France on Fire

Happy Friday! Subway announced this week it will begin serving “freshly sliced meats” in its U.S. restaurants as part of “one of the most complex changes the brand has ever made.” 

What … what was in the sandwiches before?

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said yesterday that Yevgeny Prigozhin, the mercenary leader who led a short-lived mutiny against Vladimir Putin last month, had returned to Russia—though neither the Kremlin nor Prigozhin himself have confirmed his location. According to Lukashenko, Prigozhin is “free” in his home country weeks after he was reportedly exiled to Belarus as part of a deal securing immunity for himself and his fighters.
  • A U.S. Air Force spokesman said Thursday that Russian jets harassed several American drones in Syrian airspace Wednesday. According to a video released Wednesday night, the Russian aircraft dropped flares in front of the drones, which the U.S. military said were carrying out a mission against targets associated with the Islamic State. Several similar incidents have been reported by the U.S. military—both earlier this week and in recent months.
  • The Israeli military shelled a village in southern Lebanon Thursday after two rockets were reportedly fired toward Israel from the area, with one landing in Lebanese territory and the other near disputed land. The attack comes just after the Israeli military’s two-day raid on a West Bank village that killed at least 12 Palestinians whom the Israeli military said were militants.
  • Sweden jailed a Kurdish man Thursday for several terrorism-related crimes, signaling the country’s attempts to appease Turkey’s demands that Stockholm crack down on Kurdish separatists. Turkey has been holding up Sweden’s bid to join NATO for months; the two countries’ heads of state will meet next week ahead of a NATO summit at which leaders are expected to discuss Sweden’s potential entry into the alliance.
  • A spokesman for the Arizona secretary of state’s office said Wednesday that it recently received a subpoena from special counsel Jack Smith in his investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election, including the January 6 attack on the Capitol. Rusty Bowers, the former speaker of Arizona’s state house, also said Wednesday he had been interviewed by the FBI in connection with the probe. The revelations come just days after the Washington Post reported that former President Donald Trump attempted to pressure the state’s governor to overturn election results in late 2020.
  • Walt Nauta, a personal aide to Trump, pleaded not guilty Thursday to federal charges related to the mishandling of classified documents at the former president’s Florida estate. Security footage released yesterday showed Nauta, who is accused of conspiring with Trump to illegally retain documents and lying to investigators, moving boxes both before and after the government demanded Trump return the documents.
  • The Department of Labor reported Thursday that initial jobless claims—a proxy for layoffs—increased by 12,000 week-over-week to a seasonally-adjusted 248,000 claims last week, and job openings fell from 10.3 million to a two-year low of 9.82 million month-over-month in May, suggesting a softening labor market.

France Rocked by Riots (Again)

Protesters clash with riot police at the Porte d'Aix in Marseille, southern France. (Photo by CHRISTOPHE SIMON / AFP) (Photo by CHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP via Getty Images)
Protesters clash with riot police at the Porte d'Aix in Marseille, southern France. (Photo by CHRISTOPHE SIMON / AFP) (Photo by CHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP via Getty Images)

A Holocaust memorial defaced. Dozens of public schools set ablaze. A mayor’s wife and children chased from their home. It’s been yet another difficult week in France as the country reels from the fatal police shooting of Nahel Merzouk on June 27. A French-born 17-year-old boy of North African descent, Merzouk was shot and killed by police during a traffic stop in the working-class Parisian suburb of Nanterre. Young people took to the streets in droves shortly thereafter, clashing with police and looting businesses. The violence has finally begun to abate in recent days, but the episode is just the latest flare-up in a year marked by social unrest in France over the country’s trickiest social cleavages, prompting extreme reactions from France’s fractious political elite.

Initial reports of the fatal police shooting suggested Merzouk had attempted to ram into police officers during a traffic stop, causing the officer to fire. That narrative was quickly challenged, however, when a video of the encounter emerged later in the day showing one cop reaching into the stopped vehicle and another with his gun drawn. When Merzouk tried to drive away, the cop pulled the trigger. 

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