Welcome to Wednesday, where U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is ousted, Italian authorities launch an investigation into the bus crash that killed 21 near Venice, and Sweden's Royal Academy of Sciences inadvertently releases the winners’ names of the Nobel Chemistry Prize earlier than planned. Meanwhile, ahead of the Oct. 15 Polish elections, we look at how some political parties are competing for conservative Catholic voters by promising more draconian anti-abortion laws.
[*Lí-hó - Taiwanese Hokkien]
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• U.S. Speaker Kevin McCarthy ousted: Kevin McCarthy was toppled as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives after a 216 to 210 vote, marking the first time in history that the institution removed its leader. The 58-year-old Republican from California, who said he would not make another run for speaker, had angered far-right party members when he passed a bipartisan stopgap funding measure to avert a government shutdown. More about the “shutdown melodrama” here.
• Italy bus crash kills 21 near Venice: Italian authorities are investigating the cause of the tourist bus crash near the city of Venice, in which 21 people died. The electric vehicle, which was carrying foreign tourists, fell from an elevated street and burst into flames in the district of Mestre on Tuesday evening.
• Thai teenager faces murder charge for mall shooting: A 14-year-old Thai teenager suspected of killing two people in a Bangkok mall shooting will be sent to a juvenile court on Wednesday to be charged with premeditated murder, attempted murder and illegal firearms possession, among other offenses. Police said the suspected gunman appears to suffer from psychological issues and had not taken his prescribed medication on the day of the shooting.
• Russian anti-war TV journalist sentenced in absentia: Marina Ovsyannikova, a former Russian TV journalist who had protested live on air against Russia's invasion of Ukraine, was sentenced in absentia on Wednesday to 8.5 years in jail by Moscow’s court. The 45-year-old, who fled Russia with her daughter last year after escaping from house arrest, was found guilty of “spreading knowingly false information about the Russian Armed Forces.” Last year, Worldcrunch published Ovsyannikova’s column in German daily Die Welt: "You Need More Russians Like Me To Beat Putin" — A Response To My Ukrainian Critics.
• Pakistan orders Afghan asylum seekers to leave by November: Pakistan’s government has ordered all unauthorized Afghan asylum seekers — an estimated 1.7 million people — to voluntarily leave the country by Nov. 1 or face deportations. Tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan have escalated following a spike in militant attacks along the two countries’ border, including last week’s blast at a mosque in Mastung, which killed at least 50 people.
• Nobel Chemistry Prize winners inadvertently leaked: The Nobel Prize in chemistry has been awarded to American chemists Moungi G. Bawendi, Louis E. Brus and Russian physicist Alexei I. Ekimov for the discovery of quantum dot technology. The winners’ names had been inadvertently published by Sweden's Royal Academy of Sciences via email earlier than planned. The institution said it was a mistake and said “no decision has been made yet” though the selection was later confirmed.
• Chicago offers financial incentive to attend game amid Messi doubt: The Chicago Fire soccer club will give $250 credit towards “new memberships for the 2024 season” for fans attending Wednesday's Major League Soccer match against Inter Miami, amid doubts over star player Lionel Messi’s availability due to injury. More on Maestro Messi? Check this recent piece from Argentine daily Clarin.
Venice-based daily Il Gazzettino dedicates its front page to the "bus disaster" that killed at least 21 people, including two children and a baby, on Tuesday evening near the lagoon city. The coach, which was carrying 39 tourists from various nationalities, careened through an overpass guardrail in the district of Mestre and plunged almost 15 meters (50ft) near railway tracks before exploding. Fifteen people are reportedly injured, five of them seriously. An investigation has been launched to determine the cause of the tragedy.
A photograph showing two Chinese hurdlers hugging after a race at the Asian Games in Hangzhou has been censored on Chinese social media because the women’s lane numbers, “six” and “four,” formed an accidental reference to the Tiananmen massacre on June 4, 1989. The country tightly controls references to the event and routinely scrubs all mention of it from the internet.
Why Poland's draconian anti-abortion laws may get even crueler
Poland has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe. Several parties vying in national elections on Oct. 15 are competing for conservative Catholic voters by promising new laws that could put women's lives at risk.
✊ In 2020, Poland was rocked by mass protests when the country’s Constitutional Tribunal declared abortions in the case of severe fetal illness or deformity illegal. This was one of only three exceptions to Poland’s ban on abortions, which now only applies in cases of sexual assault or when the life of the mother is at risk. Since the 2020 ruling, several women have filed complaints to the European Court of Human Rights after giving birth to children with severe fetal abnormalities, many of whom do not survive long after birth.
🚫 While the ruling party continues to hold tight to its anti-abortion commitments, a far-right challenger, Konfederacja, is pushing for them to be even more restrictive, by removing the abortion exception for fetuses conceived as a result of sexual assault. “We are in favor of removing the exception for rape”, Konfederacja candidate Kielce Michał Wawer said in a debate on TVN 24. “A child who is the result of rape, which is a terrible crime and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent, is not guilty of anything.”
🗳️ Members of the Polish opposition have noted a shift in the last four years when it comes to women’s rights in Poland. “In small steps, PiS is simply taking away Polish women's dignity”, Agata Kobylińska, a second-time Polish opposition candidate, told Wysokie Obcasy magazine. To her, this is a primary motivation she is running for reelection. “I cannot come to terms with the fact that someone thinks that we, women, are not able to make decisions for ourselves”, she said.
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— Local residents of Lahaina, which has been extensively affected by the Hawaiian fires, delivered a petition on Tuesday to delay the partial re-opening of West Maui to tourism, which is set to happen this weekend. The petition was signed by 3,517 people, agreeing that the grieving community cannot yet face the strain of visitors, only two months after the deadly fires. Others, however, argue that without tourism many locals will lose their jobs and be forced to relocate.
✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Laure Gautherin and Valeria Berghinz
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