TALIBAN SIEGE IN AFGHANISTAN
Afghan forces are battling Taliban fighters today in a desperate attempt to protect the police headquarters in the town of Sangin, after a Taliban attack killed six U.S. soldiers yesterday, the BBC reports. The Taliban have laid siege to the southern town and have reportedly cut it off from the rest of the Helmand province. About 12,000 NATO forces are still deployed to Afghanistan, and yesterday's attack near Kabul shows that the war in Afghanistan is still "far from over" 14 years after it began, The Washington Postwrites.
IRAQ TROOPS ENTER ISIS-CONTROLLED RAMADI
Iraqi soldiers have launched an offensive to retake the city of Ramadi, Iraq, from the clutches of ISIS and are advancing into the city center, the BBC reports. The city has been encircled by government forces for a month, and 250 to 300 ISIS fighters are believed to be inside the city. According to Al Jazeera, at least 14 troops were killed in a suicide car bomb attack as the offensive began this morning. Civilians have been asked to leave the city.
"I think we'll probably keep this one on the ground just because it is kind of unique," SpaceX founder Elon Musk said after the company managed to launch a Falcon 9 rocket booster that later returned to Earth intact. This is a breakthrough in space travel, opening the possibility of reusing rockets, thus significantly reducing costs. "It is difficult to say exactly where it ranks, but I do think it is a revolutionary moment," Musk told reporters.
BOSNIA ARRESTS SUSPECTED ISIS MEMBERS
Bosnian police have arrested 11 people believed to have ISIS connections, AFP reports. The raids, conducted this morning in 13 locations around Sarajevo, including two mosques, targeted 15 people suspected of recruiting for terrorist attacks, and the police said they had found evidence of ties to the jihadist group.
It causes cancer, harms the planet and is cruel to animals, which is why meat consumption has steadily declined in the West since 1998. Some have become vegetarians or even vegans, but there is one much more modest alternative that's spreading, Frank Niedercorn writes for Les Echos. "Specifically, people are eating much less beef and pork, though consumption of poultry has doubled in France," he writes. "Other European countries have undergone similar evolutions. The question is whether the trend will continue, and will we all become vegetarians or â€˜flexitarians'? U.S. food columnist Mark Bittman coined the term, which he defines are someone who deliberately reduces meat consumption. â€˜We sometimes call it part-time vegetarianism,' notes Céline Laisney, an analyst who heads a study about the trend's growth."
Read the full article, Our Simmering Beef With Meat — Rise Of The Flexitarians.
BURUNDI ULTIMATUM EXPIRES
An ultimatum to Burundi from the 54-nation African Union to accept a 5,000-strong "peacekeeping force" to protect civilians is expiring today, Al Jazeera reports. Burundi has already rejected the proposal, which it denounced as an "invasion," although the African Union has pledged to send the troops even if the country refuses to cooperate. An estimated 200,000 people are believed to have fled Burundi this year after violent protests over the third-term reelection of President Pierre Nkurunziza.
FIRE DESTROYS SAO PAULO MUSEUM
A huge Monday afternoon fire in Brazil destroyed part of São Paulo's "Station of Light," one of the city's main railway stations built 148 years ago. Despite heavy rains, it took firefighters almost three hours to contain the blaze, which killed one firefighter and left the museum of Portuguese language, housed in the station, severely damaged. The fact that the museum is closed on Mondays likely averted a higher number of casualties. It's still unclear what caused the fire. Read more about it on Le Blog.
The Japanese government this morning unveiled its choice for the new stadium to be built ahead of the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo. The $1.2 billion project, designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, will "maintain harmony with the natural landscape of the neighboring Meiji Jingu Gaien area," news agency Kyodo reports. Authorities had originally preferred a "spaceship-like" stadium designed by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, but that choice was abandoned after its estimated cost doubled.
MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD
CHINA CANCELS ZIMBABWE'S DEBT
China will cancel Zimbabwe's $40 million debt in exchange for the southern African nation adding the yuan, or RMB, to its offering of legal currencies, AFP reports. Zimbabwe, which has been struggling to emerge from a decade of recession that ended in 2008, ditched its own currency in 2009 amid hyperinflation and has been using foreign currencies since. The move highlights an increasingly close partnership between the two countries. The RMB join the U.S. dollar and the South African rand to the currencies approved for public transactions.
ON THIS DAY
It's was 207 years today that Beethoven premiered his Fifth Symphony. We've got The Master, French singer Vanessa Paradis and more in today's shot of history.