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In The News

Gabon Coup Leader Sworn In, Escaping Burning Man, Google Turns 25

Gabon Coup Leader Sworn In, Escaping Burning Man, Google Turns 25

Around 72,000 people had been stranded at the Burning Man festival in Nevada, but organizers say they are ready for a mass exodus starting Monday.

Emma Albright, Laure Gautherin, Valeria Berghinz and Anne-Sophie Goninet

👋 Ǹdéèwō!*

Welcome to Monday, where Gabon’s coup leader is sworn in as “transitional president” after President Ali Bongo was ousted last week, Russia launches an attack on one of Ukraine’s biggest grain ports and the most-used search engine celebrates its 25th birthday. Meanwhile, in Les Echos, Basile Dekonink reports from the small Balkan nation of Albania, where incessant waves of emigration have decimated demographics.

[*Igbo - Nigeria]


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• Coup chief sworn in as Gabon’s new president: Brice Nguema, the leader of Gabon's military junta, is being sworn in as the nation's interim president. General Nguema led last Wednesday's coup against Ali Bongo, removing the president shortly after he was named winner of a disputed election. Read more on how the recent wave of coups d’état is a wake-up call about the plague of kleptocracy in Africa.

• Russia attacks Ukraine grain port, Ukraine’s defense minister dismissed: Russia has launched a wave of drone attacks on one of Ukraine’s biggest grain exporting ports, hours before Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, were due to hold talks regarding grain deals. Meanwhile, Ukraine's Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov has confirmed that he is leaving his post. President Volodymyr Zelensky announced Reznikov's dismissal saying it was time for "new approaches" in carrying out the war.

China says Xi Jinping will not attend G20: China announced on Monday that its leader Xi Jinping would skip the G20 summit taking place in New Delhi this weekend, with Premier Li Qiang leading the delegation instead. Xi’s absence from the G20 Summit comes as tensions are rising between China and host country India over their disputed border and New Delhi’s growing ties with the United States.

• Vanuatu parliament elects Sato Kilman as Prime Minister: Vanuatu's parliament elected Sato Kilman as the nation's new prime minister on Monday after a court upheld a vote of no-confidence in his predecessor, who had sought closer ties with the U.S. allies amid China-U.S. rivalry in the Pacific Islands. Kilman, a former prime minister and leader of the People's Progressive Party, was elected prime minister 27/23 in a secret ballot by lawmakers.

• Taiwan Typhoon injures more than 40: More than 40 people were injured in Taiwan after Typhoon Haikui ripped across the island, forcing thousands to evacuate. The storm was the first to directly hit the island nation in four years.

• Minnesota jail in lockdown after protests: A prison in the U.S. state of Minnesota was placed under lockdown after dozens of inmates refused to return to their cells. The protest, organized by around 100 prisoners, was later "resolved without incident," officials reported. Inmates were unhappy at being kept in their cells due to understaffing over Labor Day weekend, the state's Department of Corrections (DOC) said.

• Festival site to house refugees in Ireland: Electric Picnic, Ireland’s biggest music festival, with about 70,000 people attending the site over the weekend is getting a second life. Work is set to transform the site into tented accommodation for refugees. The Irish government has signed a contract for the use of the site at Stradbally, effective from Tuesday. The site will house 750 people for the duration of the six-week contract.


Seoul-based daily The Chosun Ilbo dedicates its front page to a rare strike from South Korean public school teachers organized on Monday to demand better protection at work. They protest what they say is widespread harassment by overbearing parents who call them all hours of the day and weekends to complain and threaten them. The mistreatment and pressure led to a number of suicides, and the strike follows a rally held on Saturday when about 200,000 teachers gathered in Seoul in front of the National Assembly.



Today marks Google’s 25th birthday, and the search engine has come a long way from the Stanford dorm rooms of Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the two doctoral students who created the algorithm. As of last month, Google’s global market share has reached 92%, with its nearest competitor, Bing, taking up 3%.


Albania, the brutal demographics of a neverending exodus

Since the fall of communism in 1991, the small Balkan state has been slowly but inexorably emptying itself, at the pace of incessant waves of emigration. With an aging and declining population and a birth rate in free fall, it is facing all kinds of challenges, reports Basile Dekonink in French daily Les Echos.

🇦🇱 Albania is a special case in the small world of migration experts. From 1946 to 1991, the population was held captive by one of the world’s most bloody and repressive regimes: victims of the paranoia of the Communist Party’s first secretary Enver Hoxha, Albanian comrades were not even allowed to own a car, and had to obtain express permission from the administration to leave their region. Then came the reopening of borders, an anarchic transition, the economic collapse of 1997, insurrections, the war in Kosovo and the start of an exodus.

🛃 Complex and constantly evolving, Albanian emigration has considerably changed since 1991. The preferred destinations are no longer neighboring Greece and Italy, but Germany, the UK, France and the U.S. Departures are no longer illegal, but usually on a temporary visa; emigrants are no longer just poor young men, but Albanians from all walks of life. One constant, however: every year, some 50,000 people, most of them between 18 and 40 years old, leave in search of a better life.

💸 Albania is paying a high price for this exodus, particularly in terms of economic development. “One of my developers left for Facebook in Ireland, another for Worldplay. It took me months to replace them. We’re offering them salaries 10 times higher. We can’t tie them to their chairs," says Bora Ferri, who founded a small payment company, Mpay, ten years ago, and is also head of the France-Albania Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

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“If they support the regime so much, they would do well to return to their country of origin.”

— Following violent clashes between supporters and opponents of the Eritrean regime in south Tel Aviv which left more than 170 people injured on Saturday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for the immediate deportation of the “rioters” involved in the protests. The leader said he had also ordered a new plan to remove all of the country’s African migrants whom he described as “illegal infiltrators.” About 25,000 African asylum seekers currently live in Israel, most of whom arrived illegally from Sudan and Eritrea.

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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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