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In The News

Hungary’s Russia Energy Veto, Palestine Flare-Up, Asteroid Close Shave

Hungary’s Russia Energy Veto, Palestine Flare-Up, Asteroid Close Shave

Mourners carry the body of one of the nine Palestinians who were killed by Israeli troops on Thursday, during a raid in the city of Jenin in the occupied West Bank.

Ginevra Falciani, Inès Mermat and Laure Gautherin

👋 Azul!*

Welcome to Friday, where Viktor Orbán says Hungary will veto any European sanctions aimed at Russian nuclear energy, violence erupts in the West Bank a day after nine Palestinians were killed by Israeli troops, and phew, a minibus-sized asteroid brushes past the Earth. Meanwhile, Hong Kong-based digital media The Initium looks at how China’s poor management and distribution of COVID-19 medication have led people to turn to generic drugs of questionable safety.

[*Tarifit, Northern Morocco]


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


• Hungary to veto EU sanctions on Russian nuclear energy: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán declared that his country would veto any European sanctions against Russia affecting nuclear energy, after Ukraine called on the bloc to target Russian state nuclear energy company Rosatom. Hungary has a Russian-built nuclear plant on its soil and it plans to expand with Rosatom. Meanwhile, Russia has stepped up attempts to break through Ukraine's defenses in the east of the country.

• Fears of Israel-Palestinian escalation: The Israeli military say they have arrested Islamic Jihad militants planning "major attacks,” a day after nine Palestinians were killed by Israeli troops during a raid in a West Bank refugee camp. Two rockets were fired from Gaza overnight, but no casualties were reported. Israelis jets struck in Gaza in retaliation.

• Attack on Azerbaijan embassy in Iran kills one: A guard has been killed and two injured by a man with an assault rifle in an attack on Azerbaijan’s embassy in Iran. Police in Tehran said they have arrested a suspect and are investigating the gunman’s motive.

• Haiti police riot after gang killings of officers: Haitian police officers in civilian clothes blocked streets and forced their way into the country's main airport to protest the recent killing of at least 14 officers by armed gangs expanding their grip on the Caribbean nation. Protesters first targeted Prime Minister Ariel Henry's official residence, according to a Reuters witness, and then flooded the airport as Henry was arriving from a trip to Argentina.

• Biden urges calm ahead of release of police beating video: Bodycam video of the encounter with Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old black man, will be published on Friday, showing him being severely beaten after a traffic stop by five police officers. The officers, who are also black, have been fired and are now facing murder charges following Nichols death three days after the attack. President Joe Biden is urging protests in Tennessee to remain peaceful.

• Adani shares drop 20%: Shares of Indian multinational conglomerate Adani Enterprises sank 20% on Friday as the investment research firm Hindenburg published a report claiming that Adani engaged in stock price manipulation and accounting fraud over the course of decades.

• Asteroid near miss: About the size of a minibus, the 2023 BU asteroid, whipped over the southern tip of South America in the middle of the night. At a distance of 3,600 kilometers (2,200 miles), it’s considered a relatively close shave and was only picked up last weekend by an amateur astronomer in Crimea.


“Climate scam,” titles Italian weekly magazine Internazionale, as it features its translated edition of an in-depth investigation from Germany’s Die Zeit on companies funding environmental projects to offset their carbon dioxide emissions that often have “no value.” For example, Ryanair was given a warning by the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM), which said the low-cost airline’s statements suggesting that offsetting emissions would lead to more sustainable flights was misleading. “Businesses must be honest and clear about the sustainability claims they make,” said the director of ACM’s Consumer Department.



Maria Branyad Morera, a Spanish woman born in San Francisco, has officially become the world's oldest person according to Guinness World Records, at age 115, following French nun Sister Andre’s death last week at 118. Morera, originally born in San Francisco, is still very much in touch with the times, sharing her wisdom with followers on Twitter, where her bio reads: “I am old, very old, but not an idiot.”


As COVID explodes, an inside look at China's gray market of generic drugs

COVID infections have skyrocketed since China eased restrictions as public health policy has not been able to keep up. Unable to find medications, many have turned to generic drugs of questionable safety. It's the culmination of a longstanding problem, write Xian Zhu and Feiyu Xiang in Chinese-language digital media The Initium.

💊 In late 2021, Pfizer developed Paxlovid, the world's first potent COVID drug. China imported the first batch of Paxlovid for clinical use in March 2022 and included it in the ninth edition of the treatment protocol. But the first 21,200 boxes of Paxlovid were dispersed to only eight provinces, and no further information is available on where the drug ended up and how much it was used. In mainland China, access to Paxlovid is subject to a selection process, as it is almost impossible to get it in public hospitals.

📈 With genuine drugs hard to come by, many people are turning their attention to Indian generic drugs. As the Chinese New Year came, the price of generic drugs once exceeded 3,000 RMB (about $440). Meanwhile, Pfizer's original drug’s price went over 10,000 RMB (about $1,470).

💰 Jingyun Feng, a political scientist, revealed that the main reason why COVID drugs are not covered by Chinese health insurance is that "they are too expensive and will drag the whole insurance system down by crowding out other everyday or rare disease drugs." He also believes that the distribution of Paxlovid is market-based. "Why are these drugs more widely distributed in Shanghai and Beijing? People are richer there, so the drug is only allocated to developed areas."

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


“We do not want to see any support given to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.”

— Australia's Prime Minister Anthony Albanese reacted to the recent controversy caused by Srdjan Djokovic, father of tennis champion Novak Djokovic, who was photographed earlier this week with a man sporting pro-Russian symbols. Djokovic’s father said that although it was unintentional, he would watch his son’s semi-final match at the Australian Open from home to avoid causing "disruption.” During a news conference on Friday, Albanese reiterated the country's stance on the war in Ukraine and pro-Russian protests: "I will make this point, that Australia stands with the people of Ukraine. That is Australia's position and Australia is unequivocal in our support for the rule of international law.”

✍️ Newsletter by Ginevra Falciani, Inès Mermat, Laure Gautherin and Anne-Sophie Goninet

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

How Vulnerable Are The Russians In Crimea?

Ukraine has stepped up attacks on the occupied Crimean peninsula, and Russia is doing all within its power to deny how vulnerable it has become.

Photograph of the Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters with smoke rising above it after a Ukrainian missile strike.

September 22, 2023, Sevastopol, Crimea, Russia: Smoke rises over the Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters after a Ukrainian missile strike.

Kyrylo Danylchenko

This article was updated Sept. 26, 2023 at 6:00 p.m.

Russian authorities are making a concerted effort to downplay and even deny the recent missile strikes in Russia-occupied Crimea.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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Media coverage in Russia of these events has been intentionally subdued, with top military spokesperson Igor Konashenkov offering no response to an attack on Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters in the Crimean city of Sevastopol, or the alleged downing last week of Russian Su-24 aircraft by Ukrainian Air Defense.

The response from this and other strikes on the Crimean peninsula and surrounding waters of the Black Sea has alternated between complete silence and propagating falsehoods. One notable example of the latter was the claim that the Russian headquarters building of the Black Sea fleet that was hit Friday was empty and that the multiple explosions were mere routine training exercises.

Ukraine claimed on Monday that the attack killed Admiral Viktor Sokolov, the commander of Russia's Black Sea Fleet. "After the strike on the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, 34 officers died, including the commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. Another 105 occupiers were wounded. The headquarters building cannot be restored," the Ukrainian special forces said via Telegram.

But Sokolov was seen on state television on Tuesday, just one day after Ukraine claimed he'd been killed. The Russian Defense Ministry released footage of the admiral partaking in a video conference with top admirals and chiefs, including Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, though there was no verification of the date of the event.

Moscow has been similarly obtuse following other reports of missiles strikes this month on Crimea. Russian authorities have declared that all missiles have been intercepted by a submarine and a structure called "VDK Minsk", which itself was severely damaged following a Ukrainian airstrike on Sept. 13. The Russians likewise dismissed reports of a fire at the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet, attributing it to a mundane explosion caused by swamp gas.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has refrained from commenting on the military situation in Crimea and elsewhere, continuing to repeat that everything is “proceeding as planned.”

Why is Crimea such a touchy topic? And why is it proving to be so hard to defend?

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