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In The News

Le Weekend ➡️ Musk’s Bird, Rescue Rats, Soulages Back To Black

Le Weekend ➡️ Musk’s Bird, Rescue Rats, Soulages Back To Black

Belgian non-profit APOPO teaches rats with backpacks to locate survivors among rubble following earthquakes or natural disasters

October 29-30

  • Kadyrov's long game
  • Musk’s Twitter, to leave or not to leave
  • Rescue rats in the rubble
  • … and much more.


What do you remember from the news this week?

1. Which carmaker became the latest major company to leave Russia over its invasion of Ukraine?

2. Why did Iran’s anti-government protesters hold a special rally 40 days after Mahsa Amini was killed by Iran police?

3. A day before finalizing his takeover of Twitter, what did Elon Musk carry into company headquarters?

4. Why were two tourists arrested in Venice? Hijacking a gondola / Snorkeling under St. Mark’s Square / Asking for pineapple on their pizza

[Answers at the bottom of this newsletter]


The publication of Elon Musk’s video entering the Twitter HQ and subsequent news that the entrepreneur has completed his $44 billion takeover of the social media platform has sparked a debate about whether or not to leave Twitter . Some fear that Musk’s “free speech absolutist” approach will turn the social media into a platform for those previously banned for hate speech or disinformation. While some users have announced their choice to quit Twitter, others have chosen to stay, using the hashtag #IWasGoingToQuitTwitterBut , either to see how a potential drama could unfold or to fight back against hate speech or fake news.


• Taiwan director Tsai Ming-liang on his career and new exhibition: Award-winning Malaysian-Taiwanese Tsai Ming-liang discusses how his career has evolved over the course of 30 years in an interview with South China Morning Post , as a retrospective of his work will be visible at New York’s Museum of Modern Art until Nov. 13. The artist will also screen nine of his Walker shorts’ series at Paris’ Pompidou Centre in an immersive experience, from Nov. 25 to Jan. 2.

• Abu Dhabi’s Culture Summit returns: The fifth Culture Summit Abu Dhabi made its return for the first in-person event in three years, bringing together artists, thinkers and performers from around the world to discuss how culture can transform societies and communities. This year’s three-day forum hosted various speakers from South African comedian and political commentator Trevor Noah to renowned architect Frank Gehry and the artist robot Ai-Da.

• Artist looking for volunteers for mass nude photoshoot: American artist Spencer Tunick is returning to Sydney to stage his next “nude installation” and is looking for thousands of volunteers willing to get naked to raise awareness of skin cancer. Tunick has already conducted four such mass photoshoots in Australia , which records the highest number of deadly skin cancers in the world every year.

• Pierre Soulages fades to black: French painter Pierre Soulages, known for his work exploring the color black, has died at age 102 in Nîmes, southern France . Read his obituary in The Art Newspaper .

• “World’s dirtiest man” dies in Iran: Amou Haji, an Iranian hermit who was dubbed the “world’s dirtiest man” for not taking a shower for almost 70 years, has died aged 94 in the southern village of Dejgah. Residents had persuaded the man to take a bath a few months ago, but Haji became ill shortly afterwards.

🇷🇺 Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov may have his eye on the Kremlin

The day Russian President Vladimir Putin declared his “special military operation,” 12,000 “volunteer” soldiers amassed in the central square in Grozny, the regional capital of the Russian republic of Chechnya, as its Kremlin-backed leader Ramzan Kadyrov hailed the start of the invasion. Since then, Kadyrov has used his Telegram channel to advertise Chechen fighters’ prowess in crucial battles and reaffirm his support to Russian President Vladimir Putin. But to take the 46-year-old leader’s bellicose chest-thumping as pure loyalism to the Kremlin would be naïve. Increasingly, Chechen involvement in Russia’s war with Ukraine appears motivated more by serving Kadyrov's ambitions than any deep-rooted patriotism toward the Kremlin.

Read the full story: Chechen Pride Or Kremlin Ambitions? Tracking Kadyrov's Long Game

🇮🇷✊ Iran Protests: Is The West Finally Losing Patience?

Anti-government demonstrations sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini have rocked Iran for more than a month, standing firm in spite of regime agents killing more than 250 protesters and arresting thousands more. This has prompted the West to postpone the multilateral talks to renew a nuclear pact with Tehran, while the administration of U.S. President Joseph Biden has also changed its line and for the first time. “There is real hope that the limit to the world's patience — and to the Islamic Republic's dishonorable and crafty staying power — is coming to an end,” writes Ahmed Rafat in Persian-language media Kayhan-London .

Read the full story: One Clear Sign Iran's Protests Are Working: An End To Western Appeasement

🇦🇷🐶 Argentina Sets Precedent To Protect Pets Of Divorced Couples

Amorina Bascoy and Emmanuel Medina have two black dogs, Kiara and Popeye, that they consider as their children. So much so that when the Argentine couple decided to divorce, they went to court to settle custody of their pets. Their case set a legal precedent, introducing a new term to Argentine family law: “the multi-species family.” This could help expand legal protection of household pets in the case of a separation in a country where animals are still legally considered as “movable property” and not sentient beings. The “non-human animals that live with us are our family,” said Diana Sica, the judge who ruled for Popeye and Kiara.

Read the full story: In Argentina, A Pet Custody Battle Leads To "Multi-Species Family" Legal Status


Cyberdrone, a Dubai-based company, is bringing ancient monuments back to life, thanks to drones . The company is staging “drone shows” around the world, using lights mounted on drones to reconstruct archeological sites and monuments that have been partially destroyed, like Whitby Abbey in the UK (pictured here).


An unlikely hero has emerged to help those trapped in the rubble caused by natural disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes: rats. Their small size and keen sense of smell make the rodents perfect for locating things in tight spaces, says Donna Kean, a behavioral research scientist. The project , led by Belgian non-profit APOPO, teaches rats with backpacks to locate a person in an empty room, pull a switch on their vest to trigger a beeper, and then return to base, where they are rewarded with a treat.


• The second round of the Brazilian presidential takes place Sunday , with leftist former president Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva trying to unseat far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro.

• Israelis go to the polls Tuesday for the fifth legislative election in less than four years, which will include a run for power by former leader Benjamin Netanyahu.

• Nguyen Phu Trong, the chief of Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party , will visit China on the invitation of President Xi Jinping.

• After over two years of pandemic restrictions in place, Japan’s new Ghibli theme park is set to open Tuesday. Tickets are reservation only and hard to come by, with many fans of Hayao Miyazaki’s universe entering a lottery three months before admission.

News quiz answers:

1. Mercedes-Benz becomes the latest carmaker to leave Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. Mercedes said it would also sell shares in its industrial and financial services subsidiaries to a local investor.

2. Security forces in Iran reportedly opened fire on mourners who gathered at a cemetery on Wednesday, as it marked the end of Islam’s traditional 40-day mourning period for Mahsa Amini, the 22-year-old Iranian killed by Iran police for improperly wearing her hijab.

3. Elon Musk posted a video of himself carrying a sink as he walked into Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters Wednesday with the message “let that sink in.” Whether or not Musk allows hate speech back on the social media platform, corny jokes will certainly not be banned.

4. Two French tourists were arrested in Venice stealing a gondola and taking it for a spin along the Grand Canal in the middle of the night.

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Pro-Palestine demonstrators hold a candlelight vigil outside Tokyo Station to pay tribute to the civilian victims of Israeli airstrikes in Gaza.

Anne-Sophie Goninet & Michelle Courtois

👋 བཀྲ་ཤིས་བདེ་ལེགས།*

Welcome to Monday, where Israel steps up strikes in Gaza, FIFA bans head of Spanish soccer federation for three years over his non-consensual kissing of player, and an Italian mamma wins in court against her two middle-aged freeloader sons. Meanwhile, the Tel Aviv correspondent of Les Echos looks at what may be one of the biggest challenges in Israel’s coming ground offensive in Gaza: Hamas’ tunnels.

[*Tashi delek - Tibetan]

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