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Russia's Syria Plans, Angry Obama, Non-Neutral Anthem

RUSSIA'S SYRIA AIRSTRIKES TO LAST 3-4 MONTHS

The Russian airstrike campaign in Syria could last three to four months, Alexey Pushkov, the head of the lower house of the Russian parliament's foreign affairs committee, was quoted as saying Friday by the French radio station Europe 1. Pushkov, a close ally of Vladimir Putin, also said the airstrikes would intensify.

  • This comes two days after Moscow started officially bombing ISIS positions in war-torn Syria, and a few hours before Putin was set to meet with French President François Hollande, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.
  • That meeting was slated to focus on Ukraine, where a fragile ceasefire has been in place since last month. But the Paris summit will likely be overshadowed by talks on Syria, according to Le Monde.
  • Pushkov brushed off accusations that Russian air strikes had targeted Western-backed opponents to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. "These opponents to Bashar are very close to Daesh ISIS," he said.
  • Pushkov also accused the U.S. of "pretending" to bomb ISIS this past year. "Only 20% of their operations produced results, 80% of them did not lead to bombardments."
  • Iranian troops are reportedly being deployed in Syria in support of Russia and the Assad's government, Al Jazeera reports.

ANGRY OBAMA REPEATS "ROUTINE" AFTER OREGON SHOOTING

Photo: Andy Nelson/The Register-Guard/ZUMA

U.S. President Barack Obama addressed the nation for the seventh time in seven years following a mass shooting, after a gunman killed nine people and wounded as many as 10 at the Umpqua community college in Oregon on Thursday.

  • "As I said just a few months ago, and I said a few months before that, and I said each time we see one of these mass shootings, our thoughts and prayers are not enough," Obama said in a strongly worded speech repeating calls for tighter gun control laws. "Somehow, this has become routine. The reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine. The conversation in the aftermath of it. We've become numb to this."
  • The gunman, identified as Chris Harper Mercer, 26, died of a gunshot wound, though it is not clear if he committed suicide or was killed by police.
  • Reports say the gunman asked some of his victims whether they were Christian before opening fire.
  • His online activity shows he indicated support for the IRA.
  • The gunman may have warned of his actions on the 4chan platform.

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

Hervé Pighiera is on a mission: to clean roadsides, 800 kilometers of them. For L'Obs, Caroline Brizard followed the man who left on foot from Aix-en-Provence in the south of France, heading for Paris, picking up mountains of trash on his way: "The roadsides are littered with all sorts of trash and sometimes odd objects that owners must have lost by accident. He's already found "a screwdriver, T-shirts, baby pajamas, a plastic watering can, a National Front membership card, pie-baking dishes, bolts, a pair of size 13 shoes, a phone, a condom — still in its packaging — and road maps," he enumerates."

Read the full article, Why This Man Is Walking Across France To Collect Garbage.


TWO DEAD IN SYDNEY SHOOTING

Two people were killed Friday in a shooting outside New South Wales state police headquarters in western Sydney, a local police statement says. According to The Sydney Morning Herald, at least one gunman opened fire on a police IT worker outside the State Crime Command, before a police officer returned fire.


ISRAEL LAUNCHES MANHUNT AFTER COUPLE KILLED

Hundreds of Israeli troops were searching for a suspected Palestinian gunman Friday, after an Israeli couple was killed Thursday night while driving between the settlements of Itamar and Elon More, in the north of the Palestinian territory, the AFP reports. Their four children were found unharmed in the back of the car. The couple, both in their thirties, were residents of the central West Bank settlement Neria, northwest of Ramallah.


ON THIS DAY


Rooooooooooooooooooxanne — and much more, on today's 57-second shot of history!


VERBATIM

"Modern Chinese society has lots of contradictions, and if people want to send a message about their anger or make a point, they can get explosives from any mine," the South China Morning Post quoted Pan Zhiping, a Chinese domestic security expert at the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences, as saying. Earlier this week, a series of 17 deadly blasts in the southwestern city of Liuzhou, believed to have been coordinated by one single individual, killing at least seven and injuring more than 50, shows how easy it is to acquire explosives in the world's second largest economy. In China, gun crime is extremely low, but explosives are widely available from the sprawling mining and fireworks industries.


MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD



NEW SWISS ANTHEM

The Swiss recently voted for a new national anthem. Check out our Le Blog item about the not-so-neutral economist who wrote the winning hymn.

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Geopolitics

New Probe Finds Pro-Bolsonaro Fake News Dominated Social Media Through Campaign

Ahead of Brazil's national elections Sunday, the most interacted-with posts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Telegram and WhatsApp contradict trustworthy information about the public’s voting intentions.

Jair Bolsonaro bogus claims perform well online

Cris Faga/ZUMA
Laura Scofield and Matheus Santino

SÂO PAULO — If you only got your news from social media, you might be mistaken for thinking that Jair Bolsonaro is leading the polls for Brazil’s upcoming presidential elections, which will take place this Sunday. Such a view flies in the face of what most of the polling institutes registered with the Superior Electoral Court indicate.

An exclusive investigation by the Brazilian investigative journalism agency Agência Pública has revealed how the most interacted-with and shared posts in Brazil on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Telegram and WhatsApp share data and polls that suggest victory is certain for the incumbent Bolsonaro, as well as propagating conspiracy theories based on false allegations that research institutes carrying out polling have been bribed by Bolsonaro’s main rival, former president Luís Inácio Lula da Silva, or by his party, the Workers’ Party.

Agência Pública’s reporters analyzed the most-shared posts containing the phrase “pesquisa eleitoral” [electoral polls] in the period between the official start of the campaigning period, on August 16, to September 6. The analysis revealed that the most interacted-with and shared posts on social media spread false information or predicted victory for Jair Bolsonaro.

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