Man who slapped Macron to stand trial on Thursday

French President Emmanuel Macron. (File/AFP)
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Updated 10 June 2021

Man who slapped Macron to stand trial on Thursday

  • Tarel’s attack on the president stunned the country
  • The unemployed 28-year-old said during interrogation that he had been close to the anti-government “yellow vest” protest movement

PARIS: Damien Tarel, the medieval martial arts enthusiast who slapped French President Emmanuel Macron across the face, will go before a judge in a fast-track trial on Thursday.

Tarel had acknowledged striking Macron while the president was on a visit to a professional training college, but told investigators it was not premeditated, local prosecutor Alex Perrin said in a statement.

The unemployed 28-year-old said during interrogation that he had been close to the anti-government “yellow vest” protest movement which shook the Macron presidency, and held ultra-right wing political beliefs.

“He maintained that he acted out of impulse and ‘without thinking’ to express his discontent,” Perrin said in a statement late on Wednesday.

Tarel’s attack on the president stunned the country. Macron later described it as an isolated incident and said violence and hate were a threat to democracy.

The president had been on a trip to the Drome region in the southeast to take the country’s pulse after the pandemic and with less than a year to go before the next presidential election.

Acquaintances of Tarel described a man who loved period role-play and was not a trouble-maker. The prosecutor said he was not a member of any political or militant group.

Tarel was arrested along with a second man from his hometown of Saint-Vallier. Police found weapons, a copy of Adolf Hitler’s autobiographical manifesto Mein Kampf and a red flag with golden sickle and mortar that is the international symbol of the communist movement in the second man’s home, Perrin said.

The second man will not face any charges related to the slapping but will be prosecuted for illegal possession of arms in 2022.

What We Are Reading Today: Love is a Dog From Hell by Charles Bukowski

Updated 17 min 2 sec ago

What We Are Reading Today: Love is a Dog From Hell by Charles Bukowski

The poetry collection, “Love is a Dog From Hell” by Charles Bukowski, published in 1977, explores love, relationships, loneliness, and the dark side of human existence.

Bukowski examines the ups and downs of romantic relationships, often presenting a bleak and disillusioned perspective. He delves into topics such as heartbreak, longing, desire, and the pain that can arise from love.

The title reflects Bukowski’s view that love as a force can both uplift and destroy, much like a wild and unruly dog.

Bukowski reflects on his own experiences and observations of the human condition. He draws from personal encounters with the seedy underbelly of society, and moments of introspection, to craft his poetic narratives.

Two of his most captivating lines are: “There is a loneliness in this world so great that you can see it in the slow movement of the hands of a clock. People so tired mutilated either by love or no love.”

Bukowski was an American poet and writer known for his raw, gritty, brutally honest and cynical depictions of life.

He was born in Germany and moved to the US with his family when he was a child.

After completing high school, he attended Los Angeles City College for two years and took courses in art, journalism and literature.

Throughout his life, Bukowski continued to educate himself through extensive reading, exploring a wide range of literary works from both classic and contemporary authors.

He immersed himself in the works of writers including Fyodor Dostoevsky, Ernest Hemingway, John Fante and Louis-Ferdinand Celine.

As reflected in his works, Bukowski had a difficult childhood and adolescence, marked by poverty, abuse and alienation.

What We Are Reading Today: Butterflies of the East Coast

Updated 28 min 46 sec ago

What We Are Reading Today: Butterflies of the East Coast

Authors: Rick Cech & Guy Tudor

Here is an accessible, informative, and highly illustrated book that offers a fresh view of butterflies in the East Coast states, from the Atlantic seaboard to the Appalachians.

In addition to providing a wealth of facts and photos, the book is the first to furnish detailed and up-to-date photo-illustrated information on the host plants favored by particular species.

With 234 full-page species accounts and accompanying range maps, plus more than 950 large-size color photos, it is an essential reference work for field observers, gardeners, educators, and conservation managers.

Sudan’s displaced millions struggle to survive as economy seizes up

Updated 32 min 10 sec ago

Sudan’s displaced millions struggle to survive as economy seizes up

  • More than 5.25 million of Sudan’s 49 million people have been uprooted since the fighting erupted

PORT SUDAN: About two months after heavy clashes around his home in Sudan’s capital drove Sherif Abdelmoneim to flee, soaring rent and food costs forced the 36-year-old and his family of six to return to a city where fighting still rages.

Most of those who fled Khartoum after war between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces broke out in mid-April have not returned. They face malnutrition, floods and scorpions as they depend for survival on handouts and meager aid relief, the generosity of host communities stretched increasingly thin.

More than 5.25 million of Sudan’s 49 million people have been uprooted since the fighting erupted, according to UN figures. Over 1 million of those have crossed into neighboring countries, but more than 4.1 million have stayed in Sudan, where they have come under increasing financial pressure.

“The states (outside Khartoum) are safe but the prices are expensive and rents are high, and we cannot continue with that,” Abdelmoneim said by phone from Omdurman, a city adjoining Khartoum where he has rented a house in an area where he can still hear artillery fire but is no longer in the midst of clashes.

The conflict has brought Sudan’s stagnant economy to its knees, blocking much trade and transport, hampering farming, halting many salary payments, and causing vast damage to infrastructure.

The country now has to draw on what meager resources are left to support an internally displaced population which, when those made homeless by previous conflict are included, reaches nearly 7.1 million, more than any other in the world.

Aid workers expect that more of those who had paid rent or lodged for free when they fled the capital will end up in collective shelters as their funds dry up.

“We are hospitable but people are handling more than they can,” said Omar Othman, a government official in Kassala, where he said rents had risen sharply. “If the war continues, these people came with small savings so they will need shelter.”

Host communities in areas little affected by fighting have been reeling from the knock-on effects of the war.

In Rabak, about 275km (170 miles) south of Khartoum, many young people had been trying to make a living in factories or as day laborers in the capital before the war broke out.

“For the locals the labor market is paralyzed. Khartoum is the engine for the rest of the country,” said resident Fadeel Omer.

Displaced people in the city unable to afford rent were lodged in shelters with crumbling walls and scorpions, and several malnourished children had been dying daily in the city hospital, he said. Large groups had headed back to Khartoum.

In Merowe, 340km north of Khartoum, salaried workers and farmers have seen their income dry up, and local volunteers are struggling to provide basic meals to the displaced, some of whom were sleeping on sofas or tables, said lawyer and local volunteer Izdihar Jumaa.

Damage to infrastructure in the three regions worst affected by the war – Khartoum, Darfur and Kordofan – could be $60 billion, or 10 percent of its total value, said Ibrahim Al-Badawi, Sudan’s former finance minister and an economics researcher. He estimated that the gross domestic product could plunge 20 percent this year.

“If the war stops, Sudan would need emergency economic support of $5-10 billion to revive the economy,” he told Reuters in an interview in Dubai.

“The continuation of the war will lead to the destruction of the Sudanese economy and the state.”

Since the start of the war, prices for many products soared. The currency has fallen as low as 900 Sudanese pounds to the dollar on the black market in the Red Sea city of Port Sudan, a hub for government officials and aid workers, from about 560 pounds in April.

A continuing lifeline for many is remittances sent by Sudanese living abroad, said Omar Khalil, who fled to Port Sudan from Omdurman in June with his wife and three children.

“They are the ones bearing this burden on their shoulders,” he said. “This cannot last forever.” Khalil and his wife, both former art teachers, now make ice cream at home to sell to supermarkets.

International aid efforts for Sudan are severely underfunded, with less than 25 percent of the $2.6 billion required for this year received by mid-August, according to the United Nations. Aid workers say relief operations have also been hindered by government red tape and the breakdown of services and logistics based in the capital.

Authorities are nervous about relief operations by local volunteers and want the displaced to be housed in camps, but there are no funds to run them on the scale that would be needed, said Will Carter of the Norwegian Refugee Council.

Across Sudan, some displaced people who had been renting were being evicted, though most were still lodging with extended families or strangers, he said. “We’re going to have an impasse – people squatting will be destitute within these cities,” he added.

Erdogan: corridor through Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran must be completed

Updated 36 min 31 sec ago

Erdogan: corridor through Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran must be completed

  • President says Menendez resignation from Senate committee boosts Turkiye’s bid to acquire F-16s

ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the so-called Zangezur trade corridor passing through Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Iran must be completed, broadcasters reported on Tuesday, a day after he met Azerbaijan’s leader.

Speaking to reporters on his return flight from the Azeri exclave of Nakhchivan, where he met President Ilham Aliyev, Erdogan said that if Armenia does not allow the trade corridor to pass through its territory then Iran was warm to the idea of allowing it passage through its territory.

Following Azerbaijan’s rout of Armenian forces in a 24-hour blitz in Nagorno-Karabakh last week, Baku has raised hopes of opening a land bridge between Nakhchivan and the rest of Azerbaijan, known as the Zangezur Corridor.

Erdogan said Turkiye and Azerbaijan would “do our best to open this corridor as soon as possible.” 

The Zangezur corridor aims to give Baku unimpeded access to Nakhchivan through Armenia. Both Turkiye and Azerbaijan have been calling for its implementation since the Second Karabakh War in 2020.

Erdogan also said all materials required by civilians in the Karabakh region were being provided by trucks after Azerbaijan’s lightning offensive to retake control of the region last week.

Meanwhile, Erdogan said in remarks published on Tuesday that Turkiye’s chances of acquiring F-16 fighter jets from the US have been boosted by Sen. Bob Menendez stepping down as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Menendez, the senior Democratic senator for New Jersey, has been a vocal opponent of Turkiye receiving aircraft to update its fighter fleet. 

He stood down from the influential role last week following federal charges that he took cash and gold in illegal exchange for helping the Egyptian government and New Jersey business associates.

“One of our most important problems regarding the F-16s were the activities of US Sen. Bob Menendez against our country,” Erdogan told journalists on a flight back from Azerbaijan on Monday. 

His comments were widely reported across Turkish media.

“Menendez’s exit gives us an advantage but the F-16 issue is not an issue that depends only on Menendez,” Erdogan added.

Ankara has been seeking to buy 40 new F-16s, as well as kits to upgrade its existing fleet. 

The request was backed by the White House but ran into opposition in Congress, where Menendez raised concerns about Turkiye’s human rights records as well as blaming Ankara for fractious relations with neighboring Greece.

Referring to talks between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan in recent days, Erdogan said: “It would be beneficial to turn this situation into an opportunity and meet with (Blinken) again.

“In this way, we may have the opportunity to accelerate the process regarding the F-16s. Not only on the F-16s, but on all other issues, Menendez and those with his mindset are carrying out obstructive activities against us.”

Erdogan also openly linked Turkiye’s F-16 bid to Sweden’s application for NATO membership, which is expected to be debated by the Turkish parliament after it returns from summer recess on Oct. 1.

He said Blinken and Fidan had discussed Sweden’s NATO bid, adding: “I hope that if they stay true to their promise, our parliament will also stay true to its promise.”

Questioned on whether the bid was tied to Turkiye receiving the F-16s, Erdogan said: “They are already making Sweden dependent on the F-16 … Our parliament follows every development regarding this issue in minute detail.”

Erdogan also raised the prospect of a visit to Turkiye by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in October or November. 

The Turkish president also addressed the issue of Cyprus, divided between ethnic Turkish and Greek communities for 49 years.

He reiterated his support for a two-state solution, with international recognition for the Turkish administration in the island’s north. 

Turkiye is the only country to recognize the breakaway entity. The international community broadly supports the unification of the island under a federal system.

Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry, UK delegation discuss commercial partnerships

Updated 38 min 21 sec ago

Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry, UK delegation discuss commercial partnerships

  • Kuwaiti officials spoke of the importance of increasing the volume of trade between the two countries

LONDON: The Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry held a meeting with a British delegation on Tuesday to explore investment opportunities and commercial partnerships.

The delegation was led by the UK’s Ambassador to Kuwait Belinda Lewis and included Awal Fuseini, senior halal sector manager at the British Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board.

The UK is one of Kuwait’s major trading partners, with a total trade in goods and services of £5.7 billion ($6.9 billion) in the year 2022-23.

Kuwaiti officials spoke of the importance of increasing the volume of trade between the two countries, Kuwait News Agency reported.

Lewis said the meeting aimed to explore commercial and investment opportunities available in the UK, and establishing projects in both countries.

She praised the cooperation between the two sides, emphasizing the UK’s interest in increasing collaboration with Kuwait in all fields.

Fuseini thanked the chamber for organizing the meeting, noting that there were several opportunities to boost commercial exchange. He delivered a presentation on the UK’s meat industry, noting that Britain is the third largest exporter of meat in the world.

Reem Al-Fulaij, director general of Kuwait’s Public Authority for Food and Nutrition, stressed the importance of food safety in accordance with international organizations and agencies.