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In The News

Kyiv In The Dark, China’s COVID Record, Stuttgart Christmas Market

Visitors walk through Stuttgart's Christmas market. More than 200 merchants provide a Christmas atmosphere in the city center with their stalls.

Time for mulled wine and kitschy Christmas tree decorations! Stuttgart’s Christmas market, one of the world’s biggest, has kicked off with 200+ merchants hoping to get back to pre-pandemic attendance levels when it would draw 3.5 to 4 million visitors a year.

Emma Albright, Renate Mattar, and Anne-Sophie Goninet

👋 Goedemorgen!*

Welcome to Thursday, where 25% of Kyiv remains without power after heavy Russian air strikes on energy infrastructure, China sees record COVID cases, and sorry Thanksgiving, t’is the season for German Christmas markets. Meanwhile, Portuguese news website Mensagem reports from the city of Sintra, in western Portugal, where single parents have banded together to create a new model of joint child care.

[*Flemish]

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🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• One-quarter of Kyiv without power, as Putin steps up attacks on Ukrainian energy: Some 25% of the Ukrainian capital remained without power after one of the worst rounds of Russian attacks on civilian infrastructure. At least 10 people were killed in the air strikes, which have as their central aim to freeze and frighten civilians as winter arrives. French President Emmanuel Macron called the attacks war crimes.

• Record COVID infections in China: China is reporting a record number of new COVID-19 infections. The city of Chaoyang, thought to be the epicenter of the recent outbreak, shut down restaurants, gyms, and classes were moved online. This comes as a growing number of citizens are expressing discontent towards the country’s strict zero-COVID measures.

• Malaysia gets new Prime Minister: After five days of political deadlock in Malaysia, King Al-Sultan Abdullah has appointed longtime opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim as the new prime minister. His supporters hope that the new government will be able to appease ethnic tensions.

• 50 Policemen killed in Iran: The Iran Deputy foreign minister reported today that 50 police officers have died since the beginning of the protests in Iran. The UN human rights commission says that 300 protestors have died since the demonstrations began in mid-September.

• Bolsonaro vote results challenge dismissed: A Brazilian court rejected a complaint filed by Jair Bolsnonaro’s far-right party, which contested the results of last month’s presidential election over allegedly faulty voting machines. Bolsnoro, who lost to returning left-wing President Lula da Silva, was additionally slapped with a $4.3 million fine as the court judged the complaint was made “in bad faith.”

France mulls bullfighting ban: A proposal to ban bullfighting events was submitted to the French National Assembly, supported by the left Nupes coalition. Though best associated with Spain, bullfighting also remains a popular tradition in southern France.

• Orban given new scarf by Slovak PM: Following the controversy surrounding his “Greater Hungary” scarf that featured the borders of the country’s former kingdom, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban was given a new scarf by his Slovak counterpart Eduard Heger, who tweeted “winter is approaching.”

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

Colombian daily El Espectador celebrates on its front page the sixth anniversary of the Colombia peace agreement that ended decades of conflict with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in 2016. The newspaper features drawings made by children of former fighters who are part of this “generation of peace.”

💬  LEXICON

Parastronaut

The European Space Agency made history by selecting an amputee, who lost his leg in a motorcycle accident, to be among its newest batch of astronauts. John McFall, the 41-year-old Briton, lost his right leg when he was 19 and went on to compete in the Paralympics. He called his selection at Europe’s answer to NASA “a real turning point and mark in history.” The new parastronaut joins five career astronauts in the final selection.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

Single parents in Portugal turn “it takes a village” into a practical reality

The death of a young child left alone at home while his single mother was out shocked a community. Now, single parents have banded together to offer support to each other. And they're succeeding in the face of overwhelming challenges, reports Maíra Streit for Portuguese news website Mensagem.

👩🤝 Started in 2021, the Colo100Horas project is a self-organized network of women who came together to help immigrants with their immense daily challenges in Sintra, in western Portugal. The long list of problems meant they banded together to look for a solution: the strenuous routine of caring for children (still imposed in most homes as the responsibility of women), low salaries, the overcrowding of daycare centers, excessive work and the difficulty with shift schedules, which is common in jobs in the catering and cleaning industries.

🧒 Accidents involving children who, for one reason or another, are left alone at home without adult supervision are not uncommon. This is the kind of incident that the Colo100Horas project wants to avoid at all costs. During the school break period, the space was open from 9 am to 5 pm for a holiday camp with trips to the zoo, museums, parks and beaches. With the start of the school year in September, the idea is to offer a babysitting service every day, including weekends, at affordable prices.

📚 Learning and training are also key to the program. So, the association turned to partners such as the Aga Khan Foundation and the Instituto do Emprego e Formação Profissional (IEFP), to train participants in the area of early childhood education and other areas, such as first aid, health and well-being. Coordinator Liliana Soares proudly says that mutual support doesn't just exist between mothers, but also spills over to the children. In a community where 27 nationalities coexist, respect for differences is a priority.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

A running wild dog gnawing on a bone given by the U.S.

— Along with this unflattering canine comparison, Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, called the administration of South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol “idiots” for considering new unilateral sanctions against the North over its recent missile tests. She also warned these sanctions would add fuel to North Korea’s “hostility and anger” and “serve as a noose” for the South and the U.S.

✍️ Newsletter by Emma Albright, Renate Mattar, and Anne-Sophie Goninet


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Work In Progress

Psychwashing: When Employers Hijack "Well-Being" To Hide Workplace Business As Usual

Corporations are racing to adopt the language of the mental health movement. But is this anything more than a veil to cover up the deeper problems within the modern workplace?

Photograph of a group of people doing yoga, sitting cross-legged

A group of people practice yoga at the 2018 Midwest Yoga and Oneness Festival.

Erik Brolin/Unsplash
Kasia Bielecka

WARSAW — Raises? Shorter working hours? Jobs that carry real meaning? Does anyone really need these things anymore? Nope, if you ask corporations, they would rather have their employees learn deep breathing or sign up for courses on how to effectively manage stress. Therapy and wellness culture has entered companies, but in a caricatured form.

Not so long ago, topics such as productivity and efficiency were all the rage in workplaces. Then came the COVID-19 pandemic, and it forced a reorganization of corporate priorities. All of a sudden, companies began to claim that they care about the mental health, wellbeing, and stress levels of their employees. But considering that what businesses still treasure most is their own bottom line, has this shift in language really changed anything?

“Mental health is now a corporate topic”, said professor Tomasz Ochinowski, a psychologist and organizational historian from the Department of Social Management at the University of Warsaw. “The pandemic and the war in Ukraine have definitely played a major role here”, he added, “but in a lot of ways, this is also a generational change”.

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