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In The News

Le Weekend: Bulgarian Booker Prize, Backpack For Music Lovers, Highway Cowboy

Le Weekend: Bulgarian Booker Prize, Backpack For Music Lovers, Highway Cowboy

Time Shelter, a Bulgarian novel by written Georgi Gospodinov, has won the International Booker prize.


May 27-28

  • Russian postcard from Goa
  • Tone-deaf pore strips
  • Rushdie & Waits are back!
  • … and much more.


What do you remember from the news this week?

1. What is the name of the Russian region that saw a cross-border incursion and ensuing clashes this week?

2. With which small Pacific Island country has the U.S. signed a new defense deal?

3. What outbreak has led Brazil to declare a 6-month health emergency?

4. What new feature has WhatsApp announced? AI voicemails / Message editing / Lip-reading texts / 200+ people group calls

[Answers at the bottom of this newsletter]


U.S. influencer Cecilee Max-Brown went viral for a sponsored TikTok with Japanese skincare company Bioré, in which she referenced the Michigan State University shooting that happened in February. In the video, part of Bioré's mental health campaign and "Strip Away the Stigma" challenge, the Tiktoker shared her experience dealing with anxiety after going into lockdown during the shooting, while promoting a box of pore strips, asking her community to "get it all out, not only what's in your pores but most importantly what's on your mind, too." Max-Brown has since taken the post down after major backlash, and published an apology. The company also apologized, acknowledging that the "tonality was completely inappropriate."


In memoriam: The music world is mourning the passing of the “Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” as Tina Turner has died at 83; Northern Irish actor Ray Stevenson, known for his roles in Vikings, Thor and Star Wars has passed away at age 54; Indian actor Nitesh Pandey who starred in Hindi films like Om Shanti Om has died from cardiac arrest while on set at age 51 ; Cuban American writer and filmmaker Leon Ichaso has passed away at 74; French singer-songwriter Jean-Louis Murat at 71.

• Booker prize goes to Bulgaria’s Georgi Gospodinov: A Bulgarian novel has won the International Booker prize for the first time. Time Shelter, a “profound work [...] full of irony and melancholy” was written by poet, writer and playwright Georgi Gospodinov. This is his fourth novel translated into English, and the £50,000 prize money was split with his translator, Angela Rodel.

• This week in Cannes: This week at the Cannes Film Festival was marked by the presence of a baby on the red carpet as French producer Julie Viez climbed the steps with her child in her arms — a political statement about working mothers. Meanwhile, Ukrainian influencer Ilona Chernobai protested the Russian invasion of Ukraine, covering herself in fake blood on the red carpet. Jude Law also unveiled the deliberately rotting scent he wore to play a dying Henry VIII, while Lily-Rose Depp and Abel Tesfaye (aka. The Weeknd) did not impress with HBO’s graphic new series The Idol.

• Writing again: British-American novelist Salman Rushdie has reportedly picked up his pen. Rushdie has announced he will be resuming writing, a year after having been stabbed in New York, resulting in a loss of vision in one eye. Meanwhile, U.S. singer-songwriter Tom Waits’ longtime agent has reported that the musician has “started writing again” after being “distracted by the movie world for a while.”

• K-pop band Fifty Fifty beats BLACKPINK as longest-charting in U.S.: After being on the Billboard Hot 100 for nine consecutive weeks, Fifty Fifty has surpassed BLACKPINK as the longest-charting K-pop girl group on the U.S. music chart with their new single “Cupid”. The song also climbed to No. 2 on the Billboard Global 200.

🇮🇳🇷🇺 Goa, a new refuge for Russians

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, many Russians called to the front have fled to India’s scenic west coast. They enjoy sandy beaches, sun and a cheap life — but relations with pro-war Russians who have long settled there regularly disturb the peace. Clément Perruche for French daily Les Echos explores the different ways Russians are viewing the war from afar.

Read the full story: Goa Postcard: How Draft Dodgers And Pro-Putin Russians Both Landed On India's Scenic Coast

🇮🇷 What’s next for Iran?

Finding themselves amid a range of strategic, economic and regional interests, Iranians in a post-regime future will have to deftly maneuver their country toward a peaceful, constitutional state. Bahram Farrokhi writes for Iranian newspaper Kayhan-London about the good, the bad and the worst-case scenarios.

Read the full story: Iran, The Day After: Here's What Could Happen If The Ayatollahs Fall

🇨🇺 A woman’s first in the macho world of cigars

For the first time, Cuba's prestigious annual cigar festival recognized a woman, Alsogaray, owner of an iconic cigar shop in Buenos Aires, as the top representative of this celebrated lifeline of the Cuban economy. Mariana Iglesias writes for Clarín about a world that’s opening itself up to women.

Read the full story: Meet Blanca Alsogaray, The First Woman To Win Cuba's "Oscar Of Cigars"


The Paris Philharmonic is testing backpacks that transform sound into vibrations, allowing deaf and hard-of-hearing people to better enjoy the shows. The accessibility equipment was designed by SoundX, using AI technology to turn the instruments' sound into vibrations felt by the wearer. Through the device, users can reportedly appreciate “the rhythms, the intensity, the emotions” of the music in a new way.


The Michigan State Police captured a video of a cow running onto the highway in Oakland County, chased by a real-life cowboy on horseback. No animal or lasso-enthusiast was hurt in the chase, and the cow is now safely back in its pasture.


Turkish voters will head to the polls for the second round of the country’s presidential election on Sunday, which pits outgoing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan against opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu. Sinan Ogan, the far-right candidate who came in third in the first round, announced he would be endorsing Erdogan, a few days after meeting with him in private.

• The Republic of Ireland will commemorate the centenary of the end of the Civil War on Sunday, with a ceremony taking place in the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin. An estimated 1,400 died in the 11-month war which ended on May 24, 1923.

• A verdict is expected to be reached next week in the highly-anticipated trial of Senegal’s Ousmane Sonko. The opposition leader is being tried for rape and death threat against a woman who worked in a massage parlor. Sonko faces up to 10 years in prison and could be barred from running for office next year. Sonko did not attend the trial and has denied all charges, saying the trial is politically motivated.

• The Festival de Cannes comes to an end tonight, with the Palme d’Or award ceremony. Among the 21 movies in competition, some are standing out as favorites: Jonathan Glazer’s Zone of Interest, Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City and Les Filles d’Olfa by Kaouther Ben Hania seem to have caught both the public’s eye and critics’ attention, although deliberations will be made privately.


Worldcrunch is glad to count Ethic among its latest source partnerships! 🗞

Check out the first articles here, translated from Spanish by Worldcrunch.

News quiz answers:

1. On Monday, Russian anti-Kremlin fighters crossed into the Russian border region of Belgorod, to attack two villages. By Tuesday, the Russian regional governor said the cross-border incursion had been crushed. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu threatened to respond to similar attacks “promptly and with extreme harshness,” while Kyiv has denied any involvement.

2. The United States signed a new defense deal with Papua New Guinea during a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in the region.

3. Brazil is facing a bird flu outbreak, an infectious disease of poultry and wild birds. The country has declared a six-month state of animal health emergency, and the government is working on implementing measures to stop the virus from spreading.

4. Meta-owned messaging platform WhatsApp has announced on Tuesday that users will now be able to edit their messages up to 15 minutes after sending.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

The Science Of Designing A Sanctions Model That Really Hurts Moscow

On paper, the scale of sanctions against Russia following its invasion of Ukraine is unprecedented. But opinion on the impact of sanctions remains divided in the absence of a reliable scientific foundation. A new study by Bank of Canada offers a way out.

Photo of people walking past a currency exchange rate board in Moscow on July 20.

People walking past a currency exchange rate board in Moscow on July 20.

Ekaterina Mereminskaya


The world has never seen sanctions like those imposed against Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine. There have been targeted sanctions, of course, or sanctions against rogue countries like North Korea with wide support from the international community. But never in history has there been such a large-scale sanctions regime against one of the world’s biggest and most important economies.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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Here's the thing though: these sanctions were introduced in a hurry because the West needed to respond to the war decisively. No one calculated anything, they relied on generalizations and holistic visions, they were “groping in a dark room,” as Elina Rybakova, senior researcher at the Brussels think tank Bruegel, put it.

As a result, debates around the effectiveness of sanctions and how best to use them to influence Russia continue to do the rounds.

Supporters of sanctions have a clear and unified message: we must stop Russia from being able to continue this war. We must deprive them of the goods and technologies necessary for the production of weapons and military equipment, and prevent Russians from living normal lives.

Opponents argue that the sanctions backfire. They insist that Russia is a large enough economy, highly integrated into the energy market and international supply chains, and therefore has enough resilience to withstand restrictions. Those who impose sanctions will be the ones to lose markets and suppliers. They will face increased energy prices and countless other problems. Russia will be able to replace lost relationships with new and even stronger ties with other states.

Economists at the Bank of Canada have attempted to resolve this debate and figure out who is hit hardest by sanctions. They pieced together a model featuring three parties: a country imposing sanctions, a country against which they were imposed, and a third independent country.

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