Welcome to Monday, where Israel denies striking Gaza’s largest hospital where some 2,300 people are trapped, UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman gets fired and former Prime Minister David Cameron is back as Foreign Minister as part of a cabinet reshuffle, and an initiative to plant billions of trees takes root in Kenya. Meanwhile, Frédéric Schaeffer in French business daily Les Echos unpacks the success story of China’s Shaxian Snacks restaurant chain, and what a certain Xi Jinping had to do with it.
[*Mingalaba - Burmese, Myanmar]
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• Israel/Gaza update: An estimated 2,300 people are trapped in Al-Shafa, Gaza’s largest hospital, as battles rage nearby between Israeli forces and Hamas. Reports from staff at the hospital state that the facility has run out of electricity, with other sources saying there is also a lack of food and fuel to run generators. The World Health Organization released a statement on Sunday declaring that the Al-Shafa hospital has ceased to function, calling the situation inside “dire and perilous.” Israeli President Isaac Herzog has denied these claims, stating that “everything is operating” in the hospital.
• UK Home Secretary Braverman fired, former Cameron returns as Foreign Minister: UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has dismissed Suella Braverman from her position as Home Secretary (Interior Minister) after she criticized British police for “double-standards” in being tough with right-wing protestors and easy on pro-Palestine rallies. She will be replaced by James Cleverly, whose position as Foreign Minister was then given to former Prime Minister David Cameron in a cabinet reshuffling.
• Race to save 40 trapped workers in India: Authorities are working to save 40 workers trapped inside of a collapsed tunnel in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand. The tunnel caved in on Sunday due to a landslide, leaving the workers buried in debris. Authorities have established contact with the workers through walkie talkies and are supplying water, oxygen and food through a landpipe.
• Five U.S. military service members killed in plane crash: Five U.S. service members have been killed in a plane crash over the eastern Mediterranean, the U.S. European Command reported on Sunday. The aircraft went down Friday during a training exercise, and that an investigation is underway, but there are no indications of hostile activity involved.
• Some 100 killed in Burkina Faso massacre: The EU has called for an investigation on reports regarding the killing of some 100 people in the village of Zaongo, Burkina Faso. The attack occurred on Nov. 6, and it is not yet clear who is responsible for the massacre, with Burkina Faso’s military junta not having responded to calls for clarity on the situation.
• Three Indian cities on 10 most polluted list, Iceland volcanic eruption threat: The Indian cities of Kolkata and Mumbai joined New Delhi, always at the top, on the list of 10 most polluted cities on earth. The worsening air conditions came as a result of heavy smoke from firecrackers used during celebrations for Diwali, the annual Hindu festival of light. Meanwhile, Iceland has declared a state of emergency as the coastal town of Grindavik is evacuated over the threat of volcanic eruption. For more, we offer this article from Indian news site The Wire, India’s Women Are Fighting Air Pollution — And The Patriarchy.
• Kenyans get a holiday for planting trees: Kenyans have been given a special holiday where each citizen can participate in the initiative to plant 100 million trees, a boost to the government’s goal of planting 15 billion trees in 10 years. Each citizen is encouraged to plant at least two seedlings, which are provided for free by the government at forest agency centers.
French daily Libération devotes its front page to the Paris march against rising anti-Semitism, which gathered more than 100,000 people, including Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, former Presidents François Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy, and for the first time, the far-right leader Marine Le Pen. The march was prompted by a three-fold increase in the number of anti-Semitic incidents since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, and Israel’s ongoing assault on Gaza.
Marvel’s most recent film, The Marvels ended up at No. 1 on the box office in its opening weekend and grossed just $47 million in domestic U.S. sales on Sunday. The film is also the studio’s lowest-performing, bringing in even less than 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, which opened at just over $55 million. The Marvels is only the third Marvel movie to make less than $60 million during its opening weekend, so Marvel still has hope. Media analysts predict that the record low is possibly due to a change in movie trends, notably “superhero fatigue.”
How Shaxian Snacks went from local grub to global chain — with a hand from Xi Jinping
In just three decades, the village of Yubang has become the cradle of one of the most popular food brands in China, under the watch of the local Communist Party and a certain governor named Xi Jinping. It now dreams of conquering the globe, reports Frédéric Schaeffer in French business daily Les Echos.
🍜 Shaxian snacks are a smorgasbord of small, simple, and cheap dishes: wontons (dumplings), noodle soups, tofu balls, marinated fish or salted duck. While they are common across China, this region — populated by Hakkas, distant descendants of refugees from the country’s central and northern provinces — is known for its unique treatment of these dishes. More than 240 specialties — usually light, with little or no spice — are listed in a large museum dedicated to Shaxian snacks in the city of Sanming near Yubang.
🇨🇳 Originating from the street stalls of Yubang, Shaxian's snacks have taken over China in recent decades. Some 88,000 establishments are now listed, generating a cumulative annual turnover of more than 55 billion yuan (about 7.5 billion dollars) according to official figures. The greedy Pac-Mac is now more visible than all the country’s McDonald's, KFCs, Pizza Huts, and Burger Kings combined.
⏩ The Communist Party and the local government decided to leverage Shaxian Snacks to improve the living conditions of the inhabitants of this poor and isolated region. In May 1997, local officials came together and decided on an action plan to transform the local cuisine into a real industry. They created a special office responsible for development, strategy, and promotion. A commercial guild was founded to provide training, assistance, and technical advice to restaurant owners. Particularly instrumental was the then governor of the Fujian province. His name? Xi Jinping.
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