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Nord Stream Leaks, Abe Funeral, High-Speed Space Crash

People pay their respects to former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe outside the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo, ahead of his state funeral. Shinzo Abe died after he was shot during a political campaign event on July 8.

Chloé Touchard, Lisa Berdet, Lila Paulou and Anne-Sophie Goninet

👋 Ha’u!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where Japan honors former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in a controversial state funeral, unexplained gas leaks are reported on Nord Stream pipelines and NASA’s Dart mission succeeds, at high speed. Meanwhile, German daily Die Welt looks at how European countries are dealing with the prospect of a winter energy crisis and the potential repercussions on their support for Ukraine.

[*Hopi, Arizona, U.S.]


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• Russian men flee mobilization: More than 260,000 men of conscription age have left Russia in the two days following President Vladimir Putin’s partial mobilization announcement on Sept. 21. Most of them have sought refuge in neighboring countries, from Finland to Georgia to Mongolia.

• Gas leaks on Russian pipelines: Sweden and Denmark have reported unexplained leaks on the two major Russian underground gas pipelines Nord Stream 1 and 2, which run under the Baltic Sea near the two Nordic countries. None of the pipelines were in operation but they still contained gas.

• Most advanced U.S. warship in east Asia: The U.S. Navy’s most advanced surface warship, the USS Zumwalt, has been sent to the eastern Pacific, where it might deploy hypersonic missiles. This move is expected to attract the attention of China.

• Shinzo Abe’s controversial state funeral: About 4,000 people attended the state funeral for Japan’s former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was assassinated on July 8. The ceremony sparked protests in Tokyo over its high cost and the ties between Abe’s party and the Unification Church.

• Haiti facing humanitarian catastrophe: Haiti’s UN envoy has warned that the country is facing a humanitarian catastrophe following weeks of violence prompted by Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s decision to end government fuel subsidies on Sept. 11. Some 2,000 tons of food aid have been lost in repeated attacks on UN warehouses, while businesses have closed and transport services are not running in protest of the situation.

• Iran arrests journalists and activists: Iran has arrested at least 20 journalists and an unknown number of activists and lawyers since the start of nationwide protests against the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini at the hands of the morality police on Sept. 16. These arrests come on top of severe internet restrictions and the blocking of several social media platforms.

• Wildlife comeback in Europe: Top predators including wolves, brown bears and white-tailed eagles are making a comeback in Europe thanks to human efforts. Legal protection, habitat restoration and reintroductions are shown to have effectively impacted species recovery.


“Will all the lights go out soon?” asks German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine, as risks of blackouts loom over Europe as tensions continue with Russia over energy supplies. Environmental associations are asking for local authorities to set a limit of one lit Christmas tree per city.



NASA's DART spacecraft successfully completed its mission: slamming into an asteroid to deflect its orbit with a kinetic impact, a maneuver designed to determine how to escape potential threats to Earth in the future. At 7.14 p.m., the spacecraft collided with the Dimorphos asteroid at a speed of 21,600 kilometers per hour (13,421 miles per hour) to deflect the space rock.


Europe's winter energy crisis has already begun

In the face of Russia's stranglehold over supplies, the European Commission has proposed support packages and price caps. But across Europe, fears about the cost of living are spreading — and with it, doubts about support for Ukraine. German daily Die Welt pulls together an overview of the situation in different European countries, offering some insight into the troubles faced by the continent.

🇵🇱 Of all countries, Poland — which is rich in coal and relies on it for more than 70% of its energy — is facing a shortage. Its power stations run on coal mainly mined in the south of the country, but until recently the over 3.5 million households that rely on coal ovens imported most of their fuel from Russia. That is no longer the case, and as coal becomes scarcer, its price is skyrocketing. Add to that an inflation rate of 16.1% in August, and Poles are suffering. But so far there have been no mass protests against the government’s approach. The general population and the major opposition parties are largely in favor of strict sanctions against Russia and support for Ukraine.

🇨🇿 In the neighboring Czech Republic, things look very different. According to police estimates, Sunday 11 September saw 70,000 people take to the streets of Prague to protest against high energy costs and call for an end to sanctions against Russia. Moscow’s main weapon is energy — and Prague is particularly susceptible. Although the Czech Republic is one of the largest net electricity exporters in Europe, with two nuclear power plants and significant investment in renewable energy, it has also been importing gas from Russia for a long time.

🇮🇹 Since the earliest days of the war, the Italian people have been divided over sanctions against Russia and supplying weapons to Ukraine. Italy historically has close ties with Russia, and the country has a deep-rooted pacifism shaped by the Catholic Church. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, politicians have been playing on these sympathies, and now only 43% of the population agrees with the statement that sanctions against Russia are the best approach, while 37% are against. Worries about rising energy costs are a contributing factor.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


The current scenario is unprecedented in the history of Brazilian democracy.

— A memo sent by the Brazilian Federal Police after a Workers Party's official was shot dead by a supporter of President Jair Bolsonaro in July reveals that officers were called for backup to reinforce the security around President Lula during the campaign. His nationalist rival Jair Bolsonaro has incited his supporters to use violence against the left several times during the run. A Datafolha poll shows that currently nearly 70% of Brazilians are afraid of being assaulted because of their political preference. The first round of the elections will take place this weekend and recent polls show a clear victory for Lula.

✍️ Newsletter by Chloé Touchard, Lisa Berdet, Lila Paulou and Anne-Sophie Goninet

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Chinese Students' "Absurd" Protest Against COVID Lockdowns: Public Crawling

While street demonstrations have spread in China to protest the strict Zero-COVID regulations, some Chinese university students have taken up public acts of crawling to show what extended harsh lockdowns are doing to their mental state.

​Screenshot of a video showing Chinese students crawling on a soccer pitch

Screenshot of a video showing Chinese students crawling

Shuyue Chen

Since last Friday, the world has watched a wave of street protests have taken place across China as frustration against extended lockdowns reached a boiling point. But even before protesters took to the streets, Chinese university students had begun a public demonstration that challenges and shames the state's zero-COVID rules in a different way: public displays of crawling, as a kind of absurdist expression of their repressed anger under three years of strict pandemic control.

Xin’s heart was beating fast as her knees reached the ground. It was her first time joining the strange scene at the university sports field, so she put on her hat and face mask to cover her identity.

Kneeling down, with her forearms supporting her body from the ground, Xin started crawling with three other girls as a group, within a larger demonstration of other small groups. As they crawled on, she felt the sense of fear and embarrassment start to disappear. It was replaced by a liberating sense of joy, which had been absent in her life as a university student in lockdown for so long.

Yes, crawling in public has become a popular activity among Chinese university students recently. There have been posters and videos of "volunteer crawling" across universities in China. At first, it was for the sake of "fun." Xin, like many who participated, thought it was a "cult-like ritual" in the beginning, but she changed her mind. "You don't care about anything when crawling, not thinking about the reason why, what the consequences are. You just enjoy it."

The reality out there for Chinese university students has been grim. For Xin, her university started daily COVID-19 testing in November, and deliveries, including food, are banned. Apart from the school gate, all exits have been padlock sealed.

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