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In The News

Litvinenko Verdict, Trudeau Survives, Woolly Hybrid

Litvinenko Verdict, Trudeau Survives, Woolly Hybrid

In Panama, places of worship can reopen to a capacity of 80% for people who are fully vaccinated.

Anne-Sophie Goninet and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Demat!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where there's a verdict in the poisoning death of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, Canada's Justin Trudeau scores a narrow victory and mammoths may soon make a woolly comeback. Meanwhile, from Saudi Arabia to Venezuela, we look at how top oil producing nations risk going the way of the dinosaur as the rest of the world adopts renewable energy.

[*Breton, France]


• Russia "responsible" for murder of ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko: The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Russia was responsible for the 2006 killing of ex-KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko. The outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin was poisoned in the UK with Polonium-210, a rare radioactive isotope. In a similar case, the British authorities have charged a third Russian national over the 2018 novichok poisoning of former agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury.

• Canada's Justin Trudeau narrowly wins: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau won a third term in Canada's snap parliamentary elections, but failed to win the majority of seats he was seeking.

• COVID update: The U.S. is easing its coronavirus restrictions, including reopening to foreign travellers from 33 countries (who are fully vaccinated) after an 18-month ban. Meanwhile, India, the world's largest vaccine producer, will resume vaccine exports from October after a temporary hold last April to cater to domestic demand.

• French-Australian deal was at risk for years: Shedding doubt on France's current shock and outrage, Australian public documents show the French $40 billion submarine contract, recently cancelled by Australia, had been at risk for years due to concerns about delays, cost overruns and suitability. Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he would not speak with French President Emmanuel Macron about the scrapped deal at the United Nations this week.

• Sudan foils coup attempt: Sudanese authorities have contained a military coup d'etat, state media reported. The country has been ruled by a transitional government since 2019 after the military ousted Sudan's longtime strongman Omar al-Bashir.

• India seizes $2.7 billion Afghan heroin haul: Nearly three tons of heroin from Afghanistan have been seized from the Mundra port in western India in a major bust, officials said. Production of heroin has boomed in recent years in Afghanistan, the world's biggest producer, helping fund the Taliban who retook power last August.

• Guess they've never seen Jurassic Park: Bioscience and genetics company Colossal has raised $15 million to create an elephant/mammoth hybrid within the next six years, using DNA from a frozen specimen.


"The names of the Holocaust," titles Dutch daily De Telegraaf, reporting on the inauguration of a new memorial in Amsterdam, which honors the more than 102,000 Dutch victims of the Holocaust. Each brick bears the victim's name, date of birth and age when they died.


Can oil-producing nations move to renewables? Grading 7 petrol states

The possibility of transitioning to a greener energy future varies among economies that are fossil fuel-dependent , which represent nearly one-third of the world's population and one-fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions. For some, the question is purely financial; for others, political factors are slowing the shift. Here's a quick tour of some the world's top oil producers, and an on-the-fly grade to gauge how each is facing the energy transition:

🗳️ NORWAY: An Oil-Driven Election May (Or May Not) Break The Cycle

Norway's Labour Party won a landslide victory over the Conservatives last Tuesday in an election heavily focused on the climate crisis and the future of the country's oil industry. However, the anti-oil Greens failed to win enough seats to become a potential kingmaker. Labour leader Jonas Gahr Støre, generally seen as a pro-oil figure, campaigned on the promise of a more fair and equitable Norway following eight years of conservative free-market rule, and has dismissed the idea to put curbs on oil production.

Grade: B

🌳 SAUDI ARABIA: Big Plans From MBS Go Only So Far

Earlier this year, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced the launch of the Green Saudi and Green Middle East initiatives that will apply a number of ambitious programs to reduce the region's carbon emissions by 60%, and plant 50 billion trees in the world's biggest afforestation project to date. Still, the sincerity of Saudi Arabia's climate commitment was called into question last month as the country sought to whitewash the language in the UN's landmark climate-change report — attempting to replace references to "carbon emissions" with "greenhouse gas emissions."

Grade: C+

🛢️ NIGERIA: Africa's Biggest Petrol Producer Lags Behind

For Africa's top petroleum producer, even before talking about the current urgency to prepare for the energy transition, the country has wrestled for decades with what Michael L. Ross dubbed: "The Oil Curse;" Like other oil-producing countries, the aggregated wealth Nigeria has created has been accompanied by the stunting of both political and economic progress by being so dependent on oil revenues. As Caleb Adebayo noted last month in the Vanguard newspaper, Nigeria is trailing other petrol states in diversifying, only now focused on natural gas, and still unable to provide reliable energy to vast parts of its own territories.

Grade: C-

➡️ Read about the U.S., Venezuela and more on Worldcrunch.com


107 years, 300 days

Japanese twin sisters have set the record for the world's oldest living identical twins at 107. Born on Nov. 5, 1913, on Shodo Island in west Japan, Umeno Sumiyama and Koume Kodama lived separately after graduating from elementary school, the Japan Times reports, but reunited in their 70s as they set off on a pilgrimage to the 88 temples on Shikoku Island. The twin sisters now reside in separate nursing care homes.


Evergrande will walk out of its darkest moment, resume full-scale constructions as soon as possible.

— The boss of the Chinese real estate firm Evergrande sought Tuesday to allay fears that massive debts could lead to a collapse of the company that could spiral into a broader crisis for China's economy. Evergrande Group Chairman Hui Ka Yuan sent a letter to company staff aiming to lift confidence in the embattled firm, and dispel speculations of a "Lehman moment" like the collapse of Lehman Brothers bank in 2008. Investors are waiting to see if the Chinese government would intervene to avoid spillover across the global economy.

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet & Bertrand Hauger

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Life On "Mars": With The Teams Simulating Space Missions Under A Dome

A niche research community plays out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another planet.

Photo of a person in a space suit walking toward the ​Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

At the Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

Sarah Scoles

In November 2022, Tara Sweeney’s plane landed on Thwaites Glacier, a 74,000-square-mile mass of frozen water in West Antarctica. She arrived with an international research team to study the glacier’s geology and ice fabric, and how its ice melt might contribute to sea level rise. But while near Earth’s southernmost point, Sweeney kept thinking about the moon.

“It felt every bit of what I think it will feel like being a space explorer,” said Sweeney, a former Air Force officer who’s now working on a doctorate in lunar geology at the University of Texas at El Paso. “You have all of these resources, and you get to be the one to go out and do the exploring and do the science. And that was really spectacular.”

That similarity is why space scientists study the physiology and psychology of people living in Antarctic and other remote outposts: For around 25 years, people have played out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another world. Polar explorers are, in a way, analogous to astronauts who land on alien planets. And while Sweeney wasn’t technically on an “analog astronaut” mission — her primary objective being the geological exploration of Earth — her days played out much the same as a space explorer’s might.

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