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The Latest: Vaccine Record, Catalans Pardoned, NFL Coming Out

Ebrahim Raisi arrives at his first press conference as Iran’s newly elected president, in Tehran.
Ebrahim Raisi arrives at his first press conference as Iran’s newly elected president, in Tehran.

Welcome to Tuesday, where India sets a daily vaccination record, Spain's prime minister seeks reconciliation with Catalonia and Australia's Great Barrier Reef could join the list of endangered World Heritage sites. Les Echos also takes us to Japan, where the business model of its notorious yakuza crime syndicate is crumbling because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

• Global vaccination, good news & bad: Cuba reports its Abdala shot is 92.28% effective, China has administered its one billionth dose of its own vaccine, and India is also setting records, after campaigning to make vaccinations free for all adults, more 8.3 million doses were administered on Monday. However, shortages remain, namely in Venezuela where people are seeing second-dose appointments cancelled.

• Spain to pardon jailed Catalonian leaders: Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez will pardon nine jailed Catalonian separatist leaders who were involved in the region's attempted secession in 2017. Sánchez hopes the move will inspire reconciliation with the Catalan region.

• Renewed tension in Jerusalem neighborhood: Tensions have reignited in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood after a night where Palestinians and Jewish settlers threw stones, chairs and fireworks at each other. Forced evictions of Palestinians in the contested East Jerusalem neighborhood ignited the protests and 11-day war last month, which killed hundreds and left more than 100,000 civilians displaced. The Red Crescent reports that it is treating 20 Palestinians for injuries in the latest clashes.

• Myanmar military and resistance group clash: The Myanmar military and an anti-junta resistance force clashed in the country's second largest city, Mandalay. This is the first time direct fighting between the junta and breakaway security forces has occurred outside of small towns and villages.

• Rights group calls on UN to increase pressure for Ortega regime: After a series of politically motivated arrests in Nicaragua, including that of a fifth presidential candidate and the former first lady, Human Rights Watch will release a report calling on the United Nations to condemn the regime of President Daniel Ortega.

• UNESCO: Great Barrier Reef "in danger": The UN cultural and preservationist body has recommended that the Great Barrier Reef be added to the list of world heritage sites that are "in danger," as the reef has seen mass bleaching due to climate change. The Australian government is "strongly opposed" the recommendation.

• First NFL player comes out as gay: Carl Nassib, a defensive lineman for the Las Vegas Raiders, shared a video on social media publically declaring that he is gay, making him the first active player to do so in the league's 101-year history.

"Into Unknown Territory," titles Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet after a no-confidence vote ousted the country's Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, a first in Sweden.


Despite strong opposition, Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced in a speech Monday that the government would approve pardons(indultos) for nine Catalan separatists.

Yakuza blues: Japan's notorious gangsters hit hard by COVID

The infamous (yet legal) Japanese criminal syndicate was already suffering under new laws when the pandemic hit. Now its business model is crumbling, reports Yann Rousseau in French dailyLes Echos.

Unable to legally impose a "lockdown," Japanese authorities are betting on economic actors and the population's civic-mindedness to diminish daily contamination levels and relieve hospital congestion. Selling alcohol is forbidden — in theory. Nightlife businesses are expected to suspend their operations for a few weeks. Most of the countries' bars, karaokes and nightclubs respect these rules, but Kabukicho, Tokyo's "hot" district, puts up resistance. Many of the owners here have links to the yakuza underworld, which has had a particularly hard time in the face of the COVID-19 crisis.

With the spread of the pandemic — which killed 12,200 people since January 2020 in a population of 126 million inhabitants — nighttime clients have dwindled and many businesses saw their finances plummet. Dozens closed their doors, leaving yakuzas without "mikajimeryo," the protection money business owners give to local gangs. Ranging from 20,000 to 100,000 yens per month (150 to 750 euros), these tips helped businesses avoid problems such as dealing with troublesome clients.

Mafias in Italy, Russia, the Balkans and Hong Kong reacted quickly to the new restrictions. "With economic activity increasingly carried out online, these organisations also engage in phishing and credit card scams and set up fake donation sites," noted the UN Office on Drugs and Crime experts in a report. The conversion is different in Japan. Online delinquency didn't blow up in 2020. Old and poorly educated yakuzas who don't speak any foreign languages struggle to launch these complicated business endeavors. "The coronavirus has, in fact, exposed all their vulnerabilities," observes researcher Martina Baradel.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


Of the top 10 most expensive cities in the world for expats to live, seven are from Asia, according to the latest survey by Mercer, the global human resources firm. The most expensive city this year is Ashgabat in Turkmenistan, pushed up largely because of inflation and goods shortages. Most of the other most expensive cities are traditional global financial hubs, like Hong Kong (2nd), Geneva (5th), Shanghai (6th) and Singapore (7th).

She deserves to be there.

— New Zealand's Sport Minister Grant Robertson voiced his support for transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard, who will become the first transgender athlete to compete at the Olympics. The Auckland-born 43-year-old was also backed by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

✍️ Newsletter by Genevieve Mansfield, Meike Eijsberg, Anne-Sophie Goninet

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In Northern Kenya, Where Climate Change Is Measured In Starving Children

The worst drought in 40 years, which has deepened from the effects of climate change, is hitting the young the hardest around the Horn of Africa. A close-up look at the victims, and attempts to save lives and limit lasting effects on an already fragile region in Kenya.

Photo of five mothers holding their malnourished children

At feeding time, nurses and aides encourage mothers to socialize their children and stimulate them to eat.

Georgina Gustin

KAKUMA — The words "Stabilization Ward" are painted in uneven black letters above the entrance, but everyone in this massive refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya, calls it ya maziwa: The place of milk.

Rescue workers and doctors, mothers and fathers, have carried hundreds of starving children through the doors of this one-room hospital wing, which is sometimes so crowded that babies and toddlers have to share beds. A pediatric unit is only a few steps away, but malnourished children don’t go there. They need special care, and even that doesn’t always save them.

In an office of the International Rescue Committee nearby, Vincent Opinya sits behind a desk with figures on dry-erase boards and a map of the camp on the walls around him. “We’ve lost 45 children this year due to malnutrition,” he says, juggling emergencies, phone calls, and texts. “We’re seeing a significant increase in malnutrition cases as a result of the drought — the worst we’ve faced in 40 years.”

From January to June, the ward experienced an 800 percent rise in admissions of children under 5 who needed treatment for malnourishment — a surge that aid groups blame mostly on a climate change-fueled drought that has turned the region into a parched barren.

Opinya, the nutrition manager for the IRC here, has had to rattle off these statistics many times, but the reality of the numbers is starting to crack his professional armor. “It’s a very sad situation,” he says, wearily. And he believes it will only get worse. A third year of drought is likely on the way.

More children may die. But millions will survive malnutrition and hunger only to live through a compromised future, researchers say. The longer-term health effects of this drought — weakened immune systems, developmental problems — will persist for a generation or more, with consequences that will cascade into communities and societies for decades.

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