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In The News

Mediterranean Fires Kill 40, Cambodia PM Steps Down, One Year Until Paris Olympics

File photo of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen speaking in Pursat province, Cambodia. Hun Sen, 70, has announced that he will resign from his post in 3 weeks and hand power to his son, Hun Manet, putting an end to 38 years at the helm.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen speaking in Pursat province, Cambodia

Yannick Champion-Osselin and Katarzyna Skiba

👋 Héébee!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where over 40 people have died and thousands have been forced to evacuate as wildfires rage across the Mediterranean, Cambodia’s prime minister steps down after 38 years in power and the Olympics countdown starts for Paris. Meanwhile, Alexis Gaçon, for business daily Les Echos, tours North America’s largest graphite mine project, amid growing global demand for battery materials.

[*Arapaho, Wyoming, U.S.]


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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• Mediterranean wildfires kill more than 40: In the Mediterranean countries of Algeria, Italy and Greece, over 40 people have died and thousands have been forced to evacuate as wildfires rage. The highest death toll is in Algeria, where 34 people have been killed by fires which have now spread into neighboring Tunisia. In Greece, two pilots died on the island of Evia when their firefighting plane crashed, while three elderly people were found dead in Sicily as fires approached the island's capital, Palermo.

• Ukraine update: The U.S. has pledged a new $400-million security assistance package to Ukraine, which will include Black Hornet Nano drones used for surveillance, as their allies announced a $244-million contribution towards the country’s humanitarian demining needs. Meanwhile, Russia claims to have destroyed two Ukrainian naval drones overnight, as the southern regions of Ukraine experienced a “pause” in regular artillery night attacks. Ukraine’s security service also say they have detained a Russian informant helping prepare bridge airstrikes.

• Russia & China in North Korea for armistice anniversary: Delegations from Moscow and Pyongyang have landed in North Korea for their first post-pandemic visits, on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the end of the Korean War. Analysts say the inclusion of China and Russia in this year's "Victory Day" parade could be a sign of loosening COVID-19 restrictions in North Korea, where the government imposed strict border controls in early 2020 to guard against COVID-19.

• Cambodian prime minister steps down after 38 years in power: Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced that he will resign from his post in 3 weeks and hand power to his son, Hun Manet. This will end his 38-year reign, after the ruling People's Party recently swept a general election after disqualifying its main opposition on a technicality and threatening to penalize any boycotts. Hun Sen said he would maintain his posts as the head of the ruling party and a member of the National Assembly.

• Eight convicted over 2016 Brussels terror bombings: Seven years after bombings targeted the Brussels airport and metro system, six men have been convicted of murder, with two others joining them in terrorism charges. This was Belgium’s largest-ever trial, with 10 men tried for their part in the March 22, 2016 bombings which killed 32 people. The eight men will be sentenced in September,

• Oceans heating up: The surface ocean temperature around Florida hit hot tub temperatures, with waters of Manatee Bay reaching over 100 °F (38 °C), far above seasonal norms. Weather monitors around the world warn of warming waters' catastrophic impact on ecosystems and extreme weather events, as a new study found that a vital system of ocean currents could collapse as early as 2025 if planet-heating pollution is not stopped. Meanwhile in Australia, over 50 pilot whales have died after a mass beaching in Australia, leaving volunteers scrambling to save the 45 still alive.

• Bolshoi plans comeback: Under a cultural boycott since the invasion of Ukraine, Moscow's state-owned Bolshoi Ballet has vowed it will perform in the West again. In Beijing for its first international tour since the pandemic, the ballet’s artistic director said he believed they would return to the global stage – but added that the troupe was "not suffering" from the loss. Several leading dancers quit the company to protest Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, including former principal ballerina Olga Smirnova.


On the front page of French sports daily L’Equipe, iconic “bande dessinée” characters Astérix and Obélix are getting excited as the Gauls mark exactly one year until the 2024 Olympic Games kick off in Paris, with the Seine river expected to take center stage in the competition.


$6.3 billion

Saudi Arabia has spent an estimated $6.3 billion from its Public Investment Fund in sports deals over the last two years. Rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have denounced these projects as “sportswashing” which aims to distract from the country’s poor track record on human rights. Saudi sports investments have made soccer headlines in recent days, with club Al Hilal announcing a record $332-million bid for Paris Saint-Germain FC striker Kylian Mbappé.


Inside Canada's mining boom — and what it could mean for China

Canada’s subsoil is among the world’s 10 richest in graphite, lithium and cobalt. Only China can say the same. For French business daily Les Echos, Alexis Gaçon reports from Quebec, home to North America’s biggest graphite mine project.

⛏️🔋 Like the whole country, mining company Nouveau Monde Graphite is racing against time not to miss the boat of the growing demand of battery materials. The country controls significant mineral reserves: for lithium – for which demand is expected to increase sixfold by 2030, according to the International Energy Agency – it ranks sixth in the world behind Chile, Australia and China. Some 100 exploration projects are underway in Quebec alone.

🇨🇳🇨🇦 China currently controls 80% of critical minerals refining. Ottawa says it wants to break away from dependence on Beijing, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he wants to reduce China’s share of critical minerals. “There are places like China and Russia, suppliers of these (strategic) metals, that are less and less reliable. There’s an opportunity for Canada to supply the resources we all need to transition to a carbon-neutral world,” he argued at the COP biodiversity conference in Montreal, Quebec in 2022.

⚠️ Canada’s resources look promising. But the challenges of exploiting them are considerable. Extraction sites are far away, extreme temperatures limit their potential, environmental regulations can hold back investors and each exploration site close to Indigenous territory will require consultation. “There’s a mining boom, and more and more requests for exploration rights. As a result, tensions with populations are growing,” explains Pierre-Olivier Pineau, Chair of Energy Sector Management at the HEC business school in Montreal.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


“As China’s engagement in the region has grown, there has been some – from our perspective – increasingly problematic behavior.”

— Anthony Blinken became the first U.S. Secretary of State to pay an official visit to Tonga. While dedicating a new embassy in the island nation, Blinken has pledged to step up U.S. support for Pacific nations, and reiterated a warning about the perils of “predatory” Chinese investment in the region. In recent days, the U.S. State Department has notified Congress that it plans a large-scale increase in diplomatic personnel and spending for facilities at new U.S. embassies in the Pacific islands.

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

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The Unsustainable Future Of Fish Farming — On Vivid Display In Turkish Waters

Currently, 60% of Turkey's fish currently comes from cultivation, also known as fish farming, compared to just 10% two decades ago. The short-sightedness of this shift risks eliminating fishing output from both the farms and the open seas along Turkey's 5,200 miles of coastline.

Photograph of two fishermen throwing a net into the Tigris river in Turkey.

Traditional fishermen on the Tigris river, Turkey.

Dûrzan Cîrano/Wikimeidia
İrfan Donat

ISTANBUL — Turkey's annual fish production includes 515,000 tons from cultivation and 335,000 tons came from fishing in open waters. In other words, 60% of Turkey's fish currently comes from cultivation, also known as fish farming.

It's a radical shift from just 20 years ago when some 600,000 tons, or 90% of the total output, came from fishing. Now, researchers are warning the current system dominated by fish farming is ultimately unsustainable in the country with 8,333 kilometers (5,177 miles) long.

Professor Mustafa Sarı from the Maritime Studies Faculty of Bandırma 17 Eylül University believes urgent action is needed: “Why were we getting 600,000 tons of fish from the seas in the 2000’s and only 300,000 now? Where did the other 300,000 tons of fish go?”

Professor Sarı is challenging the argument from certain sectors of the industry that cultivation is the more sustainable approach. “Now we are feeding the fish that we cultivate at the farms with the fish that we catch from nature," he explained. "The fish types that we cultivate at the farms are sea bass, sea bram, trout and salmon, which are fed with artificial feed produced at fish-feed factories. All of these fish-feeds must have a significant amount of fish flour and fish oil in them.”

That fish flour and fish oil inevitably must come from the sea. "We have to get them from natural sources. We need to catch 5.7 kilogram of fish from the seas in order to cultivate a sea bream of 1 kg," Sarı said. "Therefore, we are feeding the fish to the fish. We cannot cultivate fish at the farms if the fish in nature becomes extinct. The natural fish need to be protected. The consequences would be severe if the current policy is continued.”

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