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A pro-Assad protester in Warsaw last month

Trump, Just The President Assad Has Been Waiting For


BEIRUT — On the morning of Nov. 9, as the U.S. presidential votes were being counted, residents of rebel-held eastern Aleppo, which has been under total siege since July, were trying to find some consolation in dark humor.

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Sifting through e-waste in Seemapuri

India, A Dumping Ground For Rich World’s Toxic Electronic Waste

SEEMAPURI — In this neighborhood on the outskirts of Delhi, electronic scrap keeps growing. Piles and piles of electronic waste or "e-waste" litter the narrow alleys here from old computer circuit boards and cables to discarded keyboards and phone handsets.

Mohammad Salman, 25, deals with such e-waste. "We collect it from all over the country, from waste pickers and other scrap dealers and then look for items that can be fixed," he says.

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The author contemplating Corsican mountains

How I Kissed Goodbye To My Dream Of Becoming A Millionaire


I recently turned 30, so the math tells me I've already lived through one third of my life. That also means I still have at least 20,000 days to make all of my dreams come true. Speaking of dreams, it's strange how they change as we grow older. When I was 25, I had one dream, one goal I wanted to fulfill by my 30th birthday: I wanted to become a millionaire!

Let me end the suspense right away: I'm not even close. To be precise, I can claim to have accumulated no more than 2% of that sum. What's more, I haven't worked in two years and my bank account is starting to run low. I failed to achieve my dream — or at least, that's what some will say — and I couldn't care less.

I long ago gave up on my dream of having millions. Not that I think it's impossible (everything is possible), but I came to understand that more than money, what I really wanted was to BE FREE!

Back when I was determined to earn millions, the most logical way to get there was the following: to create a startup and sell it. In 2011, I created my first company together with my associate, Michael. It's called Etudinfo and it was the first platform where students could rate their university. The site was a huge success, it got half-a-million visits per month. I was over the moon. I was my own boss and running the business while still able to travel. I was a digital nomad before that even meant anything.

But I still had one goal that I had to reach: growth. That urge to always do better was crucial at the beginning, we had to be able to live off that website. It took two years until we earned a minimum monthly wage. We were far from being rich, but boy were we proud to see our "baby" grow and to be able to live off the fruits of our labor. The website had such potential, and we wanted to do more, always more, to dedicate all our energy to this project, and this project only.

We stopped traveling to focus entirely on making our company grow. Once we were back in Paris, we sought the help of coaches, we looked for a place to establish our headquarters, our first clients, our first interns, and finally, our first employees. There were about 10 of us. Business was booming and my head was spinning.

I'd gone from roaming entrepreneur to office boss. I'd become the slave of my own company. Going to the office had become a chore, I didn't feel happy about getting up in the morning anymore. I'd reproduced the model I was trying to avoid. And yet, nobody was forcing me to do it.

That's the thing about wanting to earn a lot of money: You enter a neverending whirlwind where days go by so quickly you don't even notice. You always want more so you always work more. I would spend my weekends letting off steam — drinking like a fish — to start working again come Sunday evening. This wasn't making any sense anymore. For two years I'd been traveling the roads of the world, but now I couldn't even go on holiday anymore.

But still, we had a clear plan: We'd continue for two years and, according to our infallible killer business plan, the company would be worth somewhere around 1,000,000 euros! Bingo! Everything was lined up to fall into place; we'd just forgotten one thing along the way: the desire.

That desire to have and earn more was gone. I was living very decently with my net monthly income of 1,800 euros. In fact, I didn't even know what to do with all the money. I'd grown so accustomed to leading a minimalist life, far from consumerism, that earning more just seemed like arrogance. What we longed for wasn't more money, but more time. The solution was self-evident, yet it took us some time to accept it. We needed to move on.

We managed to find a buyer in less than 6 months. I was 28 and I was selling my first business. From one day to another, I found myself free of all constraints and with 50,000 euros ($55,000) on my bank account.

What would you do with that kind of money? You're never short of ideas: invest in real estate, buy a new car, take a fancy trip.

I decided instead to be free, totally free. People say you can't buy time, but with that money, I've bought five years of my life, five years that will allow me to construct and deconstruct myself, to have a different perspective on society, to understand myself and what I long for a little bit better. I think there can be no greater investment than to invest in yourself. I have time to read, to improve myself, to talk, to travel, to learn, to create, to write... And the list goes on.

I'm 30 years old now. I've never been so alive as I am now. I'm not a millionaire, but I am free.

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A Sharia policewoman (second from right) in Banda Aceh

Inside Indonesia’s Only Province With Sharia Law

BANDA ACEH — The cafe is packed with men sitting in front of their third cup of coffee. They chat and smoke kreteks — a type of local clove cigarettes. The lighthearted mood is suddenly interrupted by the sound of the café's metal shutters being slid downward. The conversation dies, the expressions grow frightened. The men are on the lookout. The café is located opposite the grand mosque in the Indonesian city of Banda Aceh. It's prayer time and they know they should be at the mosque.

Banda Aceh, the capital of the Sumatra province, has 4 million inhabitants — 98% of whom are Muslims. It's the only Indonesian region governed by Sharia law. Wilayatul Hisbah, the female Sharia police, patrol the city in vans looking for men who aren't praying at the mosque. Last year, policewomen knocked down the café's doors armed with batons to lecture patrons.

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Melania Trump in Cleveland, Ohio, in July
Trump And The World

Melania Trump And Me, Two Slovenians Arrive In Washington

WASHINGTON — Melania Trump (or Melania Knavs, as she was called before she married and moved into Trump Tower) will be the only first lady since 1829 to have been born outside the United States. John Quincy Adams' wife, Louisa Adams, was the last, having been born in England when the U.S. was still a colony.

Even before she set foot in the White House last week to meet the Obamas, Melania Trump had received an invitation for an official visit to her native country, Slovenia. According to Delo, a Slovenian daily newspaper, Mrs. Trump was invited by the country's prime minister, Miro Cerar, in a letter of congratulations for "the success that is of historic significance for Slovenia" and that "makes the citizens of our country proud and happy."

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