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In The News

Unvaccinated Tax, N. Korea Hypersonic Missile, RIP Rat Hero

Photo of a woman standing by her water jerrycans during free community water services, amid a clean water shortage in Nairobi's Kibera slum, Kenya.

A woman standing by her water jerrycans during free community water services, amid a clean water shortage in Nairobi's Kibera slum, Kenya.

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Lasso fyafulla!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where Quebec will tax the unvaccinated, North Korea says it tested hypersonic missile, and we salute you Magawa, Cambodia’s landmine-sniffing “hero rat.” La Stampa also visits the outskirts of Rome to see how the coronavirus pandemic has amplified longstanding social divides and inequalities in the Italian capital.

[*Tamang - Nepal]


• COVID update: Quebec announces plans to charge a health tax to unvaccinated residents, who represent 12.8% of the Canadian province but make up nearly half of hospital cases. Meanwhile, the WHO warned that half of Europe will be infected with the Omicron variant within the next six to eight weeks. Germany has registered 80,430 new COVID-19 cases, the highest recorded in a single day since the start of the pandemic, while Austria, Bulgaria and Saudi Arabia’s daily infections also hit new records.

• Boris Johnson admits attending lockdown party: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson apologized in parliament and admitted he attended a party at Downing Street during the first coronavirus lockdown, believing at the time it was “a work event.” An inquiry has been launched and Johnson said he was ready to “take responsibility.” This follows revelations late last year of other 10 Downing Street violations of COVID restrictions.

Joe Biden calls for historic change to Senate rules: In a speech expressing his frustration at Republicans blocking legislation on voting rights, U.S. President Joe Biden called on the Senate to change its filibuster rules to accommodate the bills’ passage as he seeks to overhaul the country’s election laws. Analysts say the bill is unlikely to garner the Senate support necessary to pass.

• Djokovic confirms entry error on visa form: Tennis star Novak Djokovic published a statement to clarify “ongoing misinformation” about mistakes on his Australian immigration forms. The Serb athlete also admitted meeting a journalist despite testing positive for coronavirus last December, calling it “an error of judgment.” For the moment the World’s No. 1 player is slated to defend his Australian Open title, though the government could still rule to block him for violations of COVID protocols.

• North Korea claims successful hypersonic missile test: North Korea said it had successfully test-fired a hypersonic missile, making it the third test of such a weapon by the regime of Kim Jong-un, who attended the launch.

• Several killed in Somalia car bombing: At least eight people were killed and several wounded in a car bomb that targeted a convoy in the Somali capital Mogadishu. It is unclear who is responsible for the bombing at this point.

• Cambodia’s landmine-sniffing “hero rat” dies: Magawa, an African giant pouched rat who had won a medal for life-saving bravery for helping find more than 100 landmines and other explosives in Cambodia, has died at the age of 8 after having retired from his job.


“Half of Europe will be infected in the next few weeks,” titles Spanish daily ABC, reporting on the World Health Organization’s warning about the rapid spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant on the continent. Experts are predicting the peak of infections is yet to come.


41.5 °C

Argentina's capital Buenos Aires was hit by a lengthy power outage on Tuesday, that left approximately 700,000 people without electricity amidst a heat wave that scorched the city bringing temperatures to 41.5 °C, (106.7 °F). The heatwave is expected to continue throughout the week.


The streets of Rome, how COVID has deepened an eternal wealth divide

The pandemic has exposed longstanding inequalities and brought more people into a cycle of hunger and precariousness, reports Francesca Mannocchi in Italian daily La Stampa.

🏙️ "In Rome, the neighborhood you're born in determines who you are," says Salvatore Monni, associate professor at the Department of Economics of the University of Roma Tre. Together with Keti Lelo and Federico Tomassi, he has written Le Sette Rome (The Seven Romes), a book that describes the inequalities of the Italian capital in 29 maps. More than an essay, it shows the social geography of how the city has changed, of how deeply the inequalities that run through it have crystallized.

💸 The pandemic has plunged millions of families into a state of destitution across Italy; when the schools and therefore the canteens closed during the lockdowns, millions of parents knocked on the doors of Caritas, the Catholic charitable organization, to ask for food to feed their children. "Poverty today in Rome is structural and pervasive, like an octopus," says don Benoni Ambarus, an auxiliary bishop with the delegation to Charity.

➗ Those who suffer the most are the elderly who live alone, and children. "School kids in affluent neighborhoods call public transportation 'spostapoveri' (poor people movers)," says Don Ambaru. "The social inequalities that have been running through Rome for years are creating urban classism." The maps drawn by Monni, Lelo and Tomassi show how the pandemic has simply helped bring to light and amplify long standing social divides. "With the end of COVID, poverty will not end," Monni says.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


YouTube has become one of the major conduits of online disinformation and misinformation.

— In an open letter to YouTube’s CEO Susan Wojcicki, more than 80 professional fact-checking organizations from 40 countries are urging the video sharing platform to do more to tackle disinformation and are offering to help it debunk false statements.

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

Any other acts of heroism from the animal kingdom to report? Let us know what’s happening in your corner of the world!


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The Colonial Spirit And "Soft Racism" Of White Savior Syndrome

Tracing back to Christian colonialism, which was supposed to somehow "civilize" and save the souls of native people, White Savior Syndrome lives on in modern times: from Mother Teresa to Princess Diana and the current First Lady of Colombia, Verónica Alcocer.

photo of a child patient holding hand of an adult

Good intentions are part of the formula

Ton Koene / Vwpics/ZUMA
Sher Herrera


CARTAGENA — The White Savior Syndrome is a social practice that exploits or economically, politically, symbolically takes advantage of individuals or communities they've racialized, perceiving them as in need of being saved and thus forever indebted and grateful to the white savior.

Although this racist phenomenon has gained more visibility and sparked public debate with the rise of social media, it is actually as old as European colonization itself. It's important to remember that one of Europe's main justifications for subjugating, pillaging and enslaving African and American territories was to bring "civilization and save their souls" through "missions."

Even today, many white supremacists hold onto these ideas. In other words, they believe that we still owe them something.

This white savior phenomenon is a legacy of Christian colonialism, and among its notable figures, we can highlight Saint Peter Claver, known as "the slave of the slaves," Bartolomé de Las Casas, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Princess Diana herself, and even the First Lady of Colombia, Verónica Alcocer.

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