Welcome to Wednesday, where Aung San Suu Kyi is charged and Alexei Navalny is sentenced. Also Jeff Bezos announces he will step down as Amazon CEO, in utero music is a thing and Mada Masr probes into the politics of hair in Egyptian schools.
• COVID-19 latest: In search of the origins of COVID, a World Health Organisation team is visiting the Wuhan virology lab. Citing lack of research on efficacy, the French and Belgian health ministries have joined Germany in barring administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine to people aged 65 and older. Meanwhile, an independent British research body finds Russia's Sputnik V is both safe and highly effective, Singapore becomes the first Asian country to approve the Moderna vaccine and Israel is the first nation to move into the final phase of its nationwide vaccination campaign.
• Myanmar coup: Police have announced charges against Myanmar's ousted democratic leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, citing breaches of import and export law after finding handheld radios while raiding her house. China vetoes a UN Security Council joint statement condemning the military takeover, as thousands gathered in Tokyo to demand that Japan join its G7 allies in taking a hard stance against the coup. Meanwhile, doctors in 70 Myanmar hospitals are protesting the coup.
• Navalny sentenced: Kremlin critic Alexy Navalny has been sentenced to two years and eight months of prison for violating probation while being poisoned and in a comatose state, prompting more protests.
• Jeff Bezos to step down: In an email yesterday from Jeff Bezos to Amazon employees, the CEO announced that he will be stepping down from his role more than 25 years after founding the world's biggest online retailer.
• FBI agents killed: While responding to a search warrant in South Florida two FBI agents were killed and another three wounded. The suspect, who barricaded himself, is also dead.
• RIP Captain Sir Tom Moore: The British World War II army veteran, who in April of last year pledged to walk 100 lengths of his garden to raise almost £33m for the NHS for coronavirus, has died from the virus, aged 100.
• Sounds of the Unborn: Sacred Bones Records has announced that it will be releasing the first-ever in-utero music album made using biosonic MIDI technology attached to the mother's stomach.
Russian daily RBC features opposition leader Alexei Navalny who was sentenced to more than two years in prison.
How the sexist politics of hair plays out in Egypt's schools
Girls are not required to wear a headscarf in Egyptian schools, but as Cairo-based Mada Masr reports, that doesn't mean they are free to wear their hair as they see fit.
The 2020 school year began with a few headlines about schools accused of forcing students to wear headscarves: "Public row over Egypt school forcing child to wear hijab, Education Ministry investigates." The news stories show that some teachers and school administrators pressure students to wear headscarves, although the veil is not mandated in school bylaws or any Education Ministry decree.
In several recent incidents, the staff was motivated by a desire to cultivate a uniform appearance among students, using the veil as a way to try to bring in line teenage girls whose hairstyles or general appearance don't fit their prescribed views on what is "decent." With different schools applying different degrees of strictness, and administrators enforcing their own views of what is school appropriate, headscarves have come to be seen by some schools as a tool to solve a problem.
But in these stories, the girls, with the support of their families, pushed back. Malak went to high school one day with pink highlights rasta-braided into her black hair. The principal of the school, where most girls are veiled, banned her from attending classes and made her stand in the hall as punishment instead and instructed her to wear a hijab. Nagla Siddiq, Malak's mother, stood by her daughter: "I'm not against hijab in principle; I myself wear it. But I refuse to have my daughter wear it against her will."
➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com
Pollo vaccine? Chicken truck delivers COVID-19 jabs to Bolivian city
Residents in the far-flung city of Trinidad, Bolivia can rest assured: 1,100 doses of the Russian-made Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine were successfully delivered this week, albeit by the most unlikely of means. After being flown into the region on a flight operated by the national airline Boliviana de Aviación, the potentially life-saving cargo was loaded onto a truck belonging to a local chicken meat distributor.
Onlookers could tell something unusual was happening when the bright-yellow "Distribuidora de pollos" truck, owned by the Gabriel chicken company, pulled into the town accompanied by a full police escort, as reported by Bolivian daily El Diario.
News of the precious "chicken" procession quickly made the rounds in Bolivia, with some using the incident to take shots at the government of President Luis Arce, a leftist who took office last November. "Bolivia thanks the Gabriel chicken company for offering transportation in Trinidad of non-certified Russian vaccines," Arturo Murillo, a former government minister, posted on Twitter. "Luckily the private sector is there to help given how incompetent the Luis Arce government is."
Located in Bolivia's northeastern lowlands, Trinidad is the capital of Beni, the second-least populous of the country's nine departments. As of now, authorities explained, there are no government-owned vehicles there to transport coronavirus vaccines at the cold temperatures required to assure their effectiveness — hence the refrigerated chicken truck.
But the local health department was quick to respond to the question on the mind of any good shopper, or doctor: "The vehicle was fully disinfected beforehand in accordance with biosecurity regulations."
➡️ Keep up with all the planet's police reports and plot twists on Worldcrunch.com
That's the net worth of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos as he announced he was stepping down as the company's CEO. Bezos, who will remain as company chairman, is currently the second richest person in the world just behind Tesla founder Elon Musk.
You cannot lock up the whole country.
— Russian Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny said during a court hearing before he was sentenced to more than two years in prison for parole violation, as protests continue in support of the opposition leader.
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.
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.
➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com
"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! firstname.lastname@example.org