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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.

Photo of Tashi Choden, crowned Miss Bhutan 2022 in June
LGBTQ Plus
Laura Valentina Cortés Sierra, Lisa Berdet, Lila Paulou, McKenna Johnson, Joel Silvestri and Emma Albright

LGBTQ+ International: Iraq Homosexuality Ban, Bhutan’s Beauty Queen — And The Week’s Other Top News

Italian police, Brazilian soccer, Japanese politics, and plenty of other stories from around the world

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:

  • The first Queer Miss Bhutan
  • A Brazilian referee coming out just before Qatar World Cup
  • Life as an Argentine trans dad
  • … and more
✉️ You can receive our LGBTQ+ International roundup every week directly in your inbox: Sign up here.

🇮🇹 Italian Police Equate Gender Identity With Mental Disorder In Job Application Form

Italy’s Ministry of Interior is looking to hire 1,381 new police agents, but as part of their eligibility criteria, they class “gender identity” in the list of mental health disorders, as reported by Open media.

The call, published on May 16, on the Ministry’s website, indicates the procedures and requirements to apply. Under the heading "mental disorders" that the candidates cannot have, the words "current or previous gender identity disorders" appear, last in the list with "schizophrenia, current or past mood disorders, current or past dissociative disorders, current or past anxiety disorders,” and other ailments.

According to La Stampa, this part of a 7-page application process was flagged by an aspiring policeman, who was “offended and humiliated” and turned to a lawyer. “It seems to me as a wrong reference in a wrong context.”

🇧🇷🇶🇦 Referee Igor Benevenuto Comes Out Just Months Before World Cup In Qatar

Photo of \u200bBrazilian referee Igor Benevenuto

Brazilian referee Igor Benevenuto

Facebook page


FIFA Referee Igor Benevenuto came out in an interview with theGlobo Esportes podcast "Nos Armários dos Vestiários" (in the locker's closet), a journalistic series that exposes homophobia and machismo in Brazilian soccer. Benevenuto talked about the pain of living in a culture and a religion that rejected homosexuality, as highlighted by Out Sports LGBT+ media.

“For a while, I believed that there was something very wrong with me, because while I respected the Church, its doctrine failed miserably with what I felt. I remained the same, only without the right to express myself,” said the 41-year-old.

FIFA welcomed Benevenuto’s decision to come out, stating that “Igor striving to be true to himself is an important moment for football in Brazil and in other countries around the world.” FIFA has been criticized by LGBTQ+ groups after choosing Qatar as its 2022 World Cup host, a country where homosexual sex is illegal.

🇧🇹 Miss Bhutan Speaks Up For The LGBTQ+ Community

Tashi Choden, crowned Miss Bhutan 2022 in June, is the first-ever public figure in the country that publicly came out as lesbian. She will also be the first openly gay to represent the conservative country at Miss Universe 2022 in December.

She spoke up for the LGBTQ+ community and told AFP, “I'm not only speaking for the Bhutanese community but I'm speaking for the minority community on a platform like the Miss Universe pageant.”

🇫🇷 France Excludes Transgender Men From Medically Assisted Procreation 

The Constitutional Council in France approved the exclusion of transexual men from medically assisted procreation (MAP). The July 6 decision has sparked many reactions from LGBTQ+ associations to politicians.

SOS Homophobie, a non-profit French organization that fights against homophobic and transphobic crimes, expressed its "anger" and "dismay" at this decision, and qualified it as "a missed opportunity to immediately address the inequality of reproductive rights between citizens.”

🇷🇺 Russia May Extend Law Against “Gay Propaganda” To All Adults

Photo of the Moscow Pride

Moscow Pride

Wikimedia Commons


A senior Russian legislator said that the country’s so-called “gay propaganda” law, banning the promotion of any “non-traditional” sexual relationships among minors, could extend to adults later this year. According to Reuters, if the ban extends, anyone seen as promoting homosexuality could be subject to fines. Alexander Khinshtei, the head of the State Duma’s information committee, wrote on Telegram that “We propose to generally extend the ban on such propaganda regardless of the age of the audience.”

Russia’s existing “gay propaganda” law, introduced in 2013, has been used as justification to stop pride marches and detain activists. Last week, parliamentary speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said that because Russia had quit the human rights watchdog group Council of Europe, “Demands to legalize same-sex marriages in Russia are a thing of the past.”

🇮🇶 Iraq’s Proposed Law To Ban Homosexuality Causes Uproar

Iraq's government has taken steps to criminalize homosexuality, the country’s Parliamentary Legal Committee met on July 8 to create proposals targeting the LGBTQ+ community. In an interview with the Iraqi News Agency, State of Law coalition MP Aref al-Hamami confirmed that “It was agreed within the parliament to collect signatures after returning to session to legislate a law prohibiting homosexuality in Iraq”. Homosexuality has been legal in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

Despite it being legal, politicians and religious leaders have constantly attacked the LGBTQ+ community, which has also been subjected to death threats, attacks and murder by armed groups, as well as targetting through laws punishing "immodest acts" according to Middle East Eye. The current government has even proposed the creation of an annual day against homosexuality.

Amir Ashour, head of the IraQueer LGBTQ+rights group, told Middle East Eye that the new law would provide cover for such attacks. "This will allow the Iraqi government to legally get away with murder and provide legal protection for armed groups and other criminals who continue to target LGBTQ+ citizens."

🇿🇦 South Africa’s Celebrated Film Critic Barry Ronge Dies At 74

One of the most prominent openly gay personalities in South African media, film critic Barry Ronge has died at age 74. Ronge led a decades-long career as a journalist, writer, columnist, and broadcaster. Despite his life in the public eye, Ronge kept a very private life.

For 45 years, he shared his life with his partner Albertus van Dyk, whom he cites as his biggest inspiration.

🌎 UN Renews LGBTQ+ Rights Watchdog

The United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution in order to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) for three more years. The vote on Thursday was adopted with 23 in favor, 17 voting against and 7 abstaining.

In addition to the renewal of the mandate, the resolution also confirmed fundament LGBTQ+ human rights. Since its creation in 2016, the UN expert has raised awareness worldwide about the impact of the criminalization of same-sex relations and the lack of affirming legal gender recognition procedures.

🇺🇸 Burning Book, Hateful Tags: LGBTQ+ Harassment in New England

Screenshot of a tweet by \u200bBoston\u2019s mayor Michelle Wu reacting to vandalism in the city

Boston’s mayor Michelle Wu reacting to vandalism in the city

Twitter


A group of conservative mothers in Connecticut are demanding that a collection of books be burned, after their local library put up a display in honor of Pride during the month of June. On June 22, the group which included a “Christian taxpayer” saw the display and removed the books. They proceeded to demand that the books be removed and burned, using slurs at the front desk of the library.

In the neighboring state of Massachusetts, an LGBTQ+ friendly senior home which is under construction in Hyde Park was vandalized. Messages included: “Die slow”, “your fairytale is over”, “Die by fire”, and “There are 2 genders”. The graffiti was discovered in the Boston suburb on July 10, but was quickly covered by residents with pro-LGBTQ+ messages. Boston’s mayor Michelle Wu tweeted: “Hate and acts of vandalism will not be tolerated … anywhere in Boston.”

🇯🇵 Record Number Of LGBTQ+ Candidates In Japan’s Election

In Japan’s House of Councillors election that took place on Sunday, history was made with a record number of 4 out of 545 candidates aiming to enter Japan’s male-dominated political circle identify at LGBTQ+. Japan’s political landscape was criticized for being unable to reflect the society’s diversity, and it only ranks 147th in political empowerment among 156 countries in the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index.

With transgender candidate Karen Yoda, Shunichi Murata who identifies as bisexual, and Daigo Matsuura who is openly gay, talks on “diversity” and “coming out” and visibility on the LGBTQ+ population in Japan’s political world creates a watershed.

🇦🇷 Argentine Trans Dads Fight For More Visibility

Screenshot of Network of Trans Dads's first Zoom meeting

Network of Trans Dads's first meeting

Screenshot Agencia Presentes


Last year in Argentina, about 20 trans men came together to create the network “Paternidades Trans Argentina.” This online community is helping people share their stories, feel understood, inspired and supported while taking the medical and legal steps to become trans dads. Since the creation of the network, several members have become parents and are contributing to making trans parenthood visible, which is also helping to fight the stigma associated with it.

Members advocate for a much needed cultural change by achieving personal accomplishments and through in-person events like conferences and campaigns. They hope to bring awareness on the reality of “trans and non-binary men who gestate, adopt and accompany” children. Argentine trans men (and particularly those who get pregnant) still have to face hostile depiction by some part of the media as well as difficulties to be supported by the health system. The network thus brings them much needed comfort and relief.

OTHERWISE

• The authors offers a reflection on how David Fincher’s 1999 Fight Club helped him come to terms with his sexual orientation and gender identity.

• The Crown actress Emma Corrin becomes the first nonbinary person to be featured on the cover of Vogue.

• Independent online magazine Autostraddle has put together a list of 49 queer and feminist books coming out in the summer. Enjoy!

Photo of a crowd at the London Pride 2022
LGBTQ Plus
Laura Valentina Cortés Sierra, Lisa Berdet, Lila Paulo, Shaun Lavelle, Emma Albright and Bertrand Hauger

LGBTQ+ International: Lebanon Crackdown, 50 Years Of London Pride — And The Week’s Other Top News

Indigenous pride, Ukrainian drag queen carpenter and in-flight, same-sex marriage proposal, and plenty of other stories from around the world

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:

  • LGBTQ+ rights at risk in Lebanon
  • London celebrating 50 years of Pride in style
  • An airborne same-sex proposal
  • … and more
✉️ You can receive our LGBTQ+ International roundup every week directly in your inbox: Sign up here.

🇧🇴🇦🇷 Bolivia And Argentina Hold First Indigenous, Cross-Border Pride

"Orgullo" means pride in Spanish

agenciapresentes.org


The first International March of Sexual and Gender Diversity was celebrated in the border cities of Villazón, Bolivia and La Quiaca, Argentina. Indigenous communities were front and center at an event demanding basic human rights.

"We were all dark skinned marching and that was the most beautiful thing, breaking the borders with indigenous queerness," activist Alexis Méndez told Agencia Presentes.

Rosalinda Ancasi, the first openly trans woman from La Quiaca and co-organizer of the event, said the aim of the weekend march on the border was to “help us achieve greater visibility and our demands gain strength. We seek to position ourselves as people who deserve to have more respect and affection from society.”

🇲🇽 One In 20 Mexicans Identifies As LGBTQ+

For the first time in history, the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) of Mexico conducted a National Survey on Sexual and Gender Diversity. This data presented offers official statistics to guide the Mexican government to design and generate public policies to achieve a more egalitarian and inclusive society, Presentesreports.

The survey shines a light on some worrying numbers: 518,311 LGBTQ+ people were forced to go through a form of “conversion therapy”. Additionally, 1 in 5 trans people have been assaulted and forced to leave their homes. One out of every 20 people over the age of 15 identifies as LGBTI+ in the country. This means 5.1% of the country's total population, or about 5 million people.

🇨🇴 Colombia Allows LGBTQ+ People To Donate Blood

The Constitutional Court of Colombia ruled that rejecting a blood donor for being homosexual, bisexual or trans is discriminatory, reports Sentiido media.

This decision comes after a Colombian gay couple took legal action when they were rejected as blood donors, despite being in a monogamous relationship, using condoms and having presented negative tests for HIV.

The Constitutional Court said LGBTQ+ people in Colombia can finally approach the country's blood banks to donate blood without fear of being discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

🇺🇸 Disney’s Baymax! Series Features A Trans Man Character

Disney released a new series, Baymax!, a spin-off from its 2014 adventure-comedy movie Big Hero 6. The series is currently streaming on Disney+ and has already sparked controversy on social media.

The third episode features is a scene in which a transgender man buys tampons and pads. Some conservative viewers felt uncomfortable, saying such content was not suitable for children. The appearance of a transgender character is in line with Disney’s desire to be more inclusive by showing more LGBTQ+ characters and menstrual cycles. Recently, Lightyear, another Disney movie, was censored in several countries due to its portrayal of same-sex relationships.

🇺🇸 Anti-LGBTQ+ Laws Take Effect In Five More U.S. States

Florida Fovernor Ron DeSantis’s Parental Rights in Education Act, also known as the “Don’t Say Gay” law went into effect last week in the southern U.S. state. The law bans any talk of gender identity and sexual orientation in kindergarten through third grade, and also prohibits such discussions all the way through high school.

According to NBC, DeSantis has suggested this is only the beginning, saying in an interview with Fox News back in April that “things like woke gender ideology have no place in the schools, period.”

Meanwhile, following Florida’s lead, five other states passed laws on the same day impacting LGBTQ+ rights. Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed a bill preventing transgender students from using facilities like restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity. In Indiana, South Dakota, Utah and Tennessee, a law now prohibits transgender women and girls in high school from competing on sports teams consistent with their gender identity.

🇺🇸 Flight Attendant Makes Passenger Announcement To Propose To Her Pilot Partner

Flight attendant Veronica Rojas made a very special passenger announcement on an Alaska Airline flight from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Passengers heard the usual sign, but instead of providing safety recommendations, Rojas proceeded to tell them how she had met her partner, the plane’s pilot Alejandra Moncayo, on the same flight two years earlier.

She then specifically addressed her girlfriend in Spanish, asking, “My goddess. With you, I’ll go to the skies. Would you do me the honor of being my wife?” before offering her an engagement ring. Moncayo said yes to the cheers of the passengers, who were all offered free tickets for a future flight by Alaska Airlines.

🇬🇧 Lancashire Town Rallies In Support Of Bullied Gay Couple

The community of New Longton, Lancashire has rallied around a local gay couple who were targeted with hate mail. The couple, Nathan Jones and Daniel Cooper, who run the local village post office, received an anonymous letter demanding they take down the Pride flag they had hung on the building. The letter claimed the village was a “Christian” area visited by children and that the flag was “revolting”.

A community member write an online post about the letter and soon garnered a flood of support for the couple, with residents staging a rally outside the post office. Chris Wilson, an organizer of the rally, said “I’m not a political person, I’m not a religious person, but I am a person who cares. I am a proud gay man [who] will stand shoulder to shoulder with anyone regardless of sexuality, gender, race or religion to show that love wins, love will always win.”

🇺🇦 A Drag Queen Making Coffins For Bucha: Another Sad And Bizarre War Story

Photo of Artur Ozerov built coffins, some of which were destined for Bucha

Ozerov built coffins, some of which were destined for Bucha

Novoe Vremya


Artur Ozerov from Kyiv is one of hundreds of thousands of volunteers helping the Ukrainian army and civilians during the war. Still, he’s got his own approach. The Ukrainian news outlet Novoe Vremya featured a profile of Ozerov, a Ukrainian civil servant, owner of an apiary near Kyiv, and a drag queen artist.

"When the full-scale war started, my first thought was: I won't go anywhere, I'll stay home. I have a big house — lots of bees and animals,” recalls Ozerov, whose drag name is Aura. “But if God forbid, something happens — a rocket hits, or something catches fire, who will put it out?"

About ten days after the full-scale invasion, Ozerov and his colleagues were called on by the army to help. Since he was good with wood and making frames and beehives for his apiary, it fell to Ozerov to begin making coffins.

He soon realized that some of them were destined for Bucha, the suburb of Kyiv where an untold number of civilians were massacred in alleged Russian war crimes. “When we produced the coffins and the number passed 100, I couldn't realize how many people died there… You chop-chop-chop-chop these coffins, and they tell you they need more and more. It was emotionally hard," Ozerov told Novoe Vremya.

🇱🇧 Lebanon Prohibits Events Promoting LGBTQ+ Rights

Lebanon’s Interior Ministry has called for a ban on events “promoting sexual perversion,” claiming such gatherings violate customs, traditions and “principles of religion.” The decision specifically targets LGBTQ+ activists, who have since reported having been questioned by security forces. A peaceful march to protest against the ban was canceled due to death threats amid an avalanche of homophobic attacks on social media.

Human Rights Watch and other associations that are part of the Coalition to Defend Freedom of Expression in Lebanon have condemned the ban as “discriminatory and unlawful” as it violates LGBTQ+ people’s constitutional rights to equality, free expression and free assembly. The queer community was already badly affected by the 2020 Beirut port explosion, which destroyed many gay-friendly venues and prompted a population exodus.

🇳🇬 Nigeria Sentences Three To Death By Stoning For Homosexuality

Three men, including a 70-year-old, have been arrested by the Hisbah religious police of northern Nigerian state Bauchi on charges of engaging in homosexuality. The three men all confessed and were subsequently condemned to be stoned to death by an Islamic sharia court. They were not represented by lawyers and have 30 days to appeal the sentence.

The court decision must be approved by the state governor to take effect, but homosexuality is generally outlawed in Nigeria. People entering same-sex relationships face jail time according to the country’s law, but the constitution remains neutral on religion. Yahaya Aminu Sharif, a 22-year-old singer who was sentenced to death for blasphemy in 2020 by another sharia court, has asked the Appeals Court to rule whether the sharia penal code is constitutional.

🇬🇧 UK Campaign To End Detention Of LGBTQ+ Asylum Seekers

UK-based organization Rainbow Migration, which advocates for members of the LGBTQ+ community seeking asylum, launched a campaign called No Pride in Detention. The campaign aims to end the detention of LGBTQ+ asylum seekers in the country, a detention that serves “no purpose other than to isolate and traumatize them.”

The government had already recognized in 2016 that transgender people are more at risk of being harassed or sexually and mentally abused but nothing has been said on LGBTQ+ people. The “No Pride In Detention” campaign calls for a 28-day time limit for all asylum seekers’ detentions.

🇬🇧 London Celebrates Biggest Pride Ever

The London Pride celebrated its 50th anniversary

Loredana Sangiuliano/SOPA Images/ZUMA


Last weekend, over 1.5 million people flocked to London for Pride celebrations, making it the most attended Pride in British history. This year’s celebrations also marked the 50th anniversary of London’s first Pride march. Labour member of Parliament Emily Thornberry took to Twitter: “50 years ago, to be at a demonstration like this was to take your life into your own hands. And actually, it was a protest, and it was also about just being proud of yourself, being confident, and looking the world in the eye and going ‘yeah, I’m different, so what?’”

OTHERWISE

  • Watch the cast of Netflix’s LGBTQ+ drama Hearstopper taunt protesters at London Pride.
  • Angel Flores, a trans olympic weightlifting coach, has become a role model for LGBTQ+ athletes.
  • Check out this list of 20 LGBTQ+ TV shows and movies hitting the screens big and small this month.
  • A meeting was held at the Swedish embassy in Uganda on how to support LGBTQ+ rights in socially conservative societies like Uganda.
  • A group of trans fathers in Argentina have come together to fight the stigma surrounding their struggles and to share their stories as parents. Read “What Life Is Like As A Trans Father,” which was originally published in Buenos Aires-based Agencia Presentes, now available in English on Worldcrunch.
Thousands of people demonstrate against abortion in Spain
Society
Lisa Berdet, Lila Paulou and Shaun Lavelle

End Of Roe v. Wade: Will It Spark Anti-Abortion Momentum Around The World?

Anti-abortion activists celebrated the end of the U.S. right to abortion, hoping it will trigger a new debate on a topic that in some places had largely been settled: in favor a woman’s right to choose. But it could also boomerang.

The Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling establishing a constitutional right to abortion put the United States at the forefront of abortion rights in the world.

Other countries would follow suit in the succeeding years, with France legalizing abortion in 1975, Italy in 1978, and Ireland finally joining most of the rest of Europe with a landslide 2018 referendum victory for women’s right to choose. Elsewhere, parts of Asia and Africa have made incremental steps toward legalizing abortion, while a growing number of Latin American countries have joined what has now been a decades-long worldwide shift toward more access to abortion rights.

But now, 49 years later, with last Friday’s landmark overturning of Roe v. Wade, will the U.S. once again prove to be ahead of the curve? Will American cultural and political influence carry across borders on the abortion issue, reversing the momentum of recent years?

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Pizza Makers To Patient Care: 5 Cool New Robots Conquering The World
Future
Hannah Steinkopf-Frank

Pizza Makers To Patient Care: 5 Cool New Robots Conquering The World

Robotics has become standard in much of industrial production, but AI also means robots are able to accomplish more and more complicated tasks. Here are some living examples around the world.

"The robots are coming..." has been an ominous science fiction trope dating back decades. Now, depending where you look, the robots have arrived. With the multiplication of artificial intelligence capabilities, there are real-life fears that robotics will make our jobs irrelevant. A recent report the International Federation of Robotics found that in China, a record 943,000 industrial robots are now operating in the country's factories.

But in fact, it goes well beyond the traditional assembly lines: advances in robotic technology are creating devices capable of accomplishing increasingly complicated tasks, serving as sous chefs, healthcare aids, and even entertainment. Here's a global look at the robots you may soon see staring back at you:

Making pizza, flipping burgers

The Pazzi robot-controlled kitchen

pazzipizzas/Instagram


Imagine a chef who could whip out 400 pizzas an hour. That's the recipe for Cala, a new Paris-area business with a robotic pizzaïolo. Cala, which launched on delivery apps and now has a physical restaurant, offers quick meals at an affordable price because robots require far less space to work and you can never have too many cooks in the kitchen.

"It also allows access to more commercial spaces, especially in places where it is impossible to open a traditional restaurant," Cala co-founder Ylan Richard tells French business daily Les Echos. Cala, which just raised 5.5 million euros, plans to have seven restaurants by the end of 2022.

Cala is one of about 10 of these food tech companies around the world innovating completely automated kitchens. Pazzi is another start-up in France that hopes to automate 100% of kitchen activities; it raised 10 million euros and opened a Paris restaurant this past summer. Pazzi's robot can make a pizza in less than five minutes.

In the U.S. many of these advances are hoping to soften the impact of the country's widespread worker shortage. Miso Robotics first engineered a burger-flipping robot and is now taking on frying chicken wings and fries with its Flippy 1 and 2, which is being implemented in the Buffalo Wild Wings and White Castle fast food chains.

Growing strawberries in California

Robots cultivate plants at the Iron Ox greenhouse

ironoxfarms/Insta


Iron Ox, a California startup, is using robots to more sustainability grow produce; its greenhouses use 90% less water than traditional farms and 90% less electricity than other indoor farms.

Grover, a self-driving robot, transports modules of plants (carrying approximately 80 gallons with 70 plants in each module) and another robot is used to lift them up. It's truly a fully "smart" greenhouse, using a hydroponics system for plants to be grown in water with sensors monitoring acidity and nitrogen levels. Overhead cameras take 3D pictures of the plants for scientists to use to measure crop production.

Currently, Iron Ox has cultivated strawberries and Thai basil and is now also growing cilantro, parsley and tomatoes. With funding from Bill Gates' Breakthrough Energy Ventures, the company is planning a 50,000-square-meter greenhouse in Texas that will have robots handling about 5,400 modules.

Patient care in Rwanda

Robots aid in COVID-19 medical care in Rwanda

Cyril Ndegeya/Xinhua/ZUMA


Akazuba, Ikizere and Ngabo are all employed at the Kanyinya COVID-19 treatment facility near Kigali, Rwanda's capital, but they face no risk of infection. Donated by the United Nations Development Program, these robots with human-like eyes monitor patients and take temperatures to limit the human staff's exposure to coronavirus.

As Reuters reports, these robots also cut down on bedside visits by using technology to assess the effectiveness of a medical team's decisions and relaying messages to doctors.

In Egypt, mechatronics engineer Mahmoud el-Koumi created Cira-03, a robot that can test people for COVID-19, africanews.com reports. el-Koumi self-funded the prototype, which uses remote control. Cira-03's human-like face was designed to put patients at ease and before being deployed, a specialized doctor trains the robot to improve its AI. In addition to performing PCR tests, Cira-03 can take blood samples and temperatures. Results are then displayed on a screen attached to the robot's chest. And, oh yes, Cira-03 also reminds patients to wear a face mask.

Pure entertainment in Japan

Japan's new giant robot is inspired by a popular anime series

Kento Nara/Future-Image/ZUMA


According to the International Federation of Robotics, sales of entertainment robots have been on the rise, increasing from 4.6 million units in 2019 to 5.1 million units in 2020. But these are no longer the basic animatronic puppets of the past.

Japan has long been a robotics pioneer, particularly to address labor issues caused by its aging population. But it's not all work and no play. Last year, a new attraction was revealed: an almost 60-foot-high robot (about half of the height of the Statue of Liberty) inspired by Gundam, a science fiction anime series.

The robot, located just south of Tokyo at the Gundam Factory Yokohama, was built as part of the Gundam Global Challenge. This gentle giant, which weighs 25 tons and has more than 20 moving parts, can move its arms and legs, appearing to crouch and walk. Fans can come watch the robot, which is accompanied by a music and lights display, truly bringing the fictional world to life.

Robofly in Seattle

The RoboFly is powered by a laser beam

Mark Stone/University of Washington


Sometimes, the most impressive robotic technology is also the smallest, known as micro-robotics. As Tech Xplor points out, insect-sized robots have a range of applications, from helping in search and rescue operations to inspecting infrastructures to speeding up agricultural production. But their minuscule size also makes them difficult to manufacture.

University of Washington researchers have invented the RoboFly, a flapping-wing robot that can travel in the air as well as on the ground and on water surfaces. RoboFly weighs in at only 74 milligrams and has fewer components than similar insect-like robots, simplifying its fabrication. It's an example of biomimicry when animals and other organic processes inspire technology.

RoboFly is in fact an adaption of RoboBee X-Wing, which has four wings that flap 170 times per second. The RoboBee stands 6.5 centimeters high with a wingspan of 3.5 centimeters. Muscle-like plates control the wings, which are outfitted with six tiny solar cells; the wings begin to flap when exposed to light. Although because it required three times the intensity of natural sunlight, it didn't receive any real-world exposure.

Spiderman To Jewish Stars: Global Vaccine Protests Get Ugly
Society
Rozena Crossman

Spiderman To Jewish Stars: Global Vaccine Protests Get Ugly

More protests are bound to spread after President Biden announced that vaccinations will become mandatory for millions of U.S. workers in certain categories of employment, including those who work for the federal government and large corporations.

Vaccines used to be a quiet thing: someone getting a flu shot or UNICEF shipping off jabs to children in a faraway country. No longer. COVID-19 has put vaccinations at the center of both global health policy and national partisan politics — and plenty of noise has ensued.

After some initial demonstrations earlier this year critical of slow vaccination rollouts, protests are now firmly focused on local and national policies that require vaccines, including obligatory jabs for medical workers and the so-called "green pass" vaccine-required access to certain locations and activities. No doubt more protests are bound to spread in the United States after last week's announcement by U.S. President Joe Biden that vaccinations will become mandatory for millions of workers in certain categories of employment, including those who work for the federal government and large corporations.

Still, the protests have been nearly as global as the pandemic itself. Throughout much of the summer, France has had a weekly rendezvous on Saturday to protest against vaccine requirements. In Berlin, thousands took to the streets last month chanting, "Hands off our children!" In New York City, a smattering of nurses, doctors and other medical professionals protested compulsory vaccination, chanting "I am not a lab rat!"

Here are some of the typical and atypical ways the anti-required-vax protesters are being seen and heard:

CANADA: Upside down flags + stars of David + hazmat suits

World Wide Walkout Protest, Sept 1, 2021 — Photo: GoToVan

Canada has witnessed steady, and often offbeat or controversial, forms of protest against the vaccine requirements in provinces and cities for those who want to enter restaurants, theaters and workout classes. On Sept.1 a large crowd in the northwest city of Vancouver expressed their displeasure with vaccine requirements by marching on City Hall carrying their nation flag upside down, which according to the Canadian government, is a "signal of distress in instances of extreme danger to life," the Vancouver Sun reports.

Meanwhile in Montreal, protesters compared governmental health rules to the Holocaust by wearing yellow Jewish Star of David patches; while in Toronto, Fairwiew Mall regulars would have spotted protesters in hazmat suits and white masks entering the premises. They carried a loudspeaker that blurted out a deep voice uttering eerie slogans: "Questioning masks is murder," "Big business is essential," and "Everyone loves pharmaceutical companies."

FRANCE: ‘Spiderman" scales office tower

Alain Robert and others climbers scaling up a tower in Paris — Photo: Midi Libre

As much of France was returning to work after summer vacation, one of the nation's tallest office skyscrapers was the sight of an unexpected protest against the country's stringent vaccine requirements. Alain Robert, dubbed the "French Spiderman" for his free solo climbing of urban landmarks, led the way up the 187-meter (614 foot) headquarters of energy giant TotalEnergies to protest the health passports currently required to enter bars and restaurants. "It's an attack on fundamental liberties," said the 60-year-old, who was subsequently arrested for endangering the lives of others.

ITALY: Anti-vaxxers arrested

Police car in Rome — Photo: Wikimedia Commons

"If they find out what I have at home, they'll arrest me for terrorism," an Italian man named Stefano boasted on Telegram, the encrypted instant messaging platform. He was one of about 200 Italian anti-vaxxers preparing for a violent demonstration in Rome, where they were talking about using Molotov cocktails against TV trucks and attacking parliament with a drone.

Police not only found what Stefano packed at home — a katana sword, several pepper sprays and a nightstick among other things — but also what the others allegedly hoarded: brass knuckles, guns, as well as smaller weapons, such as razor blades to be hidden between fingers. ("They're not visible, but cut throats open," a Telegram user said.)

Alas, Stefano was right: he and seven other anti-vaxxers were arrested on Sept. 9, La Stampa reported.

POLAND: Anti-vax terrorism attack at vaccine point

Photo: notesfrompoland.com

An Aug. 2 arson attack on a COVID vaccine pointin the Polish city of Zamość, which follows other acts of aggression by opponents of vaccination in Poland, has been condemned by the health minister, Adam Niedzielski, as an "act of terror." During the night, both a mobile vaccination point in the central square of Zamość, a city of 65,000 in southeast Poland, as well as the local headquarters of the health authorities, which are responsible for enforcing coronavirus restrictions, were set alight.

Marek Nowak, a sociologist at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, told Gazeta Wyborczathat the pandemic has "intensified the formation of radical movements" and led "anti-vaccination movements to use terror to convince others to share their views."

U.S.: Pro-Trump group piggybacks COVID protests

Proud Boys confrontation — Photo: Flickr

A growing number of mask and vaccine mandates in some U.S. states are being met with protests, which have occasionally turned violent. This is in part due to the reappearance of some far-right groups behind the Capitol Hill insurrection in January like the Proud Boys gang, who after lying low for a few months have begun attending rallies, according to USA Today.

Some of the starkest scenes were observed in Los Angeles in August: Proud Boys members and other agitators attacked counter-protesters and journalists, sending a veteran reporter to the hospital. But some non gang-affiliated civilians are also responsible for the violence: in northern California, a parent fuming after seeing his daughter come out of school with a mask barged into the building and assaulted a teacher.

NEW ZEALAND: Down Under, one is the loneliest number

Plenty of sheep show up in New Zealand

Photo: Pixabay

Other nations have seen anti-vaccine protesters gather by the thousands, and the police in Auckland, New Zealand were ready when posts on social media alerted them about a potential gathering. They successfully managed to engage in talks with the protesters and shut down the demonstration — or, rather, the protester, as only one person showed up.

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

Auckland Stabbing Attack, U.S. Flood Toll Rises, ABBA’s Back
In The News
Meike Eijsberg, Anne-Sophie Goninet and Bertrand Hauger

Auckland Stabbing Attack, U.S. Flood Toll Rises, ABBA’s Back

Welcome to Friday, where a "terrorist attack" in New Zealand leaves at least six dead, the New York flooding toll multiplies and an iconic Swedish 70s disco band is making a comeback. Italian daily La Stampa also looks at the unlikely rise in China of gray-haired influencers trending on social media.

• New Zealand terror stabbings: A man believed to be linked to ISIS has stabbed and wounded six people in a supermarket in Auckland, New Zealand. The attacker, who was known to the authorities, was shot and killed by police. Three of the wounded are in critical condition. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described it as a "terrorist attack" and said the man was "a supporter of ISIS ideology."

• Japan's Prime Minister Suga to step down: Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has announced he will not run for re-election as party leader this month thereby signalling the end of his tenure. His decision comes only a year after replacing longtime Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who stepped down for health reasons. Suga's popularity plummeted amid Japan's most recent wave of COVID cases and the fallout from the decision to go ahead with the Summer Olympics during the pandemic.

• Kabul airport reopens, fighting in holdout Afghan province: According to Afghanistan's Ariana Airlines, domestic flights from Kabul airport are set to resume Friday. There have been no flights to or from the airport since the Aug. 15 takeover by Taliban Islamist group. Meanwhile, heavy fighting has been reported between Taliban and thousands of opposition fighters in the Panjshir Valley, the last province to resist the takeover.

• New York flash floods: The death toll has risen to 45 in the flash floods that have hit the U.S. northeast, in the wake of Hurricane Ida. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio called the record rainfall "historic" and declared a state of emergency in the city, urging people to stay off the subway and roads.

• COVID-19 update: The EU and coronavirus vaccine-maker AstraZeneca have reached a deal, settling a row over a shortfall in vaccines that had affected the rollout in Europe earlier this year. North Korea has refused 2.97 million doses of the Sinovac coronavirus vaccine, saying they should be sent to countries with worst outbreaks.

• NASA's Mars rover 2nd drill attempt: NASA's Perseverance rover has retrieved a rock sample on Mars after a previous attempt last month saw the sample crumble to dust. This time, a rock core was securely picked up; and if it is successfully delivered back to Earth, would be the first ever rock collection from another planet.

• New ABBA songs: They're still the dancing queens and kings, though far from being only seventeen … Iconic Swedish 70s disco band ABBA are making a surprise comeback with their first new songs in nearly 40 years. A new album and a virtual concert will follow.



"How India should deal with the Taliban," titles weekly magazine India Today, writing that it is "wise to negotiate with the new government of Afghanistan rather than boycott it."



Aging influencers, Chinese grandmas are social media hit

Imagine a 70-year-old Chinese version of Chiara Ferragni. Now multiply these "senior" Asian influencers by a dozen and you will have a snapshot of the new phenomenon that has hit social media in China. Grey is the new blond, a wise man once said, and old age is turning into a modern trend, with Chinese characteristics, writes Carlo Pizzati in Italian daily La Stampa.

👵 The aging divas are the stars of the feed dedicated to "Fashion Grandmothers" on the Chinese social network Douyin, the national version of Tik Tok. They call themselves "fashion_grannies" or "Glamma Beijing," playing on the Chinese pronunciation of the English words grandma and glamor. And they are quite something to see, wrapped up in traditional damask cheongsam, buttoned all the way up their neck or hopping in casual clothes of the latest fashion brands.

💄 What do glamor grandmothers do? Just like elderly Barbies, they are dressed, stylized and dolled up by squads of young designers, aestheticians and makeup artists before walking the catwalk in slow-motion videos, with sudden speed-ups to further show off the charisma of these trendy grandmas. "When I was young, I never wore makeup," says Sang Xiuzhan, a 75-year-old who spent 50 years living in Beijing. "My dream as a girl was to work in show business, but I had to become an engineer in the 1960s. We had to contribute to economic growth, not spending any time on the superfluous."

🤩 This reality is full of surprises that paint the picture of a strange return to the past, made possible precisely thanks to the latest technology. "These videos of seniors disrupt stereotypes of old age. Retirees used to be seen as passive, unsophisticated and coarse," says Xiao Lijuan, the CEO of Letuizu, a digital platform that turned five grandfathers and five grandmothers into lifestyle icons. "Now these opinionated senior citizens are demonstrating the possibility that people over 60 can be beautiful and graceful people, albeit in a different way than young people."

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com



Duped by North Korean propaganda, Japanese expats are suing Kim Jong-un

Kim Jong-Un, Supreme Leader of North Korea, has been summoned to appear in a Japanese courthouse. Five people who moved to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) between 1959 and 1984 are seeking 500 million yen (3.8 million euros) in damages from the North Korean government for deceiving them with promises of a prosperous life they never found in the totalitarian state, South Korean daily Segye Ilbo reports.

The plaintiffs, four women and one man, are among the estimated 93,000 Japanese-Koreans and other Japanese who moved to North Korea in the latter half of the previous century, often persuaded by a propaganda project (Zainichi Chosenjin no Kikan Jigyo) to attract immigrant workers. The targeted campaign was carried out through the General Association of Koreans in Japan (Chongryon), the de facto representative of North Korea in Japan, touting life in the Northern peninsula as "paradise on Earth."

At the time, it wasn't so far-fetched, with the DPRK's economy developing faster than that of South Korea and Japan. The idea was especially attractive to Koreans who had arrived in Japan during its colonisation (1910-1945) and remained after the war. Whether forced laborers or volunteering immigrants, many were living in dire poverty and were drawn into the prospect of Communist North Korea guaranteeing their basic needs.

The arrivals from Japan soon discovered a far more grim reality, without the promised housing, education, food and clothing, and forced to work under dire conditions. One of the plaintiffs, Eiko Kawasaki, who went to North Korea at the age of 17 in 1960, explained: "North Korea wanted to attract Koreans, skilled workers and technicians, to cope with its labor shortage," French daily Le Monde writes.

Once the individuals arrived, they were not allowed to leave. Eiko only managed to flee in 2003. According to a 2013 UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights report, many of the Japanese expats "ended up in political prison camps and other places of detention in the DPRK."

Kim Jong-un, the grandson of the leader at the time, Kim Il-sung, is named in the suit as legal representative of the North Korean state. It is unclear if he is aware of his court date, scheduled for October 14, as South Korean daily Chosun Ilbo reports. In Japan, court summons are usually delivered directly to the person, but if there is no response, then the notice is publicly posted outside the courthouse. According toJapan Today, if he doesn't show up, it is likely the judge will rule in favor of the plaintiffs and order Kim Jong-un to pay the sought-after amount.





€225 million

Facebook's messaging service WhatsApp was hit by a record 225-million euro fine by Ireland's data protection regulator, for failing to conform with EU data rules about transparency in 2018. The company disputed the decision, declaring the "penalties are entirely disproportionate."



Resign? I don't even think about it.

— Pope Francis said in a radio interview, asserting that he has no intention of stepping down despite the major intestine surgery he underwent last July and rumors about his worsening health. "I lead a totally normal life," he added.