FROM Alissa Johannsen Rubin
France votes in crucial presidential election On Sunday -- just days since the murder of a policeman on the iconic Champs-Élysées stirred fears of terrorism -- voters in France will choose between 11 candidates in the first round of a presidential election. The world is watching. So is Alissa Rubin, Paris Bureau Chief for the New York Times .
Vive le burkini? As of today, a ban on body-covering burkinis for Muslim women has been overturned in one beach town on the French Riviera. An incident last week produced a photograph that went viral. But today’s high-court decision follows a controversy that’s been raging all summer. Alissa Rubin, Paris Bureau Chief for the New York Times , explains.
Latest Developments in Attack in Nice The sounds of chaos caught on video during a Bastille Day celebration in the coastal city of Nice are becoming all too familiar. An 18-ton refrigerator truck was driven through crowds of people, killing 84, including 10 children, and injuring hundreds, many now in critical condition. Alissa Rubin is reporting from Nice for the New York Times.
Brussels on Lockdown All of Europe is on high alert in the aftermath of this morning‘s deadly explosions in Brussels — two at the airport and one at a train station downtown. Belgium’s prime minister says it was feared this might happen as retaliation for last week’s high-profile arrest of a prime suspect in November’s attacks in Paris. ISIS is claiming responsibility, and there’s more doubt than ever about the effectiveness of counter-terrorism. We hear details and update the mood in Brussels, headquarters of the European Union.
Spying on Our Friends France's president is condemning the US for new spying revelations. François Hollande called an emergency meeting today to discuss revelations that the National Security Agency has been eavesdropping on private conversations of top government officials, including three French presidents. Alissa Rubin, Paris bureau chief for the New York Times , has more on the story.
US Bombs Fall on Northern Iraq This morning two warplanes from a US aircraft carrier dropped two 500-pound, laser-guided bombs today on artillery units of the ultra-fundamentalist Islamic State near Erbil in Northern Iraq. More may be on the way.
Will Iraq Become a Divided Country? In Baghdad today, 44 Sunni prisoners in a government-controlled police station were killed — apparently in retaliation for advances by Sunni extremists with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. As forces of ISIS get closer to Baghdad, it appears that Iraq's current leadership might not hold the country together. The unlikely alliance of Iran and the US is urging political unity instead of sectarian warfare, but they're being ignored by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Others insist that Iraq never was a real country, and that division between Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds is inevitable. Will the current chaos lead to a re-drawing of national boundaries imposed by European colonial powers 100 years ago?
On-Again, Off-Again Talks with the Taliban Efforts to end America's 12-year war in Afghanistan are on shakier ground than ever. When the US arranged talks in Qatar between the Taliban and Afghanistan's current government, President Obama called it "an important first step in reconciliation." Then the Taliban opened an office in Qatar called, "The Political Office of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan," the name they used when they ruled the country. President Karzai said he would not attend after the Taliban started behaving like a former government with plans to return to power. Are the Taliban running out the clock, taking advantage of President Obama's announced plan to withdraw troops by 2015? How much are the conflicting agendas of Pakistan and India adding to the diplomatic confusion? We hear a variety of opinions.
Troops on Security Alert after Karzai's Anti-US Statements The US and Afghanistan "are at a tough point in the relationship," according to US Commanding General Joseph Dunford. He's issued a strong warning of potential trouble in aftermath of anti-American statements by President Hamid Karzai. Alissa Rubin is Kabul Bureau Chief for the New York Times .
What Will We Leave Behind in Afghanistan After 2014? Less than a year ago, the US and NATO promised continued assistance and training for ten more years, with the Pentagon talking of 6 to 9000 soldiers. Then, the White House said a “zero” troop option was “on the table.” Could drones and limited special forces prevent the country’s collapse? Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai met yesterday with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Today, he lunched with the President at the White House, and afterwards they spoke to reporters. Today’s meeting between Presidents Obama and Karzai was billed as crucial to mapping the end of America’s longest war. At the Pentagon yesterday, Afghanistan’s President Karzai said he hoped the US would make sure his country would “not ever again be threatened by terrorists.” But many factors have reduced his clout in Washington and with the American people.
What's the Plan for Afghanistan? America's longest war is winding down, but it's not over yet, and there are as many unresolved issues as there are parties involved. The White House and the Pentagon haven't agreed on the pace of troop withdrawal or how many US soldiers should stay after 2014. Talks with the Karzai regime and the Taliban raise more questions than answers about security and corruption. Will a wildly inflated economy collapse when foreign troops and contractors are gone? Will democracy, free expression and human rights have a future?
Obama's New Pact with Afghanistan President Obama made a surprise visit to Kabul yesterday, where he meet with Hamid Karzai. After signing the latest security agreement with the Afghan President, Obama listed ten year's worth of American achievements in the region. So, role will the United States and NATO play after most foreign troops leave in 2014? Alissa Rubin is Kabul Bureau Chief for the New York Times .
US Troops Pose with Afghan Corpses Today's Los Angeles Times made news world wide by publishing photographs of American soldiers posing with the body parts of Afghans who apparently blew themselves up trying to manufacture explosives. The front page shows a soldier from the 82nd Airborne Division with what appears to be the hand of a dead bomb-maker on his shoulder. Is such behavior understandable? Is it forgivable?
US Troops Pose with Afghan Corpses Today's Los Angeles Times published photographs of American soldiers posing with the body parts of Afghans who apparently blew themselves up trying to manufacture explosives. The front page shows a soldier from the 82nd Airborne Division with what appears to be the hand of a dead bomb-maker on his shoulder. The Times says it decided on publication even though the Pentagon asked that they be withheld. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says an investigation into soldiers' conduct will be conducted.
Violence over Koran Burning Threatens US-Afghan 'Partnership' The burning of holy Korans that Americans call "accidental" has exposed the seething anti-Americanism in much of Afghanistan. Nationwide protests continue, and two American advisors were assassinated this weekend in an office accessible only to the most trusted personnel. All this has cast doubt on the so-called " partnership " that's essential to the strategy for a western troop withdrawal by 2014. Today, nine Afghans were killed by a suicide bomber near and American air base. We get the latest from Kabul, an update on damage control and the potential political consequences here at home.
Violence over Koran Burning Threatens US-Afghan 'Partnership' The burning of holy books that Americans call "accidental" has exposed the seething anti-Americanism in much of Afghanistan. Nationwide protests continue, and two American advisors were assassinated this weekend in an office accessible only to the most trusted personnel. Since then, all NATO advisors have been withdrawn from Afghan ministries. All this has cast doubt on the so-called "partnership" that's essential to the strategy for a western troop withdrawal by 2014. Today, nine Afghans were killed by a suicide bomber near and American air base. With the US focused on damage control, we look at the military and diplomatic fallout and how it's playing on the presidential campaign trail.
The US gets deeper into Middle East wars. What's the endgame? President Trump welcomed Egypt's President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi to the White House today… just one of the changes in America's approach to the Middle East since Barack Obama left office. We hear about that and the escalation of warfare as well as civilian casualties.
Why Don't Facts Matter? "Fake News" may have a long history, but social media and 21st Century politics have brought it front and center. One reason for its appeal and its power is the tendency of so many people to cling to their beliefs — even when confronted with contradictory evidence. Today, another look at the Emotional States of America.
The flight bumping heard around 'round the world Recent video of a passenger forcibly removed from a United Airlines plane is a worst-case example of what's happened since consolidation into just four US-based carriers. Management seems to be tone-deaf to a decline in service — and even abuse — of passengers.
"Tough on crime" rhetoric sees a revival at Sessions' DOJ The pendulum swings between treatment-focused approaches to drug abuse and tough law enforcement. Now, after years of Obama-era "reforms," President Trump’s Attorney General, Jeff Sessions wants local police freed from federal restrictions to fight another "war on drugs."