Welcome to Thursday, where Xi and Putin are meeting, Sweden’s prime minister resigns and Armenia and Azerbaijan reach a ceasefire. The Patagonia mogul has given it all away to the planet, while Gabriel Grésillon in French daily Les Echos discovers a fascinating link between climate change and the demise of the mighty Ming dynasty.
[*Konnichiwa - Japanese]
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• Putin and Xi meet: Russia’s Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping are due to meet today, while attending the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. The two leaders are expected to discuss Ukraine and Taiwan, as Putin’s invasion has face major setbacks in the past week.
• Armenia-Azerbaijan ceasefire: A senior Armenian official announced that a ceasefire deal had been reached between the two countries following two days of deadly fighting that killed 155 soldiers. Azerbaijan has not confirmed the deal, but shelling stopped hours before the announcement.
• Florida Governor sends Immigrants to fancy Martha’s Vineyard: Florida’s Republican governor Ron DeSantis has taken credit for sending two planes of immigrants to the exclusive island of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, a favorite destination of the upper class from the political left. He said that was part of “the state’s relocation program,” a campaign by border states like Texas and Arizona to send immigrants to sanctuary cities in Democratic areas.
• Swedish Prime Minister resigns: Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson is resigning, following her center-left coalition’s narrow defeat in Sunday's elections. A new government will be formed by Moderate Party leader Ulf Kristersson, who is at the head of a center-right bloc that includes far-right, anti-immigration party Sweden Democrats.
• Thousands attend Queen’s lying-in-state: Thousands of mourners have been queuing for hours through the night to pay their respects to the late Queen Elizabeth II lying in state at Westminster Hall in London.
• R. Kelly found guilty of sexual abuse: R&B singer R. Kelly was found guilty by a Chicago jury in six out of 13 counts of sexual abuse, including three counts of child pornography and three counts of enticing minors for sex. In Chicago, child pornography is punished by a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison. In June, Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in prison on his conviction in a New York federal court on racketeering and prostitution charges.
• Patagonia’s owner gives company away: Yvon Chouinard, the billionaire founder and owner of sportswear brand Patagonia, has announced that he is giving away the company to a trust and nonprofit that will use all profits in the fight to save the planet. The company’s website now reads: “Earth is now our only shareholder.”
Luanda-based, Portuguese-language daily Jornal de Angola dedicates its front page to the reelection of President João Lourenço. The leader of the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola, who has served as president of the southern African nation since 2017, promised "dialogue and consultation" for his second mandate, as his party does not hold the majority in Parliament anymore.
The plane carrying Queen Elizabeth II's coffin became the most-tracked flight ever, with more than five million people following the 1H12 journey from Edinburgh to London. The latest record was held by Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan, where about 2.9 million people tracked her position. Flightradar24, which recorded the data, faced a technical challenge to keep the website running smoothly: "In total we processed 76.2 million requests related to the flight alone," the website reads.
Did climate change cause the fall of the Ming dynasty?
In the mid-17th century, the weather in China got colder. The frequency of droughts and floods increased while some regions were wiped out by tragic famines. And the once-unstoppable Ming dynasty began to lose power, writes Gabriel Grésillon in French daily Les Echos.
🇨🇳 In the Jiangnan region, close to Shanghai and generally considered as a land of plenty, the 1640s did not bode well. The decade that had just ended was characterized by an abnormally cold and dry climate and poor harvests. The price of agricultural goods kept rising, pushing social tension to bursting points. The beginning of the decade then turned into a tragedy. Droughts followed one another in 1641 and 1642, and “for the first time, there is mention of the bodies of people starved to death lying on the sides of the roads” while “the price of rice went through the roof.”
❌ In addition to droughts, floods ravaged the country, particularly the Yellow River’s basin. Pandemics wiped out a part of the population and unprecedented locust invasions destroyed some harvests. In a China where the emperor was believed to hold his power from a “celestial mandate,” the disruption of the world and the unleashing of natural disasters do not only have real-world consequences. They are also heavy with symbolic significance. It seems these elements were an important factor in the fall of the Ming dynasty, which came to power in 1368 and ended in 1644 when its last ruler committed suicide following a military defeat.
❄️ All studies agree on one certainty: the final century of the Ming dynasty was characterized by an abnormally cold climate and by a high frequency of extreme weather events. Is this the manifestation of the “little ice age” described in Europe? In northern China, the average temperature dropped by 1.18 °C (33.8 °F) between the 1610s and 1650s, according to Chinese scholars. Droughts became more intense. Chongzhen, the last Ming emperor, paid the political price for these disasters.
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Now is the time to run harder and make sure we cross the line.
— In the most optimistic speech since January 2020, World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the end of the COVID-19 pandemic was "in sight" in a press conference on Wednesday. While the pandemic remains a global emergency, he saluted the efforts and measures implemented across the world and urged nations to stay vigilant. So far in 2022, 1 million people have died from the virus.
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