World news digest

World news letter of October 26, 2022

This newsletter covers the future owner of KFC restaurants in Russia, the Netherlands asking homeowners to take pictures inside their houses, hate speech against Ukrainians in the Czech Republic, and more.

KFC announced the buyer of its restaurants and franchise rights in Russia

Yum! Brands announced the buyer of KFC in Russia is Smart Service Ltd., a company that already runs several franchises of KFC in Russia. The company also bought franchise rights contracts for the network of the 1,000 KFC franchised restaurants. KFC didn’t communicate the sale price but according to Kommersant, a Russian business newspaper, the sale is close to 1.3 billion rubles (21 million dollars). It adds that all KFC restaurants, including franchisees, will need to be rebranded for Rostic’s, a Russian fast food company serving fried chicken.

A test in the Netherlands to better assess property tax raises privacy concerns

Some residents of the Netherlands have been asked to take pictures of the inside of their houses, of their living room, kitchen and toilets, and to send them to the municipal tax office by email. It is meant to better evaluate the property value of their home, which helps determine several taxes including the property tax. But the request raises concerns about privacy.

In the Czech Republic, two men were jailed for hate speech against Ukrainians

The District Court of Kladno on October 26 found two men guilty of hate speech against Ukrainians, sentencing them to six and ten months in prison. The judge considered both defamed the nation of Ukraine and incited hatred, and justified that freedom of speech has some limits. Both apologized for videos they admitted were inappropriate. In the indictment, the public prosecutor explained that the two men broadcast live videos on Facebook in which they defamed Ukrainians. They described them using degrading terms, calling them “shit” or “dirty” for instance. They received thousands of crowns of donations with their videos.

In Ireland, pubs and clubs may close later at night

Irish Cabinet on October 25 approved reforms to licensing laws brought by the minister for Justice Helen McEntee regarding pubs and clubs. In the reform, nightclubs will be allowed to open until 6 am and serve alcohol until 5 am. During the week, pubs will be able to open until 12.30 instead of the current 11.30pm closing time. Late bars will still be able to open until 2.30 am with a new license. According to the minister, some estimates suggest only 80 nightclubs remain in Ireland, down from over 500 twenty years ago and 300 in 2009. The number of pubs in Ireland has also been on the decline. Supermarkets and off-licenses will be able to sell alcohol from 10.30 am on Sundays instead of 12.30 pm. Changes are expected to be enacted in 2023 if the legislation is passed. Ireland set a minimum price of alcohol earlier this year to reduce its consumption.

South Korea’s budget decreases for the first time in 13 years

The new president of South Korea Yoon Seok-yeol, in his address to the National Assembly on October 24, announced that the budget for next year was decreased for the first time since 2010. He plans to bring the country’s deficit below 50 percent of the gross domestic product. In the context of tensions with North Korea, the defense budget increased by 4.6 percent.

A hasty controversy in Poland over France’s gift to Pope Francis?

Pope Francis received French President Emmanuel Macron in the Vatican on October 24, in a meeting the president offered the Pope a gift. It was a book, a first edition, in French, of For Perpetual Peace by German philosopher Emmanuel Kant. But on the inside book cover was a stamp, Czytelnia Akademicka we Lwowie, Polish for Academic Reading Room of Lviv. If Lviv is nowadays Ukrainian, it used to be Polish between 1918 and 1939. Some Polish saw the stamp as proof that the book belonged to Poland and that had probably been stolen by Nazis during WWII. But French journalist Arnaud Bédat showed the book offered to the Pope was already in a bookshop in Paris around 1900 and was recently bought 2,500 euros to a bookshop specialized in old books. Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Łukasz Jasina only briefly replied to a tweet that they “know the case.”

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