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A man has been apprehended on suspicion of plotting an attack on the Olympic torch relay in Bordeaux, as announced by French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin. While details remain limited, Darmanin commended the police for ensuring security during Thursday’s relay event.

Authorities disclosed that the suspect had written a troubling message that potentially glorified criminal acts, including a reference to a past mass shooting in the US. The Olympic flame, having recently arrived in Marseille, is en route to Paris for the Games scheduled to commence on July 26th. Paris 2024 organizers have underscored an extensive security operation, notably for the opening ceremony involving over 10,000 athletes transported along the River Seine.

Upon detecting an online message referencing a decade-old mass killing in Isla Vista, California, an investigation was launched by Bordeaux prosecutor Frédérique Porterie. The post connected to the suspect’s profile alluded to Elliot Rodger, the perpetrator of the Isla Vista attack, who harbored animosity towards women and became a figure of inspiration for some online communities, notably those identifying as “involuntarily celibate” or incels.

The suspect, identified as Alex G, was subsequently arrested, with authorities finding a rubber pellet revolver, multiple mobile phones, and a computer during a search of his residence. Although he lacked a criminal record, initial inquiries revealed his interest in the Incel movement. While in custody, he admitted to contemplating an unspecified act, without mentioning targeting the Olympic flame relay. Described as psychologically fragile, the suspect’s intentions appeared undefined.

The Olympic flame embarks on a lengthy journey spanning 12,000km (7,500 miles) across mainland France and its overseas territories. Given security concerns, anti-drone experts are collaborating with law enforcement to monitor its progress. However, recent unrest in New Caledonia has led organizers to cancel the flame’s scheduled visit to the Pacific territory.

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Calls for calm have been issued in Finland and the Baltic states following a draft Russian decree proposing border revisions in the Baltic Sea. Latvia is seeking clarification, while Lithuania accuses the Kremlin of using the decree as an intimidation tactic. Finnish President Alexander Stubb stated that political leaders are monitoring the situation and Finland will respond calmly and factually.

The draft, issued by Russia’s defense ministry, suggested altering sea borders around Russian islands in the Gulf of Finland and the exclave of Kaliningrad. Initially reported by Russia’s Tass news agency, the draft aimed to redraw Soviet-era borders from January 1985. It was unclear if Finnish or Lithuanian waters near Kaliningrad would be affected, but the proposal included the eastern Gulf of Finland, islands near the Finnish coast, and areas around Baltiysk and Zelenogradsk in Kaliningrad.

As members of the EU and NATO, Finland and the Baltic states have the alliance’s commitment to defend their borders. Finland’s defense and foreign committees convened emergency meetings, with Prime Minister Petteri Orpo stating there is no immediate cause for alarm.

The Russian proposals were subsequently removed from public view with a “draft deleted” notice. A Russian source later confirmed no plans to alter territorial waters in the Baltic. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov directed questions to the defense ministry, noting the political landscape had changed since the 1980s and emphasizing the heightened confrontation in the Baltic region.

Charly Salonius-Pasternak from the Finnish Institute of International Affairs suggested Russia’s approach was typical: probing reactions and retreating if met with resistance. Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis described the draft as an escalation against NATO and the EU, advocating a strong response.

Simultaneously, Sweden’s armed forces chief, Gen Micael Byden, warned of Putin’s ambitions to control the Baltic Sea. Byden stressed the importance of keeping the Baltic Sea out of Putin’s control to maintain peace and stability. Sweden, a NATO member since March, has reinforced its military presence on the Baltic island of Gotland, which Gen Byden believes Russia has targeted.

In response to potential migration issues, Finland, which joined NATO last year, plans to prevent large-scale asylum seeker crossings from Russia. Helsinki fears Russia might exploit migration, but the UN refugee agency warns the draft law could lead to harmful pushbacks of legitimate asylum seekers, risking severe injuries, family separations, and deaths, according to UNHCR’s Philippe Leclerc.

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Maximilian Krah, a prominent far-right German politician from the Alternative for Germany (AfD), announced he would scale back his campaign efforts for the upcoming EU elections while remaining the party’s lead candidate. This decision followed a controversial interview with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, where Krah remarked that not all SS members were automatically “criminals” and emphasized assessing individual culpability. He referenced Günter Grass, the German novelist who served in the Waffen SS, to support his point.

The SS, or Schutzstaffel, was a Nazi paramilitary group notorious for its central role in the Holocaust and other war crimes. Krah’s comments provoked a strong reaction, leading France’s far-right National Rally (RN) to sever ties with the AfD in the European Parliament. RN leader Marine Le Pen called for a “cordon sanitaire” to distance her party from the AfD, stating the urgency of this separation due to the extremity of Krah’s views.

The relationship between RN and AfD had already been strained following a secret meeting involving AfD members discussing the mass deportations of non-ethnic Germans. Marine Le Pen had previously condemned such ideas.

Facing mounting pressures ahead of the EU elections in June, Krah declared on social media that he would step back from public campaign appearances and resign from the federal executive board to preserve party unity. This decision comes amid various scandals, including the arrest of one of his staffers for alleged espionage for China and an ongoing investigation into Krah over purported payments from Russia and China, which he denies. Despite these controversies, the AfD remains a significant political force, polling second or third nationally and leading in some states set for local elections later this year.

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Researchers studying the migration patterns of Greater Spotted Eagles have found that these birds altered their usual routes across Ukraine in response to the conflict and environmental damage caused by war. They believe the eagles avoided dangers such as artillery fire and troop buildups, likely due to damage to their habitats.

The study, published in Current Biology by researchers from the Estonian University of Life Sciences and the British Trust for Ornithology, reveals that the eagles deviated significantly from their usual paths, spent less time at refueling sites, and traveled longer distances. These changes resulted in delays and increased energy expenditure for the birds.

While all tracked birds survived, the researchers are concerned about the potential long-term effects on their breeding capabilities. As the Greater Spotted Eagle is classified as a vulnerable species, any disruption to their migratory patterns and breeding performance is considered a significant conservation concern.

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In Germany, trials have begun for individuals allegedly connected to a coup plot involving a German aristocrat, a significant arsenal of weapons, and the belief that Queen Elizabeth II’s death was a covert “signal” to act. These individuals are associated with the Reichsbürger movement, which denies the legitimacy of the modern German state, claiming it was installed by the Allied powers after World War II.

The most high-profile trial is taking place in Frankfurt, following extensive raids across the country in 2022. This trial, one of three, is crucial for understanding far-right networks due to its scale and potential insights.

The Reichsbürger movement, comprising around 23,000 followers, espouses antisemitic views and a strong affinity for weapons. Authorities allege that members plotted to violently overthrow the German government, planning to storm the national parliament in Berlin and arrest MPs on a so-called “Day X”. The indictment suggests they even debated if Queen Elizabeth II’s death was a signal to act.

A key figure in the trial is Heinrich XIII Prince Reuss, a 72-year-old former real estate developer from Frankfurt and a descendant of the aristocratic House of Reuss. He allegedly hosted the group’s ‘central council’ meetings and was designated as the future ‘head of state’ post-coup. He was also reportedly involved in attempts to establish contact with Moscow, appearing at the Russian consulate in Leipzig.

Another notable defendant is Birgit Malsack-Winkemann, a former judge and member of the far-right Alternative for Deutschland party. She allegedly used her parliamentary access to help co-conspirators scout government buildings and was slated to manage the justice department in the new regime.

Prosecutors claim the group intended to reorganize Germany’s political structure by taking over institutions at both state and local levels, aware that this might require violence. Their central council would have coordinated these efforts, supported by a ‘military arm’ comprising 286 units tasked with enforcing the new order nationwide.

The indictment reveals the group’s access to a substantial cache of weapons, including firearms, ammunition, night vision devices, and handcuffs, and financial resources of around 500,000 euros. Members reportedly became increasingly isolated from the outside world over time.

Jan Rathje, a senior researcher at the extremism monitoring agency CeMAS, notes that such conspiratorial, sovereigntist movements trace back to desires among some former Nazis to reestablish a National Socialist German Reich. He warns that the Reichsbürger movement, with its violent far-right tradition, has been dangerously underestimated, emphasizing that, despite the coup’s likely failure, it could have caused significant harm. The symbolic impact of a violent strike against the government could have emboldened radical forces by portraying the government as weak.

The trials are being conducted in Stuttgart, Frankfurt, and Munich due to the case’s complexity and size.

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Spain has demanded a public apology after Javier Milei, Argentina’s president, implied that the wife of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, Begoña Gómez, was corrupt during a far-right rally in Madrid. Although not directly naming her, Milei’s remarks were aimed at Ms. Gómez, whom he associated with corruption, saying, “When you have a corrupt wife, let’s say, it gets dirty.”

The controversy follows an investigation launched in April by a Spanish court into Ms. Gómez over allegations of influence peddling, which an opposition party had raised. The right-wing anti-corruption group making the allegations has since conceded they might be unfounded, and prosecutors called for the dismissal of the case last month due to a lack of evidence.

In response to Milei’s remarks, Spain’s foreign minister, José Manuel Albares, demanded an apology and warned that Spain might cut diplomatic ties with Argentina if none was forthcoming. Albares stated that Milei’s comments insulted both Spain and its leader.

However, Argentina’s Interior Minister Guillermo Francos stated that no apology would be issued by Argentina. Instead, he insisted that Spain should apologize for past remarks made about Milei. This follows a recent incident where a Spanish minister suggested that Milei had used drugs, which Milei condemned as slanderous.

The diplomatic tensions between Spain and Argentina have intensified since Milei, known for his contentious remarks about other world leaders, assumed office. He has previously labeled Brazil’s President Inacio Lula da Silva as an “angry communist” and Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador as “ignorant.”

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Despite pledges made during Paris’s bid for the Paralympic Games, the city’s Metro system still falls short in terms of accessibility, according to APF France Handicap. Despite the provision of shuttle buses and accessible taxis, many wheelchair users find themselves unable to utilize the Metro efficiently. Arthur Baucheron, a prominent French TikTok influencer, expresses frustration at the limited accessibility, emphasizing his desire to utilize the Metro like any other citizen. With only one out of the 16 Metro lines fully wheelchair-accessible, individuals like Baucheron often resort to more costly and time-consuming alternatives, such as taking multiple buses.

Nicolas Caffin, a regular commuter into central Paris, echoes these sentiments, highlighting the discrepancies between Paris’s Metro and London’s Underground system. Caffin finds London’s system more reliable and accessible, with a significantly higher proportion of wheelchair-accessible stations. He emphasizes the inconvenience caused by the lack of accessibility on the Paris Metro, particularly when disruptions occur.

Despite criticisms, the International Paralympic Committee acknowledges the challenges in making significant improvements to the Metro system within the limited timeframe leading up to the Games. Instead, they point to the substantial investment in enhancing accessibility on the city’s buses. Andrew Parsons, President of the International Paralympic Committee, recognizes the frustrations of disabled individuals but emphasizes the positive impact of investing in bus transport accessibility.

RATP Group, responsible for operating Paris’s public transport, cites the age and density of the Metro network as significant obstacles to implementing widespread changes. However, individuals like Caffin remain resilient, emphasizing the importance of finding solutions and navigating the city’s transportation system despite its challenges.

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The G7 finance ministers are set to discuss whether Ukraine can receive an additional €30 billion loan from seized Russian assets totaling €270 billion. This proposal has sparked division within the G7, particularly between the US and Germany. While some advocate for full asset seizure, others, including Christine Lagarde, ECB president, raise legal and economic concerns.

The US and UK propose mobilizing the frozen assets to provide a substantial loan to Ukraine, with interest paid from the profits of the seized Russian assets. They argue this approach avoids the need for asset confiscation, which could disrupt the international legal order and financial stability.

Belgium, holding the largest share of Russia’s frozen assets within the G7, has already generated significant investment income from these assets. It has agreed to allocate a portion of this profit to a joint G7 fund for Ukraine.

Critics argue that using the assets as collateral for a loan effectively amounts to confiscation. However, some legal scholars suggest that under the doctrine of state countermeasures, seizure may be justified.

Overall, there is contention over whether to provide Ukraine with a substantial loan using the seized assets, with concerns about legal implications and potential repercussions for financial stability and international relations.

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The recent attempt on the prime minister’s life in Slovakia has left a poignant mark, epitomizing the deep-seated political turmoil gripping the nation. The incident unfolded in Handlova, where the prime minister was shot multiple times by a gunman while interacting with supporters.

Prior to the assassination attempt, Robert Fico, the populist leader, had ominously forewarned of such an event due to the heightened political tensions in the country. His cautionary statements to both media and colleagues indicated an awareness of the looming threat.

The political climate in Slovakia had been tense for over six months, exacerbated by divisions stemming from a journalist’s murder in 2018, which led to Fico’s resignation amidst widespread protests. His subsequent return to power was marked by contentious policies, including aligning with Moscow’s stance on various international matters.

In the aftermath of the shooting, calls for unity and calm reverberated, yet they were juxtaposed with accusations and blame games among politicians and media figures. The assailant, described as a “lone wolf,” showcased a perplexing mix of ideologies, stirring further confusion about his motives.

Critics attribute the toxic environment to Fico’s party, which has been accused of fostering hostility and polarization. Additionally, tensions between Fico and President Caputova, characterized by derogatory remarks and death threats, further highlight the rifts within Slovakian society.

The role of the public broadcaster, RTVS, also came under scrutiny, with some blaming its alleged bias for inciting violence. However, the broadcaster’s chief defended its role as reflecting reality and rejected accusations of partisanship.

As Slovakia stands at a crossroads, the outcome hinges partly on Fico’s response and demeanor upon recovery. Whether he chooses a conciliatory or vengeful path could significantly impact the nation’s trajectory, with many cautiously observing the unfolding events.

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Storms and heavy rainfall have caused significant flooding in northern Italy, with cities like Padua and Vicenza heavily affected. Emergency services have been using dinghies to rescue residents, and footage shows cars floating in the streets. The governor of the Veneto region described the severe weather as a “water bomb.” In contrast, southern Italy, including Sicily, is experiencing an unusual heat wave with temperatures reaching up to 35°C.

Professor Marco Marani from the University of Padua, an expert on climate change, told Corriere del Veneto that extreme weather events are becoming more frequent due to global warming. In Padua, the banks of the Muson dei Sassi river collapsed, causing severe flooding. In Borgo Mantovano, Lombardy, a freight train was overturned by gusts up to 200 km/h. Milan saw 130 mm of rain in one day, leading to flash floods, the most intense May rainfall in over 170 years.

The Veneto region declared a state of red alert, particularly between Vicenza and Verona, where 70 mm of rain fell in 30 minutes, causing water basins to overflow. One person is missing in Como after a bridge collapse.

In the south, Sardinia is experiencing dry conditions, adversely affecting wheat harvests, and water restrictions are expected later in the summer. Prof. Marani emphasized the scientific evidence linking increased frequency of extreme weather events to climate change, underscoring the need to revise water defense calculations and manage climate change effectively.

A recent State of the Climate report by the EU climate agency Copernicus and the World Meteorological Organization highlighted the urgency of climate action and improved flood defenses, noting that in 2023, one-third of European rivers breached high flood thresholds, with 16% surpassing severe levels.

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