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In The News

Ethiopia Violence Escalates, COVID Surge In Europe, Space Tacos

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.



This is our daily newsletter Worldcrunch Today, a rapid tour of the news of the day from the world's best journalism sources, regardless of language or geography.

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• 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."


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.



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.


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


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.


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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Iran's War On Abortion Rights, A Toxic Mix Of Theocracy And Demographic Panic

Ending a pregnancy has become a major complication, and a crime, for Iranian women who cannot or will not have children in a country wracked by socio-economic woes and a leadership.

photo of a young child surrounded by women in chadors

Iran's government wants to boost the birth rate at all costs

Office of Supreme Leader/ZUMA
Firoozeh Nordstrom

Keen to boost the population, Iran's Islamic regime has reversed its half-hearted family planning policies of earlier years and is curbing birth control with measures that include banning abortion.

Its (2021) Law to Support the Family and Rejuvenate the Population (Qanun-e hemayat az khanevadeh va javani-e jam'iyat) threatens to fine the women who want to abort, and fine, imprison, and dismiss the performing physician, if the pregnancy is not deemed to be life-threatening. The law also bans contraceptives.

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The measures are in line with the dictates of Iran's Supreme leader, Ali Khamenei. He was already denouncing birth control policies by 2018-19, though conservative elements among Iran's rulers have always dismissed birth control as a piece of Western corruption.

Today, measures to boost families include land and credit incentives for young couples, but it is difficult to say how far they will counter a marked reluctance among Iranians to marry and procreate. Kayhan-London had an online conversation with individuals affected by the new rules in Iran.

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