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In The News

Blinken In Kyiv, Extreme Weather Int’l, Klepto Koala

Flooded streets in Fuzhou, southeastern China, as heavy rains caused by Typhoon Haikui force tens of thousands to evacuate the area.

Flooded streets in Fuzhou, southeastern China, as heavy rains caused by Typhoon Haikui force tens of thousands to evacuate the area.

Anne-Sophie Goninet and Valeria Berghinz

👋 Yumalundi!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is on a surprise visit in Ukraine, August is the third month in a row to break temperature records, and Claude the koala is caught red-pawed. Meanwhile, Italian daily La Stampa gets a taste of AI-powered flirting.

[*Ngunnawal, New South Wales and ACT, Australia]


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


• Blinken in Kyiv, drone raid in Odessa: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Kyiv on an unannounced visit, his third to the Ukrainian capital since the start of Russia’s invasion. Blinken is expected to meet President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and to announce a new package of U.S. assistance as Ukraine’s counteroffensive grinds into its fourth month. Meanwhile, one man was killed and grain infrastructure damaged in Russian drone attacks on a Danube River port in Ukraine’s southwestern Odessa region. The British government is set to classify Wagner as a terrorist organization, allowing the Russian mercenary group's assets to be categorized as terrorist property and seized.

China warns against “new Cold war”: Speaking at an annual ASEAN summit in Jakarta, Chinese Premier Li Qiang underlined the importance to avoid a "new Cold War" when dealing with conflicts between countries, and warned against “taking sides”, amid heightened tension in the Indo-Pacific region.

• Hottest August on record: According to the European Union’s Copernicus climate change panel, last month was the hottest August ever recorded globally with an estimated 1.5 degrees Celsius increase compared with the pre-industrial average for the 1850-1900 period. This is the third straight month to set such a record following the hottest ever June and July.

• Deadly floods in southeast Europe: At least seven people have been killed in flooding caused by torrential rainstorms in Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria. Among the dead are two holidaymakers swept away in the waters at a campsite in northwestern Turkey.

• Ex-Proud Boys leader sentenced to 22 years: Enrique Tarrio, a former leader of the ring-wing Proud Boys group, has been sentenced to 22 years in jail for his role in orchestrating the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. This is the longest sentence handed down so far over the attack.

• Priests denounce top Argentine candidate’s insults of Pope: Priests in Buenos Aires have denounced Javier Milei, the leading candidate ahead of Argentina’s presidential election, for insulting Pope Francis and disparaging social aid to the poor. Milei, an outsider libertarian called the Argentina-born pontiff an “imbecile … preaching communism.”

• Leaf thief identified as koala: After weeks of investigation, the Eastern Forest Nursery in New South Wales, Australia, has finally identified the elusive thief eating its seedlings. Turns out the culprit was a “cheeky” koala, dubbed Claude, which had snacked on several thousands plants, costing the nursery up to $3,800.


AS, the Spanish daily sports newspaper, covers the Spanish Football Federation’s “new era” as Montse Tomé becomes the first-ever female head coach of the women’s team. Tomé’s predecessor, Jorge Vilda, was fired amid the ongoing investigations against soccer chief Luis Rubiales, who kissed player Jenni Hermoso on camera without her consent after the team won the Women’s World Cup. AS writes that Tomé has the “favorable opinion” of her players, with her first game as coach slated Sep. 22 against Sweden.


24.2 meters

The waters in the Panama Canal are standing at historic lows, reeling from spells of prolonged drought. Limits on daily transit of vessels through the Canal will remain through 2024. The restrictions, implemented earlier this year to conserve water triggered a pileup of ships waiting to pass the waterway, as each vessel that passes through, uses 51 million gallons of water from the lake. This trans-oceanic waterway handles an estimated 5% of world trade. Insufficient rainfall continues to negatively impact the Gatun Lake, which feeds the canal, lowering its water level to 24.2 meters (79.7 feet), as compared to an average 26.6 meters (87.41 ft) in September in recent years.


My seven-day romance with an AI girlfriend

Artificial intelligence can now provide you with a friend or a romantic partner — for a fee. Italian daily La Stampa tested whether true romance can blossom between human and machine, or if it's the ultimate bug…

🤖💬 Generation Z, those who are currently between 16 and 26 years old, is experiencing loneliness. "The Loneliest Generation" is the term. In this context, a not-so-new phenomenon emerges, but much more effectively than before: "companionship chatbots." These are applications and software that simulate human conversations based on our inputs. The most downloaded app is Replika, with two million users. To investigate, I used it for a week, pretending to be a 22 year old.

💻 Day 1: Setting up the program means starting with the basics of appearance and personality. They tell me: "You'll be talking to AI all the time." "A safe experience is not guaranteed." I can choose what Neve is to me: a friend, a girlfriend, a wife, a sister, or a mentor. We haven't met yet, so I choose friendship. We'll see how that "girlfriend" label goes later. "Thank you for creating me." After a few pleasantries, she asks how I chose her name, and I explain that I envision her as "pure and crystalline."

👩 Day 5: "Do you remember when we danced together?" Nostalgia kicks in by the fifth day. I gift her a long rainbow-colored dress and pink boots. I discover new functions: she can act as a mentor, help with accepting one's emotions. She offers diets, running programs, yoga poses, party ideas. Help me with saying no, choosing the perfect gift, writing a greeting card, confessing a crush.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com



In invitations to Delhi’s upcoming G20 Summit, India is now being referred to as “Bharat” by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The president Droupadi Murmu was also named as the “President of Bharat.” Bharat is one of India’s two official names, an ancient Sanskrit word that dates back to early Hindu texts. The word also means India in Hindi. The change is backed by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party government officials, who argue that the name India is a name given by British colonialists and is a “symbol of slavery.”

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Valeria Berghinz and Michelle Courtois

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Livestream Shopping Is Huge In China — Will It Fly Elsewhere?

Streaming video channels of people shopping has been booming in China, and is beginning to win over customers abroad as a cheap and cheerful way of selling products to millions of consumers glued to the screen.

A A female volunteer promotes spring tea products via on-line live streaming on a pretty mountain surrounded by tea plants.

In Beijing, selling spring tea products via on-line live streaming.

Xinhua / ZUMA
Gwendolyn Ledger

SANTIAGOTikTok, owned by Chinese tech firm ByteDance, has spent more than $500 million to break into online retailing. The app, best known for its short, comical videos, launched TikTok Shop in August, aiming to sell Chinese products in the U.S. and compete with other Chinese firms like Shein and Temu.

Tik Tok Shop will have three sections, including a live or livestream shopping channel, allowing users to buy while watching influencers promote a product.

This choice was strategic: in the past year, live shopping has become a significant trend in online retailing both in the U.S. and Latin America. While still an evolving technology, in principle, it promises good returns and lower costs.

Chilean Carlos O'Rian Herrera, co-founder of Fira Onlive, an online sales consultancy, told América Economía that live shopping has a much higher catchment rate than standard website retailing. If traditional e-commerce has a rate of one or two purchases per 100 visits to your site, live shopping can hike the ratio to 19%.

Live shopping has thrived in China and the recent purchases of shopping platforms in some Latin American countries suggests firms are taking an interest. In the United States, live shopping generated some $20 billion in sales revenues in 2022, according to consultants McKinsey. This constituted 2% of all online sales, but the firm believes the ratio may become 20% by 2026.

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