Welcome to Tuesday, where there's a new country with the highest rate of COVID deaths, India registers its worst recession in almost 80 years, and Lithuania's capital city goes full on science fiction. The Latin American business magazine America Economia shows us the massive new port in Peru that's planned to be the gateway for growing Chinese trade into the region.
• Netanyahu's legal challenge rejected: Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's challenge of the legality of a bid by a rival rightist to head a new Israeli government has failed after it was rejected by the country's president.
• Uganda minister shot in assassination attempt: Gen. Katumba Wamala, Uganda's Transport Minister, was wounded in an attack by gunmen. His daughter and driver were killed.
• COVID update: Peru's COVID death toll more than doubles following a review of its counting methods, making it the country with the world's highest death rate per capita, with more than 180,000 fatalities. The WHO has announced it will use Greek letters to refer to variants to simplify discussions and avoid stigma, with the UK variant labelled as Alpha for instance.
• Myanmar's schools boycott: Schools in Myanmar reopen for the first time since the military seized power, but teachers and students are set to defy the junta by boycotting classes in protest.
• Tesla prices increase due to supply chain pressure: U.S. automaker Tesla is increasing the prices of its electric vehicles due to supply chain disruptions across the auto industry, notably a shortage in computer chips.
• Osaka withdraws from French Open: Citing recent struggles with depression, Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka pulls out of French Open after she was fined and threatened with expulsion following her decision to boycott the news conferences.
• A portal to another city: The capital city of Vilnius, Lithuania, has installed a futuristic mirror-like "portal" that is connected to a similar installation 600 kilometers away in Lublin, Poland, broadcasting live images from the two cities to encourage people to "rethink the meaning of unity."
"The Cup of Shame," titles Brazilian daily Extra as South America's soccer federation CONMEBOL announced Brazil would host the Copa America instead of pandemic-hit Argentina — just 13 days before the start of the competition and as Brazil records more than 463,000 deaths.
China's future gateway to Latin America is a mega-port in Peru
Despite local opposition, Chinese investors are pumping billions into the Chancay project, a massive port complex north of Lima that will boost trade between China and Latin America as a whole, reports Gonzalo Torrico in business magazineAmerica Economia.
The Chancay port complex, with an initial investment of $1.3 billion, will turn this fishing and farming town into a regional hub that could redefine shipping lines in the entire southern Pacific. Since 2019, the project's main stakeholder is the Chinese state firm Cosco Shipping Ports (60%). Cosco is a partner in 52 port projects worldwide. But in the Americas, Chancay is the first being built with Chinese capital. The complex is expected to be fully functional by 2024, helping consolidate China's influence in South America, and in Peru especially.
In the last decade, this country has become the regional crux of China's economic and geopolitical interests. So far, Chinese firms have invested more than $30 billion in Peru, a figure exceeded only by money spent in Brazil. The principal sector is mining, which has absorbed more than half all these investments and has proven to be an excellent source for the mineral materials China needs to keep its industrial sector humming. One of those materials is copper, which Peru produces in great supply.
China is also pursuing a global integration strategy here through its Belt and Road Initiative, which promotes global infrastructures that favor its trade. Amid rivalries with the United States, it has signed agreements with 138 countries in spite of warnings from Washington that states risk becoming over-indebted to China. For its location, Peru is an important point on this New Silk Route. With its long swatch of Pacific coastline, it lies directly across from Asia, and can also become a link to Brazil and the Atlantic.
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Saudi Arabia's Islamic affairs minister is defending a controversial order to limit the volume on mosques' loudspeakers (pronounced "mukabirat alsawt") across the country, in response to complaints of excessive noise.
Quebec's latest demand for recognition: an emoji
At 3,304 and counting, the list of officially recognized emojis includes more than just happy faces, hearts and clinking beer mugs. With certain icons there are politics at play, and even questions about regional pride and sovereignty, as lawmakers in the Canadian province of Quebec made clear in recent days.
For now, there is no official Quebec flag emoji, and so for years, social media users in the French-speaking province have used a similar looking Martinique flag (one that features snakes instead offleurs-de-lys) as a stand-in.
No offense to Martinque (a French overseas department in the Caribbean sea), but many Quebekers are saying enough is enough. Stop the injustice!
Multiple petitions have been signed and circulated, and last week the Quebec provincial legislature took up the cause, voting unanimously in favor of a motion to request the creation of an emoji bearing their province's colors, reportsTVA Nouvelles.
"In the past, people had a flagpole in front of their house to show their pride. Now, we have social media," argued Pascal Bérubé, the Parti Quebecois legislator who put the motion forward to the Assembly last week.
This happens to come as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has indicated a willingness to assign "nation" status and acknowledge the French linguistic identity of Quebec, reportsLe Monde.
Quebec is one of the latest provinces — along with Catalonia in Spain and Brittany in France — to ask for its local flag to be recognized by the Unicode Consortium, the universal authority in charge of choosing which new icon can be added to the emoji alphabet.
Two years ago, the encoding authority already refused another symbol of French Canadian identity: poutine, a popular dish that combines French fries, gravy and cheese. There's hope, nevertheless, that the québécois flag might actually make the cut. After all, even pirates have their own emoji banner.
Pourquoi pas Quebec?
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India's economy contracted by a record 7.3% in 2020-2021, official data showed — the country's worst recession since its independence in 1947. The second wave of the pandemic in India prompted further lockdowns and saw more than seven million people lose their jobs in April alone.
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