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In The News

Russian Plane Crash, Truss To Keep Calm And Stick Around, Indian Chess Prodigy

Russian Plane Crash, Truss To Keep Calm And Stick Around, Indian Chess Prodigy

A Ukrainian firefighter tries to enter a building in downtown Kyiv that was hit by kamikaze drones, killing at least three people.

Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Bertrand Hauger And Sophia Constantino

👋 ꦲꦭꦺꦴ*

Welcome to Tuesday, where 13 are killed as a Russian training flight crashes in Russia, embattled Liz Truss vows to “stick around,” and an Indian teenager beats chess grandmaster Magnus Carlsen. Meanwhile, Pavel Lysyansky in Ukrainian media Livy Bereg explores a 1990s treaty that may give us an idea about Putin’s “USSR 2.0” ambitions.

[*Halo - Javanese, Indonesia]


How two French writers reveal women's liberation so differently

French writer Annie Ernaux's Nobel prize in literature took many by surprise, after a career spent largely in the shadows. A different kind of surprise comes in comparing her to another French writer, iconoclast media star Virginie Despentes, writes Odile Tremblay in Montreal-based daily Le Devoir.

When Annie Ernaux won the Nobel Prize in Literature on Oct. 6, becoming the 17th woman to do so, I was completely taken aback, as this French writer had led a discreet career, never causing much commotion. But I am absolutely delighted to see her clean, clinical, intimate and fascinating work, consecrated in high places.

As early as the 1970s, her minimalistic, bare prose had allowed many women to get a better grasp of the fragility of their own condition.

For she, as a true auto-entomologist who observed the woman within herself, and saw a mirror of all others, is well-deserving of this crown. This now octogenarian author has always despised deception. Did she write novels? Yes and no: Rather, she laid her life bare — her childhood, her fears, her loves, the oppression and shame, all recorded in her perpetually updated diary.

Last year, the film adaptation of Happening ("L'événement") by Audrey Diwan, about her clandestine abortion put her back in the limelight, winning the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. So did Simple Passion, her book about a blind, all-consuming kind of love, which was adapted for the screen by Danielle Arbid.

French female writers, such as Colette and Simone de Beauvoir, have paved the way in guiding the "second sex" towards reclaiming their identities. And for that, we thank them. But they did it in wildly different ways and during such different times …

And such diversity continues today: I've just finished reading Virginie Despentes's Cher connard ("Dear Asshole"), a bookstore hit in France and Quebec alike. There couldn't be a deeper chasm in tone, a time-space abyss between the restraint of Ernaux and the shocking sentences of a seething novelist like Despentes.

Yet, both carry the torch of women's liberation, and shine a light on their society's perspective.

The author of Baise-moi ("F*ck Me") may never win a Nobel Prize — too grating, too raw! But Despentes understands her time well, masters her modes of communication and knows in which tone to speak. In her work, stylistic devices are always clearly visible. She’s often irritating and always playfully provocative. I have been following her since her beginning, making sure never to take the bait too much …

Cher connard translates contemporary anxieties that transcend generational rifts, borders and genders. This epistolary novel tells the story of a 21st century looking for itself, as she topples the statues of secular machismo and the mirages of modernity, dealing blows to the social media age along the way: "You quickly come to understand that the most effective way to intervene is insult." Such is life today.

Despentes does not dive into the depths of the individual psyche, but surfs on her era with feline agility and a good deal of nerve. The brazen sexuality that marked her previous works is no longer at the center of her universe. Her violence is fumbling in the dark, looking for the light, finding it in this collection of letters that build bridges. It makes her more human. Less thorny, too.

I salute her talent for diagnosis. Like when she says, through the voice of a young man: “The emotion that sweeps over my generation is despair. It is collective. It thunders, at the bottom of the earth. It is the same one that lifts us all.”

Virginie Despentes shares traits with Michel Houellebecq: Their X-ray vision of a world on the brink of collapse, their allergy to positive thinking, their sexual descriptions without fanfare. Because they don’t pull their punches. Even if it means being dropped by the critics when they push the envelope too far.

None of that bothers them. We are miles away from the inner world of Annie Ernaux.

But so what?! Even Despentes, with her Cher connard, is unlikely to shock the bourgeoisie as much as she did in the past. Embalmed as she is in a sarcophagus loaded with incense and aromatics. Her title of goddess of transgression earned her the privilege of being read by both sexes — a precious advantage for any writer.

Her fame, above all, allows her to produce bestseller after bestseller. True, in Cher connard, she writes that celebrity begets stupidity. But that is an exaggeration: If her vociferous marginality has lost some of its teeth, it may be partly due to the eroding ebb-and-flow of trends. There is, in the end, something more timeless in Annie Ernaux's works.

One may be considered too dry, another too verbose. Who cares? Whether they sell like hotcakes or earn the highest honors, these novelists are both gifted with clairvoyance, seers of the pitfalls along the road we share. On opposite ends of the spectrum, hand in hand — "faraway, so close," as Wim Wenders would put it. I see their beacons lighting the way.

Odile Tremblay / Le Devoir


• Russia plane crash: At least 13 people were killed after a Russian warplane crashed into an apartment building in the Russian port city of Yeysk. The Russian defense ministry said that the Su-34 bomber came down when one of its engines caught fire during takeoff for a training mission. Meanwhile, Moscow’s attacks on Ukraine’s power system continue across the country.

• Scholz extends German nuclear power plants’ lifespan: In the throes of an ongoing energy crisis, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he will extend the operation of Germany's three remaining nuclear power plants. Though the government said the move was an attempt to reduce its dependence on Russian energy imports, many are speculating that the move was meant as a slight to the Greens within his coalition government.

Australia reverses call on Israel capital: Reversing a decision made by former Prime Minister Scott Morrison in 2018, Australia now says it will no longer recognize West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The country says the status of Jerusalem, which has become a major point of contention, should be resolved in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian people.

• Iranian Elnaz Rekabi climbs with hair uncovered: Friends and family of Iranian climber Elnaz Rekabi are fearing for her fate after she climbed with her hair uncovered at the IFSC Asian Championships in Seoul to protest the strict Iranian dress code which requires even competing female athletes to cover their hair with a hijab and their arms and legs with loose clothing. Rekabi's family and friends lost contact with her on Monday.

India government approves release of 11 rapists: 11 men convicted of rape of a pregnant Muslim woman, as well as the murder of 14 members of her family, were released early on approval by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a document submitted Monday by the government shows.

• France’s nationwide strike: France is facing major transit disruptions on Tuesday, after workers at various oil refineries and depots operated by TotalEnergies voted to extend their labor protests. The nationwide transport strikes in support of the refinery and depot workers will affect public sectors such as schools and transportation most, as French trade unions ask for higher salaries amid soaring inflation.

• Sri Lankan writer wins Booker Prize: Sri Lankan author Shehan Karunatilaka won the 2022 Booker Prize for his second novel, The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida. Set in 1990 Sri Lanka during the country's civil war, the story follows a dead war photographer on a mission in the afterlife and depicts the brutality of the country’s conflict.


French sports daily L’Equipe devotes its front page to Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema, who won the Ballon d’Or for the first time in his career. The 34-year-old French soccer player scored 44 goals in 46 matches last season. Spain’s Alexia Putellas won the women’s Ballon d’Or for the second year running for her performances as Barcelona’s top scorer.


16 years, 4 months, 20 days

Indian teenager Donnarumma Gukesh has become the youngest chess player ever to defeat Norwegian World Champion Magnus Carlsen at the online Aimchess Rapid event. The 16-year-old Gukesh broke the record held by compatriot Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa who had beaten Carlsen last February at the age of 16 years, six months and 10 days old.


The “Union State”: inside Putin's plans to rebuild the USSR with a 1990s treaty

What are Vladimir Putin's long-term goals in Ukraine? An overlooked treaty from the mid-1990s reveals that his ambitions go far beyond Ukraine to building a Russian Empire 2.0, writes Pavel Lysyansky in Ukrainian media Livy Bereg.

🇷🇺🇧🇾 The “Union State” is a supranational organization consisting of Russia and Belarus that was founded in 1996 and that aimed to gradually create a single political, economic, military and cultural space. But Putin’s vision for the union doesn’t stop with Belarus. He has been quietly but diligently building the formations of the USSR 2.0 for decades. And just in the past few weeks, Russia has announced that the occupied territories of Ukraine that have been annexed into Russia — as well as their armed militias — would also become part of the Union State.

📝 In 1999, the “Treaty on the Creation of a Union State of Russia and Belarus” was officially signed. Since then, the driving aim is to reproduce what has been referred to as the "USSR 2.0" or the "Russian Empire 2.0". Other events show that Putin’s true ambitions stretch far beyond the orders of Belarus. It's also notable that the organization has gotten renewed attention since the war began, particularly in the past few weeks since the sham referendums on annexation have begun.

🌐 After analyzing the activities and structure of the so-called Union State, it is clear that this formation was founded and supported with the sole purpose of reproducing the "USSR 2.0". That is, the very existence of such a structure foreshadows the violent takeovers of independent states that were previously part of the post-Soviet space. According to the political scientists analyzing the processes in the post-Soviet space, in 2023 Russia is planning a transition of power, which implies the transition of Vladimir Putin to the post of “Secretary General of the Union State.”

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


“I’m sticking around.”

— In an interview with the BBC, embattled British Prime Minister Liz Truss said she went “too far, too fast” and wanted to “accept responsibility and say sorry for the mistakes that have been made,” after her government was forced to make a U-turn on tax-cutting plans in an effort to calm markets. Fighting for her political survival after less than a month in power, Truss was forced to dump Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng last week. She insisted that she was still planning on leading her Conservative Party, saying “I'm sticking around because I was elected to deliver for this country."


A Ukrainian firefighter tries to enter a building in downtown Kyiv that was hit by kamikaze drones, killing at least three people. — Photo: Cover Images/ZUMA

✍️ Newsletter by Sophia Constantino, Anne-Sophie Goninet and Bertrand Hauger

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The Real Lesson For Israel Is About Hubris — And The "Hell" Next Door

Blaming intelligence and military failure for the Oct. 7 assault diverts attention from Israel's real weakness — a distracted and divisive political leadership that ignored the fact that people just a few miles across the border are confined in a living hell.

photo of soldiers with masks carrying a body bag

Israeli military remove the bodies of civilian victims of Hamas' terror attack.

Ilia Yefimovich/dpa via ZUMA
Nathalie Tocci


In the dramatic early hours of the brutal Hamas attack in southern Israel, the most repeated word seemed to be "surprise."

But is this resurgence of conflict, which has already taken hundreds of Israeli and Palestinian civilian lives and is destined to claim thousands, really all that surprising? What lingering truth hides behind the immediate shock?

For the latest news & views from every corner of the world, Worldcrunch Today is the only truly international newsletter. Sign up here.

An attack of this scale and complexity takes months of preparation. The Hamas militias, supported by Iran, did not improvise here. Rather, they meticulously planned every detail of the the attack, including its military, political, intelligence, propaganda, and terror ramifications. They managed to do this despite Israel boasting some of the world's most advanced technological surveillance tools; the services of political informants; a complete blockade of Gaza, where 2.3 million Palestinians have been living in an open-air prison since 2005; and collaboration with Arab countries, starting with Egypt, Jordan, and the UAE.

How is it possible, then, that such a plot managed to go unnoticed? Focusing on intelligence and military shortcomings diverts attention from the real failure, which is political. It is a failure on the part of everyone: Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Arab countries, and the West.

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