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In The News

Poland-Belarus Border, New Vaccine Mandates, Mexican Wedding Scandal

Poland-Belarus Border, New Vaccine Mandates, Mexican Wedding Scandal

The Indonesian government intensifies the vaccination program for students

Jane Herbelin, Anne-Sophie Goninet and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Habari!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where tensions escalate as hundreds of migrants at the Poland-Belarus border, Austria reintroduces restrictions to curb a new COVID wave and an 83-year-old sets a new record on the Appalachian Trail. Meanwhile, Worldcrunch's Hannah Steinkopf-Frank (a human) takes a look at rad robots around the world.



• Poland accuses Belarus of migrant "provocation": Tensions are escalating on the border between Poland and Belarus after large groups of migrants were massed at the border trying to reach the EU. Polish officials warned that 12,000 additional military personnel have been mobilized to respond to confrontations. Meanwhile, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called on member states to impose new sanctions against Minsk, which she blamed for pushing the influx of migrants from the Middle East and Asia toward the EU border.

• Rights groups urge Singapore not to execute man with mental disability: Human rights groups are urging Singapore to halt an execution next week of a Malaysian man convicted of smuggling heroin in 2009, arguing that he should be exempt under international law because he has an intellectual disability. Nagaenthran Dharmalingam, 33, was sentenced to death despite an assessment by a medical expert that he has an IQ of 69. The case has prompted protests in Malaysia and an online petition signed by more than 60,000 people imploring Singapore's president, Halimah Yacob, to pardon Mr. Dharmalingam.

• COVID update: Austria introduced tougher coronavirus restrictions across the country with unvaccinated people barred from entering restaurants, hairdressers and events. In New Zealand parliament thousands of demonstrators gathered to protest against COVID-19 vaccine mandates and government lockdowns aimed at controlling the pandemic.

• Palestinian activists hacked by Israeli firm NSO spyware: Spyware from the Israeli surveillance company NSO group was detected on the mobile phone of six Palestinian human rights defenders, some of whom work for organizations that were recently accused by Israel of being terrorist groups. This is the first known instance of Palestinian activists being targeted by the military-grade Pegasus spyware.

• Mexico anti-money laundering chief resigns amid wedding scandal: The head of Mexico's financial intelligence unit (UIF), Santiago Nieto, was replaced on Monday, the government said, days after authorities found $35,000 in cash on the private plane carrying guests on the way to his wedding in Guatemala.

• SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts return to Earth: Four astronauts from NASA Crew-2 mission safely splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico on Monday after a 200-day space station mission that began last spring.

• "Nimblewill Nomad," 83, becomes oldest to hike Appalachian Trail: An 83-year-old from Alabama became the world record holder for the oldest person to walk the more than 2,000 miles trail from Georgia to Maine. M.J. "Sunny" Eberhart began his journey in 1993 when he retired from work as an optometrist.


Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza reports on the "dramatic situation on the border with Belarus" where hundreds of migrants are attempting to enter Poland. The government deployed 12,000 troops to the region and accused Belarus of pushing the migrants toward the border.


14 hours 25 minutes

Chile's Socialist Party MP Jaime Naranjo spoke from Monday 10:24 a.m. to Tuesday 01:24 a.m. — in Parliament, during a debate that could lead to President Sebastián Piñera's impeachment. With just two breaks of 15 and 20 minutes, Naranjo read in full the 1,300-page document accusing Piñera of financial irregularities, as part of an investigation prompted by the Pandora Papers leaks. The marathon talk was necessary to extend the session so that other members of Parliament could finish off their COVID-19 quarantine period, and join a vote on a proposed constitutional indictment.


Pizza makers to patient care: 5 cool new robots conquering the world

Robotics has become standard in much of industrial production, but AI also means robots are able to accomplish more and more complicated tasks, serving as sous chefs, healthcare aids, and even entertainment. Here's a global look at the robots you may soon see staring back at you:

🍕 Making pizza, flipping burgers: Imagine a chef who could whip out 400 pizzas an hour. That's the recipe for Cala, a new Paris-area business with a robotic pizzaïolo. Cala, which launched on delivery apps and now has a physical restaurant, offers quick meals at an affordable price because robots require far less space to work and you can never have too many cooks in the kitchen. In the U.S. many of these advances are hoping to soften the impact of the country's widespread worker shortage. Miso Robotics first engineered a burger-flipping robot and is now taking on frying chicken wings and fries with its Flippy 1 and 2.

👁️ Patient care in Rwanda: Akazuba, Ikizere and Ngabo are all employed at the Kanyinya COVID-19 treatment facility near Kigali, Rwanda's capital, but they face no risk of infection. Donated by the United Nations Development Program, these robots with human-like eyes monitor patients and take temperatures to limit the human staff's exposure to coronavirus. As Reuters reports, these robots also cut down on bedside visits by using technology to assess the effectiveness of a medical team's decisions and relaying messages to doctors.

🤖 Pure entertainment in Japan: According to the International Federation of Robotics, sales of entertainment robots have been on the rise, increasing from 4.6 million units in 2019 to 5.1 million units in 2020. But these are no longer the basic animatronic puppets of the past. Japan has long been a robotics pioneer, particularly to address labor issues caused by its aging population. But it's not all work and no play. Last year, a new attraction was revealed: an almost 60-foot-high robot (about half of the height of the Statue of Liberty) inspired by Gundam, a science fiction anime series.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


"This wave is far worse than the others — it is like a war."

— Dr. Anca Streinu-Cercel, who works at the Bals National Institute Romania's biggest infectious disease hospital in the capital Bucharest, told The New York Times. The country is one of Europe's worst affected by the new wave of coronavirus pandemic as vaccine hesitancy left Romania with the bloc's second-lowest vaccination rate.


A student at a boarding school in Soppeng receives her first dose of the COVID-19 Sinovac vaccine as the Indonesian government intensifies the vaccination program for students to support the implementation of limited face-to-face learning in certain regions — Photo: Moch Farabi Wardana/Pacific Press/ZUMA

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

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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War

Bibi Blinked: How The Ceasefire Deal Could Flip Israel's Whole Gaza War Logic

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pushed ahead a deal negotiated via Qatar, for a four-day truce and an exchange of 50 hostages for 150 Palestinian prisoners. Though the humanitarian and political pressure was mounting, Israel's all-out assault is suddenly halted, with unforeseen consequences for the future.

photo of someone holding a poster of a hostage

Families of Israeli hostages rally in Jerusalem

Nir Alon/ZUMA
Pierre Haski

Updated Nov. 22, 2023 at 8:55 p.m.


PARIS — It's the first piece of good news in 46 days of war. In the early hours of Wednesday, Israel agreed to a deal that included a four-day ceasefire and the release of some of the hostages held by Hamas — 30 children and 20 women — in exchange for 150 Palestinian prisoners, again women and children. The real question is what happens next.

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But first, this agreement, negotiated through the intermediary of Qatar, whose role is essential in this phase, must be implemented right away. This is a complex negotiation, because unlike the previous hostage-for-prisoner exchanges, it is taking place in the midst of a major war.

On the Palestinian side, although Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh is present in Doha, he does not make the decision alone — he must have the agreement of the leaders of the military wing, who are hiding somewhere in Gaza. It takes 24 hours to send a message back and forth. As you can imagine, it's not as simple as a phone call.

And on the Israeli side, a consensus had to be built around the agreement. Benjamin Netanyahu's far-right allies were opposed to the deal — in line with their eradication logic — even at the cost of Israeli lives. But the opposition of these discredited parties was ignored, and that will leave its mark.

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