Israel Violence, Nobel Peace Prize, Rome Mayor Quits

Israel Violence, Nobel Peace Prize, Rome Mayor Quits


ISIS killed Iranian Brigadier General Hossein Hamedani outside Aleppo overnight, Iranian military news agency Sepah News reports. Hamedani was providing military advice to Syrian government forces as part of support sent by Tehran. He was reportedly in charge of the Quds Force, a special unit fighting rebels in the war-torn country and one that the U.S. considers a terrorist group. Hamedani was also known for leading brutal crackdowns against Iranian protestors in 2009 and was hit with international sanctions.

  • Meanwhile, ISIS fighters have also captured several villages from rival insurgents on the outskirts of Aleppo, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports. This marks the group’s biggest advance since late August.
  • Russia has denied U.S. reports that four of its cruise missiles aimed at ISIS and “other terrorists” in Syria struck in Iran, possibly hurting civilians and damaging civilians, Al Jazeera reports. “In contrast to CNN, we do not talk with reference to anonymous sources,” the Russian defense ministry said. “We show the launch of our rockets and the targets they struck."
  • France conducted its second airstrike against ISIS in Raqqa, Syria, overnight, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told radio network Europe 1 Friday. “The targets were met,” he said.


Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire/ZUMA

Sky watchers were able to enjoy the stunning Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, Thursday over Derwentwater, near Keswick in England’s Lake District.


Tension continues to rise in Israel with multiple stabbings early today after a week of violence between Jewish and Arab communities had already left 11 people dead. Four Arabs were stabbed in Dimona, a town in southern Israel, and a Jewish suspect was arrested, Reuters reports. Meanwhile, The Guardian reports that a Jewish youth was stabbed by a Palestinian man in Jerusalem.


“The options were not infinite and perfection maybe was not a possibility, but I think that it is a quite reasonably good list of names,” UN envoy to Libya Bernardino Leon said last night after announcing plans to form a national unity government in Libya, Euronews reports. The move is intended to end an ongoing conflict between the internationally recognized authorities in the east and “Libya Dawn,” the Islamist-backed, self-declared rulers of Tripoli, known as the General National Congress (GNC). The UN is pushing both sides to accept the deal, but the GNC has already expressed reservations about the proposed list of names.


The resignation of Ignazio Marino, Rome's embattled mayor, dominated headlines in Italy on Friday after months of rising political tensions in the capital and within the center-left Democratic party of both the mayor and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. Read more from Le Blog.


One-third of all men currently under age 20 in China could die prematurely if they continue to smoke, a study by The Lancet warns. About two-thirds of Chinese men start smoking as teens, according to the medical journal. The researchers, who conducted two studies 15 years apart across the country, say that if such trends continue, smoking will turn into a “growing epidemic of premature death.”


Happy birthday to English indie rocker PJ Harvey, who is 46 today. That and more in today’s shot of history.


The National Dialogue Quartet, a group of Tunisian organizations, was awarded the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize today “for its decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution of 2011.”


The Australian government has engaged in talks with the Philippines to transfer asylum seekers being held indefinitely in controversial and impoverished offshore detention centers. Australia struck a similar deal last years with Cambodia, but it has so far been criticized as an expensive failure, the BBC reports.


More than 58,000 people suffered violent deaths in Brazil last year, the Brazilian Public Security Forum says in a report published Thursday, Globo reports. That’s 5% more than in 2013 and represents a new peak of violence in the country, which is preparing to host the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro next year. These violent deaths include homicides, manslaughter, killings by police and robberies that end in killings.


On the Italian island of Sardinia, asylum seekers are rebuilding their lives on the soccer field, La Stampa’s Nicola Pinna writes. “The team’s captain is a 23-year-old whose life was at risk before fleeing his homeland of Togo. ‘I was accused of causing a car accident in which two people died, and their relatives decided to kill me,’ he says. Jeffrey Omonigho, the team’s Nigerian goalkeeper, had been living on the run for years. ‘My family is opposed to the government,’ he explains. ‘My father was murdered and my fate there was already sealed.’ Pagi’s potential star striker is Collins, a 26-year-old with a contagious smile. His daughter, Josephine, was born in Sassari, and he hopes to stay here and build their future together.”

Read the full article, Meet Pagi, Italy’s First Ever All-Migrant Soccer Team.



The domain name is now the property of Google, according to The Verge. It’s part of the company’s strategy to develop its latest parent company Alphabet. is already owned by BMW, so Google just decided to buy the alphabet itself.

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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.

➡️


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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