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In The News

Offline Zaporizhzhia, Planning Abe’s Funeral, Djoko Out Of U.S. Open

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenky met with Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio on Thursday as Italy renewed its support to Ukraine, saying they would not “abandon” the country.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenky met with Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio on Thursday as Italy renewed its support to Ukraine, saying they would not “abandon” the country.

Lisa Berdet, Lila Paulou, Chloé Touchard and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Alo!*

Welcome to Friday, where tension is high around Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia power plant, Japan announces expected cost of former PM Shinzo Abe’s funeral, and unvaccinated tennis champion Novak Djokovic won’t be let in for the U.S. Open. Meanwhile, for NGO Climate Tracker, Camila Parodi looks at the disastrous environmental and human cost of lithium production.

[*Haitian Creole]


This is our daily newsletter Worldcrunch Today, a rapid tour of the news of the day from the world's best journalism sources, regardless of language or geography.

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• Ukraine update: Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is still disconnected from Ukraine’s power grid after shelling hit the area. The situation could lead to a “nuclear disaster”, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said. Meanwhile, Russia has claimed responsibility for the Chaplyne train attack that killed over 200 people in eastern Ukraine earlier this week.

• Solomon Islands ghosts U.S. vessel: A U.S. Coast Guard ship was unable to dock in the Solomon Islands after Honiara didn’t respond to its request to refuel and provision. Tensions are high between both countries as the Islands signed a security pact with China in May.

• Turkey, Finland and Sweden officials to meet: Finland is expected to host a meeting with Turkey and Sweden officials this Friday to discuss Turkey’s security concerns over the two Nordic countries joining the NATO alliance. This meeting “aims to establish contacts and set goals for cooperation”, Finland’s Foreign Minister said.

• Judge orders release of Mar-a-Lago affidavit: The Justice Department has ordered the unsealing of the redacted version of the affidavit that justified the warrant for the Mar-a-Lago raid in Florida. Several sensitive documents had been discovered in the former U.S. President Donald Trump’s resort.

• Suspended Thai PM stays on as Defense minister: In a Twitter post and first address since he was suspended, Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said he “will continue his duty and responsibility as defense minister”. He was suspended by a Court as the country’s leader on Wednesday.

• Japan announces spending for Abe’s funeral: Japan announced it will spend $1.83 million for the state funeral of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was shot last month during a campaign speech. The decision has sparked considerable debate in the country, notably because of the former leader’s ties with the Unification Church.

• Unvaccinated Djokovic out of U.S. Open: Serbian tennis champion Novak Djokovic announced he will miss the U.S. Open tournament, which kicks off next week, due to his COVID-19 vaccination status.


In Italy, La Repubblica dedicates its front page to "a modern Mata Hari". A 10-month investigation revealed that a woman going by the fake name of "Maria Adela" working for Russian intelligence services infiltrated NATO circles in Italy until 2018 and obtained information by befriending members of the organization.



South Korea recorded the world’s lowest fertility rate in 2021, with the rate sinking 0.03% lower than the previous year. The average rate to maintain a stable population is 2.1. The low fertility rate is in part due to an intense workplace culture, gender inequality and the rising cost of living. To encourage fertility, South Korea is offering "baby vouchers" and simultaneous parental leave, hoping to reverse the tendency.


The dark hidden cost of the mineral that makes green energy possible

As the world moves to renewable energy, demand for lithium has surged. But the race to extract the precious mineral comes with hidden costs for local communities and the environment. So just how green is the energy transition after all? asks Camila Parodi in international non-profit organization Climate Tracker.

🍃 Since 1997, U.S. company Livent has been extracting lithium, a metal that is crucial for renewable technologies, from the Salar del Hombre Muerto, a salt flat in northern Argentina. Close by, the local community is recording the deterioration and loss of biodiversity of this sensitive and unique wetland area.

🇦🇷 During the last 15 years, the province of Catamarca in northwestern Argentina has occupied a central place in the global mining map. The oldest lithium extraction project in the country operates there, run by the company Livent, which describes itself as making "high-performance lithium products and solutions." In 2018, the company submitted an Environmental Impact Report for the expansion of the “Fénix” Project with the aim of obtaining groundwater from the Los Patos River sub-basin in the Antofagasta area.

🥂 While officials and businessmen make toasts on the millionaire investments left by lithium and talk about energy transition, the local communities ask just who is benefitting: “Who is going to have those high-end vehicles? Who is the transition intended for? For those who have money. We don't have that money, that's why they don't care about our voices."

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


The jury’s out!

— When asked whether Emmanuel Macron was “friend or foe” during a series of questions in Norwich, as part of the race to elect the UK’s future Conservative leader and Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary and candidate Liz Truss suggested that she had mixed feelings about the French president. She said that she would judge him based on “deeds not words” if she was elected PM. Her opponent Rishi Sunak replied that Emmanuel Macron was a “friend.” Truss’s response has been widely criticized for undermining the UK’s relationship with France, including within her own party, although the quip was met with applause from the Norwich crowd.

✍️ Newsletter by Lisa Berdet, Lila Paulou, Chloé Touchard and Bertrand Hauger

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Life On "Mars": With The Teams Simulating Space Missions Under A Dome

A niche research community plays out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another planet.

Photo of a person in a space suit walking toward the ​Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

At the Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

Sarah Scoles

In November 2022, Tara Sweeney’s plane landed on Thwaites Glacier, a 74,000-square-mile mass of frozen water in West Antarctica. She arrived with an international research team to study the glacier’s geology and ice fabric, and how its ice melt might contribute to sea level rise. But while near Earth’s southernmost point, Sweeney kept thinking about the moon.

“It felt every bit of what I think it will feel like being a space explorer,” said Sweeney, a former Air Force officer who’s now working on a doctorate in lunar geology at the University of Texas at El Paso. “You have all of these resources, and you get to be the one to go out and do the exploring and do the science. And that was really spectacular.”

That similarity is why space scientists study the physiology and psychology of people living in Antarctic and other remote outposts: For around 25 years, people have played out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another world. Polar explorers are, in a way, analogous to astronauts who land on alien planets. And while Sweeney wasn’t technically on an “analog astronaut” mission — her primary objective being the geological exploration of Earth — her days played out much the same as a space explorer’s might.

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