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In The News

Le Weekend ➡️ Soccer Solitude, Major Oman Exhibition, London Snow Fight

Le Weekend ➡️ Soccer Solitude, Major Oman Exhibition, London Snow Fight

The “Omani Civilisation: Origin & Development” exhibition opens at the Sharjah Archeology Museum in the UAE


December 17-18

  • A Ukrainian war diary
  • RIP Angelo Badalementi, David Lynch’s composer
  • Nano-Tracked Hornets
  • … and much more.


What do you remember from the news this week?

1. Which South American country is in turmoil following the removal and arrest of its president, Pedro Castillo?

2. What is the nickname of Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout who was exchanged for U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner in a prisoner swap?

3. Amid the probe of influence peddling, where was money allegedly found in the home of EU member of Parliament Eva Kaili?

4. What two places came in tied for first place of the 2022 list of “most expensive city to live in”: Paris & London / Hong Kong & Zurich / Singapore & New York?

[Answers at the bottom of this newsletter]


This photo of an elderly Argentine soccer fan watching his country play against Croatia during the FIFA 2022 World Cup semi-final, outside an electronics store in Buenos Aires, has captured hearts on social media. The passerby who snapped the picture tweeted: “We need to give him a TV.” The user also tagged retail company Frávega, which eventually offered 83-year-old Carlos Bejar a free wide-screen television. But in a surprising twist, the Argentine man said he still plans to watch the Argentine v. France final on Sunday from outside the store, in his fold-out chair which used to belong to his mother and which he says brings him (and the Albicelestes!) luck.


In memoriam: American composer Angelo Badalementi, known for creating haunting music for director David Lynch’s Twin Peaks series and Mulholland Drive film, died at 85 years old. In Poland, Gen. Mirosław Hermaszewski, who was the first (and to date, the only) Polish citizen to fly into space back in 1978, has died aged 81.

• France’s top Comics Festival cancels exhibition over artist accused of promoting incest: The Angoulême Comics Festival has canceled an exhibition of Bastien Vivès citing security concerns, amid a controversy surrounding some of the work and comments of the French artist, which some see as justifying pedophilia and incest. The second largest comics festival in Europe, which starts at the end of January, had at first refused to modify its program, despite an online petition against the exhibition gathering more than 100,000 signatures.

• Harry and Meghan documentary breaks Netflix record: Netflix’s documentary series about Prince Harry and Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle has debuted with a total of 81.55 million hours watched — the streaming service’s highest viewing time for any documentary during a premiere week. Part two of the series has been released this week with a further three episodes.

• New exhibition on Omani Civilization opens in UAE: The “Omani Civilisation: Origin & Development” exhibition opened at the Sharjah Archeology Museum in the United Arab Emirates. Running until June 7, it features a collection of ancient artifacts of the Omani Civilization that sheds light on the historical bonds between Oman and the UAE.

• No more Superman for Henry Cavill: British actor Henry Cavill announced he won’t return as Superman in the next DC installment focused on the caped superhero, following a decision by newly appointed DC Studios co-chairmen James Gunn and Peter Safran to show a younger Superman.

🇺🇦📖 The diary of a slain Ukrainian writer

Ukrainian writer Volodymyr Vakulenko was abducted by Russian forces during the first weeks of the invasion and later killed, leaving behind his personal diary. Kyiv-based media Livy Bereg takes a look back at the writer’s life and publishes excerpts from his diary, which encompasses much of the tragedy of his nation, including his family’s hesitation to leave Ukraine after the invasion. “In the first days of the occupation, I gave up a little because of my half-starved state in general. Now I have pulled myself together, even worked in the garden a little and brought potatoes into the house. Birds chirp only in the morning..,” one entry reads.

Read the full story: Despair, Love, Betrayal — Then Death: A Ukrainian War Diary

🇮🇷 The Iranian clerics speaking out against the executions of protesters

After the execution of at least two protesters this month in Iran — with the latest publicly hanged on a crane —, a group of well-known Shia clerics have publicly challenged the validity of the capital charges, as well as the state's right to execute protesters. It’s a rare occurrence of dissent in the Islamic republic, particularly at a time when the regime is doubling down on the anti-state protests that have swept Iran since mid-September.

London-based, Persian-language outlet Kayhan unpacks the objections, raised by the Assembly of Qom Seminary Teachers and Researchers, a clerical grouping of reformist clerics who, although they have little direct sway over the leadership, are well-respected among Muslim leaders.

Read the full story: Iran Clerics Denounce "Foolish" Executions of Protesters, A Rare Critique Of Regime

🍇🌴 How to grow wine in the Israeli desert

French winemakers are increasingly confronted with the effects of climate change, particularly around the Mediterranean region. Some are looking for solutions in Israel’s Negev desert, where seven years ago, the Minister of Agriculture has launched an experimental program to test the conditions for ripening grapes in the arid climate.

“When the first producers set up in this desert 15 years ago, everyone thought they were crazy. Making wine in the desert? Back then people called it a hippie dream, but nobody's saying that anymore,” French winemaker David Pinto tells business daily Les Echos.

Read the full story: Negev Terroir? Climate Change Pushes French Winemakers Into Desert Cultivation


For the past 20 years or so, France has been plagued with an invasion of Asian hornets, among other things posing serious problems for the country’s bee population. To solve that, an engineer from the southern city of Toulouse has introduced a new method: a nano tracker that can be attached to the hornet and record its path back to the nest, which can then be destroyed.


London was hit with major snowfalls this week, wreaking mass transportation havoc — but also leading to scenes of winter frolicking like here on the West Ham train platforms, where commuters waiting in the cold decided to initiate a snowball fight.


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

No Kindness Under The Christmas Tree

"Gennaro, I can't believe it! You always fall into this state of depression around Christmas. There has to be a nice memory that makes you happy again. Think, for example, of back when you were a child. The presents. The whole family gathered together. Tell me, what do you see?"

"I see monsters!"

"How’s that possible? Your grandmother ... even she was bad?"

"Bad? Nooo! But she was very ugly, Dottoré. She looked like Bruscolotti’s mother!”

Therapy helps people overcome most traumas. But, dear friends and patients, as I wish you the very best for this end of year, please use this period to work out some of your traumas on your own.

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


• The U.S. House select committee investigating the Jan 6 Capitol insurrection will hold its final public meeting on Monday and the panel’s full report will come out Wednesday. There are also expected to be announcements about any criminal referrals to the Justice Department regarding the assault on the Capitol building by Donald Trump supporters seeking to overthrow his 2020 election defeat.

Ukraine is expected to receive a Patriot air-defense missile system next week from the U.S. — a move that Russia said could bring "unpredictable consequences."

• A tribute concert to seminal singer-songwriter Paul Simon, featuring the likes of Stevie Wonder, Sting, Jimmy Cliff and the Jonas Brothers, will air on CBS on Dec. 21.

Argentina and defending champion France go head to head in the finals of the FIFA 2022 World Cup on Sunday.

News quiz answers:

1. Protests in support of President Pedro Castillo, who was ousted over coup accusations, have intensified across Peru, forcing the new government to declare a nationwide state of emergency.

2. Russian arms traffickers Viktor Bout, who returned home in a swap for American basketball star Brittney Griner, is better known as the “Merchant of Death.”

3. As the European Union is hit by the worst bribery scandal in memory, Belgian investigators conducted searches of European Parliament offices in Brussels in an effort to find evidence of bribes from Qatar. One of the accused members of parliament, Greece’s Eva Kaili, was stripped of her position as vice president and remanded in custody after the probe led to the discovery of "bags of cash" in her home.

4. New York and Singapore came in tied for first place of the 2022 list of “most expensive city to live in.” Perhaps surprisingly, this is the first time the Big Apple makes it to the top of the annual Economist Intelligence Unit ranking. Tel Aviv, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Zurich, Geneva, San Francisco, Paris and Copenhagen complete the top 10.

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food / travel

Legalizing Moonshine, A Winning Political Stand In Poland

Moonshine, typically known as “bimber” in Poland, may soon be legalized by the incoming government. There is a mix of tradition, politics and economics that makes homemade booze a popular issue to campaign on.

Photo of an empty vodka bottle on the ground in Poland

Bottle of vodka laying on the ground in Poland

Leszek Kostrzewski

WARSAWIt's a question of freedom — and quality. Poland's incoming coalition government is busy negotiating a platform for the coming years. Though there is much that still divides the Left, the liberal-centrist Civic Koalition, and the centrist Third Way partners, there is one area where Poland’s new ruling coalition is nearly unanimous: moonshine.

The slogan for the legalization of moonshine (known in Poland as "bimber") was initially presented by Michał Kołodziejczak, the leader of Agrounia, a left-wing socialist political movement in Poland that has qualified to be part of the incoming Parliament.

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”Formerly so-called moonshine was an important element of our cultural landscape, associated with mystery, breaking norms, and freedom from the state," Kołodziejczak said. "It was a reason to be proud, just like the liqueurs that Poles were famous for in the past.”

The president of Agrounia considered the right to make moonshine as a symbol of "subjectivity" that farmers could enjoy, and admitted with regret that in recent years it had been taken away from citizens. “It's also about a certain kind of freedom, to do whatever you want on your farm," Kołodziejczak adds. "This is subjectivity for the farmer. Therefore, I am in favor of providing farmers with the freedom to consume this alcohol for their own use.”

A similar viewpoint was aired by another Parliament member. “We will stop pretending that Polish farmers do not produce moonshine for their own use, such as for weddings,” the representative said, pointing out the benefits of controlling the quality. “Just like they produce slivovitz, which Poland is famous for. It's high time they did it legally.”

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