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In Shanghai, A Brewing Expat Exodus As COVID Crackdown Shows "Real" China

Not only strict rules of freedom of movement as part of Zero-COVID policy but also an increase in censorship has raised many questions for the expat population in the megacity of 26 million that had long enjoyed a kind of special status in China as a place of freedom and openness. A recent survey of foreigners in the Chinese megacity found that 48% of respondents said they would leave Shanghai within the next year.

SHANGHAI — On the seventh day of the lockdown, Félix, a French expat who has worked in Shanghai for four years, texted his boss: I want to "run,' mais je sais pas quand (but I don’t know when). A minute later, he received a reply: moi aussi (me too).

Félix had recently learned the new Mandarin word 润 (run) from social network postings of his local friends. Because its pinyin “rùn” is the same as the English word “run,” Chinese youth had begun to use it to express their wish to escape reality, either to “be freed from mundane life”, or to “run toward your future.”

For foreigners like Félix, by associating the expression “run” with the feeling of the current lockdown in Shanghai, “everything makes sense.” Félix recalled how at the end of March, the government denied rumors of an impending lockdown: “My Chinese colleagues all said, Shanghai is China’s top city, there would be no lockdown no matter what.”

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Russia Warns Of NATO “Grave Mistake”, Shanghai Aims For Normalcy, Record Pakistan Heat

👋 Grüezi!*

Welcome to Monday, where Russia warns Finland and Sweden that joining NATO would be a “grave mistake,” locked-down Shanghai announces it aims for June 1 reopening, and South Asia’s heat wave becomes untenable. Meanwhile, Peter Huth in German daily Die Welt explains why the Doomsday Clock isn’t ticking quite the same for millennials today as it was for baby boomers.

[*Swiss German]

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Sweden & NATO, Musk Pauses Twitter Buyout, Black Hole Picture

👋 Hæ hæ!*

Welcome to Friday, where reports say Sweden could follow Finland’s lead to join NATO, Elon Musk puts buying Twitter on hold, and we catch a first glimpse of a black hole that’s living next door. Meanwhile, French economic daily Les Echos shines a light on the dubious working and sourcing practices of Shein, the Chinese fast-fashion superstar retailer.


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The Digital Tracking Of India's Sanitation Workers Is An Extra Dirty Deal

Lower-caste cleaners must wear GPS-enabled smartwatches, raising questions about their privacy and data protection.

Munesh sits by the roadside near a crowded market in Chandigarh, a city in India’s north, on a January day. She is flanked by several other women, all of them sweepers hired by the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation. She shows the smartwatch she is wearing and says, “See, I didn't even touch it, but the camera has turned on."

Munesh, who estimates she is in her 40s and, like many Indians, goes by just one name, is one of around 4,000 such sanitation workers. The corporation makes it mandatory for them to wear smartwatches — called Human Efficiency Tracking Systems — fitted with GPS trackers. Each one has a microphone, a SIM embedded for calling workers, and a camera, so that the workers can send photos to their supervisors as proof of attendance.

In Chandigarh, this project is run by Imtac India, an IT services company, at a cost of an estimated $278,000 per year. Meanwhile, sanitation workers say that the government has not invested in personal protective gear throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, and that they have long worked without medical care and other vital social services.

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In The News
Lila Paulou and Bertrand Hauger

Kyiv Hit During UN Visit, Biden’s “Not Cheap” Aid, Boris Becker Sentence

👋 Chào!*

Welcome to Friday, where a journalist is killed as strike hits Kyiv during UN chief visit, China pledges more help to support its locked-down economy, and a tennis legend may end up in jail. Meanwhile in French daily Les Echos, Anna Lippert looks at how open-source intelligence has turned into a weapon in the fight against disinformation.


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In The News
Lila Paulou, Lisa Berdet, Anne-Sophie Goninet and Bertrand Hauger

U.S. Pledge To Ukraine War Effort, Macron Re-elected, Beijing Mass Testing

👋 ¡Hola!*

Welcome to Monday, where the U.S. pledges more military aid to Ukraine, France’s Emmanuel Macron gets reelected and a COVID-19 outbreak in Beijing triggers mass testing and panic buying. Meanwhile, Russian daily Kommersant looks at the consequences of the ban on Western social media for Russian influencers and their online activity.

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Ángel Mazariegos Rivas

Sin Of Disinformation, The Guatemalan Pastors Who Condemn COVID Vaccines

Vaccination rates in Guatemala are among the lowest in the Americas, and misinformation plays a key role. From their pulpits, some religious leaders spread messages against the use of masks and the efficacy of vaccines.

ESCUINTLA, GUATEMALA — One year since the vaccination campaign against COVID-19 began in Guatemala, only 45% of the population over 12 years old has been fully vaccinated and 15% have received a booster.

The figures are far from the projections the National Vaccination Plan presented in February 2021, with the aim to vaccinate the country's entire adult population within six months.

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Dan Wu

Shanghai Stakes: Why COVID In China's "Bourgeois" Capital Is A High-Risk Affair

The port city is China's most international and cosmopolitan, which helps explain the ongoing culture clash between its residents and Chinese authorities aiming to enforce a strict Zero-Covid policy of restrictions on movement and freedom.

Shanghai, a metropolis of 25 million inhabitants with a rich and colorful history, stands apart in China.

The southern port boasts the most international and cosmopolitan population on mainland China, where commercial wealth and relative personal freedom meet. The natives of Shanghai are often chided by other Chinese as the nation's "bourgeois" class.

Through the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, which had first spread around the world from Wuhan — another Chinese mega-city some 500 miles to the west — Shanghai had largely been spared from its effects, with local administrations being praised for “precise epidemic prevention.”

All that has changed over the past month. Both its special status and previous success in keeping the virus at bay help explain the crisis engulfing the city over the past month. With the sudden spread of the Omicron variant, a strict lockdown has been in force since March 28. And locals are pushing the limits in what is, despite local attitudes, an authoritarian regime in China.

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In The News
Lila Paulou, Lisa Berdet, Bertrand Hauger and Anne-Sophie Goninet

Alleged Mariupol Chemical Attack, 4 Million Displaced Children

👋 Khulumkha!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where reports have surfaced of a possible Russian chemical weapons attack in the besieged city of Mariupol, at least 25 die in a tropical storm in the Philippines, and a British woman breaks an exhausting world record. Meanwhile, Spanish independent magazine La Marea zooms in on BioTexCom, a Kyiv-based surrogacy clinic that continues to function in the middle of the war.

[*Kokborok - India and Bangladesh]

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In The News
Lisa Berdet, Emma Albright, Bertrand Hauger and Anne-Sophie Goninet

Dozens Killed In Ukraine Train Station Attack

👋 مرحبا*

Welcome to Friday, where at least 30 are killed in a Russian rocket strike on a Ukrainian train station, Ketanji Brown Jackson is confirmed as the U.S. Supreme Court’s first-ever Black woman justice and polls are tightening between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen ahead of Sunday’s French presidential elections. La Stampa reporter Francesco Semprini follows the Ukrainian Special Forces patrolling the streets of Kharkiv in search of pro-Russian saboteurs.

[*Marhaba - Arabic]

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In Rare Challenge, Chinese Youth Defy Government On COVID Lockdowns

On social media and at universities, with sarcastic videos and graffiti, young people are showing they are sick and tired of Zero COVID policies. People are still waiting to see how the Xi Jinping regime might react.

BEIJING — Since March, mainland China has experienced the largest local outbreak of COVID-19 cases since the early days of the pandemic in Wuhan, in January 2020. According to the National Health Commission of China, between March 1 and 18, more than 29,000 infections have been reported in mainland China, affecting 28 provinces. Restrictions and lockdown measures were introduced in various provinces, but the “Zero COVID” policies are facing rising dissent among the population.

The concerns have largely been economic-related: A post on Weibo (China’s equivalent to Twitter) summarizes people’s complaint, “the landlord is telling me to pay the rent, the banks are telling me to repay loans, the state is telling me not to go to work, the government is telling me not to go out, the whole country is telling me to carry on, but no one is telling me where the money is supposed to come from.”

Demands for lifting measures spread across the nation via TikTok videos and social media posts, countering the tight regulations and the state’s endeavor to secure the “Zero COVID” campaign.

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Lautaro García Alonso

Data, Selfies, Prevention: How AI Is Transforming Healthcare

From testing for COVID through WhatsApp to taking selfies to check heart risks, AI programs are being used in Argentina to complement early-stage diagnoses. The technologies are in their early stages but are able to detect what the human eye might miss.

BUENOS AIRES —The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that every year 138 million patients suffer from medical misdiagnoses that prove fatal in 2.6 million cases. In the United States, medical errors relating to misuse of pharmaceutical products or misdiagnosis were the third cause of deaths there in 2015.

All this proves that medicine is not infallible, and even specialists can go wrong. The daily performance of all doctors is subject to factors like stress, overwork or exhaustion (they sometimes work 24 hours straight). In this context, technological advances of recent years may bring some good news. Artificial Intelligence (AI) has brought innovations that boost diagnosis and even detect conditions invisible to the naked eye.

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In The News
Laure Gautherin and Bertrand Hauger

“Never Again…” Zelensky Evokes History In Speech To German Bundestag

👋 Bonġu!*

Welcome to Thursday, where the fate of hundreds trapped in the rubble of Mariupol theater is still unknown, with the Russian-led attack prompting U.S. President Biden to call Putin a “war criminal”. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s President Zelensky conjures up history in a moving speech before Germany’s Bundestag. For Worldcrunch, Ranjani Iyer Mohanty argues that Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland risks letting her emotional attachment to Ukraine, where she has family roots, undermine her ultimate responsibility of doing what’s in the best interest of Canada.


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In The News
Rozena Crossman, Bertrand Hauger and Laure Gautherin

Zelensky & Lavrov See Progress, 20,000 Flee Mariupol, Notre-Dame Sarcophagus

👋 ꦲꦭꦺꦴ*

Welcome to Wednesday, where 20,000 manage to flee Mariupol despite sustained Russian shelling, Zelensky and Lavrov offer some hope on talks, and archeologists hit paydirt in Notre Dame rebuilding site. German daily die Welt also looks at Romania’s strategic importance in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and how it could force NATO down the war path.

[*Halo - Javanese, Indonesia]

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In The News
Anne-Sophie Goninet, Bertrand Hauger and Laure Gautherin

Ceasefire Talks Fail, Maternity Bombing Toll, New S. Korean President

👋 Bok!*

Welcome to Thursday, where Ukrainian & Russian foreign ministers fail to reach a cease-fire agreement, at least three die in bombing of a maternity ward in Mariupol and South Korea’s opposition candidate wins an extremely close presidential election. Also, as the West bans Russian composers, artists and writers, Christian Meier in Die Welt, asks whether targeting culture is the right move in times of war.


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Jean-Marc Vittori

Pandemic To Putin, Rise Of The "Independence Obsession"

First, the COVID-19 crisis, and now the need to respond to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, are forcing countries to confront the risks of global interdependence. In its place comes a rush to establish national autonomy for crucial resources, from masks to oil and gas. But at what price?


PARIS — Russian troops aren't only ravaging Ukraine. They're setting off shock waves that will change history. And it turns out, those waves are pushing us in the same direction that COVID-19 did: the fragmentation of the world.

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

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Because when facing the assault of a virus or an army, nation-states are forced to take control.

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