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Society

Let's Not Forget The Original Sin Of The Qatar World Cup: Greed

Soccer is a useful political tool for dictatorships. But Qatar is able to milk the World Cup as much as possible because the sport if infected by unbridled capitalistic greed.

-OpEd-

BOGOTÁ — Soccer lost its innocence years ago. Its history of spectacular feats and heart-wrenching moments contain a catalogue of outrages. Beyond the miracles and goals, the "beautiful game" must face up to its own infection by capitalism and greed for profits.

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Masks And Me: Take This Pandemic Story At Face Value

Even if COVID cases are rising again, the author isn't ready to mask up again. But she's also not quite ready to say goodbye forever...

-Essay-

PARIS — Waiting in line at the pharmacy the other day, I heard a customer ask for a COVID-19 test. The pharmacist let out a long sarcastic sigh: “We’re still doing those?”

Of course they are, as cases are again rising ahead of winter here in France and many other places around the world. But the true sign of the depth of our collective COVID fatigue were the masks at the pharmacy. That is, there were none, not even the pharmacist was wearing one, even if a sign hangs in front saying they’re required.

The regular announcements that have begun airing again on French radio about the importance of masks in containing the virus sound beside the point. Indeed, wearing masks is no longer a requirement anywhere in France, merely a suggestion.

Still, masks have by no means gone away, either in society, or my mind. That becomes clearest when I’m riding the metro in Paris. As I count the ratio of masked to non-masked, and hear the daily announcements on the benefits of wearing one, a dilemma starts to creep in…

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War In Ukraine, Day 280: Massive New 600 Billion Euro Estimate Of War Damage, EU Says Russia Will Pay

The European Union is committed to setting up a special court with the backing of the UN to investigate and prosecute Russian war crimes in Ukraine, and force Russia and its oligarchs to pay the growing pricetag for the destruction of the country.

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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen promised in a video statement that “Russia’s horrific crimes will not go unpunished.” She said that it was estimated so far that 20,000 Ukrainian civilians and 100,000 Ukrainian military officers had been killed so far.

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Sabotage, Desertions, Gamers? Why It's Getting Harder For Iran To Squash Protests

Faced with the resilience of the national protests, Iran's security forces are now facing unusual acts of sabotage on state installations, and clerical authorities have started to wonder which of their loyalist forces can be firmly relied on still to defend the regime.

Ten weeks into the nationwide anti-state uprising in Iran, the regime's security agencies face a crisis driven by four key factors: 1. Losses among the ranks through disobedience, desertion or negligence on the streets; 2. insufficient forces because of casualties from clashes; 3. rising number of acts of subversion and sabotage, especially targeting strategic installations; 4. cyber-attacks and security traps laid from abroad.

At the same time, the Iranian regime is facing an apparent change of tactics among protesters compared to previous rounds of unrest, which is particular to the new generations involved in this movement. Senior officials of the Revolutionary Guards corps — the body effectively coordinating the repression — say the protesters are mostly aged between 15 and 25 years.

It is a kind of Gen-Z brigade working with older and experienced protesters who led previous rounds of protests in 2009, and especially 2017 and 2019 when public unrest reemerged with particular vigor.

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Ideas
Bekir Ağırdır*

How Turkey Can Bring Its Brain Drain Back Home

Turkey heads to the polls next year as it faces its worst economic crisis in decades. Disillusioned by corruption, many young people have already left. However, Turkey's disaffected young expats are still very attached to their country, and could offer the best hope for a new future for the country.

-Analysis-

ISTANBUL — Turkey goes to the polls next June in crucial national elections. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is up against several serious challenges, as a dissatisfied electorate faces the worst economic crisis of his two-decade rule. The opposition is polling well, but the traditional media landscape is in the hands of the government and its supporters.

But against this backdrop, many, especially the young, are disillusioned with the country and its entire political system.

Young or old, people from every demographic, cultural group and class who worry about the future of Turkey are looking for something new. Relationships and dialogues between people from different political traditions and backgrounds are increasing. We all constantly feel the country's declining quality of life and worry about the prevalence of crime and lawlessness.

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China
Changren Zheng

How China's Mass Protest Took The World By Surprise — And Where It Will End

China is facing its biggest political protests in decades as frustration grows with its harsh Zero-COVID strategy. However, the real reasons for the protests run much deeper. Could it be the starting point for a new civic movement?

In just one weekend, protests spread across China. A fire in an apartment block in Urumqi in China’s western Xinjiang region killed 10, with many blaming lockdown rules for the deaths. Anti-lockdown demonstrations spread to Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan, Chengdu and other cities. University students from more than half of China's provinces organized various protests against COVID restrictions.

Why and how did the movement spread so rapidly?

At the core, protesters are unhappy with President Xi Jinping's three-year-long Zero-COVID strategy that has meant mass testing, harsh lockdowns, and digital tracking. Yet, the general belief about the Chinese people was that they lacked the awareness and experience for mass political action. Even though discontent had been growing about the Zero-COVID strategy, no one expected these protests.

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In The News
Anna Akage, Bertrand Hauger and Emma Albright

War In Ukraine, Day 279: New Kherson Horrors More Than Two Weeks After Russian Withdrawal

While retreating from Kherson, Russian troops forcibly removed more than 2,500 Ukrainians from prison colonies and pre-trial detention centers in the southern region. Those removed included prisoners as well as a large number of civilians who had been held in prisons during the occupation, according to the Ukrainian human rights organization Alliance of Ukrainian Unity.

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The NGO said it has evidence that these Ukrainians were first transferred to Crimea and then distributed to different prisons in Russia. During the transfer of the prisoners, Russian soldiers also reportedly stole valuables and food and mined the building of colony #61.

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Coronavirus
Shuyue Chen

Chinese Students' "Absurd" Protest Against COVID Lockdowns: Public Crawling

While street demonstrations have spread in China to protest the strict Zero-COVID regulations, some Chinese university students have taken up public acts of crawling to show what extended harsh lockdowns are doing to their mental state.

Since last Friday, the world has watched a wave of street protests have taken place across China as frustration against extended lockdowns reached a boiling point. But even before protesters took to the streets, Chinese university students had begun a public demonstration that challenges and shames the state's zero-COVID rules in a different way: public displays of crawling, as a kind of absurdist expression of their repressed anger under three years of strict pandemic control.

Xin’s heart was beating fast as her knees reached the ground. It was her first time joining the strange scene at the university sports field, so she put on her hat and face mask to cover her identity.

Kneeling down, with her forearms supporting her body from the ground, Xin started crawling with three other girls as a group, within a larger demonstration of other small groups. As they crawled on, she felt the sense of fear and embarrassment start to disappear. It was replaced by a liberating sense of joy, which had been absent in her life as a university student in lockdown for so long.

Yes, crawling in public has become a popular activity among Chinese university students recently. There have been posters and videos of "volunteer crawling" across universities in China. At first, it was for the sake of "fun." Xin, like many who participated, thought it was a "cult-like ritual" in the beginning, but she changed her mind. "You don't care about anything when crawling, not thinking about the reason why, what the consequences are. You just enjoy it."

The reality out there for Chinese university students has been grim. For Xin, her university started daily COVID-19 testing in November, and deliveries, including food, are banned. Apart from the school gate, all exits have been padlock sealed.

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Economy
Gregor Thüsing

Germany's 25-Hour Work Week Proposal Is An Insult To Work

Germany’s ruling Social Democratic Party recently called for the introduction of a 25-hour work week, arguing that it's the only way to end "self-exploitation." What a strange understanding of work, argues one German expert in labor law.

-OpEd-

BERLIN — “In order to create a working environment that gives employees a good quality of life and self-determination, we are calling for a working week of 25 hours in the medium term," is the new stance on labor taken by Germany's ruling Social Democratic Party (SPD).

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Oleksandr Demchenko

The Death Of Belarus' Foreign Minister Makei Tightens Kremlin Grip On Lukashenko

Whether or not the 64-year-old died of natural causes, the Kremlin is reinforced now in Minsk — leaving even less wiggle room for Belarus strongman Alexander Lukashenko.

-Analysis-

KYIVUkraine is closely following the events in Belarus, where the sudden death of Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei has sparked much discussion and speculation. Some are convinced that the 64-year-old was poisoned, perhaps targeted by the Kremlin to send a message to Belarus' strongman leader Alexander Lukashenko that he must increase his support for Moscow, including his readiness to enter the war against Ukraine.

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In The News
Anna Akage, Bertrand Hauger and Emma Albright

Kyiv Adds New Charge To Genocide Case Against Russia

Ukraine’s case for pursuing Russia and its leadership for war crimes now includes Moscow’s current strategy of trying to cut off energy supplies to Ukrainian civilians by destroying the country’s power grid. Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Andriy Kostin told the BBC that strikes on key energy infrastructure targeted "the full Ukrainian nation," which fall under the purview of attempted genocide.

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In contrast to other war crimes, genocide is the intention to physically destroy members of a particular population group or ethnicity. Kostin says the evidence of genocide against Russia has already included its forcibly taking Ukrainian children to Russia and giving them for adoption to Russian families; organizing so-called “filtration camps,” torturing and killing civilians — and now Moscow’s waging war against the entire population of Ukraine by trying to deprive millions of light, heat, and water in the winter.

Emergency power cuts continue throughout the country Monday, with the situation aggravated by the onset of winter: Nighttime temperatures have dropped to -8 °C, and -5 °C during the day.

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Migrant Lives
Linda Mujuru*

When Migrants Vanish: Families Quietly Endure Uncertainty

Zimbabweans cling to hope even after years of silence from loved ones who have disappeared across borders.

HARARE, ZIMBABWE — Blessing Tichagwa can barely remember her mother. Like hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans, Noma Muyambo emigrated to South Africa in search of work, leaving baby Blessing, now 15, behind with her grandmother.

The last time they saw her was nine years ago, when Blessing was 6. Muyambo returned for one week, then left again — and has not sent any messages or money since.

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