Welcome to Friday, where dozens are still missing in the Florida building collapse, Dutch and Hungarian prime ministers clash, and tourists are confused about Mexico City. We also turn to Les Echos for an analysis of the Sudan-Egypt tensions generated by Ethiopia's Great Renaissance Dam.
• Dozens missing after Florida building collapse: A 12-story oceanfront residential building collapsed in Surfside, near Miami, Florida, killing at least three people. Rescue missions are underway to find survivors in the rubble, with an estimated 99 people still missing, many of whom are Latin American migrants.
• Belarus journalist Roman Protasevich moved to house arrest: The 26-year-old Belarusian dissident who was captured from a Ryanair jet on May 23 has now been moved to house arrest, alongside with his girlfriend, a Russian citizen. Protasevich was charged with organising mass unrest, and could face up to 15 years in prison. Belarus fighter jets forced the plane Protasevich was on to land in Minsk.
• Chauvin to be sentenced for George Floyd murder: Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis policeman, will be sentenced today for murdering George Floyd in May 2020, with prosecutors seeking a 30-year sentence. The other three police officers involved in Floyd's death will be facing trial next year with the charge of "aiding and abetting murder."
• Outrage after Pakistan prime minister blames rape crisis on women: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan is facing criticism after blaming rape victims for wearing "very few clothes." Khan was questioned about the "ongoing rape epidemic" in Pakistan, where most women wear conservative national clothings. Various women's rights groups in the country demanded Khan apologize for a statement that "reinforces the perception that women are ‘knowing" victims and men ‘helpless' aggressors."
• Deadly tornado in Czech Republic: A tornado moving 218 km/h swept across several villages in southeastern Czech, killing four and injuring more than 100 more.
• COVID update: After a rise in COVID cases likely due to the Delta variant, the Israeli health ministry reimposed indoor mask requirement in public places. The country has witnessed four days of more than 100 daily new cases. In Australia, where low rates of COVID transmission has been maintained, Sydney, the country's biggest city, goes into its first lockdown since December, after a cluster of 65 cases.
• Shark bites man (3,000 years ago): Oxford researchers have found the earliest evidence of a shark attack on a human, on a 3,000 year-old-skeleton discovered in Japan that bears no fewer than 790 shark teeth marks.
Canadian daily The Toronto Star reports on the 751 unmarked graves found at the site of a former residential school in southeastern Saskatchewan, just weeks after the remains of 215 children were discovered in a similar school in British Columbia. The Marieval Indian Residential School was one of Canada's compulsory boarding schools funded by the government in the 19th and 20th century, which aimed at assimilating indigenous youth.
Ethiopia's Great Renaissance Dam risks diplomatic blowup
Built by Ethiopia, the massive Dam project is fueling tensions with Sudan and Egypt. The second filling, set to take place next month, risks making the area even more explosive, reports Laura-Maï Gaveriaux in French daily Les Echos.
The dam, built by Ethiopia 45 kilometers south of the border and due to be completed next year, has fueled bitter diplomatic confrontations since construction began in 2011. The tensions come from unsettled historical disputes and recent geopolitical shifts, and from the enormous significance that Nile waters represent for people in all 10 of the countries involved: Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan, and especially Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt.
Cairo was the first to sound off on what will be the largest hydroelectric dam in Africa, with a basin of 74 billion cubic meters and generating capacity of 6,000 megawatts that will allow Ethiopia to double its current electricity production. Egypt, with a population of roughly 100 millions, gets a staggering 97% of its water from the Nile, and says it fears a decrease in flow and a loss of sediment necessary for soil fertilization. More specifically, it predicts a drop in annual water consumption from 570 cubic meters per person to 500 cubic meters (one of the lowest rates in the world).
A senior Sudanese official acknowledges that the dam would benefit his country by making flooding less likely during the rainy season and providing more water during dry spells. The problem, rather, is that Ethiopia ignored Sudanese warnings by launching a war in camera in Tigray last November. This raises new questions about the terms of a project that was also supposed to provide Sudan with a new source of electricity. "This prime minister," an advisor with the U.S. government, says in reference to Abiy Ahmed, "is unpredictable and makes worrying decisions."
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Study: 29% of tourists are looking forward to enjoying Mexico City's beaches. (Note: Check your map)
A quick look at a map of Mexico will tell you that its capital, Mexico City, lies pretty much smack dab in the middle of the country. With the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico a five-hour drive in either direction, Mexico City is as landlocked as they come. Unlike many other major cities, it doesn't even have a river.
So this may come as a bit of a surprise that a study on tourism in the Mexican capital, conducted by the city's business association COPARMEX, found that almost 30% of potential foreign visitors to the bustling megalopolis said they were particularly looking forward to enjoying "its beaches."
As daily Publimetro reports, most respondents to the study, hailing from 17 different countries, even named names — citing "Cancún and Acapulco" (respectively 1,600 and 400 km away) as the beaches they couldn't wait to go to.
Alberto de la Fuente, the head of Moratti Strategic Business which compiled this "Macro Study on Reactivating the Tourist Economy" study, said the results were "not a mistake" but actually showed the "potential" of what he called "zero customers': tourists who indeed know very little about Mexico but could be attracted with the right advertising campaigns.
The city of 9 million inhabitants, which recently branded itself as the Cultural Capital of the Americas, was founded by the Aztecs in the 14th century — on water, ironically. But the spread of diseases like cholera and malaria in the then island capital known as Tenochtitlán led to the decision to drain its lake and pave over its rivers (much to sunbathers' chagrin).
Despite Mexico City's outstanding monuments, countless museums, bars, restaurants, markets, parks, and even a zoo, the study also showed that 60% of potential visitors weren't interested in visiting the capital because of its reputation as a polluted and crime-riddled city. Still, half of those who did visit, said they would return — beach or no beach.
Panasonic said today that it had sold its stake in Elon Musk's electric car giant Tesla earlier this year for approximately 400 billion yen ($3.61 billion). Reuters reports that Tesla dominates Panasonic's battery business, but the two firms have had a tense relationship. Panasonic bought 1.4 million Tesla shares at $21.15 each in 2010 for about $30 million. That stake was worth $730 million at the end of March 2020, and continued to multiply until the sale was privately finalized in March.
"For me, Hungary has no place in the EU anymore.
— Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte was blunt with journalists before entering an European Union summit alongside his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orbán. The Dutch leader stood strongly opposed to Hungary's new legislation, which intends to ban the "promotion" of LGBTQ content in schools, arguing that it goes against EU values. Out of Europe's 27 member countries, 14 have signed onto a joint declaration to express their "deep concern" at the law.