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In The News

Le Weekend ➡️ Fuel Shortage Bots, Endometriosis Breakthrough, Best Fat Bear

Le Weekend ➡️ Fuel Shortage Bots, Endometriosis Breakthrough, Best Fat Bear

France is facing a fuel crisis

October 15-16

  • Putin's nuclear pressure
  • COVID orphans
  • An endometriosis breakthrough
  • … and much more.


What do you remember from the news this week?

1. What country expressed outrage after Russian missiles that hit Kyiv crossed its airspace?

2. India had to halt the production of what medicine after a report linked it to dozens of child deaths in Gambia? Cough syrup/Insulin/Antibiotics

3. Which two neighboring countries reached a historic maritime border deal in the Mediterranean, ending a long-decade conflict?

4. Hollywood Golden Age actress Angela Lansbury passed away this week at age 96. In what long-running TV series did she star? The Golden Girls / Dr. Who / Murder, She Wrote

[Answers at the bottom of this newsletter]


French Twitter overflowed with thousands of tweets from fake accounts relaying the #penuriecarburant hashtag (#fuelshortage) within just a few hours. Data analyst Florent Lefebvre found that on Oct. 10, between 9:30 and 10:30pm, 50% of the 4,000 tweets published with this hashtag came from bot accounts created on that same day, with the same type of profile picture and featuring parts of sentences in English that didn’t make sense. “They didn’t even make an effort to pose as fake accounts!,” said the analyst who remained skeptical as to what the motives behind this wave of tweets could be. “It could be a marketing operation but honestly it is very atypical, it does not match with any scheme, any logic,” Lefebvre tweeted. France is currently facing a fuel crisis amid a nationwide strike from workers asking for better salaries and a share of oil firms’ huge profits.


• Glued to Picasso: Pablo Picasso’s Massacre in Korea , which was on loan at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, was unharmed after two Extinction Rebellion activists glued themselves to the prized painting to urge governments to take action on the global environmental crisis ahead of Australia’s state election next month. The protesters, who knew they “could do this action without damaging the artwork itself” thanks to a protective perspex glazing, were arrested and later released without charges.

• COVID tribute in Cape Town township: Local artist Nardstar spent 15 days painting two 20-meter-high concrete silos with portrayals of the members of the Philippi Village, a township in Cape Town, South Africa, as a homage to the solidarity the community displayed during the coronavirus pandemic. The artist added the word “Ubuntu,” which means “humanity towards others.”

• Smithsonian returns Benin Bronzes: The Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art held a ceremony to mark the return of 31 culturally precious objects , including 29 Benin Bronzes, to the Nigerian National Collections. The artifacts had been stolen during a British raid on Benin City in Nigeria in 1897. The repatriation is part of a global movement by museums to return artworks stolen during colonial wars.

• Google Doodle celebrates Egyptian historian Mostafa El-Abbadi: The search engine’s homepage has paid tribute to Egyptian scholar Mostafa Abdel-Hamid El-Abbadi via its signature Doodle, on what would have been the historian’s 94th birthday on Oct. 10. The Doodle featured an illustration of the professor next to the second great library of Alexandria, a place he helped revitalize.

• Blink-182 reunites: Pop-punk fans, rejoice! U.S. band Blink-182 announced in a video its return with its original lineup , with a global yearlong tour starting in March, and the release of a new song called “Edging.” Singer Tom DeLonge had left the band in 2015 to focus on his other project Angels & Airwaves.

☢️  Ukraine war: Putin’s rationality and the nuclear option

A bitter paradox that Ukrainians have faced since the invasion began was most clearly on display this week. The more the Ukrainian army succeeds on the frontline, the more likely that Russia will retaliate with strikes against innocent civilians. Increasingly under pressure and disorganized, the Russian army resorts to the missile launchers from the rear, who can target civilians in Ukraine far from any battlefield. But the more land the Ukrainian army reclaims, the more extreme Vladimir Putin's actions could become, leading to a potential extreme of this escalation: the nuclear option. “It has become clear that the choice of whether to use nuclear weapons, for Vladimir Putin , is ultimately like any other choice. And it will be one made by a man who has painted himself in a corner,” writes Ukrainian journalist Anna Akage.

Read the full story: The Escalation Trap: How Putin Is Painting Himself Into A Nuclear Corner

🇹🇼🇨🇳 Taiwanese in China & the double identity issue

Increasing tensions between Taiwan and China over the last two years, with a peak during Nancy Pelosi's visit to the island in August, have led many Taiwanese living in mainland China to re-examine their life choices and question their place in a hostile environment. Many who had planned to come to China have changed their minds. According to the data released by Taiwan's General Accounting Office, 242,000 people went to work in mainland China in 2020, down 153,000 from the previous year, a decrease for the seventh consecutive year. “The golden times when the Mainland could offer many opportunities to Taiwanese are gone,” Chen, who decided to move back to Taiwan after experiencing Shanghai's lockdown, told Chinese-language media The Initium .

Read the full story: What Life Is Like As A Taiwanese Living In Mainland China

😷🧒 Helping the children who lost caregiver to COVID

According to research conducted in 21 countries and published in the medical journal The Lancet , in Italy 3,201 minors lost a parent to COVID during the first year of the pandemic. Added to this are the 366 children or adolescents who lost a grandparent serving as their foster parent, and another 2,214 who lost grandparents or relatives who lived in their same household. Yet, the country still lacks a specific plan of psychological, social and economic support for orphans of COVID victims. The impact of the pandemic has been devastating for some. “Children lost their daily routines overnight: they could no longer go to school, see friends or other attachment figures. The family climate was severely compromised, and the children felt it,” Enrica Bianchi, manager of Il Mandorlo counseling center, told L’Essenziale .

Read the full story: Italy's Orphans Of COVID: Children Who Lost Parents Are Also Left Alone By The State


A major breakthrough in the fight against the disease, the French start up Ziwig has created a salivary test to quickly diagnose endometriosis in patients. “ Endotest ” will help doctors discover the possibility of the gynecological condition in early stages, complex forms and advanced stages.


Alaska's Katmai National Park & Preserve has announced the winner of its annual Fat Bear Week contest , a male brown bear identified as 747 which “has become one of the largest brown bears on Earth, perhaps weighing as much as 1,400 pounds (636 kg),” the park wrote as part of the bios of the 12 heavyweight contestants. The annual gathering of brown bears at the salmon-packed Brooks River can be seen via a live cam as the animals fatten up before hibernating for the winter.


Here’s the latest Dottoré! piece from the notebook of Neapolitan psychiatrist and writer Mariateresa Fichele:

Fear Of Death — And Not Being Dressed Accordingly

Antonietta has two obsessions: fine nightclothes, and death. Other people's death, that is.

Inside her psychosis-driven head, these two elements are linked as such: As soon as she hears that someone is ill , she shows up at their home, with a gift of silk nightgown or pajamas — worthy garments, she thinks, for someone who may be about to depart.

Today she came for a session and, unfortunately, I had a big headache.

" Dottoré , you don’t look well. Are you feeling ok?"

"Antonietta, I'm completely fine. Don’t you even think of bringing me a nightgown.”

"But why do you say that? I do it as a good omen! And in any case, we all have to die. And if it happens to you, and you look good on your deathbed, then later you will send me blessings!”

"No, Antonietta, you’re mistaken. First, you don’t know for sure that I’ll be able to send blessings your way once I’m dead. But what’s for sure is that while I’m alive, I can definitely tell you to f*ck off!”


• The 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party opens on Sunday.

• The European Union is expected to unveil new emergency measures next week to try and curb high energy prices.

• Lebanon has announced it will start returning Syrian refugees to their home countries next week, despite concerns from human rights groups.

News quiz answers:

1. Moldova summoned Moscow’s envoy to demand an explanation after Russian missiles that hit Ukraine’s capital Kyiv reportedly crossed the country’s airspace .

2. • India announced that production will halt at a cough syrup factory belonging to Maiden Pharmaceuticals after a WHO report linked the medicine to dozens of child deaths in Gambia.

3. A historic deal was reached by Lebanon and Israel to demarcate a disputed maritime border in the gas-rich Mediterranean Sea, ending a decade-long conflict.

4. After a fruitful career spanning eight decades across theater, film, and TV, Angela Lansbury has died at 96 . Winning international fame for her role in the U.S. TV crime series Murder, She Wrote , she was also one of the last surviving stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood cinema.

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*Photo: Jean-Marc Haedrich/Visual Pres

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Look At This Crap! The "Enshittification" Theory Of Why The Internet Is Broken

The term was coined by journalist Cory Doctorow to explain the fatal drift of major Internet platforms: if they were ever useful and user-friendly, they will inevitably end up being odious.

A person holding their smartphone

Gilles Lambert/ ZUMA
Manuel Ligero


The universe tends toward chaos. Ultimately, everything degenerates. These immutable laws are even more true of the Internet .

In the case of media platforms, everything you once thought was a good service will, sooner or later, disgust you. This trend has been given a name: enshittification . The term was coined by Canadian blogger and journalist Cory Doctorow to explain the inevitable drift of technological giants toward... well.

The explanation is in line with the most basic tenets of Marxism. All digital companies have investors (essentially the bourgeoisie, people who don't perform any work and take the lion's share of the profits), and these investors want to see the percentage of their gains grow year after year. This pushes companies to make decisions that affect the service they provide to their customers. Although they don't do it unwillingly, quite the opposite.

For the latest news & views from every corner of the world, Worldcrunch Today is the only truly international newsletter. Sign up here .

Annoying customers is just another part of the business plan. Look at Netflix , for example. The streaming giant has long been riddling how to monetize shared Netflix accounts. Option 1: adding a premium option to its regular price. Next, it asked for verification through text messages. After that, it considered raising the total subscription price. It also mulled adding advertising to the mix, and so on. These endless maneuvers irritated its audience, even as the company has been unable to decide which way it wants to go. So, slowly but surely, we see it drifting toward enshittification.

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