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In The News

Mass Karabakh Exodus, Iraq Wedding Fire Kills 100, 16-Hour Work Day

Refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh reach the village of Kornidzor in Armenia.
Emma Albright and Valeria Berghinz

👋 Inuugujoq kutaa!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where an estimated 42,500 ethnic Armenians have now fled conflict-torn Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan, a fire at a wedding in northern Iraq kills at least 100, and Spain fines major consultancy firms over “marathon working days.” Meanwhile, Katarzyna Skiba looks into new evidence that Gen Z is drinking less than previous generations.



Where imperialism goes to die: lessons from Afghanistan to Ukraine

With multilateral diplomacy in tatters, the fighting gumption of weaker states against aggression by bigger powers is helping end the age of empires, writes Andrés Hoyos in Colombian daily El Espectador.

Just a century ago, imperialism was alive and kicking. Today, the nasty habit of marching into other countries is moribund, as can be seen from the plains of Ukraine.

The invasion was part of President Vladimir Putin's decades-long dream of restoring the Russian empire or the Soviet Union, for which he would resort to genocide if need be, like his communist predecessors. Only this time, the targeted victim turned out to be too big a mouthful.

When Putin leaves, sooner or later, with his tail between his legs, this will have been a sorry end to one of the last illusions of empire — unless, of course, China tries a similar move down the line.

This isn't the only imperialist endeavor to have failed in recent decades (and it has, when you think Putin thought his armies would sweep into Kyiv within days). Afghanistan resisted two invasions, Iraq was the setting of another imperialist disaster, as was Kuwait, with a bit of help from the Yankee sheriff on that occasion. In fact, besides some rather targeted interventions, one would have to move back several more decades to find an example of "victorious" imperialism, for want of better words. Which is very good news.

The 21st century world has a stable makeup then. Its constituents, for better or worse, are as they are. Certainly there are some despicable regimes here and there which may fall in the next 20 years or so, though we may be sure their successors will be local, not imposed from outside.

Why is all this happening?

Firstly, invading a country is now more difficult and costly, especially when most people are against it in spite of attempts to distract them with propaganda.

Also, a century ago, colonial authorities enjoyed a measure of stability, at least until a revolt broke out. But from the early 19th century onwards, occupied nations made use of intermittent crises or the imperial power's weakness to end its occupation for good. That gradually reduced the number of colonial states.

The process has accelerated today so that from the very start, the invaders rarely get a break. They face sabotage, violence and terrorism, however you might interpret those words. The pushback sounds like this: It's our land, and we'll pray, govern, and organize the economy as we see fit. However, while this slogan is good for fighting invaders, it could also easily be weaponized by a home-bred dictator, who'll tell you the exact same thing. Nationalism, then, is crucial to the spread of dictatorships.

Of course, imperialism is more than just marching your armies into another state. There are many ways of pressuring a country to act in one way or another. However, setting up a client regime has become a rarity, and I have a feeling that this tactic of cajoling countries to do your bidding is set to fade even further.

Consider all the states, like Venezuela, that owe China a lot of money. What will happen if in a few years, the debtor governments refuse to pay or demand a partial cancellation of their debts, arguing there were irregularities in the first place?

A century ago the great powers would send their warships — in what was termed gunboat diplomacy — to threaten and squeeze the debtor country. Try it these days and see how that works out. Many of the world's debts were initially incurred in questionable conditions and with draconian terms, so, frankly, a lot of that money may be as good as gone — and the world is the better for it.

Andrés Hoyos / El Espectador


• More than 40,000 refugees have fled to Armenia: Some 42,500 ethnic Armenians have now fled Nagorno-Karabakh, more than a third of the population of the enclave that Azerbaijan seized last week. Azerbaijan says residents will be safe, but Armenia's prime minister says “ethnic cleansing” has started. Nagorno-Karabakh, recognized as part of Azerbaijan, had been run by ethnic Armenians for three decades.

• North Korea to deport U.S. soldier who crossed the border: North Korea says it will deport U.S. soldier Travis King who ran across the border from South Korea during a tour in July. Pyongyang would deport him after finishing its investigation into King's “illegal” entry, state news agency KCNA said. KCNA did not specify how, when or to where King would be expelled.

• More than 100 killed in wedding fire in northern Iraq: At least 100 people have died after a fire broke out at a wedding in Iraq's Nineveh province. At around 10:30 p.m., during a slow dance, a firework hit the roof of the venue setting it on fire. The Iraqi prime minister has declared three days of national mourning.

• Russia claims Black Sea Fleet commander alive: Russia's defense ministry has released a video showing the Black Sea Fleet's commander at a conference, despite Ukraine claiming to have killed him. Ukraine special forces had said on Monday that Admiral Viktor Sokolov and 33 other officers died in a missile strike on the fleet's HQ in Sevastopol in occupied Crimea. Kyiv has expressed doubts over the footage and says it is trying to verify whether he is alive or dead.

• Trump found liable for fraud in New York civil case: A New York judge has ruled that Donald Trump committed fraud by repeatedly misrepresenting his wealth by hundreds of millions of dollars. The ruling, part of a civil case brought against the former president and his family business, said he defrauded banks and insurers for years. The verdict will likely hinder Trump’s ability to do business in the state, and comes as the former U.S. President awaits trials in four criminal cases and leads polls to again be the Republican nominee for the White House.

Canada parliament speaker steps down after honoring Nazi: Anthony Rota, the speaker of Canada’s Parliament, has stepped down, days after he honored a man who fought in a Nazi unit during World War II as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the House of Commons last week. Addressing Canadian lawmakers in Ottawa on Tuesday afternoon, Rota said he was resigning “with a heavy heart.”

• Hollywood writers agree to officially end five-month strike: Hollywood writers ended their strike at midnight on Wednesday, after nearly five months. The Writers Guild of America (WGA) said in a statement that union leaders “voted unanimously to lift the restraining order and end the strike.” Its 11,500 members will then vote on whether to approve a three-year deal that offers pay raises and protections around use of artificial intelligence.


U.S. daily The Detroit News lends its front page to U.S. President Joe Biden, who on Tuesday joined in walking the picket line with striking Michigan autoworkers. Biden spoke to the strikers through a bullhorn, supporting their demands for pay raises by stating that “they should be able to bargain” for a 40% increase. Read this Worldcrunch article from last year about COVID’s impact on the labor movement, with Sweden as a possible model for the future.


16 hours

Spain’s Labour Ministry has announced it would slap the so-called “Big Four” consulting firms (Deloitte, PwC, EY and KPMG) with a 1.4 million-euro fine for normalizing “marathon working days.” A year-long investigation has shown that employees of the consultancies were working longer hours than their records showed. In some cases, workers complained about spending 16 hours per day at the office.


Europeans are the world’s heaviest drinkers — is Gen Z finally breaking the habit?

Young people across Europe are drinking less, which is driving a boom in non-alcoholic alternatives, and the emergence of new, more complex markets.

🍸🚫 From Irish whisky to French wine to German beer, Europe has long been known for alcohol consumption. But that may be starting to change, especially among Gen Z Europeans, who are increasingly drinking less or opting out entirely, out of concern for their health or problematic alcohol use. The alcohol-free trend is propping up new markets for low- or zero-alcoholic beverages, including in one of Europe’s beer capitals: Germany.

🍺 In Germany, which has the world's seventh-highest consumption of beer per capita, non-alcoholic beer has exploded in popularity among those looking to live a healthier lifestyle. Though the land of Oktoberfest and Biergartens remains one of the highest consumers of alcohol worldwide, Germans’ average consumption of beer has drastically decreased. In 2022, Germans drank an average of 87.2 liters of beer per year, compared to nearly 100 liters 10 years earlier, according to statistics from the German government.

📈 Brewers have responded to the changing market, and are developing a wider variety of non-alcoholic beverages than ever before. Since 2007, the production of non-alcoholic beers, which can contain at most 0.5% alcohol, has doubled, according to Les Echos. In Germany, the beverages account for 7% of the beer market, and are expected to take off in the years to come.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


“How could we not be scared?”

— Fifteen-year-old André Oliveira, one of the six young Portuguese taking 32 European countries to court on the basis of their climate in-action, discusses how what’s called “eco-anxiety” has hindered his personal life and ability to do schoolwork. The landmark case accuses European countries of failing to reduce greenhouse emissions in accordance with the Paris agreement, thereby affecting the young people’s fundamental human rights. The trial will begin on Wednesday, and if the courts rule in favor of the Portuguese youth, the accused countries would be legally binded to accelerate their efforts towards limiting emissions. Read about how the ecological crisis is pushing France back into the mining industry — not for coal, but for the rare earths essential for renewable energy.


Refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh reach the village of Kornidzor in Armenia. Over the past week, an estimated 42,500 ethnic Armenians have fled the separatist region that Azerbaijan seized last week. — Photo: Alexander Patrin/TASS/ZUMA

✍️ Newsletter by Emma Albright, Valeria Berghinz and Anne-Sophie Goninet

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Rare Earth Race: How China And Russia (And EVs) Are Pushing France Back Into Mining

The government is launching a "major inventory of French mining resources", to prepare for the relaunch of mining in France of the minerals needed for the ecological transition. A concern for sovereignty in the face of Chinese domination of the sector.

A worker holding up two disks of rare earth metals.

A worker displays materials which consist of rubidium, iron and boron at a workshop in Ganzhou City, east China's Jiangxi Province,

Zhou Ke/Xinhua via ZUMA
Pierre Haski


PARIS — The world of mining holds an important place in the imagination of France's past, from writer Emile Zola's "Germinal" in the 19th century to the many films about the "black faces" in the 20th. Perhaps, mining is about to also become its future.

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