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HAARETZ
Ha'aretz ("The Land") was founded in 1919 and is Israel's oldest daily newspaper. It is published in Hebrew and English, and owned by the Schocken family, M. DuMont Schauberg, and Leonid Nevzlin.
President Joe Biden speaks on midterm elections results. Live broadcast on CNN TV channel from Clermont-Ferrand, France, November 9, 2022​.
eyes on the U.S.
Alex Hurst

Eyes On U.S. — No 'Vague Rouge,' No Final Results: How The World Makes Sense Of Midterms

While some breathed sighs of relief that the Republicans' predicted "red wave" sweep didn't happen, others chuckle at how long it takes to count the votes. And then there's Senõr Musk...

PARIS — Three full days later, and there's still no real clarity on the U.S. midterms — but the world has gotten used to American elections dragging out for days or even weeks, for both political and technical reasons.

One French journalist wondered if there’s a simpler way.



But whatever the final tally, whoever winds up with majority control of the House of Representatives and Senate, readers learned that — after weeks of forecasts of huge Republican gains — the Democrats have avoided the vague rouge (Montreal)... onda rossa (Rome) ... chervona khvylya (Kyiv).

Elisabetta Grande of Italian magazine MicroMega noted that, while the midterms are not quite a win for the Democrats and President Joe Biden, voters rejected candidates in the "election denier" camp of the Republican party allied with former President Donald Trump.

France’s left-leaning Libération on Thursday was already looking ahead to the Republican battle royale shaping up between Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for the 2024 Republican nomination.

Portugal’s Publicozeros in on the Democrats man of the moment, John Fetterman, the newly elected Senator from Pennsylvania, who they describe as not having “supporters,” but rather “fans.” Publico sees particular relevance in the fact that Fetterman took down Trump’s handpicked candidate, Mehmet Oz.

Brazil’s O Globo gives Fetterman front page treatment, at least in part because he is married to a Brazilian, Gisele Barreto.


With DeSantis' midterms victory, "Trump already has a rival" for the 2024 presidential election, foresees Monterrey-based Mexican newspaper Milenio.

Global right-wing connections

European eyes remain concerned. From Germany, security and foreign policy watcher Marcel Dirsus quips, “it’d be a lot less unnerving to watch Americans vote from Europe if we weren’t so damn dependent on their choices.” No place is that more true today than the war in Ukraine, where Washington is by far the biggest contributor of military aid.

Kyiv-based news website Livy Beregnoted the results of exit polls that showed Americans are focused, above all, on the impact of a growing economic crisis and how it could affect U.S. support for Ukraine in the war against Russia. Notably, 81% of Democrats supported providing additional aid to Ukraine, compared to just 35% of Republicans.

For Jerusalem-based Haaretz, Moshe Gilad sees a dangerous connection between the U.S. far-right, the Israeli far-right, and “Birthright,” an organization that offers young American Jews a "discovery" trip to Israel.

Meanwhile observers from the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe), which typically monitors elections in countries with weak or no democratic institutions, deplored a state of “generalized disinformation” across the U.S. ahead of the elections.

Which brings us to our next topic, disinformation, and just what the heck is going to happen with Twitter.

📰 UP, FRONT PAGE AND CENTER

Korean daily Dong-a Ilbo

🐦 Monsieur Musk, alors?

Occupying almost just as much global attention this week as the U.S. midterms is Twitter under its new master, Elon Musk.

As An-Nahar sums up from Lebanon, Twitter is seeing a flood of users leaving for other pastures because it “became the place of a notable increase of speeches of hate and racist insults right after Elon Musk’s bought back the company.”

That’s unlikely to change anytime soon — as Germany’s Die Zeit reports, Musk sacked the Twitter team that discovered that Twitter’s algorithm tended to amplify far-right content. “Now that this team has been fired, it is even less likely that change will be possible — or even that these phenomenons could be better understood within the company,” Die Zeit writes.

As a result, many are threatening to leave Twitter (1 million accounts have already been deactivated), and the platform that’s in the running to replace it is not-U.S. based: Mastodon was created in 2016 by German software engineer Eugen Rochko, who is the company’s only employee.

The quirk of Mastodon is that everything is hosted on a series of independently run, decentralized servers; there is no central company, or central organization behind it.

Our continent, our rules.

This week, both Deutsche Welle and Le Monderan explainer pieces, giving readers the rundown on how Mastodon works, and how to create an account. But whether or not the platform shapes up as a true alternative remains to be seen — as Publico’s Karla Pequenino writes, Musk’s ultimate goal is to transform Twitter into a “superapp,” the likes of which exist in southeast Asia — like China’s WeChat or Singapore based Grab.

However, though he is now the sole owner of Twitter, Musk won't necessarily be able to do as he likes with the platform. Twitter’s global reach is a strength, and a constraint, as global regulators intend to make clear.

Stéphane Séjourné, the head of the Renew Europe group — the third largest in the European Parliament — is demanding that Musk come and testify before the EU’s legislative body. “Whatever Mr. Musk chooses to do, our refrain remains the same: our continent, our rules," he tweeted. "We must assure that Twitter continues to act against disinformation and hate speech."


A crashing bird is singing on the front page of French daily Libération.

​🇪🇬 IN BRIEF

COP 27 is happening in Egypt, and the U.S., Canada, and Australia are being called out for contributing far less towards climate finance than they should, considering their share of historic emissions.

But in the case of the US, it’s not just far less, it’s far, faaaaaaaar less. The U.S. is #1 … at doing the least, says Carbon Brief. And developing countries — who will bear the biggest burden despite their lack of responsibility for the problem, are upset.

Will Putin Declare War On May 9? Or Peace?
In The News
Anna Akage, Bertrand Haugier, Emma Albright

Will Putin Declare War On May 9? Or Peace?

The annual May 9 commemoration of the defeat of Nazi Germany has extra significance this year with Russia in the full throes of the invasion of Ukraine. There are conflicting reports about how President Vladimir Putin may use the occasion.

There’s no doubt that next Monday, May 9, all eyes will be on Russian President Vladimir Putin. The annual commemoration of the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II, known in Moscow as “Victory Day,” has extra significance this year with Russia in the full throes of the invasion of Ukraine, which may indeed be the riskiest war since 1945.

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

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Of course, two months since the invasion, Putin hasn’t even acknowledged that Russia is at war, calling it a “special operation.” And some sources believe that he will use the May 9 occasion to officially declare war — again, against “Nazis,” as the Kremlin refers to the government in Kyiv.

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Macron, Part Deux: France And The World React In 22 Front Pages
Geopolitics

Macron, Part Deux: France And The World React In 22 Front Pages

Newspapers in France and around the world are devoting their Monday front pages to Emmanuel Macron's reelection as French president.

Emmanuel Macron won a second term as president of France, beating far-right leader Marine Le Pen by a wide 58.5-41.5% margin ... oui, mais.

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a photo of a man on his laptop overlooking a city
Future
Alidad Vassigh and Irene Caselli

Free WiFi For All? Cities (And Nations) Making Universal Digital Access A Right

Whether it's to bridge the socioeconomic digital divide or to attract tourists, foreign businesses and digital nomads, the time may be ripe to offer free internet access across society. Here are some of those leading the push.

For years, certain big cities have been wooing tourists and remote workers by offering free WiFi hotspots to help find the best restaurants or connect for meetings from a park bench. This month, Mexico City won the Guinness World Record for most free WiFi hotspots in the world, with 21,500.

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Whiff Of History: Archeologists Discover Very Old Egg In Ancient Toilet
Israel
Genevieve Mansfield

Whiff Of History: Archeologists Discover Very Old Egg In Ancient Toilet

Archeologists digging near the central Israeli city of Yavne have uncovered the most delicate of artifacts in the remains of an ancient cesspool. Inside the 1,000-year-old cesspool, they were surprised to find an apparently intact hen's egg, dating all the way back to the Byzantine period, according to daily Haaretz.

Dr. Lee Perry Gal, a poultry expert at the Israel Antiquities Authority, explained how extraordinary it was to find the egg: "Eggshell fragments are known from earlier periods, for example in the City of David, Caesarea and Apollonia, but due to the fragility of the eggs, almost no whole hen eggs have been preserved. Even on a global level, this is an extremely rare find."

One of the archeologists excavating the site, Alla Nagorsky, credited the cesspool with the survival of the 1,000-year-old egg all these years, explaining that it was the soft human waste that preserved it. Yet after surviving for a millennium in a toilet, a small crack formed at the bottom of the egg as the scientists extracted it from the pit, as French monthly magazine GEO reports, preventing it from making it back to the lab fully intact. Only a portion of the yolk was salvageable, which scientists will use for future DNA analysis — but still leaving unanswered the eternal question: which came first, the chicken or the egg ... or that awful smell from the cesspool?

A tribute to a young women who committed suicide during the pandemic in Liege, Belgium
Israel
Anne Sophie Goninet

The Second Wave And Risks Of Rising Suicide Rates

PARIS — After first reckoning with the physical toll of COVID-19, the world also began to register the risk of rising rates of depression and isolation as the first wave of the virus forced hundreds of millions of people to stay confined at home for months at a time last spring. But now the second wave is raising the stakes, as mental health experts warn about the risk of an uptick in suicide.

Some parts of the world have already been experiencing "waves of suicides' such as Malawi, which reports a 57% increase between January and August in comparison with 2019, or India, as the pandemic put many out of a job and without financial resources. But according to a French study, with a second wave taking its toll on people's hopes and long-term economic effects, the worst is yet to come.

Hopes dashed: In Israel, the emotional first-aid hotline Eran received 837 suicidal calls during the country's second lockdown this autumn, a 49.5% increase compared with the first lockdown.

• While people were more preoccupied with surviving the virus threat during the first lockdown, they're experiencing more "emotional stress' during the second, especially because of the economic crisis; and many who had managed to cope during the first wave felt "their strength dwindled", Dr. Shiri Daniels, Eran's professional director, explained to Haaretz.

• "In the second lockdown we saw more loneliness, more depression and more reports of acute mental distress. The hope that we're coming out of the situation turned out to be an illusion," she told the Israeli newspaper.

• According to the service, the suicide calls stemming from economic distress rose from 4% to 15% between the first and second confinement and calls related to loneliness and personal relations increased from 26% to 35%.

Second wave's first weekend: Englandhas imposed a second national lockdown this November and the impact on suicide prevention hotlines was immediate, with some reporting an increase in calls by almost one-third from the previous weekend, two days after the announcement of the new confinement,ITV Newsreports.

• 80% of callers to Papyrus, a national charity dedicated to the prevention of young suicide, mention the lockdown as well as the fear of isolation, financial problems and the uncertainty over the future as the source of their desperation.

• The charity had to extend its opening hours and increased its staff to answer the rising calls.

Accumulative effect: In France, the Fondation Jean Jaurès conducted a study, led by Michel Debout, a psychiatrist and professor of forensic medicine in Saint-Étienne, to measure the suicidal risks that the two lockdowns imposed by the country this year could generate. According to the report, the suicidal effects caused by crises tend to materialize several months, or even years later.

• After the 1929 stock market crash in the United States, the suicide rate only increased significantly in 1930-31; and for the 2008 financial crisis, European countries observed an uptick only one or two years later.

• "There is always a gap between the economic and social deconstruction and the reactions of the people who are the most affected on the individual and collective level," writes the French psychiatrist.

• It is therefore too soon for now to fully know the effects of the crisis on suicides and suicide attempts of the coronavirus pandemic, but the study reveals that among the French people surveyed who admitted they seriously considered taking their lives at some point this year, 11% of them considered it during the first lockdown and 17% after the end of the confinement, which confirms that "the crisis is ahead of us," the report says.

More prevention needed: Many aid organizations are calling for government actions to avert a looming mental health crisis, with more prevention to encourage people to seek and find help if they're having suicidal thoughts.

• "Everyone is cautiously talking about mental health and the lockdown and careful not to link suicide with lockdowns for fear of copycating. However 75% of people who die by suicide are not even known to mental health services," Ged Flynn, Chief Executive of Papyrus, told The Express. "We have to talk about it sensibly and openly."

• Fondation Jean Jaurès has a similar message, pushing local representatives to integrate suicide prevention in their health policy, with the help of professionals and charities. It also calls for the establishment of a global medico-psycho-social program for the thousands of unemployed, artisans and business leaders, who, according to its study, are more at risk.

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip protesting against the accord
Israel
Mourad Kamel

Arab-Israeli Rapprochement: Is Saudi Arabia Next?

The accord to normalize relations between two Arab countries and Israel is a major diplomatic victory for U.S. President Donald Trump, who has made good on a pledge to bring a breakthrough to Middle East negotiations just before his bid for reelection in November.

Still, the fast-moving events of the last month — culminating with Tuesday's signing ceremony at the White House of what's being called the "Abraham Accords' — are above all a sign that real change may be on the way to the region. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noted that it took Israel 26 years between the second peace agreement with an Arab country (Jordan) and the third last month with the United Arab Emirates, but only 29 days to seal its fourth, with Bahrain last Friday. In a video posted to his Twitter profile, Netanyahu promised "there will be more" Arab countries that follow this path.

Whether that "more" will include Saudi Arabia, Washington's most important Arab ally and economic partner in the region, is the next big question. Despite promising not to normalize relations with Israel until a peace deal is agreed between Palestinians and Israelis, it is in the Kingdom's interest to see that Israel is normalizing relations with other Gulf states.

What's bringing former foes together, of course, is a common enemy: Iran. Riyadh and Tehran have been in a longstanding battle for regional dominance, including numerous proxy wars in the region: Syria, Yemen, Iraq and even Lebanon. The two countries represent the two main denominations of Islam : Sunnis (Saudi Arabia) and Shias (Iran). Even though they share the fundamental beliefs and practices of Islam, the divide, which is 14 centuries old, originated over the question of who would succeed the Prophet Muhammad as leader of the Islamic faith.

What's bringing former foes together is a common enemy: Iran.

But what is shaking up the region today is not only religion, but questions of global influence. Zvi Bar'el, a columnist for Israeli daily Haaretz, noted that last Friday's deal announced with Bahrain has an important military component. "Bahrain is an important part of the Persian Gulf's strategic defense against Iranian influence," he writes. "It hosts a U.S. Navy base with around 6,000 service members, and could serve as a launch pad for attacks on land and sea threats from Iran."

The first deal with UAE announced in August was particularly notable for the Emirates influence (and independence) in the Gulf region. But Bahrain's overture may have even more long-run significance for what comes next. "Bahrain's king, who is entirely dependent on Saudi Arabia — to which it is linked via a 25-kilometer causeway — received a Saudi "license" to move forward with normalization" writes Bar'el. "Crown Prince Mohammed is demonstrating for Trump his power to build the Arab mantle for the president's Middle East peace plan."

Netanyahu, Trump and foreign ministers of Bahrain and UAE at Tuesday's signing ceremony — Photo: White House

Another sign that Saudia Arabia may be preparing the terrain for its own deal with Israel was visible last spring — on television sets. Two drama series broadcast during Ramadan in Saudi Arabia, which featured Israeli characters, appeared to be a prime example of the Kingdom using "soft power" to get its population ready for a new era in the region where Israel is now regarded as a partner. In Exit 7, one of the actors asserts that the Palestinians are the real "enemies'" who insult the kingdom "day and night", despite decades of financial aid, while featuring a friendship between a Saudi and an Israeli through an online video game. The second series, Oum Haroun, follows the life of a Jewish community in a Kuwaiti village in the 1940s. Both formats were produced by the MBC Group, under the control of the Saudi government, and scored high ratings during Ramadan, even as they were lambasted by some on social media.

As for the Palestinian National Authority, which remains an unrecognized state by the international community, the smiles and signatures on the White House lawn are largely seen as bad news. Ahmad Majdalani, Minister of Social Affairs of the Palestinian Authority, called it a "stab in the back," a metaphor that has circulated in the region ever since another peace deal, between Egypt and Israel in 1979.

Now all eyes will be on whether Saudi Arabia keeps its promise to normalize relations in Israel only if there's a peace deal with the Palestinians. If the Saudis decide not to wait, it could be the mother of all back-stabbings.

Hamas militants sent incendiary balloons into Israel, prompting retaliatory airstrikes
BBC

The Latest: New Gaza Flare-Up, Biden-Putin Meeting, Unmasking Spain

Welcome to Wednesday, where Israel carries out first airstrikes on Gaza since the ceasefire in May, Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin meet for the first time since Biden's election and Ronaldo changes Coke into water. Chinese daily Economic Observer also advocates for more open discussion about the real reason why China's couples are not having more children.

• Israel air strikes in Gaza after Hamas incendiary balloon attacks: Early Wednesday morning, Israel carried out air strikes in Gaza in response to fire balloons launched by Hamas from the territory. This is the first major flare-up since last month's ceasefire following a brief but deadly war. It is not known whether the latest strikes have caused any injuries or death.

• Biden-Putin Summit in Geneva: U.S. President Joe Biden and Russia's President Vladimir Putin have a highly anticipated bilateral meeting in Geneva today. On the agenda: regional conflicts, climate, COVID and cybersecurity. No major breakthroughs are expected but there are hopes that the leaders will find some common ground after trading invectives from afar in recent months.

• Taiwan reports largest incursion by Chinese air force: According to Taiwan's government, 28 Chinese air force aircrafts entered the island's air defense identification zone (ADIZ) yesterday. Over the last few months, multiple missions of the Chinese air force have taken place near the self-ruled island, but this was the largest incursion since the Taiwanese ministry began regularly reporting the activities last year.

• Car bomb explosion at Colombia military base injures 36: In the Colombian border city of Cucuta, two men drove a white Toyota truck into the military base after passing themselves off as officials. According to the Defence Minister Diego Molano, the hypothesis is that the National Liberation Army guerrillas are to blame but the attack is still being investigated.

• Leftist Castillo wins popular vote in Peru's presidential race: With all ballots counted, and a turnout of nearly 75%, leftist candidate Pedro Castillo has just over 50% of the votes. But he cannot be declared the winner until electoral authorities have finished processing legal challenges brought by right-wing contender Keiko Fujimori. It could take weeks before a winner is formally announced.

• China to send astronauts to new space station: On Thursday, three veteran astronauts will become the first Chinese astronauts to land on the initial stages of China's orbiting space station module, Tiangong or Heavenly Palace, which is still under construction. The mission, called Shenzhou-12 or Divine Vessel, is the first of four planned and marks a significant milestone in China's expanding space program.

• Greenpeace parachuting protesters lands on soccer fans: Several spectators were treated for injuries caused by a Greenpeace protester who parachuted into the Munich stadium before France played Germany at the European Championship. The parachutist seemed to lose control and had a brush with the supporters before landing on the field. Greenpeace has apologized for putting people in harm's way.

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