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In The News

Libya Death Toll, Zelensky To Meet Biden, MIA UFOs

Libya Death Toll, Zelensky To Meet Biden, MIA UFOs

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is set to visit Washington next week, as he makes the case for ongoing aid to his country.

Emma Albright, Michelle Courtois and Anne-Sophie Goninet

👋 Dydh da!*

Welcome to Friday, where search efforts continue as death toll mounts in Libya floods, Ukraine retakes Andriivka south of Bakhmut, and aliens are nowhere to be seen. Meanwhile, Huang Yi Ying in Chinese-language digital media The Initium looks at how the Chinese government is tracking the Uyghur population’s every move.

[*Cornish, UK]


Libya flood, a “natural” disaster made of climate change and colonialism

The devastating flood in Libya is the result of the climate crisis, worsened by the country's poor infrastructure, the legacy of European colonialism. These disasters will only become more frequent, warns Mario Tozzi in Italian daily La Stampa.

If we still haven't come to terms with the climate crisis and the criminal irresponsibility of the Western world, we need look no further than the harrowing images coming from Libya, a nation devastated by the Mediterranean Storm Daniel.

The death toll is still unknown, with numbers rising everyday. It seems possible that the death toll will surpass 20,000, eclipsing Morocco's earthquake (which, somehow, has better captured the public's attention).

The damage is notable. In the eastern coastal city of Derna, witnesses describe water as much as three meters high. Yet these extreme weather conditions, stemming from an increasingly severe climate crisis, are only heightened by humanity's reckless disregard for the earth.

We are witnessing a natural disaster born of human action and inaction, both in terms of infrastructural carelessness and, in the bigger picture, because of climate change — a force of destruction we relentlessly feed by burning fossil fuels like there's no tomorrow.

The victims of Libya are victims of their own oil production (of which it's doubtful they derived any benefit), and the unquenchable consumption of the rest of the world — us Westerners in particular.

In Derna, 420 mm of rainfall was recorded within a single day, which is far more than what the region normally sees in a whole year. Combine this with winds that reached almost 200 km/h (124 mp), and you can understand the devastation of a Mediterranean cyclone which has become subtropical, known as a Medicane.

It is all generated by exceptionally warm sea temperatures. It's a similar phenomena to what occurs in the Gulf of Mexico, except that the Mediterranean is much smaller – it's all a matter of scale.

The frequency of these meteorological events has increased from one every five years to one every year and a half. The Mediterranean is quickly becoming one of the most climatically vulnerable regions on the planet.

These climatic conditions become catastrophic when they hit regions with poor infrastructure and worse city planning, which have sprawled recklessly with no concern for future risks. This is what happened in Derna after it was conquered in 1911 by the Italians, who immediately began expanding it at furious speed.

The entire territory along the Wadi Derna was occupied, right up to the coastal plain. Riverbeds were canalized, with embankments derived from buildings themselves and, for safety, two dams were constructed. This was enough to protect against flooding, which was infrequent.

Both of these dams burst when Storm Daniel hit, demonstrating that in the case of flash flooding, dams can worsen the situation instead of preventing it. The water then descended, devouring homes and people on its way, swelling uncontrollably as its path became obstructed by the city sprawl.

Storm Daniel narrowly missed southeastern Italy, but it's easy to imagine that tomorrow, it will be us facing the monstrous path of other Medicane storms. Our infrastructure is not so much better than Libya's, but those who will bear the brunt of the climate crisis will be the poor, the less equipped.

Mario Tozzi / La Stampa


• Death toll in Libya rises to more than 11,000: The confirmed death toll in Libya’s coastal city of Derna has risen to 11,300 as search efforts continue following a massive flood caused by the breaching of two dams in heavy rains. Marie el-Drese, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Libya secretary-general, said another 10,100 people are reported missing in the Mediterranean city. The storm also killed about 170 people elsewhere in the country. Read about the doubts that some have in both Libya and Morocco about the true motivations of Western humanitarian aid.

• EU to keep Iran sanctions: The UK, France and Germany will not lift sanctions on Iran in an attempt to deter Tehran from selling drones and missiles to Russia. In 2015 Iran agreed to a nuclear deal and, under the terms, some sanctions were due to be lifted next month. However, the European nations believe Iran breached the deal by enriching and storing uranium.

• U.S. autoworkers begin biggest strike in decades: After a midnight deadline passed, United Auto Workers launched an unprecedented simultaneous strike at the top 3 U.S. automakers (GM, Ford and Chrysler owner Stellantis) in what could become a long and costly showdown over wages and job security.

• Hunter Biden indicted on gun charges: President Joe Biden's son, Hunter, has been charged with three counts of lying when buying a firearm, after a proposed plea deal collapsed. The indictment marks the first time the child of a sitting president has been criminally prosecuted. All three counts relate to Biden, 53, allegedly lying on forms while buying a gun when he was a drug user.

• Thailand's Pita quits as leader of election-winning party after failed prime minister bid: Thailand's Pita Limjaroenrat resigned on Friday as leader of the progressive Move Forward party, after his party won the most seats at Thailand's national elections in May but was unable to become prime minister. Move Forward was the huge surprise of the election, beating parties backed by the powerful military and royalist establishment, before it was blocked by conservative lawmakers from forming a government.

• Spain's ex-soccer boss Rubiales in court in sex assault investigation: Luis Rubiales entered a Madrid court on Friday to answer a criminal complaint over kissing Spanish player Jenni Hermoso, days after resigning as head of Spain's football federation. He said nothing as he walked into the national court to face accusations of sexual assault and coercion.

• No aliens, no UFO: A UFO hearing in Mexico's congress that featured the presentation of alleged remains of non-human beings is facing a major backlash, with critics labeling it a "stunt.” Mexican journalist and long-time UFO enthusiast Jaime Maussan showed politicians two tiny "bodies" displayed in cases, with three fingers on each hand and elongated heads. He claimed they were found in Peru in 2017 and were not related to any life on Earth.


German daily Die Tageszeitung devotes its front page to this year’s Global Climate Strike, also known as Fridays For Future, which is marking the 5th anniversary of the youth-led global climate strike movement that was initiated by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who was charged today in Sweden for disobeying a police order.


$1.1 million

A red sweater worn by Princess Diana featuring a single black sheep among many white sheep has sold at an auction for more than $1.1 million, Sotheby’s auction house announced. The selling price was 10 times more than the initial estimate of $50,000 to $80,000. Worn by Diana shortly after her engagement to then-Prince Charles at a 1981 polo match, the “Black Sheep” sweater became an iconic item shortly afterward. Some say that the garment hints at Diana’s difficult future as a member of the royal family, and is now the most valuable sweater ever sold at an auction as well as the highest price ever paid for Diana’s clothing items.


Every step, every swipe: inside China's system of total surveillance of Uyghurs

Research by anthropologist Darren Byler provides a rare look inside the surveillance state China has created to control the Uyghur population of Xinjiang province, where every move is tracked, people are forced to carry cell phones, and “re-education camps” await anyone suspected of trying to break free, reports Huang Yi Ying in Chinese-language digital media The Initium.

🇨🇳 The so-called "People's War on Terror" followed Uyghur terrorist attacks in Southwest China in 2013 and 2014, which authorities considered "China's 9/11." Thus began the formation of re-education camps and mass arrests. Technology has been used as a tool by the military, to deal with Uyghurs, Kazakhs and Hui people, whom they deem the "fountainheads of terrorism," in order to detect terrorist attacks through mobile phones.

📱 "The Chinese Communist Party’s logic is that if it can't be traced, it's suspicious," Bayler explains. In other words, someone who tries to avoid the censorship system is disloyal. "Xinjiang is also the only place in the world where you are required to carry a smartphone with you," he notes. In fact, Xinjiang is one of the slowest modernizing regions in China, where mobile communications were not available until 2005, and fixed-line telephones were rolled out even later.

🚨 A young Uyghur who fled China described to Bayler what was happening around him: "Many of my neighbors have been detained for listening to or reading messages containing Islamic content on their phones, or for sharing stories that authorities identify as 'separatist'. Most of the young people who have been detained have been detained for attending religious gatherings, praying, or listening to messages on their phones."

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


“This indicates that ChatGPT was able to suggest medical diagnoses much like a human doctor would.”

— A new study, led by a team of Dutch researchers, found that ChatGPT could diagnose patients as well as trained doctors. Dr Hidde ten Berg, who led the study with his team from the emergency medicine department at 's-Hertogenbosch’s Jeroen Bosch Hospital, said that “We found that ChatGPT performed well in generating a list of likely diagnoses and suggesting the most likely option.” The study also highlighted the potential of AI-powered chatbots for saving time and reducing wait times in emergency departments.


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is set to visit Washington next week, as he makes the case for ongoing aid to his country. Zelensky is expected to meet with U.S President Joe Biden on Thursday. Meanwhile, Ukraine's military said on Friday that its troops have captured a village near Bakhmut, the eastern city that Russia took control of back in May after being besieged for many months. Read the Worldcrunch translation of an essay by Polish novelist Szczepan Twardoch after his return from the frontline in Ukraine. — Photo: Volodymyr Zelensky via Facebook

✍️ Newsletter by Emma Albright, Michelle Courtois and Anne-Sophie Goninet

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