Top of The World — our morning news roundup written by editors at The World. Subscribe here.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced that his government will withdraw controversial farm laws that have been met with massive protests over the past year. Farmers have been protesting government overhauls that they say would ruin their livelihoods. They’re now celebrating the move as a hard-fought victory. Modi timed his announcement for the Sikh holiday Guru Nanak Jayanti to acknowledge India’s minority Sikh community that’s made up the base of the protests. Farmers are also one of India’s most influential voting blocs, and Modi’s reversal comes ahead of next year’s election.
As Austria faces a fourth wave of COVID-19 cases, the country is set to go into a nationwide lockdown, beginning on Monday and lasting for at least 10 days. The government is also planning to make vaccination mandatory — a first of its kind policy for Europe. Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg plans to impose the vaccine mandate beginning Feb. 1 of next year. Austria had one of the lowest vaccination rates in Europe, at just under 66%. It also has one of the highest national infection rates of the coronavirus on the continent, registering 14,212 new cases in just 24 hours on Thursday.
Deforestation of Brazil’s Amazon rainforest is at a 15-year high, surging by 22% in the past year, according to a government report. The statistics undercut President Jair Bolsonaro's assurances that the country has been curbing illegal logging. Brazil’s space research agency (INPE) showed that the country had recorded 5,110 square miles of deforestation. Brazil recently pledged at the COP26 UN climate summit in Glasgow to end illegal deforestation by 2028.
Three generations of Brazilians have grown up with Zé Gotinha, roughly translated as Droplet Joe, and many say the little guy is responsible for the country's overwhelming vaccine acceptance.
The mascot is shaped like a drop of liquid, because that's how the polio vaccine was administered in Brazil back in the 1980s. He's been a huge part of the country's world-renowned vaccination program.
Ridwan Karim Dini-Osman/The World
Thousands of Ghanaians resort to open defecation due to a lack of access to clean toilets. Some young people in Ghana are leading the movement to change the narrative around this dangerous practice.
Shirin Jaafari, a correspondent with The World since 2015, traveled to Afghanistan in July 2021 to report on the quickly evolving situation as the US withdrawal process was underway.
Take a behind-the-scenes look at her reporting from Herat days before the Taliban overtook the city.
Putting together stories in hostile environments is time- and resource-intensive. Make a gift today to support the work of Shirin and others here at The World. Thank you!
Snoopy, complete with a NASA space suit, is heading to the moon and back aboard Artemis I, an unmanned mission scheduled to circle the moon and return to Earth in February. NASA uses stuffed animals on flights becuase when they start floating, it indicates the point of zero gravity. Snoopy's role on this mission is to ensure that all systems are working for future crews.
Leaders from the US, Canada and Mexico are holding their first in-person meeting on Thursday in the first summit of its kind in five years. Each brings conflicting interests in issues of migration, trade and the pandemic. And capitol rioter Evan Neumann is wanted by the FBI for his involvement in the Jan. 6 insurrection. Neumann recently turned up in Belarus hoping to seek asylum there. Plus, climate change and environmental degradation are two ways that China is paying a price for its fast-paced economic growth over the past 20 years. In Shanghai, a Chinese performance artist has some unusual ways of raising awareness about pollution.