Welcome to Wednesday, where Israel announces a fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine to vulnerable people, Libya delays “impossible” elections, and a perfectly preserved dinosaur embryo is found in China. We also offer our new edition of Work → In Progress, focusing on the changes at play in the world of work, with an eye on 2022.
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• COVID update: Israel will become the first country to offer a fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, with health workers and vulnerable populations eligible. Meanwhile, several European countries, including Germany, Portugal and Finland, are reinstating restrictions to curb the spread of the Omicron variant. Australian researchers are conducting a trial to try to turn the blood-thinning drug heparin into a nasal spray which they hope could prevent coronavirus transmission. In the U.S., President Joe Biden announced his administration would buy 500 million rapid, at-home COVID-19 tests which will be available for free starting in January.
• UN proposes paying nearly $6 million to Taliban for security: According to a document reviewed by Reuters, the United Nations is proposing to pay nearly $6 million for protection to Taliban-run Interior Ministry personnel in Afghanistan. The funds would be used to pay Taliban fighters guarding UN facilities and to provide them a monthly food allowance.
• Libya parliament says “impossible” to hold presidential election: A parliamentary committee tasked with overseeing Libya’s long-waited presidential election said it is “impossible” to hold it as planned this Friday, without fixing a new date. The delay after months of international negotiations is a blow to efforts to end 10 years of chaos in the country since the 2011 revolt against longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi.
• Harvard professor guilty of hiding ties with China: Dr. Charles Lieber, the former chair of Harvard's Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department, was convicted of lying about ties to a China-run recruitment programme, filing false tax returns and failing to report a Chinese bank account. Lieber was paid $50,000 a month and given $1.5 million to establish a nanoscience research lab at a Chinese university.
• UN to shrink Yemen food rations due to lack of funding: The World Food Programme said it will be “forced” to reduce food rations for 8 million people in Yemen due to a lack of funding from donors, warning more people will be pushed into starvation in the war-torn country in the coming months.
• FDA approves first-ever injectable HIV prevention drug: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the first long-acting injectable medication for use as pre-exposure prevention against HIV. The new drug called Apretude is an injectable given every two months as an alternative to HIV prevention pills.
• Deadly landslide in Myanmar, dozens missing: At least one person has died and up to 100 are missing after an overflow of rubble caused a landslide at a jade mining site in northern Myanmar. Rescue operations are underway to save the victims, who are believed to be illegal jade miners.• Perfectly preserved dinosaur embryo found in China: Scientists have announced the discovery in southern China of an unprecedented fossil of a baby dinosaur of at least 66 million years old, curled up inside its egg as if ready to hatch, shedding more light on the links between dinosaurs and birds.
Austrian daily Kleine Zeitung advises its readers to stay “mindful and safe through the holidays” and provides “tips from virologists” as the coronavirus variant Omicron continues to spread rapidly across Europe.
Work → In Progress: the working world in 2022
Will the Great Resignation lead to a Great Reskilling? This edition of Work → In Progress dives into mutating office etiquette, who’s getting hired and the crystallizing trends that will define our near future.
⏰ Time Limit: Portugal made international waves as they passed a groundbreaking law that imposes fines on companies if they contact their employees outside of office hours. According to Portuguese news channel TVI, unless the situation is a force majeure, contacting an employee when they’re off duty or discriminating against workers who protect their time off is a punishable offense. Additionally, companies also have to provide training for any equipment or software used for telework.
💸 BeyondPaychecks: The pandemic shifted everyone's priorities so much that companies are re-thinking how they remunerate their workers. Chilean-based daily América Economía reports that money is no longer the biggest motivator for many Latin Americans, who now value having more personal time and other non-salary benefits. Some companies offered to help pay for their workers’ internet, others financed their employees’ home offices, and a few made sure to provide psychological support.
🏡 TheGreatOutdoors: “Work from home” was so 2020 — now it’s all about working from the garden. According to the New York Times, many telecommuters who have tried kitchen tables, living room floors and walk-in closets are finding that garden sheds make great home offices. It creates distance from distractions in the house while still remaining close enough to attend to family duties and provides a greener backdrop. Shoffice, a British company specializing in shed-offices, has seen a 70% increase in sales, and many similar countries from France to Japan, are reporting similar spikes in interest.
➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com
I am, if you like, a grandfather in the service of the institutions.
— Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi indicated this morning that he would be willing to serve as president of the Republic, with the seven-year term of the current head of state Sergio Mattarella expiring in February. Draghi, the former head of the European Central Bank, was drafted earlier this year during a political crisis to step in as prime minister. "We have created the conditions for the work to continue, regardless of who is there," Draghi said at a traditional end-of-year news conference. "My personal destiny is of no importance, I have no particular ambitions. I am, if you like, a grandfather in the service of the institutions."
A new kind of chip shortage has hit Japanese supply chains: McDonald's is running out of French fries (マックフライポテト, or “McDonald’s Potatoes”) in the country. The American firm said it was experiencing shipment delays of the potatoes used to make its famous fries, and would only sell small-sized portions for a week from Friday.
French antique tale: A father’s Christmas gift from 1946 cycles back to owner
Joseph Carayon was ten years old in 1946, living in the small southern French town of Abeilhan, when his father gave him a bicycle for Christmas. As a newly freed prisoner of war, the father had cobbled the bike together from spare parts, making for a particularly special Christmas gift.
But when he came of age, Joseph began riding a moped and lent the bike to a friend, and never saw it again. Until a brocanteur — a French antiques dealer — regifted the long-lost vehicle to Joseph a month ago.
A first brocanteur had found the bike in a flea market 30 kilometers away and noticed a plaque that read “Joseph Carayon Abeilhan HLT.” He contacted a colleague from Abeilhan, a 35-year-old named Thomas.
“I could have kept it for scrap,” said the brocanteur. “The bike was all rusty. Bikes like that are a dime a dozen. But my sharp eye was drawn to this plate under the handlebars.”
Thomas saw the name and knew exactly who had once owned the bike — and decided to make it his professional holiday mission to deliver it to him.
Now 85 years old, Joseph Carayon was already a local cycling icon in and around Abeilhan, as one of the oldest paperboys for the regional newspaper Midi Libre, which first reported the story.
Known as “Jojo,” he covers up to 13 kilometers per day delivering the news, half of which he does on a much newer bike.
Although his gift from all those years ago is still in working condition, he said he will reserve it for special occasions. “I had tears in my eyes,” said Carayon when reading about the return of his bicycle in the very paper he distributes. Seventy-five years ago, it was that special delivery from his dad, now from a young stranger … it’s the Christmas gift that keeps giving.
➡️ Keep up with all the planet’s police reports and plot twists on Worldcrunch.com
✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger
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