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The Latest: COVID Crisis In Indonesia, Pope Surgery, Russian Champagne Troll

Site of Philipine Air Force airplane crash in southern Philippines, which killed 50 people
Site of Philipine Air Force airplane crash in southern Philippines, which killed 50 people

Welcome to Monday, where the Pope is recovering from surgery, an indigenous woman helps Chile move past its Pinochet legacy, and the world record for competitive hot dog eating is broken. From Gaziantep, French daily Les Echos' Catherine Chatignoux looks at the difficult integration of the four million Syrians living in Turkey.

• COVID update: In Indonesia, hospitals have almost exhausted their oxygen supplies as the country is facing the worst outbreak in Southeast Asia, with about 2.3 million cases and more than 60,000 deaths so far. Meanwhile, in England masks will become optional, as part of the transition into a period without legal restrictions where the public will have to exercise "personal responsibility."

• Philippines military plane crash death toll rises to 50: A Philippine Air Force plane, carrying 96 military personnel and crew, crashed in the southern Philippines on Sunday after missing the runway and crashing into a nearby village. The death toll of 50 includes several people on the ground.

• Pope Francis "reacted well" to surgery: Pope Francis has "reacted well" after undergoing a planned surgery Sunday for colon diverticulitis, according to the Vatican. Francis, 84, had general anaesthesia during the surgery, the Argentine pope's first known treatment in hospital since he was elected to the papacy in 2013.

• 80 missing in central Japan mudslide: Two days after a devastating mudslide swept through a coastal city in Japan, rescue workers continue to search for survivors. At least three victims bodies have been recovered, and 80 are still missing.

• Miami building demolished: The partially collapsed apartment building in Miami, where 24 people are confirmed dead, was demolished on Sunday night ahead of the arrival of tropical storm Elsa. Search-and-rescue efforts for 121 people still missing have been temporarily suspended.

• Indian dowries still common despite being illegal: A new World Bank study has found that dowry payments in India's villages have not decreased over the past few decades even though the practice was made illegal in 1961. The researchers found that in 95% of the 40,000 marriages that took place in rural India between 1960 and 2008, dowry was still paid.

• Putin sparks sparkling war: New Russian legislation stipulates that the name "champagne" can only be used for Russian sparkling wine. French fizz from the Champagne region, which is widely considered the only to merit the label, must now be referred to in Russia as "sparkling wine." Top champagne brand Moet Hennessy has threatened to ban all sales to Russia.

Chilean daily La Últimas Noticias features the story of Elisa Loncon, a professor from Chile's majority indigenous Mapuche people, who was chosen to lead the constitutional body that will draft the country's new constitution. Chileans had voted last year to tear up the Pinochet-era constitution in favor of a new charter written by citizens.

It's only getting harder to be a Syrian refugee in Turkey

The four million Syrians living in Turkey were already facing great difficulties, and the pandemic only made their lives more uncertain. But there's another truth they know they must face, reports Catherine Chatignoux in French daily Les Echos.

Since arriving in 2015, Adnan, a 35-year-old construction worker from Aleppo, has never been able to find the stability needed to build a better future for his family of five. When the lockdown began last year, even the part-time work dried up in Gaziantep, a city that has swelled to 450,000 new inhabitants since the start of the war in Syria. "I would like to work in a big workshop or a factory, to get a permanent job. But it's very difficult," he said. Few Turkish companies apply for a work permit or pay insurance for Syrian refugees. It is more attractive for them to pay an undeclared half salary.

Without financial assistance, a large majority of the four million Syrians in Turkey would simply not have the means to survive. Of the six billion euros promised to Turkey in 2016 for keeping and managing refugees on its soil, 40% is spent on humanitarian aid. Criticized for making Europe bend to the whim of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan — who can open his borders at any time — this pact, sealed in the midst of the migration crisis, has finally proven itself useful. Discussions to renew the funds are currently underway.

Convinced the only chance of integration for these Syrian children is through education, Iren Wall, an American who works with refugees in the city of Sanliurfa in southeast Turkey, and her team of teachers are working to give the 2,600 enrolled students a three-month rehabilitation period and upgrading sessions. In one of the rooms of what looks like a small community school, educators teach Syrian, Kurdish and Iranian children to regain their self-esteem, an appetite for learning and the basics of the Turkish language.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

Public playground slide winds up in backyard of politician's relatives

In late May, children in the French town of Saint-Marcel discovered that the slide from the local playground had disappeared overnight. Last week, the local newspaper Paris Normandiereported that the slide had been located, replete with a fresh coat of red paint, in the backyard of a relative of the town's deputy mayor.

Yes, politics has slid this far. Soon after the slide vanished, members of the opposition party, "100% Saint-Marcel," decided to launch an investigation, which eventually discovered the once-public slide was now being enjoyed exclusively by relatives of Eric Pichou, the town's fourth deputy mayor, who also serves as the head of Public Works, Environment and Security for Saint-Marcel.

Remi Ferreira, head of "100% Saint-Marcel," recounted the day the slide went missing as filled with emotion: "This neighborhood has the most children and families in the city, and some children were crying."

The investigation culminated in a hearing on June 25, where "100% Saint-Marcel" argued that Pichou had falsely marked the slide as set to be discarded for safety reasons. The opposition group alleges to have separately verified that the slide was in full operating capacity and did not pose any danger.

Mayor Hervé Podraza, who claimed to have no prior knowledge of the incident, said that the slide in question was one of three in the city shown to have "several non-conformities." Still, Podraza has since demanded Eric Pichou's resignation, citing the "breach in trust" that had taken place.

Both the Mayor's office and the opposition party filed separate complaints about "misappropriation of public property." Nobody was going to just let this one slide.


Competitive eater Joey Chestnut gulped down an impressive 76 hot dogs in 10 minutes at the annual July 4 International Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island. Chestnut broke his own world record, set last year, by one hot dog.

My constitutional rights were abused.

— South Africa's ex-president Jacob Zuma told supporters camped outside his home, as he refuses to surrender to the authorities to start a 15-month jail term for contempt of court. Protesters have vowed to protect Zuma and called for President Cyril Ramaphosa to step down. The former president has also been accused of involvement in a bribery affair.

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How A Xi Jinping Dinner In San Francisco May Have Sealed Mastercard's Arrival In China

The credit giant becomes only the second player after American Express to be allowed to set up a bank card-clearing RMB operation in mainland China.

Photo of a hand holding a phone displaying an Union Pay logo, with a Mastercard VISA logo in the background of the photo.

Mastercard has just been granted a bank card clearing license in China.

Liu Qianshan


It appears that one of the biggest beneficiaries from Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to San Francisco was Mastercard.

The U.S. credit card giant has since secured eagerly anticipated approval to expand in China's massive financial sector, having finally obtained long sought approval from China's central bank and financial regulatory authorities to initiate a bank card business in China through its joint venture with its new Chinese partner.

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Through a joint venture in China between Mastercard and China's NetsUnion Clearing Corporation, dubbed Mastercard NUCC, it has officially entered mainland China as an RMB currency clearing organization. It's only the second foreign business of its kind to do so following American Express in 2020.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that the development is linked to Chinese President Xi Jinping's meeting on Nov. 15 with U.S. President Joe Biden in San Francisco, part of a two-day visit that also included dinner that Xi had with U.S. business executives.

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