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In The News

Libya Floods, Kim Jong-Un In Russia, Red Wine River

Photo of Derna, eastern Libya, hit by massive floods that are believed to have killed thousands.

More than 3,000 people are feared to have been killed after massive floods hit several coastal towns in eastern Libya, including Derna, pictured above.

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Michelle Courtois and Valeria Berghinz

👋 Sawubona!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where thousands are feared dead as floods hit eastern Libya, Kim Jong-un’s private train arrives in Russia, and a Portuguese town gets one big red wine surprise. Meanwhile, after Mexico’s recent decision to decriminalize abortion, we look at how countries around the world have been handling the issue since the U.S. overturned Roe v. Wade last year.

[*Swati, Eswatini and South Africa]


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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• Kim Jong-un enters Russia to meet with Putin: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has reportedly arrived in Russia via rail in his private train on Tuesday morning where he is due to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss a potential arms deal. Putin arrived in Vladivostok on Monday to attend the Eastern Economic Forum, but the location of the meeting between the two leaders has not been confirmed. This is Kim’s first trip abroad in four years.

• At least 3,000 feared dead after devastating flood in Libya: Officials in Libya say at least 3,000 people have been killed and 10,000 are missing after heavy flooding caused by Storm Daniel swept away entire neighborhoods in several coastal towns. One quarter of the eastern city of Derna, where more than 1,000 bodies have been recovered so far, has been wiped out after two dams collapsed.

• Morocco earthquake death toll keeps rising, survivors struggle in shelters: The death toll from the 6.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains has risen to 2,862, with 2,562 people injured. Many survivors have spent a fourth night outside in makeshift shelters as rescuers are yet to reach remote village mountains. Meanwhile, the Red Cross has called for more than $110 million to provide assistance in the country.

• U.S. to free $6 billion in frozen Iranian funds as part of prisoner swap: The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden has cleared the way for the release of five American citizens detained in Iran by waiving sanctions to allow the transfer of $6 billion in frozen Iranian funds from South Korea to Qatar.

• Nobel laureate Maria Ressa acquitted in tax evasion case: Maria Ressa, a Filipino Nobel Peace Prize winner and prominent journalist, has been acquitted in the last of five tax evasion cases filed against her in the Philippines. A fierce critic of former President Rodrigo Duterte, Ressa had maintained that the cases against her were politically motivated.

• American explorer freed from Turkish cave: Mark Dickey, an American explorer who was trapped in one of Turkey's deepest caves for more than a week after falling ill during an expedition, has been hoisted to safety. The rescue mission in the southern Taurus Mountain’s Morca cave, described as one of the largest and most complicated underground rescues ever mounted, mobilized more than 150 people over several days.

Portugal town flooded by red wine: About 2.2 million liters of red wine flowed through the small Portuguese town of São Lourenco do Bairro after two tanks from the local distillery burst, forcing the local fire department to divert the flood away into a nearby field. The distillery took full responsibility for the incident and issued an apology.


Catalonia’s leading daily newspaper La Vanguardia lends its front page to the march that saw thousands of Catalan independence supporters take to the streets of Barcelona yesterday, on the region’s National Day. Participants demanded Catalonia’s secession from Spain, in the midst of separatist parties taking center stage in the national government. However, Reuters reports that turnout for this year’s National Day is low in comparison to past years, as support for the cause may be waning.


230,000 hectares

Colombia has set a new coca cultivation record this past year, with 230,000 hectares (568,340 acres) of land planted across the country — a 13% increase from 2021, according to a UN report. The findings come one day after President Gustavo Petro has proposed a new approach to combat drug drug trafficking, including expanding voluntary crop substitution programs and recognizing drug consumption as a public health problem.


Roe v Wade to Mexican Supreme Court: What's driving abortion rights around the world

A landmark decision last week by the Mexican Supreme Court is part of a push in Latin America to expand abortion access. But as seen by the U.S. overturning Roe v. Wade last year, the issue is moving in different directions around the world.

🇲🇽 Mexico is the latest (and most populous) Latin American country to expand reproductive rights, even as their northern neighbor continues to take steps backward on the issue. Since the June 25 ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade, abortion rights are progressing in many parts of the world. But the shadow of Roe v. Wade still hangs ominously. As Irma Barrientos, director of the Mexican Civil Association for the Rights of the Conceived, puts it: “We’re not going to stop — let’s remember what happened to the United States.”

✊ Still, the news from Mexico stands out as part of what Latin American women’s rights activists are calling a: “green wave”. Traditionally driven by Catholic Church teachings, Latin America has moved to liberalize the procedure amid widespread public pressure from pro-choice movements and a growing acceptance from the public at large. The “green” symbolism is traced back to Argentina in 2018 thousands of women marched on the Senate wearing a pañuelo verde (green handkerchief) ahead of a vote on abortion rights — which did not ultimately result in a win.

⚠️ Like in the U.S. pre-2022, many countries in Europe have considered themselves “safe” and “progressive” on the issue, both before and after the overturning of Roe v. Wade. But things are not as simple as they seem. Close to one-third of women and girls in Europe face challenges in accessing abortion care, according to the European Abortion Politics Atlas.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


“There can be no weakening.”

— President Volodymyr Zelensky urged his fellow Ukrainians to keep their focus on the war effort, as Kyiv marked 18 months since the Russian invasion. “Although today is the 565th day of this war, each and every one must be focused on the defense of the state, as in the early days,” Zelensky said in a video message. “Everything that strengthens us is a priority, the sole priority.”

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Michelle Courtois and Valeria Berghinz

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The Problem With Always Blaming Climate Change For Natural Disasters

Climate change is real, but a closer look at the science shows there are many factors that contribute to weather-related disasters. It is important to raise awareness about the long-term impact of global warming, but there's a risk in overstating its role in the latest floods or fires.

People on foot, on bikes, motorcycles, scooters and cars navigate through a flooded street during the day time.

Karachi - People wade through flood water after heavy rain in a southern Pakistani city

Xinhua / ZUMA
Axel Bojanowski


BERLIN — In September, thousands of people lost their lives when dams collapsed during flooding in Libya. Engineers had warned that the dams were structurally unsound.

Two years ago, dozens died in floods in western Germany, a region that had experienced a number of similar floods in earlier centuries, where thousands of houses had been built on the natural floodplain.

Last year saw more than 1,000 people lose their lives during monsoon floods in Pakistan. Studies showed that the impact of flooding in the region was exacerbated by the proximity of human settlements, the outdated river management system, high poverty rates and political instability in Pakistan.

There are many factors that contribute to weather-related disasters, but one dominates the headlines: climate change. That is because of so-called attribution studies, which are published very quickly after these disasters to highlight how human-caused climate change contributes to extreme weather events. After the flooding in Libya, German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung described climate change as a “serial offender," while the Tageszeitung wrote that “the climate crisis has exacerbated the extreme rainfall."

The World Weather Attribution initiative (WWA) has once again achieved its aim of using “real-time analysis” to draw attention to the issue: on its website, the institute says its goal is to “analyse and communicate the possible influence of climate change on extreme weather events." Frederike Otto, who works on attribution studies for the WWA, says these reports help to underscore the urgent need for climate action. They transform climate change from an “abstract threat into a concrete one."

In the immediate aftermath of a weather-related disaster, teams of researchers rush to put together attribution studies – “so that they are ready within the same news cycle," as the New York Times reported. However, these attribution studies do not meet normal scientific standards, as they are published without going through the peer-review process that would be undertaken before publication in a specialist scientific journal. And that creates problems.

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