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In The News

Israel Steps Up Gaza Strikes, Maine Victims Tribute, FIFA Bans Rubiales

Photo of Pro-Palestine demonstrators holding a candlelight vigil outside Tokyo Station.

Pro-Palestine demonstrators hold a candlelight vigil outside Tokyo Station to pay tribute to the civilian victims of Israeli airstrikes in Gaza.

Anne-Sophie Goninet & Michelle Courtois

👋 བཀྲ་ཤིས་བདེ་ལེགས།*

Welcome to Monday, where Israel steps up strikes in Gaza, FIFA bans head of Spanish soccer federation for three years over his non-consensual kissing of player, and an Italian mamma wins in court against her two middle-aged freeloader sons. Meanwhile, the Tel Aviv correspondent of Les Echos looks at what may be one of the biggest challenges in Israel’s coming ground offensive in Gaza: Hamas’ tunnels.

[*Tashi delek - Tibetan]

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🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• Israel expands ground offensive, patients stuck in Gaza hospitals: The Israeli air force says it has struck 600 militant targets over the past several days as the military begins to expand its ground offensive in Gaza. Meanwhile, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees has warned that “hundreds and hundreds of patients” are stuck in hospitals in the north of Gaza and are physically unable to move south. More about the growing rift between the UN and Israel here.

• Rights lawyer arrested in Iran at funeral of girl who died after metro incident: Iranian authorities have arrested Nasrin Sotoudeh, a prominent lawyer and human rights defender, as she attended the funeral of a teenage girl who died after being injured weeks ago in a disputed incident on Tehran’s Metro. The lawyer, who was awarded the 2012 Sakharov prize for her human rights work, was reportedly detained on charges of violating Iran’s mandatory hijab law.

• FIFA bans Luis Rubiales for three years: The former Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales has been banned by FIFA from all soccer-related activities for three years for breaching article 13 of its disciplinary code. Rubiales had caused a controversy when he kissed Spain player Jenni Hermosos on the lips without her consent following Spain's Women's World Cup final win over England in August. For more, read The Rubiales Kiss & 11 Other Cases Of Football's Die-Hard Machismo And Sexual Aggression.

• Tribute to Maine mass shooting victims, suspect found dead: More than 1,000 people gathered on Sunday evening in Lewiston to pay homage to the victims of Maine’s worst mass shooting. The vigil came two days after the suspect, Robert Card, was found dead in a trailer at a recycling center in Lisbon Falls after an apparent suicide. The suspected gunman had opened fire at a bowling alley in Lewiston, killing 18. His motives remain unknown.

• Mexico sends troops to Acapulco, hurricane death toll rises: Mexico’s government has sent some 17,000 members of the armed forces to lead recovery and aid efforts to stricken coastal city of Acapulco, as the death toll from Hurricane Otis rises to 48. The storm has left the tourist destination in ruins, knocking out power and causing damage that could climb as high as $15 billion.

• Indian train collision leaves at least 13 dead: At least 13 people were killed and dozens injured after two passenger trains collided, causing a derailment of at least three rail cars, in India's southern Andhra Pradesh state on Sunday. A preliminary investigation has found that a “human error” was the cause of the accident.

• Mamma’s freeloader boys no more: A 75-year-old Italian mother in the northern Italian city of Pavia has just won a case against her two sons, both in their 40s, over their refusal to leave the nest. The sons have been ordered to find their own accommodation by Dec. 18.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

South African daily The Citizen dedicates its front page to the victory of the country’s beloved Springboks against New Zealand’s All Blacks at the Rugby World Cup final in Paris on Saturday. As the team travels back home tomorrow, they embark on a four-day tour throughout South Africa to celebrate their win and showcase the trophy. South Africa broke a record by becoming the first country to win the World Cup four times, and joined the All Blacks as the only back-to-back champions. For more, read this Les Echos article, translated from French by Worldcrunch, on what makes rugby the defining sport of modern democracy.

💬 LEXICON

Погром

After a mob descended on an Israeli airplane Sunday night in the Russian republic of Dagestan, Russian-language media was using a word that began being used in the late 19th century to describe violent anti-Jewish riots and attacks that occurred in the Russian Empire, and later in other parts of Eastern Europe.

The latest assault happened in Russia’s Muslim-majority region of Dagestan, as angry young men stormed the airport in the capital of Makhachkala in search of Jewish passengers arriving from Israel. The passengers on the flight from Tel Aviv sheltered inside the plane, but 20 people were injured in the mayhem, and 60 arrested. Some Russian media and social media users called the attack a погром (pogrom), a Russian word that has been adopted into many languages, including English, to describe violent, organized attacks against a particular ethnic group.

The original pogroms involved the destruction of Jewish homes, businesses, and synagogues, as well as physical violence against Jewish individuals. These events were usually fueled by anti-Semitic hate, economic tensions, and political factors. There is fear that such riots could spread in response to the current Israeli war in Gaza.

📰 STORY OF THE DAY

Tunnel war: How Hamas will use its underground maze to combat Israel's ground assault

Hamas has dug an enormous network of tunnels under Gaza that may turn out to be the biggest challenge for the impending Israeli ground offensive, reports Pascal Brunel in French daily Les Echos.

⛏️ They call it the "Gaza Métro." The sprawling myriad of tunnels that Hamas has been building for years underneath the Palestinian enclave is an impressive labyrinth. There are no fewer than 1,300 tunnels, with an estimated total length of 500 kilometers (311 miles) underground, with some as long as 70 meters. Built to withstand Israel's continuing aerial bombardment, Hamas views the tunnels as their decisive weapon in what is expected to be the intense urban guerrilla warfare once Israel launches its ground offensive.

💥 Generally constructed at two meters high and two meters wide, they can be used, for example, to launch attacks of unsuspecting enemy soldiers venturing into towns, or to store weapons, ammunition, fuel and motorcycles. The tunnel system also serve as hideouts for the Islamist organization's political and military leaders, whom Israel has promised to eliminate, as well as places of detention for the estimated 220 Israeli and foreign hostages held by Hamas since its bloody infiltration of southern Israel on October 7, which left 1,400 dead.

🔍 To avoid detection by spyware — an "Israeli speciality" — which enables eavesdropping and tracking of cell phones and hacking into computers, Hamas uses an autonomous telephone network specially designed for its tunnels. Facing this unique challenge, the Israeli army has yet to find the perfect response. It does, however, have radar systems, special sensors to measure the magnetic, thermal and acoustic imprints emitted in the tunnels, as well as robots that can be used as tunnel scouts, and aerial surveillance missions to spot possible mounds of earth.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

“In 2024, the right of women to choose abortion will become irreversible.”

— French President Emmanuel Macron announced on social media that a draft project would be submitted to the State Council, France's highest administrative court, with a view to making abortion rights constitutional by the end of the year. The draft, which is said to be made this coming week, would be a constitutional revision, which in France, requires either a referendum or approval by at least three-fifths of the members of both chambers of parliament united in a congress.

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Valeria Berghinz and Michelle Courtois


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Society

Influencer Union? The Next Labor Rights Battle May Be For Social Media Creators

With the end of the Hollywood writers and actors strikes, the creator economy is the next frontier for organized labor.

​photograph of a smartphone on a selfie stick

Smartphone on a selfie stick

Steve Gale/Unsplash
David Craig and Stuart Cunningham

Hollywood writers and actors recently proved that they could go toe-to-toe with powerful media conglomerates. After going on strike in the summer of 2023, they secured better pay, more transparency from streaming services and safeguards from having their work exploited or replaced by artificial intelligence.

But the future of entertainment extends well beyond Hollywood. Social media creators – otherwise known as influencers, YouTubers, TikTokers, vloggers and live streamers – entertain and inform a vast portion of the planet.

✉️ You can receive our Bon Vivant selection of fresh reads on international culture, food & travel directly in your inbox. Subscribe here.

For the past decade, we’ve mapped the contours and dimensions of the global social media entertainment industry. Unlike their Hollywood counterparts, these creators struggle to be seen as entertainers worthy of basic labor protections.

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