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In The News

Israel-Gaza Violence, Asian Carmakers’ Big Raises, Balloon Selfie

Israel-Gaza Violence, Asian Carmakers’ Big Raises, Balloon Selfie

The Pentagon has released a selfie taken by the pilot of a U-2 spy plane clearly showing the Chinese spy balloon that was ultimately shot down by the U.S. military off the coast of South Carolina earlier this month.

Ginevra Falciani, Emma Albright, and Anne-Sophie Goninet

👋 ሰላም ሃለው*

Welcome to Thursday, where more fire is exchanged a day after a West Bank raid killed 11, Asian automakers agree to big pay raises, and a high-flying selfie makes the rounds. Meanwhile, Christian Putsch and Christina zur Nedden in German daily Die Welt take the temperature of China-Africa trade relations.

[*Selam halewi - Tigrinya, Eritrea and Ethiopia]


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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• Israel bombs Gaza after deadly Nablus raid: Israel has launched airstrikes north of Gaza City after rockets were fired — and intercepted — from the besieged Palestinian enclave a day after 11 Palestinians were killed during an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank. Amid renewed concerns of a broader escalation, mediation efforts were underway by Egypt and the United Nations to calm the situation as U.N. Middle East envoy Tor Wennesland arrived in Gaza to meet Hamas leaders.

• Ukraine bracing for attacks on eve of 1-year anniversary: Ukraine military authorities have issued warnings to expect Russian-led attacks today, to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the invasion that will be marked Friday. Meanwhile, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has arrived in Kyiv to meet President Volodymyr Zelensky. His trip comes just days after the respective visits by U.S. President Joe Biden and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

• U.S. TV journalist and child killed at murder scene: A TV journalist and a nine-year-old girl were shot dead in Florida, allegedly by the same gunman who killed a woman earlier in the day in the area. An investigation is ongoing and an 19-year-old suspect was apprehended.

• EU bans TikTok from corporate devices: The Europe Union’s executive IT service has asked all EU Commission employees to uninstall TikTok from their corporate devices, as well as the personal devices using corporate apps, citing data protection concerns.

• Toyota and Honda big pay raise: Toyota Motor, the world’s biggest automaker, said it would accept a union demand for the biggest base salary increase in 20 years and a rise in bonus payments, as Japan steps up calls for businesses to hike pay. Rival Honda Motor followed suit within hours, agreeing to union demands for a 5% pay increase — the biggest jump since at least 1990.

• Qantas profits: Australian flagship airline Qantas Airways Ltd swung to a record first-half profit as appetite for travel grew faster than it could sell seats, but its shares went down 6% as it and competitors added more flights.

• Britain's vegetable crisis blamed on Brexit: Britain's biggest supermarket group Tesco followed rivals Asda, Morrisons and Aldi in imposing customer purchase limits on tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers after supplies were hit by disrupted harvests in southern Europe and northern Africa. Former Sainsbury's CEO Justin King said the sector had been “hurt horribly by Brexit,” as a lack of government support has meant home growers have been unable to make up for supplies hit by poor harvests overseas.


At least 11 Palestinians were killed and 100 others were wounded, during an Israeli military raid in the occupied West Bank. The Israeli military said that Wednesday’s operation targeted the Palestinian military group called the Lion’s Den, which it says recently carried out shooting attacks against Israelis in the West Bank. The raid is shown on the cover of Israeli national newspaper, Hayom.



South Korea has broken its own record for world’s lowest fertility rate, down to 0.78 in 2022 from 0.81 the previous year. The country is struggling to find ways to get young couples to marry and have more children, in a context marked by a lack of quality jobs and rising housing costs.


First signs the China-Africa love affair is growing cold

China has invested billions in multiple African countries in order to expand its influence. But both sides have been quietly scaling back the relationship, as Africans resent one-sided deals and China fears defaults on debt, write Christian Putsch and Christina zur Nedden in German daily Die Welt.

🤐 In December, Kenya's new president, William Ruto, broke a taboo that pertains to pretty much every Chinese loan agreement with African governments: the secrecy clause. The ominous details relate to the construction of an entirely overpriced rail line from Nairobi to the coastal city of Mombasa worth $3.6 billion. The case explains why Beijing is so keen to keep such contracts confidential.

📉 But it is not only in Kenya that resentment against the rotten deals has been growing for some time. As recently as 2016, Chinese loan commitments had peaked at nearly $30 billion. In 2019, however, according to the China Africa Research Initiative at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, they had fallen to less than $10 billion, and in the first pandemic year, the value even collapsed to $2 billion.

💸 What lies behind this withdrawal? Some are problems in China that were exacerbated even further by Beijing's zero-COVID policy: slow-down in economic growth, a real estate bubble and a demographic crisis due to the birth rate declining for the first time in decades.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


“This is the only country we have and we must do everything to keep it safe, united and peaceful.”

— Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari comments after the signing of a “peace pact” days before national elections aimed at avoiding unrest from supporters of losing candidates. The pact is meant to ensure “the conduct of free, fair, credible, transparent and verifiable elections…(and) to place national interest above personal and partisan concerns.” Pollsters say Saturday’s vote in the African nation of 213 million is too close to call.

✍️ Newsletter by Ginevra Falciani, Emma Albright, 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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