In The News

Malaria Vaccine, Nobel In Literature, Squid Game Pranks

👋 Aloha!*

Welcome to Thursday, where the first malaria vaccine gets approved by WHO, Tanzanian novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah wins the Nobel Prize for Literature and Squid Game sets off a flood of prank phone calls. We also feature an America Economia report about why the flowering cannabis business in Latin America is not just about the weed.



[*Hawaiian]

💡  SPOTLIGHT

Facing climate emergency, Africa must reinvent its cities

Due to climate change and pollution, entire neighborhoods and cities on the continent are destined to vanish. A new vision of African urbanism is needed to replace the illusion of the "city without limits."

Sebha is bound to disappear. The capital of Libya's hydrocarbon-rich Fezzan region has become the largest city in the Sahara. For years, it has seen the convergence of public and private capital, and a steady flow of migrants. Subjected to major demographic pressure, the city of the sands is now doomed. Sooner or later, the lack of water will empty it of its inhabitants — and return its territory to nature.

Sebha is not an isolated case. Everywhere, districts and cities face similar fates. Some because of rising water levels, others subject to rampant desertification, mega-fires or repeated cyclones. These are the devastating and unprecedented consequences of climate change, of course, that the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has just reminded us of.

But that's not the only cause. By participating in toxic production systems, we have degraded nature and altered climates. At the same time, since the industrial era, we have readily adhered to this crazy fantasy of the limitless city, capable of absorbing ever more inhabitants, without questioning its capacity to meet their basic needs.

Look at Los Angeles: For a long time now, California's largest metropolitan area has not had enough water resources. It gets its water from the Sierra Nevada, nearly 600 kilometers (373 miles) away. Even in one of the richest regions in the world, this infrastructure, which does not care about borders and distances, is running out of steam. Los Angeles has been suffering from water shortages for two decades, a problem out of step with its residents' standard of living.

In rich countries, the system is breaking down more quickly than we thought. In Africa, it is an absolute emergency. It is the last continent to urbanize, and the one that is doing so the fastest, without a state structure capable of financing the infrastructure that this implies.

Between high birth rates and rural exodus, Africa is home to 86 of the 100 fastest growing cities in the world. At least 79 of them — including 15 capitals — are facing extreme risks due to climate change.

The 13.2 million inhabitants of Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, are already regular victims of flooding. They will be twice as many by 2035. In Ethiopia, the number of city dwellers will increase from 24 to 74 million in the next three decades. Egypt's urban population will then reach 85 million, compared to 43 million today. It's so much growth that the authorities will have to create a new capital to relieve the urban hell of Cairo.

How to provide housing and equipment, roads and transport, drinking water and sanitation at such a sustained rate? It is impossible. Tensions over access to water, energy and telecommunications will increase as cities continue to have needs that exceed their territorial production capacity. Conflict is inevitable. We are heading for disaster.

That is unless we radically change the way we build our world. In Africa as elsewhere, this means first of all putting an end to the illusion of the city without limits. Some, like Sebha, will have to be abandoned to nature, and thousands of new ones will have to be built. But the thinking must be reversed, to find a balance between populations, resources and territories.

The new city must be appropriately sized, limited by its own resources: if a given territory can provide water and energy for 50,000 people, then the future city must not exceed that size.

To do this, we must reconnect with the visible infrastructure of the past, which was part of the landscape, calling for collective governance. This was the case of the Roman aqueducts and also of the Agdal basins, which integrated urban agriculture, as well as the wells located in each neighborhood, as is still the case today in Venice. This is now being tried in Morocco, with the creation of the city of Mazagan, near El-Jadida, which we already know will not have more than 200,000 inhabitants.

The consequences of climate change, demographic pressure and rampant urbanization leave us no choice: Africa must be the scene of the reinvention of the city in the 21st century. And for that, it is urgent that it becomes again a laboratory of architectural and urban experimentation, with all the more legitimacy that it will no longer be, as in the past, a colonial laboratory.

On the contrary, we must tap into what Africa is capable of offering the world through modes of organization, traditional resource management and the use of materials that have fallen into oblivion. This kind of experimentation is, for example, the raison d'être of the Moroccan Pavilion at the Dubai 2020 World Expo. Made of raw earth, the building stretches 34 meters tall, an unprecedented height. More durable than concrete, raw earth, an African material par excellence, also makes it possible to do without air conditioning in one of the hottest places on Earth.

If Africa continues to impose urban planning models thought up elsewhere, without a critical dimension, it will end up in chaos. Here too, we must decolonize our thinking and imagine collective organizations that will enable us to adapt to the major displacements that climate change is already imposing on us. It is in Africa that we can learn to be nomads again, so as not to become refugees.


Tarik Oualalou / Jeune Afrique

🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

First malaria vaccine gets WHO approval: The World Health Organization has approved the RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine, the first against the mosquito-borne disease that kills more than 260,000 African children under the age of five every year. It is also the first vaccine developed for any parasitic disease.

• Tanzanian novelist wins Nobel Prize in Literature: Abdulrazak Gurnah, a Tanzanian novelist born in Zanzibar and based in the UK, was awarded the 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature for "for his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents."

• NATO expels eight Russians for spying: The military alliance has expelled eight Russian diplomats saying they were secretly working as intelligence officers. NATO has also forced the Moscow mission working at its Brussels headquarters to be reduced in size by half.

COVID-19 vaccine updates: Sweden and Denmark put the use of the Moderna vaccine on hold for people born in 1991 and later, after reports of possible rare cardiovascular side effects. A new study confirms that immune protection of the Pfizer jabs drops off after two months, though protection against severe disease and death remains strong. Meanwhile, the AstraZeneca vaccine finally reaches the Antarctic, to immunize the 23 people working at UK's Rothera research station.

• At least 20 dead in Pakistan earthquake: A magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck Pakistan's southwestern province of Balochistan overnight, killing at least 20 people and injuring more than 200.

• Texas abortion law temporarily blocked: A U.S. federal judge has issued an order to block Texas' near-total ban on abortion, saying that women have been "unlawfully prevented from exercising control over their lives in ways that are protected by the Constitution."

• Netflix to edit phone number out of Squid Game: Netflix's hit South Korean-made gory series Squid Game will get an edit to change a phone number that appears on screen, after the woman who owns it in real life got inundated with calls.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

British weekly newspaper The New European reports on UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's speech at the Conservative party conference yesterday, during which he defended his strategy of restricting the supply of foreign labor after Brexit and instead blamed the trucking industry for underinvesting. The country is currently facing a truck driver shortage which led to supply chain strains and fuel shortage.

#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

100

Each day, an average of 100 Argentines leave the country to live abroad, according to Argentine daily Clarín. In nine months, the brain drain has amounted to 26,000 departures, although Clarín estimates it might be much more. Chronic economic, political, and social instability, as well as a lack of prospects, push the youth to flee the country — the only country in Latin America, alongside Venezuela, where the standard of living has fallen over the last decade.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

Cannabis could be Latin America's next big export (and it's not just the weed)

Latin American businesses and governments are seeing the marketing and export potentials of an incipient liberalization of marijuana laws in the region. But to really cash in, it must be an investment in more than the raw material, writes Natalia Vera Ramírez in business magazine America Economia.

🚬 After his stint at Stanford University business school in California, Uruguayan entrepreneur Andrés Israel began to research the nascent global cannabis industry, to find the countries with the most favorable regulations for its large-scale production and use. They were Canada and Uruguay, with the latter legalizing its recreational use in 2013. After he returned home, Israel founded the Cannabis Company Builder (CCB) in 2020 to help new firms exploit Uruguay's new legal framework. Cannabis, he says, is a "blue ocean" industry, with a major growth horizon and few current regulations — and Uruguay is at its forefront.

🩺 Colombia is following Uruguay's regulatory steps. In July 2021, President Iván Duque signed Decree 811 to allow the export of cannabis leaves and specific commercial and industrial usage for hemp. But Colombian firms are making plans to go beyond export cannabis as raw material. CEO and founder of Medical Extractos, Henry Muñoz, says firms are already working on "quality" medicinal products that are affordable and marketable abroad. Muñoz says his firm is researching with scientists and other companies the effects of cannabis on Alzheimer's' disease.

🇲🇽 But along with Brazil and its 220 million inhabitants, there is another player that could become the biggest in the cannabis market: Mexico. After vicissitudes, the country's Supreme Court ruled in June 2021 that the ban on recreational use of marijuana was unconstitutional. It thus annulled those articles of Mexico's General Law on Health that banned the recreational use, private cultivation and transportation of marijuana. If and when the country legislates to permit recreational marijuana, it will become the "cherry on the cake in this industry, and earn big profits for its economy," says Henry Muñoz.


➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

"This is close to breaking the rule of law."

Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša tells Euronews his thoughts on the European Union's efforts to ensure member states comply with the bloc's fundamental values, blaming EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen for entering into "political battles" and failing to be an "honest broker". Janša's comments come as the Commission is set to introduce a rule suspending EU payments — including significant COVID recovery money — for member states that fail to respect EU values such as press freedom or an independent justice system.

📸  PHOTO DU JOUR

Germany has repatriated eight women who had joined the Islamic State as well as 23 children from the Roj detention camp in north-east Syria, in a joint operation with Denmark, which also flew back three women and 14 children. The women, currently in custody, are facing a criminal investigation — Photo: Boris Roessler/dpa/ZUMA

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger


Cher BoJo: A French Response To Boris Johnson’s Franglais Scolding

-Essay-

PARIS — I'll admit it straight away: As a bilingual journalist, the growing use of Franglais by French politicians makes my skin crawl.

Not because I think this blend of French and English is a bad thing in and of itself (it is!), or because the purity of the French language should be preserved at all costs (it should!) — but because in a serious context, it is — at best — a distraction from the substance at hand. And at worst, well …

But in France, where more and more people speak decent English, Anglo-Saxon terms are creeping in everywhere, and increasingly in the mouths of politicians who think they're being cool or smart.

Keep reading... Show less

Myanmar Kidnappings, Suspect Chinese Cell Phone, Side-Eyeing Chloe Auction

👋 안녕하세요*

Welcome to Thursday, where Tunisia's president tightens his grip, Lithuania tells people to throw away their Made-in-China phones, and a memeworthy side-eye gets the NFT treatment. Chinese-language weekly Economic Observer also explains why some cities in China waste millions in massive building projects that go unused.

[*Korean]

Keep reading... Show less

Brexit: Why Theresa May Never Stood A Chance

-OpEd-

BERLIN — Theresa May can only lose. The British Prime Minister is fighting alone against a grand alliance of conspirators, poisoners, and wire-pullers, supported by opportunists, weather-vanes and underlings from her own Tory party — ready to tear each other apart wherever they feel they can gain power: on the one hand, ambivalent personalities with a passion for intrigue at the highest level, such as Boris Johnson, on the other, dogged opponents of Europe like Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Keep reading... Show less
Sources
Ferdinando Giugliano

Brexit To Greek Debt: EU Is Easy Boogeyman, Brutal Negotiator

Promising voters to get the EU to change is easy, delivering that change is next to impossible.

LONDONBoris Johnson and David Davis, Britain's freshly departed Brexiteer ministers, are a cautionary tale for anti-establishment politicians across Europe.

The U.K."s vote to quit the EU was hailed as the beginning of a continent-wide transformation, which would see national governments claim back control from the Brussels bureaucrats. Yet the failure of the now former Foreign Secretary and the ex-Brexit Secretary to devise a plan for how to actually do this is instructive.

Watch Video Show less
WHILE YOU SLEPT

States Of Emergency, Cruz Snubs Trump, Sape Style

SPOTLIGHT: STATE OF EMERGENCY, THE OBVIOUS ANSWER?

If the whole world is always in a state of emergency, does that mean there’s no emergency? We’re not quite there yet, but an official “state of emergency” decree, with additional regulations and the granting of special police powers, is increasingly how governments react in times of crisis.


In Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared a three-month state of emergency yesterday following Friday’s failed military coup attempt. Just hours earlier, the French parliament agreed on extending the country’s state of emergency until January 2017, following the terror attack in Nice. Meanwhile, less reported, was the decision by the government of Mali to extend its own special security regime for 10 more days after armed groups killed 17 soldiers in an attack on a military base Tuesday.


For each of these countries, this means more power for authorities and fewer rights for the people. In Turkey, Erdogan gets radically enhanced powers, such as bypassing parliament when drafting new laws, with the constitutional court unable to challenge him and his cabinet. The government can also wield more repressive powers on the country’s media, protests and human rights in general. In a country where some 9,000 people have been arrested since the coup and where there are talks about reinstating the death penalty, this is troubling.


In France, the state of emergency has been criticized for its inefficiency. With yesterday’s extension, in addition to measures such as exceptional powers given to the president and police, authorities will also be able to cancel events that cannot be secured and more easily shut down places of worship that advocate hatred and violence. For Mali, as well, the government has imposed the state of emergency several times over the past year for limited periods, forced to bring it back after yet another terrorist strike. At the heart of these and other examples are apparently conflicting questions: What are the risks to democratic principles of imposing a state of emergency? And, what are the benefits?

Watch Video Show less
WHILE YOU SLEPT

Boris Backs Out, Tesla Autopilot Crash, Whale Of A Prank

SPOTLIGHT: MIXED GREEN FEELINGS

Even as we’ve been consumed by a news cycle that includes wars, elections and the biggest European reorder after World War II, our planet is quietly waiting for some attention. Nature reveals that pledges taken by countries during the Paris COP21 climate summit may need a big boost “to maintain a reasonable chance of meeting the target of keeping warming well below 2 °C.” Researchers have found that the Earth is still facing a temperature rise of 2.6 °C to 3.1 °C by the end of this century, even if countries comply with their climate change commitment. The consequences of not taking enough action on this front are grave, not least for the Adélie penguins in Antarctica, whose population is in dramatic decline.


Still, there are some pockets of good news. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, U.S. President Barack Obama and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto agreed Wednesday to a wide-scale energy and climate plan, vowing among other things to generate half their electricity using clean sources by 2025, Bloomberg reports.


That’s not the only promising bit of news coming out of Canada on climate. Science magazine reports that the ozone layer over the Antarctic has finally started to heal thanks to measures taken after the 1989 Montreal Protocol. Better late than never.

Watch Video Show less
Geopolitics
Bertrand Hauger

Beaches To Cheese: 5 Unexpected Brexit Consequences

"This has implications for absolutely everything," political editor for BBC News Laura Kuenssberg declared of the prospect of Britain leaving the European Union.

And now that Brexit camp has won, and the UK prepares to bid farewell to the EU, the parties and the gawkers have begun to gauge the fallout of ending the 43-year-long marriage.

Some are far-reaching: from travel and trade restrictions to immigration policy and even the risk of a domino effect toward a total disintegration of the EU. On the homefront, the British political landscape has been rocked, prompting Prime Minister David Cameron's resignation (hello, Boris?).

But as with every divorce â€" who gets custody of Mr. Bubbles? â€" there are unforeseen ramifications, some of them directly impacting people's everyday life in the most surprising ways. Here are five worth noting:

Watch Video Show less
WHILE YOU SLEPT

Cultural Revolution, FARC Child Soldier Deal, Hottest April

SPOTLIGHT: CHINA’S SILENT ANNIVERSARY

It was 50 years ago today that the Chinese Communist Party and its leader Mao Zedong released a circular that was bound to unleash a decade of violence that would kill more than 1.5 million people. It would come to be known as the Cultural Revolution, and the history books consider it one of the most brutal chapters of the 20th century. But it wasn’t until 1981 that Chinese Communist officials recognized the crimes of the fanaticized Student Red Guards, who tortured and killed their own teachers, and of the mobs who would go as far as beating up parents in front of their children. This, it finally acknowledged, had been a “catastrophic decade.”


But on its 50th Anniversary, China’s lack of any official commemoration of the Cultural Revolution and the apparent shunning of all references to it in the media show that a relatively more open, and less bloody, leadership in Beijing still has serious problems with the darkest parts of its past.


Writing in the Singapore-based Straits Times, Goh Sui Noi delves into the “ghosts of the Cultural Revolution” still haunting its victims and China as a whole. “There has not been any meaningful catharsis,” she writes. “At the end of the Cultural Revolution, criticism was allowed for a short period of time because there was a need to repudiate it, observers say. But since then, the government has largely suppressed debate on the period for fear that this undermines its legitimacy.” Worse, Goh Sui Noi notes, because there’s never been a “full public accounting” of the crimes, “to this day, some of the perpetrators do not believe they did anything wrong.”


Given this conspiracy of silence, it should perhaps be no surprise that Maoists are once again on the rise in parts of China among the many who haven’t benefited from the country’s turn towards market capitalism. Reporting from the ancient city of Luoyang, AP journalist Gerry Shih writes that “nearly every day retired or unemployed workers sing odes to Mao under a billowing Communist Party flag at Zhouwangcheng Plaza. People swarm around a clothesline and squint at dozens of pinned essays condemning the past 30 years of liberalization or positively reappraising the Cultural Revolution.” As much as the world wonders about China’s future, today is a reminder that its history is never far behind.

Watch Video Show less
blog

Cameron Rocked As Boris Backs Brexit From EU

The Sun, Feb 22, 2016

Watch Video Show less
Society
Cordélia Bonal

Boris Johnson, That Blond Bicycling Bad Boy Of London

London's over-the-top mayor has published a book about Winston Churchill, and may aspire to a similar national destiny. But he strives for greatness by looking for a laugh.

PARIS â€" London Mayor Boris Johnson hangs his head low and looks a bit like a hunted beast. "They want to kill me," he says. Damn. That sounds serious. But who? "Everyone, absolutely everyone," he says. "Taxi drivers, for starters. They want to tear my guts out because I'm setting up bicycle paths."

He asks for aspirin because he has a bad cold. "That's because the other day, I was on my bike, and it rained twice. You're barely dried off, and bang, you're soaked again." As a result, Johnson's in poor form but still very funny. And exquisitely polite, always taking an interest in people. Did I use the public Vélib bikes in Paris to cycle to work today? He is very fond of cycling.

Watch Video Show less
Sources
Brenda Strohmaier

The Beautiful German Evolution: From Nazis To Nudists

Britons and Americans used to depict Germans as obsessed with Nazi uniforms, now our supposed obsession is nudism. A friendly patriotic ode to letting it all hang out.

BERLIN — Anglo-Saxons have discovered something about Germans known as the “FKK thrill.” FKK stands for Freikörperkultur, or nudist culture.

But things are not always what they seem. For example, in a recent New York Times piece, an American who described himself as something of a prude wrote about having mustered the courage to go to a Berlin bathhouse. Eager to be culturally proper with the naked-loving Germans, he, his wife and a friend of hers draped towels around their nude selves, just for the trip from the changing rooms to the thermal pool. Just as the three of them, buck naked, slid into the warm salt water, they noticed that all the other people in the pool were wearing their bathing suits.

Watch Video Show less
Geopolitics
Worldcrunch

Russia Cuts Gas, Schumacher Out Of Coma, Greenpeace Loses Green

Monday, June 16, 2014

U.S. EYES IRAN TALKS OVER IRAQ CRISIS
The United States is expected to hold talks with Iran this week over possible intervention in Iraq following the aggressive jihadist offensive there, The Wall Street Journal reports. But in reaction to the U.S. decision to move the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush into the Gulf, Tehran warned yesterday that "any foreign military intervention in Iraq" would only worsen the situation. This comes after reports that ISIS fighters took control of another town in northern Iraq and that the Sunni extremists killed as many as 1,700 Shia soldiers. Meanwhile, Kurdish fighters, who also gained ground in northern Iraq last week, suggested that a truce was possible between them and ISIS, raising the possibility expressed by some that Iraq might break into three states: a Shiite, a Sunni, and a Kurdish one.

VERBATIM

“Tony Blair has finally gone mad,” London Mayor Boris Johnson wrote in a Telegraph op-ed today, criticizing the former British prime minister for his defense of past military intervention in Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein. Read more here.

RUSSIA CUTS GAS TO UKRAINE
The conflict between Moscow and Kiev reached a new high this morning as Ukraine’s energy minister said that Russia had cut off all gas supplies to Ukraine after it failed to meet an extended deadline to pay $1.95 billion of its $4.5 billion debt, the BBC reports. Russia’s state-owned gas company Gazprom has filed a lawsuit to recover the balance due, saying that from now on Kiev would have to pay for gas in advance or face being completely cut off. Ukraine’s state company Naftogaz also launched a lawsuit against Gazprom to recover $6 billion in what it claims are gas overpayments since 2010.

FAREWELL
U.S. radio icon Casey Kasem, who hosted the American Top 40 broadcast for four decades, died yesterday at age 82 after suffering from dementia and Parkinson’s disease.

PAKISTAN AIR STRIKES TARGET TALIBAN
At least 120 suspected Taliban militants have been killed in the last two days, after the Pakistani air force launched a series of strikes in the North Waziristan region, newspaper Dawn reports. The military operation comes after last week’s attack on the Karachi airport that killed 36 people, including 10 insurgents. According to Reuters, the army imposed an all-day curfew on the entire region and switched off cell phone services in a bid to “undermine the insurgency.”

MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD


DOZENS DEAD IN KENYA ATTACKS
Suspected al-Shabaab gunmen launched a violent attack against two hotels, a bank and a police station in Kenya’s coastal town of Mpeketoni, killing at least 48 people, The Guardian reports. The attack, the scale and nature of which are described as “rare,” started yesterday evening as people gathered in bars to watch the World Cup, and it lasted into the night. The police have warned that the death toll could rise.

3.8 MILLION
A unnamed Greenpeace employee has been sacked after losing the Amsterdam-based environmental group 3.8 million euros ($5.15 million) by gambling on international currency markets.

COLOMBIAN PRESIDENT WINS SECOND TERM
Colombia’s incumbent President Juan Manuel Santos was reelected Sunday in second-round voting, obtaining 50.9% of the vote, El Espectador reports. Santos, who initiated peace talks with the guerilla group FARC months ago, vowed to push ahead, saying, “This will not be peace with impunity, it will be a just peace.”

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO
As Die Welt’s Fanny Jimenez writes, the relationship between mother and child has traditionally been regarded as central to the happiness and development of children. But recent research suggest fathers are more crucial to their children’s well-being than previously thought. “Some studies have shown that in certain areas of child development the attitude and behavior of the father have fundamentally more weight regardless of who plays what role in the family hierarchy,” the journalist writes. “When fathers treat their kids with little regard, if they reject them or act hostile towards them, the children develop an above-average number of behavioral problems, depressive tendencies, and often become drug-addicted or delinquent — even if the mother loves the child unconditionally and is supportive.”
Read the full article, Do Fathers Matter More Than Mothers To A Child's Happiness?

DEATH SENTENCES FOR TIANANMEN ATTACK
A Chinese court sentenced three people to death after finding them guilty of being behind a “terror attack” near Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in October 2013, which killed 2 tourists and left 40 injured, Xinhua reports. One man was also sentenced to life imprisonment and another four were handed sentences from 5 to 20 years.

SCHUMACHER OUT OF COMA
Formula One legend Michael Schumacher is no longer in a coma and has left the hospital “to continue his long phase of rehabilitation,” his family said.

SNAPSHOT
A motorcycle rider soars at the 2014 Kazan City Racing show in Millenium Square in Kazan, in the Russian’s republic of Tatarstan.

Watch Video Show less
EXPLORE OTHER TOPICS