U.S. SAYS RUSSIA TARGETING REBELS, NOT ISIS
Russia's intervention in Syria has elicited anger from U.S. officials who are accusing Moscow of aiming at the region's Western-backed rebels — not ISIS fighters, as the country claims. The New York Times reports that Russia's participation in the civil war is an effort to help Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whom Russian President Vladimir Putin has vowed to support. Moscow launched a series of airstrikes yesterday against what it said were Islamist positions inside Syria. According to Lebanon's al-Mayadeen TV, quoted by BBC News, there was a series of new strikes today, targeting rebel positions in the northwest held by an alliance known as the Army of Conquest.
Read more about it in our Le Blog.
AFGHAN CITY STILL CONTESTED
The situation in Afghanistan's city of Kunduz, which the Taliban captured three days ago from the government's military, is still unclear this morning, with both sides claiming to control key areas.
- Afghan troops claimed today that they had regained control of the city center after fierce clashes with Taliban militants, Reuters reports.
- According to Al Jazeera, Taliban fighters retook some areas they lost overnight, leading to heavy fighting this morning. "They Taliban said they had left the center of the city because of heavy bombardment by NATO forces, and now they are trying to get it back," Al Jazeera reporter Qais Azimy said.
- The operation launched overnight saw government forces inflict heavy casualties on Taliban fighters, the BBC reports.
- An army victory would be significant for the government 10 months after the NATO coalition withdrew from the country.
PALESTINIAN FLAG RAISED AT UN FOR FIRST TIME
Though the Israel-Palestine conflict was overshadowed by the Syrian war during this year's UN General Assembly, it was on the agenda yesterday in New York.
- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said during an address that Palestinians would "no longer continue to be bound" by the Oslo Accords, the peace process signed by Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1993 and 1995, unless they receive "international protection" from Israel, The Guardianreports.
- "The status quo cannot continue," Abbas told the Israeli delegation, led by ambassador Ron Prosor. "It is no longer useful to waste time in negotiations for the sake of negotiations. What is required is to mobilize international efforts to oversee an end to the occupation in line with the resolutions of international legitimacy.".
- The Israeli delegation has yet to react, according to Le Monde.
- Following the address, the Palestinian flag was hoisted for the first time at the UN headquarters, Al Jazeera reports. This decision had been approved Sept. 10 by 119 UN members. The U.S. and Israel, which were among the eight votes against the motion, strongly criticized the move.
"I am putting the people on notice that are coming here from Syria as part of this mass migration, that if I win, if I win, they are going back," Donald Trump said during a rally in New Hampshire yesterday, the latest lunacy from the Republican presidential candidate.
LIMITING THE UN VETO IN GENOCIDE CASES
During the UN General Assembly in New York yesterday, dozens of countries signed a French proposal for the UN Security Council's five permanent members to renounce using their veto in cases of mass atrocities and genocide, daily Ouest-France reports. At least 75 of the 193 UN members have so far approved the motion, but more nations are expected to join. But the four other permanent members — the U.S., China, Great Britain and Russia — did not sign it. The aim is to prevent the Security Council from being paralyzed during massacres such as Syria's.
The pharmaceutical industry looks to identify new diseases so it can push new drugs on the market, and patients play along. The approval of reduced female libido as a pathology is a case in point, Wiebke Hollersen writes for Die Welt. "These days, not wanting to have sex can be cured. There's a pill for that, and it has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). But this certainly is no proof that a woman not having anymore sexual desire towards her partner has anything to do with a pathological disturbance. Critics say a woman's lagging libido is the latest in a number of â€˜made-up diseases.' The pharmaceutical industry, eager to open up new markets, is fond of declaring new official illnesses for typical life difficulties."
Read the full article, Big Pharma, Low Libido And The Rise Of Disease Mongering.
PAKISTAN KILLS 25 TALIBAN MILITANTS
Pakistani forces killed 25 suspected Taliban militants in airstrikes today near the border with Afghanistan, Reuters quoted the Pakistani army as saying. This is part of an offensive launched last year by the country's authorities against Pakistani Taliban militants in lawless border regions, particularly in North Waziristan.
ON THIS DAY
Dame Julie Andrews of Mary Poppins and Sound of Music fame turns a youthful, dewy-skinned 80 years old today. That and more in today's shot of history.
DID THE CASTROS HELP ESCOBAR?
The top gunman for the late drug kingpin Pablo Escobar claims in a new interview that Fidel and Raul Castro, as well as Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez, were involved in the cocaine trafficking business. Read details from Worldcrunch following a report in Argentine daily Clarin.
MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD
CLIMATE CHANGE MAY THREATEN ENERGY SYSTEMS
The effects of global warming, such as severe floods, strong storms and rising sea levels, could constitute a serious threat to the world's energy systems, including fossil fuel power stations and distribution grids, a report from the World Energy Council (WEC) suggests. This means our water, transport and health infrastructures, which are all interconnected in developed and developing cities, could collapse in extreme weather, leading to catastrophic humanitarian situations. "We are on a path where today's unlikely events will be tomorrow's reality," WEC Secretary General Christoph Frei warned. "We need to imagine the unlikely. Traditional systems, based on predicted events, no longer operate in isolation."
BAD BUZZ FOR BEIJING
A communist party theme park honoring the foundation of the People's Republic of China opened this week in Wuhan. Visitors can learn about "the glorious history of the CCP and the values that all good communists seek to uphold." The park is full of "cartoon statues commemorating important figures" from the party's history, but also athletes and astronauts. Predictably, Chinese Internet users took to ridiculing the place, calling it "brainwashing" and a "waste of taxpayer money."