Welcome to Wednesday, where Tokyo gets a new COVID state of emergency, Ingrid Betancourt is running for Colombia’s presidency, and the oldest man in the world dies at age 112. Meanwhile Die Welt shows us how Germany's legendary clubbing scene looks in pandemic times.
[*Namaste - Gujarati, India]
• COVID update: As the highly transmissible Omicron variant spreads rapidly across the globe, the U.S. government said it will make 400 million non-surgical N95 masks from its strategic national stockpile available for free to the public from next week. Japan announced it would place Tokyo and 12 other areas under a COVID-19 quasi-state of emergency, with the capital reporting 7,377 new infections. Meanwhile Germany joined countries like France, the U.K and Italy in recording more than 100,000 new cases in a single day.
• Blinken arrives in Ukraine amid Russia invasion fears: The U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Kyiv to reaffirm U.S. support for President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, before heading to Berlin on Thursday and Geneva on Friday, in a whistle-stop diplomatic effort to defuse escalating tensions amid mounting fears that a Russian invasion of Ukraine could be imminent.
• Israeli forces evict Palestinians and tear down East Jerusalem home: Israeli forces evicted a Palestinian family of 18 from their home overnight in occupied East Jerusalem, before tearing down the property, prompting criticism from human rights activists and diplomats. The family is now rendered homeless. Israeli authorities justified the move to build a special education school for the residents of the neighborhood.
• Former FARC captive Ingrid Betancourt to run for Colombia presidency: Colombia’s Ingrid Betancourt has announced she will be running for her country's presidency again, 20 years after she was kidnapped by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) during a previous campaign.
• Water crisis looms for tsunami-hit Tonga: The Red Cross warned that securing access to safe drinking water was “a critical immediate priority” amid the looming water crisis following the eruption of an undersea volcano in Tonga. Two New Zealand navy vessels carrying water supplies for the Pacific island nation will on Friday. The death toll of the volcanic eruption has risen to three people, two local residents and a British woman.
• Paris presents “manifesto of beauty” to recapture lost charm: Paris city hall unveiled a “beauty manifesto”, containing plans to spruce up the City of Lights after an online campaign spotlighting ugliness and filth put pressure on Mayor Anne Hidalgo.• World's oldest man dies at 112: The world's oldest man, Saturnino de la Fuente García from León, Spain has died, three weeks before turning 113.
Slovak daily Dennik devotes its front page to the 73,201 deaths Slovakia registered in 2021, a post-War record death toll for the country of 5.4 million. An estimated 20,000 of the deaths are attributed to the coronavirus pandemic.
Germany's legendary clubbing culture crashes museum space
The exhibition “Electro” in Düsseldorf is an unlikely tribute to a joyful and uninhibited club culture, with curators forced to contend with limits of a museum setting ... and another COVID lockdown, reports Boris Pofalla in German daily Die Welt.
🕺❌ It is surely a coincidence that the first comprehensive exhibition charting the 100-year history of electronic music in Germany opened in the same week that night clubs across the country were forced to close. It wasn’t planned that way, but it’s like opening an exhibition about the cultural history of alcohol the day after the introduction of prohibition. Since the start of the pandemic, wild parties have been a rarity, drinking has been done behind closed doors and spontaneity has been consigned to the history books.
🎹 Are we witnessing the end of uninhibited nightlife? How long can clubs survive under such extreme pressure? Was everything better in the past? And what exactly do we mean by “everything?" The exhibition “Electro — from Kraftwerk to Techno” at the Museum Kunstpalast in Düsseldorf traces the history of a cultural phenomenon that has had a significant impact on our society. It looks back to the 1920s, to the invention of the electronic Croix Sonore, the ethereophone and the theremin and through the 1930s and the invention of the Trautonium, an early version of a synthesizer.
🎶 The curators have installed scaffolding inside the museum’s blocky architecture. Within the square spaces created, 500 exhibits are presented against a black background with low lighting, synthesizers, photographs, record sleeves, illustrations, artworks, videos and interactive installations. And then there is the constant background noise. Star DJ Laurent Garnier has put together multiple playlists that allow visitors to travel through the major techno cities of the world.
➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com
Microsoft announced a landmark $68.7 billion deal to buy U.S. gaming giant Activision Blizzard, which will make the tech corporation the third-largest gaming company by revenue, behind Tencent and Sony. Activision Blizzard, the maker of Candy Crush and Call of Duty, has been hit by a state lawsuit alleging it enabled toxic workplace conditions and sexual harassment against women employees last year.
Italy's high court: Loud toilet flush is violation of human rights
An Italian couple has won a two-decade-long court battle that invoked an international treaty signed after World War II in order to prove the acceptable volume of a toilet flush.
The ordeal started as a typical neighborhood quarrel, yet spanned nearly two decades and eventually made its way up to Italy's Highest Court this week, Rome daily La Repubblica reports.
It all began in 2003, when four brothers built a new toilet in their apartment located in the La Spezia province of northwest Italy. The husband and wife living next door soon complained that the toilet was used frequently during the night, and the flush was so loud it woke them up each time.
The couple took their case to court, demanding a resolution of the noise problem and the payment of damages; but the trial judge rejected their case.
The couple decided to take their case to the appeals court of Genoa, triggering an inspection of the two flats that ultimately found in their favor. Investigators reported that they'd discovered "a significant excess of three decibels over the standards required by legislation." Translation: that flush was too damn loud.
The four brothers were required to change the WC flush location in the flat, and to pay 500 euros per year, beginning from the toilet's installation in 2003.
The four brothers ultimately decided to bring “the flush case” to the Court of Cassation, the highest court of appeal in Italy.
But finally the high court ruled in favor of the couple, considering the impact the flush had on their quality of life as an infringement of a right "to respect one's own private and family life," constitutionally guaranteed protected by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
Wash your hands. Turn out the lights. After 19 years of battle, the fate of the four brothers was sealed and the war of the flush silenced forever.
➡️ Keep up with all the planet’s police reports and plot twists on Worldcrunch.com
“Nobody told me.”
— During a visit to a hospital in north London, embattled British Prime Minister Boris Johnson denied knowing that a “bring your own booze” party at 10 Downing Street, was in breach of COVID-19 rules. “Nobody said this was something that was against the rules, doing something that wasn't a work event, because frankly, I can't imagine why it would have gone ahead, or it would have been allowed to go ahead if it was against the rules." It’s not clear if such pleas of ignorance by the head of government will help Johnson hold onto his job amid growing calls for his resignation over his breaching UK’s lockdown rules.
✍️ Newsletter by Jane Herbelin, Anne-Sophie Goninet and Bertrand Hauger
Loud neighbors? Let us know what’s happening in your corner of the world!