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In The News

Moscow Shoots Down Drones, Amazon Protection Alliance, Fossil Mystery Solved

Moscow Shoots Down Drones, Amazon Protection Alliance, Fossil Mystery Solved

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva opened the summit of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO) in Belem, Brazil.

Anne-Sophie Goninet and Laure Gautherin

👋 Mogethin!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where Russia shoots down two combat drones near Moscow, Amazon nations launch an alliance to protect the fragile ecosystem but fail to agree on a common goal to end deforestation and paleontologists end a 30-year-old mystery surrounding the Australian fossil of a 1.5 meter-long creature. For our special Summer Reads edition of Worldcrunch Today, we feature an article by Katja Ridderbusch in German newspaper Die Welt — and three other stories from around the world on mental health and well-being.

[*Yapese - Micronesia]


• Ukraine update: Russian air defense has shot down two “combat drones” in the southern and western suburbs of Moscow while approaching the capital, said the city’s mayor Sergei Sobyanin on Telegram early Wednesday. In Ukraine, an 18-year-old man was killed and three other men were wounded after Russian shelling hit the southern district of Nikopol. Meanwhile, a major European country who has remained anonymous has bought 49 Leopard 1 tanks formerly belonging to Belgium to be sent to the Ukrainian army, announced Freddy Versluys. The CEO of the private defense company OIP Land Systems, in charge of the deal, added the tanks will be on the battlefield in Ukraine within the next six months.

• Amazon nations launch alliance to protect rainforest: The eight South American countries sharing the Amazon basin have agreed on the formation of an alliance to protect the Amazon, during the two-day summit of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO) in Belem, Brazil. The delegates signed a shared roadmap to prevent the world’s biggest rainforest from reaching “a point of no return.” However, leaders have fallen short of a common goal to end deforestation, failing to adopt Brazil’s pledge to end illegal deforestation by 2030 or Colombia’s pledge to halt new oil exploration. Countries will instead pursue their individual deforestation goals.

Abortion rights preliminary victory in Ohio state: Ohio voters rejected the Republican-backed motion that would raise the threshold to amend the state’s constitution from a simple majority — 50% plus one vote — to 60% plus one vote. Called Issue 1, the measure targeted the upcoming November referendum on whether to constitutionally guarantee abortion rights in the state. If approved by voters, the amendment would overturn Ohio’s 2019 law banning abortion after six weeks of pregnancy without exceptions for rape or incest. U.S. President Joe Biden called it a victory for democracy and for women.

• China’s economy slips into deflation: The consumer price index in China has fallen by 0.3% in July from a year ago, according to China’s National Bureau of Statistics. It is the first drop recorded since February 2021. The producer price index also fell (-4.4%) for the 10th straight month. The country’s post-pandemic recovery has been slowing down and the latest figures are sparking concerns about a possible price stagnation which would have an impact on the economy worldwide, especially as a rapid inflation is hitting most countries.

• Nine bodies found after fire at France holiday home: Nine bodies have been found and two more people are feared dead after a fire broke out at a holiday home hosting people with learning disabilities early Wednesday in eastern France. Authorities deployed 76 firefighters who brought the blaze under control and evacuated 17 people from the structure. Rescue operations are still underway. The cause of the disaster is not clear yet.

• Thailand King’s estranged son returns after 27 years: Vacharaesorn Vivacharawongse, the estranged second son of Thailand’s king Maha Vajiralongkorn, has made an unexpected visit to the country — his first in 27 years. Vivacharawongse, who has been living and working in the United States as a lawyer, was seen visiting a daycare center for underprivileged children in Bangkok. His surprise appearance is raising questions about the succession plan though the King’s son doesn’t hold a formal royal title.

• Australian fossil identified as ancient lizard-like species: Paleontologists have identified a new species of amphibian that occupied Australia’s freshwater streams some 240 million years ago, pre-dating even the dinosaurs. This ends the mystery surrounding the fossil of the 1.5 meter-long creature which had been discovered in the 1990s in a sandstone slab by a retired chicken farmer in New South Wales.


Talking Risks: New Research Finds Psychotherapy Can Have Dangerous Side Effects

It has long been assumed that psychotherapy can do no harm at worst. But new research makes clear that for some people, it can have very serious, even life-threatening, consequences, reports Katja Ridderbusch in German daily newspaper Die Welt.

Until now, we have assumed that, at worst, psychotherapy has no impact whatsoever. However, new research shows that treatment can have serious risks. A few patients experience side effects — and sometimes even an increase in mental health problems.

Across Europe and the United States, experts and politicians alike are concerned that people’s mental health is suffering. Massimiliano Mascherini from Eurofound, the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, has even said we are experiencing a “parallel pandemic in mental health”. U.S. President Joe Biden recently announced that mental health was one of his top priorities and his government would provide $300 million of funding for mental health and community projects.

Why? Well, one in five people in the U.S. has mental health problems. According to data from the Robert Koch Institute, even before the pandemic hit, one in 10 women and 8.1% of men in Germany were seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist.

The coronavirus crisis has made matters worse. According to data from the World Health Organization, since the start of the pandemic, the number of people diagnosed with anxiety and depression has risen by 25%. As a result, more people are seeking professional help.

“Even after three years of the pandemic, the demand for psychotherapy remains high,” says Gebhard Hentschel, president of the German Psychotherapists Association. In summer 2022, the number of patients seeking therapy was still around 40% higher than before COVID, which means waiting lists at practices and clinics are also long.

So far the biggest issue has been the lack of provision. But research is starting to highlight another problem that until now has gone under the radar: psychotherapy, just like other medical interventions, comes with its own risks. “Around 10% of psychotherapy patients experience serious and long-lasting side effects,” says Michael Linden, a neurologist, psychiatrist and psychotherapist at the Charité Hospital in Berlin.

Some patients even develop new, more serious anxieties, become dependent on their psychotherapists or experience a breakdown in relationships with family and friends. They end up in a worse situation than before, and in rare cases, therapy even ends in suicide.

“It is not an insignificant number in comparison to medical interventions,” says Linden.

The idea that psychotherapy may have side effects has long been a topic of discussion among experts, “but the debate has only been had in a systematic and substantial way over the last five years or so,” explains Linden.

Along with his colleague Bernhard Strauß, at the University of Jena in Germany, and a small group of fellow psychologists and psychotherapists, Linden is one of the pioneers in this area of research in Germany. He says that not every therapist is aware of the phenomenon, let alone the wider public and lawmakers. “And there is still a lot to be done in terms of research.” However, there have been a range of studies – in Europe, the U.S. and Australia.

The debate about the efficacy — and side effects — of psychotherapy is almost as old as the discipline itself, says Gary Burlingame from Brigham Young University in Utah, U.S. “There has always been a debate about whether psychotherapy has any measurable impact, beyond the placebo effect.”

In the early 1990s, Burlingame and his colleague Michael Lambert developed a questionnaire for patients, which was used to empirically measure the efficacy of therapy – “the vital signs of mental health”, as he calls it. The Outcome Questionnaire is now a standard tool used by psychotherapists in the U.S.

The efficacy of psychotherapy is now beyond doubt, says Moria Smoski, a clinical psychologist at Duke University in North Carolina. “But recognizing this means that experts now expect psychotherapy to be evaluated according to a medical model” – in clinical studies that analyze working methods, risks, side effects and interactions. [...]

Read the full Die Welt article by Katja Ridderbusch, translated into English by Worldcrunch.


Image of a graduation ceremony.

A graduation ceremony.

Joshua Hoehne via Unsplash

On top of the traditional troubles some young people face on their own for the first time are the added factors of social media pressure and the effects of the pandemic. The crisis appears to have hit hard in Italy, with other countries, from India to France to the UK, reporting a similar situation, as Worldcrunch journalist Ginevra Falciani reports.

Read the full story: Reports Of A Quiet Rise In University Student Suicides In Multiple Countries


Image of a grandmother playing with her two grandchildren.

A grandmother playing with her two grandchildren.

Nikoline Arns

Grandparents are increasingly forced into caregiving duties that leave them exhausted. This is especially true for women. But obligations, economic issues, internal and external pressures and other factors can all create a work overload that degrades quality of life and can even harm one's health, as journalist Guadalupe Rivero writes in Argentine newspaper Clarín.

Read the full story: Rise Of "Slave Grandparent" Syndrome — When Child Care Is Unloaded On Grandma


Giulia d’Anna Lupo.

Dottoré! is a weekly column by Mariateresa Fichele, a psychiatrist and writer based in Naples, Italy. Fichele works in a public health facility in the bustling southern city of three million famously teeming with humor and heartache, and shares her notes covering themes from quitting cigarettes to the death of Silvio Berlusconi.

Read the Dottoré! stories: Dottoré! Notes from a Naples psychiatrist

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet and Laure Gautherin

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The ‘Laws Of War’ Applied To Israel And Hamas

The ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas has raised numerous issues under international law, including Israel's unlawful siege of Gaza and Hamas being a non-state actor.

Photograph of the rubble of buildings destroyed by  Israeli airstrikes in the southern Gaza Strip city​. People lean in to look at the destruction.

Oct. 14, 2023: People inspect buildings destroyed in Israeli airstrikes in the southern Gaza Strip city

Robert Goldman

The killing of Israeli civilians by Hamas and retaliatory airstrikes on the densely populated Gaza Strip by Israel raises numerous issues under international law.

Indeed, President Joe Biden made express reference to the “laws of war” in comments he made at the White house on Oct. 10, 2023, noting that while democracies like the U.S. and Israel uphold such standards, “terrorists” such as Hamas “purposefully target civilians.” Speaking the same day, the European Union’s top diplomat Josep Borrell condemned Hamas’ attack but also suggested that Israel was not acting in accordance with international law by cutting water, electricity and food to civilians in Gaza.

For the latest news & views from every corner of the world, Worldcrunch Today is the only truly international newsletter. Sign up here.

But international law and the very nature of the conflict itself – along with the status of the two sides involved – is a complex area.

The Conversation turned to Robert Goldman, an expert on the laws of war at American University Washington College of Law, for guidance on some of the issues.

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