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In The News

Russians Digging In, Greek Election, Trevi Fountain Turns Black

Russians Digging In, Greek Election, Trevi Fountain Turns Black

Ultima Generazione activists protest the government's support to fossil fuel in the Trevi foutain in Rome.

Sophie Jacquier, Yannick Champion-Osselin, Marine Béguin, Bertrand Hauger and Anne-Sophie Goninet

👋 Ki kati!*

Welcome to Monday, where satellite images reveal Russian trenches and fortifications as it prepares for Ukraine’s counteroffensive, anti-fossil-fuel activists turn Rome’s Trevi Fountain black, and a Minnesota man gets charged for the theft of Judy Garland’s Wizard of Oz ruby slippers. Meanwhile, Giuseppe Legato reports in Italian daily La Stampa about the renewed, and deadly, alliance of mob families in Calabria.

[*Luganda, Uganda]


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.

It's easy (and free!) to sign up to receive it each day in your inbox: 👉 Sign up here


• Ukraine update: Analysis of satellite images by BBC reveal the extent of Russian defenses ahead of an expected large-scale counteroffensive by Ukraine. Meanwhile Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky countered Russian claims of a complete takeover of the long contested city of Bakhmut. Senior Russian diplomats also warn of “colossal risks” if NATO supplies F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine.

• Greece’s conservative party wins, but short of majority: The incumbent New Democracy party scored a 20-point victory over left-wing Syriza in national elections, but Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis looks to a new poll to assure his complete majority.

• U.S. signs defense contract in the Pacific Islands: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has signed a defense agreement with Papua New Guinea, and is set to meet with other leaders in the Pacific islands. India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also pledged his support for the Pacific Islands, amidst rising tensions surrounding China and Taiwan.

• China bans major U.S. memory chipmaker: Beijing has barred U.S. company Micron Technology, Inc. from selling memory chips to certain Chinese industries amid heightened trade tensions. China's cyberspace regulator said that Micron had failed a security review and thus would block operators from purchasing their products.

• Guyana school fire kills 20: At least 20 secondary school students died in a dormitory fire in the central Guyanese mining town of Mahdia on Monday. Emergency services are struggling to fight the fire in bad weather.

• Saudi astronauts, including first Arab woman, heading to space: A private rocket has launched on a mission to the International Space Station (ISS) carrying a former NASA astronaut and three paying customers: two Saudi astronauts and a Tennessee businessman. Breast cancer researcher Rayyanah Barnawi becomes the first Arab woman astronaut in space, sponsored by the Saudi government.

• Minnesota man charged for ruby slipper theft: Almost 20 years after they were stolen, a man has been indicted for stealing Judy Garland’s iconic ruby slippers from the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. Terry Jon Martin stole the $100,000 slippers from a museum in Minnesota in 2005. They were recovered in 2018 by the FBI.


Athens-based Kathimerinireports on the results of Greece's general elections on Sunday: “Mitsotakis’s triumph, Tsipras’s crash.” The country’s conservative prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis won big, with his incumbent center-right New Democracy party getting more than 40% of the vote — just short of obtaining an outright majority. Although Mitsotakis is expected to set another election for a decisive result, the results already come as a blow for opposition leader Alexis Tsipras, of center-left Syriza party, with the former prime minister (2015-2019) only garnering 20% of the vote.


2 hours, 37 minutes and 15 seconds

Spanish athlete Maria Perez broke the world record for women's 35-km race after crossing the finish line in two hours, 37 minutes and 15 seconds in Podebrady, Czech Republic, more than eight minutes ahead of her rival, Raquel Gonzales. She beat the record set by the Peruvian Kimberly Garcia in March by an impressive 29 seconds.


A new Calabrian mob alliance sparks shocking violence — and more women victims

United to colonize the region’s north, two allied mob families from Calabria's 'Ndrangheta crime syndicate have resumed methods to establish themselves that have been abandoned for years. The result is as bloody as the Italian mob has been in memory, reports Giuseppe Legato in Italian daily La Stampa.

🤝 The ‘ndrina Abruzzese and the ‘ndrina Forastefano, two opposing cosche mob families, who had been at war with each other in the early 2000s, have now allied to take over what remains of northern Calabria up to the border with the Basilicata region. Cruel, cynical, archaic, harsh: this new hybrid Calabrian mob is back to shooting people in the streets, and it doesn’t spare women. In one year, two have died, bringing the number of victims in the past 24 months to 15.

💥 Those who kill almost always shoot with Kalashnikov assault rifles, and they don’t skimp on bullets: 18 from a Russian-made AK-47 rifle and 14 from a 9mm gun hit Antonella Lopardo, 49, in the beginning of May. Her hands, abdomen and face were riddled. The killers were after her husband Salvatore Maritato, who was the real (missed) target of the execution.

♀️ It is not common for women to be killed during mafia clan wars. The last time this happened in Calabria was nine years ago, when Ibisse Taoussa was murdered and burned along with convicted criminal Giuseppe Iannicelli and his grandson “Cocò” Campolongo, who was three years old. For this reason, investigators probing the case fear an escalation. On this stretch of the Calabrian coast, few things go unpunished, especially with murders like these.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


“We don't want to be on the outskirts of Europe anymore.”

— Moldovan President Maia Sandu addressed the crowd during a large-scale rally in the country’s capital Chisinau which gathered an estimated 75,000 people in support of the country joining the European Union by 2030. The demonstration comes amid tension between Moldova and Russia, whom Sandu has accused of meddling in the country's affairs.

✍️ Newsletter by Sophie Jacquier, Yannick Champion-Osselin, Marine Béguin, Bertrand Hauger and Anne-Sophie Goninet

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food / travel

Inside The Search For Record-Breaking Sapphires In A Remote Indian Valley

A vast stretch of mountains in India's Padder Valley is believed to house sapphire reserves worth $1.2 billion, which could change the fate of one of the poorest districts of Jammu and Kashmir.

Photo of sapphire miners at work in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kishtwar district

Sapphire mining in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kishtwar district

Jehangir Ali

GULABGARH — Mohammad Abbas recalls with excitement the old days when he joined the hunt in the mountains of Jammu and Kashmir’s Kishtwar district to search the world’s most precious sapphires.

Kishtwar’s sapphire mines are hidden in the inaccessible mountains towering at an altitude of nearly 16,000 feet, around Sumchan and Bilakoth areas of Padder Valley in Machail – which is one of the most remote regions of Jammu and Kashmir.

“Up there, the weather is harsh and very unpredictable,” Abbas, a farmer, said. “One moment the high altitude sun is peeling off your skin and the next you could get frostbite. Many labourers couldn’t stand those tough conditions and fled.”

Abbas, 56, added with a smile: “But those who stayed earned their reward, too.”

A vast stretch of mountains in Padder Valley nestled along Kishtwar district’s border with Ladakh is believed to house sapphire reserves worth $1.2 billion, according to one estimate. A 19.88-carat Kishtwar sapphire broke records in 2013 when it was sold for nearly $2.4 million.

In India, the price of sapphire with a velvety texture and true-blue peacock colour, which is found only in Kishtwar, can reach $6,000 per carat. The precious stone could change the socio-economic landscape of Kishtwar, which is one of the economically most underdeveloped districts of Jammu and Kashmir.

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