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In The News

Zelensky-Xi Call, Pope Gives More Power To Women, Ya Ya Goes Back Home

Zelensky-Xi Call, Pope Gives More Power To Women, Ya Ya Goes Back Home

Ya Ya, the giant panda pictured here at the Memphis zoo in Tennessee, is on its way back to China after spending 20 years in the U.S as part of a loan agreement.

Emma Albright, Ginevra Falciani and Anne-Sophie Goninet

👋 Wĩmwega!*

Welcome to Thursday, where Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Chinese President Xi Jinping speak on the phone for the first time since the start of the Russian invasion, Pope Francis announces that women will be allowed to vote for the first time at an important bishops meeting, and Ya Ya the giant panda is headed back home to China. Meanwhile, Dankwart Guratzsch in German daily Die Welt marvels at 19th-century poet and scientist Goethe’s uncanny predictions about today’s tech revolution.

[*Kikuyu, Kenya]


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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• Sudan military approves ceasefire extension, as fighting flares: Sudan’s army said its leader, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, gave initial approval to a plan to extend the truce for another 72 hours and send an army envoy to the South Sudan capital, Juba, for talks. Meanwhile, sporadic fighting continued on the outskirts of the capital, Khartoum.

• Zelensky and Xi hold first talks since Russian invasion: Chinese President Xi Jinping and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke for the first time since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Beijing said it wanted to send an envoy to Kyiv to serve as a mediator to pursue a “political settlement”. The phone call between the two leaders comes after Xi’s visit to Moscow in March.

• U.S. and South Korea agree to key nuclear weapons deal: The U.S. and South Korea have secured a landmark deal to counter the North Korean nuclear threat. Washington has agreed to periodically deploy U.S. nuclear-armed submarines to South Korea and involve Seoul in its nuclear planning operations. In return, South Korea has agreed to not develop its own nuclear weapons.

• Chinese navy ships head to Singapore for joint drills: China’s military has dispatched two navy ships to take part in joint drills with Singapore’s navy. The exercises will begin on Friday in the Southeast Asian city state. This comes amid China’s growing presence in the South China Sea.

• Pope Francis gives women historic right to vote at key bishops meeting: The Pope will for the first time allow women to vote at an influential global meeting of bishops in October — a move that has been welcomed as a historic first. The new rules announced on Wednesday will give five religious sisters voting rights at the synod, which is a papal advisory body where men will still cast the majority of the votes.

• Microsoft lashes out at UK after Activision deal blocked: Microsoft's president has launched a furious attack on the decision by UK regulators to block its deal to buy U.S. video game company Activision Blizzard, which owns popular games titles such as Call of Duty, Candy Crush, and World of Warcraft. Blocking one of the tech industry’s biggest deals was "bad for Britain" according to Microsoft's vice chair and president, Brad Smith, who also said this showed the EU was a better place to set up a firm than the UK.

• Ya Ya the giant panda goes back to China after 20 years in the U.S.: Ya Ya the giant panda began its trip to China on Wednesday from the Memphis Zoo, where it has spent the past 20 years as part of a loan agreement.


Bogotá daily El Espectador reports on the surprise cabinet reshuffle triggered by Colombian President Gustavo Petro, who has replaced seven ministers, including Finance Minister Jose Antonio Ocampo and Health Minister Carolina Corcho. The leader hopes to reinvigorate efforts to push new reforms after facing significant obstacles since he took office in August.


The “ruin of art” — How Goethe predicted our current AI nightmare 220 years ago

Goethe was eerily prescient in his predictions about the “unstoppable force” of mechanization. But he didn’t call for a pause in technological advances. More than 200 years ago, he predicted with surprising accuracy how technological and industrial developments would change our world, writes Dankwart Guratzsch in German daily Die Welt.

🖼️🤖 Among Goethe's most currently palpable predictions was the idea of an “art factory,” which would cheaply, quickly and accurately recreate “any painting using entirely mechanical means," by a process that “any child” could be taught to follow. Mass-produced art created by machines — that was the great writer’s nightmarish vision in the early days of the Industrial Revolution.

💻 Goethe was prescient in recognizing the danger that the technological revolution posed to the accepted value system, at a time when the new value system was still in its infancy. It is the machine that literally turns the wheel, that spews out money and mass-produced items. Today’s equivalent, the most technologically advanced machine that has expanded into every corner of our life — the internet — has proven to be a monster that excels at making money and throwing billions around.

⚠️ Goethe clearly saw no value in calling for a halt to technological advances, as he did not publish his reflections about machines. He acknowledged that these changes were “rushing forward with unstoppable force.” As the British academic Jeremy Adler recently argued, Goethe was driven by concerns about the “inhuman dangers of mathematical physics” — a fear that is also behind many leading scientists’ current skepticism towards AI.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com



South Korean giant Samsung's profit plunged to 640 billion won ($477.2 million) for the first quarter of 2023 — a 95% drop from the 14.12 trillion won ($10.5 billion) last year. It is the lowest profit in the past 14 years for the electronics company, as inflation drives customers away from purchasing new tech devices.


“The other thing you notice when you take a little time off, is how unbelievably stupid most of the debates you see on television are.”

— In a video posted on Twitter, Tucker Carlson broke his silence two days after the announcement that he and Fox News were parting ways. The right-wing commentator didn’t directly address his reported firing from the network, where he was its most-watched anchor, but criticized both U.S. political parties and complained that “big topics get virtually no discussion.” Carlson ended his cryptic statement with a “see you soon.”

✍️ Newsletter by Emma Albright, Ginevra Falciani and Anne-Sophie Goninet

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The Problem With Always Blaming Climate Change For Natural Disasters

Climate change is real, but a closer look at the science shows there are many factors that contribute to weather-related disasters. It is important to raise awareness about the long-term impact of global warming, but there's a risk in overstating its role in the latest floods or fires.

People on foot, on bikes, motorcycles, scooters and cars navigate through a flooded street during the day time.

Karachi - People wade through flood water after heavy rain in a southern Pakistani city

Xinhua / ZUMA
Axel Bojanowski


BERLIN — In September, thousands of people lost their lives when dams collapsed during flooding in Libya. Engineers had warned that the dams were structurally unsound.

Two years ago, dozens died in floods in western Germany, a region that had experienced a number of similar floods in earlier centuries, where thousands of houses had been built on the natural floodplain.

Last year saw more than 1,000 people lose their lives during monsoon floods in Pakistan. Studies showed that the impact of flooding in the region was exacerbated by the proximity of human settlements, the outdated river management system, high poverty rates and political instability in Pakistan.

There are many factors that contribute to weather-related disasters, but one dominates the headlines: climate change. That is because of so-called attribution studies, which are published very quickly after these disasters to highlight how human-caused climate change contributes to extreme weather events. After the flooding in Libya, German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung described climate change as a “serial offender," while the Tageszeitung wrote that “the climate crisis has exacerbated the extreme rainfall."

The World Weather Attribution initiative (WWA) has once again achieved its aim of using “real-time analysis” to draw attention to the issue: on its website, the institute says its goal is to “analyse and communicate the possible influence of climate change on extreme weather events." Frederike Otto, who works on attribution studies for the WWA, says these reports help to underscore the urgent need for climate action. They transform climate change from an “abstract threat into a concrete one."

In the immediate aftermath of a weather-related disaster, teams of researchers rush to put together attribution studies – “so that they are ready within the same news cycle," as the New York Times reported. However, these attribution studies do not meet normal scientific standards, as they are published without going through the peer-review process that would be undertaken before publication in a specialist scientific journal. And that creates problems.

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