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G20 & COP26, Facebook Becomes Meta, Moscow On Lockdown

A woman crosses the deserted Red Square in Moscow, where lockdown measures were reintroduced

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Mhoroi!*

Welcome to Friday, where world leaders meet in Rome for the G20 (before meeting again in Glasgow for the COP26 on Sunday), Facebook rebrands itself as Meta and following Texas' recent near-total ban on abortion, we also look at the mixed landscape of abortion rights across the globe. Then we unpack the Japanese dog breed name now attached to a $30 billion cryptocurrency.

[*Shona - Zimbabwe]

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• Leaders make rounds from G-20 to COP26: The Saturday-Sunday G-20 gathering in Rome marks the first in-person meeting of the world's biggest economies in two years, with some key leaders including Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin and new Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida joining virtually. Many of the same world leaders will then travel to Glasgow, Scotland to kick off the COP26, the two-week United Nations' climate summit.

• Biden meets Pope: On his way to the two summits, Joe Biden, the second Catholic president in U.S. history (after JFK), is meeting with Pope Francis today at the Vatican, with plans to discuss both their faith as well as global issues including climate change, migration and income inequality.

• Facebook's new name: The tech giant has rebranded itself as Meta as part of its ambition to be a pioneer in the so-called metaverse, a new digital frontier incorporating virtual reality and other immersive technology. The change comes as Facebook faces global criticism for spreading misinformation and condoning hate speech and anti-democracy activity on its platform.

• Immigration to wealthy countries dropped in 2020: According to a new OECD report, the number of people moving to the 38 leading developed and emerging economies was at its lowest level since 2003. All migration categories experienced drops last year amidst global border closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic; the number of asylum seekers fell by 31%, the largest drop since the 1990s Balkan wars.

• NASA reveals new Jupiter findings: Scientists revealed the latest discoveries on Jupiter, including surprising findings about the planet's Great Red Spot and the cyclonic storms swirling at the poles. The findings, just published in a scientific paper, come thanks to the February and July 2019 flights over the Great Red Spot by NASA's Juno spacecraft.

• Tedros on track for second WHO term: Current head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of Ethiopia, is on course to serve a second five-year term. Sources tell Reuters that Tedros, who has helped lead the global fight against COVID-19, was the only candidate nominated by 28 countries in secret balloting. The final vote is slated for May.

• Roman sculptures found abandoned in UK medieval church: Archeologists uncovered two intact Roman sculptures of a man and a woman as well as the head of a child at St Mary's Church in Buckinghamshire. Such a discovery is incredibly rare and researchers hope the artifacts will lead to greater understanding of the site.


"No more excuses," titles Italian weekly magazine Internazionale, reporting on the upcoming COP26 Climate Change Conference this Sunday, which will need to bring "radical change to avoid a catastrophe."


55 million

Police officers intercepted a truck carrying some 55 million methamphetamine tablets and more than 1.5 tons of crystal meth, making it the biggest single drug seizure ever recorded in Asia, according to the United Nations. The drugs were seized near the border with Thailand and Myanmar, a significant drug producing area known as the "Golden Triangle."


Roe v. Wade and beyond: The battle for abortion rights around the world

As many look to an imminent threat to abortion rights in the U.S., there are changes afoot around the world, from strict new bans and more subtle means for limiting access to surprising progress elsewhere for women's right to choose.

🤰 China: Women's bodies as economic instruments While China has long been known for its family planning through its One-Child Policy to limit population growth, recent efforts to reduce abortions are raising concerns. In September, the State Council, China's cabinet, announced its intention to curb "medically unnecessary" abortions, but with few details on how this would be achieved. The plan also included increased access to birth control. While the government issued a similar proposal in 2011, some are more concerned now given increased government intervention in promoting childbirth amidst an aging population.

Latin America: Choice on the rise Latin America has some of the world's strictest abortion laws, partially because of the influence of the Catholic Church. But this might be changing, with large-scale protests by feminist groups influencing the policies of legislatures across the region. Perhaps most notably, Mexico's Supreme Court delivered a landmark decision in September when the majority of judges voted to decriminalize abortions. Women around Mexico held up green bandanas — an abortion rights symbol that began in Argentina — to honor a shift that clearly is having ripple effects in their country and beyond.

🛑 North Africa and Middle East: de facto bans Close to 80% of women in the Middle East, North Africa region have restricted access to abortion. Sites like Women on Web help facilitate sending abortion pills to areas where they are difficult or impossible to acquire, but these platforms have been banned in Saudi Arabia, where abortions are authorized only in rare circumstances. Tunisia and Turkey are the only two MENA countries that allow elective abortions; most governments in the region only permit them when they are medically necessary.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


Just give us our own money.

— Taliban spokesman Ahmad Wali Haqmal made the plea in an interview with Reuters, as Afghanistan's Taliban government urges the U.S. Federal Reserve and central banks to Europe to release billions of dollars in assets that have been frozen since the Taliban retook power last August. The country is currently facing the risk of mass starvation and a new migration crisis.


New climate alert: "Low country" Netherlands facing major sea-level rise

In its native Dutch language, the Netherlands is called Nederland, which means "low countries" and for good reason: approximately one-quarter of the coastal nation is below sea level, and more than half is susceptible to flooding.

This makes, even more, alarming a new report of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) that sea levels off the Dutch coast will rise between 1.2 and 2.0 meters by the end of this century if the planet does not succeed in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Dutch national broadcaster NOS reported this week.

The expected sea level rise is an upward revision, as the institute had previously concluded that the maximum sea level rise would be one meter. The updated findings, released just days before the opening of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, are based on the latest report by the UN climate panel IPCC, which came out this summer.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com



The meme-able Japanese dog breed Shiba Inu gave its name to the cryptocurrency SHIB. With an approximately $30 billion market value, SHIB has overtaken the similarly themed Dogecoin. But the love of man's best friend? Priceless.

✍️ Newsletter by Hannah Steinkopf-Frank, Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

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Green Or Gone

A/C And Global Warming: A Northern Call To Embrace Air Conditioning

Misguided arguments about air conditioning's environmental impact are stopping people from installing systems in homes and offices. But in the age of solar power, there's no need to stew in your own sweat "for the sake of the planet."

Workers repairing air conditioning

Hans-Joachim Voth


BERLIN — The maps on TV weather reports were a glowing swathe of red. As the summer heatwave took hold in Germany, the country experienced record temperatures, with the mercury rising to over 35 °C in many places.

Every year, this time sees a fall in unemployment rates and a rise in heat-related deaths. But why do we take it for granted that the fierce heat outside must be reflected indoors?

In winter we have no problem with turning the heating on to keep our homes warm. In summer, there is also a simple technological solution – air conditioning. It costs relatively little, can be easily installed and creates a comfortable indoor temperature at the click of a button. It comes as standard in cars, but is rare in offices and homes in Germany. Only 3% of all homes in the country have air conditioning, whereas in the U.S. it is around 90%.

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Writing contest - My pandemic story

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Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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