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Chile’s New President, Peng Shuai Denies Assault Claims, Over-The-Top Christmas

Pakistani Activists Hold 'Muradabad Israel' Rally In Lahore

Anne-Sophie Goninet and Jane Herbelin

👋 Mandi!*

Welcome to Monday, where Gabriel Boric becomes Chile’s youngest president ever, Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai retracts sexual assault claims and a Hungarian grandma goes all out for Christmas decorations. Persian-language magazine Kayhan reflects on how the trial in Sweden of a former Iranian justice official finally gives judicial weight to the decades of accusations of the violent crimes of the Iranian regime during and after the 1979 revolution.

[*Friulian - Italy]


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🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

Boric to become Chile’s youngest ever president: Leftist candidate Gabriel Boric has defeated his right-wing rival Antonio Kast with 56% of the vote in Chile’s presidential election. At 35 years old, the former student activist will become the country’s youngest ever president.

COVID update: Israel bans travel to the U.S., Canada and 8 other countries, citing concerns over the spread of the Omicron variant. In Europe, the Netherlands is back to a nationwide lockdown, ordering the closure of all but essential stores until at least Jan. 14, while Germany, Italy and the UK are also considering tougher contact restrictions. Meanwhile, vaccine maker Moderna says a booster dose of its coronavirus vaccine appeared to be protective against Omicron in laboratory testing.

Anti-coup protests rock Sudan’s capital: Hundreds of thousands of people marched to the presidential palace in Sudan’s capital city Khartoum to reject the October 25 military takeover. One protester was shot dead and 125 were injured according to the country’s health ministry.

Pro-Beijing candidates sweep HK election: Pro-Beijing candidates have claimed victory in Hong Kong’s legislative election, the first since China made controversial changes to the city’s electoral system. The election hit a record low voter turnout as only about 30% of Hong Kong’s residents took part in the polls.

Peng Shuai retracts sexual assault claims: Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai has denied that she had accused a former Communist party official of having sexually assaulted her, saying her social media post had been misunderstood. This is believed to be Peng’s first foreign press interview since her November essay and her disappearance from public view for more than two weeks caused a media storm. Human rights groups fear that the tennis star has been coerced into making the statement.

Death toll surges after Philippines super typhoon: At least 208 people are confirmed dead after Super Typhoon Rai, the strongest to hit the Philippines this year, wreaked havoc across the archipelago. About 52 people remain missing, with 239 others were injured.

A Hungarian grandma’s Christmas wonderland: The house of a Hungarian woman locally known as “Auntie Eta” has become a festive attraction for its over-the-top Christmas decorations, drawing tourists from across Europe. The house, located in the town of Dabas, close to Budapest, is open to the public until Jan. 2.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

Chilean daily El Mercurio de Calama reports on the victory of Gabriel Boric, “the former student leader who becomes president of Chile” after beating right-wing opponent Antonio Kast with 56% of the vote.


#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

$210.3 million

Internet celebrity Viya, one of China’s most well-known and successful live streamers, was fined 1.34 billion yuan ($210.3 million) for allegedly committing tax fraud by deliberately providing false information and concealing personal income, the Chinese tax bureau said on Monday.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

A trial in Sweden finally reveals the brutal details of Iran's 1979 revolution

A former Iranian official being tried in Sweden on charges of complicity in murders of hundreds of prisoners outside Tehran in 1988, typifies the violent nature of the Islamic leaders who took over Iranian institutions 40 years ago, writes Yusef Mosaddeqi in Persian-language media Kayhan-London.

⚖️ With the Swedish trial of former Iranian justice official Hamid Nouri, accused of murder and crimes against humanity, the long-held dream of prosecuting the regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran for its historic crimes suddenly became a palpable reality. Nouri, who was arrested at Stockholm airport in 2019, is suspected of active involvement in the executions of thousands of detained opponents of Iran's revolutionary regime in mid-1988.

🤐 If the regime were to keep quiet over his conviction, it would merely confirm the crimes committed on its behalf in the decade after the 1979 revolution. It could not thus keep a respectable distance from the events related in the court. From August to late November, the court examined charges against Nouri, and heard the plaintiffs and witnesses in the case. Through more than 40 sessions, prosecutors presented the court with a clear and horrific picture of conditions in the Gohardasht prison, where Nouri worked from July to September 1988.

💥 Many observers and specialists have identified the urban middle class as the engine of the 1979 revolution. The standard line is that this class grew and prospered in a bubble in the 1960s and 1970s, though its development could not keep up with its bloated expectations of the regime of the time, a secular monarchy. It wanted more and more, it is said, to the point where it decided only an overhaul of the state could satisfy its exorbitant, socio-political demands. But this same class was not prepared for the costs of the turmoil it would provoke, which led to its immediate disenchantment with the new regime.


➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

"It cannot be that Russia dictates to NATO partners their posture.”


— Germany’s new Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht told German troops based in Lithuania, largely to deter a Russian attack, that Moscow cannot "dictate" to NATO the alliance’s military posture. Tensions are not abating between Russia and the Western alliance over the conflict in Ukraine. The comments come following a list of demands set out by Moscow for the West, which includes withdrawing NATO military divisions from Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

🇩🇿🥔 IN OTHER NEWS

The “potato crisis” at the heart of Algeria's imploding economy

Algeria is facing a multifaceted crisis, one of the most serious since the North African country gained independence in 1962. Boiling social and economic unrest has combined with continuing political demands that began with the Hirak uprising of 2019 that called for the end to the decades-long rule of Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

But today, the urgency is above all economic. A recession, first sparked last year by the fall in oil prices and worsened by the coronavirus pandemic, threatens millions of Algerians from being able to properly put food on the table. Families have been hit by a decision last month by the cash-strapped state to eliminate subsidies of basic food and energy products, which amounts to over $17 billion per year.

Since the beginning of 2021, well before other countries began to be hit by inflation, prices in Algeria have been rising quickly on goods such as milk, oil, pasta, and dry vegetables. Chicken, which most low and middle-income households rely upon, has become a hard-to-find luxury.

Yet increasingly, the economic hardship is being measured by the shortage of a staple product that is a key ingredient in such national dishes as tagine or chtitha batata: the potato. Indeed, the price of potatoes has almost tripled on the Algerian market in just a few months, becoming a symbol of the nation's deteriorating economic situation, stirring up anger within modest households and igniting the risk of street protests.


➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet and Jane Herbelin

“No more Christmas trees” or “more Christmas lights”? Let us know which side you’re on, and what’s happening in your corner of the world!


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Ideas

Revenge v. Rule Of Law: How You Treat Your Prisoners Of War Says It All

A Ukrainian court has convicted the first Russia soldier of war crimes. Meanwhile, Moscow offers no news on the Ukrainian soldiers surrendered in Mariupol. The very meaning of this war may be contained in the different treatment of POWs.

Ukrainian soldiers surrendering at Mariupol's Azovstal steelworks

Cover Images/ZUMA
Anna Akage

He doesn’t look like a typical war criminal. With his slight build barely filling out a blue-gray sweatshirt, a baby face and close-shaved head, Vadim Shishimarin seems even younger than his 21 years. But on Monday, the Russian Army contract soldier was sentenced to life in prison in Kyiv for the cold-blooded killing of an unarmed 62-year-old Ukrainian man.

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

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The conviction on war crimes charges is the first of its kind since the war began three months ago. But Shishimarin’s conviction isn’t really the news: he had already confessed to the killing, and his “I was just following orders” defense has been dismissed in other ugly episodes of history before.

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