Hebdo Mastermind Killed, NAACP Activist Quits, Blackhawk's Dynasty

Hebdo Mastermind Killed, NAACP Activist Quits, Blackhawk's Dynasty


A Turkish soldier holds a child as Syrian refugees flee Tal Abyad â€" Photo: Ibrahim Khader/Pacific Press/ZUMA

Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria have seized the town of Tal Abyad, formerly held by ISIS, cutting off a major supply route for the terrorist organization. Huseyin Kocher, a Kurdish commander in Tal Abyad, told the BBC the whole city was under Kurdish control and that there was no more fighting. They were backed on the ground by rebel groups and in the air by the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition. At least 40 ISIS jihadists were killed while attempting to flee. The assault and airstrikes prompted 16,000 Syrian civilians to leave their homes and attempt to cross the border to Turkey.


In a video released today, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula confirmed the death of its leader Nasir al-Wuhayshi, who had claimed January’s Charlie Hebdo attacks. Quoting U.S. officials, The Washington Post reports that he had been targeted by a CIA drone attack in Yemen last week. SITE intelligence group director Rita Katz tweeted that it represents the “hardest hit to al-Qaeda since bin Laden’s death.”


Pius IX was elected Pope 169 years ago today, going on to serve 31 years, becoming the longest-reigning pontiff in the history of the Catholic Church. Today’s 57-second shot of history is here.


An Egyptian court has upheld its death sentence for former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi regarding a 2011 mass prison break, Al Jazeera reports. Earlier this morning, the court had sentenced Morsi to life in jail on charges of spying for the Palestinian group Hamas, the Lebanese group Hezbollah, and Iran.


A corruption scandal involving high-level politicians in Panama is spreading, now implicating members of current President Juan Carlos Varela’s administration. Read more in our Extra! feature.


Rachel Dolezal, the U.S. civil rights activist and president of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP, has resigned from her position days after her white parents told the media that she had been posing as black for years, The Guardian reports. Dolezal announced her resignation in an unapologetic Facebook post published Monday.


As L’Obs reports, the latest workplace threat is “boreout,” persistent boredom and disengagement with your job. “People whose skills and expertise aren’t being sufficiently tapped are most at-risk of this toxic office ailment,” the newspaper writes. “Hyperactive adults also experience this phenomenon at a disproportionate rate, even though they often are deeply involved with their work. It can happen even when their qualifications and workload are in sync. They often need to compensate for workplace boredom by adding professional side projects or investing themselves more in personal activities.”

Read the full article, Meet "Boreout," Burnout's Blasé Cousin.


The main Shia opposition leader in Bahrain, Sheikh Ali Salman, has been sentenced to four years in jail for inciting violence, promoting disobedience and “insulting” public institutions, Reuters reports. Salman, 49, is the most senior figure in the Shia opposition to be jailed since anti-government protests erupted in 2011, at the height of the region's “Arab Spring” uprisings.



China’s land reclamation project on the Spratly islands in the disputed South China Sea will soon be completed, foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang announced today. “Apart from satisfying the need of necessary military defense, the main purpose of China’s construction activities is to meet various civilian demands and better perform China’s international obligations and responsibilities,” Xinhua quoted him as saying.


Members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, one of the Philippines’ largest rebel groups, turned over 75 assault weapons to authorities today as part of a peace agreement reached last year, Al Jazeera reports. The deal was brokered by Malaysia after year-long talks and was stalled earlier this year because of deadly clashes between the rebels and the military. The group, which was founded in 1978 and has 11,000 members, had been asking the government for autonomy for the Moro people.


“I keep saying I don’t really know what a dynasty is,” Chicago Blackhawks’ right wing Patrick Kane said last night after his team beat the Tampa Bay Lightning to claim its third Stanley Cup in six years. As the Los Angeles Times put it, that’s “as close to a dynasty as the salary-capped NHL is likely to produce.”

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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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