Le Weekend: The Imam’s Cat, Basquiat Meets Warhol, Furby x Terminator
- Ukraine’s surrogacy shortage
- Vogue-ing at 106
- Algeria’s solar innovation
- … and much more.
🎲 OUR WEEKLY NEWS QUIZ
What do you remember from the news this week?
1. In Tuesday’s indictment on alleged hush money payments, how many criminal charges is U.S. President Donald Trump facing?
2. Which neighboring country did Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky visit?
3. France’s Bernard Arnault replaced Elon Musk on top of Forbes’ Billionaires list. Which company is he the CEO of?
4. NASA has revealed the crew set to orbit the Moon next year. What’s the name of the mission? Diana IV / Artemis II / Lunar Voyage / Apollo 18
[Answers at the bottom of this newsletter]
A programmer from the U.S. has created an AI-powered Furby that can hold a full conversation using ChatGPT — and it's sort of terrifying: in a video that went viral on Twitter, the beloved robotic toy is shown spilling out the beans on its secret plot to take over the world.
🎭 5 CULTURE THINGS TO KNOW
• K-pop first in U.S. charts: Former BTS member Jiimin has achieved the history-making feat of being the first South Korean artist to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the U.S. His single “Like Crazy” achieved its huge sales and streaming numbers, in spite of a relatively low level of radio airtime.
• Vogue-ing at age 106: An indigenous tattooist from the Philippines has become Vogue’s oldest ever cover star at the age of 106. Apo Whang-Od from Buscalan, a remote village in northern Philippines, is the last remaining mambabatok or traditional tattooist.
• Get well soon, Stromae: Belgian pop sensation Stromae has canceled a string of European tour dates saying he needs to focus on his health. Stromae is one of the biggest French-speaking pop acts ever. His 2010 single “Alors on Danse” topped the charts in 19 countries.
• In memoriam: Trail-blazing Japanese composer and producer Ryuichi Sakamoto died at the age of 71. The film world also suffered two big losses this week: British production designer and art director Norman Reynolds died at the age of 89 — he had won two Oscars and is best known for his work on Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark — while Japanese filmmaker, author and zoologist Masanori Hata passed away at age 87.
• Warhol x Basquiat take center stage in Paris: Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat were two of the most influential artists of the 20th century. Their collaboration in 1980 set the art world alight, producing some of the era’s most memorable artworks. Now, their collaboration is taking center stage at the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris, where 70 of their canvases are being presented.
🤰🇺🇦 Surrogacy in wartime
After more than a year of war, Patricia Simón from Spanish publication La Marea returns to one of Kyiv's top clinics for foreign couples looking for children. Business is better than ever, though the clinic is looking for women from other former Soviet republics to become surrogate mothers.
Read the full story: Surrogacy In Ukraine: Demand Is Booming, But Birth Mothers Have Fled
🇳🇬 The cosmetics salesman turned Boko Haram mass murderer
Boko Haram is one of the most brutal terrorist groups in the world. In Nigeria, reporter Christian Putsch for German daily Die Welt got unprecedented access to some of the group’s former leaders. They describe atrocities on an unbelievable scale – and say they now fear for their lives.
Read the full story: Inside Boko Haram, How A Cosmetics Salesman Became A Mass Murderer
🍔 🇮🇹 Uncovering Italy’s exploitation of gig economy workers
In a recent blitz, Italian police discovered that many delivery riders were using accounts that belonged to someone else, rented to them for exorbitant rates. Some were forced to shell out €300 just to change a bike wheel or battery pack. Others were charged €1,000 for a bike. Journalist Monica Serra for Italian daily La Stampa describes the investigation that is revealing a widespread exploitation of gig economy workers, who are often vulnerable, undocumented immigrants.
Read the full story: Paid In Food, 14-Hour Shifts: How An Italian Delivery Racket Exploits The Most Vulnerable
☀️⚡ BRIGHT IDEA
Two engineers hailing from Cherchell, northern Algeria, have created a portable solar station, designed to be used in a variety of situations, such as natural catastrophes. The two men described their innovation as “an energy system that can be easily transported and moved by means of wheels.” It is equipped with a transformer that converts the power supply, as well as a solar regulator that protects the batteries, four circuit breakers and two batteries in series to store energy.
🐱 SMILE OF THE WEEK
In Bordj Bou Arreridj, Algeria, Imam Walid Mehsas received some impromptu feline help as he was leading Taraweeh, a nightly prayer occurring every evening during the month of Ramadan.
📹 THIS HAPPENED VIDEO — TODAY IN HISTORY, IN ONE ICONIC PHOTO
➡️ Watch the video: THIS HAPPENED
Here’s the latest Dottoré! piece from the notebook of Neapolitan psychiatrist and writer Mariateresa Fichele:
The problem with Easter
This morning I was thinking about holidays and wondering why Easter isn’t celebrated as much as Christmas. Because it marks something truly extraordinary: Jesus dies and three days later, he is resurrected, fresh as a rose. He says goodbye to his friends, takes his leave and goes. But not to an ordinary destination. He goes up to heaven and sits to the right of the Father.
Christmas, on the other hand, celebrates a birth. Although it is true that it is the birth of Jesus, at the end of the day, the event itself is not extraordinary.
And yet we like it, we understand it and we are moved by it. A common event, yet extraordinary at the same time. In the darkest moments, during wars, when everything seems lost, the arrival of a child brings joy to everyone. And it doesn’t matter much if the newborn is not the Savior.
The resurrection, however, happened only to Jesus. Sure, for heaven's sake, he suffered a lot and had a gruesome death. But afterwards he saw his torturers punished and ended up settling in a good place forever.
Ordinary people, on the other hand, die just the same, often in equally atrocious circumstances. But after three days, you find them exactly where you left them.
They do say that one day, we will all rise again. When exactly, we don’t know, but what is certain is that good people will go to heaven. But we don’t know where they’ll all sit either. Between saints, the blessed, angels and cherubs — the best places have long been taken.
And maybe that’s the problem with Easter. Yes, Resurrection is great. But are we really sure we want to spend eternity standing?
➡️ Read more from our Dottoré! series on Worldcrunch.com
⏩ LOOKING AHEAD
• U.S. President Joe Biden will travel to the UK and Ireland next week. The president will first travel to Belfast, Northern Ireland, on Tuesday to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.
• Strikes are expected to continue all around Europe in the coming weeks, with major walkouts over wages planned in France, Portugal, Spain, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
• Kenya has announced it will launch its first operational satellite next week — a landmark achievement for the country’s space program. The observation satellite is “fully designed and developed” by Kenyan engineers and will be used to provide data on agriculture and food security, among other things.
📣 NEWS FROM THE ‘CRUNCH
Check out our first piece here, The African Union Must Take A Stand On Tunisian President's Racist Tactics.
News quiz answers:
1. Former U.S. President Donald Trump pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in alleged hush money schemes paid to two women before the 2016 U.S. election. It is the first time a sitting or former U.S. president has been charged with a crime.
2. Volodymyr Zelensky was in Poland this week for meetings with President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki — a visit during which the Ukrainian President expressed his gratitude to Poland for its unconditional support to Ukraine.
3. Bernard Arnault, chairman of French luxury goods giant LVMH, has officially dethroned Elon Musk atop Forbes’ annual “World’s Billionaire’s List,” with a fortune worth an estimated $211 billion.
4. NASA has unveiled the four-member crew for its upcoming mission orbiting the Moon: Reid Wiseman, Victor Glover, Christina Hammock Koch and Jeremy Hansen are expected to take part in the Artemis II mission to orbit the Moon during a 10-day flight scheduled for 2024.
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Photo: Fondation Louis Vuitton