Ethiopia Violence Escalates, COVID Surge In Europe, Space Tacos

Women from the ethnic Newar community celebrate Nepal Sambat (New Year) 1142

Anne-Sophie Goninet & Jane Herbelin

👋 Sugeng enjing*

Welcome to Friday, where the risk of an all-out war grows in Ethiopia, Europe is once again at the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic and chiles are grown in space for the first time. French daily Les Echos also explores the often very different reasons that people change their name.

[*Javanese]

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🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• Calls for ceasefire as violence escalates in Ethiopia: African and Western nations called for an immediate ceasefire in Ethiopia after Tigrayan forces from the country's north made advances towards the capital. It has now been a year since the conflict between the Ethiopian military and rebels of the Tigray Popular Liberation Front (TPLF) began, which has left thousands dead and displaced, with reports of widespread human rights violations.

• Niger: At least 69 killed in gun attack: Niger has declared two days of national mourning after at least 69 people were killed, including a mayor, in an attack by suspected Islamist insurgents. The attack happened in the country's southwest, near the border with Mali — the latest killing in a wave of violence against civilians that has swept the country this year.

• Major U.S. sales deal to Saudi Arabia: The U.S. State Department approved its first major arms sale to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia under President Joe Biden with the sale of 280 air-to-air missiles valued at up to $650 million. Pentagon says enabling the kingdom to buy U.S.-made, air-to-air missiles would "improve the security of a friendly country."

• COVID update: Europe is once again at the "epicentre" of the pandemic, the WHO warned, with potentially 500,000 additional deaths before February, following the relaxation of prevention measures and low vaccination rates in some countries. Meanwhile, France's lawmakers approved the continued use of the COVID health pass until July 2022. In China, an independent journalist who has been sentenced to four years in prison for reporting on the initial Wuhan outbreak in early 2020 is in urgent need of medical care after she went on hunger strike.

• Youth climate march at COP26: Youth activists are taking to the streets of Glasgow, UK, to demand action on climate change from leaders and politicians as the COP26 talks continue. Greta Thunberg, fellow activist Vanessa Nakate and other young campaigners, will speak to crowds at the end of the march where the UN summit is being held.

• New Delhi air turns toxic after Diwali: The morning following the celebration of Diwali, the festival of lights, residents of New Delhi, which has the worst air quality of all world capitals, woke up to a blanket of toxic smog. Citizens inhaled the most dangerously polluted air so far this year, as people defied the government's ban on fireworks.

• One giant leap for tacos: Astronauts aboard the International Space Station successfully grew and harvested chiles in space for the first time, enabling them to create the "best space tacos yet."

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

South African weekly Mail & Guardian reports on the results of the country's municipal elections, which saw the ruling African National Congress party fail to secure a majority for the first time in its history, with 46% of the vote. The ANC opened the door to set up coalitions with other parties.

#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

+67%

Home-sharing company Airbnb reported record earnings, reaching $834 million in the third quarter of 2021, with revenue rising up by 67% from a year ago and 36% from the same quarter in pre-pandemic 2019. The company said the huge jump in rentals could be explained by the acceleration of work flexibility, with the rising number of employees working remotely after offices closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

Why change your name? That which we call ourselves could sound sweeter

Each year thousands of French people ask to change their surname or first name or choose a pseudonym. It may be a question of pride or identity, but it is never a small thing for those who call themselves something new. Fanny Guyomard, writing for Paris-based Les Echos, shares some of their stories.

⭐ Nearly 4,300 requests for a change of name were registered by the state Civil Status registry in France in 2020 (2,900 in 2019). This can be an official change or in the form of a pseudonym, as was the case with many "celebrities": French singer Patrick Bruel, actress Sophie Marceau and even Marilyn Monroe — these stage nicknames sounded more glamorous than Benguigui, Maupu or Mortenson. Social media platforms have since facilitated the proliferation of nicknames and responded to the fantasy of many: "To invent alter egos, create a new side of ourselves. People need to dream," says Céline Masson, a psychologist and psychoanalyst.

😣 Our name is ingrained in all of us. Hence, when the metamorphosis is too brutal and forced, it may be traumatic, "especially when the change occurs during adolescence," says Céline Masson, author of Habiter son nom: une histoire française (Inhabiting One's Name: a French Story). Jewish children suffered when their parents Frenchified their Hebrew-sounding names after the trauma of the Holocaust. This made the names easier to pronounce and also provided a shield from anti-Semitism. It wasn't until 2012 that the French state allowed them to reclaim their real names.

❓ Sevan, 23, has been experimenting with this new name for a few months, "but I am not sure yet whether it suits me 100%. I must feel good about it." One of the criteria is that their sister likes it. Above all, it has to be gender-neutral, as Sevan has doubts about their gender, which prompted them to change their first name. First, they cut it before abandoning it completely. But Sevan doesn't see the new moniker as a break from their previous identity: "It's more of a continuity. Just because I have a different first name doesn't mean I changed."

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

We don't sleep at night these days.

— Najrul Islam, a government employee in Panisagar, in the State of Tripura, India, told Al Jazeera, after a spate of anti-Muslim attacks triggered fears among the region's Muslim minority. Locals allege more than a dozen mosques have been vandalized in northeastern state in apparent retaliation to anti-Hindu violence in Bangladesh.

❗❓  WHAT THE WORLD

Iconic Italian car's rusty license plate brings lottery gold

We humans have a thing for old cars. We also appreciate a prime parking spot. But what do you do if you find a nice old car occupying the same parking spot for 47 years? Well, you jot down its license plate number for good luck! Let us explain…

Last month in Conegliano, in northeast Italy, city officials decided it was finally time to resolve a question that had been gathering dust for decades. Back in 1974, Angelo Fregolent, who is now 94, had parked his 1962 Lancia Fulvia outside the newsstand he ran with his wife.

Fregolent never drove the sporty car, but he liked having it there because he could use the trunk to hold newspapers and magazines that were delivered each morning.

When he retired, as the regional daily Il Gazzettino reports, he simply left the aging Lancia in the same place, which was also right next to the apartment where he and his wife lived. Every year, he would pay the automobile registration and insurance fees, and have the luxury of seeing his "baby" as he passed by to run errands or go to the local bar. It also became something of a local (true) urban legend.

But as parking rules have changed, Conegliano's city authorities finally insisted that the car be removed. Fregolent agreed when he was told that the car would be restored, and turned into a tourist attraction. The small-town story made both national news, and even got some press abroad.

But here comes the final twist: The story of the legendary Lancia reached to the extreme south of Italy, in the Sicilian capital of Palermo. There, as Italian-language local daily TrevisoToday reports, a tobacco shop owner saw the number of the license plate (TV 202277), and decided to play it on the weekly lottery.

When 20, 22 and 77 were the first numbers drawn on the national wheel, the Sicilian shopkeeper won 4,500 euros. That kind of luck beats winning a brand new car!

➡️ Keep up with all the planet's police reports and plot twists on Worldcrunch.com

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet & Jane Herbelin

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Pro-life and Pro-abortion Rights Protests in Washington

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Håfa adai!*

Welcome to Thursday, where new Omicron findings arrive from South Africa, abortion rights are at risk at the U.S. Supreme Court and Tyrannosaurus rex has got some new competition. From Germany, we share the story of a landmark pharmacy turned sex toy museum.

[*Chamorro - Guam]

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🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• COVID update: South Africa reports a higher rate of reinfections from the Omicron variant than has been registered with the Beta and Delta variants, though researchers await further findings on the effects of the new strain. Meanwhile, the UK approves the use of a monoclonal therapy, known as sotrovimab, to treat those at high risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms.The approval comes as the British pharmaceutical company, GSK, separately announced the treatment has shown to “retain activity” against the Omicron variant. Down under, New Zealand’s reopening, slated for tomorrow is being criticized as posing risks to its under-vaccinated indigenous Maori.

• Supreme Court poised to gut abortion rights: The U.S. Supreme Court signaled a willingness to accept a Republican-backed Mississippi law that would bar abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, even in cases of rape or incest. A ruling, expected in June, may see millions of women lose abortion access, 50 years after it was recognized as a constitutional right in the landmark Roe v. Wade case.

• Macri charged in Argentine spying case: Argentina’s former president Mauricio Macri has been charged with ordering the secret services to spy on the family members of 44 sailors who died in a navy submarine sinking in 2017. The charge carries a sentence of three to ten years in prison. Macri, now an opposition leader, says the charges are politically motivated.

• WTA suspends China tournaments over Peng Shuai: The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) announced the immediate suspension of all tournaments in China due to concerns about the well-being of Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai, and the safety of other players. Peng disappeared from public view after accusing a top Chinese official of sexual assault.

• Michigan school shooting suspect to be charged as an adult: The 15-year-old student accused of killing four of his classmates and wounding seven other people in a Michigan High School will face charges of terrorism and first-degree murder. Authorities say the suspect had described wanting to attack the school in cellphone videos and a journal.

• Turkey replaces finance minister amid economic turmoil: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan appointed a strong supporter of his low-interest rate drive, Nureddin Nebati, as Turkey’s new finance minister.

• A battle axe for a tail: Chilean researchers announced the discovery of a newly identified dinosaur species with a completely unique feature from any other creatures that lived at that time: a flat, weaponized tail resembling a battle axe.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

South Korean daily Joong-ang Ilbo reports on the discovery of five Omicron cases in South Korea. The Asian nation has broken its daily record for overall coronavirus infections for a second day in a row with more than 5,200 new cases. The variant cases were linked to arrivals from Nigeria and prompted the government to tighten border controls.


#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

¥10,000

In the northeastern Chinese city of Harbin, a reward of 10,000 yuan ($1,570) will be given to anyone who volunteers to take a COVID-19 test and get a positive result, local authorities announced on Thursday on the social network app WeChat.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

Why an iconic pharmacy is turning into a sex toy museum

The "New Pharmacy" was famous throughout the St. Pauli district of Hamburg for its history and its long-serving owner. Now the owner’s daughter is transforming it into a museum dedicated to the history of sex toys, linking it with the past "curing" purpose of the shop, reports Eva Eusterhus in German daily Die Welt.

💊 The story begins in autumn 2018, when 83-year-old Regis Genger stood at the counter of her pharmacy and realized that the time had come for her to retire. At least that is the first thing her daughter Anna Genger tells us when we meet, describing the turning point that has also shaped her life and that of her business partner Bianca Müllner. The two women want to create something new here, something that reflects the pharmacy's history and Hamburg's eclectic St. Pauli quarter (it houses both a red light district and the iconic Reeperbahn entertainment area) as well as their own interests.

🚨 Over the last few months, the pharmacy has been transformed into L'Apotheque, a venture that brings together art and business in St. Pauli's red light district. The back rooms will be used for art exhibitions, while the old pharmacy space will house a museum dedicated to the history of sex toys. Genger and Müllner want to show that desire has always existed and that people have always found inventive ways of maximizing pleasure, even in times when self-gratification was seen as unnatural and immoral, as a cause of deformities.

🏩 Genger and Müllner want the museum to show how the history of desire has changed over time. The art exhibitions, which will also center on the themes of physicality and sexuality, are intended to complement the exhibits. They are planning to put on window displays to give passers-by a taste of what is to come, for example, British artist Bronwen Parker-Rhodes's film Lovers, which offers a portrait of sex workers during lockdown.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

"I would never point a gun at anyone and pull a trigger at them. Never."

— U.S. actor Alec Baldwin spoke to ABC News, his first interview since the accident that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the movie Rust last October. The actor said that although he was holding the gun he didn’t pull the trigger, adding that the bullet “wasn't even supposed to be on the property.”

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet and Jane Herbelin

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