on St Paul’s Basilica. Twenty people were injured but no deaths have been reported so far, according to Corriere Della Sera. Some 40,000 people had to flee their homes, many of which were entirely destroyed. There have been dozens of aftershocks since yesterday, including one of 4.2 magnitude during the night, Ansa reports. In August, quakes killed nearly 300 people in Italy.


Happy Birthday to Mount Rushmore and Peter Jackson. That, and more, in your 57-second shot of history.


“The civilians of both sides of Aleppo have suffered enough due to futile but lethal attempts of subduing the city,” Staffan de Mistura, UN special envoy for Syria said in a statement yesterday, adding he was “appalled and shocked” by the number of rockets rebels fired at civilians in government-controlled areas of Aleppo. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 41 civilians, including 17 children, were killed and scores more were wounded over the past three days.


After seven years of negotiations, Canada and the European Union signed the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement yesterday, two days after the Belgian region of Wallonia finally decided to support the deal.


Turkish police detained the editor-in-chief and several journalists from Cumhuriyet, an opposition newspaper and Worldcrunch partner. The move is the latest in a crackdown against the media after a failed coup in July. Over the weekend, more than 10,000 civil servants were dismissed and 15 media outlets were shut down, AP reports.


Britain's decision to leave the EU is having a ripple effect on the island nation of Cyprus, where expats and tourism operators are already feeling the pinch. But there may be a more long-term windfall in the finance industry, reporter Fabrice Nodé-Langlois writes in Le Figaro. “Expats aren't the only ones concerned over Brexit. For the 12,000 Cypriots who are studying in the UK, it could mean losing the European rate and having to pay tuition fees of 20,000 pounds ($30,000) per year instead of 9,000. There's are also government grants and subsidized loans specific to EU citizens that could disappear. Many hope that Cyprus' status as a member of the Commonwealth will guarantee them a better deal than other EU students, but nobody knows for sure.

With regards to the economy, the big concern is tourism, which represent more than a quarter of Cyprus' GDP, according to Angelos Loizou of the Cyprus Tourism Organization. True, more and more Russians are visiting the island, which includes several Orthodox Christian destinations. But of the record-high three million foreign visitors expected this year, 40% of them are likely to be British.”

Read the full article, When Brexit Hits Cyprus, Isle Of Offshore Banking And British Expats.

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Kim Jong-un’s wife, Ri Sol-ju, hasn’t been seen in public for more than seven months so, naturally, everybody’s wondering what’s going on. The speculation? Her absence involves a pregnancy, security concerns or a marital rift.


Thousands of protesters marched in the streets of Seoul on Saturday calling for President Park Geun-hye to resign, amid allegations that she let a close friend interfere in state affairs, news agency Yonhap reports. Approval ratings of Park, whom protesters now call “shadow president,” have sunk to an all-time low of 17%.


Sizzling Sardines â€" Nazaré, 1963



A patient at a Tokyo hospital got seriously burned after she flatulated during a laser operation.

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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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