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In The News

Ukraine Interior Minister Killed In Helicopter Crash, Greta v. Polizei, World’s Oldest Person Dies

Climate campaigner Greta Thunberg is arrested by three policemen at a protest over the expansion of a coal mine in the Western German village of Lützerath

Climate campaigner Greta Thunberg was briefly detained by German police alongside other activists after she was arrested at a protest over the expansion of a coal mine in the Western German village of Lützerath. Thunberg was released after an identity check.

Ginevra Falciani & Inès Mermat

👋 Halo!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where Ukraine’s interior minister is among 18 killed in a helicopter crash near Kyiv, the world’s oldest person dies at 118, and Greta Thunberg is briefly detained by German police. Meanwhile, London-based, Persian-language Kayhan wonders what’s behind the Iranian Supreme Leader’s repeated allusions to the end of the Shah's rule.

[*Bislama, Vanuatu]

✅  SIGN UP

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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🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• Helicopter crash near Kyiv kills Interior Minister: Ukraine's Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky died alongside his first deputy minister, his state secretary and other 15 people, including three children, in a helicopter crash in an eastern suburb of Kyiv. The cause of the crash is still being investigated.

• Philippines’ journalist Maria Ressa acquitted: Maria Ressa, a journalist in the Philippines who won the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize, has been acquitted of tax evasion in a case she’d described as part of a pattern of harassment by former President Rodrigo Duterte to muzzle critical reporting. If convicted of the four tax evasion charges, she would have faced 34 years in jail.

Brazil charges 39 people over riots: The office of Brazil’s prosecutor-general has presented its first charges against 39 of the several thousand people who stormed government buildings in an effort to overturn former president Jair Bolsonaro’s loss in the October election. The defendants have been charged with armed criminal association, violent attempt to subvert the democratic state of law, staging a coup and damage to public property.

• Former EU member Pier Antonio Panzeri agrees to “tell all” about Qatargate: Former European Member of Parliament Pier Antonio Panzeri held in EU-Qatargate bribery probe has agreed to reveal how the network operated, what the financial arrangements were with the countries concerned, and "the involvement of known and unknown persons” within the investigation. The plea deal, which reduced his sentence to a year in jail and the confiscation of €1m in assets was released a day after an Italian court agreed to extradite the his daughter, Silvia Panzeri, 38, on suspicion of involvement in the scandal.

• UN’s Guterres slams Big Oil for ignoring their own climate science: UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres used his speech at the Davos summit to condemn the world’s energy giants for having “peddled the big lie,” about the role of fossil fuels in global warming. “Like the tobacco industry, those responsible must be held to account,” he said.

• Kazakhstan ends unlimited stay for Russians: Kazakhstan will no longer allow Russian citizens to stay in the Central Asian country indefinitely by doing so-called visa runs every three months, according to a government directive published this week. Tens of thousands of Russians, mostly young and middle-aged men, relocated to Kazakhstan last year as Moscow launched its first conscription campaign since World War II.

• World's oldest person, a French nun, dies at 118: The world’s oldest known person, a nun Lucile Randon, has died aged 118 in the southern French city of Toulon. Randon had worked as a governor and tutor before entering a convent at the age of 40. She became the world’s oldest person with last year’s death of Japan’s Kane Tanaka aged 119. It is not immediately clear who is now the oldest person on earth.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

Lima-based daily Peru21 reports on the ongoing protests calling for the resignation of Peruvian President Dina Boluarte, writing that “Lima is at stake” on its front page. In recent weeks, brutal repression by public security forces killed at least 50 protesters and injured an estimated 450 people, while hundreds have been arrested. According to a poll by IEP, 71% of Peruvians disapprove of the Boluarte regime.

#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

$2.6 million

Saudi real estate mogul Mushref al-Ghamdi paid 10 million riyals ($2.6 million) to see soccer greats Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi face off during a friendly game in Riyadh. The match will pit Messi’s Paris Saint-Germain against a team of players from Ronaldo’s new club Al Nassr and roval Saudi club Al Hilal. The proceeds of the auction will go to a national charity campaign in Saudi Arabia.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

End-of-regime vibe? Supreme Leader keeps referring to Shah's final days

In recent weeks, Ali Khamenei, Iran's Supreme Leader, has made repeated references to the end of Iran's last regime in 1979. It may be a sign the country is indeed approaching another kind of revolution, reports Persian-language media Kayhan-London.

✊ Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has ordered his forces to clamp down with renewed vigor on the remains of the mass protests that erupted across Iran in mid-September. Initially a reaction to police brutality, these turned into the biggest anti-state protests of the Islamic Republic's 40-year history. And they continue, in spite of thousands of arrests, more than 500 deaths on the streets and in custody, and four hangings.

🇮🇷 Khamenei makes frequent references to the monarchy that preceded this regime and Iran's last two monarchs, Reza and Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. It is difficult to know whether it is because he believes he has learned the lessons of history, or to fire up images of the 1979 revolution in the minds of younger agents, militiamen and policemen who hear his speeches.

⚠️ Khamenei insists that what Iranians needed today was a "campaign of clarification" to understand that the Islamic Republic is good for them. If he is indeed comparing his predicament with that of the Shah in late 1978, he may even have contemplated unleashing an "Assad-style" massacre — which the Shah refused, preferring to leave instead. He once warned officers that the Shah was betrayed by his air force. Is he fearful of a coup or personal betrayal by military elements?

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

“I think he's a little off his rocker, on a personal level.”

— A pre-trial questionnaire designed to select jurors for the civil lawsuit against Elon Musk, which opened yesterday in San Francisco, gathered public opinions of the billionaire entrepreneur. Prospective jurors deemed the billionaire "smart, successful" but also "off his rocker". Musk is being sued by Tesla shareholders who accuse him of manipulating the company’s share price.

✍️ Newsletter by Ginevra Falciani, Inès Mermat, Hugo Perrin and Anne-Sophie Goninet


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Society

Brazil's Evangelical Surge Threatens Survival Of Native Afro-Brazilian Faith

Followers of the Afro-Brazilian Umbanda religion in four traditional communities in the country’s northeast are resisting pressure to convert to evangelical Christianity.

image of Abel José, an Umbanda priest

Abel José, an Umbanda priest

Agencia Publica
Géssica Amorim

Among a host of images of saints and Afro-Brazilian divinities known as orixás, Abel José, 42, an Umbanda priest, lights some candles, picks up his protective beads and adjusts the straw hat that sits atop his head. He is preparing to treat four people from neighboring villages who have come to his house in search of spiritual help and treatment for health ailments.

The meeting takes place discreetly, in a small room that has been built in the back of the garage of his house. Abel lives in the quilombo of Sítio Bredos, home to 135 families. The community, located in the municipality of Betânia of Brazil’s northeastern state of Pernambuco, is one of the municipality’s four remaining communities that have been certified as quilombos, the word used to refer to communities formed in the colonial era by enslaved Africans and/or their descendents.

In these villages there are almost no residents who still follow traditional Afro-Brazilian religions. Abel, Seu Joaquim Firmo and Dona Maura Maria da Silva are the sole remaining followers of Umbanda in the communities in which they live. A wave of evangelical missionary activity has taken hold of Betânia’s quilombos ever since the first evangelical church belonging to the Assembleia de Deus group was built in the quilombo of Bredos around 20 years ago. Since then, other evangelical, pentecostal, and neo-pentecostal churches and congregations have established themselves in the area. Today there are now nine temples spread among the four communities, home to roughly 900 families.

The temples belong to the Assembleia de Deus, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and the World Church of God's Power, the latter of which has over 6,000 temples spread across Brazil and was founded by the apostle and televangelist Valdemiro Santiago, who became infamous during the pandemic for trying to sell beans that he had blessed as a Covid-19 cure. Assembleia de Deus alone, who are the largest pentecostal denomination in the world, have built five churches in Betânia’s quilombos.


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