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In The News

Zelensky In UK, Balloon Debris Up Close, LeBron’s Record Night

The United States Navy has released the first official images of their efforts to recover the Chinese “surveillance balloon,” as Washington called it.

The United States Navy has released the first official images of their efforts to recover the Chinese “surveillance balloon,” as Washington called it.

Emma Albright & Ginevra Falciani

👋 Hay!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to visit some of the areas affected by the earthquake that has killed more than 11,000 in Turkey and Syria, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky is on a surprise visit to the UK, and LeBron James breaks an NBA record that has stood since 1984. Meanwhile, Portuguese-language digital magazine Questão de Ciência boldly makes the distinction between Star Trek science-fiction and pseudoscience.

[*Aklan, Philippines]


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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• Zelensky to travel to the UK: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky heads to London for his second trip abroad since Russia invaded Ukraine. There he will meet King Charles III along with UK’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Meanwhile, Sunak’s office announced additional sanctions on Russia, as well as plans to accelerate the supply of military equipment to Kyiv.

• Earthquake searches continue as Erdogan is expected to visit hit areas: Rescuers continue to pull survivors from earthquake rubble as the death toll surpassed 11,000 in southern Turkey and northern Syria on Wednesday. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to visit some of the areas affected on Wednesday, after reporting that 13 million of the country’s 85 million people were affected and declaring a state of emergency in 10 provinces.

• Biden’s State of the Union: U.S. President Joe Biden delivered his State of Union speech on Tuesday calling Congress to work with him to “finish the job” of rebuilding the economy and uniting the country. Biden sought to portray an improved nation from the one he took charge of two years ago, and was met with an unusually raucous opposition from Republicans, who now control the House of Representatives after November’s midterm election.

• North Korean leader Kim brings daughter to visit troops: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un brought his daughter to visit troops to mark the 75th founding anniversary of the country’s army. The visit came amid indications North Korea is preparing to stage a massive military parade in the country’s capital, Pyongyang, where it could showcase the latest artillery of a growing nuclear weapons program.

• Uganda says it will not renew mandate of UN human rights office: Uganda has declared it will not renew the mandate of the United Nations human rights office in the East African country. In a letter sent by Uganda’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the ministry displayed the progress Uganda has made in developing their own capacity to monitor rights.

• New Zealand pilot held hostage in Indonesia: A pilot from New Zealand has been captured by separatist fighters in Indonesia’s restive Papua region and has been held hostage after his plane was set on fire. Five passengers including a baby were on the Susi Air flight, but it remains unclear what has happened to them.

• Disney cuts Simpsons “forced labor” episode in Hong Kong:Disney has removed an episode of The Simpsons cartoon series that included a reference to “forced labor camps” in China from its streaming services in Hong Kong. The episode is still available elsewhere. This comes amid growing censorship concerns.


Several Italian newspapers such as Turin-based La Stampa devote their front pages to the highlights of the Sanremo Festival, the iconic song-contest that recorded 10.7 million viewership shares for its first night, the highest number since 1995. The festival began with a 20-minute monologue on the importance of freedom and the Italian Constitution by Oscar-winning actor and director Roberto Begnini.



Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James has now scored more points than any other player in NBA history, as he passed Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's 38,387 points — a record that dated back to 1984. Abdul-Jabbar was in attendance to witness James’ accomplishment in front of his home crowd, against Oklahoma City Thunder.


Star Trek and the journey from science fiction to pseudoscience

Fans of Star Trek live in a Golden Age where old and new series are readily available. As one hardcore Trekkie points out in Portuguese-language digital magazine Questão de Ciência, the franchise is a reminder of the similarities and differences between pseudoscience and science fiction.

🖖 In the middle of The Wrath of Khan, I had a small epiphany: the Star Trek Universe is pseudoscientific! This realization does not necessarily represent a problem: contrary to what many imagine, science fiction exists to make you think and have fun, not to prepare for a national test. Yet in a franchise that has always made a lot of effort to maintain an aura of scientific bona fides (Isaac Asimov was a consultant on the first film), the finding was a bit of a shock.

🔬 In general, the Star Trek writers seem to have been concerned (at least a little) with giving some veneer of scientific respectability to their fictional use of physics (folding space, black holes, etc.), but left fantasy runs wild when the subject is biology and evolution. Again, there's nothing essentially wrong with that: science fiction is not scientific diffusion. But I know some evolutionary biologists who got frustrated after watching “The Chase.”

📚 Science fiction as we know it today, in literature, comics and cinema, still draws heavily from the traditions and vocabularies established in magazines published in the first half of the last century in the United States. Editors who helped shape the genre, such as Ray Palmer (of “Amazing Stories”) and John W. Campbell (“Astounding Science Fiction”), were also enthusiastic promoters of pseudoscience. Both forms dialogue with the public perception of science — what non-experts think science is.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


“We’ve been sent here to finish the job!”

— In his 73-minute State of Union speech on Tuesday night, U.S. President Biden called on Congress to “finish the job” of rebuilding the economy and uniting the nation. Biden sought to portray a nation that has drastically improved since he came into office two years ago — from an economic point of view, but also from a political perspective, arguing that the U.S. is a more democratic country today.

✍️ Newsletter by Emma Albright, Ginevra Falciani, Renate Mattar and Anne-Sophie Goninet

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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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