Medical workers rally in Sejong, South Korea, calling for an expansion of public medical services and measures to curb illegal medical treatment.

Welcome to Wednesday, where Hong Kong's pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily officially announces its closure, new clashes have broken out in Ethiopia's Tigray region and the number of millionaires continues to increase despite the pandemic. Latin American business magazine America Economia also reports on how business schools around the world are now adding the environment to their curricula.

• Apple Daily forced to close amid Hong Kong crackdown: Hong Kong's biggest pro-democracy paper, whose headquarters were raided last Thursday, has announced its closure and will print its final edition Thursday. The board was forced to end all Hong Kong operations due to government pressure, and its lead writer was arrested earlier today. Hong Kong's first National Security trial also began today, with the 24-year-old activist pleading not guilty.

• Taliban gains in Afghanistan: According to the UN's envoy to Afghanistan, Deborah Lyon, Taliban insurgents have seized more than 50 districts of 370 in the country since May. Lyon warned the increasing conflicts in the region also means increasing insecurity for other countries. The uncertainty comes as the U.S and NATO are still aiming for a complete pullout of troops by September 11.

• Crisis in Ethiopia's Tigray: Heavy conflict broke out between the rebel Tigray Defence Force (TDF) and the federal Ethiopian army in the northern region of Tigray, with reports of dozens of civilian casualties after an airstrike hit a busy village market. It is the most serious crisis since the government claimed victory in the conflict last November.

• NYC mayoral vote: New Yorkers cast their ballots yesterday in city primaries, with the Democratic nominee likely to win the mayor's race in November. Of the top four Democratic candidates, former police captain Eric Adams is in the lead, while former presidential candidate Andrew Yang has conceded. Due to ranked-choice voting, the results may take until mid July to be finalized.

• Saudis who killed journalist received military training in U.S.: According to the New York Times, four Saudis who participated in the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi received paramilitary training in the U.S. last year, with the approval from the State Department.

• New COVID-19 variant troubling India: Delta Plus, which is believed to be deadlier and more transmissible by scientists, has been labelled a "variant of concern" by the Indian government. There have been at least 22 cases related to Delta Plus in India. The variant has been found in the UK, the U.S., Canada, Japan, Russia, Portugal, Switzerland and Turkey.

• Britney Spears to finally speak out: #FreeBritney fans are eager to hear what pop icon, Britney Spears, will say when she publicly addresses her conservatorship today. The controversial legal arrangement, which many fans argue was unfounded and has stripped the star of her independence, allows Spears' father "control over her estate, career and other aspects of her personal life."



Reporting on the UEFA's controversial decision to deny Munich's request to light up its stadium with a pride rainbow during the upcoming Germany v. Hungary match, the German daily, Süddeutsche Zeitung, featured the headline "Colors, Soccer and Human Rights' alongside a mock photo of the stadium covered in pride rainbow colors.


From Europe to Latin America, business schools are going green


Institutions tasked with training the next generation of business leaders are realizing that sustainability matters, and making significant adjustments to their curricula. From Santiago, America Economia"s Daniela Arce writes.

The ESCP Business School, based in Paris but with campuses across Europe, recently opened a sustainability department. The goal is to shift away from traditional courses on corporate responsibility and instead train students and staff to understand and innovate along sustainability lines, a concept that is of growing interest to the business world.

With sustainability's increasing relevance to all business sectors, it should come as no surprise that it's also an area of greater focus in business schools. Many have taken steps to enact one or more of the UN's 17 Sustainable Development goals, and some are even asking whether or not they contribute something specifically positive to society.

Business schools are adapting to the new scenario both in response to increased awareness among citizens and because firms understand the current economic model may soon threaten competitiveness and talent recruitment. And they're taking concrete steps, through one-off programs and curricular changes.

In Latin America, in the meantime, schools and universities in Colombia, Peru and Chile are gradually including environmental and social themes into studies. "Sustainability is becoming vital to the survival of firms," says Horacio Arredondo, a vice-dean of postgraduate studies at Chile's UAI business school. "But still, this wave of changes is essentially led by developed countries and economies."

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


5.2 million

Even as unemployment and poverty rose during the pandemic, so too did the number of rich people in the world, with 5.2 million more millionaires in 2020, according to a new Crédit Suisse study. Economists credit the rise to quickly recovering stock markets and soaring housing prices. Needless to say, wealth gaps widened too.


Spam forces leading candidate out of election runoff


The name's Cool, Vincent Cool. But there's nothing cool about what just happened to this local French candidate and his running mate Florence Trévisan.

On Sunday, the left-wing "Divers Gauche" pair came out on top of the first round of departmental elections, in the canton of Ribemont in northern France, with 37,25 % of suffrages, in strong position to win ahead of the second-round runoff. So far, so good.

But on Monday, as Florence Trévisan told local daily L'Aisne Nouvelle, they received a phone call informing them they had missed the registration deadline for the second round, and therefore could not be on the ballots come next Sunday.

"Obviously, we're taking it pretty hard ..." Mr. Cool told FranceInfo. The candidate, who is already the mayor of Ribemont, explains that the email from the national authorities "ended up in my spam." His running mate received no email at all.

The candidates had first been notified of the registration date back in April — but the Monday deadline had skipped their mind, "I was sure it was Tuesday," he said.

The office of the prefecture has announced that no exception would be made, leading the pair to break the bad news to their supporters by text message. Definitely not cool.

➡️ Keep up with all the planet's police reports and plot twists on Worldcrunch.com



For the Libyans to determine the fate of their country again, the foreign forces must leave.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas warned about the future of Libya at UN-sponsored talks taking place in Berlin today. World powers including the U.S., the UK, France, Russia and China, are set to discuss the withdrawal of foreign forces ahead of Libya's general elections on Dec. 24.

✍️ Newsletter by Meike Eijsberg, Genevieve Mansfield, Anne-Sophie Goninet, Dan Wu and Bertrand Hauger

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Economy

Merkel's Legacy: The Rise And Stall Of The German Economy

How have 16 years of Chancellor Angela Merkel changed Germany? The Chancellor accompanied the country's rise to near economic superpower status — and then progress stalled. On technology and beyond, Germany needs real reforms under Merkel's successor.

Chancellor Angela Merkel looks at the presentation of the current 2 Euro commemorative coin ''Brandenburg''

Daniel Eckert

BERLIN — Germans are doing better than ever. By many standards, the economy broke records during the reign of outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel: private households' financial assets have climbed to a peak; the number of jobs recorded a historic high before the pandemic hit at the beginning of 2020; the GDP — the sum of all goods and services produced in a period — also reached an all-time high.

And still, while the economic balance sheet of Merkel's 16 years is outstanding if taken at face value, on closer inspection one thing catches the eye: against the backdrop of globalization, Europe's largest economy no longer has the clout it had at the beginning of the century. Germany has fallen behind in key sectors that will shape the future of the world, and even the competitiveness of its manufacturing industries shows unmistakable signs of fatigue.

In 2004, a year before Merkel was first elected Chancellor, the British magazine The Economist branded Germany the "sick man of Europe." Ironically, the previous government, a coalition of center-left and green parties, had already laid the foundations for recovery with some reforms. Facing the threat of high unemployment, unions had held back on wage demands.

"Up until the Covid-19 crisis, Germany had achieved strong economic growth with both high and low unemployment," says Michael Holstein, chief economist at DZ Bank. However, it never made important decisions for its future.

Another economist, Jens Südekum of Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf, offers a different perspective: "Angela Merkel profited greatly from the preparatory work of her predecessor. This is particularly true regarding the extreme wage restraint practiced in Germany in the early 2000s."

Above all, Germany was helped in the first half of the Merkel era by global economic upheaval. Between the turn of the millennium and the 2011-2012 debt crisis, emerging countries, led by China, experienced unprecedented growth. With many German companies specializing in manufacturing industrial machines and systems, the rise of rapidly industrializing countries was a boon for the country's economy.

Germany dismissed Google as an over-hyped tech company.

Digital competitiveness, on the other hand, was not a big problem in 2005 when Merkel became chancellor. Google went public the year before, but was dismissed as an over-hyped tech company in Germany. Apple's iPhone was not due to hit the market until 2007, then quickly achieved cult status and ushered in a new phase of the global economy.

Germany struggled with the digital economy, partly because of the slow expansion of internet infrastructure in the country. Regulation, lengthy start-up processes and in some cases high taxation contributed to how the former economic wonderland became marginalized in some of the most innovative sectors of the 21st century.

Volkswagen's press plant in Zwickau, Germany — Photo: Jan Woitas/dpa/ZUMA

"When it comes to digitization today, Germany has a lot of catching up to do with the relevant infrastructure, such as the expansion of fiber optics, but also with digital administration," says Stefan Kooths, Director of the Economic and Growth Research Center at the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW Kiel).

For a long time now, the country has made no adjustments to its pension system to ward off the imminent demographic problems caused by an increasingly aging population. "The social security system is not future-proof," says Kooths. The most recent changes have come at the expense of future generations and taxpayers, the economist says.

Low euro exchange rates favored German exports

Nevertheless, things seemed to go well for the German economy at the start of the Merkel era. In part, this can be explained by the economic downturn caused by the euro debt crisis of 2011-2012. Unlike in the previous decade, the low euro exchange rate favored German exports and made money flow into German coffers. And since then-European Central Bank president Mario Draghi's decision to save the euro "whatever it takes" in 2012, this money has become cheaper and cheaper.

In the long run, these factors inflated the prices of real estate and other sectors but failed to contribute to the future viability of the country. "With the financial crisis and the national debt crisis that followed, economic policy got into crisis mode, and it never emerged from it again," says DZ chief economist Holstein. Policy, he explains, was geared towards countering crises and maintaining the status quo. "The goal of remaining competitive fell to the background, as did issues concerning the future."

In the traditional field of manufacturing, the situation deteriorated significantly. The Institut der Deutschen Wirtschaft (IW), which regularly measures and compares the competitiveness of industries in different countries, recently concluded that German companies have lost many of the advantages they had gained. The high level of productivity, which used to be one of the country's strengths, faltered in the years before the pandemic.

Kooths, of IfW Kiel, points out that private investment in the German economy has declined in recent years, while the "government quota" in the economy, which describes the amount of government expenditure against the GDP, grew significantly during Merkel's tenure, from 43.5% in 2005 to 46.5% in 2019. Kooths concludes that: "Overall, the state's influence on economic activity has increased significantly."

Another very crucial aspect of competitiveness, at least from the point of view of skilled workers and companies, has been neglected by German politics for years: taxes and social contributions. The country has among the highest taxes on income in Europe, and corporate taxes are also hardly as high as in Germany anywhere in the industrialized world. "In the long run, high tax rates always come at the expense of economic dynamism and can even prevent new companies from being set up," warns Kooths.

Startups can renew an economy and lay the foundation for future prosperity. Between the year 2000 and the Covid-19 crisis, fewer and fewer new companies were created every year. Economists from left to right are unanimous: Angela Merkel is leaving behind a country with considerable need for reform.

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