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]

🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• 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.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

"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.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

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

#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

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.

📣 VERBATIM

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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Pro-life and Pro-abortion Rights Protests in Washington

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Håfa adai!*

Welcome to Thursday, where new Omicron findings arrive from South Africa, abortion rights are at risk at the U.S. Supreme Court and Tyrannosaurus rex has got some new competition. From Germany, we share the story of a landmark pharmacy turned sex toy museum.

[*Chamorro - Guam]

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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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🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• COVID update: South Africa reports a higher rate of reinfections from the Omicron variant than has been registered with the Beta and Delta variants, though researchers await further findings on the effects of the new strain. Meanwhile, the UK approves the use of a monoclonal therapy, known as sotrovimab, to treat those at high risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms.The approval comes as the British pharmaceutical company, GSK, separately announced the treatment has shown to “retain activity” against the Omicron variant. Down under, New Zealand’s reopening, slated for tomorrow is being criticized as posing risks to its under-vaccinated indigenous Maori.

• Supreme Court poised to gut abortion rights: The U.S. Supreme Court signaled a willingness to accept a Republican-backed Mississippi law that would bar abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, even in cases of rape or incest. A ruling, expected in June, may see millions of women lose abortion access, 50 years after it was recognized as a constitutional right in the landmark Roe v. Wade case.

• Macri charged in Argentine spying case: Argentina’s former president Mauricio Macri has been charged with ordering the secret services to spy on the family members of 44 sailors who died in a navy submarine sinking in 2017. The charge carries a sentence of three to ten years in prison. Macri, now an opposition leader, says the charges are politically motivated.

• WTA suspends China tournaments over Peng Shuai: The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) announced the immediate suspension of all tournaments in China due to concerns about the well-being of Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai, and the safety of other players. Peng disappeared from public view after accusing a top Chinese official of sexual assault.

• Michigan school shooting suspect to be charged as an adult: The 15-year-old student accused of killing four of his classmates and wounding seven other people in a Michigan High School will face charges of terrorism and first-degree murder. Authorities say the suspect had described wanting to attack the school in cellphone videos and a journal.

• Turkey replaces finance minister amid economic turmoil: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan appointed a strong supporter of his low-interest rate drive, Nureddin Nebati, as Turkey’s new finance minister.

• A battle axe for a tail: Chilean researchers announced the discovery of a newly identified dinosaur species with a completely unique feature from any other creatures that lived at that time: a flat, weaponized tail resembling a battle axe.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

South Korean daily Joong-ang Ilbo reports on the discovery of five Omicron cases in South Korea. The Asian nation has broken its daily record for overall coronavirus infections for a second day in a row with more than 5,200 new cases. The variant cases were linked to arrivals from Nigeria and prompted the government to tighten border controls.


#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

¥10,000

In the northeastern Chinese city of Harbin, a reward of 10,000 yuan ($1,570) will be given to anyone who volunteers to take a COVID-19 test and get a positive result, local authorities announced on Thursday on the social network app WeChat.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

Why an iconic pharmacy is turning into a sex toy museum

The "New Pharmacy" was famous throughout the St. Pauli district of Hamburg for its history and its long-serving owner. Now the owner’s daughter is transforming it into a museum dedicated to the history of sex toys, linking it with the past "curing" purpose of the shop, reports Eva Eusterhus in German daily Die Welt.

💊 The story begins in autumn 2018, when 83-year-old Regis Genger stood at the counter of her pharmacy and realized that the time had come for her to retire. At least that is the first thing her daughter Anna Genger tells us when we meet, describing the turning point that has also shaped her life and that of her business partner Bianca Müllner. The two women want to create something new here, something that reflects the pharmacy's history and Hamburg's eclectic St. Pauli quarter (it houses both a red light district and the iconic Reeperbahn entertainment area) as well as their own interests.

🚨 Over the last few months, the pharmacy has been transformed into L'Apotheque, a venture that brings together art and business in St. Pauli's red light district. The back rooms will be used for art exhibitions, while the old pharmacy space will house a museum dedicated to the history of sex toys. Genger and Müllner want to show that desire has always existed and that people have always found inventive ways of maximizing pleasure, even in times when self-gratification was seen as unnatural and immoral, as a cause of deformities.

🏩 Genger and Müllner want the museum to show how the history of desire has changed over time. The art exhibitions, which will also center on the themes of physicality and sexuality, are intended to complement the exhibits. They are planning to put on window displays to give passers-by a taste of what is to come, for example, British artist Bronwen Parker-Rhodes's film Lovers, which offers a portrait of sex workers during lockdown.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

"I would never point a gun at anyone and pull a trigger at them. Never."

— U.S. actor Alec Baldwin spoke to ABC News, his first interview since the accident that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the movie Rust last October. The actor said that although he was holding the gun he didn’t pull the trigger, adding that the bullet “wasn't even supposed to be on the property.”

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet and Jane Herbelin

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