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In The News

Afghanistan Mosque Blast, Widest Vaccine Mandate, Banksy’s Record

Afghanistan Mosque Blast, Widest Vaccine Mandate, Banksy’s Record

Civilians run for cover after gunfire erupted at a protest in Beirut, Lebanon

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Bonjou!*

Welcome to Friday, where a deadly blast strikes a mosque in Kandahar, Afghanistan during Friday prayers, Lebanon death toll rises, and Banksy sells 15 times better when shredded. Meanwhile, German daily Die Welt reporters take us on an eerie tour of the deserted Camp Marmal, the German army's former headquarters in Afghanistan.

[*Haitian Creole]


• Explosion strikes Afghan mosque during prayers: Developing: An explosion has rocked a Shia mosque in Afghanistan's southern city of Kandahar during Friday prayers. At least 32 people have been killed.

• Norway bow-and-arrow suspect is convert to Islam: Norway's security service says the deadly bow-and-arrow attack that killed five people in Konsberg "appears to be terrorism." The suspect, a 37-year-old Danish citizen named Espen Andersen Brathen, is a convert to Islam and had already been flagged to the police for showing signs of radicalization.

• COVID update: Italy's COVID "green pass" comes into force, with all workers across public and private sectors now required to be vaccinated or take frequent coronavirus tests to enter their workplace, a first for a Western democracy. Meanwhile, Israel sees a sharp drop in new COVID-19 infections aided by its use of vaccine passports, vaccine boosters, and masks.

• Linkedin pulls out of China: Citing a "challenging operating environment", Microsoft has decided to replace LinkedIn in China with a version focused on job applications, with no networking features.

• Beirut on edge, death count rises to six: The Lebanese capital remained tense Friday after the worst violence in a decade left at least six people dead and 30 wounded. The shootings were sparked by demands that a judge investigating last year's deadly port blast be replaced. On Friday, the country's judges association again rejected attempts to interfere in the carrying out of the probe.

• Michelin awards stars to Russian chefs for the first time: The Michelin Guide has awarded nine Moscow restaurants with its star as they released the first edition of their gastronomic bible in the country.

Adele drops new music after six years: After a slow-burning PR campaign, Adele's first new songs in six years arrived with the release of her new music video "Easy On Me" directed by Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan. The London singer will drop the complete album, her fourth, next month.


"The dramatic minutes," titles Norwegian daily Aftenposten reporting on the attack in the city of Konsberg, where a man armed with a bow and arrow killed five people and injured two others "in the course of 35 minutes," the daily writes. The suspect, a 37-year-old Danish man who converted to Islam, has confessed to the killings in what authorities are calling an apparent "act of terror."


Ghosts of defeat inside deserted German base in Afghanistan

The new Taliban commander shows Alfred Hackensberger, Sebastian Backhaus, Ricardo Vilanova, reporters from Berlin-based daily Die Welt, around the deserted Camp Marmal, the German army's former headquarters in Afghanistan.

🇦🇫 On June 29, the German army finally withdrew from Afghanistan, leaving their largest military base, at the foot of the Hindu Kush, deserted. It was only two weeks before the Taliban took it over. "During this time, when the base wasn't guarded, all the machinery was looted," says Taliban commander Abdullah Sajjad. The 30-year-old is now responsible for security on the former German base. Today," he says, "the camp is absolutely secure."

⏸️ Driving through the long, wide streets, the former German military base feels like a ghost town. A strange quiet reigns, broken now and again by birdsong, dogs barking or one of the few planes taking off or landing at the neighboring Mazar-i-Sharif airport. Inside the buildings, everything is as the German army left it. If it weren't for the thick layer of dust on everything, you could be forgiven for thinking the German soldiers were about to return. It is incredible how precisely everything has been tidied up, with typical German thoroughness. It looks like they wanted to hand the base over to its next occupants as smoothly as possible.

➗ Camp Marmal is a symbol of a reality that still feels ungraspable, although it's already been consigned to history. The West has lost its fight against fundamentalist Islam and turned its back on Afghanistan and its people. Mohammed, the interpreter for the German army, is torn. He still can't accept that they have left. He feels let down by people he saw as comrades and friends. They abandoned him to the Taliban, who've started hunting down locals who worked with NATO troops. He is only one of many hundreds who worked for the German army and have been left behind in Afghanistan.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


$21.9 million

Banksy's Love is in the Bin sold at Sotheby's in London on Thursday for a record 18.5 million pounds ($21.9 million). The half-shredded artwork is what remains of the elusive artist's Girl with Balloon, which became a piece of performance art when it started self-destructing in the same auction room three years ago, moments after it went under the hammer for $1.4 million.


Fart at famous thermal spa sparks 12-person brawl, three arrested

Close your eyes. You've arrived in the lush and peaceful microstate of Andorra, known around the world for its natural spas. Flanked by majestic mountains, you take in the deep valleys and glistening lakes of this landlocked nation nestled between Spain and France as you settle in at one of the largest spas in Europe. You've spent the day relaxing with that special someone in the 70 °C thermal waters. Maybe you've just gotten a nice massage.

And then someone farts.

It was exactly just such a mood (and wind) breaker that set off a major brawl this past Monday night at the Caldea spa, leading to three arrests and two injuries, reports local French-language daily L'Indépendant.

The scene was set just northeast of the capital city Andorra la Vella, as several groups of people gathered in the spa's locker room at the end of a relaxing day. A man let one rip, apparently a little too close to another man — insults were exchanged, and two groups of friends quickly came to blows, with a dozen spa-goers in total involved in the kerfuffle.

According to Catalan-language news website Altaveu, the establishment's overwhelmed security staff was forced to call the police, and four patrols were dispatched to the scene.

Three people, including the original "guilty" party, were taken into custody before being released.

➡️ Keep up with all the planet's police reports and plot twists on Worldcrunch.com


It is more dangerous, it requires more sacrifices, just to do what journalists have always done.

— Filipino journalist Maria Ressa, this year's joint Nobel Peace Prize laureate, said in an interview with France24. The founder of digital media Rappler and outspoken critic of Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte is free on bail as she appeals a six-year prison sentence for a libel conviction.

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

How Vulnerable Are The Russians In Crimea?

Ukraine has stepped up attacks on the occupied Crimean peninsula, and Russia is doing all within its power to deny how vulnerable it has become.

Photograph of the Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters with smoke rising above it after a Ukrainian missile strike.

September 22, 2023, Sevastopol, Crimea, Russia: Smoke rises over the Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters after a Ukrainian missile strike.

Kyrylo Danylchenko

This article was updated Sept. 26, 2023 at 6:00 p.m.

Russian authorities are making a concerted effort to downplay and even deny the recent missile strikes in Russia-occupied Crimea.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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Media coverage in Russia of these events has been intentionally subdued, with top military spokesperson Igor Konashenkov offering no response to an attack on Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters in the Crimean city of Sevastopol, or the alleged downing last week of Russian Su-24 aircraft by Ukrainian Air Defense.

The response from this and other strikes on the Crimean peninsula and surrounding waters of the Black Sea has alternated between complete silence and propagating falsehoods. One notable example of the latter was the claim that the Russian headquarters building of the Black Sea fleet that was hit Friday was empty and that the multiple explosions were mere routine training exercises.

Ukraine claimed on Monday that the attack killed Admiral Viktor Sokolov, the commander of Russia's Black Sea Fleet. "After the strike on the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, 34 officers died, including the commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. Another 105 occupiers were wounded. The headquarters building cannot be restored," the Ukrainian special forces said via Telegram.

But Sokolov was seen on state television on Tuesday, just one day after Ukraine claimed he'd been killed. The Russian Defense Ministry released footage of the admiral partaking in a video conference with top admirals and chiefs, including Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, though there was no verification of the date of the event.

Moscow has been similarly obtuse following other reports of missiles strikes this month on Crimea. Russian authorities have declared that all missiles have been intercepted by a submarine and a structure called "VDK Minsk", which itself was severely damaged following a Ukrainian airstrike on Sept. 13. The Russians likewise dismissed reports of a fire at the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet, attributing it to a mundane explosion caused by swamp gas.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has refrained from commenting on the military situation in Crimea and elsewhere, continuing to repeat that everything is “proceeding as planned.”

Why is Crimea such a touchy topic? And why is it proving to be so hard to defend?

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