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In The News

U.S. Diplomat In Niger, Portugal Battles Wildfires, No More Zoom Calls

U.S. Diplomat In Niger, Portugal Battles Wildfires, No More Zoom Calls

Wildfires are raging in southern Portugal, where flames have ravaged 16,000 hectares of land and forced the precautionary evacuation of more than 1,000 people.

Anne-Sophie Goninet and Laure Gautherin

👋 Azul!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where a U.S. diplomat meets with Niger’s coup leaders in an effort to find a “negotiated solution” to the conflict, two Russian missiles hit residential buildings in the eastern Ukrainian city of Pokrovsk killing at least eight people and it’s time for Zoom workers to go back to the office. For our special Summer Reads edition of Worldcrunch Today, we feature three stories from around the world on education.

[*Tarifit, Northern Morocco]


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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• U.S. diplomat visits Niger, military deploys reinforcements: Victoria Nuland, the U.S. acting deputy secretary of state, has traveled to Niger on Monday where she held face-to-face “frank and difficult” talks with the leaders of the military coup. Nuland said her requests to meet ousted President Mohamed Bazoum were denied but reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to a “negotiated solution” to the conflict. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is planning a second emergency summit on Thursday after the deadline expired for Niger’s junta to reinstate Bazoum or face the threat of military intervention.

• Ukraine update: Two Russian missiles hit residential buildings in the eastern Ukrainian city of Pokrovsk in the Donetsk region, killing at least eight people and wounding 31 others. Meanwhile, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) says a woman has been arrested over accusations of helping Russia plot an attack on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during his visit to flood-hit Mykolaiv in June. The U.S. is expected to announce $200 million of new weapons aid for Ukraine this Tuesday as part of the $6.2 billion fund previously authorized by the Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA).

Brazil hosts Amazon summit: The leaders of eight Amazon rainforest nations are meeting for their first Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO) in 14 years to discuss the pressing challenges facing the ecosystem. Divisions over proposals to block new oil drilling and end deforestation are expected as the two-day event kicks off today in the northern Brazilian city of Belem.

• Wildfires and floods wreak havoc in Europe: Extreme weather is causing chaos from northern to southern Europe, with Portugal battling 130 wildfires across the country amid a third heatwave on the Iberian peninsula while more than 50 wildfires continue to tear through Italy’s Sardinia. Meanwhile, the European Union and NATO are sending aid to Slovenia where heavy rains and floods have killed at least six people and caused damages that could exceed half a billion euros. Warnings of flooding and landslides have reached their highest levels in Norway and Sweden, where intense rainfall has led to transport disruption and caused a train to derail in eastern Sweden.

• Growing tensions between China and Philippines' over grounded warship: China has repeated its call for the Philippines to tow away former warship Sierra Madre from the disputed Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea. Despite Beijing's previous demands, Manila has kept the World War Two-era vessel — now used as a military outpost — stationed. She was grounded in the late 1990s in an effort to check the advance of China in the hotly contested waters and has been a flashpoint between Manila and Beijing ever since.

• Protest against gang violence in Haiti: Thousands of protesters took to the streets in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince on Monday to march against the rise of gangs in the country. Gang led violence has been devastating health care and security, with growing numbers of kidnappings and homicides, and caused the death of a police officer last week. Tensions escalated as government vehicles were set on fire and authorities used tear gas to disperse the crowd.

• No more Zoom calls: The return to office trend spreading among tech firms has now reached Zoom, the company which powered the remote work revolution during the pandemic. In a statement, Zoom said it’s now enforcing a “structured hybrid approach” which requires employees who live near an office to be onsite two days a week, arguing it is “most effective” for the video-conferencing service.


Image of a school in Kiruna, Sweden during the winter.

A school in Kiruna, Sweden

Kiruna city hall website

Implemented in the 1990s, Sweden's voucher system for schools allows parents to choose their child's school, with government funding following the student. Benefits include increased choice and innovation, but critics argue it has led to segregation and disparities in educational quality. The system remains a subject of debate in Sweden, as Worldcrunch journalist Amélie Reichmuth reports.

Read the full story: What Sweden's Teacher Shortage Says About Privatizing Education


Image of two people walking in a school in ovyi Bykiv, Ukraine.

School life restarting in Novyi Bykiv, Ukraine.

Sasha Gulich/Livy Bereg

Journalist Iryna Andreytsiv reports on Ukraine's recovery efforts in the aftermath of the war, for Ukrainian newspaper Livy Bereg. In the village of Novyi Bykiv, east of Kyiv, initiatives include rebuilding school infrastructure and enhancing educational resources, with the help and support of parents, students and teachers.

Read the full story: A Village School's Bittersweet Return After Russian Occupation


Image of a kid looking at a cellphone.

Are parents, website owners or government oversight bodies for to blame for the damage done to children and young adults?

Andi Graf/pixabay

In January 2023, schools in Seattle took legal action against TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Snapchat for psychological damage to students, while in Argentina, two teenagers died participating in a TikTok challenge. The responsibility of social media companies for causing such harm is increasingly under scrutiny, with some suggesting that tech firm owners and directors should be hit with penal sanctions rather than just fines, as journalist Mónica Graiewski reports in Buenos Aires-based newspaper Clarín.

Read the full story: Who Is Responsible For The Internet's Harm To Society?

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet and Laure Gautherin

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Migrant Lives

They Migrated From Chiapas When Opportunities Dried Up, Orchids Brought Them Home

An orchid rehabilitation project is turning a small Mexican community into a tourist magnet — and attracting far-flung locals back to their hometown.

They Migrated From Chiapas When Opportunities Dried Up, Orchids Brought Them Home

Marcos Aguilar Pérez takes care of orchids rescued from the rainforest in his backyard in Santa Rita Las Flores, Mapastepec, Chiapas, Mexico.

Adriana Alcázar González/GPJ Mexico
Adriana Alcázar González

MAPASTEPEC — Sweat cascades down Candelaria Salas Gómez’s forehead as she separates the bulbs of one of the orchids she and the other members of the Santa Rita Las Flores Community Ecotourism group have rescued from the rainforest. The group houses and protects over 1,000 orchids recovered from El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve, in the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas, after powerful storms.

“When the storms and heavy rains end, we climb to the vicinity of the mountains and collect the orchids that have fallen from the trees. We bring them to Santa Rita, care for them, and build their strength to reintegrate them into the reserve later,” says Salas Gómez, 32, as she attaches an orchid to a clay base to help it recover.

Like magnets, the orchids of Santa Rita have exerted a pull on those who have migrated from the area due to lack of opportunity. After years away from home, Salas Gómez was one of those who returned, attracted by the community venture to rescue these flowers and exhibit them as a tourist attraction, which provides residents with an adequate income.

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