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In The News

U.S. Midterm Results, New North Korea Missile, Huge Facebook Layoffs

supporters celebrate fetterman's victory at the midterms elections 2022

In one of the key midterm matchups, Democrat John Fetterman defeated Donald Trump-backed Republican Mehmet Oz to take the Pennsylvania Senate race. Fetterman, 53, had suffered a stroke earlier in the campaign, which affected his ability to communicate. Most polls had predicted the Democrats would lose majority control of both the House of Representatives and Senate. Four Senate races are still close to call, with the two parties currently at 48 seats each.

Laure Gautherin, Renate Mattar, Sophia Constantino and Anne-Sophie Goninet

👋 Adishatz !*

Welcome to Wednesday, where the expected Republican midterm victory wave turns out to be more of a ripple, Zelensky remains defiant as battles intensify in Donetsk, and 2,300 year-old bronze statues are found in pristine condition in Tuscany. Meanwhile, Chinese-language media The Initium has rare testimonies from workers forced to flee China’s huge Foxconn factory, for fear of being trapped inside by COVID orders.

[*Occitan, France]

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🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• Democrats outperform expectations in U.S. midterms: Results are still being tallied in the U.S. midterm elections, with the majority of both the House of Representatives hanging in the balance. Still, results so far have defied forecasts of a massive swing in the Republican party’s favor.

• Heavy fighting in Donetsk region as Ukraine’s Zelensky remains defiant: President Volodymyr Zelensky has said his forces will not yield “a single centimeter” as battles intensify for control of the eastern Donetsk region. Meanwhile, the current whereabouts of U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner, imprisoned in Russia since February, are unknown.

• North Korea fires ballistic missile: Pyongyang has fired a new ballistic missile towards South Korea’s East Sea waters. The North Korean military described the launch as a “simulated attack” on both South Korea and the U.S., and comes after last week's record number of missiles launched from the Korean peninsula.

• France ends military operation in Sahel: Emmanuel Macron has declared the official end of French’s military presence in the Sahel region in northwest Africa. Given the continuous development of ISIS-affiliated groups in the region, after almost decade, Paris decided “Operation Barkhane” would be replaced by “a military operation and an international alliance.”

• Nepal earthquake kills five: At least five people have died and six injured by a magnitude 5.6 earthquake, whose epicenter was in Seti Zone, Nepal. The tremor, which lasted for about ten seconds, was felt as far as New Delhi, India, more than 400 kilometers away.

• Zuckerberg announces 11,000 job cuts: Mark Zuckerberg has announced that Facebook’s parent company Meta will be laying off 11,000 employees (about 13% of the company’s total workforce) amid revenue collapse, and following huge job cuts at Twitter.

• Elon Musk sells $4 billion of Tesla shares: Just weeks after completing his bumpy $44-billion takeover of Twitter, Tesla founder Elon Musk has sold 19.5 million shares of the electric car company, worth $3.95 billion. Tesla's share price has dropped by half since the start of the year.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

Italian daily Corriere della Sera reports on the discovery of 24 stunningly preserved bronze statues by archeologists in San Casciano dei Bagni, Italy. The statues, found in an ancient Tuscan spa, are believed to date back 2,300 years; their exceptional state of preservation may be due to their having been immersed in thermal waters as part of a ritual.

#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

+31%

Between January and September 2022, India’s imports from China rose by 31% to reach a record high of $89.66 billion worth of goods — mostly in capital goods or “input goods”, such as steel, iron, plastic and electronics. For the same period in 2021, import from China was already the highest ever recorded at the time, with $68.46 billion worth of goods. Simultaneously, India’s exports to China have fallen dramatically by 36.4%, now standing at $13.97 billion.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

Escape from Foxconn: inside the COVID lockdown chaos blocking China's iPhone production

Around China, Zero COVID policy has shut down entire towns and workplaces. But in the high-tech Foxconn factory in Zhengzhou, famous for cranking out iPhones, employees were forced to work even if they tested positive. Yi Dong and Ren Yang have gathered exclusive testimony from some of those who fled Foxconn premises last week for Chinese-language media The Initium.

🇨🇳🏭 By the end of October, things were getting out of control at Foxconn: chaotic COVID testings, spreading infections, workers quitting their jobs. Some felt trapped inside the five million square meters of the Foxconn factory, China's largest producer of Apple's iPhones, which was falsely described as a COVID-free zone. On Oct. 29, videos of Foxconn workers returning by foot to their hometowns began to spread on the internet. Some claimed that due to the company's chaotic quarantine system and poor logistical support, they had chosen to leave on their own. This would raise new questions about China's policy for dealing with the spread of COVID.

😷 When the virus began to spread, most of Foxconn's factory was blocked off by metal sheets, recalls Chen, a 35-year-old worker, who managed to escape. "People outside could not get in, people inside could not get out," she said. From mid-October onwards, people were pulled away from Chen's workshop for being tested positive, and she herself went through a quarantine. "They've shut down entire towns and cities for the virus, but at Foxconn we had to continue to work as normal. We were forced to work together even with people who tested positive. Everyone was quite scared and frightened."

⛔ Many workers who made it back home found themselves facing a totally different situation: While in Foxconn, information was blocked, and quarantine policies were disorganized, they now have to deal with strict Zero-COVID policies in smaller towns. "In Foxconn, as long as you are not COVID positive, you have to work — while in fact everyone is already a contact case, and in principle we all have to isolate." It seems to be more flexible in Foxconn, but in fact it is another kind of paralysis.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

If a meeting is arranged with Xi, then that would be a positive thing.

— Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has said a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping would be a “positive thing” considering the previously strained relationship between the two countries. These comments come amid expectations the Australian leader could have his first face-to-face meeting with Xi during a series of gatherings of international leaders this month, including the G20 leaders’ summit in Bali, Indonesia.

✍️ Newsletter by Laure Gautherin, Renate Mattar, Sophia Constantino and Anne-Sophie Goninet


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Future

Listening For Illness: Your Voice May Soon Help Detect Health Problems

Applying Artificial intelligence to vocal cues is increasingly being used to detect a range of illnesses from COVID-19 to asthma and even depression. But such technology also comes with serious ethical concerns.

photo of a man yelling with white paint in background

What's that you say?

Guillaume de Germain Unsplash
Benoît Georges

PARIS — Thanks to artificial intelligence (AI), your voice can already be used to dictate messages to your smartphone, give commands to your Bluetooth speakers, or chat with your car's dashboard. But soon, it may be able to evaluate the state of your health by detecting respiratory (asthma, COVID-19) or neurodegenerative illnesses. It could even pick up mental health struggles, such as depression or anxiety.

The concept is simple: every pathology that affects the lungs, the heart, the brain, the muscles, or the vocal cords can lead to voice modifications. By using digital tools to analyze a recording, it must be possible to detect vocal biomarkers, the same way vocal recognition algorithms learned to understand a spoken language based on millions of sound samples.

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