👋 Manao ahoana!*
Welcome to Tuesday, where the world marks one month since Hamas’ attack on Israel, Italy signs a deal to build migrant centers in Albania, and charges have been filed in the UK’s gold toilet heist of 2019. Meanwhile, Gabriel Grésillon in French business daily Les Echos looks at whether Paris’ aging and emptying La Défense business center can reinvent itself.
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• One month of war, Netanyahu reveals Israel’s future plans for Gaza: One month after Hamas’ attack in southern Israel ignited the region’s worst war in decades, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country will control security for an “indefinite period.” On Monday, the Gaza health ministry reported the death toll of Palestinians had topped 10,000.
• Russia pulls out of EU armed forces treaty: Russia has formally withdrawn from the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, which restricts the use of conventional weapons, saying the expansion of the NATO military alliance has made the pact untenable. The 1990 treaty had been designed to prevent either side of the Cold War from amassing forces for a swift offensive against the other in Europe.
• Germany toughens migration policy, Italy to build migrant centers in Albania: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz agreed with the heads of Germany’s 16 states on a tougher migration policy and new funding for refugees. After hours of negotiations, Scholz’s government agreed to pay states and municipalities 7,500 euros per refugee and will reduce benefits for asylum seekers. Meanwhile, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and her Albanian counterpart Edi Rama announced the two countries signed a deal to build two migrant centers in northwest Albania to give temporary shelter to migrants rescued at sea while their asylum bids are being processed. If Italy rejects the migrants’ asylum bids, Albania will deport them.
• Indian states vote in test for Modi ahead of 2024 elections: Indian local elections in the central state of Chhattisgarh and the northeastern state of Mizoram have kicked off Tuesday, in a key test for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's chances of winning a third term in a national election in May 2024. Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party will face off against the main opposition Congress party headed by Rahul Gandhi. For more, we offer this recent portrait of Mallikarjun Kharge, the Dalit leader hoping to unseat Modi.
• Polish president gives outgoing Prime Minister first shot at government: Polish President Andrzej Duda will give incumbent Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki the first opportunity to form a new government, after the ruling conservatives won an election last month, but fell short of a parliamentary majority. If the Law and Justice (PiS) party fails to secure enough allies, the three pro-opposition parties led by Donald Tusk are expected to be given the chance to assemble a majority instead. Follow Worldcrunch’s coverage of Poland here.
• WeWork files for bankruptcy: WeWork, the office-sharing company that was once valued at $47 billion, has been forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in federal court in the U.S. The company had tried and failed to go public five years ago, with the pandemic then causing further losses when customers abruptly ended their leases.
• Four men charged over 18-carat gold toilet theft: Four men have been charged over the theft of an 18-carat gold toilet valued at 4.8 million pounds ($5.95 million) from Blenheim Palace, the English country mansion where British wartime leader Winston Churchill was born. Entitled America, the lavatory was part of an exhibition by Italian conceptual artist Maurizio Cattelan, but was stolen in 2019 just two days after it was first displayed. The artwork has never been found.
Portuguese daily Público devotes its front page to the conflict in the Middle East, a month after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks in Israel. “The nightmare was a month ago, but there are those who can’t wake up,” as the paper reports on both the hundreds of hostages held by Hamas and civilians in Gaza surrounded by intense bombing and fighting.
#️⃣ BY THE NUMBERS
French letters confiscated by Britain's Royal Navy during the Seven Years’ War (a global conflict that lasted from 1756–1763 and saw Britain and France lead rival alliances) have finally been opened. Previously gathering dust at the National Archives in Kew, the 265-year-old letters give us a glimpse into the lives of 18th-century sailors and their correspondence with their families: “I could spend the night writing to you... I am your forever faithful wife,” one letter reads, while a mother writing to her son warns him that “I think I am for the tomb, I have been ill for three weeks.” The documents, according to Cambridge history professor Renaud Morieux who unearthed them, “are about universal human experiences” and “reveal how we all cope with major life challenges.”
La Défense or bust? Inside the battle to save Europe's largest business district
Deep structural problems were already pushing it to breaking point. And with teleworking becoming the new normal after COVID, Paris's La Défense business district stands as a melancholic shadow of its old, buzzing self. Can it find a way to reinvent itself? asks Gabriel Grésillon in French economic daily Les Echos.
💻 What's eating Europe's largest business district? La Défense has long been a source of French pride. Its name refers to the statue La Défense de Paris, erected in 1883 to celebrate Paris’s victory over Prussian siege during the Franco-German war of 1870. But a deathly lethargy seems to have set into this once buzzing neighborhood since COVID. The prime culprit is the switch to remote work. On Mondays, and even more so on Fridays, it is hard to find a trace of the 180,000 employees officially working in this 566-hectare territory.
🏙️ COVID, as often, is partly to blame, but it also helped uncover deeper structural problems. The camel’s back was already overloaded, the pandemic was just the last straw. For several years now, urban planners, sociologists, anthropologists, and administrators have converged on the same nagging question: Is a district, designed in the middle of the economic boom, projecting power, minerality, and triumphant capitalist excess still relevant?
📱 According to Sylvain Grisot, co-author with Christine Leconte of the book Réparons la ville! (Let’s fix the city!), the “monoactivity” of La Défense is the main cause of its fragility today. The urban planner explains that this territory “is associated with the development of the service industry, revolving around a place, an office, and a tool, the central computer.” However, “we can clearly see that we have become detached from the office over the last 10 years, ever since the smartphone allowed executives to access their email from anywhere.”
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“It basically creates a kind of Italian Guantanamo.”
— Italian politician and leader of the center-left More Europe party, Ricardo Magi took to X (formerly known as Twitter) to comment on the new agreement announced by Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and her Albanian counterpart, Edi Rama. Meloni announced on Monday that Italy will build two migrant centers in northwest Albania to house migrants rescued at sea by Italian boats but not those who have made it to shore. Magi thus expressed his concerns saying the relocation of migrants creates a kind of “Italian Guantanamo,” outside of any international standards.
• The Problem With Calling Hamas "Nazis" — LA STAMPA
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