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A Big Tech Shift To The Right?


Zelensky In NYC, India-Canada Diplomatic Spat, Paywall Time For X?

👋 Mari mari!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is in New York to attend the UN General Assembly, Azerbaijan launches “anti-terrorist” operations in Nagorno-Karabakh, and Elon Musk has floated the idea of putting up a paywall to X to fight bots on the platform formerly known as Twitter. Meanwhile, Gianluca Nicoletti in Italian daily La Stampa uses AI to commune with the dead.

[*Mapuche, Chile and Argentina]

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A U.S.-Iran $6 Billion Prisoner Exchange: Ransom Or Realpolitik?

With $6 billion freed up to go in the coffers of the corrupt and repressive regime in Tehran, nobody is happy. But sometimes there is no alternative to the imperfect nature of international diplomacy.


PARIS — We find ourselves in the kind of scenario John Le Carré would have written about: five prisoners on one side, five on the other, brought to the same place at the same time for an exchange of freedom — simultaneously, $6 billion are transferred to bank accounts. The significant difference is that Cold War prisoner exchanges of Le Carré stories usually took place in Berlin; here, we are in Doha, Qatar, and the prisoners are American and Iranian.

The agreement carried out Monday is making a big splash. Principally because it has been a long time since there have been positive news between Washington and Tehran, and one can legitimately wonder if there will be any repercussions on the impasse regarding the Iranian nuclear issue.

But this exchange is also controversial: it has its critics in the United States who accuse the Biden administration of paying a "ransom" and putting all Americans at risk.

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Why Wars Don't Ever End


In The News

Worldcrunch Magazine #50 — Why Wars Don't Ever End

September 18 - September 24, 2023

Here's the latest edition of Worldcrunch Magazine, a selection of our best articles of the week from top international journalists, produced exclusively in English for Worldcrunch readers.


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Eye On Iran, One Year Later


In The News

Worldcrunch Magazine #49 — Eye On Iran, One Year Later

September 11 - September 17, 2023

Here's the latest edition of Worldcrunch Magazine, a selection of our best articles of the week from top international journalists, produced exclusively in English for Worldcrunch readers.


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Marcelo Cantelmi

Why China Has Bet On A Bigger (And Nastier) BRICS To Challenge The West

The BRICS economies' inclusion of new members like Iran may not make business sense, but it fits with the Sino-Russian strategy of drawing states of the Global South into their orbit in open confrontation with the U.S. and the rest of the West.


BUENOS AIRES — Last month's summit in Johannesburg of BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), leading to a decision to expand the club, felt like geopolitical déjà vu. It recalled the 1960s Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) of Third World states that refused, apparently, to take sides in the Cold War, either with the capitalist West or Soviet-led communism.

NAM neutrality was limited, often deceptive, and became obsolete with the fall of the Communist bloc in the late 1980s. The dilemma of what was then called the Third World — now, the Global South — was in the stance it should take toward Russia, the successor state to the Soviet Union that shared few of its traits and goals. Ideologically, the end of communism confused NAM: It didn't know what to do with itself.

That is until now, with an apparent resuscitation of its spirit in BRICS (formed in 2009). Yet the idea of equidistance ends there, as BRICS is led by Russia and communist China and increasingly a part of their open challenge to Western hegemony.

Its founders include Brazil, which has its own agenda, and India. Both states have adopted their own versions of neutrality in the Ukrainian crisis, first in 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine,then after its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in Feb. 2022.

So far, says Oliver Stuenkel, a professor at Brazil's Getulio Vargas Foundation, the two states have resisted Russia's systematic bid to use an explicitly anti-Western vocabulary in BRICS documents. This, he says, would explain the vague tone of the group's resolutions.

South Africa, the last member to join the group (in 2010), is a lesser power in terms of economy and political clout. But it symbolizes the worldwide spirit the group would come to embody.

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Roshanak Astaraki

Will Iran Reignite With The Anniversary Of Mahsa Amini's Death?

Iran's regime has tightened its grip on the population ahead of the September 16 one-year anniversary of the death that set off the country's biggest revolt of recent years.


Two weeks ahead of the anniversary of the killing of Mahsa Amini, the teen girl reportedly beaten to death in a Tehran police station for not abiding by dress codes, the Islamic Republic of Iran faces a complex situation. The chief concern is a possible renewal of protests, to mark Amini's death one year earlier on Sep. 16, 2022.

The anniversary arrives amid the unrelenting worsening of economic conditions and the consequent public discontent. The situation is fueling tensions among politicians.

Anticipating unrest, in recent weeks the regime has intensified its repression of activists and of grieving relatives of the victims of police violence during the protests. Iranian leaders have warned that they won't stand for any trouble.

The Intelligence Minster Ismail Khatib declared recently that "the enemy had plans" to revive the protests, urging for greater cohesion among the security forces and state media. Officials are keeping a particularly close eye on universities.

Iran's supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, had a similar warning when he addressed a gathering of Revolutionary Guards commanders: the "enemies" were relentlessly stoking trouble, "one day with elections as an excuse; another day it's fuel and another day, women."

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Mariam Claren

A Birthday Message For My Mother, An Innocent 69-Year-Old Held In Iranian Prison

For the third year in a row, Nahid Taghavi, a retired architect and German citizen, is in Tehran's brutal Evin Prison, where she has been mistreated after being wrongly convicted on trumped up charges as the Iranian regime exploits her foreign citizenship for money and influence.


COLOGNE — My mother, a German architect, is being held hostage by Iran. Monday is her birthday, and she will spend it in prison.

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Hamed Mohammadi

Cash-Strapped Iran Ramps Up A Favorite Old Business: Taking Hostages For Ransom

Is the Biden administration following President Obama's counterproductive recipe of handing Tehran large sums of cash hoping for good conduct and a tepid détente?


With the mediation of states like Switzerland, Qatar and Oman, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden have provisionally agreed on the liberation of five U.S.-Iranian dual nationals held in Iran in exchange for the release of $6 billion in frozen Iranian funds.

Three of the detainees, Siamak Namazi, Morad Tahbaz and Emad Sharqi, have already served about half of their prison sentences for spying. The other two detainees have not been named, with both sides refusing to divulge their identities.

The unwritten deal has yet to be finalized. Provisionally, the prisoners have been taken from the Evin prison in Tehran to a hotel, where they are staying under guard. A U.S. State Department spokesman, Vedant Patel, said he hoped the deal would come through as part of wider, diplomatic moves to defuse tensions between the United States and Islamic Iran.

The two sides are believed to be talking through some bigger issues like an end to rocket attacks on U.S. forces in the region, and Iran keeping uranium enrichment to below 60%, or steering clear of a nuclear bomb. It is part of a grand — if under-the-table — bargain which President Biden hopes to reach with the Iranian ayatollahs, preferably before the next U.S. election.

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Work In Progress
Emma Albright

Hot Summer Jobs: How Global Warming Weighs On The Workplace

As workers around the globe are faced with the mercury rising, jobs both inside and outside are becoming less and less bearable in the summer months.

PARIS — It’s August again, temperatures are topping 30 ℃ (86 ℉), and I work in an office in the center of France’s capital that dates back to the 19th century. Needless to say, it has not been equipped with air-conditioning nor built to shield against heat waves. We work with fans, and hide the sunlight with make-shift curtains.

Of course, I am among the lucky ones. On my way to and from the office, I can’t help but notice those who are obliged to work outside, under the scorching sun, often with heavy gear and extra clothing to protect themselves. How could they ever stay cool? Who’s looking out for their health and safety?

Over the past few years, our planet has been faced with steadily more severe heat waves. We have had to learn how to live with rising temperatures and adapt our daily lives to the on-the-ground reality of global warming. And for 40 or so hours a week, it is a decidedly work-related question.

The unbearable heat that has taken over some countries since the start of July has been fatal for some. According to French daily Les Echos, France registered 80 more workplace-related deaths than usual during the heatwave in July. Now, nations are taking new measures and re-evaluating working conditions to face this environmental phenomenon.

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