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Jiang Zemin Dies, New COVID Clashes In China, World Heritage Baguette

Protesters at Hong Kong University throw white sheets of paper in the air Tuesday in support of ongoing anti-lockdown demonstrations across mainland China.

Protesters at Hong Kong University throw white sheets of paper in the air Tuesday in support of ongoing anti-lockdown demonstrations across mainland China. The rare students-led demonstrations are calling for an end to the country’s strict Zero-COVID policy that they say led to the death of at least 10 citizens last week during a fire in Urumqi.

Emma Albright, Bertrand Hauger, Anne-Sophie Goninet and Laure Gautherin

👋 Mari mari!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where former Chinese President Jiang Zemin dies at age 96, Oath Keepers leaders are found guilty of sedition in the U.S. Capitol riots, and a French staple food earns its spot on the UNESCO World Heritage list. And just as fresh anti-lockdown clashes erupt in southern China, an article from The Initium traces the origins of the protests and asks where they will go from here.

[*Mapuche, Chile and Argentina]

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🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• Jiang Zemin dies: Former Chinese President Jiang Zemin died Wednesday in Shanghai from leukemia complications, at age 96. Jiang came to power after the bloody 1989 Tiananmen Square movement, and helped the Communist Party tighten its grip on the country while paving the way for China to rise to global economic power status through the 1990s.

• Fresh COVID protests in Guangzhou: After two days of relative calm in China with police quelling protests and doubling down on censorship, new anti-Zero COVID clashes erupted last night in the locked-down city of Guangzhou, southern China. Limited information is filtering, but videos on social media show protesters clashing with riot police wearing hazmat suits.

• After pulling out of talks with U.S., Russia announces new nuclear weapons investment: Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Moscow will focus on building infrastructure for its nuclear forces in 2023. Wednesday’s announcement came a day after Moscow pulled out of nuclear arms talks with the U.S. that had been scheduled to take place in Cairo this week, accusing Washington of “toxic” anti-Russian behavior.

• Oath Keepers leaders found guilty of sedition: Stewart Rhodes, the founder of far-right Oath Keepers militia, and associate Kelly Meggs were found guilty of seditious conspiracy for the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. capitol by Donald Trump supporters.

• At least 15 killed in Afghan school attack: A bomb blast hit a religious school in Aybak in the nothern Afghan province of Samangan, killing at least 15 people and injuring dozens. The death toll remains uncertain while no group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet.

• New drug to treat Alzheimer shows results but also risks: Preliminary data from a trial shows lecanemab is the first experimental drug that appears to slow the progression of cognitive decline triggered by Alzheimer’s disease, but experts warn the treatment can have serious side effects.

• French baguettes get UNESCO World Heritage status: The baguette has gained UNESCO recognition after the UN body voted to include the symbol of France on its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

"A useless 11-day journey on a rudder." Barcelona-based La Vanguardia tells how the Spanish Coast Guard discovered three stowaways on the rudder of a ship which arrived in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, on Monday. The Maltese-flagged oil tanker had departed from Lagos in Nigeria and spent 11 days at sea before reaching the Spanish island. It is unclear if they spent the whole journey sitting and hanging with their feet less than a meter from the water. They were taken to a hospital and treated for moderate dehydration. Their perilous journey will not end as they wanted as they will be deported to their country of origin.

#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

$200,000/month

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West have come to a divorce agreement where the U.S. reality star will receive $200,000 per month in child support from the rapper, also known as Ye, as well as share joint custody of their four children.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

How China's mass protest took the world by surprise — and where it will end

China is facing its biggest political protests in decades as frustration grows with its harsh Zero-COVID strategy. However, the real reasons for the protests run much deeper. Could it be the starting point for a new civic movement? asks Changren Zheng in Chinese-language media The Initium.

✊ Why and how did protests spread so rapidly in China? At the core, protesters are unhappy with President Xi Jinping's three-year-long Zero-COVID strategy that has meant mass testing, harsh lockdowns, and digital tracking. Yet, the general belief about the Chinese people was that they lacked the awareness and experience for mass political action. Even though discontent had been growing about the Zero-COVID strategy, no one expected these protests. Surprisingly, protesters were not scared off by state censorship or police crackdowns.

💸 For a long time, the Chinese have generally accepted the role of the government as protector, which asserts its legitimacy through economic performance. The Chinese have been willing to accept the gradual loss of rights to maintain security and economic gains. Three years with COVID, however, means an economic recession is no longer a close threat but an ongoing reality. Xi Jinping has insisted on "the supremacy of the people and life". So, the government guarantees you life, but you have nothing to live for. People are essentially in prisons, with no consideration given to their non-biological needs.

🇨🇳➗ What is happening now would have been unthinkable not long ago. In the last decade of Xi Jinping's rule, "resistance" as an explicit slogan was only used in Hong Kong in 2019. Sadly, neither Hong Kong nor the Mainland realized at the time their shared struggles because both were trapped in information cocoons. This is a result of the gradual fragmentation of life between Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. It is fair to say that a certain political turning point is now closer than ever.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

He owes an apology to the Australian people for the undermining of democracy.

— Australia Prime Minister Anthony Albanese had harsh words for his predecessor Scott Morrison as the former prime minister kept defending his secretly appointed five ministerial positions when he was in power. Morrison has become the first former Australian prime minister to be censured by parliament.

✍️ Newsletter by Emma Albright, Bertrand Hauger, Anne-Sophie Goninet and Laure Gautherin


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Society

To Tackle Hunger, Brazil Needs To Tackle Racism First

The fight against hunger should be a top priority in Brazil — provided it's addressed as a whole. And to do that, the country needs to face its structural racism issues, an issue newly-reelected President Lula da Silva vowed to tackle.

Photo of a man carrying food packages as residents of a favela in Santa Cruz, Brazil, receive aid.

Residents of a favela in Santa Cruz, Brazil, receive food packages.

Jones Manoel and Tiago Paraíba

It’s 2023, and over half of Brazil’s population is impacted by a hunger crisis. That is the shocking news from the Brazilian Research Network on Sovereignty and Food and Nutritional Security (PENSSAN).

After making strides in the first part of the 21st century, by 2020, hunger in Brazil had returned to 2004 levels. But now the problem is even worse. According to PENSSAN, 125 million Brazilians, or 58% of the country, face food insecurity, defined in various stages of severity by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, with technical “hunger” being the most severe. The number of Brazilians facing hunger has jumped from 9% to 15%, a return to 1994 levels, which corresponds to 33 million Brazilians.

This stunning step backwards has occurred in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the pandemic is not solely to blame. An economic crisis, lack of agrarian reform, inflationary effects on the cost of food, and a systematic dismantling of public policy to assist poor families have combined to make a bad situation worse. In Brazil, already one of the most unequal countries in the world, that has meant that in the past two years an additional 14 million people have found themselves dealing with hunger on a daily basis.

In the 1940s, the doctor and anti-hunger activist Josué de Castro called Brazil “a country of the geography of hunger.” In Brazilian history — from the colonial period to the development of capitalism and the formation of the Republic — high prices, deprivation, a lack of access to basic rights, and hunger have been present in the daily lives of working people. Concentration of land-ownership and wealth in the hands of a few have marked Brazil’s history.

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