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In The News

Le Weekend: Chancellor Memes, She-Dracula, Great Wall Oopsie

Le Weekend: Chancellor Memes, She-Dracula, Great Wall Oopsie

A new adaptation of Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel is seeing the light of day in the UK with "Dracula: Mina’s Reckoning."

Sept. 9-10

  • Back to school in Belgorod
  • Anti-depression helmet
  • Woof-gang Amadeus Mozart
  • … and much more.


What do you remember from the news this week?

1. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky fired Oleksii Reznikov from what position, saying it was time for "new approaches" in the war against Russia?

2. Where have same-sex civil unions been recognized?

3. Which Silicon Valley giant turned 25?

4. What did Taiwan's presidential candidate suggest giving new parents, hoping to boost birth rate? A car / A pet / An apartment / $200

[Answers at the bottom of this newsletter]


He asked for memes — and memes, he got. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz encouraged social media users to make fun of him after an official photograph showing him wearing an eye patch was released. The head of state injured himself after a fall while jogging and will have to wear an eye patch for the next few days or weeks. "Excited to see the memes. Thanks for the get-well wishes, looks worse than it is," Scholz posted on his official account on X. Netizens did not disappoint, with photoshopped images of Pirate Scholz popping up in record time.


In memoriam: Steve Harwell, the former lead singer of U.S. rock band Smash Mouth, has died at the age of 56 from liver failure; American singer-songwriter Gary Wright, best known for his pop hits “Dream Weaver” and “Love is Alive,” has passed away aged 80; Edith Grossman, an acclaimed literary translator made famous by her English translations of Don Quixote and Love in the Time of Cholera, has died aged 87; Canadian singer-songwriter and Scottish rock band Runrig’s lead vocalist Bruce Guthro has passed away at the age of 62.

• Two arrested for damaging China’s Great Wall: Two construction workers have been arrested for using an excavator to dig through China’s Great Wall in central Shanxi province, severely damaging the iconic structure beyond repair. The two suspects were allegedly trying to create a shortcut to their worksite.

• Help! needed to find Paul McCartney’s missing bass guitar: The Lost Bass Project, a team of dedicated Beatles fans and researchers, is launching a global search to solve “the greatest mystery in rock and roll” and find Paul McCartney's original Höfner bass guitar. The instrument was bought by the artist for £30 in Hamburg, Germany, in 1961 but disappeared eight years later, after it was featured in several iconic early Beatles songs including “Twist And Shout,” “Love Me Do” and “She Loves You.”

• Korean and European comic artists team up for Brussels exhibit: The annual “Pop the Bubbles, Blur the Boundaries” exhibition, which displays works of Korean and European comic artists, opened on Wednesday in Brussels, Belgium. This year’s edition, which will run until Dec. 29 at the Korean Cultural Center, marks the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between South Korea and the European Union.

• New take on Dracula with all female and non-binary cast: A new adaptation of Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel is seeing the light of day in the UK with Dracula: Mina’s Reckoning, a play performed by the National Theatre of Scotland that features a female protagonist and an all female and non-binary cast. The show opens this week in Aberdeen at His Majesty's Theatre before touring across the country.

📚🇷🇺 Back to school in Russia’s Belgorod

It's back to school in the Russian region that has felt the war more than any other. Special measures have been put in place in the city near the border with Ukraine, including sandbags and explosion-proof windows — but parents are more anxious than ever. Independent Russian media Vazhnyye Istorii shows how fear is looming over Belgorod.

Read the full story: Belgorod Postcard: Fear And Sandbags For Russians Going Back To School Near Ukraine Border

🐓 Time to move on to sustainable food production

The bones of 65 million chickens eaten every year will leave a mark on the planet, with scientists and diggers citing them one day as evidence of our existence, alongside radioactivity and microplastics. Industrial-style farming should certainly be reimagined, but not with a guilt-ridden assault on the livelihoods of millions of farmers, herders and fishermen. Brigitte LG Baptiste writes for Colombian daily El Espectador about how our abilities to revise our footprint will help us face the next stage of civilization.

Read the full story: You, Me And 65 Million Chickens: Shifting To Sustainable Food Production, Without The Guilt

🤖🎻 Will AI replace the artist?

Depicted by some artists as a threat to creativity, algorithms are used by others as a powerful new instrument, able to stimulate their imagination, expand their creative capabilities and open doors to so-far unexplored worlds. Stéphane Loignon for French daily Les Echos writes about the importance of keeping in mind that AI remains a tool for humans and not the other way around.

Read the full story: AI And Musicians: A New Instrument To Learn — Or The Job Formerly Known As The Artist?


An invention by Spanish company Neuroelectrics aims at relieving the pain of patients suffering from depression, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. The new technology comes in the form of a helmet lined with electrodes that release mini-electric discharges to the wearer. The electrodes offer brain stimulation therapies which are fully personalized to each patient suffering from a neurological disease.


This year's Haydn Festival Copenhagen, Denmark, featured a special performance of Mozart's “Hunting Symphony” with three furry guests. The Danish Chamber Orchestra was accompanied by Cookie, Sophus, and Sica, three dogs selected for their barking skills and trained to howl on command.


Here’s the latest Dottoré! piece from the notebook of Neapolitan psychiatrist and writer Mariateresa Fichele:

Back to school, for those who can afford it

In most Italian municipalities, school cafeterias and full-day school schedules begin at the same time as the teaching calendar. Yet in Naples, for years I've been hearing the following:

"To start the school lunch service, we have to wait for a company to win the contract bidding!"

This "normally" happens at the end of October, if not at the end of November. Yet, Neapolitan parents pay for school lunch just like all other Italian citizens. However, in Naples, holidays are considered sacred even for contract bidding and companies, so they cannot be announced or concluded, as reason would dictate, before the start of the school year.

So, what if the children get out of school at 1 P.M. for a couple of months? If parents can't pick them up, they have to rely on family members or, alternatively, they send their children to private schools.

Those who can afford it are welcome, but those who can't afford it can't work, because, as one of my patients once said:

"Dottoré, I used to work for 600 euros a month under the table in a clothing store. Then, with the arrival of my second child, I had to leave because how could I manage with one child in daycare and one in elementary school? It would have cost me 700 euros a month for a babysitter, which is more than I was earning."

Christ must have stopped south of here. Equality, emancipation, and the rights of motherhood and childhood should be much, much higher …

➡️ Read more from our Dottoré! series on Worldcrunch.com


• From Sept. 11 to 20, 175 Armenian soldiers will take part in the “Eagle Partner 2023" where they will be training with U.S. troops. This comes as Armenia blames Russia, focused as it is on the war with Ukraine, for failing to protect it against aggressions from Azerbaijan.

On Sept.12, just before dawn, don’t forget to look up: if you're in the Northern Hemisphere, comet Nishigura, which comes once every 437 years, will pass within 78 million miles from our planet. The comet was discovered last month by Hideop Nishimura, a Japanese amateur astronomer.

• The U.S. Open will come to a conclusion this weekend. On Saturday, the women’s final will pit U.S. Coco Gauff v. Belarus player Aryna Sabalenka. On Sunday, the men’s game will see either Novak Djokovic or Daniil Medvedev emerge victorious.

News quiz answers:

1. Oleksii Reznikov, Ukraine's Defense Minister, has confirmed that he is leaving his post. President Volodymyr Zelensky announced Reznikov's dismissal saying that it was time for "new approaches" in carrying out the war.

2. In Hong Kong, the supreme court has ordered the government to “establish an alternative framework for legal recognition of same-sex partnerships,” although it has still not yet granted full marriage rights, this remains a partial win for Hong Kong’s LGBTQ+ community.

3. On Sept. 4, Silicon Valley tech giant Google turned 25. The world’s most popular search engine started out as a research project by Larry Page and Sergey Brin when they were both PhD students at Stanford University in 1998.

4. Terry Gou, a businessman who entered Taiwan’s presidential race last week, made a proposal to solve the island’s demographic crisis by offering new parents a free pet — a cat or a dog. Taiwan has one of the world’s lowest birth rates while pet ownership is skyrocketing.

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*Photo: National Theatre of Scotland

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This Happened—December 7: Pearl Harbor Attacked

Updated Dec. 7, 2023 at 12:15 p.m.

Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor was a day that U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously said "will live in infamy." It would finally bring the United States into World War II, though with a decimated Pacific fleet from the Japanese surprise attack.

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