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The Latest: Myanmar Turns Bloody, Navalny Transfered, AI Animated Photos

Protesters carry a wounded man after police and military opened fire on the crowd, killing 18, during the military coup demonstrations in Yangon, Myanmar.
Protesters carry a wounded man after police and military opened fire on the crowd, killing 18, during the military coup demonstrations in Yangon, Myanmar.

Welcome to Monday, where Aung San Suu Kyi is seen after Myanmar death count spikes, vaccine rollouts begin across Africa and there's a cool new way to make old photos come to life. We also feature Argentine daily Clarin"s look into the digital phenomenon of "sugar dating."

• COVID-19 latest: Ivory Coast began their national rollout of the COVID vaccine using COVAX, while Ghana & Nigeria are due to start this week. Distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine begins today in the U.S.

• Myanmar coup: Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi was seen for the first time today since being detained in a video of her court hearing. This followed the worst day of violence Sunday when police opened fire killing 18 protesters, according to the UN human rights office.

• Netanyahu accusations: Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu blamed Iran for the destruction of an Israeli-owned cargo ship in the Gulf of Oman last week.

• Hong Kong charges 47: Police in Hong Kong have charged 47 pro-democracy activists with "subversion", in the widest use yet of the territory's controversial security law.

• Navalny moved to penal colony: Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was transferred from Moscow to a penal colony about 100km (60 miles) east of the capital to begin his sentence.

• Trump speech: Former U.S. President Donald Trump made his first public appearance since leaving the White House, slamming his successor, repeating lies that he won the last race and hinting that he may run again in 2024.

• Cool or creepy?: Artificial intelligence is powering a new digital tool to animate photographs that can bring your old relatives back to life.


Spanish daily El Mundo features the ongoing controversy of exiled former King Juan Carlos I who fled to live in the United Arab Emirates last year amid investigation of tax fraud. The Madrid-based daily also reports on Pope Francis' upcoming trip to Iraq where he is expected to speak out against the persecution of Christian minorities in the region.

Sugar dating: When is getting paid for it not prostitution?

Sugar dating, where an older partner provides "a little assistance," is out in the open down in the land of Latin lovers, reports Emilia Vexler in Argentine daily Clarin.

In Argentina, dating apps like Tinder, Happn or Bumble are a booming business. But some similar apps have been discretely profiting from the pandemic months, offering a slightly "shadier" version of dating, nicknamed "sugar dating." It is not illegal, though everyone still uses pseudonyms. What may not be immediately clear on any sugar dating website, however, is that many are "selling" their love or affection. The most typical outfit in sugar dating is a girl looking for an older man with money, for a quick date, or a relationship.

SugarDaters, the world's biggest sugar dating website, has some 4,000 users, though it is not the only such website operating in Argentina. More than 60% of its profiles are of young women or "sugar babies," with an average age of 22. Just under 30% are toy boys, and 4% are sugar daddies or men in their 30s willing to be generous. There is also a tiny portion or 2% of sugar mommies. The website told Clarín sugar daddies were proportionately few and far between, compared to girls looking for them.

Sugar dating is not technically prostitution, in the sense that money is not offered for a particular service. There is instead an element of "financial support" that is integral to the relationship. There is "an emotional connection and expectations' that are absent in prostitution, says Alexandra Olariu, marketing head of SugarDaters. Sugar babies and toy boys choose their partners and will not necessarily seek to have "multiple customers' like prostitutes.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


You touched it, you bought it: Street card scam for COVID times

Like the rest of us, street hustlers are adjusting to pandemic conditions. In Laval, a small city in western France, a young man who might have otherwise been taking passersby for a ride with Three-Card Monte or Find The Lady tricks, concocted a COVID-inspired scam for easy money.

The Ouest France daily reports that the suspect would ride around on his bicycle approaching people to sell them generic cards with random images of cute animals and the like. When the potential buyer tried to say "No thanks' and hand back the cards, the man said he couldn't take them because of the risk the cards were now infected by the coronavirus — and demanded payment.

The French national police unit based in nearby Mayenne apprehended the suspect Friday. If found guilty, he could face up to six months in prison and 3,750-euro fine. Can't hand that back either.

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

490 sq miles

That's the size of a massive iceberg (nearly 1.5 times bigger than New York City) that has broken away from the Brunt Ice shelf in Antarctica. British scientists had started detecting cracks in the ice about a decade ago.

It's about time!

— Barbra Steisand on Twitter congratulating Chloé Zhao for winning Best director at the Golden Globes for her movie "Nomadland". She's only the second woman to be awarded this prize, the first one was Streisand, 40 years ago, for "Yentl". Zhao is also the first Asian woman ever to win the award.

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Queen Elizabeth II with UK PM Boris Johnson at a reception at Windsor Castle yesterday

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Hej!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where chaos hits Syria, Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro is accused of crimes against humanity and a social media giant plans to rebrand itself. For Spanish daily La Razon, reporter Paco Rodríguez takes us to the devastated town of Belchite, where visitors are reporting paranormal phenomenons.

[*Danish]

🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• Syrian violence erupts: Army shelling on residential areas of the rebel-held region of northwestern Syria killed 13 people, with school children among the victims. The attack occurred shortly after a bombing killed at least 14 military personnel in Damascus. In central Syria, a blast inside an ammunition depot kills five soldiers.

• Renewed Ethiopia air raids on capital of embattled Tigray region: Ethiopian federal government forces have launched its second air strike this week on the capital of the northern Tigray. The air raids mark a sharp escalation in the near-year-old conflict between the government forces and the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF) that killed thousands and displaced over 2 million people.

• Bolsonaro accused of crimes against humanity: A leaked draft government report concludes that Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro should be charged with crimes against humanity, forging documents and incitement to crime, following his handling of the country's COVID-19 pandemic. The report blames Bolsonaro's administration for more than half of Brazil's 600,000 coronavirus deaths.

• Kidnappers in Haiti demand $17 million to free a missionary group: A Haitian gang that kidnapped 17 members of a Christian aid group, including five children, demanded $1million ransom per person. Most of those being held are Americans; one is Canadian.

• Putin bows out of COP26 in Glasgow: Russian President Vladimir Putin will not fly to Glasgow to attend the COP26 climate summit. A setback for host Britain's hopes of getting support from major powers for a more radical plan to tackle climate change.

• Queen Elizabeth II cancels trip over health concerns: The 95-year-old British monarch has cancelled a visit to Northern Ireland after she was advised by her doctors to rest for the next few days. Buckingham Palace assured the queen, who attended public events yesterday, was "in good spirits."

• A new name for Facebook? According to a report by The Verge website, Mark Zuckerberg's social media giant is planning on changing the company's name next week, to reflect its focus on building the "metaverse," a virtual reality version of the internet.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

"Oil price rise causes earthquake," titles Portuguese daily Jornal I as surging demand coupled with supply shortage have driven oil prices to seven-year highs at more than $80 per barrel.

#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

98

For the first time women judges have been appointed to Egypt's State Council, one of the country's main judicial bodies. The council's chief judge, Mohammed Hossam el-Din, welcomed the 98 new judges in a celebratory event in Cairo. Since its inception in 1946, the State Council has been exclusively male and until now actively rejected female applicants.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

Spanish civil war town now a paranormal attraction

Ghosts from Spain's murderous 1930s civil war are said to roam the ruins of Belchite outside Zaragoza. Tourists are intrigued and can book a special visit to the town, reports Paco Rodríguez in Madrid-based daily La Razon.

🏚️ Between August 24 and September 6, 1937, during the Spanish Civil War, more than 5,000 people died in 14 days of intense fighting in Belchite in north-eastern Spain, and the town was flattened. The fighting began on the outskirts and ended in house-to-house fighting. Almost half the town's 3,100 residents died in the struggle. The war annihilated centuries of village history. The town was never rebuilt, though a Pueblo Nuevo (or new town) was built by the old one.

😱 Belchite became an open-air museum of the horror of the civil war of 1936-39, which left 300,000 dead and wounds that have yet to heal or, for some today, mustn't. For many locals, the battle of Belchite has yet to end, judging by reports of paranormal incidents. Some insist they have heard the screams of falling soldiers, while others say the Count of Belchite wanders the streets, unable to find a resting place after his corpse was exhumed.

🎟️ Ordinary visitors have encountered unusual situations. Currently, you can only visit Belchite at set times every day, with prior booking. More daring visitors can also visit at 10 p.m. on weekends. Your ticket does not include a guaranteed paranormal experience, but many visitors insist strange things have happened to them. These include sudden changes of temperature or the strange feeling of being observed from a street corner or a window. Furthermore, such phenomena increase as evening falls, as if night brought the devastated town to life.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

We still cling to the past because back then we had security, which is the main thing that's missing in Libya today.

— Fethi al-Ahmar, an engineer living in the Libyan desert town Bani Walid, told AFP, as the country today marks the 10-year anniversary of the death of dictator Muammar Gaddafi. The leader who had reigned for 42 years over Libya was toppled in a revolt inspired by the Arab Spring uprisings and later killed by rebels. Some hope the presidential elections set in December can help the country turn the page on a decade of chaos and instability.

🇮🇷🎓  IN OTHER NEWS

Iran to offer Master's and PhD in morality enforcement

Iran will create new "master's and doctorate" programs to train state morality agents checking on people's public conduct and attire, according to several Persian-language news sources.

Mehran Samadi, a senior official of the Headquarters to Enjoin Virtues and Proscribe Vices (Amr-e be ma'ruf va nahy az monkar) said "anyone who wants to enjoin virtues must have the knowledge," the London-based broadcaster Iran International reported, citing reports from Iran.

The morality patrols, in force since the 1979 revolution, tend to focus mostly on young people and women, particularly the public appearance for the latter. Loose headscarves will send women straight to a police station, often in humiliating conditions. Five years ago, the regime announced a new force of some 7,000 additional agents checking on women's hijabs and other standards of dress and behavior.

Last week, for example, Tehran police revealed that they had "disciplined" agents who had been filmed forcefully shoving a girl into a van. Such incidents may increase under the new, conservative president, Ibrahim Raisi.

Speaking about the new academic discipline, Samadi said morals go "much further than headscarves and modesty," and those earning graduate degrees would teach agents "what the priorities are."

Iran's Islamic regime, under the guidance of Shia jurists, continuously fine tunes notions of "proper" conduct — and calibrates its own, interventionist authority. More recently the traffic police chief said women were not allowed to ride motorbikes, and "would be stopped," Prague-based Radio Farda reported.

Days before, a cleric in the holy city of Qom in central Iran insisted that people must be vaccinated by a medic of the same sex "as often as possible," and if not, there should be no pictures of mixed-sex vaccinations.

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

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