Chilling Paris Revelations, Tunis Terror, Pope In Africa

Chilling Paris Revelations, Tunis Terror, Pope In Africa


Photo: Russian Look/ZUMA

"An unprecedented crisis," warns Turkish daily Hürriyet on the front page of its Wednesday edition, a day after two Turkish jets shot down a Russian warplane near the Syrian border.

Although the downing of the plane sparked fears of increased tension between the two nations, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a televised speech, "We have no intention to escalate this incident. We are just defending our security and the rights of our brothers."

Turkish authorities insist that the Russian warplane was shot after it repeatedly violated air space above the Turkish border, which Moscow denies. On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin called the incident "a stab in the back by the terrorists' accomplices," before warning of "serious consequences."

Speaking on TV Wednesday, Putin revealed that one of the pilots had managed to eject and had been rescued by the Syrian army. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu said, according to the ministry's Twitter feed, that the country would deploy a missile cruiser near Latakia, Syria, on the Mediterranean coast, CNN reports.


“This episode can be a moment of understanding and learning,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said upon releasing a graphic dash-cam video showing police officer Jason Van Dyke shoot 16 times 17-year-old black teenager Laquan McDonald in October 2014. The video was released after Van Dyke was charged with murder.. After the video was released, hundreds of protesters marched in the streets of Chicago, chanting “16 shots.” Read more from The Chicago Tribune.


Happy independence day, Suriname! This and more in your 57-second shot of history.


Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi has declared a 30-day nationwide state of emergency and a curfew in the capital after a suicide explosion yesterday hit a bus carrying members of his presidential guard in Tunis, The Guardian reports. At least 13 people were killed but no group has claimed responsibility so far. This is the third major terrorist attack to have hit Tunisia this year, after the killings at the Bardo National Museum and in a tourist resort in Sousse. The state of emergency declared after the Sousse attack had only just been lifted.

  • ISIS jihadists have claimed responsibility for the death of seven people after a bomb explosion in a hotel in the North Sinai, Egypt.


Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the presumed mastermind of the Nov. 13 attacks that killed at least 130 people in Paris and wounded dozens more, had planned to blow himself up with another Islamist terrorist in Paris’ business district of La Défense, possibly last Wednesday, the same day when they were both killed in a police raid at dawn in Saint-Denis, the Paris prosecutor François Molins said yesterday. According to Le Figaro, Molins also confirmed that both men had taken part in the shootings on Nov. 13. In a chilling revelation, the prosecutor said that Abaaoud even returned to the crime scene a few hours after the attacks, even as police and rescue operations were ongoing.

  • Jawad Bendaoud, the man who rented out his Saint-Denis flat to Abaaoud and claimed he didn’t know the people staying there were terrorists, has been charged. The police believe he helped the terrorists “knowingly.”
  • Belgian police meanwhile said that the lockdown of Brussels and the police raids that took place over the weekend had lead to them foiling a planned Paris-style attack against the capital, La Libre reports.
  • French Prime Minister Manuel Valls told German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung that Europe “cannot welcome more refugees, it’s just not possible.” It is a surprising U-turn that comes days before regional elections that could further damage the ruling Socialist Party and see the anti-immigration National Front party make notable gains. Valls called on the EU to reinforce its external borders, warning that citizens may turn against the very idea of a European Union.


China will invest $31 million in a cloning factory where it hopes to create 100,000 cattle a year, a number that will rise to 1 million annually, as Chinese farmers struggle to produce enough meat to satisfy booming demand, Xinhua reports. The factory, which will be located in Tianjin, is due to open in the first half of 2016.


The killers and victims of the Paris violence are part of the same demographic, though they share different realities. Authorities haven't heard the angst, but rap has been telling us for years how little the two groups share, Marie-Pierre Genecand writes for Le Temps: “The hatred and cruelty is unbearable. Almost as much as the lyrics of 35-year-old French rapper Kaaris, whose hugely successful track "Chargé" ("Loaded") last year goes like this: I dream of blowing up the ministry, And get blown by the chief of police's widow. This world swallows and digests you, Hear the bullets whistle, from the 93 French department near Paris to Niger. The chorus then uses common French slang for Kalashnikov: Kalash is loaded, kalash is loaded, kalash is loaded.”

Read the full article, Kalash Is Loaded: French Gangsta Rap, Before And After Paris Attacks.


For the first time since the beginning of his papacy, Pope Francis is travelling to Africa, where he will visit Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic, Vatican Radio reports. During his visit, the pontiff is expected to address growing conflicts between Catholics and Muslims, especially in the Central African Republic, where he will visit a mosque in one of the capital’s most dangerous districts. The African continent has seen the Catholic population grow by more than 230% since the 1980s.


Brazilian police have arrested José Carlos Bumlai, a businessman close to former President Lula da Silva, over allegations of fraud related to the Petrobras scandal, Folha de S. Paulo reports. The 71-year-old is suspected of having played an important role in a series of bribes and frauds that enable the ruling Workers’ Party of Lula and current President Dilma Rousseff to pay off the debt accumulated during the campaign that led to Lula’s reelection for a second term in 2006. Read more in English from AP.


It took 51 days, but Portugal’s left parties have now formed a government after obtaining a majority of votes and Parliament seats in the Oct. 4 general election, Díario Económico reports. The leader of the Socialist Party, António Costa, is the new Prime Minister and will lead a coalition together with the anti-austerity Left Bloc and the Communist Party, a prospect that initially led President Cavaco Silva to block them from forming a government. But the new PM, who promised to bring austerity policies to an end is now facing a tough fight against Brussels.



The Australian man who claimed his name was “Phuc Dat Bich” is actually really called Joe Carr, and he totally took the media for a ride.

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Queen Elizabeth II with UK PM Boris Johnson at a reception at Windsor Castle yesterday

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Hej!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where chaos hits Syria, Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro is accused of crimes against humanity and a social media giant plans to rebrand itself. For Spanish daily La Razon, reporter Paco Rodríguez takes us to the devastated town of Belchite, where visitors are reporting paranormal phenomenons.



• Syrian violence erupts: Army shelling on residential areas of the rebel-held region of northwestern Syria killed 13 people, with school children among the victims. The attack occurred shortly after a bombing killed at least 14 military personnel in Damascus. In central Syria, a blast inside an ammunition depot kills five soldiers.

• Renewed Ethiopia air raids on capital of embattled Tigray region: Ethiopian federal government forces have launched its second air strike this week on the capital of the northern Tigray. The air raids mark a sharp escalation in the near-year-old conflict between the government forces and the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF) that killed thousands and displaced over 2 million people.

• Bolsonaro accused of crimes against humanity: A leaked draft government report concludes that Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro should be charged with crimes against humanity, forging documents and incitement to crime, following his handling of the country's COVID-19 pandemic. The report blames Bolsonaro's administration for more than half of Brazil's 600,000 coronavirus deaths.

• Kidnappers in Haiti demand $17 million to free a missionary group: A Haitian gang that kidnapped 17 members of a Christian aid group, including five children, demanded $1million ransom per person. Most of those being held are Americans; one is Canadian.

• Putin bows out of COP26 in Glasgow: Russian President Vladimir Putin will not fly to Glasgow to attend the COP26 climate summit. A setback for host Britain's hopes of getting support from major powers for a more radical plan to tackle climate change.

• Queen Elizabeth II cancels trip over health concerns: The 95-year-old British monarch has cancelled a visit to Northern Ireland after she was advised by her doctors to rest for the next few days. Buckingham Palace assured the queen, who attended public events yesterday, was "in good spirits."

• A new name for Facebook? According to a report by The Verge website, Mark Zuckerberg's social media giant is planning on changing the company's name next week, to reflect its focus on building the "metaverse," a virtual reality version of the internet.


"Oil price rise causes earthquake," titles Portuguese daily Jornal I as surging demand coupled with supply shortage have driven oil prices to seven-year highs at more than $80 per barrel.



For the first time women judges have been appointed to Egypt's State Council, one of the country's main judicial bodies. The council's chief judge, Mohammed Hossam el-Din, welcomed the 98 new judges in a celebratory event in Cairo. Since its inception in 1946, the State Council has been exclusively male and until now actively rejected female applicants.


Spanish civil war town now a paranormal attraction

Ghosts from Spain's murderous 1930s civil war are said to roam the ruins of Belchite outside Zaragoza. Tourists are intrigued and can book a special visit to the town, reports Paco Rodríguez in Madrid-based daily La Razon.

🏚️ Between August 24 and September 6, 1937, during the Spanish Civil War, more than 5,000 people died in 14 days of intense fighting in Belchite in north-eastern Spain, and the town was flattened. The fighting began on the outskirts and ended in house-to-house fighting. Almost half the town's 3,100 residents died in the struggle. The war annihilated centuries of village history. The town was never rebuilt, though a Pueblo Nuevo (or new town) was built by the old one.

😱 Belchite became an open-air museum of the horror of the civil war of 1936-39, which left 300,000 dead and wounds that have yet to heal or, for some today, mustn't. For many locals, the battle of Belchite has yet to end, judging by reports of paranormal incidents. Some insist they have heard the screams of falling soldiers, while others say the Count of Belchite wanders the streets, unable to find a resting place after his corpse was exhumed.

🎟️ Ordinary visitors have encountered unusual situations. Currently, you can only visit Belchite at set times every day, with prior booking. More daring visitors can also visit at 10 p.m. on weekends. Your ticket does not include a guaranteed paranormal experience, but many visitors insist strange things have happened to them. These include sudden changes of temperature or the strange feeling of being observed from a street corner or a window. Furthermore, such phenomena increase as evening falls, as if night brought the devastated town to life.

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We still cling to the past because back then we had security, which is the main thing that's missing in Libya today.

— Fethi al-Ahmar, an engineer living in the Libyan desert town Bani Walid, told AFP, as the country today marks the 10-year anniversary of the death of dictator Muammar Gaddafi. The leader who had reigned for 42 years over Libya was toppled in a revolt inspired by the Arab Spring uprisings and later killed by rebels. Some hope the presidential elections set in December can help the country turn the page on a decade of chaos and instability.


Iran to offer Master's and PhD in morality enforcement

Iran will create new "master's and doctorate" programs to train state morality agents checking on people's public conduct and attire, according to several Persian-language news sources.

Mehran Samadi, a senior official of the Headquarters to Enjoin Virtues and Proscribe Vices (Amr-e be ma'ruf va nahy az monkar) said "anyone who wants to enjoin virtues must have the knowledge," the London-based broadcaster Iran International reported, citing reports from Iran.

The morality patrols, in force since the 1979 revolution, tend to focus mostly on young people and women, particularly the public appearance for the latter. Loose headscarves will send women straight to a police station, often in humiliating conditions. Five years ago, the regime announced a new force of some 7,000 additional agents checking on women's hijabs and other standards of dress and behavior.

Last week, for example, Tehran police revealed that they had "disciplined" agents who had been filmed forcefully shoving a girl into a van. Such incidents may increase under the new, conservative president, Ibrahim Raisi.

Speaking about the new academic discipline, Samadi said morals go "much further than headscarves and modesty," and those earning graduate degrees would teach agents "what the priorities are."

Iran's Islamic regime, under the guidance of Shia jurists, continuously fine tunes notions of "proper" conduct — and calibrates its own, interventionist authority. More recently the traffic police chief said women were not allowed to ride motorbikes, and "would be stopped," Prague-based Radio Farda reported.

Days before, a cleric in the holy city of Qom in central Iran insisted that people must be vaccinated by a medic of the same sex "as often as possible," and if not, there should be no pictures of mixed-sex vaccinations.

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

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