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EURONEWS
Euronews is a European pay television news network, headquartered in Lyon, France.
Screenshot of characters from the Sims 4 video game
LGBTQ Plus
Laura Valentina Cortés Sierra, Lisa Berdet, Lila Paulou, McKenna Johnson, Emma Albright and Bertrand Hauger

LGBTQ+ International: South African Fatwa, “Sims” Update — And The Week’s Other Top News

Controversy in Morocco, video games news from the U.S. and Japan, Russian activists ... and plenty of other news.

Welcome to Worldcrunch’s LGBTQ+ International. We bring you up-to-speed each week on the latest news on everything LGBTQ+ — a topic that you may follow closely at home, but can now see from different places and perspectives around the world. Discover the latest news from all corners of the planet. All in one smooth scroll!

Featuring, this week:

  • Muslim outrage over South Africa’s same-sex “fatwa”
  • EU Commission suing Hungary for its anti-LGBTQ+ law
  • A “Sims" update with new sexual orientation options
  • … and more
✉️ You can receive our LGBTQ+ International roundup every week directly in your inbox: Sign up here.

🇲🇦 #Fetrah, The Anti-LGBTQ+ Online Campaign Going Viral in Morocco


An online initiative “to counter campaigns supporting the LGBTQ+ community and same-sex relations” has recently gone viral in Morocco, and other Arabic-speaking countries in the Middle East and North Africa. According to Morocco World News, the term #Fetrah, translated as "instinct" or "primitiveness" in English, is the trending hashtag used on the social media post against the LGBTQ+ communities, as well as blue and pink flags, that symbolize gender binarism as the “only option”.

However several internet users have used #Fetrah to reject this “dogmatic, homophobic and transphobic hate movement,” in the words of Moroccan LGBTQ+ rights activist Mariyem Gamar. She told the Moroccan media that Fetrah is “trying to misinform the public by fear-mongering … and frame the LGBTQ+ movement as a criminal movement, as an immoral movement, as an unnatural movement, and all of this is wrong.”

🇺🇸 “The Sims 4” Video Game Adds Sexual Orientation Settings

The Sims 4: High School Years interactive video game will be released on July 28 with some notable new options. This expansion pack will allow players to choose the sexual orientation of their virtual character. Upon creating their Sim, in the settings menu, people will be able to choose if it is attracted to men and/or women, if it is asexual, wants an affair or a love story. EA Games has not yet included the option to create a non-binary Sim in this expansion pack.

🇷🇺 Russia Fines Journalist And YouTuber Yury Dud Over “Gay Propaganda”

YouTuber Yury Dud

Wikimedia Commons


A Russian journalist was fined 120,000 rubles (around $2,000) on Tuesday by a Moscow court under a law banning “propaganda” in support of gay relationships. Yury Dud, a media star with more than 10 million YouTube subscribers, has been fined before on other propaganda charges and was designated a foreign agent in April after dubbing Russia’s war in Ukraine an “imperial frenzy.”

Dud was fined for disseminating "propaganda for non-traditional sexual relationships among minors," according to the Lefortovo district court. Pavel Chikov, a human rights lawyer, said the case against Dud centered on a YouTube interview from 2021 he conducted with a gay performance artist, even though the interview was not about homosexuality.

🇷🇺 Russian LGBTQ+ Activist Yulia Tsvetkova’s Gets Surprise Acquittal

Yulia Tsvetkova, a 29-year-old feminist and LGBTQ+ activist, was acquitted last week of charges of distributing pornography and “LGBTQ propaganda” in Russia.

The case dates back to 2019 where Tsvetkova was charged under Russia’s “gay propaganda” law that bans the promotion of homosexuality and non-traditional relationships to minors. She was declared a foreign agent in June.

Tsvetkova is known for her blog “Vagina Monologues'' in which she posts body-positive drawings of female anatomy. According to supporters, she was prosecuted for publishing drawings of vulvas or naked women in 2019 on a Russian social media network, as reported by LGBTQ+ information site Komitid.

Most such Russian court cases end in conviction, noted Amnesty International in reacting to Tsvetkova’s acquittal. "In a country where state-sponsored homophobia and misogyny are the norm, Tsvetkova's trial was a landmark case," the organization said.

🇯🇵 Nintendo Defies Japan’s Ban, Recognizes Gay Marriage For Employees

On July 12, Japanese video-game giant Nintendo introduced a new policy that offers employees in same-sex domestic relationships the same benefits as those in heterosexual relationships. With this move, Nintendo goes against Japanese legislation that doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages, and uses its corporate and cultural influence to advocate in favor of LGBTQ+ community.

🇭🇺 Hungary Sued By The European Commission Over Anti-LGBTQ+ Law

Hungarian Justice Minister Judit Varga

commons.wikimedia.org


The European Commission has announced it will take Hungary to the Court of Justice of the EU over its discriminatory law against LGBTQ+ people. The highly controversial Children Protection Act, which was passed in 2021, bans any content accused of promoting homosexuality and gender reassignment to minors in order to “protect children’s well being and to fight paedophilia.”

Hungarian Justice Minister Judit Varga criticized the lawsuit as "baseless", saying “EU membership does not affect Hungary's right in any way to make decisions of its own about child protection and in accordance with its national identity." The law has been condemned as homophobic and transphobic by the European Parliament and many EU member states.

🇦🇫 “Suffocating”: LGBTQ+ Afghans Describe Life Under Taliban

After the exodus of the West from Afghanistan last year, LGBTQ+ Afghans are struggling to survive under Taliban rule. Nemat Sadat, executive director of Roshaniya, an organization helping LGBTQ+ Afghans facing persecution in the country, says that “Afghanistan under Taliban rule is the most unbearable place in the world for LGBTQ+ people,” and that “It’s suffocating and you have to fear for your life with every breath you take.”

Afghanistan has never been a great place for LGBTQ+ people — same-sex sexual relations have been explicitly criminalized since 2018 — but the situation has deteriorated since the West’s departure. According to Sadat, the LGBTQ+ community is an “extremely at-risk” population, and that cases of torture and killings are common.

Shir, an LGBTQ+ and human rights activist in Afghanistan, whose name has been changed, is scared to live openly: “We just want to be free and live as we wish, but someone else harms us. And they don’t even let us breathe.”

🇿🇲 Zambian Soccer Player Barbra Banda “Gender Verification” Test Deemed Human Rights Violation

The International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) has ruled that top Zambian football player Barbra Banda would not be allowed to take part in the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations alongside her team due to her “failing” a discriminatory sex test. The “gender verification procedure” concluded that Banda’s testosterone levels were too high for her to compete as a woman.

FIFA allows such tests to be conducted on players on suspicion of their sex since 2011. Indian athlete Dutee Chand and South African runner Caster Semenya have been ousted from competitions respectively in 2014 and 2018 for the same reason but challenged the decisions. Human Rights Watch has called the practice of sex testing “flagrant human rights violations” due to them being “stigmatizing, stereotyping, and discriminatory” and is asking FIFA to change its policy.

🇺🇸 Trans Rights And Same-Sex Marriage Under Threat In The U.S.

A protest in favor of trans rights in front of the White House

Flickr / CC


A Donald Trump-appointed federal judge has temporarily blocked protections for transgender students that U.S. President Joe Biden enacted with an executive order. This case was brought by the attorneys general of 20 states suing for the power to discriminate against trans students.

The order issued on Friday allows the 20 states to continue enforcing controversial laws without risk of retaliatory action from the administration. It also includes the loss of federal fundings for schools.

The enactment was designed to protect transgender individuals from multiple anti-trans policies, including bans from school sports teams, bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity, as well as measures that allow employers to intentionally refuse to use a worker's preferred pronouns.

Meanwhile, the White House on Wednesday urged the Senate to quickly pass a bill protecting same-sex marriage after it made it through the House with bipartisan support.

🇿🇦 South African Islamic Fatwa Sparks LGBTQ+ Outrage

LGBTQ+ Muslims in South Africa are denouncing a fatwa issued by the South African Muslim Judicial Council, which claims that queer people cannot be Muslim. Instead, the imams say members of the LGBTQ+ community should abstain from their desires and the sin of homosexuality.

Queer Muslims and their supporters published an open letter in response to the anti-LGBTQ+ declaration issued as a fatwa, a public ruling on a point of Islamic law by religious leaders and scholars.

According to the activists’ letter, the council has called for the excommunication of the Muslim LGBTQ+ community, and the punishment for excommunication is death.

🇮🇳 Grounded Indian Transgender Pilot Takes Aviation Authorities To Court

A 23-year-old aspiring trans male pilot named Adam Harry is suing India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for denying him clearance to fly on discriminatory grounds. The aviation regulator said Harry was unfit to fly because his testosterone level was too high and that he “suffered from gender dysphoria from going through hormone replacement therapy (HRT).”

Harry was forced to take DGCA’s Class 2 medical test under the category of the gender that he was assigned at birth, and had to pause his hormonal therapy for six months. Still, the DGCA kept denying him clearance, prompting Harry to take the regulator to Kerala High Court. “DGCA’s unwillingness to make changes in guidelines for the employment of trans community is transphobic and also denial of the constitutional right to not get discriminated on the basis of gender,” he wrote on Instagram.

🇨🇳 Top Chinese University Punishes Students For Placing LGBTQ+ Flags On A Table

Beijing's Tsinghua University

Wikimedia Commons


Two students of Beijing’s Tsinghua University, Huang and Li, received warnings this week after leaving 10 rainbow flags — symbols of the LGBTQ+ community — on a table behind the campus supermarket counter two months ago.

The students were ordered to talk with administrators but refused, Hong Kong-based online news portal HK01 reports. They received official warnings from the university afterwards, prohibiting them from getting scholarships or awards for six months.

A source at Yale Law School’s Paul Tsai China Center stated: “This incident is the latest example of university authorities increasingly constraining space for LGBT advocacy and expression.”

OTHERWISE

• In this Q&A from Autostraddle’s Sober Series, three “sober queers” discuss their first drinks, workplace drinking culture and more.

• Here’s a coming-out story from Outsports with beach volleyball player Charlie Siragusa, where he discusses how he uses TikTok to build a community of queer people from different walks of life.

• Head to Gaysi Family for their recent list of “The Queer Trendsetters Redefining Makeup on Instagram.”

AZ Magazine offers a review of This Arab is Queer: An Anthology by LGBTQ+ Arab Writers that explores the desires, identity and experiences of queer Arab people today.

Cyber War Chronicles: Meet The Hackers Taking On Russia
Future
Cameron Manley

Cyber War Chronicles: Meet The Hackers Taking On Russia

The war in Ukraine is not just being fought on the ground. The battle for dominance increasingly happens on the digital field, where a worldwide network of cyber-soldiers conduct attacks to disrupt Russia's war effort, from the outside and inside too.

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, Russian and Ukrainian hackers have been fighting tit for tat on what we can call the "digital front line." To quantify the firepower involved, the number of ransomware attacks on Russian companies has tripled since Feb. 28, according to Kaspersky Lab, a Russian multinational cybersecurity firm that found a direct link between the uptick in online targeting to the breakout of military conflict in Ukraine.

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

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At the same time, developers of information security solutions such as Fortinet, ESET, Avast and NortonLifeLock Inc. have left the Russian market, making it harder for companies to protect themselves against external attack.

Earning cash through online ransoms and blackmail has often served as the motivation for carrying out cyberattacks. But prior to the war, cybercriminals had tended to keep news headlines in mind when going after their targets — for example, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, when users were faced with a large amount of spam and phishing emails.

The new motive for cyberattacks

In 2022, however, the face of cybercrime has evolved. Attacks are now driven more by personal motives and moral convictions than by a desire for financial gain.

The goal of new attacks is to block or complicate access to the victim’s data. Alexey Chuprinin, head of Application Security Softline, tells Russian business daily Kommersant that hackers are “not only targeting companies that are capable of paying a ransom, for example industry and finance — they are also targeting organizational structures, which can cause a public outcry.”

Using Russian ransomware against Russian companies seemed like the perfect '"f*ck you."

Immediately after the outbreak of war, Conti, a ransomware-as-a-service group, announced unequivocal support for the Russian government. In retaliation, a partner working from Ukraine, posted information about the identities of Conti members, as well as the source code of the ransomware program.

This “allowed hacktivists to use this family of programs against organizations in Russia,” said the head of the Group-IB digital forensics laboratory, Oleg Skulkin. It served as a means to protest against their own government anonymously.

Similarly, a representative of Ransomware group Network Battalion 65 (NB65) told Tech Novosti how a former member of the Russian group Trickbot leaked two years of chat logs as well as a host of operational data regarding their group.

“We took a copy of the source code and decided that it would be a good idea to use this ransomware against Russia. The irony of using Russian ransomware against Russian companies seemed like the perfect 'f*ck you,'" he said. "This is our way of saying 'Russian ship, Russian ship, this is Network Battalion 65. F*ck you!'"

Digital batallions

The Ukrainian government is welcoming this growth in hacking. Slava Banik, head of the IT Army Of Ukraine at the country's Ministry of Digital Transformation, tells Euronews that more than 300,000 people worldwide are using their computers to help disrupt Russia’s war efforts, as well as the everyday lives of Russian civilians.

It is a tactic that even ordinary non-tech-savvy citizens can resort to.

One way of doing this is to overload Russian websites with junk traffic, forcing them offline. It is a tactic that even ordinary non-tech-savvy citizens can resort to, and it can be used to target Russian banks, governmental websites and media.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian army has grouped together around 3,000 IT specialists, divided in so-called digital "battalions," who carry out cyberattacks on Russian websites every day. All actions are coordinated with the main headquarters of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Kyiv.

War from the bedroom

In its latest report, Kaspersky Lab backs its thesis that cyber-incidents are politically motived, as variants of encryption programs that are made exclusively in Ukraine are involved in attacks on Russian resources.

One of the malwares recently discovered by experts was the Freeud viper, developed by pro-Ukrainian supporters. The ransom note sent after activating the program states that Russian troops must leave Ukraine.

“The choice of words and the way the note is written suggest that it was written by a native Russian speaker,” Kaspersky experts say.

Yes, the enemy (on or offline) can be where you least expect him.

Male politicians around The Gleaner of Sapri statue
Weird

When Public Statues Go Very Wrong

This giant chicken will attract tourists! Let's honor a heroine of our history with a see-through dress! And other very visible bad ideas around the world...

From Mount Rushmore to Lenin's statue at Saint Petersburg’s Finland Station, political legacies have long been carved into stone, literally. But sometimes the vanity or silliness driving such projects turns them into monumental WTFs. That was undoubtedly the case last month in the U.S. state of Georgia, where a local mayor was ousted from office after pushing through a project to build a giant chicken as a way to attract tourists to this town.

But the list of grandiose ideas that fell flat, or worse, is long: from the racy likeness of an Italian heroine to the immortalizing of a corrupt African leader who isn't even from your country.

Watch VideoShow less
Taliban End Game, Texas Protects Abortion Clinics, El Salvador’s Legal Bitcoin
In The News
Meike Eijsberg, Bertrand Hauger and Anne-Sophie Goninet

Taliban End Game, Texas Protects Abortion Clinics, El Salvador’s Legal Bitcoin

Welcome to Tuesday, where the Taliban end game is playing out in Panjshir valley, the U.S. Justice Department vows to protect abortion clinics in Texas and El Salvador becomes the world's first country to authorize the use of bitcoin as legal currency. French daily Le Monde also looks at how artificial intelligence could make the dream of automatic live translation come true.


• Taliban says they took Panjshir, but resistance holds on: The Taliban say they have officially captured the Panjshir valley, north of Kabul as of Monday but resistance groups have vowed they would continue fighting. Meanwhile, protests taking place on the streets of Kabul were met with heavy gunfire as the Taliban tried to stop it.

• U.S. Justice Department to protect Texas abortion clinics: In response to Texas' recently enacted law that imposed a near-total ban on abortions, the U.S. Justice Department said it would not tolerate any attacks against people seeking or providing abortions in the State. A spokesman said they would provide protection via the 1994 Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE).

• Maria Kolesnikova sentenced to 11 years in prison: Maria Kolesnikova, a Belarusian musician and prominent opposition figure, was sentenced to 11 years in prison. A Belarusian court had charged that Kolesnikova and another opposition activist, Maxim Znak, with extremism and conspiring to "seize state power in an unconstitutional way."

• German federal police also used Pegasus: The Bundeskriminalamt (BKA), the German federal police, secretly purchased the Pegasus spyware and used it for surveillance of suspects, German newspapers revealed. This follows revelations that the software had been used on a large scale in many countries, with some 50,000 politicians, lawyers, journalists, and human rights activists spied on.

• COVID-19 update: In Vietnam, a man was jailed for five years after breaching the country's strict quarantine rules and passing the virus to at least eight other people. Meanwhile, Chile has just approved China's Sinovac vaccine for children as young as six — although those younger than 12 will not be vaccinated for a while.

• El Salvador first country to make Bitcoin legal currency: From today, businesses in El Salvador will be obliged where possible to accept the controversial blockchain-backed currency as payment as the country has just become the first to make Bitcoin a legal tender. Millions of people are expected to download the government's new digital wallet app which gives away $30 (€25) in Bitcoin to every citizen.

• Australian talking duck calls you a "bloody fool": According to a new study, Australian musk ducks can imitate human speech as first touted by the recording of a duck named Ripper saying "you bloody fool" that went viral. Ripper was four years old at the time of the recordings, which researchers say he picked up from his previous caretakers, and made his vocalizations during aggressive mating displays.


French daily Le Figaro pays tribute to iconic actor Jean-Paul Belmondo, the "Ace of Aces" (a reference to his 1982 hit movie) who died yesterday in Paris at age 88. After his breakout role in Jean-Luc Godart's high-brow New Wave staple "Breathless," Belmondo went on to become one of France's most famous actors, with roles in popular comedies and action films through the 1970s and 80s.

AI, translation and the holy grail of "natural language"

In the crucial area of translation, services such as Google Translate, which has expanded its offer to 104 languages, or the German competitor DeepL now make it possible to translate entire paragraphs in a coherent and fluid manner. The dream of a machine translating live conversations is now within reach, writes French daily Le Monde.

📲 The barriers between text and image are disappearing. With the augmented reality application Google Lens, students can scan a page from a textbook or a handwritten sentence with their smartphone and translate it or get additional information online. It's all because software has learned to recognize subjects in images. Tomorrow, we could launch a search with a photo, Google believes. The American company OpenAI is exploring the creation of images from a text description. Its DALL-E prototype offers disturbing representations of invented objects: an alarm clock in the shape of a peach, a pig lamp…

👀 These innovations help make digital technology more accessible to the disabled and illiterate. With the French National Institute for Research in Digital Science and Technology (Inria), Facebook is studying the simplification of forms, with pictograms and synonyms. In January, the company presented an automatic image description tool for the blind and visually impaired. Google has a voice recognition project for people with speech difficulties, called "Euphonia."

🤖 The prospects are promising, but also dizzying because these technologies will be used in headphones, in homes, in cars. The concerns have been gathered in an article co-authored by Timnit Gebru and Margaret Mitchell, two researchers in ethics whose dismissal by Google has caused controversy. The main concern is about the "biases" — racist, sexist, homophobic — that these softwares can reproduce, or even amplify, after training on masses of texts from the internet.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com



Report: U.S. arms abandoned in Afghanistan moved to Iran

Weaponry belonging to the Afghan army is moving into Iran, though it is not clear if it is smuggled, or moved in a deal between the Taliban and Iran's regime, Kayhan London reports.

With the Taliban taking over Afghanistan, much of the U.S.-supplied military hardware formerly used by the country's armed forces have fallen into their hands. This terrorist group that ruled the country from 1996 to 2001, and gave refuge to other terrorists, especially al-Qaeda, now has its hands on advanced military weaponry and know-how.

It has also become clear that neighboring Iran was keen and ready to get its own hands on this material, either to use directly or to copy the weapon design.

And this has happened amid reports that armaments including tanks and armored vehicles have been moved into Iran. Sources say Iranian dealers are particularly looking for arms and missiles the Americans abandoned in suspect circumstances, without destroying them.

It is not clear whether the Taliban or fugitive members of the armed forces are handing over the weaponry to the Islamic Republic of Iran, or if this is the work of middlemen exploiting the disorderly state of the country.

War booty is not the only thing moving into Iran though. Thousands of Afghan citizens have left their homes and towns, fleeing toward neighboring countries like Iran and Pakistan.

These include the elderly and pregnant women, who are risking their lives on a desperate flight, though it seems they prefer this to living under the Taliban. Meanwhile, Western states are preparing for a new wave of refugees from Afghanistan, knowing that regional instability will push them toward Europe and beyond, even if they first pass through Pakistan, Iran or Turkey.

This is increasingly of concern to them as the refugee crisis may last a while, in spite of the contradictory positions of different Western countries, particularly those in the European Union.




$71.4 million

The first Asian superhero film by Marvel, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, broke the record for a Labor Day weekend opening and did better at the North American box office than predicted, collecting $71.4 million. With a predominantly East Asian cast, inspired by Chinese folklore, and several martial arts action sequences, the film is the latest sign that Hollywood is starting to listen to calls for more Asian representation on screen.



The people of Brazil have struggled for decades to secure democracy from military rule. Bolsonaro must not be permitted to rob them of it now.

— More than 150 left-leaning ministers, party leaders and former prime ministers wrote an open letter warning of a possible "coup" by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Ahead of Tuesday's Independence Day demonstrations and next year's national elections, Bolsonaro called his supporters to protest against the country's Supreme Court and Congress. The open letter (signed by the likes of former Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and former UK Prime Minister Jeremy Corbyn) declares that the rallies amount to a replay of the U.S. Capitol attack on January 6.



✍️ Newsletter by Meike Eijsberg, Bertrand Hauger and Anne-Sophie Goninet

Algeria Cuts Ties With Morocco, COVID Plateau, RIP The “Ultimate Drummer”
In The News
Hannah Steinkopf-Frank, Meike Eijsberg and Bertrand Hauger

Algeria Cuts Ties With Morocco, COVID Plateau, RIP The “Ultimate Drummer”

Welcome to Wednesday, where tensions build between Algeria and Morocco, WHO reports that global COVID cases plateau, and Rolling Stones lovers mourn the passing of drummer Charlie Watts. Meanwhile, New Delhi-based daily The Wire looks at the patriarchal prejudices still surrounding motherhood and so-called "non-custodial mothers" in India.


Afghanistan update: President Joe Biden is sticking to the Aug. 31 pullout of the remaining 5,800 American troops, despite criticism from its G7 allies to extend the timeline for more airlifts. Meanwhile, the World Bank has announced it was ending its financial support to Afghanistan, over concerns about its development prospects, particularly for women. This comes as the UN says it has received "harrowing and credible reports" of human rights abuses that include summary executions of Afghan soldiers and civilians.

• Algeria severs diplomatic ties with Morocco: Algerian Foreign Minister Ramdane Lamamra has accused Morocco of not upholding bilateral commitments and supporting the MAK separatist movement. Lamamra also said its neighbor used Pegasus spyware to monitor Algerian officials, which Morocco denied. Diplomatic ties between the countries have grown tense in recent years, largely over the sovereignty of the Western Sahara.

• COVID update: The World Health Organization reports that global COVID-19 cases "seem to be plateauing," with 4.5 million new cases and 68,000 deaths reported last week. Meanwhile, Japan has extended its state of emergency to at least eight more prefectures, as the country reported 21,610 new cases yesterday and 42 deaths.

• Nicaragua cracks down on opposition leaders: Lawyer Roger Reyes is the 34th opposition figure who has been arrested in the lead-up to the country's Nov. 7 general election, which will see President Daniel Ortega run for a fourth term in office. Reyes, who said he anticipated the arrest, has been charged with attacking "Nicaraguan society and the rights of the people."

• Supreme Court rejects "remain in Mexico" repeal: The U.S. Supreme Court has denied Joe Biden's bid to rescind an immigration policy put in place by Donald Trump, that requires thousands of asylum seekers to stay in Mexico while awaiting U.S. hearings.

• Charlie Watts tribute: From bandmates to peers, the music world is paying homage to seminal Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts, who died yesterday in London at age 80.

• Nevermind the lawsuit: Spencer Elden, who as a four-month-old was featured naked on the cover of Nirvana's iconic album Nevermind, is now suing the remaining members of the grunge band, as well as Kurt Cobain's widow Courtney Love and record labels, over "commercial child sexual exploitation."


Daily Mirror

Newspapers in the UK and abroad are paying front-page homage to Charlie Watts — "the ultimate drummer" as the Daily Mirror remembers him — a day after the passing of the stylish Rolling Stones member in London at age 80.


In India, when mothers live without their children

The stigma around so-called "non-custodial mothers" has prevented us from expanding our own imagination of what motherhood can, or does, look like when it is practiced by non-residential mothers, as Pritha Bhattacharya writes in Indian daily The Wire.

Three years ago, Shalini, a 35-year-old media professional based in Bengaluru, gave up custody of her daughter. Her child grew up in a joint family and she was very attached to her paternal grandparents. Shalini couldn't imagine taking her child away from the people she loved. But she is now on the path of discovering a new relationship with her 8-year-old daughter. Shalini is one of many women in India who are defined as non-custodial mothers, those who either decide to or are unable to live with their offspring. Despite the social stigma of giving up being a daily presence in their childrens' lives, many parents make the choice based on what they believe is best for their families.

Census data on female-headed households provides some clues into the number of existing single mothers in India. But these statistics do not reveal the full picture, as most single mothers continue to live with their extended families. A 2019-2020 report by UN Women attempted to fill this gap, highlighting that in India, the number of "lone mothers' is rising, with 4.5% (approximately 13 million) of all Indian households run by single mothers. It also found that around 32 million single mothers are estimated to be living with their extended families. Unfortunately, the report failed to include single, non-custodial mothers in its sample design, suggesting as if to give up or lose custody of one's children is enough to render someone a non-mother.

Both mothers and fathers are affected by the patriarchal ideology that promotes mothers as nurturing, selfless caregivers and fathers as peripheral providers. Sociologist Jackie Krasas argues that the horror that underlines the negative reactions to non-custodial mothers partly rests on our low opinion (and expectations) of the capabilities of fathers. It is a commonly held notion that non-custodial mothers are putting their children in harm's way by choosing not to live with them. Nevertheless, women are increasingly resisting these ideas by leaving unhappy marriages and, in some cases, by either giving up the physical custody of their children or striving to lead a full life in spite of losing custody.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

习近平思想

China's Ministry of Education has announced the introduction of a new political ideology guide in its national curriculum, to be integrated from primary school up to university. Called Xi Jinping Thought ("Xi Jinping sixiang"), it aims at helping "teenagers establish Marxist beliefs," according to governmental guidelines.

No more monkey business: Antwerp Zoo bans woman from seeing her chimp chum

There's only so much monkeying around the Antwerp Zoo will tolerate. Belgian woman Adie Timmermans learned this recently, having developed what she called a "special relationship" with Chita, a 38-year-old chimpanzee whom she visited almost every day for four years. Zoo authorities now think the bond might have grown too strong and decided to ban Timmermans from visiting her monkey friend.

Whenever Timmermans came to the zoo, Chita would walk over to the glass enclosure, blowing kisses and scratching his head. So why separate the interspecies pals? Sarah Lafaut, the zoo's mammal curator, tells Belgian news channel ATV that Chita ended up paying too much attention to Timmermans and was at risk of being excluded from his primate peers.

The Belgian woman received a letter from the zoo, saying that she could still visit, but was only allowed to take a quick look at the chimpanzee habitat. As curator Lafaut explains to ATV, "Of course, we are happy when our visitors connect with the animals, but animal welfare comes first here."

Chita's interest in humans likely comes from her growing up as a household pet until the age of 8, when he was given to the zoo because of behavioral issues. While he eventually learned to live among other chimpanzees, his attachment to people remained.

As for Timmermans, she believes she is being unfairly singled out, as she tells Flemish newspaper the Nieuwsblad: "That animal really loves me and I love him. Why would you take that away?"

➡️ Keep up with all the planet's police reports and plot twists on Worldcrunch.com


A catastrophe on top of a catastrophe.

Speaking with Al Jazeera, UN World Food Program Executive Director David Beasley warned that 14 millions of Afghans, including two million children, were facing food insecurity following the Taliban's takeover of the country.

Newsletter by Hannah Steinkopf-Frank, Meike Eijsberg and Bertrand Hauger

Destroyed in 1993, Mostar's bridge was rebuilt in the early 2000s
Geopolitics
Alessio Perrone

Balkan Scars And A Secret Plan To Redraw The Borders Of Bosnia

The colored tattoo of a fortified bridge towering high over troubled waters takes up almost all of my friend Ivan's shoulder. In his early 30s, Ivan has a footballer's build and flawless cockney accent. He's been a British citizen almost all his life, but was born in Mostar, in present-day Bosnia, in the late 1980s — a bad time to be born in Bosnia..

He says he remembers the din of the bombs falling on his town when he was a kid and the Yugoslav Wars broke out, in 1992. Ethno-nationalist groups seceded from Yugoslavia and turned on each other. They fought prolonged, bloody conflicts that killed at least 140,000, and committed genocide on at least one occasion. In Srebrenica, Bosnia in 1995, pro-Serbian forces executed at least 8,000 Muslim Bosnian civilians. Ivan's family, ethnic Croatians, fled Mostar as refugees, resettling first in Germany, then in London.

His closest Croatian relatives live elsewhere in the Balkans, but Ivan chose to put Mostar's towering Old Bridge on his shoulder. Not much is known about the bridge's construction by the Ottoman empire in 1566. What is clear is that it came to symbolize the city's multiculturalism: It united Mostar's blend of Croats, Serbs and Muslims living on both banks of the river.

Heavy shelling by Croat paramilitary forces destroyed the bridge in 1993, and the river gobbled the crumbled blocks of limestone. It was rebuilt in the early 2000s, when engineers coordinated the lifting of the old blocks from the river and used some of them in the reconstruction, a powerful image of the scars bore by the very fabric of Bosnia.

Now, it seems, some are setting their eyes on those scars again. In the last couple of weeks, an explosive memo has emerged in which Slovenian authorities suggest the redrawing of Bosnia's borders along ethnic lines. Serbia would gobble up the Republika Srpska, one of Bosnia's two regions with a large ethnic Serb population. The Croatian-majority cantons would join Croatia, while Albania would annex Kosovo and swathes of present-day Northern Macedonia.

The plan would push the region back into the nightmares it went through 25 years ago.

The design resembles closely that of the massacres of the 1990s, when military forces attempted to create ethnically homogenous countries. The document even suggests it merely seeks to continue where the Yugoslav wars stopped.

There is much that we don't know about the document. It's an unofficial memo or "non-paper," as it's called in European diplomacy — a way for officials to share ideas confidentially. It's unsigned, so it's difficult to understand who wrote it, although journalists spotted the fingerprints of Slovenian government officials on the original document. But so far, one of the only people to confirm its existence is Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, according to Euronews.

Slovenia's PM Janez Jansa, widely believed to have drafted and leaked the document to destabilize both the Balkans and the EU, has declined to confirm nor deny any rumors, as have EU officials.

As the Italian newsweekly L'Espresso says, the plan would push the region back into the nightmares it went through 25 years ago. "There would be only one consequence: war," the publication writes. And although this kind of behind-closed-doors partition of Bosnia may seem impossible, the article does on say, "impossible things often become true in the former Yugoslavia, where ghosts, once they are evoked, take shape quickly."

Many Europeans might be too young to remember the bloodshed of those wars or too far removed from them, but the continent — like the Mostar bridge and my friend Ivan — still bears the scars on their skin.

The container ship Ever Given arrives at the ECT Delta terminal in the port of Rotterdam, more than four months after it got wedged in the Suez Canal for six days, blocking shipping in one of the world's busiest waterways
BBC

The Latest: China-Taliban Meeting, Alaska Tsunami Alert, Earth Overshoot Day

Welcome to Thursday, where a Chinese official meets with Taliban leaders, an earthquake triggers a tsunami alert in Alaska, and rock fans mourn the death of a bearded icon. With the Tokyo Olympics finally underway, Hong Kong-based digital media The Initium also asks a tough question: Do we even still need this sporting event?

• Chinese official publicly meets with Taliban: China's foreign minister, Wang Yi, began two days of talks with Taliban leaders on Wednesday in the Chinese city of Tianjin. After the withdrawal of U.S. and allied troops, Afghanistan has seen significant fighting between the Afghan security forces and the Taliban. China hopes to use the meetings to assist in this peace process, as well as to warm ties with the Islamist group.

• Earthquake in Alaska triggers tsunami alert: After an 8.2 magnitude earthquake struck the Alaskan peninsula on Wednesday, U.S. officials have released tsunami warnings for the surrounding area and encouraged increased monitoring across the Pacific. So far there have not been any reports of loss of life or serious property damage.

• Vocal Chinese billionaire sentenced to 18 years in prison: Sun Dawu, a billionaire pig farmer and outspoken critic of the Chinese government, has been sentenced to 18 years in prison on charges that include "picking quarrels and provoking troubles." He has also been fined 3.11 million yuan ($480,000).

• COVID update: Australia's largest city, Sydney, has seen a record daily rise in cases, leading the government to seek military assistance in enforcing the ongoing lockdown. In contrast, the United Kingdom announced that fully vaccinated travelers coming from the EU or the U.S. no longer need to quarantine when entering England, Scotland and Wales. Meanwhile, Google has mandated that employees be vaccinated to return to in-person work in October.

• Macron sues billboard owner for depicting him as Hitler: French President Emmanuel Macron is suing a billboard owner for depicting him on a sign as Adolf Hitler. The poster shows Macron in Nazi garb with a Hitler-esque mustache and the phrase "Obey, get vaccinated." This comes after several protesters who see France's new health-pass system as government overreach invoked the yellow star that Nazi Germany forced Jewish people to wear during WWII.

• ZZ Top bassist dead at 72: Dusty Hill, the bassist for the Texas blues-rock trio ZZ Top, died in his sleep on Tuesday at the age of 72. Hill, known for his trademark long beard, played with the band for over 50 years.

• Earth Overshoot Day: Today marks the day that humanity has exceeded its yearly allotment of the planet's biological resources. Last year, Overshoot Day fell on August 22, after carbon emissions dropped during COVID-related lockdowns. But this year carbon emissions and consumption rose again, and Overshoot Day moved forward by almost one month.

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As Colombia marked the 211th anniversary of its independence from Spain this week, demonstrators took to the streets in Bogota and other big cities to push for reforms such as implementing a minimum wage and improving the country's healthcare system
BBC

The Latest: WHO And Wuhan, Nord Stream 2 Deal, Argentine Non-Binary Option

Welcome to Thursday, where China rejects WHO's plans to look into its "Wuhan lab leak" theory, U.S. & Germany reach a deal on Nord Stream 2 and two Swedish hostage takers have the weirdest ransom demand. Hong-Kong based media The Initium also explains why young people in China are still drawn to the prospect of joining the Communist Party.

• Vaccines v. Delta variant: A study has shown that full vaccination (two doses) from the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine is nearly as effective against the Delta variant as against the original Alpha variant. Meanwhile, China has rejected a WHO proposal to investigate the origins of the coronavirus because it also included plans to look into Wuhan lab leak theory, which the country views as "not scientific."

• U.S. & Germany reach Nord Stream 2 deal: The United States and Germany have come to an agreement in order to ensure that the controversial gas pipeline, Nord Stream 2, will not be used by Russia to exert political pressure on Europe. The pipeline, which is close to becoming operational, will likely double Russian gas exports to Germany.

• Death toll in China floods rises to 33: The death count after torrential rains and flooding in China's Henan province has risen to 33 people, with an additional eight people missing. The public has questioned authorities' preparedness for disaster, as experts have linked the downpour to the worsening climate crisis.

• Madagascar arrests six in assassination plot: After months of investigation, Madagascan authorities have arrested six people, including a foreign national, suspected of planning to kill President Andry Rajoelina.

• Olympics opening ceremony director fired: Kentaro Kobayashi, director of the Olympics' opening ceremony scheduled for tomorrow, has been fired after a Holocaust joke surfaced from a 1998 comedy set. The organizing committee president issued a public apology.

• Argentina adds non-binary option to ID cards: Argentina has become the first Latin American country to add a non-binary option to identification cards. Citizens who do not identify as male or female will now have the option to mark the gender neutral ‘X" instead.

• Swedish hostage takers demand kebab pizzas: Two inmates in Sweden's Hallby high security prison took two guards hostage for nine hours on Wednesday, demanding a helicopter and 20 kebab pizzas as ransom. The pizzas were indeed delivered, and the guards were released unharmed.

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