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In The News

Pro-Kremlin Blogger Killed, Trump Hearing Nears, Paris v. E-scooters

Pro-Kremlin Blogger Killed, Trump Hearing Nears, Paris v. E-scooters

Flowers are gathered in memory of war correspondent Maxim Yuryevich Fomin, a.k.a. Vladlen Tatarsky, killed in an explosion at a cafe in Saint Petersburg.

Emma Albright, Inès Mermat, Ginevra Falciani and Anne-Sophie Goninet

👋 Molo!*

Welcome to Monday, where Ukraine says its army is still defending Bakhmut despite Russia’s claim to have captured the city, former U.S. President Donald Trump is bracing for his scheduled court hearing tomorrow and Parisians say no to self-service scooters. Meanwhile, Portuguese news website Mensagem looks at the benefits of the forests planted two years ago across urban spaces in Lisbon.

[*Xhosa - South Africa]


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.

It's easy (and free!) to sign up to receive it each day in your inbox: 👉 Sign up here


• Russian flag in Bakhmut, pro-Kremlin blogger killed: The head of the Wagner mercenary force said his troops had raised the Russian flag in the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, but Ukraine’s military said its army was still defending the city. Meanwhile, authorities have detained the woman suspected in Sunday’s assassination of war blogger Maxim Yuryevich Fomin aka Vladlen Tatarsky in a St Petersburg cafe explosion.

• Trump to face court hearing on Tuesday: Former U.S. President Donald Trump is set to fly to New York City on Monday, ahead of his scheduled court date related to hush money paid to a porn star before the 2016 election. Meanwhile, security is tightening in Manhattan. Trump’s lawyers have said he will enter a plea of not guilty.

• Oil prices surge: Oil prices surged Monday in the biggest daily rise in almost a year, after OPEC+ and its allies including Russia jolted markets by announcing further production cuts of about 1.16 million barrels per day on Sunday. Brent crude was trading at $84.22 a barrel and is now up $4.33, or 5.4%, after touching the highest in a month at $86.44 earlier.

• Finnish Prime Minister defeated by conservatives: Finland's left-wing Prime Minister Sanna Marin was defeated in the country’s parliamentary election, coming in third behind the center-right and right-wing parties. Finnish conservative leader Petteri Orpo, whose party secured 20.8% of the vote, is expected to form a coalition with right-wing populist Finns Party.

• Montenegro’s Former Economy Minister defeats long-standing president: Montenegro’s longtime president Milo Đukanović conceded defeat on Sunday to Jakov Milatović, a 37-year-old banker who promised to speed up the country’s accession talks with the European Union. Đukanović had been in power for 32 years.

ChatGPT banned in Italy: Italy has become the first Western country to ban the advanced chatbot ChatGPT. The Italian data-protection authority said there were privacy concerns in regards to the bot, created by U.S. start-up OpenAI and backed up by Microsoft. As a response, OpenAI blocked the access to the website in the country.

• Twitter strips check mark off New York Times: Twitter has removed the blue check mark on The New York Times main account. The move comes after Twitter’s CEO Elon Musk posted derogatory remarks about the newspaper. Many of Twitter’s high-profile users are bracing for the loss of the check marks that helped verify their identity and distinguish them from fakes on the social media platform.


Amsterdam-based de Volkskrant reports from “Behind the Russian frontline,” as it lends its front page to the Ukrainian volunteers carrying out clandestine actions on Russian territory. Four of them died recently, and will be buried without honors or medals, due to the secrecy linked to their actions. “We understand that the state cannot officially recognize their mission,” says one father quoted by the Dutch daily. "But we hope history will rectify this."



Parisians were called to vote Sunday to decide the future of self-service scooters in the French capital. Of ballots cast, 89.03% were for eliminating the electric scooters in the capital, which will be banned from Sept. 1. However, participation was very low at 7.46%.


How Miyawaki “pop up” forests spread across the urban jungle of Lisbon

Two years ago, forests planted according to a method invented by Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki, began to spread across urban spaces in the Portuguese capital. It's a way to bring real enclaves of nature to urban realities in record time, reports Ana da Cunha for Portuguese news website Mensagem.

🌳 Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki created a concept which involves native species planted in high density and allows the creation of new forests born in record time — just 20 or 30 years. On the campus of the Faculty of Sciences at the University of Lisbon, locals came together to break ground and sow the seeds of what will become, in the near (but not so near) future, a true forest. Two years later, what started out as an unprecedented experience has taken root.

🇵🇹 For David Avelar and António Alexandre, both with the Horta FCUL team at the University of Lisbon, the idea began to germinate in 2020, when the internet world dragged them to the Miyawaki forests, which were already spreading across Europe, with examples of success in the Netherlands and the UK. Still, it was uncharted territory: none of this had been tested in Portugal, where climatic conditions are different.

🌱💧 Two years later, what is the result? The last survey indicated a 75% survival rate for the new forest. Some plants, like myrtles, are now growing after two years. “There are more and more plants, and the ability to become resilient is becoming better and better, which is great, because we don't always have to intervene," says Alexandre. A ton of water has also been saved. Alexandre estimates that a forest like this needs just a fifth or even a tenth of the water a lawn would need.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


“The death penalty has not brought the results it was intended to bring.”

— The lower house of Malaysia’s Parliament approved reforms Monday to repeal the mandatory death penalty for 11 offenses, including murder and drug trafficking. It will still be optional for some offenses. Malaysia’s Deputy Law Minister Ramkarpal Singh said before the vote that the death penalty had not been effective in deterring people from committing crimes. Under the amendments passed on Monday, whipping and imprisonment for 30 to 40 years

✍️ Newsletter by Emma Albright, Inès Mermat, Ginevra Falciani and Anne-Sophie Goninet

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How Brazil's Evangelical Surge Threatens Survival Of Native Afro-Brazilian Faith

Followers of the Afro-Brazilian Umbanda religion in four traditional communities in the country’s northeast are resisting pressure to convert to evangelical Christianity.

image of Abel José, an Umbanda priest

Abel José, an Umbanda priest

Agencia Publica
Géssica Amorim

Among a host of images of saints and Afro-Brazilian divinities known as orixás, Abel José, 42, an Umbanda priest, lights some candles, picks up his protective beads and adjusts the straw hat that sits atop his head. He is preparing to treat four people from neighboring villages who have come to his house in search of spiritual help and treatment for health ailments.

The meeting takes place discreetly, in a small room that has been built in the back of the garage of his house. Abel lives in the quilombo of Sítio Bredos, home to 135 families. The community, located in the municipality of Betânia of Brazil’s northeastern state of Pernambuco, is one of the municipality’s four remaining communities that have been certified as quilombos, the word used to refer to communities formed in the colonial era by enslaved Africans and/or their descendents.

In these villages there are almost no residents who still follow traditional Afro-Brazilian religions. Abel, Seu Joaquim Firmo and Dona Maura Maria da Silva are the sole remaining followers of Umbanda in the communities in which they live. A wave of evangelical missionary activity has taken hold of Betânia’s quilombos ever since the first evangelical church belonging to the Assembleia de Deus group was built in the quilombo of Bredos around 20 years ago. Since then, other evangelical, pentecostal, and neo-pentecostal churches and congregations have established themselves in the area. Today there are now nine temples spread among the four communities, home to roughly 900 families.

The temples belong to the Assembleia de Deus, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and the World Church of God's Power, the latter of which has over 6,000 temples spread across Brazil and was founded by the apostle and televangelist Valdemiro Santiago, who became infamous during the pandemic for trying to sell beans that he had blessed as a Covid-19 cure. Assembleia de Deus alone, who are the largest pentecostal denomination in the world, have built five churches in Betânia’s quilombos.

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