Welcome to Wednesday, where G20 leaders agree to involve Taliban in distributing help to Afghanistan, the U.S. announces it will reopen borders with Mexico and Canada, and Dutch royals can marry as they please. Thanks to Chilean daily El Mercurio, we also follow the tumultuous journey of a Haitian migrant in her efforts to reach the U.S.
🌎 7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW
• EU pledges 1 billion euros in Afghan aid: During a special virtual meeting, G20 leaders agree to work together to prevent a humanitarian disaster in Afghanistan, despite having to coordinate efforts with the Taliban. The European Union pledged 1 billion euros in aid to Afghanistan and neighboring countries.
• Chile announces a Mapuche state of emergency: Chilean President Sebastian Piñera declares a state of emergency, deploying troops to two southern provinces where clashes have broken out between Mapuche indigenous people and security forces. The Mapuche are calling for self-determination and the restoration of their ancestral land.
• U.S. to reopen borders with Mexico and Canada: The United States announced it will lift travel restrictions at its borders with Mexico and Canada for fully vaccinated travelers, allowing travel for non-essential purposes via land and ferry crossings.
• Gabby Petito's cause of death: After autopsy, Wyoming authorities have ruled that blogger Gabby Petito was killed by "manual strangulation" three to four weeks before her body was found, on Sept. 19, near Grand Teton National Park. The search continues for Petito's boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, a "person of interest" in the case.
• Chip crunch drives Apple stocks down: Apple share dropped 1.2% after Bloomberg reported that iPhone 13 production was likely to be slowed down by the ongoing global microchip shortages.
• "Havana syndrome" reported at U.S. embassy in Colombia: U.S embassy staff in Bogota have come down with symptoms that include nausea and dizziness, and could cause brain damage. The causes of this so-called Havana syndrome are unknown, with some speculating it is a type of weapon. Colombian President Ivan Duque declared he is leaving the investigation to U.S authorities.
• Squid Game beats Bridgerton to Netflix top spot: South Korean dystopian series Squid Game becomes Netflix's most popular series launch ever, with 111 million viewers in its first month — beating period drama series Bridgerton.
🗞️ FRONT PAGE
U.S. daily Miami Herald dedicates its front page to the coronavirus vaccine boosters, as a panel of the Food and Drug Administration meets this week to debate extra doses of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, one month after authorizing booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech jab. More than 7 million Americans have already received a booster dose.
#️⃣ BY THE NUMBERS
A new survey by the U.S. Labor Department shows that in August, 4.3 million American workers quit their job. Data suggests that the highest resignation rate on record (2.9% of all the U.S. workforce) can be linked to fears of contracting the Delta variant of COVID-19.
📰 STORY OF THE DAY
A migrant odyssey: Haiti to Chile to Mexico's border, and beyond
Shella Jean was part of a new migration path from Haiti to the relatively prosperous nation of Chile. But she has since left behind her "Chilean Dream" on a perilous journey northward toward the U.S.-Mexico border. In Chilean daily El Mercurio, Arturo Galarce shares her story.
🇭🇹🇨🇱 I met Shella Jean in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in July 2017. That year, Shella Jean was one of the 105,000 Haitians who entered Chile, according to data from the Chilean Investigative Police (PDI). That was the year in which more immigrants from the Caribbean nation came to the relatively prosperous South American country, prompted in part by the tightening of immigration policies in the United States after Donald Trump entered the White House, which put a brake on the main migratory destination.
🇺🇸 A few weeks ago we spoke again. I asked her if she knew of any Haitians planning of migrating from Chile to the United States, alerted by the increasing flow of Haitians detected in unauthorized passages in the north, in transit to Peru and Bolivia, but with a common destination: that of the better known "American Dream." In Chile, the Undersecretariat of the Interior already reports an 81% increase in Haitians who have left the country through authorized borders. Shella saw the message and answered almost immediately "me, my friend. I'm not in Chile. I go to Mexico now. I'm going to the United States".
🧳 Shella's husband Herby Charles takes her phone. He says that the idea of emigrating to the United States from Chile began when several of his Haitian friends successfully made the trip. "Many Haitians were never well in Chile. Many did not find a good job and lived under poor conditions," he said. "My problem was not being able to have a residency document. I was undocumented for four years, imagine. Without documents, you cannot project a family, even if you work as I did. In the United States it is not easy either, I know, but at least you earn more".
➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com
The cabinet does not see that an heir to the throne or the king should abdicate if he or she would like to marry a partner of the same sex.
— Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte wrote in his answer to questions from parliamentarians as the future of Princess Amalia, the heir to the throne who will turn 18 in December, is under scrutiny. The Netherlands was the world's first country to legalize same-sex marriage in 2001.
✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger
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'Xi Jinping Thought' ideas on socialism have been spreading across the country since 2017. But now, Beijing is going one step further by making them part of the curriculum, from the elementary level all the way up to university.
BEIJING — It's important to strengthen the "determination to listen to and follow the party." Also, teaching materials should "cultivate patriotic feelings." So say the new guidelines issued by the Chinese Ministry of Education.
The goal is to help Chinese students develop more "Marxist beliefs," and for that, the government wants its national curriculum to include "Xi Jinping Thought," the ideas, namely, of China's current leader.
Xi Jinping has been the head of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for almost 10 years. In 2017, at a party convention, he presented a doctrine in the most riveting of party prose: "Xi Jinping's ideas of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new age."
Behind this word jam is a plan to consolidate the power of the nation, the party and Xi himself. In other words, to make China great again!
Communist curriculum replaces global subjects
This doctrine has sent shockwaves through China since 2017. It's been echoed in newspapers, on TV, and screamed from posters and banners hung in many cities. But now, the People's Republic is going one step further: It's bringing "Xi Jinping Thought" into the schools.
Starting in September, the country's 300 million students have had to study the doctrine, from elementary school into university. And in some cities, even that doesn't seem to be enough. Shanghai announced that its students from third to fifth grade would only take final exams in mathematics and Chinese, de facto deleting English as an examination subject. Beijing, in the meantime, announced that it would ban the use of unauthorized foreign textbooks in elementary and middle schools.
But how does a country that enchants its youth with socialist ideology and personality cults rise to become a world power? Isn't giving up English as a global language the quickest way into isolation?
The educational reform comes at a time when Beijing is brutally disciplining many areas of public life, from tech giants to the entertainment industry. It has made it difficult for Chinese technology companies to go public abroad, and some media have reported that a blanket ban on IPOs in the United States is on the cards in the next few years.
Targeting pop culture
The regime is also taking massive action against the entertainment industry. Popstar Kris Wu was arrested on charges of rape. Movies and TV series starring actor Zhao Wei have started to disappear from Chinese streaming platforms. The reason is unclear.
What the developments do show is that China is attempting to decouple from the West with increasing insistence. Beijing wants to protect its youth from Western excesses, from celebrity worship, super wealth and moral decline.
A nationalist blogger recently called for a "profound change in the economy, finance, culture and politics," a "revolution" and a "return from the capitalists to the masses." Party media shared the text on their websites. It appears the analysis caused more than a few nods in the party headquarters.
Dictatorships are always afraid of pluralism.
Caspar Welbergen, managing director of the Education Network China, an initiative that aims to intensify school exchanges between Germany and China, says that against this background, the curriculum reform is not surprising.
"The emphasis on 'Xi Jinping Thought' is being used in all areas of society," he says. "It is almost logical that China is now also using it in the education system."
Needless to say, the doctrine doesn't make student exchanges with China any easier.
Dictatorships are always afraid of color, pluralism and independent thinking citizens. And yet, Kristin Kupfer, a Sinology professor at the University of Trier, suggests that ideologically charged school lessons should not be interpreted necessarily as a sign of weakness of the CCP.
From the point of view of a totalitarian regime, she explains, this can also be interpreted as a signal of strength. "It remains to be seen whether the Chinese leadership can implement this so thoroughly," Kupfer adds. "Initial reactions from teachers and parents on social media show that such a widespread attempt to control opinion has raised fears and discontent in the population."
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