The World Today for November 28, 2022
Listen to Today's Edition
NEED TO KNOW
It’s the Little Things
The World Cup was supposed to be Qatar’s crowning achievement, its entry into the club of the world’s most advanced and exclusive destinations for world-class sports events and entertainment. Now the event might go down in history as the only soccer – that is, football – championship where there was no beer.
The event started off Nov. 20 with FIFA President Gianni Infantino, who oversees the World Cup, bizarrely saying he felt “gay, disabled and like a migrant worker … like a woman,” after critics raised questions about Qatar’s civil rights record and strict, Islamic culture, as the Daily Beast recounted.
Team players, for example, were forbidden to wear rainbow armbands to show support for the suppressed LGBTQ community in the “tiny and religiously conservative gas-rich sheikhdom in the Gulf,” CNBC noted. Same-sex relationships are illegal in Qatar.
National Public Radio listed all the activities that World Cup fans have been restricted from doing in Qatar. They include drinking alcohol, professing religious faiths other than Islam, criticizing political leaders, homosexual behavior, and exposing too much of their bodies.
News organizations also covered how mistreated, underpaid migrants, often from Nepal and other South Asian countries, helped build the sports complexes and other infrastructure for hosting the first World Cup in the Middle East. As CNN reported, many of those workers found little but misery in the Persian Gulf emirate.
Similarly, workers at the World Cup festivities were accusing Qatari authorities of fostering unfair labor conditions and failing to pay them sufficiently – or at all – for their work, according to ABC News.
The opening ceremonies alluded to inclusivity in a strange interaction between Morgan Freeman and Ghanim al-Muftah, a Qatari social media personality and advocate for the disabled, the Guardian wrote.
Qatar had spent $220 billion on the project over the course of 12 years, including a stadium where the roof was designed to look like a Bedouin tent, according to the New York Times.
But, when the players finally took to the field, Ecuadoran fans chanted “We want beer!” as their team trounced Qatar on the field in the competition’s opening match, reported CBS News.
Remarkably, Qatari hoteliers and landlords have discovered that they might have constructed too many housing units for the spectators. As Reuters explained, anticipating a tight squeeze on rooms, players and fans have found other accommodation, from cruise ships to desert camps. Some have even taken shuttle flights from other nearby cities, like Dubai.
Qatar hasn’t yet worked out the kinks.
THE WORLD, BRIEFLY
Thousands of people took to the streets of major Chinese cities over the weekend to protest the government’s strict and costly “zero-Covid” policy, a very rare display of anger in China where authorities are swift in cracking down on dissent, CNN reported.
Demonstrations initially began Friday in the western province of Xinjiang following an apartment fire in the provincial capital that killed at least 10 people. The province has imposed tough anti-Covid-19 rules and videos of the incident in Urumqi showed that lockdown measures had delayed firefighters from reaching the victims.
Following the fire, many Urumqi citizens marched in front of a government building to call for an end to the lockdown. Officials said Saturday they would lift the lockdown in stages but did not provide a clear timeline.
But the authorities’ move failed to quell public anger, which later spread into other Chinese cities, including the capital Beijing and the country’s financial center, Shanghai.
Clashes between protesters and authorities were reported in some parts of the country, but other demonstrations appear to have dispersed peacefully.
The demonstrations reflect the growing toll on Chinese society of a Covid-19 strategy based on mass testing and snap lockdowns to contain even minor outbreaks, the Wall Street Journal wrote. While the strategy initially helped in the early days of the pandemic, it has been nearly impossible to completely clear the virus as new strains emerge.
The restrictive policy also prompted China’s top leadership earlier this month to “optimize and adjust” the strategy in an effort to rescue the economy.
While a majority of people lamented the anti-coronavirus measures, others chanted slogans for more human rights and political freedoms in China. Some people also called for President Xi Jinping to step down.
Protests on such a scale – including public dissent towards the central government – are of profound significance in China, where the ruling Communist Party controls all aspects of life and authorities closely monitor their citizens through a massive, high-tech surveillance system.
Political analysts compared the waves of Covid-related protests to the public sentiment around the pro-democracy demonstrations that culminated in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989.
“If mishandled by the government, the highly volatile situation could quickly evolve into the most severe political crisis since Tiananmen,” Yanzhong Huang, a public-health expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, told the Journal.
Peruvian Prime Minister Anibal Torres resigned last week after just nine months in office, the fourth leader to quit in the 16 months since the election of leftist President Pedro Castillo, amid ongoing disputes between him and the opposition-held congress that have deepened Peru’s political impasse, Bloomberg reported.
Torres stepped down after congress rejected a vote of confidence he presented. The former leader said the vote was aimed at disciplining the chamber.
Castillo accepted Torres’ resignation and has since appointed former Minister of Culture Betssy Chavez to the role, amid plans to further reshuffle the cabinet. He also denounced the vote down by lawmakers, saying it was a clear “rejection of confidence” – which, according to Peru’s constitution, could open the door to dissolving the unicameral body.
Congress’ President Jose Williams disputed that the legislature’s vote meant the government was being censured as a whole. Instead, he urged the president against seeking to shutter the chamber.
Analysts said the reshuffle puts congress in check for now, but others added that the political crisis will likely continue especially if lawmakers take the matter to the Constitutional Tribunal.
Castillo, a former rural schoolteacher, has changed a number of ministers and has faced two impeachment attempts since he took office in July 2021.
French lawmakers dropped a proposed ban on bullfighting amid a lack of support for the bill and opposition from southern regions in France where the sport is popular, Local France reported.
The lower house of parliament was set to vote on the bill this week. But Aymeric Caron, the lawmaker behind the legislation, withdrew it after other legislators filed more than 500 amendments that would obstruct the vote.
The bill would have amended an existing law that penalizes animal cruelty – but allows for bullfights. These exemptions are granted to certain southern French towns, which rely on the bloody sport for tourism and see it as part of their tradition.
While public opinion favors the ban, observers noted that many lawmakers would reject the bill over fears of stirring up the bullfighting heartland.
Many of the so-called “bull towns” also protested the bill, saying that it was hypocritical when factory farms and industrial slaughterhouses are overlooked.
Previous attempts to outlaw bullfighting have failed, with judges consistently rejecting animal rights groups’ lawsuits, most recently in July 2021 in the town of Nîmes.
Meanwhile, the debate over the ethics of killing animals for amusement goes on in other countries with a tradition of bullfighting, including Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Colombia and Venezuela.
The Nose Knows
Some animals are able to mediate conflict between others in the same way humans do.
Italian researchers closely observed more than 100 pigs on a 13-hectare farm in northern Italy. They noticed that the animals employed some peculiar conflict resolution strategies.
When two of them fought, a bystander pig would intervene after the scuffle and try to defuse the situation through physical contact: Specifically, the mediator would touch the bickering pigs with its snout, rub either party with its ears or simply sit up against one of the opponents.
“The nose is very important for pigs, not just for communication and exploration but for social interaction,” said co-author Giada Cordoni.
Once this physical contact occurred, the research team saw that aggression or anxiety levels decreased among the warring pigs.
They noted that the third pig’s touch was unsolicited, which suggests that the swine mediator could recognize the right moment to intervene.
Cordoni’s team described this strategy as a “triadic conflict mechanism,” adding that the study marks the first time this has been observed in pigs.
The findings not only suggest that the mammal species has the cognitive ability to watch and empathize but also illustrate what Cordoni describes as pigs’ “evolutionary convergence with humans.”
COVID-19 Global Update
Total Cases Worldwide: 641,649,210 (+0.56%)
Total Deaths Worldwide: 6,630,926 (+0.15%)
Total Vaccinations Worldwide: 12,959,275,260 (+0.77%)**
Countries with the highest number of confirmed cases worldwide as of 4 a.m. ET*
1. US: 98,568,990 (+0.26%)
2. India: 44,673,078 (+0.01%)
3. France: 37,789,817 (+0.75%)
4. Germany: 36,373,165 (+0.46%)
5. Brazil: 35,149,503 (+0.43%)
6. South Korea: 26,959,843 (+1.42%)
7. UK: 24,591,146 (+1.60%)
8. Japan: 24,541,816 (+3.14%)
9. Italy: 24,260,660 (+0.95%)
10. Russia: 21,268,561 (+0.18%)
*Numbers change over seven days
**Data taken from the World Health Organization as of November 23, 2022
Thank you for reading or listening to DailyChatter. If you’re not already a subscriber, you can become one by going to dailychatter.com/subscribe.