Start your day smarter with the most important world news, plus intriguing and offbeat stories. OZY
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Start your day smarter with a dossier on the most important world news, rounded off with a shot of intriguing and offbeat stories. Like the president, you deserve no less.
Nov 25, 2022
Parts of Ukraine remained cut off from electricity for a second day after the impact of Wednesday’s Russian attack continued. China recorded its highest-ever daily COVID-19 case count as frustrations over lockdown and policy changes continue. Shoppers and retailers alike prepare for an inflation-influenced Black Friday. And an inquiry showed how much the Freedom Convoy stressed U.S.-Canada relations. All this and more in today’s PDB.
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Long Darkness Continues in Ukraine as Russia Taunts ‘Resolution’
“Every hour is getting harder,” one surgeon, whose hospital this week was powered using a generator, said. Russia’s campaign to destroy Ukraine’s energy infrastructure and disrupt civilian life left millions in the dark Wednesday, while engineers continued to struggle to get back online late Thursday. At least 10 civilians were killed. Officials confirmed it was the first time all of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants were taken offline at the same time. Russia has denied the attack but said Ukraine has the opportunity to resolve the invasion by fulfilling “the demands of the Russian side,” according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. (Source: NYT, Reuters)
China Records Daily COVID High as Frustrations Mount
The National Health Commission recorded 32,695 locally transmitted cases Thursday, for yet another day of new records. Case counts trump the previous peak of 29,317 in April. Outbreaks have been reported across the country, with Guangzhou and Chongqing contributing the highest numbers, but others such as Wuhan, which first identified the virus nearly three years ago, also struggling to contain infections. Protests are becoming increasingly common amid fears of a lack of access to healthcare and food supplies. Quarantine requirements have been reduced and provincial officials in some areas canceled mass testing, but policy remains mostly unchanged. (Sources: Reuters, CNN)
Inflation Bites on Black Friday, But Shoppers Still Want a Bargain
Market watchers expect an increase in “buy now, pay later” services like Afterpay, credit cards or tapping into savings as rising costs in essentials dampen demand. Retailers report a contrast with last year’s Black Friday sales where consumers bought up big, partially in fear that supply chain issues could see them missing out ahead of Christmas. Retail trade group, the National Retail Federation, says holiday sales growth will likely drop to between 6% and 8% — a sharp decline on last year’s 13.5%. That figure hasn’t been adjusted for inflation, so the true picture could be more dire for sellers. (Source: AP)
Convoy Inquiry Reveals Border Pressures as 2.0 Is Announced
Truckers and other anti-vaccine demonstrators who seized control of parts of Ottawa last winter also drove a wedge between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Washington, an inquiry revealed. Top White House economic advisor Brian Deese contacted Trudeau over fears the disruption to road shipping and border blockades would impact American retail services and car plants. Meanwhile, convoy organizers are planning a second demonstration, dubbed the Freedom Convoy 2.0, to begin in February. James Bauder — who was barred from entering downtown Ottawa as part of bail conditions after his arrest in the winter — has announced a two-week-long “Canada Unity-Fest.” (Source: Politico, CTV)
Here are some things you should know about today:
Pay up. A Hong Kong court found Cardinal Joseph Zen, 90, guilty on Friday for his role in organizing a relief fund during pro-democracy protests in 2019. He has been fined HK$4,000 ($510). (Source: CNN) Cracking up. Ford recalled 634,000 sports utility vehicles sold across the world Thursday after cracks in the fuel injectors were identified, raising fire risks. It includes 520,000 vehicles in the U.S. (Source: Reuters) Outta here. Some 20,000 employees of the Foxconn factory in China, a chief producer of Apple products, have walked out over safety and pay condition concerns. (Source: Al Jazeera)
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More than 20,000 Died in Western Europe’s Hot Summer
An analysis of excess deaths in summer identified the staggering increase. While the analysis does not differentiate between heat- and non-heat-related deaths, it found that the count was much higher during heatwave periods. It excluded all COVID-19-related deaths. England and Wales saw a 6.2% increase in deaths between June and September, while France saw an additional 10,420 deaths during the summer. Humanity needs “to adapt to heat in the long term,” climate change and health researcher Dr Eunice Lo said. Better-designed homes and public spaces as well as “making heat warnings accessible to all” will save lives. (Source: The Guardian)
Experts: ‘Amnesty’ for Banned Accounts Could be Havoc for Twitter
Twitter boss Elon Musk wants all formerly banned accounts back on the platform, “provided that they have not broken the law or engaged in egregious spam.” In a poll, Musk asked users if a “general amnesty” should be introduced — and 72.4% of over 3 million voters agreed. Digital rights experts warn it could see hate speech, threats and misinformation thrive on the social network, particularly as much of the content moderation team has been laid off. “Apple and Google need to seriously start exploring booting Twitter off the app store,” Harvard Law’s cyberlaw clinic instructor Alejandra Caraballo said. (Source: WaPo)
Censorship is Screening in Singapore, but ‘Baby Queen’ Dances On
Homegrown documentary Baby Queen, following the work of drag queen Opera Tang, leads the Singapore International Film Festival. It’s a heady choice for the first showing since the pandemic. LGBT issues have dominated the city-state this year after plans to decriminalize sex between men were closely followed by vows to enshrine heterosexual marriage in the constitution. “We’ve never shied away from content that addresses LGBTQ issues, and we still will not shy away from it,” festival executive director Emily J. Hoe said. She describes the country’s censor regulations as elastic. “There has been progress. And then sometimes it snaps back.” (Source: Variety)
Happy Birthday, Flossie! The World’s Oldest Cat
At 26 — or 120 in human years — Flossie is the world’s oldest living cat, according to Guinness World Records and Cat Protection. She’s lived with a few owners since her birth in 1995 but currently lives in London with Vicky Green, an owner experienced with mature felines. Flossie has poor eyesight and is now deaf, but she remains playful. “If I’m in such good shape when I’m her age, I shall be a very happy lady,” said Naomi Rosling of Cats Protection. Flossie still has years left before beating the all-time record: a 38-year-old Texan cat named Creme Puff. (Source: Euronews)
Left Behind, Iran’s Star Footballer Faces Jail for Protest
Voria Ghafouri was arrested on charges of spreading “propaganda” on Thursday, Iranian state media reported. Ghafouri, who is of Kurdish background, has been an outspoken critic of Tehran and a longtime supporter of women being permitted into stadiums to watch games. He has also criticized the government over ongoing crackdowns on demonstrations in the Kurdistan region. Despite being one of the country’s most famous footballers, he was not selected for the national team currently competing in the World Cup. Ghafouri allegedly “tarnished the reputation of the national team and spread propaganda against the state,” according to Iran state media. (Source: DW)
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