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In The News

Submarine Search Sounds, Biden Calls Xi A “Dictator”, Stonehenge Solstice

Image of people gathered in Stonehenge, UK, to watch the the Summer Solstice.

Around 8,000 people gathered in Stonehenge, UK, one of the world's most famous prehistoric monuments that was built to align with the sun on solstices

Yannick Champion-Osselin, Sophie Jacquier, Anne-Sophie Goninet and Katarzyna Skiba

👋 Kamusta!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where time is running out to find the missing Titanic submarine explorer, Joe Biden calls Xi Jinping a “dictator,” and the“best in the world” restaurant is in a surprising city. Meanwhile, Laura Berlinghieri in Italian daily La Stampa highlights renewed efforts by the country's right-wing government to crack down on same-sex parents.

[*Tagalog, Philippines]


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.

It's easy (and free!) to sign up to receive it each day in your inbox: 👉 Sign up here


• Ukraine update: An accounting error by the Pentagon has created a surplus of weapons by overestimating the value of what it has sent to Ukraine since the war began by $6.2 billion. This additional money will be used to continue to support Ukraine. Meanwhile, the UK is hosting a conference of more than 60 countries to discuss funding to help Ukraine recover from the war. Russia has also accused Ukraine of an attempted drone attack in the Moscow region.

• "Banging sounds" heard in search zone for missing submarine: As the search for the OceanGate miniature sub continues, an aircraft detected noises underwater near where the vessel went missing. Contact with the five people on board was lost on Sunday as it descended 3,800 meters to visit the Titanic wreckage. The rescue mission is a race against time as experts predict the sub's air supply will run out in less than 24 hours.

• Hunter Biden to plead guilty: Hunter Biden, President Joe Biden's son, is set to plead guilty for two tax misdemeanors, which may spare him from jail time. He has also made a deal with federal prosecutors about a felony gun charge. Ex-President Donald Trump, who is facing his own criminal cases, reacted by attempting to delegitimize the legal system, claiming that the president's son benefited from political favor.

• Honduras prison riot kills 41 women: At least 41 women have died in a riot at a women’s prison in Honduras. An interviewed inmate said that imprisoned gang members had shot and set fire to other inmates. At least seven female inmates were hospitalized with gunshot and knife wounds, and Honduran President Xiomara Castro promised to “take drastic measures” against this violence.

• West Bank shooting kills 4:Four Israelis were shot dead, and another four wounded in an attack near the settlement Eli in the occupied West Bank. The two Palestinian shooters were also killed. Palestinian militant group Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was a retaliation for Monday’s raid on Jenin that killed seven Palestinians.

• Estonia legalizes gay marriage: Estonia has become the first former Soviet country to legalize same-sex marriage. The law will come into effect in 2024. It was voted by the coalition of liberal and social democratic parties with 55 votes in the 101-seat parliament.

• Peruvian restaurant named best in world: Central restaurant in Lima, Peru, has been crowned the Best Restaurant in the World 2023 by the renowned The World’s 50 Best Restaurants ranking. Run by chefs Virgilio Martínez and Pia Leon, it was rewarded for its "diversity of ingredients" and homage to Peruvian "history and traditions."


The Israeli government recently said it was in active talks with two countries to sell its Merkava battle tank on the international market for the first time. While the identities of the nations haven’t been disclosed, it was revealed that one of them was in Europe, prompting speculation that the tanks could eventually be sold to Ukraine. Split-based daily Slobodna Dalmacija asks on its front page if the country in question could be Croatia, considering its government had attempted to buy used F-16C/D Barak fighters from Israel in 2019 before canceling the deal.



Portugal’s soccer icon Cristiano Ronaldo has become the first player in the history of the game to make 200 international appearances, after 20 years on the pitch. For that accomplishment, he was honored by Guinness World Records before his game against Iceland on Tuesday, during which he scored a goal.


Italy's crackdown on same-sex parents could retroactively dissolve families

A new measure from the right-wing government could force same-sex parents of children already in elementary school to suddenly lose their parental rights and status, reports Laura Berlinghieri in Italian daily La Stampa.

🇮🇹👪 High on the list of priorities for the far-right government of Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has been targeting the rights of same-sex couples with children. In March, Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala was ordered to stop independently registering same-sex couples as parents of newborns, in accordance with an Italian high court ruling. This new enforcement involves halting the legal registration of children of same-sex parents, compromising the children’s ability to access education and medical care.

⚖️ This week, the crackdown has gone one step further in the northern city of Padua, where 33 families with same-sex mothers now risk losing basic recognition of parental status for their children. The Public Prosecutor's Office requests the alteration of their children’s birth certificates years after their children have been born. The administration's policy seeks to make only the biological parent the legal caretaker, leaving the other parent with no rights over their own children.

🧒 The birth certificates must now only hold the name of the biological mothers. The non-biological mother will be the designated “second parent.” The families are also being asked to change the children’s last names so as to exclude that “second parent.” “For our daughter, this ordeal risks becoming a trauma in a delicate phase of her development. She will no longer have a brother and a mother," says the biological mother of one family affected.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


“He didn't know it was there. That's a great embarrassment for dictators.”

Speaking at a political fundraiser in California, U.S. President Joe Biden seemed to instantly undermine recent progress on cooling tensions with China. "The reason why Xi Jinping got very upset, in terms of when I shot that balloon down with two box cars full of spy equipment in it, was he didn't know it was there. That's a great embarrassment for dictators. When they didn't know what happened.” The ad lib comments late Tuesday came just a day after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Chinese President Xi Jinping for talks meant to reduce the risks of a showdown between the two superpowers. Responding to Biden’s remarks, Mao Ning, China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman, called them “extremely absurd and irresponsible”, and “an open political provocation” out of line with the standards of diplomacy.

✍️ Newsletter by Yannick Champion-Osselin, Sophie Jacquier, Anne-Sophie Goninet and Katarzyna Skiba

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Glass Half-Empty For India's LGBTQ+ After Landmark Ruling

Although it emphasized the rights of India's LGBTQ+ to live free of discrimination, India’s top court declined to legally recognize same-sex marriage, leaving the decision to Parliament. What does verdict mean in real terms for the people affected.

Photograph of five LGBTQ community members posing next to a rainbow mural outside Humsafar Trust.​

October 17, 2023, Mumbai: LGBTQ community members pose for a photo near a mural outside Humsafar Trust.

Ashish Vaishnav/ZUMA
Toufiq Rashid

Welcome to Worldcrunch’s LGBTQ+ International. We bring you up-to-speed each week on the latest on everything LGBTQ+ — from all corners of the planet. This week, we feature an article by Toufiq Rashid for Indian news site The Wire, unpacking what the landmark same-sex marriage ruling means for the country’s LGBTQ+. But first, the latest news…

✉️ You can receive our LGBTQ+ International roundup every week directly in your inbox. Subscribe here.

TW: This content may address topics and include references to violence that some may find distressing

🌐 5 things to know right now

• Poland’s LGBTQ+ community celebrates right-wing election losses: Poland’s LGBTQ+ community saw relief after Sunday’s election indicated that the anti-LGBTQ+ Law and Justice party’s time in government could be over. Three opposition parties are expected to form a coalition, ousting the Law and Justice party from power after eight years. The party particularly targeted the LGBTQ+ minority in Poland during those eight years.

• Hong Kong court rules in same-sex couples’ favor: Hong Kong’s Court of Appeals ruled in favor of two same-sex couples in separate cases involving their rights to own and rent housing. Two same-sex couples who were married outside of Hong Kong have now been granted housing rights following their court cases. Same-sex marriage is still, however, not legal in the country. The rulings follow other decisions that have established LGBTQ+ couples’ rights to equal treatment under the law.

• World Bank v. Uganda: A new World Bank project in Uganda stated that LGBTQ+ Ugandans should not face discrimination and that staff will not be arrested for including them in the bank. The World Bank project was halted in August over a new anti-LGBTQ+ law in Uganda.

• Canadian human rights commissioner resigns over pronoun step back: A Canadian human rights commissioner has resigned after her province’s government said it would pass legislation to prevent children under 16 from changing their names or pronouns at school without parental consent. In her resignation letter to the Saskatchewan premier, Heather Kuttai, who has a trans son, said the bill is “an attack on the rights of trans, non-binary and gender-diverse children”.

• Trans woman wins veteran fencing tournament: Liz Kocab, a transgender woman has won a world fencing tournament in Florida, United States. The 71-year-old won at Sunday’s 2023 FIE Veteran Fencing World Championships, marking her eighth women’s fencing title and her fourth in a row. Having won numerous world championships in the over 50+ and over 60+ categories, this is Kocab’s second win in the 70+ category.

Glass Half-Empty For India's LGBTQ+ After Landmark Ruling

NEW DELHI — For a majority of people in our cultures, a marriage has a husband and a wife. According to many people, the absence of one entity out of these two does not make it a marriage.

That is exactly what the Supreme Court bench seems to have based its verdict on.

From what I understood, the apex court, with a 3:2 majority, is against the marriage or even legal union of people having the same gender. This in spite of the Chief Justice of India’s comment saying same sex union is “natural and old.” And there is nothing “urban and elite” about it.

According to the country’s top court, spouses have to be a man and a woman – whether they are cisgender (affirm the gender they are born with) or trans gender (not affirming to the gender they have been assigned at birth. However, being in a same sex relationship is neither forbidden nor illegal according to this judgement. So same-sex partners can cohabit, but will not have the same rights as a spouse.

They cannot adopt together as a couple and have no rights when it comes to property, inheritance or even insurance. The judges also refused to annul or tweak the provisions of the Special Marriage Act to include non-heterosexual couples within its fold.

The apex court said that queer couples have a right to cohabit without any threat of violence, coercion of interference. The judges also unanimously gave a go ahead to a high-powered committee proposed by the Union government to examine the concerns of same-sex couples and take corrective measures.

Gender rights activists are trying to find a silver lining in the verdict, as the apex court has tried to further decriminalize living with same-sex partners through it. As one of the judges has said that both heterosexual and homosexual unions have to be looked as "two sides of the same coin".

Again however one feels, the apex court has again stopped short of taking a clear stand by saying only government and parliament can make laws and legalize same-sex marriage.

Like many times in the past, the verdict seems to be majoritarian in more than one ways. It goes totally in favour of those opposing the marriage and legal sanctions of such a relationship.

While the honorable judges have not opposed same sex unions, at the same time they have provided no alternative to bring it under the purview of the law.

According to courts, there will be nothing formal about these relationships. So to my understanding till the parliament makes some regulations is that there will be no protection, no divorce proceedings, no alimony.

The problem is paramount in a country like ours where for a majority of population, social sanction for a relationship comes only after marriage. There is also a minority perception which doesn’t believe in any kind of formal bond for two consenting adults to live together. This hearts’ calling, unfortunately, is not the view of majority in the country.

For our parents’ generation and even many in the current generation – only marriage can mean commitment and stability. Although I believe for a marriage to work, hearts have to be in harmony, that view might not be shared by society in general. If this verdict was otherwise, it would have given partners that place in society which is rightfully theirs and also given reasons for parents to agree to such unions.

Even if we don’t agree with this moralistic view or care for social approval, consider the safety of partners in a relationship which is not protected by law? When marriage is not legal, families can prevail at any time, putting the safety of partners in such a union at risk.

What about domestic violence? Are we saying that violence and abuse are only prevalent in a marriage between opposite genders?

What about financial security? If a partner in a same-sex union has an untimely death and the living partner is not earning, how is depriving the dependent partner of financial security justified?

Same-sex couples will have no right to each others’ property even if they are together for a lifetime unless they leave a will. A same-sex couple will not be able to start a family legally. Single parent adoption will be difficult for them, one assumes.

So, one wonders what safety blanket the verdict is providing at all. Years ago when I was covering health and HIV/AIDS was a subject that deeply interested me, the discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community was jarring. Abuse and rape in the name of law was rampant. The community is more vocal now than it ever was in the country but it is only laws and court verdicts which can provide protection without loopholes.

A citizen of the country is free to do anything, live any life as long as he/she/they are not posing a threat to others but does this verdict give that right to same-sex couples? Will the verdict discourage closet behavior or forced marriages? The verdict puts the onus of living a safe life on the community again.

The honorable courts have to come out of the mode of verdicts aimed for the satisfaction of the majority and take some unpopular decisions for the larger good of some marginalized communities as well. This is, again, one of the strings of judgements where majority opinion wins over logic.

Toufiq Rashid / The Wire

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