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In The News

Le Weekend: Banksy Restoration Row, Three-Second Influencer, AI Edith Piaf

Le Weekend: Banksy Restoration Row, Three-Second Influencer, AI Edith Piaf

Artists have criticized the Italian Ministry of Culture’s decision to restore Banksy’s "Migrant Child" in Venice.

Nov. 18-19

  • Gaza’s impact on China, U.S. & Russia
  • UNESCO’s Angkor Wat controversy
  • Pink v. Florida’s banned books
  • … and much more.


Douyin (TikTok’s mainland Chinese counterpart) live streamer Zheng Xiang Xiang went viral for earning 100 million yuan ($18.7 million) in sales in just a week, after she promoted products three seconds at a time with a deadpan expression. The products sold by the live streamer, who has over a million followers on the social media platform, are said to all be priced below 10 yuan (S$1.9) — meaning that she sold approximately ten million units.


• Restoration of fading Banksy masterpiece in Venice sparks row: Artists have criticized the Italian Ministry of Culture’s decision to restore Banksy’s Migrant Child, which has been slowly deteriorating since it first appeared in 2019 in Venice. Arguing the artwork, which is fading due to humidity and salt, was never meant to endure, critics have called for local authorities to consult with the artist first. Vittorio Sgarbi, the under-secretary for Culture responded: “I have no intention of consulting the artist: the artwork was created illegally, and we can do as we please with it.”

• Pink’s pledge to give away “banned” books at Florida concerts: U.S. singer Pink has partnered with literary nonprofit PEN America and Florida bookseller Books & Books to use an upcoming concert in Miami to give away 2,000 free copies of books that have been banned at some schools in Florida. According to PEN America, Florida has had more books banned than any other U.S. state, targeting in particular authors who write about race and sexual identity. “It's confusing, it's infuriating, it is censorship,” the singer said.

• UNESCO criticized after mass evictions at Angkor Wat temple site: Amnesty International has claimed in a new investigation that UNESCO has “fallen short of its responsibility to uphold and promote human rights” after Cambodia’s government conducted mass evictions at the famous centuries-old Angkor Wat temple in order to boost tourism. The report said local authorities used intimidation and harassment to remove about 10,000 families from the world heritage site.

• Warner Music to use AI to recreate Edith Piaf’s voice for upcoming biopic: Sixty-years after her death, French icon Edith Piaf’s voice will be-recreated using Artificial Intelligence to narrate her animated biopic. Warner Music Group has partnered with the singer’s estate to produce the feature-length film Edith, which will be set in Paris and New York from the 1920s to the 1960s.

• Salman Rushdie becomes first recipient of Lifetime Disturbing the Peace Award: Salman Rushdie received the first-ever Lifetime Disturbing the Peace Award at the Václav Havel Center in New York, in a rare public appearance since the author was stabbed at a literary event last year. Rushdie’s presence at the annual “Living in Truth” ceremony was kept secret until the evening over concerns for his security. “I apologize for being a mystery guest,” he said. “I don’t feel at all mysterious. But it made life a little simpler.”

⏩ Gaza, a test of strength for Washington, Berlin and Moscow

Washington, Moscow and Beijing can all, in different ways, emerge stronger from the war in Gaza, writes geopolitical expert Dominique Moïsi for French daily Les Echos. The U.S. has been more present in the Middle East since Oct. 7 — but so has Russia, while China is keeping relatively quiet.

Read the full story: Three Scenarios Where The U.S., China Or Russia Winds Up Stronger After The Gaza War

🇺🇦 Ukraine needs more soldiers — so why doesn’t Zelensky say so?

Some of the Ukrainian Armed Forces units are at only 70% of their intended strength. But President Zelensky is unwilling to raise the question of mass mobilization. The result is a parallel reality, with more recruitment coming from rural areas and lower classes, and some urbanites feeling victory is not too far thus their sacrifice is not needed. Rustem Khalilov, Mykhailo Krygel & Olga Kyrylenko for Ukrainian daily Ukrainska Pravda.

Read the full story: Ukraine Has A Recruitment Problem — And Zelensky Doesn't Want To Talk About It

🤳 Trending on TikTok: a natural evolution for the Italian mafia

In Turin-based daily La Stampa, Italy's highest-profile nemesis of organized crime networks, prosecutor Nicola Gratteri, discusses the mob's use of social networks, and how TikTok allows criminal organizations to advertise their lifestyle to impressionable viewers. The expert issues a warning, lamenting the lack of investment in technology in Italy: “Today, the mafia is more up-to-date than we are.”

Read the full story: Mob Influence? Italy's Mafia Is Turning To TikTok For New Recruits


Japanese gadget-making company Thanko have announced their latest product: earphones which function as sleep aid devices. But the device won’t be playing music, or emitting any kind of sound — instead, the earphones will heat your ears from the inside. Thanko says that this technology helps you de-stress with its gentle warmth, also allowing for customizable temperatures and timers to automatically power down the device so it won’t run all night long.


If you’re southwest of Tokyo, you might come across a shrine filled with dogs dressed in kimonos. The Zama Shrine is merging traditional Japanese culture with modern society’s love for pets. At the 6th-century temple, a traditional ceremony originally meant for children and their parents, can now also be celebrated by pets and their owners: Shichi-Go-San rituals where pet parents can pray for the health and happiness of their animals and receive a blessing from a Shinto priest. The rite, which means “Seven-Five-Three” in Japanese, is traditionally celebrated in mid-November for children reaching those ages.


• The European Parliament will hold a debate next week over the amnesty deal struck by Spain’s Pedro Sanchez with Catalan separatists. The controversial deal assured that the socialist leader would get a second term as Prime Minister, a move which people in the European Parliament have called “the beginning of the end for the rule of law” in Spain.

• The Pope is set to meet with 12 relatives of Israeli hostages being held in Gaza. Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s number two, said that the release of hostages and agreement to a ceasefire were fundamental points for the pontiff.

• On Thursday, the U.S. will be celebrating Thanksgiving, and millions will be sitting by the table enjoying a classic plate of turkey. This is the time to answer a holiday curiosity: which came first, the country or the bird?


Our weekly digital magazine is live — Check it out: full access for subscribers!

News quiz answers:

1.Israeli forces raided Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital, its largest hospital, early Wednesday, where hundreds of patients, including newborns, have been stranded with little supplies and no electricity. Israel has accused Hamas of using Palestinians as human shields, and claims to have found an armory and tunnels belonging to the group underneath the hospital.

2. David Cameron, the United Kingdom’s former Prime Minister made a surprise comeback as part of the cabinet’s reshuffle. David Cameron has returned to government as UK foreign secretary.

3. Nepal has banned TikTok because its content “disturbs social harmony and disrupts family structures and social relations,” the government said. The decision comes days after Nepal introduced a new rule requiring social media firms to set up offices in the country.

4. Helen Williams, a Nigerian woman hailing from Lagos, has set a new Guinness World Record for the longest handmade wig ever made. The wig took 11 days and $2,493 to make — but the biggest challenge was finding an open space where the wig could be laid out and measured.

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*Photo: Banksy/Instagram

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Violence Against Women, The Patriarchy And Responsibility Of The Good Men Too

The femicide of Giulia Cecchettin has shaken Italy, and beyond. Argentine journalist Ignacio Pereyra looks at what lies behind femicides and why all men must take more responsibility.

photo of a young man holding a sign: Filippo isn't a monster, he's the healthy son of the patriarchy

A protester's sign referring to the alleged killer reads: Filippo isn't a monster, he's the healthy son of the patriarchy

Matteo Nardone/Pacific Press via ZUMA Press
Ignacio Pereyra

Updated Dec. 3, 2023 at 10:40 p.m.


ATHENS — Are you going to write about what happened in Italy?, Irene, my partner, asks me. I have no idea what she's talking about. She tells me: a case of femicide has shaken the country and has been causing a stir for two weeks.

As if the fact in itself were not enough, I ask what is different about this murder compared to the other 105 women murdered this year in Italy (or those that happen every day around the world).

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

We are talking about a country where the expression "fai l'uomo" (be a man) abounds, with a society so prone to drama and tragedy and so fond of crime stories as few others, where the expression "crime of passion" is still mistakenly overused.

In this context, the sister of the victim reacted in an unexpected way for a country where femicide is not a crime recognized in the penal code, contrary to what happens, for example, in almost all of Latin America.

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