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In The News

Al Qaeda Leader Killed, Pelosi Expected In Taiwan, Contraband McMuffins

Al Qaeda Leader Killed, Pelosi Expected In Taiwan, Contraband McMuffins

This undated screenshot shows Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of the Egyptian Jihad and successor of Osama Bin Laden as the head of Al Qaeda, who was killed by the CIA in a counter-terrorism operation in Kabul on Sunday.

Chloé Touchard, Lila Paulou, Lisa Berdet and Anne-Sophie Goninet

👋 Gude!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where U.S.-China relations brace for the expected arrival today of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in Taiwan, the leader of Al Qaeda is killed in a U.S. drone strike and a traveler pays a hefty fine for a fast food breakfast. Meanwhile, French daily Les Echos reports on how the Russia-Ukraine war is rekindling long-simmering tensions among the Israeli population, particularly Russian speakers.

[*Tok Pisin, Papua New Guinea]


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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• China-U.S. tensions over Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan: The U.S. deployed four warships as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plane left Malaysia this morning and is expected to land in Taiwan despite China’s warnings.

• U.S. kills Al Qaeda leader: U.S. President Joe Biden confirmed the death of al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in a CIA-led drone strike conducted in the Afghan capital of Kabul. Al-Zawahiri plotted the 9/11 attacks with Osama bin Laden and was one of most-wanted terrorists.

• Brittney Griner swap: U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner is set to appear again in a Russian courtroom as the U.S. government is negotiating a deal with Russia to free her, involving a prisoner swap or compromises on economic sanctions. Griner faces up to ten years in prison on drug charges.

• Khan's party received illegal funds in Pakistan: The Election Commission of Pakistan announced that the party of former Prime Minister Imran Khan received funding from “prohibited” sources. Imran Khan and the party risk being banned from politics.

• Deadly protests in South Africa over rising prices: Four people died during the latest demonstration in the southern township of Thembisa, where residents gathered to protest the high cost of basic services and necessities. South Africa has one of the highest unemployment and crime rates in the world ; the rise of food prices caused by the war in Ukraine has worsened the situation and brought more residents to protest in the streets.

• California wildfires update: Two people have been found dead in their vehicle in northern California as the McKinney’s fire is raging. The Governor has declared a state of emergency in California’s largest wildfire of the year, which has already burned 55,000 acres of land in four days.

• Expensive McMuffins: An airline passenger traveling from Indonesia to Australia has been fined $1,874 after the authorities found two undeclared McMuffins and a ham croissant stashed in luggage. This comes after Australia reinforced its biosecurity rules amid a Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak in Indonesia.


“The first 26,000 tons of grain flee the war,” writes Spanish daily ABC, featuring a photograph of the first Ukrainian ship carrying grain leaving the port of Odessa since Russia invaded Ukraine five months ago. This followed the signing of a landmark deal between the two countries to restart grain exports from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports amid a worsening global food crisis.



South Korea’s prices rose by 6.3% in July compared to last year, according to Statistics Korea. It is the highest inflation rate in 24 years when inflation had hit 6.8% in Nov. 1998. The Bank of Korea is considering further interest rate hikes during its next meeting on Aug. 25.


Ukraine war sparks divisions among Israel's Russian population

Russian speakers represent 15% of the Israeli population. And now, the war in Ukraine is bringing long-simmering tensions in their community to the surface, Catherine Dupeyron writes in French financial daily Les Echos.

🇮🇱 Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky recently blasted Israel for not having imposed sanctions on Russia in front of students at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. "Many European countries are on our side against Russian aggression, but unfortunately, we have not yet seen Israel join," he said. This “middle-ground” policy is unacceptable for many Israelis, whether they have Ukrainian, Russian or other former Soviet bloc origins. Marina, 50, from Moscow, does not feel "guilty at all about this war," but like many other Israeli-Russians, she has supported Ukraine since the very first day of the conflict.

🇺🇦 Alon Gour, 52, was at first very critical of Israeli policy but is now relieved. "Thanks to Lavrov, our government has finally understood what it is dealing with," he says, referring to remarks by the Russian foreign minister implying that it is possible to be Jewish and a Nazi. Nimrod has a different perspective. He was born in Moscow in 1970 and arrived in Jerusalem in 1989. His family was killed in Ukraine during the Second World War. "In Ukraine, many places are named after people who murdered Jews and who are heroes there. It's an identity problem they have to solve," he explains.

🗯️ The current war has led to tensions, arguments, and even ruptures between work colleagues, between friends, between generations within families, and also between Israeli soldiers. For many, the rupture dates back to the Revolution of Dignity in 2014, when the pro-Russian Ukrainian government was overthrown. However, up until now, it had gone largely unnoticed by the Israeli population. "At the time, the Russian-speaking Israeli media were divided, because they did not fully understand what was going on. Now they understand and are 90% in favor of Ukraine," says Alon.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


Humanity is just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation.

— Speaking at a conference marking the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned that the risk of a nuclear war is at its highest point since the Cold War. The Treaty was introduced in 1968, shortly after the Cuban Missile Crisis. “We have been extraordinarily lucky so far,” Guterres said, adding that this luck may not last in the context of rising international tensions. He specifically made reference to the war in Ukraine, tensions in the Korean peninsula and in the Middle East, and called for the elimination of all nuclear weapons.

✍️ Newsletter by Chloé Touchard, Lila Paulou, Lisa Berdet and Anne-Sophie Goninet

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Brazil's Evangelical Surge Threatens Survival Of Native Afro-Brazilian Faith

Followers of the Afro-Brazilian Umbanda religion in four traditional communities in the country’s northeast are resisting pressure to convert to evangelical Christianity.

image of Abel José, an Umbanda priest

Abel José, an Umbanda priest

Agencia Publica
Géssica Amorim

Among a host of images of saints and Afro-Brazilian divinities known as orixás, Abel José, 42, an Umbanda priest, lights some candles, picks up his protective beads and adjusts the straw hat that sits atop his head. He is preparing to treat four people from neighboring villages who have come to his house in search of spiritual help and treatment for health ailments.

The meeting takes place discreetly, in a small room that has been built in the back of the garage of his house. Abel lives in the quilombo of Sítio Bredos, home to 135 families. The community, located in the municipality of Betânia of Brazil’s northeastern state of Pernambuco, is one of the municipality’s four remaining communities that have been certified as quilombos, the word used to refer to communities formed in the colonial era by enslaved Africans and/or their descendents.

In these villages there are almost no residents who still follow traditional Afro-Brazilian religions. Abel, Seu Joaquim Firmo and Dona Maura Maria da Silva are the sole remaining followers of Umbanda in the communities in which they live. A wave of evangelical missionary activity has taken hold of Betânia’s quilombos ever since the first evangelical church belonging to the Assembleia de Deus group was built in the quilombo of Bredos around 20 years ago. Since then, other evangelical, pentecostal, and neo-pentecostal churches and congregations have established themselves in the area. Today there are now nine temples spread among the four communities, home to roughly 900 families.

The temples belong to the Assembleia de Deus, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and the World Church of God's Power, the latter of which has over 6,000 temples spread across Brazil and was founded by the apostle and televangelist Valdemiro Santiago, who became infamous during the pandemic for trying to sell beans that he had blessed as a Covid-19 cure. Assembleia de Deus alone, who are the largest pentecostal denomination in the world, have built five churches in Betânia’s quilombos.

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