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In The News

Le Weekend: RIP Kundera, Bulgari-China Row, Panda Twins

Le Weekend: RIP Kundera, Bulgari-China Row, Panda Twins

Czech-born author of the novel "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" Milan Kundera has died at the age of 94 in his Paris apartment after a long illness.


July 15-16

  • Alexander Vindman on Trump
  • Bulgari angers China
  • Panda twins
  • … and much more.


What do you remember from the news this week?

1. Which two countries have backed Sweden’s NATO membership bid after months of negotiations?

2. New protests in Israel this week against the government of Benjamin Netanyahu were sparked by the reform of what institution?

3. Which world leader did King Charles III meet for the first time since the British monarch took the throne?

4. Succession is the most nominated show at this year’s Emmy Awards. How many nominations did the comedy-drama series nab? 12 / 21 / 27

[Answers at the bottom of this newsletter]


Bulgari has apologized for listing Taiwan separately on its websites, facing accusations on Chinese social media of treating it as an independent country. The Chinese Communist Party claims Taiwan as its own territory, despite having never controlled the self-governed democracy. Bulgari's apology statement on Weibo expressed respect for China's “sovereignty and territorial integrity” and blamed management negligence for the location labeling. The apology did little to quell the anger, with hashtags garnering over 800 million views on Weibo. The Communist Party newspaper, People’s Daily, questioned why the brand didn't address the issue on English-language social media as well, as Bulgari joins a list of companies bowing to Beijing’s territorial claims in order to keep Chinese sales up.


• Riga Biennial canceled over organizers ties to Russia: The Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art in the Latvian capital has been canceled over ties to Russia of its founder, Agniya Mirgorodskaya. The war in Ukraine has revived tensions over Latvia’s past, deemed too important to overcome by the organizers of the third edition of the art event, after it had first been postponed. The Russian contribution to the Biennial had created tensions with the Latvian artistic community, who argued against celebrating art and togetherness in the face of the invasion of Ukraine.

Inmemoriam: Czech-born author of the novel "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" Milan Kundera has died at the age of 94 in his Paris apartment after a long illness. He emigrated to France in 1975 after being ostracized for criticizing the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. Meanwhile, 57-year-old Belarusian artist and political prisoner Ales Pushkin died in hospital after being transferred from a prison facility. He was arrested for a painting "glorifying" the anti-Soviet Belarusian activist and poet Yevgeniy Zhihar, considered as a Nazi collaborator by Belarusian officials. In Turkey, musician and actor Ozkan Ugur died at 69.

• Aretha Franklin’s note found in her sofa is valid will: After a nearly five-year legal fight within the Franklin family, the two handwritten documents found in Aretha Franklin’s sofa by her niece in 2019 dated four years apart and naming two different sons as beneficiaries to her estate were ruled valid and legal will. Although there still will be discussions over the estate, it appears that Franklin’s four sons will share income from music sales and copyrights.

• Arab character on King the Land sparks online backlash: A popular new South Korean drama has been criticized for its stereotypical representation of Arab character, Prince Samir. In one of the recent episodes of the Korean series King the Land, a scene shows Prince Samir wearing a keffiyeh, traditional headgear and a white kandura, in a nightclub accompanied by women and alcohol.

• Prada teams up with China’s women soccer team: The luxury label Prada unveiled a partnership with the Chinese national women’s soccer team with a viral post on social media Weibo sharing a photo of the team wearing dark tailored suits, white shirts and leather shoes.

🇺🇸 🇺🇦 Donald Trump, a threat to U.S. democracy and Ukrainian freedom

An interview with Alexander Vindman, the Ukrainian-born U.S. military analyst, in Ukrainska Pravda sheds some light on just how bad the situation would be for Ukraine if Donald Trump was re-elected for president in the U.S. As a former National Security Council member and key witness in Trump's impeachment procedure, Vindman, who moved from Kyiv to the U.S. as a child, has a unique perspective on what a second Trump presidency would mean for both U.S. democracy as well as aid for Ukraine.

Read the full story: Alexander Vindman: An Urgent Warning For Ukraine About A Second Trump Presidency

🇧🇷⚖️🇻🇪 Political parallels between Brazil and Venezuela

Recently, both Brazil and Venezuela blocked the political paths of opposition members, writes Argentinian daily Clarin. However, while Brazil banned populist Jair Bolsonaro holding public office for eight years through due process of law, in Venezuela, opposition leader María Corina Machado faces a 15-year ban amidst a host of rights violations in the country. Brazilian President Lula da Silva's good will toward Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro raises questions about just how Lula envisions democracy.

Read the full story: Maduro Like Bolsonaro? Lula's Double Standard On Democracy

🌈 🌳 Rainbows in the Spanish countryside

LGBTQ+ Spaniards are returning to the countryside, online media Ethic reports. After years of self imposed “sexile,” with LGBTQ+ people moving to the big city for community and connection, a reappropriation of the rural world has begun. This features tractors bedecked with rainbows for small town pride parades, LGBTQ+ outreach initiatives and expositions, and couples fleeing the rising cost of cities for a green idyll.

Read the full story: Beyond Sexile: A Happier LGBTQ+ Reality Takes Root In Rural Spain


Taking the connection between weaving and spiders to new heights, researchers in Singapore have uncovered a new smart textile fiber. By emulating spider silk spinning, researchers at the National University of Singapore have created a breakthrough method for producing soft, reusable material. With the fabrics durability, elasticity, and electrical conductivity, it has wide-ranging practical applications and sustainability benefits. The team have already tested its use for sensing temperature change and in smart gaming gloves.


In South Korea, Ai Bao, a giant female panda at the Everland theme park zoo, gave birth to twins, a first occurrence in captivity in the country. The zoo reported the babies, weighing respectively 140g and 180g (around 5 ounces), are both females and in good health. They are expected to grow to be circa 91 kg (200 pounds). Welcome to the world, girls!


• On Monday, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry will become Biden’s third senior official to visit Beijing in an effort to repair frayed U.S.-China relations. Kerry was invited to discuss averting a “global climate crisis.”

• The UN has announced that next week an operation to transfer crude oil from a decaying tanker off Yemen will begin. This will take roughly two weeks, and will prevent a spill onto the Red Sea.

• The Women’s Fifa World Cup, hosted by Australia and New Zealand, kicks off on July 20. This edition will see an expansion from the previous 24 national competing teams to 32, including the favored Women’s U.S. team seeking to win its fifth title – a possible world record if they were to achieve a third win in a row.

• Wimbledon is coming to a close, with the women’s final set to take place this Saturday, and the men’s final on Sunday.

News quiz answers:

1. Turkey and Hungary, the only two countries standing in the way of the unanimous ratification of Sweden’s NATO membership, finally announced they were ready to ratify Sweden's NATO accession.

2. The recent protests in Israel were triggered by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's parliamentary coalition's approval of a bill to limit the Supreme Court's oversight powers.

3. U.S. President Joe Bidenmet with King Charles III for the first time since the British monarch took the throne, as he went to the UK to discuss climate finance and meet with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

4. Succession is the most nominated series at this year's Emmy Awards, leading with 27 nominations, ahead of The Last of Us which scored 24.

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How Parenthood Reinvented My Sex Life — Confessions Of A Swinging Mom

Between breastfeeding, playdates, postpartum fatigue, birthday fatigues and the countless other aspects of mother- and fatherhood, a Cuban couple tries to find new ways to explore something that is often lost in the middle of the parenting storm: sex.

red tinted photo of feet on a bed

Parenting v. intimacy, a delicate balance

Silvana Heredia

HAVANA — It was Summer, 2015. Nine months later, our daughter would be born. It wasn't planned, but I was sure I wouldn't end my first pregnancy. I was 22 years old, had a degree, my dream job and my own house — something unthinkable at that age in Cuba — plus a three-year relationship, and the summer heat.

I remember those months as the most fun, crazy and experimental of my pre-motherhood life. It was the time of my first kiss with a girl, and our first threesome.

Every weekend, we went to the Cuban art factory and ended up at the CornerCafé until 7:00 a.m. That September morning, we were very drunk, and in that second-floor room of my house, it was unbearably hot. The sex was otherworldly. A few days later, the symptoms began.

She arrived when and how she wished. That's how rebellious she is.

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