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The Latest: Bye Bye Bibi, Novavax Vaccine, Record-Breaking Houseplant

Winner Novak Djokovic of Serbia kisses trophy after the final match of the French Open
Winner Novak Djokovic of Serbia kisses trophy after the final match of the French Open

Welcome to Monday, where Israel gets a new Prime Minister after Netanyahu's 12-year tenure, more good news from another COVID-19 vaccine and a houseplant breaks a record in New Zealand. Ukrainian news website Livy Bereg also explains what's at stake for Ukraine as Joe Biden meets with Vladimir Putin in Geneva later this week.

• Benjamin Netanyahu's 12-year run as Israel prime minister ends: On Sunday, the Israeli parliament approved a new government led by nationalist Naftali Bennett. The change, brought out by a narrow 60-59 vote, marks an end of an era.

• Erdogan and Biden to have a NATO meeting: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said he and U.S. President Joe Biden must use their bilateral meeting to discuss past troubles, such as Ankara's purchase of Russian missiles. Erdogan has reportedly been frustrated by the more critical approach from the new U.S. Administration.

• COVID update: In its 29,960-person trial, small U.S. company Novavax found that a two-shot inoculation demonstrated an overall efficacy of 90.4 percent. Despite these impressive results, the vaccine's future in the U.S. is uncertain and might be needed more in other countries. Meanwhile, India has recorded 70,421 new daily COVID-19 cases, the lowest since the end of March. The country, one of the hardest hit by COVID-19, also saw 3,936 deaths in the same period.

• Five more opposition figures detained in Nicaragua: Several of President Daniel Ortega's former allies were arrested on Sunday, accused of inciting foreign interference in Nicaragua's affairs. About 12 opposition figures have been arrested in recent days.

• Huge gas explosion in central China kills at least 12: The blast took place at about 6:30 a.m. local time in the Zhangwan district of Shiyan city, in Hubei province. The cause of the accident is still under investigation.

• Djokovic and Krejčíková win French Open: World no.1 Novak Djokovic from Serbia beat Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas to win his 19th Slam title in a five-set thriller at Roland Garros. The Czech Republic's Barbora Krejčíková became the first woman in 21 years to win both the singles and doubles title.

• D-Day watch starts working again after 77 years: American veteran Raymond Geddes' watch was broken during D-Day operations on June 6, 1944. It was on display in the Dead Man's Corner Museum and started ticking again on June 10.


"Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu," titles Israeli daily Haaretz as Netanyahu's 12-year tenure as Israel's Prime Minister comes to an end, following the parliament's vote on a new government. The daily's lead photo shows Bennett embracing his unlikely coalition partner, centrist Yair Lapid. Below, Netanyahu is shown sitting alone.

What Ukraine has to lose in Biden-Putin talks

Joe Biden's Geneva meeting with Vladimir Putin on June 16 cannot avoid the Nord Stream 2 pipeline standoff. Kyiv will be watching every step, writes Alexander Demchenko in Ukrainian news website Livy Bereg.

The U.S. administration refused to impose strict sanctions against the gas pipeline operator, in large part a sign of Biden's unwillingness to harm relations with Germany and his fear that Berlin could impose additional duties on American goods at the European Union level. But an even greater reason Biden is softening the U.S. posture on the Russia-to-Germany pipeline is the desire to open a dialogue with Russia from a position of power, being able at any moment to block the construction of the Russian pipeline.

But this creates other problems, first of all for Ukraine. If Russia launches the pipeline bypassing Ukraine, it will simply have no need for any part of the Ukrainian transport system. The blackmail will begin even before the end of the contract on the transit of Russian gas, which expires at the end of 2024. The German side is reassuring: Nord Stream 2 will remain in force if transit through Ukraine is preserved. The only question is what these supplies will be and whether they will exist at all.

Putin has already made it clear that he is ready to pump gas, give a discount on it and increase transit figures, but only on one condition — the restoration of Ukrainian-Russian relations. This means that the Kremlin will use the Ukrainian GTS transport system only if Russian influence, which has been lost in some places, is fully restored in Ukraine. At the same time, the Russian president makes it clear: Kyiv will not be able to use the profits from gas transit to develop the Ukrainian army and counteract Russia in the contested region of Donbas.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


$19,297

A houseplant with just nine leaves sold for a record-breaking $19,297 in New Zealand (NZ $27,100) on an auction site. The Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma is a rare plant native to Thailand and Malaysia


Dutch animal rights law could make leashing dogs illegal

Rabbits and birds may no longer be kept in a pen or cage, while dog owners may have to forego a leash in the Netherlands from 2023 onwards. This is the result of a proposed new animal protection law that aims to reorient the debate about animal rights, which was approved by the Dutch Senate late last month with virtually no media attention at the time.

The Amsterdam-based Het Parool daily reports that the new law, introduced by the small but influential Party for the Animals, updates existing legislation to require that animals are able to exhibit "natural behavior," and must no longer suffer pain or discomfort when kept in stables, pens or cages. It is primarily aimed at owners of livestock who must ensure that pigs, for example, have enough room to roll around in the mud.

Dutch farmers, who have previously protested against a government plan to combat nitrogen emissions, are strongly opposed to the new bill that they fear will undermine their businesses and put an end to intensive livestock farming. The Netherlands Minister of Agriculture, Carola Schouten, is currently analyzing the law to determine what it would mean in practice. "It's very openly formulated," she said according to Het Parool. The new law would go into effect on January 1, 2023.

Whether the law will also apply to pet owners is not yet clear. After it was first introduced in April, it was met with raised eyebrows by many questioning its feasibility. It will be difficult to enforce, according to Bas Rodenburg, Professor of Animal Welfare at the University of Utrecht and cited by the Dutch broadcaster NOS. "There are millions of pet owners. How are you going to check them all?"

The law was proposed by the Party for the Animals, a left-leaning party founded in 2002, that is believed to be the only animal rights party with national legislative power. It currently occupies 3 out of 75 seats in the Senate and 6 out of 150 seats in the House of Representatives. It advocates for animal rights and welfare, as well as for action to reverse global warming.


Stop slandering China, stop interfering in China's internal affairs, and stop harming China's interests.

— China's embassy in London denounced the statement issued by the leaders of the G7 that urged Beijing to "respect human rights and fundamental freedoms," in particular over the country's the Uyghur Muslim minority group and its handling of Hong Kong pro-democracy protests.

✍️ Newsletter by Genevieve Mansfield, Meike Eijsberg, Bertrand Hauger & Anne-Sophie Goninet

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How Facebook's Metaverse Could Undermine Europe's Tech Industry

Mark Zuckerberg boasted that his U.S. tech giant will begin a hiring spree in Europe to build his massive "Metaverse." Touted as an opportunity for Europe, the plans could poach precious tech talent from European tech companies.

Carl-Johan Karlsson

PARIS — Facebook's decision to recruit 10,000 people across the European Union might be branded as a vote of confidence in the strength of Europe's tech industry. But some European companies, which are already struggling to fill highly-skilled roles such as software developers and data scientists, are worried that the tech giant might make it even harder to find the workers that power their businesses.


Facebook's new European staff will work as part of its so-called "metaverse," the company's ambitious plan to venture beyond its current core business of connected social apps.

Shortage of French developers

Since Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced his more maximalist vision of Facebook in July, the concept of the metaverse has quickly become a buzzword in technology and business circles. Essentially a sci-fi inspired augmented reality world, the metaverse will allow people to interact through hardware like augmented reality (AR) glasses that Zuckerberg believes will eventually be as ubiquitous as smartphones.

The ambition to build what promoters claim will be the successor to the mobile internet comes with a significant investment, including multiplying the 10% of the company's 60,000-strong workforce currently based in Europe. The move has been welcomed by some as a potential booster for the continent's tech market.

Eight out of 10 French software companies say they can't find enough workers.

"In a number of regions in Europe there are clusters of pioneering technology companies. A stronger representation of Facebook can support this trend," German business daily Handelsblatt notes.

And yet the enthusiasm isn't shared by everyone. In France, company leaders worry that Facebook's five-year recruiting plan will dilute an already limited talent pool, with eight out of 10 French software companies already having difficulties finding staff, daily Les Echos reports.

The profile of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg displayed on a smartphone

Cris Faga / ZUMA

Teleworking changes the math

There is currently a shortage of nearly 10,000 computer engineers in France, with developers being the most sought-after, according to a recent study by Numéum, the main employers' consortium of the country's digital sector.

Facebook has said its recruiters will target nations including Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Poland, the Netherlands and Ireland, without mentioning specific numbers in any country. But the French software sector, which has so far managed to retain 59% of its workforce, fears that its highly skilled and relatively affordable young talent will be fertile recruiting grounds — especially since the pandemic has ushered in a new era of teleworking.

Facebook's plan to build its metaverse comes at a time when the nearly $1-trillion company faces its biggest scandal in years over damning internal documents leaked by a whistleblower, as well as mounting antitrust scrutiny from lawmakers and regulators. Still, as the sincerity of Zuckerberg's quest is underscored by news that the pivot might also come with a new company name, European software companies might want to start thinking about how to keep their talent in this universe.

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