Kim Kardashian attended the Met Gala in New York with her body and face completely covered in a black Balenciaga look. The official dress code this year was "American Independence."

Clémence Guimier, Bertrand Hauger and Anne-Sophie Goninet

👋 Ia Orana!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where Norway veers left, Putin is self-quarantining, and German scientists try to potty-train cows. Meanwhile, Delhi-based news website The Wire applauds India's recent Olympic gold medals but asks why it can't win Nobel Prizes?



• Taliban deny death of top leader: The Taliban have denied that Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, one of their top leaders, has been killed in a shootout with rivals, following rumors of possible rivalries and internal divisions in the movement.

• COVID update: New cases have more than doubled in China's southeastern province of Fujian following an outbreak of the Delta variant, which is thought to have started in a primary school. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin is self-isolating after members of his entourage tested positive to COVID-19.

• Norway center-left opposition wins elections: Norway's left-wing opposition has won the general election in a landslide following a campaign dominated by tensions between the future of the country's lucrative oil industry and climate change.

• South Korea fines Google for antitrust: South Korea's antitrust regulator has fined Alphabet Inc.'s Google $177 million for hampering the development of rivals to its Android operating system.

• Apple's emergency update to block spyware: Apple issued an urgent iPhone software update after security researchers found that the Israeli company NSO Group exploited a flaw in the Messages app to infect devices with the spyware Pegasus, even without a click from the user.

• Hurricane Nicholas hits Texas and Louisiana: Heavy rains fell on Texas and Louisiana as tropical storm Nicholas strengthened into a hurricane before making landfall, raising fears of potential life-threatening flash floods in the coming hours and days.

• Moo to the loo: Researchers in Germany are potty-training cows in a process they call "MooLoo training" to try and find a solution to the environmental damage caused by livestock waste.



Norwegian daily Stavanger Aftenblad reports on the country's general elections yesterday, which saw left-wing millionaire Jonas Gahr Støre come out on top. WIth a campaign centered on the future of the oil industry, the results put an end to the conservative government's eight-year rule under Prime Minister Erna Solberg.


Why can't India win more Nobel Prizes?

Winning a Nobel Prize can't be the only criterion by which we measure a nation's scientific achievement — but it is a matter of pride, like winning a gold at the Olympics. Lower funding on R&D alone doesn't explain India's abysmal show at the Nobel Prizes, writes Suprakash Chandra Roy in Indian news website The Wire.

🏅 According to the Research and Development Statistics published in 2019 by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), science workers in India numbered 2.78 million in 2018, being the sixth largest scientific workforce worldwide. The number of athletes according to the Athletics Federation of India was a little more than 30,000. Mathematically, we have a higher chance of winning a Nobel Prize than a gold at the Olympics. But history hasn't borne this out.

💰 Indian sportspersons have won 35 medals of the 18,876 medals awarded thus far. The first and only Nobel Prize for an Indian scientist — C.V. Raman — was awarded in 1930. Many commentators have said that one major reason for our poor show at the Nobel Prizes has been the inadequate expenditure on scientific work. It is true that, in general, countries that spend more on R&D have won more Nobel Prizes in the sciences. However, India has spent 0.81% of its GDP on R&D and produced only one Nobel laureate in the sciences — while 11 countries that have spent less than India have produced 22 laureates.

🤔 The data suggests that we can improve if we spend more on R&D — but it also says that more money won't guarantee the outcome we seek. The Union Ministry of Science and Technology has been allocated around Rs 147 million for 2021-2022 — an increase of around Rs 95 million from 2015. But India's sports budget is about 10-times lower than that spent on science. In conclusion, some key elements seem to be missing, beyond funding and infrastructure. Is it a fire in the belly that's missing? Do we have a leadership vacuum that fails to motivate scholars to think out of the box?

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New Zealand's Māori party launched a petition to officially rename the country Aotearoa ("the land of the long white cloud" in Māori), its original Indigenous name before Dutch explorers named it after the Dutch province of Zeeland in 1642. Since 1987, the island nation has recognized both English and Te Reo Māori as official languages, but has been recently divided over the question of changing the names of organizations and localities to promote the Maori language.



The world now averages 26 days a year where temperatures exceed 50 °C (122 °F), as compared with only 14 days in the 1980s. According Dr Friederike Otto, associate director of the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford, "the increase can be 100% attributed to the burning of fossil fuels."

✍️ Newsletter by Clémence Guimier, Bertrand Hauger and Anne-Sophie Goninet

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A tribute to the 30,000 Iranian political prisoners murdered in Iran in 1988

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Hannah Steinkopf-Frank and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Laba diena!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where Afghanistan's Taliban demand to speak at the United Nations, China takes a bold ecological stand and we find out why monkeys kept their tails and humans didn't. Business magazine America Economia also looks at how Latin American countries are looking to attract a new generation of freelancers known as "digital nomads" in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.



• Taliban ask to speak at UN: With global leaders gathered in New York for the 76th meeting of the UN General Assembly, Afghanistan's new rulers say their country's previously accredited United Nations ambassador no longer represents the country, and have demanded a new Taliban envoy speak instead. Afghanistan is scheduled to give the final intervention next Monday to the General Assembly, and a UN committee must now rule who can speak.

• Four corpses found on Belarus border with Poland: The discovery of bodies of four people on Belarus-Poland border who appear to have died from hypothermia are raising new accusations that Belarus is pushing migrants to the eastern border of the European Union, possibly in retaliation over Western sanctions following the contested reelection of the country's strongman Alexander Lukashenko. The discovery comes amid a surge of largely Afghani and Iraqi migrants attempting to enter Poland in recent weeks.

• China to stop building coal-burning power plants abroad: Under pressure to limit emissions to meet Paris climate agreement goals, China announces an end to funding future projects in Indonesia, Vietnam and other countries through its Belt and Road initiative.

• Turkey ratifies Paris climate agreement: Following a year of wildfires and flash floods, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced at the UN that Turkey will become the last G-20 country to ratify the emissions-limiting accords. Turkey already signed the agreement in 2016, but has yet to hold a vote in parliament.

• Mass evacuations following Canary Islands volcano: More than 6,000 people have fled the Spanish archipelago as heavy flows of lava have buried hundreds of homes. Four earthquakes have also hit the Canaries since the Sunday eruption, which could also cause other explosions and the release of toxic gas.

• Rare earthquake hits Melbourne: The 5.9 magnitude quake struck near Melbourne in southern Australia, with aftershocks going as far Adelaide, Canberra and Launceston. Videos shared on social media show at least one damaged building, with power lines disrupted in Australia's second largest city. No injuries have been reported.

• The evolutionary tale of tails: Charles Darwin first discovered that humans evolved to lose this biological trait. But only now are New York scientists showing that it was a single genetic tweak that could have caused this shift, while our monkey relatives kept their backside appendages.


"The roof of Barcelona" — El Periodico daily reports on the latest delay from what may be the longest-running construction project in the world. Work on the iconic Barcelona church La Sagrada Familia, which began all the way back in 1882 as the vision of master architect Antoni Gaudí, was slated to be completed in 2026. The Barcelona-based daily reports that a press conference Tuesday confirmed that the deadline won't be met, in part because of delays related to COVID-19. Officials also provided new details about the impending completion of the Mare de Déu tower (tower of the Virgin), the first tower of the temple to be completed in 44 years. Although it is currently the second tallest spire of the complex, it will become the highest point of the Sagrada Familia, reaching 172.5 meters thanks to an illuminated "great cross."


Latin America, the next mecca for digital nomads

Latin American countries want to cash in on the post-pandemic changes to the fundamental ways we work and live, in particular by capitalizing on a growing demand from the new wave of remote workers and "youngish" professional freelancers with money to spend, reports Natalia Vera Ramírez in business magazine America Economia.

💻🏖️ Niels Olson, Ecuador's tourism minister, is working hard to bring "digital nomads" to his country. He believes that attracting this new generation of freelancers who can work from anywhere for extended visits is a unique opportunity for all. Living in a town like Puerto López, he wrote on Twitter, the expat freelancer could "work by the sea, live with a mostly vaccinated population, in the same time zone, (enjoy) an excellent climate, and eat fresh seafood." For Ecuador, the new influx of visitors with money to spend would help boost the country's economy.

🧳 While online-based freelancers already hopped from country to country before COVID-19, the pandemic has boosted their current numbers to around 100 million worldwide. The Inter-American Development Bank estimates there could be a billion roaming, digital workers by 2050. Some European countries already issue visas for digital nomads. They include Germany, Portugal, Iceland, Croatia, Estonia and the Czech Republic, but in the Americas, only four countries make the list, namely Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Panama and Costa Rica.

💰 In August 2021, Costa Rica approved a law for remote workers and international service providers, intended to attract digital nomads and make its travel sector more competitive. The law provides legal guarantees and specific tax exemptions for remote workers choosing to make the country their place of work. It allows foreign nationals earning more than $3,000 a month to stay for up to a year in the country, with the ability to renew their visa for an additional year. If applicants are a family, the income requisite rises to $5,000.

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$2.1 billion

Google announced yesterday it will spend $2.1 billion to buy a sprawling Manhattan office building, in one of the largest sales of a building in U.S. history. The tech giant plans on growing its New York workforce to more than 14,000 people.


It is sickening and shameful to see this kind of president give such a lie-filled speech on the international stage.

— Opposition Brazilian congresswoman Vivi Reis in response to President Jair Bolsonaro's inflammatory 12-minute speech at the UN General Assembly. The unvaccinated head of state touted untested COVID-19 cures, criticized public health measures and boasted that the South American country's environmental protections were the best in the world.

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Hannah Steinkopf-Frank & Bertrand Hauger

Support Worldcrunch
We are grateful for reader support to continue our unique mission of delivering in English the best international journalism, regardless of language or geography. Click here to contribute whatever you can. Merci!