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Le Weekend: Endangered Odessa, Italy Gets Its Artifacts, Gravity-Defying Fashion
In The News
Worldcrunch

Le Weekend: Endangered Odessa, Italy Gets Its Artifacts, Gravity-Defying Fashion

January 28-29

  • Camel-inspired fabric
  • Leopard-print in Ukraine
  • Keep calm and parent on
  • … and much more.

🎲  OUR WEEKLY NEWS QUIZ

What do you remember from the news this week?

1. What has angered Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a recent Stockholm protest?

2. Who was the latest U.S. politician to have confidential documents found at their place?

3. Which famed site did Peru close due to protests, leaving some 400 tourists stranded there?

4. Which pop icon sold the rights to their song catalog for a whopping $200 million? Madonna / Justin Bieber / Rihanna

[Answers at the bottom of this newsletter]

#️⃣  TRENDING

To encourage Germany to finally supply Leopard 2 tanks to Kyiv, Ukrainian stars, online influencers and private companies launched a cheeky #freetheleopards campaign by wearing leopard-print clothing. The trend, which quickly gained traction on Instagram and Facebook, carried on even after Berlin agreed to deliver the tanks, in a show of gratitude.

🎭  5 CULTURE THINGS TO KNOW

• U.S. returns to Italy $20-million worth of seized artifacts: Sixty ancient artifacts dating from the seventh century B.C. to the first century A.D., and worth $20 million, were returned from the United States to Italy. The items were seized by American officials over the past 14 months from the Metropolitan Museum of Art as well as private collections, after collecting evidence that the artworks had been illegally looted from Italian archeological sites.

• UNESCO designates Odessa as endangered World Heritage site: The historic center of the Ukrainian port city of Odessa has been inscribed in UNESCO’s list of endangered World Heritage sites “to protect this city from greater destruction.” Russia criticized the move from the United Nations cultural agency, saying it was “politically motivated.”

Everything Everywhere All At Once leads Oscars nominations: The nominees for the 95th annual Academy Awards were announced this week, with absurdist comedy-drama Everything Everywhere All At Oncesnatching 11 nominations, followed by The Banshees of Inisherin and All Quiet on the Western Front. Meanwhile, India’s RRR scored a nomination in the original song category for its title track “Naatu Naatu” — a first for an Indian-made film.

• “World of Warcraft” game goes offline for Chinese players: Millions of gamers in China suddenly lost access to role-playing epic World of Warcraft and other popular video games, following a dispute between U.S. developper Blizzard and its local partner NetEase. Blizzard’s games had been available in the country since 2008.

• London’s Royal Opera House cuts ties with BP: The Royal Opera House announced it had severed its sponsorship relationship with oil giant BP after 33 years, following similar moves from the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Portrait Gallery in recent years to renounce funding from major fossil fuel producers. This leaves the British Museum and Science Museum isolated as two of the last major arts institutions in the UK still receiving funding from the firm.

🇷🇺  Wagner mercenaries and the risks of desertion

Tens of thousands of Russian prisoners convicted of the most brutal crimes have escaped from the frontlines after volunteering in exchange for freedom, and are seeking political asylum thanks to a "cleared" criminal record. Ukrainian journalist Anna Akage takes a closer look at the devious tactics of the Wagner group to hide the number of soldiers who have deserted or defected to Ukraine.

Read the full story: Wagner's MIA Convicts: Where Do Deserting Russian Mercenaries Go?

🏠⛔  Foreign buyers targeted by governments

Canada has become the most recent country to impose restrictions on non-residents buying real estate, arguing that wealthy investors from other countries are pricing out would-be local homeowners. But is singling out foreigners the best way to face a troubled housing market? This international roundup goes into the reasons behind this widespread phenomenon destined to protect struggling locals from wealthy foreign investors hungry for assets.

Read the full story: Why More Countries Are Banning Foreigners From Buying Real Estate

👪  What weighs on every parent

“As a father myself, I'm now better able to understand the pressures my own dad faced. It's helped me face my own internal demands to constantly be more productive and do better.” In this essay about the pressures of parenthood, Argentinian Journalist Ignacio Pereyra delves into sensitive topics that virtually every parent knows, from work exhaustion to lack of time and comfort to financial struggles.

Read the full story: Parenthood And The Pressure Of Always Having To Be Doing Better

🐪 BRIGHT IDEA

Engineers at Soochow University in China have developed a fabric inspired by the humps of camelids, which could be extremely useful for firefighters in close proximity to flames. As the New Scientist reports, this is an "insulating fabric made of pockets filled with an aerogel, in which the gel is replaced by a gas surrounded by two layers of heat-resistant plastic polymers."

👗🙃 SMILE OF THE WEEK

Dutch luxury fashion house Viktor & Rolf turned haute couture upside down (quite literally) with its gravity-defying dresses, presented at the Spring-Summer 2023 show of the Paris Haute Couture Week.

👉 OTHERWISE

Here’s the latest Dottoré! piece from the notebook of Neapolitan psychiatrist and writer Mariateresa Fichele:

A newborn dies, a mother's blame

They say that childbirth is, and must necessarily be, the most beautiful thing in the world.

So beautiful that it justifies all the hardships a mother must endure, without complaining or expecting relief from the pain. So beautiful that after it has happened, you are not even allowed to rest because you have to keep the baby with you to breastfeed.

So beautiful that if, exhausted as you are, you fall asleep, and the child tragically dies in your arms, you wouldn't even notice it or be able to wake up. And once you open your eyes and they tell you that your child is no longer there, there comes the insinuation that maybe you fell asleep not just because you were exhausted by all the pain and sleep deprivation, but also perhaps you were under the influence of some substance.

They say that childbirth is, and must necessarily be, the most beautiful thing in the world. May those who say that be cursed.

➡️ Read more from our Dottoré! series on Worldcrunch.com

⏩  LOOKING AHEAD 

• U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is scheduled to visit Israel and the West Bank next week for private meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

• Trade unions in France called for fresh protests and strikes starting from Jan. 31 to oppose the French government’s controversial plan to hike the retirement age. The upcoming winter holidays could be affected as French ski resort workers are expected to join the movement.

• The Australian Open will conclude this weekend with the Women's and Men’s Singles Finals as well as the Mixed and Men's Doubles Finals in Melbourne.

• Microsoft is removing Windows 10 Home and Pro downloads from sale — but worry not, Windows 10 will continue to be supported until its end of life in October 2025.

News quiz answers:

1. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was angered by images showing a Danish far-right extremist burning a copy of the Koran outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm, calling it “a disgrace.”

2. A dozen classified documents were found at the Indiana home of former Vice President Mike Pence, who turned the records over to the FBI.

3. Peru’s government has closed tourist access to the Machu Picchu site indefinitely “to protect tourists and citizens” amid ongoing protests demanding President Dina Boluarte’s resignation.

4. American singer Justin Bieberhas sold the rights to his publishing and artist royalties from his song catalog to investment company Hipgnosis for a reported $200 million.

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*Photo: Yana Hurskaya

This Happened—January 28: Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster
Sources

This Happened—January 28: Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster


As it was being watched live by millions, the Challenger space shuttle suddenly exploded 73 seconds after launch, killing everyone aboard. It happened on this day in 1986.

Get This Happened straight to your inbox ✉️ each day! Sign up here.

What was the Challenger mission?

The crew had the mission of deploying a communications satellite and studying Halley's Comet while they were in orbit, in addition to the task of taking school teacher Christa McAuliffe into space.

Why did the Challenger explode?

A failure of the shuttle's right solid rocket booster (SRB) caused by record-low temperatures of the launch, and allowed hot pressurized gas from within the SRB to leak and burn the surrounding machinery. The failure of the internal system through the shuttle at incredible speed with aerodynamic forces that tore the ship apart.

Who was aboard the Challenger?

There were 7 crew members onboard, including F. Richard Scobee, the Commander, pilot Michael J. Smith, Mission Specialists Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka and Judith Resnik, Gregory Jarvis a Payload Specialist and Christa McAuliffe, a Payload Specialist and teacher from Concord, New Hampshire.

Photo of a window pane with water droplets reflecting Facebook's thumb up logo, with one big thumb down in the background
eyes on the U.S.
Ginevra Falciani and Bertrand Hauger

Eyes On U.S. — California, The World Is Worried About You

As an Italian bestseller explores why people are fleeing the Golden State, the international press also takes stock of unprecedented Silicon Valley layoffs. It may be a warning for the rest of the world.

-Analysis-

For as long as we can remember, the world has seen California as the embodiment of the American Dream.

Today, this dream may be fading — and the world is taking notice.

A peek at the Italian list of non-fiction best-sellers in 2022 includes California by Francesco Costa, a book that looks to explain why 340,000 people moved out of the state last year, causing a drop in its population for the first time ever.

To receive Eyes on U.S. each week in your inbox, sign up here.

Why are all these people leaving a state that on paper looks like the best place in the world to live? Why are stickers with the phrase “Don't California my Texas” attached to the back of so many pick-up trucks?

Watch VideoShow less
Picture of a soldier wearing the Wagner Group Logo on their uniform.
FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Anna Akage

Wagner's MIA Convicts: Where Do Deserting Russian Mercenaries Go?

Tens of thousands of Russian prisoners who've been recruited by the Wagner Group mercenary outfit have escaped from the frontlines after volunteering in exchange for freedom. Some appear to be seeking political asylum in Europe thanks to a "cleared" criminal record.

Of the about 50,000 Russian convicts who signed up to fight in Ukraine with the Wagner Group, just 10,000 are reportedly still at the front. An unknown number have been killed in action — but among those would-be casualties are also a certain number of coffins that are actually empty.

To hide the number of soldiers who have deserted or defected to Ukraine, Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin is reportedly adding them to the lists of the dead and missing.

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

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

Some Wagner fighters have surrendered through the Ukrainian government's "I Want To Live" hotline, says Olga Romanova, director and founder of the Russia Behind Bars foundation.

"Relatives of the convicts enlisted in the Wagner Group are not allowed to open the coffins," explains Romanova.

Watch VideoShow less
Photo of demonstrators in the UK against conversion therapy
LGBTQ Plus
Riley Sparks, Ginevra Falciani, Renate Mattar

Where Conversion Therapy Is Banned, And Where Its Practices Are Ever More Extreme

After almost five years of promises, the UK government says it will again introduce legislation to ban conversion therapy — and in a policy shift, the proposed law would include therapies designed for transgender people.

Conversion therapy, which includes a range of practices that aim to change someone’s sexuality or gender identity, has long been controversial. Many in the LGBTQ community consider it outright evil.

As the practice has spread, often pushed on young people by homophobic family members, there has been a worldwide push to make conversion therapy illegal, with the UK as the latest country set to ban such practices as electric shocks, aversion therapy and a variety of other traumatic, dangerous techniques to try to change someone's sexual preferences or gender identity.

✉️ You can receive our LGBTQ+ International roundup every week directly in your inbox. Subscribe here.

The British Association for Counseling and Psychotherapy, the professional body which governs therapists in the UK, calls the practice “unethical (and) potentially harmful.”

In France, journalists have documentedmany healthcare professionals offering the pseudoscientific practice. In one case, a self-described “LGBT-friendly” therapist offered to “cure” a young lesbian through so-called "rebirth therapy," a dangerous practice that was banned in some U.S. states after unlicensed therapists killed a 10-year-old girl during a session.

For one Canadian man, therapy included prescription medication and weekly ketamine injections to “correct the error” of his homosexuality, all under the guidance of a licensed psychiatrist. Some people are forced into treatment against their will — often minors — but most of the time, those who receive conversion therapy do so willingly.

The UK announcement of plans to ban conversion therapy for England and Wales comes after four separate British prime ministers had promised, for almost five years, to ban the practice.

Watch VideoShow less
Hungary’s Russia Energy Veto, Palestine Flare-Up, Asteroid Close Shave
In The News
Ginevra Falciani, Inès Mermat and Laure Gautherin

Hungary’s Russia Energy Veto, Palestine Flare-Up, Asteroid Close Shave

👋 Azul!*

Welcome to Friday, where Viktor Orbán says Hungary will veto any European sanctions aimed at Russian nuclear energy, violence erupts in the West Bank a day after nine Palestinians were killed by Israeli troops, and phew, a minibus-sized asteroid brushes past the Earth. Meanwhile, Hong Kong-based digital media The Initium looks at how China’s poor management and distribution of COVID-19 medication have led people to turn to generic drugs of questionable safety.

[*Tarifit, Northern Morocco]

✅  SIGN UP

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

It's easy (and free!) to sign up to receive it each day in your inbox: 👉 Sign up here

🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• Hungary to veto EU sanctions on Russian nuclear energy: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán declared that his country would veto any European sanctions against Russia affecting nuclear energy, after Ukraine called on the bloc to target Russian state nuclear energy company Rosatom. Hungary has a Russian-built nuclear plant on its soil and it plans to expand with Rosatom. Meanwhile, Russia has stepped up attempts to break through Ukraine's defenses in the east of the country.

• Fears of Israel-Palestinian escalation: The Israeli military say they have arrested Islamic Jihad militants planning "major attacks,” a day after nine Palestinians were killed by Israeli troops during a raid in a West Bank refugee camp. Two rockets were fired from Gaza overnight, but no casualties were reported. Israelis jets struck in Gaza in retaliation.

• Attack on Azerbaijan embassy in Iran kills one: A guard has been killed and two injured by a man with an assault rifle in an attack on Azerbaijan’s embassy in Iran. Police in Tehran said they have arrested a suspect and are investigating the gunman’s motive.

• Haiti police riot after gang killings of officers: Haitian police officers in civilian clothes blocked streets and forced their way into the country's main airport to protest the recent killing of at least 14 officers by armed gangs expanding their grip on the Caribbean nation. Protesters first targeted Prime Minister Ariel Henry's official residence, according to a Reuters witness, and then flooded the airport as Henry was arriving from a trip to Argentina.

• Biden urges calm ahead of release of police beating video: Bodycam video of the encounter with Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old black man, will be published on Friday, showing him being severely beaten after a traffic stop by five police officers. The officers, who are also black, have been fired and are now facing murder charges following Nichols death three days after the attack. President Joe Biden is urging protests in Tennessee to remain peaceful.

• Adani shares drop 20%: Shares of Indian multinational conglomerate Adani Enterprises sank 20% on Friday as the investment research firm Hindenburg published a report claiming that Adani engaged in stock price manipulation and accounting fraud over the course of decades.

• Asteroid near miss: About the size of a minibus, the 2023 BU asteroid, whipped over the southern tip of South America in the middle of the night. At a distance of 3,600 kilometers (2,200 miles), it’s considered a relatively close shave and was only picked up last weekend by an amateur astronomer in Crimea.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

“Climate scam,” titles Italian weekly magazine Internazionale, as it features its translated edition of an in-depth investigation from Germany’s Die Zeit on companies funding environmental projects to offset their carbon dioxide emissions that often have “no value.” For example, Ryanair was given a warning by the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM), which said the low-cost airline’s statements suggesting that offsetting emissions would lead to more sustainable flights was misleading. “Businesses must be honest and clear about the sustainability claims they make,” said the director of ACM’s Consumer Department.

#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

115

Maria Branyad Morera, a Spanish woman born in San Francisco, has officially become the world's oldest person according to Guinness World Records, at age 115, following French nun Sister Andre’s death last week at 118. Morera, originally born in San Francisco, is still very much in touch with the times, sharing her wisdom with followers on Twitter, where her bio reads: “I am old, very old, but not an idiot.”

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

As COVID explodes, an inside look at China's gray market of generic drugs

COVID infections have skyrocketed since China eased restrictions as public health policy has not been able to keep up. Unable to find medications, many have turned to generic drugs of questionable safety. It's the culmination of a longstanding problem, write Xian Zhu and Feiyu Xiang in Chinese-language digital media The Initium.

💊 In late 2021, Pfizer developed Paxlovid, the world's first potent COVID drug. China imported the first batch of Paxlovid for clinical use in March 2022 and included it in the ninth edition of the treatment protocol. But the first 21,200 boxes of Paxlovid were dispersed to only eight provinces, and no further information is available on where the drug ended up and how much it was used. In mainland China, access to Paxlovid is subject to a selection process, as it is almost impossible to get it in public hospitals.

📈 With genuine drugs hard to come by, many people are turning their attention to Indian generic drugs. As the Chinese New Year came, the price of generic drugs once exceeded 3,000 RMB (about $440). Meanwhile, Pfizer's original drug’s price went over 10,000 RMB (about $1,470).

💰 Jingyun Feng, a political scientist, revealed that the main reason why COVID drugs are not covered by Chinese health insurance is that "they are too expensive and will drag the whole insurance system down by crowding out other everyday or rare disease drugs." He also believes that the distribution of Paxlovid is market-based. "Why are these drugs more widely distributed in Shanghai and Beijing? People are richer there, so the drug is only allocated to developed areas."

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

“We do not want to see any support given to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.”

— Australia's Prime Minister Anthony Albanese reacted to the recent controversy caused by Srdjan Djokovic, father of tennis champion Novak Djokovic, who was photographed earlier this week with a man sporting pro-Russian symbols. Djokovic’s father said that although it was unintentional, he would watch his son’s semi-final match at the Australian Open from home to avoid causing "disruption.” During a news conference on Friday, Albanese reiterated the country's stance on the war in Ukraine and pro-Russian protests: "I will make this point, that Australia stands with the people of Ukraine. That is Australia's position and Australia is unequivocal in our support for the rule of international law.”

✍️ Newsletter by Ginevra Falciani, Inès Mermat, Laure Gautherin and Anne-Sophie Goninet


Let us know what’s happening in your corner of the world!

info@worldcrunch.com

A Newborn Dies, A Mother's Blame
Dottoré!
Mariateresa Fichele

A Newborn Dies, A Mother's Blame

Our Neapolitan psychiatrist reacts to the public blame directed at an exhausted Italian mother, after she fell asleep while breastfeeding her newborn son at a Rome hospital .

They say that childbirth is, and must necessarily be, the most beautiful thing in the world.

So beautiful that it justifies all the hardships a mother must endure, without complaining or expecting relief from the pain. So beautiful that after it has happened, you are not even allowed to rest because you have to keep the baby with you to breastfeed.

So beautiful that if, exhausted as you are, you fall asleep, and the child tragically dies in your arms, you wouldn't even notice it or be able to wake up. And once you open your eyes and they tell you that your child is no longer there, there comes the insinuation that maybe you fell asleep not just because you were exhausted by all the pain and sleep deprivation, but also perhaps you were under the influence of some substance.

They say that childbirth is, and must necessarily be, the most beautiful thing in the world. May those who say that be cursed.

____________________________

Learn more about Worldcrunch's exclusive Dottoré! series here.

Worldcrunch Editor Jeff Israely To Discuss Future Of International News At ASERL Event
Sources

Worldcrunch Editor Jeff Israely To Discuss Future Of International News At ASERL Event

Worldcrunch co-founder and editor-in-chief Jeff Israely will discuss the changing landscape of international news in a digital "fireside chat" on Feb. 2 hosted by the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL)

Research libraries serve a community that by its very nature is international, both because the areas of research and the scholars themselves inevitably cross borders. Beyond the specifics of their individual research interests, this community longs to be plugged into the world at large: understanding the broader issues of a globalized world, from politics to economics, science and technology, social and environmental issues and the widest range of ideas and viewpoints.

Darrell Gunter, EVP, CCO of Worldcrunch, will interview Jeff Israely, a former TIME magazine foreign correspondent, about how international journalism has been changing over the past decade to meet new technological and societal demands. As the founder of the Paris-based digital news outlet Worldcrunch, he has his finger on the pulse of the changes in the industry and the changing nature of an increasingly globalized and digitally-driven readership.

ASERL brings together leaders from research libraries in the region to foster a high standard of library excellence through professional development, inter-institutional resource sharing, and other important collaborations. For more than 65 years, ASERL has been a trusted home for numerous innovative programs and events that provide tremendous benefit to our membership.