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In The News

Ukraine-EU, U.S. Gun Law Battles, Big Bacteria

​High school graduates from Chernihiv are dancing before the destroyed Hotel Ukraine.

High school graduates from Chernihiv are dancing before the destroyed Hotel Ukraine.

Lisa Berdet, Lila Paulou and Anne-Sophie Goninet

👋 Halo!*

Welcome to Friday, where Kyiv gets EU candidate status in Brussels, while Ukrainian forces retreat from Severodonetsk, there’s good and bad news in the U.S. for gun control advocates, and scientists discover one big bacterium. Meanwhile, Persian-language news website Kayhan-London looks at the reasons behind the harsher tone the West has adopted toward Iran in recent weeks.

[*Sundanese, Indonesia]


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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• Ukraine’s EU candidate status, Severodonetsk set to fall: EU leaders granted Ukraine and Moldova official candidate status to join the bloc, a major diplomatic victory for Kyiv that also sends a clear message of European unity to Russia four months after invading Ukraine. Meanwhile, Severodonetsk appears set to fall under full control of Russian forces, after the governor of the Luhansk region said Ukrainian forces will have to withdraw from the strategic city.

• U.S. Senate gun safety bill follows Supreme Court gun rights decision: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Americans have the right to carry guns in public, on the same day the Senate approved a bipartisan gun control bill, the first in nearly three decades. This comes at a time when mass shootings are surging across the country.

• Xi Jinping’s potential visit to Hong Kong: Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Hong Kong is on hold after two top officials have been tested positive to COVID-19. Xi Jinping's visit was expected for the 25th anniversary of the city’s handover next week.

Afghanistan lacks medical supplies for earthquake survivors: Two days after the magnitude 6.1 earthquake that killed over 1,000 people and injured 2,000, Afghanistan authorities have announced that the health ministry is running short of medical supplies. Pakistan, Japan, South Korea, India, Taiwan and the United Arab Emirates have all replied to the call for assistance.

• UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson under pressure after election defeats: The UK’s Conservative party lost two major seats during parliamentary elections, a new setback for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson who refuses to hand his resignation.

• German transgender athletes can choose their team: The German football federation has passed a regulation allowing gender-noncomforming football players to choose whether they want to play in men’s or women’s teams, starting the coming season. The rule concerns transgender, intersex and non-binary players for youth, futsal and amateur football.

• Largest bacterium ever discovered by scientists: The world’s biggest bacterium has been discovered by scientists in the French Caribbean. Thiomargarita magnifica measures up to 1 centimeter, looks like an eyelash and is visible to the naked eye.


Today’s frontpage of Russian daily Kommersant addresses the technical challenges encountered by BRICS leaders during a visioconference meeting as part of their 14th summit. Russian President Vladimir Putin had to suggest Indian President Narendra Modi to use earphones as he could not hear nor be heard.


142.9 million

Senegalese comedian Khaby Lame has dethroned American teen dancer Charli D'Amelio to become the most-followed person on TikTok with 142.9 million fans — all without uttering a word. After losing his job during the early days of the pandemic in 2020, the 22-year-old who currently lives in Italy started posting videos in which he makes fun of life-hacks videos wordlessly, rapidly gaining success on the platform.


Why the West is finally taking a harder line on Iran

After years of ignoring or downplaying domestic protests in Iran, Western states and media have begun to imagine — and even prepare for — the still slim but growing possibility of a regime change in Tehran, writes Persian-language Kayhan-London.

🇮🇷☢️ In past weeks, European countries and the United States have adopted a harsher tone against Iran, with criticisms going beyond the issue of stalled talks to revive the 2015 multilateral pact on Iran's nuclear program. While the European Union and United States are still reluctant to declare the pact dead, they know the negotiations are at death's door. That is because the Iran has shown it has no intention of ending nuclear activities with the aim of developing a bomb. Many of the regime's think tanks believe possessing nuclear weapons is its guarantee against foreign attempts to bring about regime change.

🗞️ Broadly ignoring the various protests in Iran over the past year, the Biden administration seems to have shifted a little at least in recent weeks through its statements in support of ordinary Iranians. On June 16, the State Department spokesman Ned Price condemned the use of force against peaceful protests. This shift is more evident in Western media, which have finally decided to report on the repression of protests in Iran. The mainstream media line of past years was to view self-declared reformists inside the Iranian regime as the only proper opposition to itself. But no longer.

✊ These changing nuances among Western states and media are a symptom of the Iranian regime's weakness. Every day it is challenged by people who have lost all hope of it meeting their basic needs, and rightly concluded that the only way to clear the nation's horizon is to sweep away a failed polity. Belatedly, the West has seen this utter disenchantment. That said, until it can see a clear alternative to a 40-year-old regime entrenched in power, it is unlikely to take further, or bolder, steps backing Iran's democratization.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


You are a mess, guys.

— Western Balkan countries’ representatives met with European leaders on Thursday to discuss their adhesion to the bloc. Tensions have been rising amid Bulgaria’s veto of launching talks for North Macedonia’s accession, which is in turn delaying negotiations for Albania. Albanese Prime Minister Edi Rama called out EU leaders for the delay: “You are a mess guys, you are a big mess and you are a disgrace.” European Council President Charles Michel replied that starting negotiations with both Albania and North Macedonia was a “top priority.”

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

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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War

Why The U.S. Lost Its Leverage In The Middle East — And May Never Get It Back

In the Israel-Hamas war, Qatar now plays the key role in negotiations, while the United States appears increasingly disengaged. Shifts in the region and beyond require that Washington move quickly or risk ceding influence to China and others for the long term.

Photograph of U.S Secretary of State Antony Blinken  shaking hands with sraeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

November 30, 2023, Tel Aviv, Israel: U.S Secretary of State Antony Blinken shakes hands with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

Chuck Kennedy/U.S State/ZUMA
Sébastien Boussois


PARIS — Upon assuming office in 2008, then-President Barack Obama declared that United States would gradually begin withdrawing from various conflict zones across the globe, initiating a complex process that has had a major impact on the international landscape ever since.

This started with the American departure from Iraq in 2010, and was followed by Donald Trump's presidency, during which the "Make America Great Again" policy redirected attention to America's domestic interests.

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

The withdrawal trend resumed under Joe Biden, who ordered the exit of U.S. forces from Afghanistan in 2021. To maintain a foothold in all intricate regions to the east, America requires secure and stable partnerships. The recent struggle in addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict demonstrates that Washington increasingly relies on the allied Gulf states for any enduring influence.

Since the collapse of the Camp David Accords in 1999 during Bill Clinton's tenure, Washington has consistently supported Israel without pursuing renewed peace talks that could have led to the establishment of a Palestinian state.

While President Joe Biden's recent challenges in pushing for a Gaza ceasefire met with resistance from an unyielding Benjamin Netanyahu, they also stem from the United States' overall disengagement from the issue over the past two decades. Biden now is seeking to re-engage in the Israel-Palestine matter, yet it is Qatar that is the primary broker for significant negotiations such as the release of hostages in exchange for a ceasefire —a situation the United States lacks the leverage to enforce.

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