The Latest: Peru Election Too Close To Call, Pakistan Train Collision, Turkey Sea Snot

Turkey’s Marmara Sea is facing a scourge of marine mucilage, or “sea snot”
Turkey’s Marmara Sea is facing a scourge of marine mucilage, or “sea snot”

Welcome to Monday, where two Latin American countries await the results of key elections, a deadly train collision rocks Pakistan, and Turkey faces a worrying — not to say pretty yucky — sea of snot. We also look at some of the most creative vaccine incentives around the world. (Spoiler alert: They involve free food. And a cow.)

• Pakistan train collision kills 33: Two trains collided early this morning in southern Pakistan, killing at least 33 and injuring more than 120. Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted he was "ordering comprehensive investigation into railway safety fault lines."

• Boko Haram leader dead: According to a rival militant group, the leader of Nigerian-based Islamist group Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, has killed himself by detonating an explosive. Although his death has not yet been confirmed by authorities, the Nigerian army has announced plans to investigate the allegations.

• Key elections in Latin America: Both Peru and Mexico went to the polls this weekend. In Mexico, after being largely overshadowed by spates of violence, President López Obrador and his coalition are set to maintain a simple majority in the lower house of Congress, despite losing several seats. In Peru, the presidential election between Leftist Pedro Castillo and right-wing candidate Keiko Fujimori is still too close to call.

• G7 vs. tech giants: G7 countries reached a historic deal on the taxation of multinational corporations, such as Amazon and Microsoft, over the weekend. Large corporations may now be subject to a global minimum corporation tax rate of 15%, in an effort to dissuade the use of offshore tax havens.

• Hungarians protest new Chinese University: Thousands of Hungarians gathered to protest the planned construction of a Budapest campus for the Chinese University, Fudan. Many left-leaning Hungarians are critical of Prime Minister Viktor Orban's close relationship with Beijing, and see the project as a misuse of funds that could go toward improving the state of the country's education.

• Last Auschwitz liberator dies: David Dushman, the last surviving soldier who took part in the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, has died at 98. The Red Army soldier had used his tank to mow down the electric fence of the camp.

• President Lili?: After Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced the birth of Lilibet "Lili" Diana Mountbatten-Windsor (named in honor of both Queen Elizabeth and Lady Diana), born on Friday morning in Santa Barbara, California, some were quick to point out that being born on U.S. soil, Lilibet will also be able to run for U.S. president.

Peruvian daily La Republica reports on the country's general elections' "technical draw," as tight first results project that leftist candidate Pedro Castillo holds a razor-thin advantage over conservative candidate Keiko Fujimori.

Sweetening the deal: a global tour of vaccine incentive

Million-dollar jackpots, free food and … a cow? Governments around the world are getting creative to encourage COVID vaccination, particularly among the young and healthy, who have some of the highest rates of vaccine hesitancy.

Seeing green: In Serbia, which has already vaccinated over 30% of its approximately 7 million citizens but saw the pace of new vaccine sign-ups slow, decided to offer 3,000 dinars ($30) to anyone getting the shot in May. The extra dose of dinars is not an insignificant amount in a country where the average monthly income is about $600. In Hong Kong, where the cost of housing is the highest in the world, a lottery was started — with the top prize being a HK$ 10.8 million ($1.4 million) estate.

Debt-free school: Many colleges and universities are requiring vaccination as a condition to return to campus. But some higher education institutions are taking things further still with scholarship incentives and even money raffles. Nine vaccinated students at the University of Lethbridge in Calgary, Canada won't have to pay fall tuition or fees, and at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, one lucky student will get a free year of schooling.

Tasty benefits: One of the first to sweeten the deal, so to speak, was the Krispy Kreme restaurant chain, which began offering one free donut a day for a year for those with a vaccination card. Others in the food and beverage industry have followed suit. In Moscow, which suffered from a potential oversupply of doses, free ice cream was given in exchange for the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine, a rather delectable plan that might have been more successful in a warmer climate.

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10.78 million

Today marks the beginning of China's momentous annual college entrance exam, known as 高考("Gaokao"). This year, a record 10.78 million candidates are sitting the exam, making it the biggest such event since the COVID outbreak. Sanitary measures have been put in place across the 7,000 exam venues to prevent infections.

The whole Gaza Strip has turned into a huge human slaughterhouse and a place of massacring children.

The North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned Israel for its actions in the most recent outbreak of violence between Israel and Hamas, accusing Benjamin Netanyahu's government of human rights violations against children and referring to the actions as "a crime against humanity." For decades, North Korea has recognized Palestinian sovereignty over all territories held by Israel, while Kim Jong-un's regime has expressed solidarity with Palestinian militant groups, including Hamas.

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Art installation "Greetings From Giza" by French artist and photographer JR faces the pyramids of Giza in Egypt

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 你好*

Welcome to Tuesday, where violence erupts after Sudan's military coup, Australia finally gets onboard with climate change goals, and Harrison Ford stars in Raiders of the Lost Credit Card. From Bogota, we also see what the capture of drug kingpin Otoniel means for Colombia, a country long stained by cocaine trafficking.

[*Nĭhǎo - Mandarin Chinese]


Saving the planet is really a question of dopamine

The elite of the ecologically minded are set to descend on Glasgow next week for the Cop 26 conference on climate change. But beyond debating policy prescriptions, French daily Les Echos explores the role our own brains have on making the right choices for the planet:

Almost every week, a new scientific study alerts us to the degradation of the environment. And yet, we continue not to change anything fundamental in our systems of production and habits of consumption. Are we all suffering from blindness, or poisoned by denial?

In his popular books Le Bug humain (The Human Bug) and Où est le sens? (Where is the Sense?), Sébastien Bohler, a journalist in neuroscience and psychology, provides a much more rational explanation: The mechanism responsible for our propensity to destroy our natural environment is in fact a small, very deep and very primitive structure of our brain called the striatum.

This regulator of human motivation seems to have been programmed to favor behaviors that ensure the survival of the species.

Since the dawn of humanity, gathering information about our environment, feeding ourselves, ensuring the transmission of our genes through sexual intercourse and asserting our social status have all been rewarded with a shot of dopamine, the "pleasure hormone."

Nothing has changed since then; except that, in our society of excess, there is no limit to the satisfaction of these needs. This leads to the overconsumption of food and addictions to everything from sex to social media — which together account for much of the world's destructive agricultural and energy practices.

No matter how much we realize that this is leading to our downfall, we can't help but relapse because we are prisoners of the dopamine pump in the striatum, which cannot be switched off.

According to Bohler, the only way out is to encourage the emergence of new values of sobriety, altruism and slowness. If adopted, these more sustainable notions could be recognized by the striatum as new sources of dopamine reward. But there's the challenge of promoting inspiring stories that infuse them with value.

Take the photo-collage exhibition "J'agis ici... et je m'y colle" ("I'm taking action here... and I'm sticking to it"), a collection of life-size portraits of residents committed to the energy transition, displayed on the walls of the French coastal city of La Rochelle.

Backed by the French National Center for Street Arts, photographer Martin Charpentier may be employing artistic techniques, but he's also tinkering with neuroscience in the process.

Stefano Lupieri / Les Echos


• Sudan in chaos following military coup: After Sudan's military seized power from the transitional government, defiant anti-coup protesters have returned to the streets of the capital city Khartoum, for a second consecutive day. At least seven people have been killed and 140 injured. Coup leader General Al-Burhan has announced a state of emergency across the country, while the military cut off access to the internet and closed roads, bridges, and Khartoum's airport. Washington condemned the coup and suspended aid, and the U.N. Security Council was expected to discuss Sudan behind closed doors later today.

• Egypt lifts state of emergency in force since 2017: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, announced the end of a four-year-old state of emergency, undoing powers that had given the government sweeping authority to quash protests, make arrests, search people's homes without warrants, and control everyday life in the most populous Arab country.

• Platforms take down Bolsonaro video linking vaccine and AIDS: Facebook, Instagram and YouTube have removed an anti-vaccine video from their respective platforms posted by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Beyond blocking the video, in which Bolsonaro falsely linked the COVID-19 vaccine with developing AIDS, YouTube went further and suspended the far-right leader for a week.

• COVID update: The U.S. will launch a new travel system on November 8, imposing new vaccine requirements for most foreign national travellers and lifting severe travel restrictions over China, India and much of Europe. Meanwhile, authorities in northern China are reimposing lockdown, and other emergency measures as COVID-19 infections spread to 11 provinces.

• Australia pledges net zero emissions by 2050: As one of the world's largest emitters of greenhouse gases per capita and a major exporter of fossil fuels such as coal, Australia has finally committed to becoming carbon-neutral by 2050. This is a target already adopted by most nations heading to next week's COP26 international climate conference, but that Australia had so far refused to pledge.

• Japanese princess loses royal status over wedding: Japan's Princess Mako married her boyfriend Kei Komuro, giving up her royal status. Under Japanese law, female imperial family members lose their status upon marriage to a "commoner" although male members do not.

Raiders of the Lost Credit Card: A tourist returned the credit card of American actor Harrison Ford, who had lost it in Sicily while shooting scenes for the latest Indiana Jones movie.


"Out of control," titles German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, reporting on the release of a series of articles by a consortium of 17 U.S. news outlets, called the "Facebook Papers," that reinforce whistleblower Frances Haugen's claims that the social media giant is prioritizing profits over the well being of its users and society.


$1.01 trillion

After striking a deal to sell 100,000 electric vehicles to car rental firm Hertz, Elon Musk's Tesla has joined Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Google's Alphabet in the club of companies that have reached a $1 trillion valuation.


What the capture of a drug kingpin means for Colombia

While the capture of Otoniel, Colombia's most wanted drug trafficker, made global headlines, Bogotá daily El Espectador writes about the significance of the news for a country that has battled narcotrafficking for decades.

👮 The arrest of the Colombian mobster Dairo Antonio Úsuga David, a.k.a. "Otoniel," is a victory for Colombian intelligence, law-and-order forces and the broader fight against crime. Details of the eight-year-long pursuit of the head of the Gulf Clan, of the tireless and meticulous work, testify to the capabilities that the police and army have managed to develop in the fight against the narco-trafficking that has long been a stain on Colombia.

🇨🇴🇲🇽 Otoniel is responsible for a criminal organization with more than 3,800 members and influence on 12 departments and 128 districts in Colombia (though data from the Bogotá-based Peace and Reconciliation Foundation counts 211 districts). The Gulf Clan sends half the drugs going out of Colombia, and is the main exporter to Mexico. Its ties to the Mexican cartel chief Joaquín "el Chapo" Guzmán are well-documented — and Otoniel had aspired to fill the power vacuum left by Guzmán's capture.

⚖️ Some have observed that the ensuing power vacuum will engender more violence, which is true. But we are, in any case, far from eliminating drug trafficking in Colombia or cutting its tentacles across public life. That shows the limitations of the hard-line response to drugs, when we have seen it is not enough. Still, it is essential in any fight against crime for the state to show its operational capabilities. The message is clear: not even drug overlords are above the law in Colombia.

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"I love Mako. I would like to spend my one life with the person I love."

— Kei Komuro said during a news conference after his wedding with Japan's Princess Mako, the niece of the current emperor and the sister of the likely future sovereign. The princess lost her royal status as a result of her marriage with Komuro, a "commoner."


An art installation "Greetings From Giza" by French artist and photographer JR faces the pyramids of Giza in Egypt, as part of the 2021 exhibition "'Forever Is Now," the first international art exhibition to take place there — Photo: Balkis Press/Abaca/ZUMA

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

Send all commoner and royal well wishes to Mako and Kei — and let us know what the news looks like from your corner of the world!

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