Yuan Devalued Again, Kos Migrant Crisis, EU Food Waste

Yuan Devalued Again, Kos Migrant Crisis, EU Food Waste


China’s central bank stunned global markets by cutting the yuan’s value against the dollar for a second day in a row, this time by 1.6% after deciding on a 1.9% devaluation Tuesday. It’s yet more evidence that the country’s economy may be in a worse state than the government claims. As The New York Times notes, the devaluation will in theory boost exports and create jobs in China, and it suggests that the country is moving closer to letting market forces determine the currency’s value.


“Migrants have beaten policemen, and they kill each other. There is no more law and order on the island,” said Giorgos Kyritsis, the mayor of Kos, a Greek island where hundreds of migrants arrive everyday from Turkey. The situation on the island is spiraling out of control with migrants clashing with police yesterday, a day after a police officer was suspended for slapping one man while brandishing a knife. With more than 7,500 migrants already believed to be on Kos, a municipality of just 33,000 residents, Kyritsis requested help from Athens and extra riot police units. According to the United Nations refugee agency, at least 124,000 people have reached Greek shores this year alone.

For more on migrants in Kos, we offer this L’Obs/Worldcrunch article, Kos, When Tourists And Migrants Land On The Same Greek Island.


Photo: Facebook page

White House hopeful Hillary Clinton has agreed to hand over to the FBI the private server that stored her email between 2009 and 2012, when she was U.S. Secretary of State, The Washington Post reports. The former First Lady had until now provided the FBI only with selected emails, despite an investigation into the security of the system, with critics believing that government secrets might have been at risk. At least two emails regarding the 2012 attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi included classified material and were categorized as “Top Secret.”


Severe floods in the Buenos Aires province killed three people and prompted more than 11,000 to be evacuated. Read more about it in our Extra! feature here.


A 48-hour ceasefire has begun in the southwestern Syrian town of Zabadani and in two other towns in Idlib province after the al-Nusra Front and Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shia organization supporting the Syrian government, reached an agreement to allow the delivery of aid to civilians, Al Jazeera reports.


Slow food, slow journalism, slow photography. Just when the world seemed to be getting too fast-paced and chaotic, some folks decided to cool things down. The Italians were the first to put on the brakes in 1986 when a protest against the opening of a McDonald’s in Rome morphed into the Slow Food movement. It’s about doing things at the right pace, favoring quality over quantity. Since then, the deceleration trend has spread, touching on everything from traveling to money, technology and education. The past few years have seen the development of even more surprising slow concepts.

Read the full article, Gardening, Sex And Other Stuff Best Done Slowly.


Large-scale military exercises by the Russian armed forces and NATO over the past year-and-a-half â€" as both sides seemed to prepare for a potential conflict over Ukraine â€" have made the risk of a clash more likely with several near-miss incidents, a new think tank report says. “The changed profile of exercises is a fact, and it does play a role in sustaining the current climate of tensions in Europe,” reads the report from European Leadership Network, which urges both sides to talk more to each other and to sign a treaty limiting weapon deployments along borders.



Amnesty International members meeting in Dublin yesterday for a biennial meeting voted to adopt a policy calling for the “decriminalization of all aspects of consensual sex work” in a bid to protect “the human rights of sex workers,” the organization announced. The controversial move has sparked intense criticism, even among usual supporters of the group’s work.


Happy 66th birthday to British musician Mark Knopfler, of Dire Straits fame. More in today’s 57-second shot of history.


About 22 million tons of food are wasted every year in the European Union, a new study claims. The biggest offender? Britain, where the average household wastes close to 6 kilos of food every week.

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Running of the Bulls in Tafalla, northern Spain

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Здравейте!*

Welcome to Monday, where an apparent coup is underway in Sudan, Colombia's most-wanted drug lord gets caught, and Michael Jordan's rookie sneakers score an auction record. We also focus on a report that the Thai government is abusing the country's centuries-old law to protect the monarchy from criticism (lèse-majesté) to target pro-democracy activists and protesters.

[*Zdraveite - Bulgarian]


• Developing: Sudan leaders arrested amid military coup reports: Soldiers have arrested several members of Sudan's transitional government as well as civilian leaders, and Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok has reportedly been put under house arrest, in what the information ministry called a military coup. Pro-democracy protesters have taken to the streets of the capital city Khartoum where there are reports of gunfire and clashes.

• Colombia's most wanted drug lord to be sent to U.S.: Colombia's most dangerous drug trafficker, known as Otoniel, was caught after a joint army, air force and police operation and faces extradition to the U.S. He led the country's largest criminal gang, and was on the U.S. most wanted list for years.

• Xi speech marks China's UN anniversary: China's President Xi Jinping marked the 50th anniversary of Beijing's entry into the United Nations with a speech calling for greater global cooperation, adding that issues like climate change, terrorism and cyber security needed multilateral solutions. Taiwan was not mentioned.

• German ISIS bride jailed for crimes against humanity: A German court has sentenced a German woman and former member of the Islamic State to 10 years in prison for letting a 5-year-old Yazidi enslaved girl die of thirst in Iraq. The case is one of the world's first trials to prosecute a war crime against the Yazidis.

• COVID update: The Beijing marathon scheduled next weekend has been postponed until further notice as China seeks to stamp out Delta variant outbreak and return to zero cases ahead of the Winter Olympics next February. Meanwhile, coronavirus cases in Eastern Europe have surpassed the 20 million mark as the region fights against its worst outbreak since the pandemic started and vaccination efforts lag.

Goodbye, Gunther: U.S. actor James Michael Tyler, best known for his role as the barista Gunther on the TV show Friends, has died at 59 of prostate cancer.

• Sneakers record: A pair of Michael Jordan's white-and-red Nike shoes, which he wore during his rookie season with the Chicago Bulls in 1984, sold for $1.47 million — a new record price for sneakers at auction.


"The end of a boss," titles Colombian daily El Espectador, reporting on the arrest of drug lord Dairo Antonio Usuga, known as Otoniel, who had led Colombia's largest criminal gang and had been on the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency's most wanted list for years. He was captured in a raid and will be extradited to the U.S.



A Georgia man is being prosecuted for wire fraud after spending most of his business's COVID relief loan to buy one Pokémon trading card for $57,789.


How Thailand's "Lèse-Majesté" law is used to stifle all protest

Once meant to protect the royal family, the century-old law has become a tool for the military-led government in Bangkok to stamp out all dissent. A new report outlines the abuses.

👑 Thailand's Criminal Code "Lèse-Majesté" Article 112 imposes jail terms for defaming, insulting, or threatening the monarchy, with sentences of three to 15 years. This law has been present in Thai politics since 1908, though applied sparingly, only when direct verbal or written attacks against members of the royal family. But after the May 2014 military coup d'état, Thailand experienced the first wave of lèse-majesté arrests, prosecutions, and detentions of at least 127 individuals arrested in a much wider interpretation of the law.

🚨 The recent report "Second Wave: The Return of Lèse-Majesté in Thailand," documents how the Thai government has "used and abused Article 112 of the Criminal Code to target pro-democracy activists and protesters in relation to their online political expression and participation in peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations." The investigation shows 124 individuals, including at least eight minors, have been charged with lèse-majesté between November 2020 and August 2021. The new wave of charges is cited as a response to the rising pro-democracy protests across Thailand over the past year.

💻 The more than a century-old law is now largely playing out online, where much of today's protest takes place in Thailand. Thai student activist Juthatip Sirikan says people are willing to go further on social media to expose information such as how the king intervenes in politics and the monarchy's accumulation of wealth, information the mainstream media rarely reports on them. Not surprisingly, however, social media is heavily monitored and the military is involved in Intelligence operations and cyber attacks against human rights defenders and critics of any kind.

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"Children are going to die. People are going to starve."

— The United Nations warns that Afghanistan verges on a "total breakdown" as millions of Afghans, including children, could die of starvation unless urgent action is taken by the international community. The agency calls for the release of frozen assets to avoid economic and social collapse, despite concerns over the Taliban government. A recent report said that about 97% of Afghanistan's population may sink below the poverty line, and World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley warned that more than half of Afghanistan's population of 39 million were facing acute food insecurity and "marching to starvation" in comparison to 14 million two months ago.


Dutch cities have been secretly probing mosques since 2013

At least ten Dutch towns and cities have secretly used a private agency to probe mosques and other local religious organizations, Amsterdam-based daily het NRC reports in an exclusive investigation.

The clandestine operation — funded by NCTV, the National Security Services, the Netherlands' leading counter-terrorism agency — was prompted by the social unrest and uncertainty following multiple terror attacks in 2013, and a rise in Islamic radicalization.

The NCTV, which advises and financially supports municipalities in countering radicalization, put the municipalities in touch with Nuance by Training and Advice (Nuance door Trainingen en Advies, NTA), a private research agency based in Deventer, Netherlands. Among the institutions targeted by the investigations, which came at a cost of circa 500,000 euros, were the Al Mouahidin mosque in the central Dutch town of Ede, and the Nasser mosque east of the city of Utrecht, according to NRC.

Unlike public officials, the private agency can enter the mosques to clandestinely research the situation. In this case, the agents observed activity, talked to visitors, administrators, and religious leaders, and investigated what they do and say on social media.

All findings then wound up in a secret report which includes personal details about what the administrators and teachers studied, who their relatives are, with whom they argued, and how often they had contact with authorities in foreign countries, like Morocco.

It is unclear whether the practice is legal, which is why several members of the Dutch Parliament are now demanding clarification from the outgoing Minister of Justice and Security, Ferd Grapperhaus, who is said to be involved.

"The ease with which the government violates (fundamental) rights when it comes to Islam or Muslims is shocking," Stephan van Baarle, member of the leftist party DENK, told De Volkskrant, another Dutch newspaper.

Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed. Hassan Saidi, director of one of the mosques investigated, said that the relationship with the local municipality had been good. "This puts a huge dent in the trust I'd had in the municipality," he told the Dutch public broadcaster NOS.

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

Are you more Chicago Bulls or running of the bulls? Let us know what the news looks like from your corner of the world!!

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