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In The News

Le Weekend: Oyster Whispers At Sydney Opera, Shanghai Pet Lama, British Museum’s Cry For Help

Le Weekend: Oyster Whispers At Sydney Opera, Shanghai Pet Lama, British Museum’s Cry For Help

An art installation by Quandamooka artist Megan Cope at the Sydney Opera House, which includes a sculpture made out of some 85,000 oyster shells, is now open to the public

Sept. 30 - Oct. 1

  • Supply chains in southern Ukraine
  • Talking with plants
  • NZ long-haul streaming
  • … and much more.


What do you remember from the news this week?

1. An estimated 66,500 people from what ethnic minority have fled from Nagorno-Karabakh after the breakaway region was seized by Azerbaijan?

2. For which “terrible error” has Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had to apologize?

3. For the first time, scientists in Japan have found microplastics in: lava / raccoon fur / clouds / French fries

4. What movie are Russians reportedly queuing up to see, despite international sanctions?

[Answers at the bottom of this newsletter]


A dangerous new TikTok trend involves New Zealand truck drivers live streaming their long trips on the road. At times, the drivers are quiet, but at other times they interact with commentators and react to spectators’ likes — and that is when streaming becomes problematic, leading to potential distractions behind the wheel. While there is some economic incentive for drivers to livestream, returns can often be low, and some have discussed the social reason behind their TikTok profiles: “it’s almost like having somebody in the cab with you to have a conversation with.”


In memoriam: Irish-English actor Michael Gambon, whose major film roles included Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series, died at the age of 82, after suffering from pneumonia; Scottish actor David McCallum, known for his role on the long-running TV series NCIS and 1960s spy drama The Man from U.N.C.L.E, has died at the age of 90; author and activist Zoleka Mandela, granddaughter of Nelson and Winnie Mandela, has died at the age of 43 after a prolonged battle with breast cancer; U.S. actor and rapper Nashawn Breedlove, who played alongside Eminem in 8 Mile, has died at 46.

• British Museum asks for help recovering stolen artifacts: The British Museum has launched a dedicated hotline and is asking the public to help recover some of the 2,000 artifacts believed to have been stolen from its collections. The items include gold rings, earrings, bracelets and necklaces, mostly from Greece and Rome.

• Rwandan contemporary art in Seoul: A group of Rwandan artists are displaying their work at the Gallery Desiego in the South Korean capital, as part of the “African Aurora” exhibition which will run until Sept. 30. “This exhibition allows Koreans to meet Rwandans and engage in conversations, breaking down these preconceived notions,” says Natacha Muziramakenga, a multidisciplinary artist and co-organized the event.

• Oyster shell artwork for the Sydney Opera House: An art installation by Quandamooka artist Megan Cope at the Sydney Opera House, which includes a sculpture made out of some 85,000 oyster shells, is now open to the public. Commissioned as part of the iconic building’s 50th anniversary, the installation, entitled Whispers, aims to honor the history of the Bennelong Point site and explore the plundering of natural resources caused by colonization.

• Hollywood writers union end strike after five months: Hollywood's writers union said its members could return to work, officially ending their five-month strike, after its leaders approved an agreement made with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. The union’s 11,500 members have until Oct. 9 to cast their votes on the proposed three-year deal that offers pay raises and protections around use of artificial intelligence.

🇺🇦 All eyes on southern Ukraine

Russian independent media outlet Vazhnye Istorii analyzes the history of modern warfare to break down how Russia will soon be forced to withdraw from southern Ukraine. One of the major logistical factors to take into account is the transportation of weaponry, resources, and soldiers through rail and sea, which is limited for Russia in the southern territory they occupy. This disadvantage is furthered by the geographical characteristics of the land, which allow for Ukrainian soldiers to move in faster on the favorable terrain.

Read the full story: War History Shows Why Russia Is Doomed In Southern Ukraine: Supply Lines

🎣 Turkey’s unsustainable fishing

Researchers are warning Turkey that their current fishing model — where fish farming dominates by 60% — is unsustainable. The Istanbul-based independent newspaper Oksijen reports that, while cultivation may seem like the more sustainable option, in reality it requires a large quantity of natural resources that in any way must come from the oceans. Professor Mustafa Sarı explains that “we are feeding the fish with fish,” therefore cultivation cannot survive if natural ocean life is not put under protection and biodiversity is not prioritized.

Read the full story: The Unsustainable Future Of Fish Farming — On Vivid Display In Turkish Waters

🔞 New adventures in intimacy, post-partum

Silviana Hereda writes a personal story for the Cuban independent platform El Toque, discussing her journey with sexuality since the birth of her first child. While sex had been something that she and her partner were adventurous and passionate about before the pregnancy, Hereda struggled to find energy after her baby was born. With the support of the child’s grandparents, who could take her on weekends, came the new exploration of Hereda and her husband’s sexual desire, discovering new possibilities with kink and, eventually, swinging with others.

Read the full story: How Parenthood Reinvented My Sex Life — Confessions Of A Swinging Mom


Researchers from Cambridge University have created a technology that allows humans to “talk” with plantsusing light-based messaging. The innovation, a new version of Cambridge’s previous “Highlighter” invention, could revolutionize agricultural practices — for example, by triggering plants to adjust growth patterns, conserve water or activate defense mechanisms before extreme weather events or pest attacks. Researchers say the tool could make farming more sustainable and reduce the use of chemicals.


Singaporean streamer Deborah Sim, also known as Wolfsbanee, was doing an IRL stream in Shanghai when she spotted something unusual: a couple casually taking their alpaca and dog out for a walk. Alpacas, smaller cousins of the llama and native to South America, are generally of a gentler nature than llamas — which explains why the pet appeared to obediently follow its owners. Sim was shocked, noting to her chat that exotic pets are generally illegal in Singapore. “We’re not supposed to have exotic pets. That was crazy,” she said.


• Hollywood actors are set to resume negotiations with studios, hoping to cut a deal that would end the historic halt to production. The writer’s strike came to an official end this week, and already on Monday many network late-night hosts are expected to return to the air.

• It’s Nobel season! Announcements will take place Oct. 2-9, with the first prize (Medicine) unveiled at 11:30 CEST on Monday, with Peace on Thursday and Literature on Friday.

Germany will celebrate Unity Day on Tuesday, commemorating the 1990 reunification between the former German Democratic Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany. This year, the national holiday coincides with another important German occasion: the end of Oktoberfest’s two weeks of celebrations.

News quiz answers:

1. Authorities of the separatist Nagorno-Karabakh have announced the republic will cease to exist by the end of the year. This comes after Azerbaijan reclaimed full control over the breakaway region. An estimated 78,300 people — more than 65% of the area’s ethnic Armenian population of 120,000 — have already fled Nagorno-Karabakh.

2. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has apologized for a “terrible error” done by Anthony Rota, the speaker of Canada’s Parliament, who honored a Ukrainian World War II veteran who fought in a Nazi unit, when Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the House of Commons last week.

3. Researchers in Japan have confirmed that microplastics are present in clouds, and are affecting the climate. The team identified nine different types of polymers and one type of rubber in the microplastics, with each liter of cloud water tested containing between 6.7 to 13.9 pieces of said elements.

4. Despite heavy international sanctions, Russian cinemas have found a loophole for showing Western films deemed “not in line” with Russian values by the Ministry of Culture: Cinemas have been selling tickets to Russian-made short movies — and showing films like Greta Gerwig’sBarbie in lieu of trailers.

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*Photo: Daniel Boud/Sydney Opera House

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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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