Welcome to Thursday, where Kim Jong-un offers to reopen hotline with Seoul, a 96-year-old Nazi war crime suspect flees and a Turkish man gets so drunk he joins a search party for himself. From France, we also take a look, and listen, to the surprisingly loud noises of the countryside.
[*halēā - Malayalam, India & Malaysia]
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• COVID update: A new study carried out in Europe has found that sperm quality is impaired for months for some people after recovery from COVID-19. Amid the rapid global spread of the Omicron variant, many nations are on high alert just days ahead of Christmas and New Year celebrations. Thailand will reinstate its mandatory COVID-19 quarantine for foreign visitors alongside the removal of a quarantine waiver from Tuesday. Meanwhile, on Tuesday, New Zealand postponed its phased border reopening plans until the end of February.
• French military says it has killed leading ISIS member in Niger: The French Armed Forces Ministry said troops from its “Operation Barkhane” had killed Soumana Boura, a leading member of the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) who headed a group of dozens of fighters in western Niger.
• Saudi-led coalition airstrikes target Yemeni airport: Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen said it carried out air strikes on Houthi targets at the international airport in the Yemeni capital Sanaa. Yemen has been engulfed in a civil war between the rebel Houthi movement and the government since 2014. The air raids came just over an hour after the coalition urged civilians and United Nations agencies to evacuate immediately.
• Boeing & Airbus warn U.S. over 5G rollout: Top executives at world-leading airplane makers Airbus and Boeing have sent a letter to the U.S. government asking for the rollout of 5G to be delayed, over fears that the technology may interfere with aircraft electronics.
• Japan’s first death row executions since 2019: Japan executed three prisoners on death row on Tuesday, its first executions in two years amid growing criticism of its use of the death penalty. The executions were the first under Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who’s government said it was necessary to maintain capital punishment in the face of continued “atrocious crimes.”
• Dubai ruler’s $728 million divorce in UK: The reigning leader of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, has been ordered to pay his ex-wife Princess Haya bint al-Hussein £500 million ($728 million), in one of the UK’s largest divorce settlements ever.
• Jupiter moon’s beeps and boops: NASA’s Juno has spent years navigating Jupiter to understand the origin and evolution of our solar system’s largest planet. The spacecraft has now sent us back an audio recording of Jupiter's largest moon, Ganymede, which when adapted to human ears, sounds a bit like R2-D2.
“Leaving the streets again,” titles Dutch daily De Telegraaf after the Netherlands entered a new strict lockdown that will last until at least Jan. 14, to stop a surge of the Omicron coronavirus variant.
Scottish parliament member Natalie Don has announced she was preparing a bill aimed at legally pardoning the thousands of “witches” that were convicted and executed in the country. According to historians, 3,837 people were accused of witchcraft under Scotland's Witchcraft Act, which was in effect between 1563 and 1736.
Academic washing? How Spain's energy sector cleans its image at universities
The big Spanish electricity and oil companies sponsor numerous research chairs at top universities: Is this cynical “greenwashing” or innovative collaboration for the energy transition? asks Dani Dominguez in Spanish monthly magazine La Marea.
🏫 Spain's major energy companies have found a first-rate partner in universities. At Comillas University, for example, the companies sponsor the Module of Energy and Innovation, financed by Iberdrola; the Module of Family and Disability and the Module of Social Impact, in which the Repsol Foundation participates, as well as the Module of Energy and Poverty, run by Naturgy and Endesa. In other words, the four big electricity companies on Spain's IBEX 35 leading stock index pay for some type of studies at this private university.
💰 In the period between 2010 and 2017, the public universities have stopped receiving almost 10 billion euros, going from representing 2.15% of public spending to practically half: 1.6%. This continuous decline in public resources has driven many university institutions into the arms of large energy companies. "Spain is below European levels in terms of research funding, and this has left wide open doors for all the companies that come in. They put on a mask, lower the bar and allow private companies to enter. They don't care if they are polluting companies," argues UniversidadxClima.
⚠️ For Fernando Prieto, coordinator of the Sustainability Observatory and member of Extinction Rebellion, "it is neither ethical nor aesthetic" for the country's most polluting companies to finance university research groups since the main interest of these companies is to "maximize their profits." In the same way, he argues that the universities themselves should not allow these situations "that only contribute to washing the image" of these multinationals. This specialist in sustainability believes that the problem surrounding this phenomenon is the impossibility of knowing "where the scientific criteria ends and the interests of the companies begin."
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An event cancelled is better than a life cancelled.
— World Health Organization director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a briefing, urging people to postpone holiday gatherings as festivities would likely lead to “increased cases, overwhelmed health systems and more deaths” due to the global spread of the Omicron variant.
✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger
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