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In The News

Le Weekend: Brazilian Bad Influence, International Meows, 39-Ft Tall Wedding Cake

Le Weekend: Brazilian Bad Influence, International Meows, 39-Ft Tall Wedding Cake

You can now climb up a 39-foot tall, three-tiered wedding cake sculpture by Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos at Waddesdon Manor, near London.


June 10-11

  • The ripples of the Kakhovka dam destruction
  • Paris’ LGBTQ+ landmark controversy
  • Barbie’s pink shortage
  • … and much more.


What do you remember from the news this week?

1. In which Ukrainian region is the Nova Kakhovka dam, which was destroyed this week?

2. Who was the first British royal in 130 years to give a court testimony?

3. Which country has been struck both by floods and an earthquake this week?

4. Which frustrating autocorrect feature has Apple announced it would fix? “penis” → “pens” / “f*cking” → “ducking” / “sh*t” → “shot”

[Answers at the bottom of this newsletter]


A video showing a looping rainbow installation on Paris’ Arc de Triomphe monument went viral this week. Artist Ian Padgham originally posted the footage on June 1 with the caption Arc-en-ciel de Triomphe (“Triumph Rainbow”), Paris. Happy #PrideMonth everyone!!”. Still, the post was met with backlash, with some saying the installation was inappropriate for a war monument. Their grievances came to nothing however, as it turned out the rainbow was virtual, edited through animation.


• Hayao Miyazaki’s final film to keep things simple: Japan’s Studio Ghibli has announced its plans to release Hayao Miyazaki’s last film, How Do You Live?, on July 14 without the use of traditional movie marketing techniques like trailers. Miyazaki is said to have been working on this movie since 2016 and was inspired by a 1937 novel.

Barbie movie’s pink world backdrop sparks worldwide pink paint shortage: According to the production designer of the newly-released movie Barbie, the amount of pink paint that was required to paint the beloved doll’s world led to a global scarcity. Greta Gerwig, the film’s director and co-writer, wanted the child-like nature of the toy universe to be preserved, leading to a massive amount of pink being used on set.

In memoriam: The Brazilian singer of the iconic “Girl from Ipanema,” Astrud Gilberto, died at 83. The music world is mourning another loss, with Tony McPhee of the band the Groundhogs died at 79 following a fall and a series of strokes in the past year. Meanwhile, French artist and former wife of Pablo Picasso, Françoise Gilot, has died at 101 years old, Japanese-born American socialite reality TV star and actress Anna Shay suffered a fatal stroke at age 62.

• Visit one huge “Wedding Cake”: You can now climb up a 39-foot tall, three-tiered wedding cake sculpture by Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos at Waddesdon Manor, near London. Unfortunately, not edible.

• Tribeca Festival focuses on Latin-American films: The New York-based film festival, which opened on June 7, is scheduled to show a comprehensive series of Latinx movies, documentaries and short films. This year’s selection covers a wide range of topics ranging from immigration to police brutality to a Jennifer Lopez biopic.

🇺🇦 The impact of the Kakhovka dam on the war in Ukraine

The destruction of the hydroelectric dam has caused massive flooding and is forcing mass evacuations. Anna Akage writes for Worldcrunch about the disaster that is threatening local populations and how it is also bound to alter the course of the war — in more ways than one.

Read the full story: This Is How The Kakhovka Dam Attack Will Change The War

🇩🇿 The risk of Algeria going bankrupt

Algeria's enormous natural-resource wealth is no longer enough to mask the economic reality of the country, which lags far behind its French-speaking Maghreb neighbors, and is likely to experience serious difficulties around 2028. Ilyes Zouari writes for French-language media Financial Afrik on how one of the world’s leading hydrocarbon producers risks going bankrupt.

Read the full story: Why Oil-Rich Algeria Can't Extract Itself From Dire Poverty

🇧🇷 Brazilian Bad Influence: Thiago Brennand

Behold Thiago Brennand: Brazil's own rich white guy boasting an arsenal of 67 guns, accused of attacking a woman in public — and now becoming a very public spectacle. For a foreign reader it can recall the saga of Andrew Tate. Jessica Santos writes for Ponte Jornalismo about the Brazilian businessman’s downfall leading to his arrest.

Read the full story: Meet Thiago Brennand, Brazil's Answer To Andrew Tate


Cruise company Hurtigruten Norway has announced plans for its first zero-emission ship, set to enter waters in 2030. Its vessel will have retractable solar sails and will run on a battery powered by renewable sources. The Norwegian company hopes to transition to an entirely emissions-free fleet.


Videomaker Jason Riley, known online as @_theaccentguy_ posted a video on Instagram sharing what he thinks cats would sound like with different accents. The international meows include Italian, Russian, Scottish — and even Peaky Blinders’ Tommy Shelby.


• Germany will host the biggest air deployment exercise in NATO history, from June 12 to 23. The Air Defender 23 drill will simulate a response to an attack on a NATO member country.

• Officials from India and the United Arab Emirates will meet for two days from June 11 to review the progress on the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA). The agreement entered into force on May 1, 2022, aiming to bolster trade between the two countries.

• The south Brazilian quarter of Bairro Restinga near Porto Alegre will host the free POA Music Festival starting June 10. The event offers a variety of cultural and artistic activities, including a painting exhibition, an art workshop, a brass band parade and a series of musical performances.

News quiz answers:

1. The Nova Kakhovka dam, a large Soviet-era dam, has been blown up on the Dnipro river located in the Russian-occupied part of Kherson, supplying water to Crimea and the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant. Kyiv and Moscow are blaming each other for the attack, which is flooding nearby war zones.

2. Prince Harry was the first British royal in 130 years to give a court testimony, suggesting that the UK press has blood on its hands as a part of a case against Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN). The tabloid publisher is already being sued by over 100 people.

3. Haiti has been struck both by floods and an earthquake this week as torrential rains have killed at least 42 people and displaced more than 13,000, followed by a 4.9-magnitude earthquake killing at least three people.

4. Apple announced it would fix a frustrating autocorrect feature by no longer correcting one of the most common swear words to “ducking," as AI will soon be able to detect when you really mean to use the curse word.

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Why Crimea Is Proving So Hard For Russia To Defend

Ukraine has stepped up attacks on the occupied Crimean peninsula, claiming Monday that a missile Friday killed the head of Russia's Black Sea fleet at the headquarters in Sevastopol. And Russia is doing all within its power to deny how vulnerable it has become.

Photograph of the Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters in smoke after a Ukrainian missile strike.​

September 22, 2023, Sevastopol, Crimea, Russia: Smoke rises over the Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters after a Ukrainian missile strike.

Kyrylo Danylchenko

Russian authorities are making a concerted effort to downplay and even deny the recent missile strikes in Russia-occupied Crimea.

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

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Media coverage in Russia of these events has been intentionally subdued, with top military spokesperson Igor Konashenkov offering no response to an attack on Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters in the Crimean city of Sevastopol, or the alleged downing last week of Russian Su-24 aircraft by Ukrainian Air Defense.

The response from this and other strikes on the Crimean peninsula and surrounding waters of the Black Sea has alternated between complete silence and propagating falsehoods. One notable example of the latter was the claim that the Russian headquarters building of the Black Sea fleet that was hit Friday was empty and that the multiple explosions were mere routine training exercises.

Ukraine claimed on Monday that the attack killed Admiral Viktor Sokolov, the commander of Russia's Black Sea Fleet. "After the strike on the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, 34 officers died, including the commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. Another 105 occupiers were wounded. The headquarters building cannot be restored," the Ukrainian special forces said via Telegram on Monday.

Responding to reports of multiple missiles strikes this month on Crimea, Russian authorities say that all the missiles were intercepted by a submarine and a structure called "VDK Minsk", which itself was severely damaged following a Ukrainian airstrike on Sept. 13. The Russians likewise dismissed reports of a fire at the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet, attributing it to a mundane explosion caused by swamp gas.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has refrained from commenting on the military situation in Crimea and elsewhere, continuing to repeat that everything is “proceeding as planned.”

Why is Crimea such a touchy topic? And why is it proving to be so hard to defend?

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