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In The News

Assange’s Extradition, Nicaragua & China, Sweden v. IKEA

Assange’s Extradition, Nicaragua & China, Sweden v. IKEA

Protesters in Taiwan are calling for a boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in China

Anne-Sophie Goninet and Jane Herbelin

👋 Сәлем!*

Welcome to Friday, where the U.S. wins bid to extradite whistleblower Julian Assange, Nicaragua breaks off ties with Taiwan to align with China and Sweden takes issue with IKEA branding. In the wake of New Zealand’s plans to ban all future cigarette sales, we take a look at toughening smoking laws around the world.

[*Salem - Kazakh]


This is our daily newsletter Worldcrunch Today, a rapid tour of the news of the day from the world's best journalism sources, regardless of language or geography.

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• Court rules Julian Assange can be extradited to U.S.: The United States has won an appeal in London’s High Court to overturn an earlier ruling that the Wikileaks could not be extradited due to mental health concerns. Assange is wanted in the U.S. over the publication of thousands of classified documents in 2010.

• Russia and Ukraine fail to ease tensions: The two countries traded accusations after a push to agree on a new ceasefire in eastern Ukraine broke down, with Ukraine accusing Russia of rejecting proposals to reopen a checkpoint and swap prisoners. Tensions have been growing as Moscow amasses troops on the border.

• Nicaragua cut ties with Taiwan in favor of China: The Central American country has broken off diplomatic relations with Taiwan and switched allegiance to China, leaving the self-ruled island with just 14 governments around the world that officially recognize it as a country. China, which considers Taiwan as one of its provinces, praised the decision.

• At least 54 dead in Mexico truck crash: A truck believed to be carrying more than 150 migrants from Central America overturned in southern Mexico, leaving 54 dead and 105 injured. It is one of the worst accidents involving migrants trying to reach the U.S.

• Pakistani Taliban put end to ceasefire: The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan armed group, a separate movement from the Afghan Taliban, has unilaterally declared an end to a month-long ceasefire with the Pakistani government, accusing authorities of breaching terms including a prisoner release agreement.

• Jussie Smollet guilty of reporting fake hate crime: A jury found American actor Jussie Smollet on five counts of disorderly conduct for making a false report to police that he was the victim of a hate crime in January 2019, in an attack which prosecutors said was staged.

• Sweden v. IKEA: Did you know that “Bolmen” is not just the name of an IKEA toilet brush but also a forest-lined lake in southern Sweden? The country’s tourist board is reclaiming such place names in a new marketing campaign, saying it was time to “show the originals behind the product names.”


Internazionale’s front page features “The overwhelming power of Pfizer,” as the Italian weekly magazine focuses on the U.S. firm’s dominating position on the COVID vaccine market, and the impact it has on decisions taken by governments around the world.



A French woman who caused a huge crash at the first stage of this year's Tour de France in late June, by waving a sign too close to the riders, has been fined 1,200 euros ($1,357). German rider Tony Martin collided with the cardboard and fell off his bicycle, causing dozens more riders to crash. The supporter, 31, was also ordered to pay a symbolic one-euro fine to France's professional cyclist association.


The world's toughest anti-smoking laws

New Zealand is proposing to effectively ban all cigarette sales in the future, the culmination of decades of increasingly tough laws aimed at tobacco use around the world, from Kyoto to California to Costa Rica.

🚬📉 Reducing a smoking rate under 5% in NZ: The motivation behind New Zealand’s ban is to decrease deaths caused by smoking, particularly within the Indigenous Maori population that is disproportionately impacted. The Pacific Ocean island country is already one of 17 nations that require plain packaging on cigarette cartons and restricts purchasing to those over 18. The new legislation will make it illegal to sell cigarettes to anyone aged 14 and under from 2027, which will remain in place for the rest of their respective lives.

🛑 Bhutan ban creates black market: Bhutan made waves in 2010 by ending the distribution, manufacturing and selling of tobacco. The small Himalayan kingdom has a long history of tobacco regulation, with its first control law passed in 1729. In the face of prohibitions, a black market has thrived, with cigarettes smuggled from neighboring India. Consequently, while other countries strengthened their smoking restrictions during the pandemic, Bhutan actually loosened its 2010 ruling; Bhutan had few COVID-19 cases compared to India, and despite having closed its borders, infections were coming in from abroad.

🏙️ Japan, smoke-free city wards from Tokyo to Kyoto: Like many Asian countries, Japan had a smoking culture that has been a hard habit to break. But cities have taken measures over the past two decades to make it harder to light up. Selected wards in Tokyo have prohibited smoking on the streets. Yet perhaps the toughest big city in the world on public smoking is Kyoto, which has banned cigarettes on 7.1 kilometers of its streets, and has police officers patrolling parks and other public spaces, handing out 1,000 yen ($8) fines.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


It certainly looks like genocide.

— Russian President Vladimir Putin kept up a barrage of hostile rhetoric over the conflict in Ukraine between Kiev’s army and pro-Russian separatists, saying the war in the country’s east “looks like genocide.” Putin's comments came as U.S. President Joe Biden was scheduled to discuss recent talks with Putin in a call to his Ukrainian counterpart. There are fears that Russia is planning to invade Ukraine, which Moscow denies.

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet and Jane Herbelin

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

How Russia's Wartime Manipulation Of Energy Prices Could Doom Its Economy

A complex compensation mechanism for fuel companies, currency devaluation, increased demand due to the war, logistics disruptions, and stuttering production growth have combined to trigger price rises and deepening shortages in the Russian energy market.

Photograph of Novatek's gravity-based structure platform for production of liquefied natural gas, floating on a body of water.

Russia, Murmansk Region - July 21, 2023: A view of Novatek's gravity-based structure platform for production of liquefied natural gas.

Ekaterina Mereminskaya

In Russia, reports of gasoline and diesel shortages have been making headlines in the country for several months, raising concerns about energy supply. The situation escalated in September when a major diesel shortage hit annexed Crimea. Even before that, farmers in the southern regions of Russia had raised concerns regarding fuel shortages for their combines.

“We’ll have to stop the harvest! It will be a total catastrophe!” agriculture minister Dmitry Patrushev had warned at the time. “We should temporarily halt the export of petroleum products now until we have stabilized the situation on the domestic market.”

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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As the crisis deepens, experts are highlighting the unintended consequences of government intervention in fuel pricing and distribution.

The Russian government has long sought to control the prices of essential commodities, including gasoline and diesel. These commodities are considered "signalling products", according to Sergei Vakulenko, an oil and gas expert and fellow at the Carnegie Endowment. Entrepreneurs often interpret rising gasoline prices as a signal to adjust their pricing strategies, reasoning that if even gasoline, a staple, is becoming more expensive, they too should raise their prices.

The specter of the 2018 fuel crisis, where gasoline prices in Russia surged at twice the rate of other commodities, haunts the authorities. As a result, they implemented a mechanism to control these prices and ensure a steady supply. Known as the "fuel damper," this mechanism seeks to balance the profitability of selling fuel in both domestic and foreign markets.

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