Terror Attack in France, Iran Talks, Pope’s Stadium

Terror Attack in France, Iran Talks, Pope’s Stadium

Photo: Anup Kaphle/Twitter


A gas factory in central France was the target Friday morning of what is being described by French media and law enforcement sources as an Islamist terrorist attack.

  • According to Le Monde, two men entered the site in a car, before setting off explosions. One person was found beheaded near the site’s entrance in the city of Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, and the attackers allegedly left an Islamist flag behind. Arabic writing was also found on the severed head, which was left pinned to the factory’s gates. The victim was apparently not a factory worker.
  • One of the attackers was arrested and a police search is ongoing to find the second suspect. The local newspaper Le Dauphiné Libéré reports that the arrested suspect is known to the police and national intelligence services. He reportedly claimed to be a member of ISIS.
  • The factory southeast of Lyon belongs to Air Products, a U.S. company that’s among the largest industrial gas producers in the world.
  • This story is developing. Follow France 24 for more updates in English


ISIS fighters have killed at least 146 civilians in their attack on the Syrian-Kurdish town of Kobani, making it the jihadist group’s second-biggest massacre of civilians in Syria, Reuters quotes the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights as saying. Yesterday, ISIS militants re-entered the city disguised as Kurdish fighters and launched a series of attacks, months after they lost the town to Kurdish militias.


European Union leaders have agreed to relocate to other countries 40,000 migrants who have been waiting in Italy and Greece since they crossed the Mediterranean, the BBC reports. Officials however have abandoned the idea of imposing quotas for each country and instead encouraged each to share the burden. But the relocation plan, which will be executed over the next two years, could prove inadequate, with UN figures suggesting that 63,000 migrants had reached Greece and 62,000 Italy this year.


U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets today with Iranian, British, French, Russian, Chinese and German counterparts in Vienna as negotiations around Tehran’s nuclear program enter the final stretch ahead of the June 30 deadline, USA Today reports. A senior U.S. official however warned that a deal might “slip” past the self-imposed deadline. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has repeatedly made clear his opposition to any deal with “worse-than-ISIS” Iran, hinted that Israel could attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. Read more from Haaretz.


“UberPop must be dismantled and made illegal,” French President François Hollande said yesterday after thousands of taxi drivers held nationwide protests against the private car-booking app which they see as unfair competition. Some of the protests ended badly, with taxi drivers overturning cars and clashing with the police. At least one American celebrity got caught up in the mayhem.


After a recent record heatwave that killed more than 2,500 people, India is now being hit by stronger than usual monsoon rains that have eased fears of a drought but left parts of the country devastated. According to Hindustan Times, 60 people have died in floods in the western state of Gujarat. Meanwhile, across the border in Pakistan, 105 people died of heatstroke yesterday, taking the death toll in the state of Sindh to 1,116 since last Saturday, although scorching temperatures have eased, Dawn reports. In a bizarre development, Pakistan’s Minister for Climate Change Mushahidullah Khan blamed the heatwave on India and its power plants near the border.


South Koreans who defy quarantine or anti-infection measures now face up to two years in jail and a maximum fine equivalent to $18,000, as Seoul steps up measures to end the MERS outbreak, which has already killed 31 people.


Opposition parties in Burundi have announced they will boycott both Monday’s Parliamentary elections and the Presidential vote, planned for July 15, citing the impossibility of organizing “peaceful, transparent and inclusive,” AFP reports. The African nation has been marred by violent conflicts and a failed coup attempt since President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he would run for a third-term in office, a move opponents said was unconstitutional.


With the backing of Pope Francis, himself a lifelong fan, supporters of the San Lorenzo soccer club in Argentina are fighting to rebuild in the neighborhood where their original stadium once stood, Alice Pouyat writes for L’Obs. “The original stadium’s replacement with a supermarket was blasphemy for the team’s fans, who are known nationwide for their ardent devotion and inventiveness,” Pouyat writes. “Twenty-five years later, they have launched a crusade to buy back the land and rebuild their stadium. San Lorenzo's history began in 1907, when a local parish priest named Lorenzo Massa opened the courtyard of his church to the street children and their balls, asking only that they take communion in return for having a place to play. The fans â€" known as cuervos, or crows â€" get their name from the color of Massa’s black cassock.” Read the full article, Argentine Soccer Fans Seek New Stadium Worthy Of The Pope.


Yevgeny Primakov, who headed Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service before becoming Foreign Minister and Prime Minister under Boris Yeltsin, has died aged 85.


North Korea marked yesterday the 65th anniversary of the Korean war, a commemoration the regime uses as the culmination of “Struggle Against U.S. Imperialism Month.” See what it looked like with AP.


The first of a three-part series by American business magazine Fortune delves into the state of cyber-security in the wake of the massive hacking of Sony late last year.


The African island nation of Madagascar became independent from France on this day in 1960. Three years later, JFK spoke at the Berlin Wall. Time for today’s 57-second shot of history.

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Saving The Planet Is Really A Question Of Dopamine

Our carelessness toward the environment could be due, in part, to the functioning of a very primitive area of our brain: the striatum.

Ad scuba-diver and brain coral

Stefano Lupieri

PARIS — Almost every week, a new scientific study alerts us to the degradation of the environment. And yet, we continue not to change anything fundamental in our systems of production and habits of consumption. Are we all suffering from blindness, or poisoned by denial?

In his popular books Le Bug humain (The Human Bug) and Où est le sens? (Where is the Sense?), Sébastien Bohler, a journalist in neuroscience and psychology, provides a much more rational explanation: The mechanism responsible for our propensity to destroy our natural environment is in fact a small, very deep and very primitive structure of our brain called the striatum.

This regulator of human motivation seems to have been programmed to favor behaviors that ensure the survival of the species.

Addictions to sex and social media

Since the dawn of humanity, gathering information about our environment, feeding ourselves, ensuring the transmission of our genes through sexual intercourse and asserting our social status have all been rewarded with a shot of dopamine, the 'pleasure hormone.'

Nothing has changed since then; except that, in our society of excess, there is no limit to the satisfaction of these needs. This leads to the overconsumption of food and addictions to everything from sex to social media — which together account for much of the world's destructive agricultural and energy practices.

No matter how much we realize that this is leading to our downfall, we can't help but relapse because we are prisoners of the dopamine pump in the striatum, which cannot be switched off.

Transverse section of striatum from a structural MRI image

Lindsay Hanford and Geoff B Hall via Wikipedia

Tweaking genetics 

According to Bohler, the only way out is to encourage the emergence of new values of sobriety, altruism and slowness. If adopted, these more sustainable notions could be recognized by the striatum as new sources of dopamine reward. But there's the challenge of promoting inspiring stories that infuse them with value.

Take the photo-collage exhibition "J'agis ici... et je m'y colle" ("I'm taking action here... and I'm sticking to it"), a collection of life-size portraits of residents committed to the energy transition, displayed on the walls of the French coastal city of La Rochelle.

Backed by the French National Center for Street Arts, photographer Martin Charpentier may be employing artistic techniques, but he's also tinkering with neuroscience in the process.

Les Echos
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