Obama’s Kenya visit, Astronauts reach ISS, World Internet map

Obama’s Kenya visit, Astronauts reach ISS, World Internet map

Photo: Aubrey Gemignani/Zuma


The Greek parliament today approved new reforms that will allow negotiations on an EU financial rescue deal worth 68 billion euros to begin, Greek daily Kathimerini reports.

  • The changes focus on Greek banking rules and the justice system. Last week, a first set of reforms on tax hikes and budget discipline led to a rebellion in the governing Syriza party and was passed only thanks to support from anti-EU parties.
  • Despite thousands protesting outside the parliament in Athens, today’s package passed easily with the backing of 230 of 300 lawmakers.
  • Former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, who voted against the first set of measures last week, voted with the government today. He wrote in The Press Project that though he believed the plan from creditors was “designed to fail,” it was essential to preserve government unity.
  • Before the vote, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras expressed his displeasure toward the reforms. “We chose a difficult compromise to avert the most extreme plans by the most extreme circles in Europe,” Reuters quoted him as saying.
  • Negotiations with representatives of EU creditors are set to begin in Athens tomorrow.


“Sorry, Panama,” the front-page headline in Mexican newspaper Récord reads today after Mexico’s chaotic and controversial 2-1 victory over Panama in the semifinals of the Gold Cup soccer competition. Read more about it in our Extra! feature.


At least 42 people were killed Wednesday in a series of blasts at two bus stations in Gombe, in northeastern Nigeria, RTL reports. About 11 others lost their lives in two suicide attacks in northern Cameroon’s town of Maroua, according to Jeune Afrique.

  • Dozens of people were also injured in the two attacks, which are believed to have been executed by the terrorist group Boko Haram.
  • The Guardian reports that, in Cameroon, two girls aged under 15 were used as suicide bombers in Maroua’s central market.
  • Before the attacks, Boko Haram released a video on Twitter threatening countries in the region, including Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Benin.


Ford Motor Co. sold its first car, a Model A, 112 years ago today. Time for your 57-second shot of history.


Barack Obama is set to arrive in Kenya’s capital of Nairobi tomorrow in what will be his first visit to his father’s country as the U.S. president.

  • He is expected to spend 48 hours in Kenya, visiting six to eight locations that have undergone considerable preparation to receive the 44th U.S. president, Radio France Internationale reports.
  • Discussions between Obama and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta will include trade agreements and the fight against terror, according to RFI. Topics such as LGBT rights and charges that the International Criminal Court formerly brought against President Kenyatta, related to 2008 election violence, are expected to be avoided.
  • Despite the fact that President Obama’s Kenya itinerary was leaked, national security adviser Susan Rice said it would not be changed, The Star reports.
  • In reaction to CNN describing Kenya as a “terror hotbed,” Kenyans have taken to Twitter to mock the American news network with the hashtag #SomeoneTellCNN.


A Soyuz capsule carrying a Russian, an American and a Japanese astronaut successfully docked with the International Space Station today, NASA reports. The launch had been delayed for two months after the failure of an unmanned Russian cargo ship in April.


ISIS militants have claimed responsibility for a suicide car bombing that killed at least 20 people in a mainly Shia Baghdad district Wednesday, Reuters reports. Other blasts in the Iraqi capital killed at least 19 other people, including four soldiers, Al Jazeera reports. Earlier yesterday, 22 other soldiers and members of the Popular Mobilization Forces were also killed in a double suicide ISIS car bombing in Fallujah.


Female entrepreneur success stories in Tehran are blossoming. “Looking for the tastiest eggplant caviar or the most exquisite chicken with nuts and pomegranate sauce? You can order those at, a website founded by Tabassom Latifi that allows you to order homemade dishes prepared by Iranian cooks,” Sophie Fay writes for L’Obs. “Other websites are dedicated to providing parents with the necessary survival kit to raise kids or beauty and cosmetics advice.”

Read the full article, Female Entrepreneurs Fuel A Changing Iran.


Israeli soldiers killed a Palestinian and wounded two others during a house raid in the occupied West Bank today, Reuters quoted Palestinian medical officials as saying. An Israeli military spokeswoman said soldiers were attacked by a mob while trying to arrest a suspect in the village of Beit Ummar and opened fire on the main attacker. Le Monde reports that the man is the second Palestinian in the West Bank killed in less than 24 hours.



A Myanmar court has sentenced 153 Chinese nationals to life imprisonment for illegal logging, the Bangkok Post reports. The group was arrested in January near the Chinese border during a military crackdown on illegal logging. The border between Myanmar and China has long been a hotbed for the illegal timber trade.


In a report obtained by Le Monde on the investigation into the January 2013 killing of three Kurdish PKK activists in Paris, French authorities mention for the first time that Turkish intelligence services could be implicated in what is widely believed to be a political assassination. The report demands the court referral of primary suspect Turk Omer Güney.


What would the world look like if countries were scaled according to their number of Internet users? Like this, according to Oxford’s Mark Graham and Ralph Straumann.

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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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