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TOPIC: philippines


Let's Not Forget The Original Sin Of The Qatar World Cup: Greed

Soccer is a useful political tool for dictatorships. But Qatar is able to milk the World Cup as much as possible because the sport is infected by unbridled capitalistic greed.


BOGOTÁ — Soccer lost its innocence years ago. Its history of spectacular feats and heart-wrenching moments contain a catalogue of outrages. Beyond the miracles and goals, the "beautiful game" must face up to its own infection by capitalism and greed for profits.

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North Korean Missiles Over Japan, Zelensky To Never Negotiate With Putin, Ian Toll Tops 100

👋 Shlamaloukh!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where North Korea reportedly fires a missile over Japan for the first time in five years, Ukrainian President Zelensky signs a decree vowing to never negotiate with Russia while Putin is in power, and a lottery win raises eyebrows in the Philippines. Meanwhile, Argentine daily Clarin looks at how the translation of a Bible in an indigenous language in Chile has sparked a debate over the links between language, colonialism and cultural imposition.

[*Assyrian, Syria]

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Putin Reacts To Finland And Sweden, Marcos Sworn In, Record Bangladesh Flood

👋 Zdravo!*

Welcome to Thursday, where Putin plays good-cop/bad-cop with NATO, dictator Marcos’ son is sworn in as Philippines president and a rare portrait by Francis Bacon goes under the hammer. We also look at anti-abortion movements around the world celebrating — and mobilizing — following the historic Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.


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Russia Strikes Odessa, Marcos Wins In Philippines, Warhol’s Record Marilyn

👋 Osiyo!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where Odessa is in the Kremlin’s crosshairs, the Marcos are back to power in the Philippines and an iconic pop art portrait by Andy Warhol sets a new record. Meanwhile, German daily Die Welt looks at the debate surrounding postmodern architecture and its preservation.


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

Victory Day In Russia And Ukraine, Sri Lanka PM Resigns, Bitcoin Sinks

👋 ສະບາຍດີ!*

Welcome to Monday, where Putin blames the West for the war but makes no major announcement, Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister resigns amid weeks of unrest, and Bitcoin keeps sinking. Persian-language media Kayhan-London also looks at how, despite the Ukraine conflict, Iran isn’t budging on its nuclear ambitions.

[*Sabaidee - Lao, Laos]

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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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Hannah Steinkopf-Frank

The Beauty Of Diversity: Pageants Around The World Celebrate Difference

Beauty pageants once rewarded good looks, and maybe some talent on the side. But the events are no longer just a showcase for perfect hair and swimsuits. Innovative pageants around the world celebrate differences and advocate for people with disabilities and LGBTQ+ communities.

Gina Rühl might soon make history as the first Miss Germany with only one arm, an injury she sustained after a life-threatening motorcycle accident. Rühl now uses her platform to advocate for others with disabilities. She told German newspaper Die Welt that she decided to compete in Miss Germany because “I knew that this competition is no longer just about the outer shell, but about who you are and what message you want to convey to people.”

This is an increasingly common sentiment among beauty pageant contestants, a genre of competition that originally awarded good looks, and maybe some talent on the side. No longer just a showcase for beauty queens, both conventional and more inventive pageants around the world are embracing a more diverse range of contests.

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In The News
Jane Herbelin and Anne-Sophie Goninet

Sudan Prime Minister Reinstated, Peng Shuai’s Call, No Shuffling Adele

👋 မင်္ဂလာပါ!*

Welcome to Monday, where Sudan's ousted prime minister has been reinstated after a deal with the military, Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai says she is safe and well in a video call and a Venezuelan orchestra sets a new world record. We also look at the sons of two of the 20th century's most ruthless strongmen now running for president.

[*Mingalabar - Burmese]

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Carl-Johan Karlsson

Gaddafi And Marcos Jr., When A Dictator’s Son Runs For President

Over the past few weeks, the offspring of two of the 20th centuries most ruthless strongmen have announced they'd like to become the (democratically elected) leaders of Libya and the Philippines.


PARIS — The son of the brutal Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi announced this week he is running for president, which follows a similar headline last month from Ferdinand Marcos Jr. What does this say about the state of democracy?

It was about a half-century ago that two of the most brutal dictatorships of the modern era began.

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In The News
Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

Pandora Papers, Japan’s New PM, Spicy Medicine Nobel

👋 Bom dia!*

Welcome to Monday, where the financial secrets of the rich and powerful are exposed in a massive data leak, the two Koreas get on the phone for the first time in months, Japan has a new prime minister and there's a spicy Nobel prize winner for medicine. For Paris-based daily Les Echos, we have Anna Rousseau reporting on how fashion-famous France is finally starting to catch up with the plus-size market.


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Jacques Hubert-Rodier

The Pandemic Was Also Bad News For The World's Autocrats

For strongman leaders like Putin and Bolsonaro, the health crisis looked like a natural opening for greater top-down control — at least on paper.


PARIS — "Shoot "em dead." That was Rodrigo Duterte's startling take on how to deal with people who might be tempted to resist his country's lockdown orders.

For the Philippine president, the pandemic was an opening to tighten his grip on power and terrorize his people even more. And he wasn't alone. For Erdogan, Putin, Orban, Bolsonaro and other "strong men" in power, the crisis seemed like a bright opportunity to expand their authoritarian and megalomaniacal excesses.

Increased population controls? The suspension of basic freedoms, including free movement? With COVID-19, it's all justified.

And yet, as it turns out, the health crisis hasn't actually been that favorable to those who dream of unfettered power and the submission of society to their will. Instead, this unprecedented crisis has rightly shown the internal weaknesses of authoritarian regimes, almost all of which have struggled to meet the basic demands of their citizens and avoid sinking into international isolation.

It's a complex equation, in other words. But ultimately, the power gained during the pandemic was minimal — even for President "Digong," as Duterte is sometimes called.

Putin has never looked so weak.

Take, for example, the case of China, where the virus first appeared. President Xi Jinping is widely seen as the country's most powerful leader since Mao Zedong. But his rise predates the pandemic by a number of years, and if anything, the health crisis has actually hurt him by tarnishing the image of China, which is accused of covering up the scale of the epidemic in its early stages and not being transparent about the numbers of confirmed cases and fatalities.

The pandemic has been an even bigger blow for the regime of Russia's Vladimir Putin, who has never looked so weak. "He looks like a sick old wolf," political scientist Alexander Kynev writes in the Moscow Times. Tatiana Stanovaya, an expert at the Carnegie Centre in Moscow, says that "things did not go as planned" for the Russian president. Indeed, Putin's grand plan to organize a referendum allowing him to remain in power until 2036 had to be suspended under the double shock of the collapse of oil prices and the health crisis.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan is struggling as well. The Turkish president has already been in office for 17 years, and his gradual accumulation of extensive powers began long before the health crisis. Last year, however, he experienced a major setback when his Justice and Development Party lost control of the municipalities of Ankara and Istanbul. The country is hurting financially as well, and the COVID-19 crisis is only adding to those woes. As a result, the country's central bank has had to triple its exchange agreement with Qatar, expanding from $5 billion in 2018 to $15 billion in order to cope with the collapse of its foreign exchange reserves.

For Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who invented the concept of "illiberal democracy," the health crisis was the perfect pretext: On March 30, just as the pandemic was exploding in Europe, he granted himself special powers to govern by decree. Later, however, pressure from the European Union forced Orban to take a cautious step backwards by putting a time limit on those special powers.


Drivers protest the first day of nationwide coronavirus quarantine measures in Manila Photo: Joseph Dacalanio

Across the ocean, another strong-man leader, Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro, is faring far worse. His management of the coronavirus outbreak proved catastrophic and created a governmental crisis marked by the resignation of his health minister after just four weeks in office. The previous minister of health was fired by Bolsonaro following a dispute over the severity of the virus.

Looking toward the post-pandemic period, it's clear that none of today's authoritarian leaders — hampered as they may be the situation — will let go of their power. On the contrary, there will be a strong temptation for them to strengthen the surveillance of their population by monitoring displacement or by further tightening their control over the media and the judiciary.

Will the leaders of today's democracies be up to the task, and not fall into the trap of authoritarian regimes.

Paradoxically, however, democracies have become more resilient. In France, as well as in Italy and Spain, the management of the health crisis has been chaotic. And yet, it aso triggered a strong demand for a more protective state. This is a movement without precedent since the 1980s, when the rise of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan ushered in the era of neoliberalism.

After World War II, democratic powers were able to implement genuine social protections, including health care. The question is whether the leaders of today's democracies will be up to the task and will not fall into the trap of authoritarian regimes, as appears to be the case in the United States, where President Donald Trump has engaged in dangerous boasting and renewed threats to justice and the media.

There, the health crisis has only deepened divisions between supporters the president and his opponents. This is an example for European countries not to follow. Democracy remains the worst of all systems, Winston Churchill was quoted as saying. It remains a fragile political system.

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Watch: OneShot — UNICEF Immunization, Philippines Vaccine

Unicef France marks World Immunization Week with this OneShot from the Philippines

Every year, immunization saves millions of lives worldwide. By providing this basic health care to children and mothers, UNICEF has been helping reduce drastically the number of preventable deaths for 70 years. Vaccines may hurt, but they work!

2019 World Immunization Week — ©Unknown/UNICEF/OneShot

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