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In The News

100,000 Trapped In Mariupol As Odessa Braces For Russian Attack

Photo of volunteers of the Odessa Food Market passing time in a shelter during an alert for potential air attacks. The Odessa Food Market has been turned into a Red Cross operation center to collect food and water.

Passing time in a shelter in Odessa.

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Lorraine Olaya and Bertrand Hauger

👋 བཀྲ་ཤིས་བདེ་ལགས།*

Welcome to Wednesday, where an estimated 100,000 are still trapped in Mariupol, the black box has been found in the China Eastern Airlines crash, and Zoom meetings are about to become wild. We also explore, from a Swedish perspective, how the COVID-19 pandemic has sparked a resurgence of labor unions.

[*Tashi delek - Tibetan]

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🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• 100,000 civilians still trapped in Mariupol: Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky says 100,000 civilians are still trapped in Mariupol, facing starvation and ceaseless bombardment. On Tuesday, around 7,000 civilians were rescued, but a group traveling on an agreed humanitarian route west of the city were captured. According to estimates by UN relief agencies, there have been around 3,000 civilians killed, but the exact figure is still unknown. Meanwhile, another coastal city farther west, Odessa, braces for attack as Russian forces reportedly push to take the this major port on the Black Sea.

• U.S. Capitol riot suspect granted asylum in Belarus: A man wanted by the FBI for his alleged role in the U.S. January 6, 2021 insurrection has been granted asylum in Belarus. After the Capitol riot, the man fled to Europe and rented an apartment in Ukraine before crossing the border into Belarus late last year.

• Black box found in China Eastern Airlines crash: After two days of searching, Chinese aviation officials say the black box has been found from the China Eastern Airlines flight that crashed earlier this week. The number of dead has not yet been announced, but it is feared none of the 132 people onboard survived.

Taliban backtracks on reopening girl’s high schools: Afghanistan’s education ministry has suddenly ordered high schools for girls to shut once again, despite a previous announcement that they will reopen, saying a decision on uniforms has yet to be made. Primary school for girls will remain open, but the order states that girls above grade six are off until further notice.

• Tornado in New Orleans: A tornado hits New Orleans leaving one dead and multiple injured. The tornado, spawning from the same storm that hit parts of Texas and Oklahoma earlier this week, caused widespread damage and power outages.

• Ashleigh Barty retires at 25: Australian tennis player and current top player in the world Ashleigh Barty made the shock announcement of her retirement from professional tennis at age 25. Barty, the first home player to win an Australian Open singles title in 44 years, said she has been thinking of retirement for a long time and is ready for new pursuits.

• Putting the “Zoo” in Zoom: Zoom’s new update includes a new Avatars feature, allowing users to show up as an animal to their next meeting.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

“They are killing the city before the eyes of the world,” writes Croatian daily Večernji List about the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, bombarded by Russian forces for more than two weeks. About 100,000 civilians remain trapped there, facing starvation.

#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

17 hours and 35 minutes

As the world gradually reopens to tourism, Air New Zealand is inaugurating a new flight which takes passengers from New York’s JFK airport to Auckland in 17 hours and 35 minutes, making it one of the longest flights in the world.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

Will COVID's boost for labor unions last? Check the Swedish model

The pandemic has spurred a resurgence in labor unions around the world. But their return to prominence also raises the question of whether they’re the best way to protect workers in a globalized world.

💼 The uncertainty of COVID-19 has made the imperative to protect workers undeniable — and unions across much of the Western world are doing their best to ride the wave. In Belgium, collective labor agreements were signed last year to deal with suspensions of work contracts. In Denmark, union and business groups have led the way in negotiating wage compensation and job preservation schemes. And in the U.S., where Joe Biden has pledged to be “the most pro-union president you’ve ever seen,” union approval reached 68% in 2021 — the highest on record since 1965.

🇸🇪 But with their return to prominence also come questions of whether old-style labor unions are actually the right mechanism to ensure the best conditions for workers. And yet, as critics voice concerns over labor market rigidities and hampered employment rates, one of the union-densest places in the world, Sweden, tells a very different story. More than eight decades ago, the Saltjsöbaden Agreements were signed in Sweden, cementing the Swedish social norm that employers and workers will conclude agreements without interference by the government.

📈 The Saltsjöbaden Agreement garnered attention from the outside world as it ushered in a Swedish era marked by decades of economic growth, improved living standards and minimal industrial conflicts. And it also created — for good and bad — a national culture centered on the importance of hard work and pulling one’s own weight. In that sense, Sweden isn’t a welfare state in the American meaning; the social contract isn’t about charity but about the freedom of the individual, social contribution and reciprocity.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

The best support for me […] is not sympathy and kind words, but actions. Any activity against the deceitful and thievish Putin regime. Any opposition to these war criminals.

— Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s Twitter account responded to the court’s decision to sentence the opposition leader to nine years in a “strict regime penal colony” in a fraud case which his supporters say is fabricated.

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Lorraine Olaya and Bertrand Hauger


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Economy

How A Xi Jinping Dinner In San Francisco May Have Sealed Mastercard's Arrival In China

The credit giant becomes only the second player after American Express to be allowed to set up a bank card-clearing RMB operation in mainland China.

Photo of a hand holding a phone displaying an Union Pay logo, with a Mastercard VISA logo in the background of the photo.

Mastercard has just been granted a bank card clearing license in China.

Liu Qianshan

-Analysis-

It appears that one of the biggest beneficiaries from Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to San Francisco was Mastercard.

The U.S. credit card giant has since secured eagerly anticipated approval to expand in China's massive financial sector, having finally obtained long sought approval from China's central bank and financial regulatory authorities to initiate a bank card business in China through its joint venture with its new Chinese partner.

For the latest news & views from every corner of the world, Worldcrunch Today is the only truly international newsletter. Sign up here.

Through a joint venture in China between Mastercard and China's NetsUnion Clearing Corporation, dubbed Mastercard NUCC, it has officially entered mainland China as an RMB currency clearing organization. It's only the second foreign business of its kind to do so following American Express in 2020.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that the development is linked to Chinese President Xi Jinping's meeting on Nov. 15 with U.S. President Joe Biden in San Francisco, part of a two-day visit that also included dinner that Xi had with U.S. business executives.

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