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In The News

New Zaporizhzhia Fears, Cough Syrup Deaths, Laptop Sales Dive

New Zaporizhzhia Fears, Cough Syrup Deaths, Laptop Sales Dive

Ukrainian firefighters battle a fire caused by Russian missile attacks in Zaporizhzhia, where the nuclear power plant has lost all of its external power for the second time in five days.

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Laure Gautherin, Sophia Constantino and Bertrand Hauger

👋 مَرْحَبا*

Welcome to Wednesday, where continued Russian shelling across Ukraine is raising new risks at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, India stops producing cough syrup after dozens of child deaths are reported in Gambia, and Murder, She Wrote actress Angela Lansbury dies at 96. Meanwhile in Colombian daily El Espectador, Juan Felipe Acosta looks into the legal no-man’s land of the Metaverse.

[*Marhaba - Lebanese]


This is our daily newsletter Worldcrunch Today, a rapid tour of the news of the day from the world's best journalism sources, regardless of language or geography.

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• Ukraine war updates: For a third day, Russian missile and drone attacks have continued across Ukraine, with the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant taken offline due to the shelling. Meanwhile Russia's Federal Security Service on Wednesday announced the arrest of several suspects in the Crimea bridge explosion, blaming the “Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense” and its director, Kyrylo Budanov for masterminding the attack.

• Biden vows "consequences" for Saudi Arabia after oil cut: Following the surprise announcement last week that OPEC+ would cut its oil production, U.S. President Joe Biden said that Washington would take action (which he did not specify) against Saudi Arabia for the decision that comes as world markets are particularly vulnerable to energy flows in the midst of the war in Ukraine.

• Death toll rises in Nepal floods: At least 33 people have been killed in floods and landslides across western Nepal over the past week, after heavy monsoon rains hit the northwest Karnali province.

• New complaint against Peru president: Prosecutors in Peru lodged a constitutional complaint Tuesday against President Pedro Castillo, after detaining five of his allies on corruption allegations. Castillo took office a year ago and has faced two impeachment attempts, as well as five separate criminal investigations. The president has denied any wrongdoing.

• India halts cough syrup production at factory linked to Gambia deaths: An Indian state minister said Wednesday that production will halt at a cough syrup factory belonging to Maiden Pharmaceuticals after a WHO report that the medicine caused dozens of child deaths in Gambia. Authorities inspected the Maiden factory near the town of Sonipatand found 12 health practice violations.

• NASA Dart Mission: NASA has offered news details about its mission last month attempting to deflect the path of an asteroid, saying it was even more successful than previously thought. After making measurements using a range of space and Earth-based telescopes, researchers have concluded that the orbit of the 160m-wide space rock Dimorphos was altered when it was struck by NASA’s Dart probe.

• Angela Lansbury dies at 96: After a fruitful career spanning eight decades across theater, film, and TV, Angela Lansbury has died at 96. Winning international fame for her role in the US TV crime series Murder, She Wrote, she was one of the last surviving stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood cinema.


Israeli daily Hayom reports on the historic deal reached by Lebanon and Israel to demarcate a disputed maritime border in the gas-rich Mediterranean Sea, ending a decade-long conflict. The U.S.-brokered agreement will be presented at the Knesset parliament today for review, after president Joe Biden called Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Lebanese President Michel Aoun to congratulate them, telling Lapid: “You’re making history.”



Global demand for personal computers dropped by close to 20%, the steepest plunge in more than 20 years for the market, as smartphones continue to expand and back-to-school promotions failed to reignite sales.


The Metaverse: Lots of big legal questions and virtually zero answers

The Metaverse evokes utopian visions of an escape from reality or a life lived online. But for now, as Juan Felipe Acosta writes in Colombian daily El Espectador, it's still just interactive gaming or networking spaces that do not have the rules or laws necessary to manage its full potential.

💻👤 The Metaverse’s proponents point to its potential for the virtual world to create a parallel reality that offers people to live a second virtual life. Yet for all the innovative promise, this new digital frontier is still governed by the same rules as the old physical world. There is no consensus on what exactly constitutes the Metaverse, but these virtual spaces share certain characteristics. They are virtual or digital, and allow the interplay of people who can, with regulated freedom, interact through alter egos, personae, drawn figures, avatars or pseudonyms.

⚠️ The Metaverse has become a challenge and an opportunity for intellectual property. In certain spaces, you can buy clothes by recognized brands. Or there is so-called "catfishing," which is anonymous misuse of a real personal identity, and fraud and falsifications. In other words, the Metaverse hosts all the vices, virtues, and same practices of the real world, depending on its users.

🚫 There are currently no specific norms governing the Metaverse per se. If one steals a person's identity there, one is liable to the same penalties as in real life. If you exploit a name or brand without the owner's authorization, or plagiarize, the offense is the same in the virtual and real worlds. One particular consideration, however, is that Metaverse spaces are absolutely under the control and supervision of their creators. Users can be included, excluded, erased or censored if rules are broken.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


I think he is a rational actor who has miscalculated significantly.

— In an exclusive interview with CNN, U.S. President Joe Biden said his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin misjudged his country’s ability to invade Ukraine, thinking he would be “welcomed with open arms” in Kyiv. Biden declined to describe how the U.S. would respond if Russia deployed nuclear devices on the battlefield, but warned of catastrophic “mistakes” and “miscalculation” as fighting escalates in Ukraine.

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Laure Gautherin, Sophia Constantino and Bertrand Hauger

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How Brazil's Evangelical Surge Threatens Survival Of Native Afro-Brazilian Faith

Followers of the Afro-Brazilian Umbanda religion in four traditional communities in the country’s northeast are resisting pressure to convert to evangelical Christianity.

image of Abel José, an Umbanda priest

Abel José, an Umbanda priest

Agencia Publica
Géssica Amorim

Among a host of images of saints and Afro-Brazilian divinities known as orixás, Abel José, 42, an Umbanda priest, lights some candles, picks up his protective beads and adjusts the straw hat that sits atop his head. He is preparing to treat four people from neighboring villages who have come to his house in search of spiritual help and treatment for health ailments.

The meeting takes place discreetly, in a small room that has been built in the back of the garage of his house. Abel lives in the quilombo of Sítio Bredos, home to 135 families. The community, located in the municipality of Betânia of Brazil’s northeastern state of Pernambuco, is one of the municipality’s four remaining communities that have been certified as quilombos, the word used to refer to communities formed in the colonial era by enslaved Africans and/or their descendents.

In these villages there are almost no residents who still follow traditional Afro-Brazilian religions. Abel, Seu Joaquim Firmo and Dona Maura Maria da Silva are the sole remaining followers of Umbanda in the communities in which they live. A wave of evangelical missionary activity has taken hold of Betânia’s quilombos ever since the first evangelical church belonging to the Assembleia de Deus group was built in the quilombo of Bredos around 20 years ago. Since then, other evangelical, pentecostal, and neo-pentecostal churches and congregations have established themselves in the area. Today there are now nine temples spread among the four communities, home to roughly 900 families.

The temples belong to the Assembleia de Deus, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and the World Church of God's Power, the latter of which has over 6,000 temples spread across Brazil and was founded by the apostle and televangelist Valdemiro Santiago, who became infamous during the pandemic for trying to sell beans that he had blessed as a Covid-19 cure. Assembleia de Deus alone, who are the largest pentecostal denomination in the world, have built five churches in Betânia’s quilombos.

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