On Sunday, Paris turned over its streets to pedestrians so that citizens and visitors could enjoy its seventh annual “day without cars.”
Announced by socialist mayor Anne Hidalgo in 2015, the city received enthusiastic support from both ordinary Parisians and unlikely parties including the head of a French drivers’ association, USA Today reported.
Events at this year’s “day without cars” included a techno parade, picnic, bicycle fair, rollerblading marathon, and street art exhibitions, according to the event website.
“Make it an outing with family or friends: put on your roller skates, hop on your bicycle or get on your walking shoes, and set off to take in the sights of Paris. You’ll find the capital has never been this quiet!” the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau website said.
Hidalgo, who is eyeing a bid for the French presidency next year, is working on a plan to drastically reduce car traffic in Paris, France 24 reported.
Britain is facing a severe shortage of CO2, a vital component in meat production, industry leaders are warning.
The gas is used to slaughter farm animals by making them lose consciousness. It is also used to package meat products to extend shelf life.
The shortage faced in the UK – attributed to high gas prices – could potentially “cancel Christmas,” the head of a major poultry manufacturer said.
The shortage is caused by the closure of two fertilizer plants in the UK – which produce CO2 as a byproduct – crippled by an energy shortage and high gas prices hitting the UK, the Guardian reported.
The energy shortages compounded by labor issues, partly linked to Brexit and the lack of foreign workers, could spiral into the festive period, said the owner of Bernard Matthews and 2 Sisters Food Group, a major turkey company
“There are less than 100 days left until Christmas and Bernard Matthews and my other poultry businesses are working harder than ever before to try and recruit people to maintain food supplies,” Ranjit Singh Boparan told Sky News.
“The supply of Bernard Matthews turkeys this Christmas was already compromised as I need to find 1,000 extra workers to process supplies. Now with no CO2 supply, Christmas will be canceled.
“Without CO2, the bottom line is there is less throughout and with our sector is already compromised with lack of labor, this potentially tips us over the edge,” said Boparan.
Ian Wright, the chief executive of the UK Food and Drink Federation, warned that without rapid government intervention on the price of gas, the impact would be felt in two weeks, the BBC reported.
“And of course, that’s concerning because we’re beginning to get into the pre-Christmas supply period when warehouses begin to pick up, build up their stocks, ready for the push to Christmas a few weeks later,” said Wright.
A Defra spokesperson said to The Guardian: “We are aware of the issues faced by some businesses and are working closely with industry to provide support and advice. We have had extensive meetings with representatives from the meat production and processing sectors, and we are continuing those conversations over the weekend.
“The UK benefits from having access to highly diverse sources of gas supply to ensure households, businesses and heavy industry get the energy they need at a fair price.”
Maria Butina, the Russian agent convicted and jailed for trying to infiltrate political organizations in the United States, has been elected to the State Duma, the lower house of parliament in Russia, this week.
The 32-year-old won the seat for President Vladimir Putin’s ruling United Russia party as a candidate in the rural region of Kirov Oblast.
It is the latest chapter in a political thriller of a life for the young Russian. She has played the role of the girlfriend to powerful men on the US Right and grabbed the headlines when she was arrested for spying. She was imprisoned before being deported to her homeland to a hero’s welcome.
The Russian agent arrived in the US in the guise of a guns-rights activist and focussed on the leadership of the National Rifle Association (NRA) to meet high-profile Republican politicians and set up a “back-channel” of communications with the Kremlin, according to reports.
But Butina was arrested in July 2018 in Washington DC and accused by federal prosecutors of infiltrating powerful political circles at the direction of Russian officials.
‘I have one weakness as a woman – I really like smart men’
Insider can reveal that Butina has not severed all her connections with the US. She has received large sums of money in the last year from Patrick Byrne, 59, the former CEO of online furniture retailer Overstock.com and Donald Trump supporter and conspiracy theorist.
When asked about the monetary gifts, Byrne told Insider, in an email: “I made a gift to Maria out of a desire to let her land on her feet and restart her life in Russia.”
Around this time, Butina also began a romantic relationship with Byrne.
Butina said of Byrne, according to The New York Post: “I have one weakness as a woman – I really like smart men. That’s my biggest weakness, and that I guess gets me in trouble all the time.”
Byrne later said he continued his relationship with Butina at the direction of the FBI. Butina once claimed that he tried to poison her in order to interrogate her while under the influence.
Despite the apparent betrayal, a video made by jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s team revealed that Byrne gifted Butina tens of millions of Russian rubles in the last year, according to her asset disclosures.
Recalling their unique relationship, Byrne told Insider the money he recently sent her was to make amends: “Because I felt badly for Maria, for the role I had played in helping the FBI set her up, and in the way I had misused her in my own designs.”
But, he added, the couple will never be reunited.
“Maria and I know that we will never meet again, but it seemed like the right thing to do. When I performed this act of generosity I made sure it was done with full legality and notification to the proper authorities.”
Last month Russia’s Communist Party called on election officials to reject Butina’s candidacy on the grounds that she is the recipient of “foreign funding,” specifically referring to Byrne’s gifts.
Insider could not reach Butina for comment.
Butina was photographed with top GOP politicians at NRA events
Butina’s foray into politics began in 2011, when she founded a Russian gun-rights group called Right to Bear Arms, and started working as a special assistant for former senator and current Central Bank official Alexander Torshin.
Butina and Torshin formed close relationships with the NRA, regularly flying to the US to attend conferences and being named “life members” by the organization.
In 2014 and 2015 Butina was photographed with senior Republican politicians at NRA events, including Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, former senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
She also met Donald Trump Jr. at an NRA convention and asked Donald Trump a question about relations with Russia at an event.
In 2016 she moved to the US on a student visa, at which point the FBI supposedly started monitoring her and eventually snared her as a spy.
After serving her jail sentence, Butina returned to Moscow and took a job at the Russian state-funded television channel RT.
In April 2021 Butina filmed a segment in which she visited Alexei Navalny in prison to report on the “exemplary” jail conditions and to counter the opposition leader’s protests that he was being poorly treated.
At the time Navalny was on a hunger strike after being denied medical treatment.
This weekend’s parliamentary elections in Russia have been widely described as lacking transparency and fairness after the Kremlin cracked down on political opposition and limited press freedom.
Alexei Navalny had encouraged voters to vote tactically in order to beat United Russia candidates, as part of a movement called “smart voting.”
It remains to be seen what kind of politician the reinvented Butina will be, and what this next chapter will hold.
In a recent campaign video Butina said she delt indebted to her country and her people after “everyone from the President to residents in the depths of Russia fought for my release.”
“I will be very glad to be useful to the Kirov region,” she said.
The CIA sent urgent warnings that civilians were present just seconds before the US launched an airstrike in Afghanistan in retaliation for the Kabul airport bombing, CNN reported.
The warning, however, came too late.
Initially, US officials said the airstrike had targeted a suicide car bomber linked to ISIS-K and thwarted a potential attack on the Kabul airport.
“We are confident we successfully hit the target. Significant secondary explosions from the vehicle indicated the presence of a substantial amount of explosive material,” US Central Command spokesman US Navy Capt. Bill Urban said in a statement at the time.
“We are assessing the possibilities of civilian casualties, though we have no indications at this time. We remain vigilant for potential future threats,” Urban continued.
The airstrike was meant to be a retaliatory attack on ISIS-K in response to the airport bombing, President Joe Biden indicated.
ISIS-K is the group believed to be responsible for a devastating Kabul airport attack a week prior to the US airstrike. At the airport, the ISIS-K attack left 13 US service members and an estimated 169 Afghans dead in the middle of tense evacuation efforts following the Taliban’s takeover of the country.
“This strike was taken in the earnest belief that it would prevent an imminent threat to our forces and the evacuees at the airport, but it was a mistake and I offer my sincere apology,” Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the head of US Central Command, told reporters at the Pentagon.
“I am now convinced that as many as 10 civilians, including up to 7 children, were tragically killed in that strike,” he said.
The women held signs with messages including, “elimination of women = elimination of human beings.”
On Thursday, women who worked at the women’s ministry were locked out, Reuters reported.
The next day, the signage was changed to the “propagation of virtue and the prevention of vice.”
Although there is little information about the new ministry, it is expected to enforce strict religious doctrines.
The chief of the morality police in Kandahar told The Observer that new rules include women only being allowed to leave home if accompanied by a male guardian, compulsory prayer, and stipulations on beard length for men.
Women in Afghanistan have been fearful of the future after the militant group took control of the country last month.
During the Taliban’s previous rule in the 1990s, severe restrictions were placed on women’s lives. Although the group has promised to be less severe, they have already begun limiting women’s freedom.
The new virtue and vice ministry is an indication of the kind of strict Islamic society the Taliban wants to shape.
Although the group includes a call to respect women in the department’s guidelines, they also stipulate that women should not have contact with any men outside of immediate family and should not leave the house without a guardian or a hijab.
The Kandahar morality police chief told The Observer that Afghans would be encouraged to call in and report on their neighbors if they break the rules.
Leaders of the new department are likely aware of how it is perceived internationally, The Observer said. When they handed out an English language list of new cabinet appointments earlier this month, the vice and virtue ministry was the only one not translated.
There are many unanswered questions about the realities of the new space age. These include whether civilian spaceflights by SpaceX’s Inspiration4 team or Blue Origin are occasional success stories or a blueprint for humanity’s future relationship with space.
But two questions that have been asked less are: how will regions outside of North America, China, and Russia continue to contribute? And how can we ensure great inclusion across the space industry?
Timiebi Aganaba, a professor in space law and ethics at Arizona State University, has answers. She spoke to Insider about key factors that make the developing countries,specifically those across Africa, which have been mentioned far less frequently in mainstream discussions about space.
“Africa is in a unique opportunity to have a greater choice with respect to what actors to collaborate within its space development objective,” she said.
The continent’s space industry has already seen substantial growth, according to Aganaba.
“Eleven countries have launched satellites and 19 African countries established or began the process of creating a space programme, to take advantage of space applications,” she said, citing data from the African Space Industry annual report published by Space in Africa, an analytics and consulting company.
A significant amount of these satellites were launched within the last four years, indicating a surge in interest in space on the continent, she added.
By 2024, Space in Africa, said that an estimated 20 countries are expected to launch 110 satellites, including Ivory Coast, Mauritius, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.
But priority areas for collaboration with the US include proposals to build assembly integration and testing labs in Africa to fabricate new components and sub-systems, and partner with local universities and NGOs to develop startups.
Rwanda and Nigeria are open to providing land, among other incentives to develop space research institutes in collaboration with US entities, according to the annual report.
Aganaba sees Africa as a very significant potential player when it comes to contributing to solving space governance challenges.
Since countries across the continent already have extensive governance experience gained from dealing with the impact of earth mining, environmental degradation, and the history of colonialism, “everyone would be very interested to hear an African perspective as to how we should be organizing ourselves,” she said.
There are obstacles that the continent must overcome to realise its ambitions, however. “Lack of political support, awareness and talent, as well as dependency on external support, insufficient coordination and regulatory restrictions have been identified as challenges with an African space agency,” said Aganaba.
More than 90 institutions, including universities and colleges, in 28 countries engaged in satellite applications lack advanced computers, software, and financial resources for overseas training. They also suffer from obsolete curricula and facilities, she said.
These obstacles have been discussed extensively by scholar Stefano Ferretti, who analyzes how the international community can access the economic and societal benefits that space assets can offer.
Aganaba added that to tackle such issues, processes like technology development and transfer, entrepreneurship, and international cooperation are key to equip the continent with tools to build space capacity.
The “father” of Iran’s nuclear weapons program was at the top of Israel’s hit list for 14 years. On November 27 2020, after a failed attempt to kill him a decade earlier, the Mossad finally managed to assassinate Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.
Their weapon of choice? A remote-controlled machine gun that required no on-site operatives and utilized advanced artificial intelligence technology, according to a report by The New York Times.
The deadly weapon was a special model of a Belgian-made FN MAG machine gun, which was attached to an advanced robotic apparatus, The New York Times reported.
It weighed about a ton and was controlled by Mossad operatives outside of Iran, thus ensuring the safety of Israeli agents, intelligence officials told the media outlet.
In order to get the weapon into the country, The Times said, it was smuggled into Iran piece by piece and was secretly assembled in time for the hit.
The Mossad had been following Fakhrizadeh since 2007, The Times reported, and the Israeli national intelligence agency reportedly set in motion plans to assassinate him in late 2019 after discussions with former President Donald Trump and high-ranking US officials.
Fakhrizadeh was a top target because Israeli intelligence officials said he was leading Iran’s efforts to build a nuclear bomb.
Israeli had considered a variety of methods to assassinate Fakhrizadeh, according to The Times, and the Mossad had weighed up detonating a bomb near his armed convoy, forcing him to halt, and attacking him with snipers. The plan was shelved.
Instead, the remote-controlled machine gun idea was floated. The New York Times reported that the computerized weapon was attached to an abandoned-looking pickup truck, which was fixed with cameras and explosives. It was positioned at a major junction on Fakhrizadeh’s route to his country home by Iranian agents working with the Mossad,
Once Fakhrizadeh’s vehicle arrived at the junction, in November 2020, Mossad operatives outside of Iran used the cameras to positively identify their target and unleashed a hail of bullets from the remote-controlled machine gun.
He got out of his car, The New York Times said, and was hit with three more bullets that “tore into his spine.” Reportedly, his bodyguards looked confused as they could not see an obvious assailant.
The kill took less than 60 seconds and only injured Fakhrizadeh, the paper reported.
The explosives on the pickup truck were supposed to damage the machine gun beyond repair but, instead, remained largely intact.
As a consequence, The Times said, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards were able to correctly assess that a remote-controlled machine gun “equipped with an intelligent satellite system” using artificial intelligence had carried out the attack.
Bottles of True Fruits smoothies had obscene drawings, sexual comments, and an anti-police slogan inscribed on them.
The inclusion of “ACAB,” short for “all cops are bastards,” angered France’s police unions.
Monoprix, a French supermarket chain, said that it would recall bottles with the offending packaging.
French retailer Monoprix has recalled a smoothie range aimed at teenagers following criticism of its packaging by national police unions, according to local reports.
Bottles of the special edition smoothies, released by German brand True Fruits to mark the start of the new school year, contained obscene drawings, curse words, and sexual comments.
Also featured among the scribbles was the anti-police acronym “ACAB,” short for “all cops are bastards.”
The “ACAB” acronym originates in 1920s England, but it has become a slogan more recently used by those who oppose police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by police officer Derek Chavin.
The inclusion of this slogan on the bottles drew the ire of France’s police unions, Le Parisien reported.
The nation’s largest police union, Alliance Police Nationale, condemned the “anti-cop hate” in a Twitter post. It described the slogan’s inclusion as the “perfect way to destroy police-population relations.”
Axel Ronde, the general secretary of the Police En Avant! union, tweeted: “How can you tolerate anti-police inscriptions on your product, @truefruits?”
On Tuesday, Monoprix reacted to the backlash by announcing that it had decided to remove the incriminating products from its shelves.
“Product packaging of the True Fruits brand bears intolerable inscriptions and does not conform to our values,” the tweet said. “We have immediately alerted the supplier and are withdrawing it from the affected stores.”
Monoprix and True Fruits did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Afghan girls on Saturday did not return to secondary school as classrooms reopened for the first time since Kabul fell to the Taliban.
On Friday, the Taliban instructed boys to return to school but omitted girls from the decree.
“All male teachers and students should attend their educational institutions,” a statement from the Taliban education ministry said. This included boys in grades seven through 12.
A Taliban spokesperson on Saturday said girls aren’t banned from attending secondary school. The Taliban first wants to set up a “secure transportation system” for its female students, a spokesperson told CNN.
“There are certain rules during their class time that must be obeyed that they could be safe and sound,” Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid said.
“We do have girls in universities continuing their education both in private and government-funded universities, but from grade 6 to 12 we are currently trying to provide a chance for them to carry on, and that’s in progress,” Mujahid added.
The decree is the latest development in women’s rights and education in Afghanistan, which fell to the Taliban swiftly last month after the US announced the departure of all its troops from the area.
In its takeover, the Taliban renamed the country the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, reverting back to the same name used during the last time the regime was in power from 1996 to 2001.
Despite the public show of affection between former President Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un as they sought to propel the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the former president made a less-than-flattering comment about the leader during his time in office, according to an upcoming book by Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.
Insider obtained an early copy of the book, “Peril,” which at one point details the relationship between Trump and Ret. Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, a staunch ally of the then-president who also worked as the national security advisor for then-Vice President Mike Pence.
According to the book, the president had a high comfort level with Kellogg, who “had the kind of look Trump liked for his generals,” possessing a “straight jaw” and “a gruff manner of speaking.” Trump reportedly felt at ease cursing around the retired lieutenant general, and one day, Kim was the target of his ire.
“I’m dealing with a fucking lunatic,” Trump reportedly said during a meeting with Kellogg regarding his relationship with the North Korean leader.
The book did not say when the statement was made, but Kellogg became Pence’s national security advisor in April 2018, the same month as the historic inter-Korean summit between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Kellogg served in that capacity until January 2021.
The authors write that Kellogg was “torn between two worlds” as part of the Pence orbit, as well as Trump World.
“I make no bones about it. I’m a Trump loyalist,” Kellogg reportedly told others, despite his post in Pence’s office.
While the Trump administration early on sought to thaw their relationship with Kim, the pathway to doing so was not easy.
In September 2017, Trump called Kim “rocket man,” which set off a stream of insults between the two men.
According to The Washington Post, the then-president remarked that he felt as though the comment could be taken as a compliment and not in a derogatory manner.
However, Trump previously called Kim a “maniac” who “actually has nuclear weapons” during a GOP presidential debate in September 2015.
In February 2016, he said that Kim was “a bad dude” who shouldn’t be underestimated, and added: “I would get China to make that guy disappear in one form or another very quickly.”
Kim was no slouch in the insult department, calling Trump “a mentally deranged US dotard” in September 2017 after the then-president threatened to “totally destroy” nuclear-armed North Korea as he gave his first address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
“He is surely a rogue and a gangster fond of playing with fire, rather than a politician,” Kim said in response to Trump’s comments.
While the relationship between the two men grew stronger over time, their push for a peace treaty did not produce a concrete deal that would lock in North Korea’s denuclearization in exchange for sanctions relief.