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In The News

Le Weekend: Yarny Potter, Mexico v. Sexist Lyrics, Shower Beer

Le Weekend: Yarny Potter, Mexico v. Sexist Lyrics, Shower Beer

On Harry Potter's fictional birthday, the town of Ellesmere in western England woke up to a neat knitty surprise.


August 5-6

  • The impossible return to Mariupol
  • Abu Dhabi flirting with Hollywood
  • France’s checkout influencer
  • … and much more.


What do you remember from the news this week?

1. After Turkey, which country is now emerging as a potential peacebroker in the Russia-Ukraine war?

2. Donald Trump has sparked global outrage by comparing his third indictment to what?

3. Which city has UNESCO suggested adding to its list of endangered World Heritage sites?

4. Actress Michelle Yeoh married French businessman Jean Todt after being engaged for… 19 days / 19 months / 19 years

[Answers at the bottom of this newsletter]


Described as “the internet's most popular cashier,” Nathanaël, nicknamed “Natha,” went viral on social networks in France thanks to a four-hour live stream on Twitch from his job at supermarket Carrefour, just a few days before his contract ended. Thousands of people reveled in Nathanaël’s humorous interactions with customers — which also made the company laugh, although its official account commented by insisting that its policy strictly forbid live streaming.


In memoriam: U.S. actor Angus Cloud, who starred on HBO's hit series Euphoria, has died at age 25; U.S. comedian Paul Reubens, whose Pee-wee Herman character became a 1980s pop cultural icon, died at 70 after a six-year battle with cancer; Raymond Pilon, the multidisciplinary Montreal street artist better known as Zïlon, passed away at age 67; Indian art director and production designer Nitin Chandrakant Desai, famous for his work on Bollywood blockbusters, died at age 57.

• Abu Dhabi aims to woo Hollywood with cutting-edge studio: In its latest bet to attract Hollywood projects, studio Twofour54 in Abu Dhabi has revealed plans for a 40-hectare facility where it aims to work on major movie productions as well as virtual and metaverse projects. The facility, set to be located in the extended area of Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi, will offer 11 soundstages, six adaptable sets and a 3,000 square-meter water tank. Since twofour54 was launched in 2008, the media free zone has been pivotal in attracting international blockbusters to the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

• Mexican city bans misogynistic lyrics in live gigs: Chihuahua, the capital city of the eponymous Mexican state, has passed a measure that forbids musicians from performing songs that promote violence against women. The ban comes as a response to what Councillor Patricia Ulate, who introduced the measure, called the “harsh realities” of machismo and violence against women in the country. Transgressors face a fine of up to $70,000, with money raised donated to municipal women’s programmes and domestic violence shelters.

• New Deal exhibition highlights FDR’s “mixed” legacy on race: A new exhibition at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library explores the president’s “mixed” record on civil rights — and the charged debate over racism in the New Deal. “Black Americans, Civil Rights and the Roosevelts, 1932-1962,” on view through December in New York City, takes a frank, deeply researched view of what it calls Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt’s record on race, from their personal attitudes to the policies they championed.

• Warner Bros apologizes for encouraging insensitive “Barbenheimer” trend: Warner Bros has issued an apology after an official “Barbie Movie” account replied to Barbenheimer memes that mixed images from this summer’s two blockbusters, Greta Gerwig’s Barbie and Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer. In a statement posted on Warner Bros Japan's own Barbie account, the firm said it was "extremely regrettable” that the official account reacted to the memes, which made light of nuclear imagery and were found particularly insensitive by Japanese social media users.

🇺🇦 Jewish refugees who fled Ukraine: the horrors in Mariupol

Inna Shumurtova's tale is not an easy, nor a pleasant one. In Ukrainian news media Livy Bereg, she tells of her experiences in Russian-occupied Mariupol and paints a horrifying picture of life under siege, widespread destruction and suffering. With the help of Jewish authorities, Inna and her mother ultimately found refuge in Haifa, Israel, leaving their homeland behind with little hope of return.

Read the full story: Far From Home, Never To Return: With Those Who Fled Mariupol's Hell

🐝 🌻 Spain is in the bees’ corner

Pesticides, deforestation, and the climate crisis have taken a hard toll on bees, but Spanish association El Rincón de la Abeja (“The Bee Corner”) has come up with a project aimed at saving the Iberian Peninsula's native bees, online media Ethic reports: The Smart Green Bees project wants to repopulate Spain with 47 million native bees, i.e. one for every Spaniard. Over three years, it seeks to reintroduce the species responsibly — taking care not to destabilize the local ecosystem — all the while subsidizing beekeepers so they don't have to choose between selling honey or letting their hives expand.

Read the full story: A Bee For Every Person: Inside Spain's Ambitious Re-Pollination Plans

🏖️ 💶 Mamma mia! One hell of a price tag for a day at the beach

Italian daily La Stampa takes an on-the-ground look at Paraggi, a coastal town near Portofino, Italy, where locals have been priced out of the exorbitantly expensive beaches. Paraggi is home to four private beaches — the cheapest of which charges €200 a day to use a beach umbrella for two. Known for its high-end and exclusive hotels and beaches, in recent years Paraggi had become increasingly filled with paparazzi and influencers. The lush bay attracts mega-yachts, celebrities, and big brands, chasing off the discreetly wealthy and replacing them with young people “wearing sneakers worth 1,200 euros.”

Read the full story: La Dolce Vita Has Gotten A Lot More Expensive


A San Francisco-based water treatment company has found a crafty way to reduce potable water waste by partnering with a local brewery: Together, they created Epic OneWater Brew, a beer made with recycled water. The Kölsch-style ale utilizes leftover water from sinks, showers and washing machines taken from a luxury apartment complex in San Francisco, obviously making sure that the beer is safe to drink through a series of treatments. Aaron Tartakovsky, CEO and cofounder of Epic Cleantec, says he hopes the ale brings attention to water waste and scarcity within living spaces.


On Harry Potter's fictional birthday, the town of Ellesmere woke up to a neat knitty surprise. On July 31, crochet art (courtesy of the Ellesmere Yarn Bombers street artist collective) popped up across the Western England town, with fluffy owls perched in trees, knitted versions of Hagrid, Dobby and Harry himself and other bits of wooly wizardry.


• Former U.S. President Trump is expected to deliver remarks in New Hampshire next week, his campaign announced in the wake of Tuesday’s indictment. Trump remains the clear front-runner in the race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. Meanwhile, President Joe Biden will be making his first visit to Utah since taking office.

• Pakistan’s National Assembly will be dissolved on Aug. 9, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has announced, setting the stage for general elections later this year.

• The first European Para Championships is set to be held in Rotterdam, Netherlands, from Aug. 8 to 20. A total of 115 medals will be up for grabs for para athletes across 10 different disciplines.

News quiz answers:

1. Scheduled to host high-level talks in Jeddah, starting on Aug. 5, with representatives of dozens of non-Western countries to discuss how to initiate peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, Saudi Arabia is emerging as a new potential peace broker. Although Russia was not invited to the Saudi summit, the Kremlin said it would closely follow the talks.

2. Former U.S. President Donald Trump was charged again with four counts in a U.S. federal court in Washington. His team compared his third indictment in four months to Nazi persecution in 1930s Germany.

3. UNESCO has recommended that Venice be added to its list of World Heritage sites in danger, as the Italian city is at risk of “irreversible” damage from overwhelming tourism, overdevelopment and rising sea levels linked to climate change.

4. Oscar-winning actor Michelle Yeoh has announced her marriage to French businessman Jean Todt, some 7,000 days after he first proposed to her in 2004, i.e. 19 years ago.

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Photo: Ellesmere Yarn Bombers

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food / travel

Pasta v. Fascists: How Italy's Staple Dish Became A Symbol Of Resistance

Pasta may not be considered controversial today, but it played an important role during Italy's fascist years, particularly in one family's celebration of community and liberation.

Photo of the Cervi family.

Photo of the Cervi family, whose seven children were shot by the Fascists on December 28, 1943, at the Reggio Emilia shooting range.

@comunisti_alla_ribalta via Instagram
Jacopo Fontaneto

ROME — Eighty years ago — on July 25, 1943 — the vote of no confidence by the Grand Council of Fascism, leading to Benito Mussolini's arrest, set off widespread celebrations. In Campegine, a small village in the Emilian province, the Cervi family celebrated in their own way: they brought 380 kilograms of pasta in milk cans to the town square and offered it to all the inhabitants of the village.

The pasta was strictly plain: macaroni dressed with butter and cheese, seen as more of a "festive dish" in that period of deprivation. As soon as the Cervi brothers learned about the arrest of Mussolini, they procured flour, borrowed butter and cheese from the dairy, and prepared kilos and kilos of pasta. They then loaded it onto a cart to distribute it to their fellow villagers. Pastasciutta (dry pasta) specifically regards dishes with noodles that are plated "dry", not in broth. That would disqualify soup, risotto, ravioli...

Even though pastasciutta is the most stereotypical type of pasta today, it had a complicated relationship with the government during Italy's fascist years.

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