Welcome to Thursday, where drug overdose deaths top 100,000 in the U.S. for the first time, doubts and worries grow about Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai, and Apple finally lets users fiddle with their iPhones. Meanwhile, we also focus on 6 female athletes that have joined male teams.
[*Igbo - Nigeria]
• Skepticism around Chinese tennis player's "everything is fine" message: The head of the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) has cast doubt on the legitimacy of an email released by Chinese state media that contained a statement attributed to tennis player Peng Shuai. The tennis star has not been heard from since she made sexual assault allegations against a top Chinese Communist party leader two weeks ago. The missive attributed to Peng has her now saying the allegations aren't true, and "everything is fine."
• Ex-Interpol chief's wife slams China: In an exclusive interview with the Associated Press, Grace Meng chose to shed her anonymity for the first time, potentially putting herself and her family at additional risk, to speak out against China's government that her husband, former Interpol president, Meng Hongwei, served before vanishing into China's sprawling penal system in 2018.
• U.S. annual drug overdose deaths toll hit record levels: For the first time ever, more than 100,000 Americans died over a 12-month period from drug overdoses, according to federal data released on Wednesday. The deaths are a 28.5% rise from the previous year. The COVID-19 pandemic is at least partly responsible, having disrupted medical care and increased mental health problems.
• Two men convicted of killing Malcolm X to be exonerated: Fifty-six years later, two men convicted of gunning down the U.S. Civil Rights leader Malcom X in 1965 are to be cleared of the crime. Muhammad Aziz and Khalil Islam — along with a third man, Thomas Hagan — were sentenced to life in prison. "They did not get the justice they deserved", Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus Vance, told the New York Times after completing a lengthy reinvestigation of the case together with the Innocence Project and civil rights lawyers. Vance tweeted that more information would be released soon.
• State of emergency declared in British Columbia, Canada: A state of emergency has been declared in the Canadian western province of British Columbia after a major storm cut road and rail links, as well as floods and mudslides in the region. Authorities confirmed one death and said at least four people are missing, and expect to report more fatalities in the coming days. Some 18,000 people are displaced in the Pacific Coast province, Canadian Public Safety Minister, Marco Mendicino said.
• Greece charges aid workers with espionage: Two dozen humanitarian workers face espionage charges and possible jail sentences related to their work with refugees on the island of Lesbos, Greece. Human rights groups have criticized Greek authorities over the case, which comes as the country's conservative government toughens its stance on migration, aligning itself with a rising anti-immigration climate in Europe.
• Fix your iPhone: Apple will soon finally allow users to buy spare parts and tools to handle common iPhone issues (battery, screen or camera), a significant about-face in the U.S. tech giant's closed repair policies that have been criticized as "planned obsolescence."
French daily Libération reports on the fifth wave of coronavirus cases that is hitting Europe, and particularly eastern countries. France and southern countries such as Spain and Italy, which have higher vaccination rates, "are resisting well so far but monitoring this surge with anxiety," the daily writes.
Today, students in South Korea are sitting the college entrance exam, the Suneung, a gruelling eight-hour marathon considered one of the world's hardest tests. The Suneung (also known as the College Scholastic Ability Test, or CSAT) has faced rising scrutiny in recent years over the stress it puts on students and its focus on rote memorization over deeper learning. Keeping a quiet environment during the exam (which grades students on a scale from 1-9 in five subject areas) is so important that American and South Korean military planes on the Korean Peninsula are grounded while it takes place.
Meet the trailblazing female athletes competing with men
Earlier this year, American soccer hero Meghan Rapinoe appeared in Congress to testify about the U.S. Soccer Federation's unequal pay between women's and men's teams. But some women are taking a different path to assert equality, challenging the very idea of gender division in sports. The past two decades have seen a rise in female athletes joining male teams, both at the scholastic and professional levels.
🤾 Mireia Rodríguez recently became the first woman in the history of handball to play in a senior men's match in Spain's central region of Castilla La Mancha, La Vanguardia reports. The 31-year-old professional athlete took part in her first game with the Club Balonmano Albacete on November 7, scoring a goal when she entered the court at the 21st minute. Her team eventually won 31 to 26. Rodríguez said she hoped her experience would "open doors" for other female athletes to take part in male competitions.
🏒 Only one woman in France skates a professional hockey team. Charlotte Cagigos, 20, became the backup goalkeeper of the Drakkars, a team from northern France playing in Division 1, the second highest level of the ice hockey league, in August 2020. "When I was little, I would have loved to see a girl playing on a top team and have her as a role model. I don't necessarily want to become a symbol but I'd just like to show that it's possible for little girls to play hockey," she told France 24 television network.
🏅 Brazilian Fabiola da Silva, also known as "Fabby", was crowned world champion in inline skate at just 18, and is today the most decorated female athlete in X-Games history. She won the competition seven times, received a silver medal in 2004 and became the first woman ever to land the double backflip on a vert ramp in 2005. Yet, only a few people outside of the extreme sports world would even know her name. She also happens to be the only woman to compete against men in any X-Games sports, aggressive in-line vert, according to Brazilian Globo.
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Mr. Baldwin chose to play Russian roulette.
— The attorney for Mamie Mitchell, the script supervisor for the movie Rust told a news conference to announce a second lawsuit against the film's star Alec Baldwin. The lawsuits follow the killing last month of Halyna Hutchins during rehearsals for the low-budget Western movie in New Mexico. A crew member has said that the script never called for a gun to be fired during the scene that Baldwin was rehearsing when he accidentally shot the cinematographer to death. Mitchell says the actor should have checked the weapon himself rather than relying on the assistant director's assertion that the revolver was safe to use.
✍️ Newsletter by Jane Herbelin, Anne-Sophie Goninet and Hannah Steinkopf-Frank
Let us know how hard your country's national exams are, and what's happening today in your corner of the world: firstname.lastname@example.org
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