Greek Time, ISIS Long War, Fukushima Homecoming

Greek Time, ISIS Long War, Fukushima Homecoming

Photo: Panayiotis Tzamaros/ZUMA


Eurozone leaders and Finance Ministers are meeting today in Brussels to reopen negotiations on the fate of cash-strapped Greece, two days after a resounding “No” to austerity from Greek voters. Angela Merkel declared that “time is running out” and gave Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras hours to present new proposals at today’s emergency summit. Wide divisions remain about potential debt relief. Greek banks will remain closed at least today and tomorrow, after Monday’s decision from the European Central Bank not to lift its freeze on emergency liquidity assistance, despite mounting concern that Greek banks are about to run out of cash. Read more from The Daily Telegraph’s live blog.

  • While European leaders publicly say they want to avoid a Grexit, newspaper E Kathimerini quotes sources in Brussels as saying that “16 of the other 18 countries in the Eurozone are in favor of letting Greece leave the Eurozone.” One of the two countries opposed to it could be France. In an interview with RTL, Prime Minister Manuel Valls insisted that “France will do everything to keep Greece in the Eurozone.”

  • The Guardian meanwhile reports that both the U.S. and Japan are closely monitoring the situation in Europe and are pushing for a swift resolution to the years-long crisis.

  • “Stop all this chatter about me looking at my telephone all the time. I am texting, as they say in Franglais, with the Greek prime minister,” an irritated Jean-Claude Juncker told European MPs who were heckling him.

  • Here’s a Worldcrunch Take 5 on the Greek crisis to help understand what might happen next.


An attack carried out by Al-Shabab Islamist militants in a northeastern Kenyan village near the Somali border has left at least 14 people dead, most of them quarry workers, and 10 wounded, Daily Nation reports. The terrorist group, which is based in Somalia but has carried out extensive attacks on Kenyan soil over the past two years, told the BBC they were behind last night’s attack.


“I won’t fall,” Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff told Folha de S. Paulo, as her opponents smell blood and up calls for her to resign, amid the ongoing corruption probe at state oil giant Petrobras, which she once led. “They don’t intimidate me,” she added, explaining about her possible impeachment that “if there’s one thing that doesn’t scare me it’s this.”


Washington is “intensifying” its efforts against terrorist group ISIS in Syria and Iraq, U.S. President Barack Obama told reporters after a visit to the Pentagon. “This will not be quick â€" this is a long-term campaign,” he warned, before insisting that the group “can be defeated.” “It will take time to root them out, and doing so must be the job of local forces on the ground, with training and air support from our coalition,” The New York Times quotes Obama as saying. The first step in this anti-ISIS strategy is to help Iraqi troops retake the town of Ramadi, which fell into ISIS hands seven weeks ago.


The Saudi-led coalition of Sunni Muslim states have stepped up their airstrikes in Yemen with more than 100 dead over the past three days alone, The New York Times reports. At least 80 people were killed in two strikes yesterday, one of them on a market near the southern port city of Aden. According to UN figures, at least 3,000 people have died in the three-month long conflict with the Houthi rebels.


More than four years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster forced them out, 7,401 Japanese people will soon be allowed to return to their homes in Naraha, in the biggest homecoming so far.


China might be about to develop “a next-generation strategic bomber” capable of carrying heavy weaponry and of striking opponents far away in case of an emergency or conflict, the government-run China Daily reports, quoting defense experts. This comes as a tense situation with the U.S. is showing little signs of improving. President Barack Obama has shifted attention recently to improving relations with Vietnam, which the US hopes can be a strategic partnership against China, according to The Washington Post.


Euthanasia is now legal in Colombia, but putting it into practice is a delicate process, for both families and doctors, reports Bogota daily El Espectador. “Take the case of 79-year-old José Ovidio González. Days ago, after five years of cancer that required a range of painful treatments that have destroyed parts of his face, he wrote down on paper that he no longer wanted to live and that his family supported his decision to be put to death.” Read the full article: Euthanasia In Colombia, Legal But Still Denied


Hungarian lawmakers have overwhelmingly backed a controversial plan to build a four-meter high fence along its 175-kilometer-long border with Serbia in a bid to keep out migrants and asylum seekers from Africa and the Middle East, Euronews reports. The MPs also voted new, tougher regulations for migrants, a move the Interior Minister Sandor Pinter justified saying that “Hungary is confronted with the biggest surge of migrants in its history, its capacities are overloaded by 130%.” Meanwhile, in the poorer parts of Germany, anti-migrant anger and protests are growing.


Twenty years apart, two notable events happened in London on July 7. See On This Day, our 57-second shot of history


The world’s oldest man, Sakari Momoi, has died at the ripe old age of 112 in Japan’s Saitama City, north of Tokyo.


Troops, ammunition and airstrikes will never stop ISIS, but music and Jamaican weed might, according to Shaggy. “If they’re listening to Shaggy music or reggae music, they’re not going to want to cut somebody’s head off,” the singer told The Miami New Times.

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Running of the Bulls in Tafalla, northern Spain

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Здравейте!*

Welcome to Monday, where an apparent coup is underway in Sudan, Colombia's most-wanted drug lord gets caught, and Michael Jordan's rookie sneakers score an auction record. We also focus on a report that the Thai government is abusing the country's centuries-old law to protect the monarchy from criticism (lèse-majesté) to target pro-democracy activists and protesters.

[*Zdraveite - Bulgarian]


• Developing: Sudan leaders arrested amid military coup reports: Soldiers have arrested several members of Sudan's transitional government as well as civilian leaders, and Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok has reportedly been put under house arrest, in what the information ministry called a military coup. Pro-democracy protesters have taken to the streets of the capital city Khartoum where there are reports of gunfire and clashes.

• Colombia's most wanted drug lord to be sent to U.S.: Colombia's most dangerous drug trafficker, known as Otoniel, was caught after a joint army, air force and police operation and faces extradition to the U.S. He led the country's largest criminal gang, and was on the U.S. most wanted list for years.

• Xi speech marks China's UN anniversary: China's President Xi Jinping marked the 50th anniversary of Beijing's entry into the United Nations with a speech calling for greater global cooperation, adding that issues like climate change, terrorism and cyber security needed multilateral solutions. Taiwan was not mentioned.

• German ISIS bride jailed for crimes against humanity: A German court has sentenced a German woman and former member of the Islamic State to 10 years in prison for letting a 5-year-old Yazidi enslaved girl die of thirst in Iraq. The case is one of the world's first trials to prosecute a war crime against the Yazidis.

• COVID update: The Beijing marathon scheduled next weekend has been postponed until further notice as China seeks to stamp out Delta variant outbreak and return to zero cases ahead of the Winter Olympics next February. Meanwhile, coronavirus cases in Eastern Europe have surpassed the 20 million mark as the region fights against its worst outbreak since the pandemic started and vaccination efforts lag.

Goodbye, Gunther: U.S. actor James Michael Tyler, best known for his role as the barista Gunther on the TV show Friends, has died at 59 of prostate cancer.

• Sneakers record: A pair of Michael Jordan's white-and-red Nike shoes, which he wore during his rookie season with the Chicago Bulls in 1984, sold for $1.47 million — a new record price for sneakers at auction.


"The end of a boss," titles Colombian daily El Espectador, reporting on the arrest of drug lord Dairo Antonio Usuga, known as Otoniel, who had led Colombia's largest criminal gang and had been on the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency's most wanted list for years. He was captured in a raid and will be extradited to the U.S.



A Georgia man is being prosecuted for wire fraud after spending most of his business's COVID relief loan to buy one Pokémon trading card for $57,789.


How Thailand's "Lèse-Majesté" law is used to stifle all protest

Once meant to protect the royal family, the century-old law has become a tool for the military-led government in Bangkok to stamp out all dissent. A new report outlines the abuses.

👑 Thailand's Criminal Code "Lèse-Majesté" Article 112 imposes jail terms for defaming, insulting, or threatening the monarchy, with sentences of three to 15 years. This law has been present in Thai politics since 1908, though applied sparingly, only when direct verbal or written attacks against members of the royal family. But after the May 2014 military coup d'état, Thailand experienced the first wave of lèse-majesté arrests, prosecutions, and detentions of at least 127 individuals arrested in a much wider interpretation of the law.

🚨 The recent report "Second Wave: The Return of Lèse-Majesté in Thailand," documents how the Thai government has "used and abused Article 112 of the Criminal Code to target pro-democracy activists and protesters in relation to their online political expression and participation in peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations." The investigation shows 124 individuals, including at least eight minors, have been charged with lèse-majesté between November 2020 and August 2021. The new wave of charges is cited as a response to the rising pro-democracy protests across Thailand over the past year.

💻 The more than a century-old law is now largely playing out online, where much of today's protest takes place in Thailand. Thai student activist Juthatip Sirikan says people are willing to go further on social media to expose information such as how the king intervenes in politics and the monarchy's accumulation of wealth, information the mainstream media rarely reports on them. Not surprisingly, however, social media is heavily monitored and the military is involved in Intelligence operations and cyber attacks against human rights defenders and critics of any kind.

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"Children are going to die. People are going to starve."

— The United Nations warns that Afghanistan verges on a "total breakdown" as millions of Afghans, including children, could die of starvation unless urgent action is taken by the international community. The agency calls for the release of frozen assets to avoid economic and social collapse, despite concerns over the Taliban government. A recent report said that about 97% of Afghanistan's population may sink below the poverty line, and World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley warned that more than half of Afghanistan's population of 39 million were facing acute food insecurity and "marching to starvation" in comparison to 14 million two months ago.


Dutch cities have been secretly probing mosques since 2013

At least ten Dutch towns and cities have secretly used a private agency to probe mosques and other local religious organizations, Amsterdam-based daily het NRC reports in an exclusive investigation.

The clandestine operation — funded by NCTV, the National Security Services, the Netherlands' leading counter-terrorism agency — was prompted by the social unrest and uncertainty following multiple terror attacks in 2013, and a rise in Islamic radicalization.

The NCTV, which advises and financially supports municipalities in countering radicalization, put the municipalities in touch with Nuance by Training and Advice (Nuance door Trainingen en Advies, NTA), a private research agency based in Deventer, Netherlands. Among the institutions targeted by the investigations, which came at a cost of circa 500,000 euros, were the Al Mouahidin mosque in the central Dutch town of Ede, and the Nasser mosque east of the city of Utrecht, according to NRC.

Unlike public officials, the private agency can enter the mosques to clandestinely research the situation. In this case, the agents observed activity, talked to visitors, administrators, and religious leaders, and investigated what they do and say on social media.

All findings then wound up in a secret report which includes personal details about what the administrators and teachers studied, who their relatives are, with whom they argued, and how often they had contact with authorities in foreign countries, like Morocco.

It is unclear whether the practice is legal, which is why several members of the Dutch Parliament are now demanding clarification from the outgoing Minister of Justice and Security, Ferd Grapperhaus, who is said to be involved.

"The ease with which the government violates (fundamental) rights when it comes to Islam or Muslims is shocking," Stephan van Baarle, member of the leftist party DENK, told De Volkskrant, another Dutch newspaper.

Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed. Hassan Saidi, director of one of the mosques investigated, said that the relationship with the local municipality had been good. "This puts a huge dent in the trust I'd had in the municipality," he told the Dutch public broadcaster NOS.

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

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