Armageddon To Wet Lettuce: The Phrases That Defined 2022

WASHINGTON, DC – DECEMBER 04: U.S. President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden greet honoree Gladys Knight (L) during the 45th Kennedy Center Honors ceremony at The Kennedy Center on December 04, 2022 in Washington, DC. Paul Morigi/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by Paul Morigi / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

 

 

A year of extraordinary upheaval, from the war in Ukraine to catastrophic natural disasters, AFP looks at some of the words and phrases that have defined 2022.

Armageddon

With the war in Ukraine and increasingly strident threats from Russian President Vladimir Putin, the spectre of nuclear warfare is stalking the globe for the first time in decades. “We have not faced the prospect of Armageddon since Kennedy and the Cuban missile crisis” in 1962, US President Joe Biden warned in October. Experts warned of the most dangerous situation they can remember, with fears not limited to Russia: North Korean nuclear sabre-rattling has reached new heights, with the world bracing for a first nuclear test since 2017.

London Bridge

At 6:30 pm on September 8, Buckingham Palace announced that Queen Elizabeth had died, bringing to an end the longest reign in British history and sending shock waves around the world. For 10 days, Britons paid respects to the only monarch most had known, following a carefully choreographed series of ceremonies. The programme of events, famously codenamed “London Bridge”, set out in minute detail every aspect of the protocol — down to BBC presenters wearing black ties. In the event, she died in Scotland, meaning special provisions came into force — Operation Unicorn.

Loss and Damage

World leaders and negotiators descended on the Egyptian Red Sea port of Sharm el-Sheikh for the latest United Nations summit (COP27) on tackling climate change. After a fractious summit, widely seen as poorly organised, a deal was clinched on a fund for “loss and damage” to help vulnerable countries cope with the devastating impacts of climate change. Behind the institutional-sounding name lies destruction for millions in the developing world. The COP summit was hailed as historic but many voiced anger over a lack of ambition on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Woman. Life. Freedom

The chant screamed by protesters in Iran following the death of Mahsa Amini, a young woman arrested by the Tehran morality police. Protesters have burned posters of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and women have appeared in public without headscarves, in scenes scarcely imaginable before the uprising. The demonstrations have lasted three months and appear to pose an existential challenge to the 43-year rule of the clerical regime.

Blue tick

The tiny blue tick (it’s actually white on a blue background), which certifies users on Twitter, became a symbol of the chaos engulfing the social media platform in the wake of its $44-billion takeover by Elon Musk. The mercurial Tesla boss announced that anyone wanting the coveted blue tick would have to stump up eight dollars, only to scrap the plan hours later. A month on from the takeover, Twitter’s future remains up in the air, with thousands of staff laid off, advertisers leaving, and its “free speech” platform hugely uncertain.

Roe v. Wade

In an historic ruling, the conservative-dominated US Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 “Roe v. Wade” decision that enshrined a woman’s right to an abortion. The Supreme Court ruled that individual states could restrict or ban the procedure -– a decision seized upon by several right-leaning states. Protests erupted instantly in Washington and elsewhere, showing how divisive the topic remains in the United States. The overturning of “Roe v. Wade” became a critical battle in the US mid-terms, in which candidates in favour of abortion rights won several victories.

Quiet quitting

One of the “words of the year” in Britain and Australia, the phrase refers to doing the bare minimum at work, either as a protest against your employer or to improve your work-life balance. The trend, which has sparked debate about overwork, especially in the United States, appears to have surfaced first in a TikTok post in July. “You’re not outright quitting your job but you’re quitting the idea of going above and beyond,” said the post which went viral, drawing nearly a half-million likes.

Wet lettuce

As Liz Truss approached the end of her chaotic and short-lived tenure as British prime minister, the Economist weekly mused that her effective period in office had been “roughly the shelf-life of a lettuce”. The tabloid Daily Star leapt on the idea, launching a live web cam featuring said vegetable -– complete with googly eyes — next to a picture of the hapless Truss. Her premiership lasted just 44 days and featured a mini-budget that collapsed the markets and generated extraordinary political upheaval. In the end, the lettuce won.

Tomato soup

Environmental protesters seeking to draw attention to the role of fossil fuel consumption in the climate crisis hurled tomato soup at Vincent Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” painting at London’s National Gallery in October, touching off a series of similar stunts. Since then, activists have smothered mashed potato on Claude Monet and glued themselves to works by Andy Warhol, Francisco Goya and Johannes Vermeer. For some, the campaigners are heroes bravely drawing attention to the climate emergency. For others, the attacks are counterproductive and lose force by becoming commonplace.

A4

Protests erupted in China, initially over Covid restrictions but later widening to broader political grievances, posing the greatest threat to the Beijing authorities since 1989. The demonstrations became known in some quarters as the “A4” protests as protesters held up blank A4-sized sheets of white paper in a sign of solidarity and a nod to the lack of free speech in China.

Tunisia Exit World Cup Despite Shock Win Over France

Tunisia’s forward #10 Wahbi Khazri (2-L) celebrates with teammate midfielder #15 Mohamed Ali Ben Romdhane after scoring his team’s first goal past France’s goalkeeper #16 Steve Mandanda during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group D football match between Tunisia and France at the Education City Stadium in Al-Rayyan, west of Doha on November 30, 2022. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP)

 

French-born Wahbi Khazri scored the only goal of the game as Tunisia claimed a famous 1-0 win over holders France at the World Cup on Wednesday, but it was not enough for them to reach the last 16.

France coach Didier Deschamps, whose team were already through to the knockouts, made nine changes but they were a shadow of their usual selves and Khazri punished them in the 58th minute at Education City Stadium.

Tunisia then had to hold on for the victory as Antoine Griezmann goal in stoppage time was disallowed following a VAR review.

Khazri, who grew up in Corsica and plays in Ligue 1 for Montpellier, was one of six players in the Tunisian line-up who were born on French soil and he was capped by France at Under-21 level.

There is a large Tunisian community in France who will savour the result, the country’s first win against European opposition at a World Cup and just their third ever in 18 matches at the tournament.

However, they needed Australia to drop points in the day’s other Group D game to stand a chance of reaching the last 16 for the first time.

The Socceroos’ 1-0 win over Denmark means it is they who go through with France.

The world champions and Australia finished level on six points, but France top the section on goal difference and will await the Group C runners-up in the last-16 on Sunday.

Les Bleus had been the first team to secure a place in the next round after winning their opening two games in Qatar so it was no surprise that Deschamps opted to make changes.

Kylian Mbappe was one of those to drop out, with Eintracht Frankfurt’s Randal Kolo Muani getting his first international start up front.

There was also a start at right-back for Axel Disasi, the first outfield player to make his France debut in a World Cup match since 1966, while Real Madrid midfielder Eduardo Camavinga started at left-back.

– Griezmann denied equaliser –

France were unrecognisable as Deschamps repeated what he had done four years ago, when he made sweeping changes for the final group game against Denmark.

The result then was a soporific 0-0 draw which did not ultimately stop France from winning the title.

This time France’s second string performed as if they had never played together before and Tunisia -– with a partisan crowd behind them — sensed their chance as they looked to get beyond the group stage at a World Cup for the first time.

The crowd erupted when Tunisia put the ball in the net just eight minutes in.

Nader Ghandri diverted a Khazri free-kick past Steve Mandanda, but he was just offside.

Starting at this World Cup for the first time, captain Khazri also stung the palms of Mandanda with a volley in the 35th minute, while a shot that Kingsley Coman skewed well wide was as close as France came.

They were disjointed, and it was no surprise when Tunisia took the lead.

France appealed in vain for a foul as Youssouf Fofana was dispossessed by Ellyes Skhiri, and Khazri ran through before slotting a shot past Mandanda.

Deschamps then sent on Mbappe as well as Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele in an attempt to avoid France’s first World Cup group-stage defeat since their disastrous 2010 campaign.

Griezmann thought he had equalised deep into injury time when he volleyed home inside the box, but the referee disallowed the goal for offside after a lengthy VAR review.

Fireworks As Iran Kurdistan Protesters Celebrate US World Cup Win

Iranian fans watch the match between their national football team and the USA during the Qatar 2022 World Cup, on a giant screen at Milad Tower in the capital Tehran, on November 29, 2022. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP)

 

Protesters in Iranian Kurdistan let off fireworks and celebrated after Iran lost to arch foe the United States in the World Cup on Tuesday, according to social media videos.

The Islamic republic has deployed state security forces against what it labels “riots” that broke out after 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini died on September 16, three days after her arrest for allegedly breaching Iran’s dress code for women.

Her hometown of Saqez, as well as other cities in the western province of Kurdistan, have been a flashpoint for protests against the clerical rule.

“Saqez citizens have started to celebrate and use fireworks after America’s first goal against Iran’s football team,” said the London-based Iran Wire website on Twitter.

It shared a video showing fireworks with sounds of cheering in the background. AFP could not immediately verify the content.

Another video by Kurdish activist Kaveh Ghoreishi showed a neighbourhood at night in Sanandaj city with sounds of cheering and horns blaring after the United States scored what was the only goal of the match.

Fireworks were also used in Mahabad, another city in Kurdistan, following Iran’s loss, according to videos shared online.

The Norway-based Hengaw human rights group said Iranian motorists celebrated the US victory by honking their horns in Mahabad.

It said fireworks also lit up the sky in Marivan, another city in Kurdistan province where security forces have waged a deadly crackdown on the protests.

Fireworks and cheering were also heard in Paveh and Sarpol-e Zahab, in Kermanshah province, it added.

The Iranian national team had faced a double whammy of government and public pressure following the protests, with some Iranians going as far as rooting for the opposing teams.

“Who would’ve ever thought I’d jump three meters and celebrate America’s goal!” tweeted Iranian game journalist Saeed Zafarany after the loss.

Podcaster Elahe Khosravi also tweeted: “This is what playing in the middle gets you. They lost to the people, the opponent, and even” the government.

“They lost. Both on and off the pitch,” tweeted Iran-based journalist Amir Ebtehaj.

The US victory sent Iran out of the World Cup and ensured the Islamic republic’s arch enemy a place in the knockout phase of the tournament in Qatar.

“And the Islamic republic football team’s circus is over,” tweeted former journalist Hamid Jafari.

“Now the news of oppression can’t be hidden behind the win or loss of the security forces’ favourite team,” he wrote, referring to videos of the Iranian police celebrating the team’s previous win against Wales while deployed in the streets.

Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights says at least 448 people have been killed by Iran’s security forces in the crackdown on more than two months of protests.

Giroud Equals Henry’s Mark As World Cup Holders France Sink Australia

France's forward #09 Olivier Giroud (L) celebrates with France's forward #10 Kylian Mbappe (C) and France's defender #22 Theo Hernandez after he scored during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group D football match between France and Australia at the Al-Janoub Stadium in Al-Wakrah, south of Doha on November 22, 2022. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)
France’s forward #09 Olivier Giroud (L) celebrates with France’s forward #10 Kylian Mbappe (C) and France’s defender #22 Theo Hernandez after he scored during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group D football match between France and Australia at the Al-Janoub Stadium in Al-Wakrah, south of Doha on November 22, 2022. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

 

Olivier Giroud joined Thierry Henry as France’s all-time leading goalscorer with a brace as holders France recovered to beat Australia 4-1 and get their defence of the World Cup off to a winning start Tuesday.

Australia took a shock lead at Al Janoub Stadium with the game just nine minutes old when Craig Goodwin scored.

France, whose build-up to the tournament was marred by injuries, saw left-back Lucas Hernandez come off hurt in the move that led to that goal.

However, they recovered to equalise through Adrien Rabiot before Giroud put them ahead with an easy finish in the 32nd minute for his 50th international goal.

Kylian Mbappe got his name on the scoresheet in the second half and Giroud sealed the win to equal Henry’s record tally of 51 goals for France.

The win leaves them top of Group D after rivals Denmark and Tunisia drew 0-0 in Doha earlier.

At the age of 36, veteran AC Milan striker Giroud, who has 115 caps, is the oldest player to score for France at a World Cup.

Yet he almost certainly would not have been playing here had Karim Benzema been fit.

Instead, the withdrawal of the Ballon d’Or winner with a thigh injury on the eve of the tournament has played into the hands of Giroud, who was a key player for coach Didier Deschamps in France’s triumphant 2018 World Cup campaign but didn’t score in Russia.

It is not just Benzema who is missing for Les Bleus, with Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante –- their starting midfield duo four years ago –- also out of the tournament.

Centre-back Raphael Varane was not risked having not played since suffering a leg injury playing for Manchester United a month ago.

That meant Dayot Upamecano and Ibrahima Konate –- with nine caps between them –- played together in central defence while Rabiot joined Aurelien Tchouameni in midfield.

Hernandez injury blow

Australia stunned the world champions by scoring an early opener.

Mathew Leckie controlled the ball on the right and escaped Lucas Hernandez before delivering a low ball across the face of goal for Goodwin to finish into the roof of the net.

Hernandez hurt his right knee trying to stop Leckie, although there did not appear to be any contact between the players.

The Bayern Munich defender was helped off, with his brother Theo coming on.

The younger Hernandez did not have the best introduction, giving the ball away and allowing Mitch Duke to hit a shot from range that flew just wide.

Yet he played a part in the 27th-minute equaliser –- Antoine Griezmann’s right-wing corner was cleared but the ball came to Hernandez on the left and his cross was headed in by Rabiot.

Five minutes later Rabiot was involved again as France went ahead, hounding Nathaniel Atkinson out of possession on the French left and playing a one-two with Mbappe before teeing up Giroud.

A Jackson Irvine header that hit the post in first-half stoppage time was a reminder that Australia could still threaten, but France ran away with the game after the break.

Griezmann had a shot cleared off the line just before Mbappe made it 3-1 midway through the second half, as he headed in off a post from Ousmane Dembele’s cross.

Mbappe then turned provider as France got their fourth in the 71st minute, crossing for Giroud to head in a historic goal.

After all the injuries, and after seeing what happened to Argentina earlier, this was a good evening for France.

AFP

World Cup Poised For Kick-Off As Benzema Blow Rocks France

A general view of the Doha Torch (L) and the Khalifa International Stadium is pictured in Doha on November 18, 2022, ahead of the Qatar 2022 World Cup football tournament.  AFP

 

The World Cup kicks off with host nation Qatar facing Ecuador on Sunday as the month-long football showpiece finally gets under way after a tortuous 12-year build-up dogged by off-field controversies.

Foreign government officials, VIPs and celebrities will be in the crowd as the first World Cup staged in the Arab world opens at the Bedouin-tent inspired Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, 50 kilometres (31 miles) outside of Doha.

The venue is one of an array of brand new stadiums built for the tournament, which has cost Qatar an estimated $200 billion.

READ ALSO: FIFA Chief Blasts ‘Hypocrisy’ Of Western Nations On Eve Of World Cup

South Korean K-pop star Jung Kook will headline the 30-minute opening ceremony, which organisers said Sunday would reflect themes of “humanity, respect and inclusion”.

World Cup organisers hope the start of the football will quell the controversies that have overshadowed preparations for the tournament ever since Qatar was named as host nation in a shock FIFA vote in 2010.

Qatar’s treatment of migrant workers and the Gulf state’s human rights record have dominated the pre-tournament headlines.

On Saturday, FIFA president Gianni Infantino went on the offensive in an aggressive rebuttal of the opprobrium aimed at the event, arguing that much of the criticism was unfair.

“This moral lesson-giving — one-sided — is just hypocrisy,” Infantino said.

“I don’t want to give you any lessons of life, but what is going on here is profoundly, profoundly unjust.”

Controversies look certain to rumble on into the tournament even after the action starts.

Several European nations taking part — including England, Germany and Denmark — have said their players will wear rainbow-coloured “OneLove” armbands in a gesture of solidarity with the LGBTQ community. Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar.

The move raises the prospect of disciplinary action from FIFA, who on Saturday revealed plans to make their own alternative armbands available to teams.

Infantino insisted that all World Cup visitors would be welcome regardless of sexual orientation.

“I’ve been speaking about this topic with the highest leadership,” he said. “They can confirm that I can confirm that everyone is welcome.”

Benzema blow, Brazil arrive

All 32 teams competing at the World Cup have now arrived, with five-time champions Brazil the last to touch down in Doha late on Saturday.

Defending champions France suffered another injury hammer blow early Sunday after confirmation that star striker and Ballon D’Or winner Karim Benzema had been forced out of the tournament with injury.

The Real Madrid star limped out of a training session at the French camp on Saturday evening with a left thigh injury.

The French Federation later confirmed in a statement that the 34-year-old would require “a recovery period of three weeks” and would play no part in the competition.

“I am extremely sad for Karim, for whom this World Cup was a major objective,” said France coach Didier Deschamps.

“Despite this new blow for the France team I have full faith in my squad. We will do all we can to rise to the huge challenge that awaits us.”

Benzema’s withdrawal comes with France already battling the injury absence of star midfielders Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante.

Brazil, who have been installed as favourites by many bookmakers, were greeted by hundreds of fans from South Asia and South America.

AFP

French Lawmaker Suspended For Go ‘Back To Africa’ Comment

French leftist La France Insoumise (LFI) party Member of Parliament Carlos Martens Bilongo (L) arrives in Paris, on November 4, 2022, for a National Assembly session which resumes after being suspended, one day after a far-right MP was accused of yelling “back to Africa” to him, posing a question on migrant arrivals to the government. (Photo by Alain JOCARD / AFP)

 

France’s National Assembly voted Friday to sanction a far-right MP with a rare 15-day suspension and pay cut after he yelled “back to Africa” at a black colleague, a clash that drew outrage across the political spectrum.

Gregoire de Fournas, a newly elected member of the National Rally, has denied any personal racist attack in the outburst, saying he was referring to a ship carrying rescued migrants in the Mediterranean.

The penalty urged by the council of the lower-house National Assembly is the harshest possible under its rules, which broadly uphold free speech for MPs while in session.

It was only the second time in the history of France’s Fifth Republic, established by Charles de Gaulle in 1958, that an MP had received such a rebuke.

The incident came as tensions over immigration are running high, with President Emmanuel Macron’s government promising a new crackdown amid accusations of failing to stem new arrivals or deport those whose residency requests are denied.

Carlos Martens Bilongo of the leftist France Unbowed party (LFI) was questioning the government Thursday on the request by the SOS Mediterranee NGO for Paris’s help in finding a port for the ship that rescued 234 migrants at sea in recent days.

“It should go back to Africa!” interrupted de Fournas, a winegrower from the southwestern Gironde department, drawing gasps of shock from many in parliament.

In French, pronunciation is the same for the pronouns “it” and “he”, which suggested to some that de Fournas was targeting Bilongo directly.

“Racism, no matter its target, is a negation of the republican values that unite us in this assembly,” its president Yael Braun-Pivet said after the vote.

READ ALSO: Former Pakistan PM Imran Khan Stable After ‘Assassination Attempt’

 ‘Totally innocent’ 

The punishment comes as the RN prepares to vote Saturday on a successor to its leader Marine Le Pen, who backed her MP on Twitter by saying “the controversy created by our political opponents is obvious and will not fool the French people”.

Le Pen has been working for years to shed her party’s extremist views and prove it can unite voters and govern as a mainstream party.

Le Pen challenged President Emmanuel Macron in this year’s presidential vote and then led her party to its best-ever performance in subsequent legislative elections, with 89 MPs.

While acknowledging a “gaffe” by de Fournas, she told journalists Friday that “if a comment that lacks finesse justifies a suspension from parliament, there’s room for plenty of others” in the assembly.

De Fournas, who left the chamber immediately after the vote, reacted on Twitter saying “I am totally innocent… but respectful of the institution, and I accept” its decision.

Bilongo responded by telling BFM television that “I have always been deeply convinced the RN is racist, and this only proves it once again.”

The 27-year-old Jordan Bardella is the overwhelming favourite to win the party leadership Saturday over his only rival Louis Aliot, a party veteran and former partner of Le Pen.

By stepping down as party chief, Le Pen will focus on presiding the RN group in parliament, where she will could have a powerful platform for a potential fourth run at the presidency in 2027.

AFP

Iranians Defy Crackdown As Another Teen Reported Killed

 

Iranians staged new protest actions Thursday in defiance of a crackdown by the authorities as a rights groups said an 18-year-old became the latest teen killed in clashes in the northwest.

Iran has for over six weeks been gripped by protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini who had been arrested by the notorious morality police — a movement that poses the biggest challenge to the Islamic republic since the 1979 revolution.

The clerical leadership under Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, 83, has responded with a crackdown that as well as killing dozens has seen 1,000 people charged so far and according to activists risking the death penalty.

With the movement no signs of abating, the problems for the authorities are compounded by the tradition in Iran of holding a “chehelom” mourning ceremony 40 days after a death, meaning each new killing can fuel new protest actions.

Norway-based group Iran Human Rights said large numbers in the city of Karaj outside Tehran were Thursday attending a 40-day ceremony for Hadis Najafi, a 22-year-old woman activists say was killed by security forces in September.

IHR said police had blocked the highway leading to the cemetery to prevent even larger numbers attending.

“This year is the year of blood, Seyyed Ali (Khamenei) will be toppled,” the video showed them chanting.

‘Show trials’

The Kurdish rights organisation Hengaw reported a sequence of protests had taken place Wednesday in the Kurdish-populated regions of northwestern Iran where Amini hailed from, including the city of Sanandaj which has become a major protest flashpoint.

It said Momen Zandkarimi, 18-year-old from Sanandaj, was killed by direct fire from Iranian security forces.

Due to the pressure from Iranian security agencies who fear his funeral could turn into a protest, his body has been moved to another village for burial, it added.

According to an updated death toll issued Wednesday by IHR, 176 people have been killed in the crackdown on protests sparked by Amini’s death.

Another 101 people have lost their lives in a distinct protest wave in Zahedan in the southeastern Sistan-Baluchistan province.

Of all those killed, 40 were under 18 years of age, it added.

Thousands have been arrested nationwide, rights activists say, while Iran’s judiciary has said 1,000 people had already been charged over what it describes as “riots”.

The trial of five men charged with offences that can carry the death penalty over the protests opened Saturday in Tehran.

“The charges and sentences have no legal validity and their sole purpose is to commit more violence and create societal fear,” said IHR director Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, condemning the “show trials”.

Hadi Ghaemi, head of the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran, warned that courts handing down death sentences would be a “blatant attempt to terrorise the Iranian people into silence”.

‘Brutal crackdown’

Activists condemned as a forced confession a video published by state-run Iranian media of Toomaj Salehi, a prominent rapper arrested at the weekend after backing the protests, in which a blindfolded man saying he is Salehi admits to making “a mistake”.

Freedom of expression group Article 19 said it was “extremely disturbed Iran state media are sharing forced confessions” with the subject “under clear duress”.

He is currently being held incommunicado under the control of intelligence agents in Tehran’s Evin prison, his uncle Iqbal Iqbali told news site Iran Wire.

At least 51 journalists have been detained in the protest crackdown, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists. Fourteen are confirmed to have been released on bail.

Journalist Yaghma Fashkhami became the latest prominent figure to be arrested, his wife Mona Moafi wrote on Twitter.

There is also growing concern over the wellbeing of Wall Street Journal contributor and freedom of expression campaigner Hassan Ronaghi, who was arrested in September and according to his family is on hunger strike with two broken legs sustained in custody.

On Wednesday, US Vice President Kamala Harris saluted the “bravery” of the women-led protests, as she said Washington would work to remove Iran from the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

“Iran has demonstrated through its denial of women’s rights and brutal crackdown on its own people that it is unfit to serve on this commission,” Harris said.

France Midfielder Pogba Ruled Out Of World Cup

This file photo taken on March 25, 2019, shows France’s midfielder Paul Pogba celebrates after France’s win of the UEFA Euro 2020 Group H qualification football match between France and Iceland at the Stade de France stadium in Saint-Denis, north of Paris.  FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

Paul Pogba will miss France’s World Cup defence as he needs more time to recover from knee surgery, his agent announced on Monday.

“Following yesterday and today’s medical review in Torino and Pittsburgh, it is extremely painful to inform Paul Pogba will still need recovery time from his surgery,” said Rafaela Pimenta in a statement.

“For this reason, Paul will not be able to join Juventus’ squad before the World Cup break nor the French National Team in Qatar.”

Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri had already said on Friday that it was “very unlikely” that the 29-year-old midfielder would play for his team before Serie A breaks up for the World Cup.

READ ALSO: Hernandez Back In Training Ahead Of World Cup

Italian media reported earlier on Monday that Pogba could be out for around 15 days with a thigh injury.

“Paul Pogba, in light of the recent radiological examinations performed… and the consultation carried out in Pittsburgh by Prof. Volker Musahl on the evaluation of his knee, needs to continue his rehabilitation program,” Juve said in a statement.

Pogba is one of 12 Juve players currently out of action.

He hasn’t played for Juve since re-signing for them from Manchester United in the summer, hurting the meniscus in his right knee in July.

He initially elected not to go under the knife in a bid to make the Qatar tournament which kicks off on November 20.

However, after returning to training early last month Pogba changed his mind and opted for surgery, which kept him on the sidelines until two weeks ago when he recommenced partial training with Juve.

Pogba was a key member of the France team that won the World Cup in Russia four years ago. He scored in the 4-2 victory over Croatia in the final.

His absence from Didier Deschamps’ squad adds to that of midfield partner N’Golo Kante, who has been ruled out for four months following surgery on a hamstring injury.

The 31-year-old Kante had not featured for Chelsea since limping off against Tottenham in August.

Missing the World Cup is another blow in what has been a hard year for Pogba, who is also embroiled in an alleged extortion plot involving his own brother.

Mathias Pogba, 32, was charged last month along with four other people, all close to the World Cup winner who filed a complaint with Turin prosecutors in July which said he was being blackmailed for 13 million euros ($12.6 mn).

Paul Pogba told investigators that his blackmailers wanted to discredit him by claiming he asked a witch doctor to cast a spell on Paris Saint-Germain and France star Kylian Mbappe, which Pogba denies.

AFP

Macron Meets Parents Of Murdered 12-Year-Old Found In Box

A photograph shows bunches of flowers displayed outside the building in Paris on October 17, 2022, where lived a 12-year-old schoolgirl, named Lola, three days after her body was discovered in a trunk in the 19th district. – A woman and a man are presented to an examining magistrate on October 17, 2022 in Paris with a view to an indictment for murder and rape with acts of torture and barbarism. (Photo by Geoffroy Van der Hasselt / AFP)

 

 

French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday met the parents of a 12-year-old girl whose brutalised body was found in a trunk in a killing that shocked France, his office said.

Macron “offered his condolences and assured them of his complete solidarity and support in the ordeal they are going through, and which has shaken all of us,” the Elysee added.

A 24-year-old woman with a history of psychiatric disorders has been charged with the rape and murder of the young girl, identified only as “Lola”, and is being held in custody.

Prosecutors said Monday that in a rambling interview, the suspect had described luring Lola into her sister’s apartment — located in the same building where the girl lived — and forcing her to take a shower, before sexually assaulting and ultimately killing the 12-year-old.

An autopsy report said Lola died of “cardio-respiratory failure with signs of asphyxiation and cervical compression”, as well as suffering wounds on her neck and elsewhere on her body.

Investigators quickly got on the suspect’s trail after Lola’s father, the building’s custodian, spotted her interacting with his daughter in CCTV recordings that he checked when Lola did not return from school on Friday afternoon.

The suspect was arrested in northwestern Paris suburb Bois-Colombes early on Saturday morning.

A 43-year-old man who acknowledged driving the suspect away from the crime scene with the trunk containing Lola’s body has also been charged with concealing a corpse.

 

A photograph shows bunches of flowers with a hand-written message which reads as “Rest in peace Lola”, displayed outside the building in Paris on October 17, 2022, where lived a 12-year-old schoolgirl, named Lola, three days after her body was discovered in a trunk in the 19th district. – A woman and a man are presented to an examining magistrate on October 17, 2022 in Paris with a view to an indictment for murder and rape with acts of torture and barbarism. (Photo by Geoffroy Van der Hasselt / AFP)

 

– Far-right ‘making hay’ –
Some politicians have already begun using the case to attack the government’s immigration policy, as the suspect, an Algerian, was under an order to leave France after overstaying her student visa.

Far-right National Rally leader Marine Le Pen as well as the conservative Republicans party brought up the case in Tuesday’s regular government questions session in the National Assembly (lower house).

“You owe it to us to come up with urgent answers and uncompromising solutions to make sure the law is applied and respected in our country,” Le Pen told Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne.

Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti told lawmakers that while the suspect was subject to an order to leave France, it was not yet known whether her lawyer had appealed the decision — which could have meant she was within her rights to stay.

“I’ll speak as I find. Doing petty politics, using the coffin of a 12-year-old girl as a stepping stone, is shameful,” he added.

Addressing the right of the chamber, Dupond-Moretti said that “you’re always there when tragedy strikes, you’ve been making hay out of it for years.”

France Braces For Nationwide Strike Amid Fuel Shortage Tensions

Protesters march towards Place de la Bastille during a rally against soaring living costs and climate inaction called by French left-wing coalition NUPES (New People's Ecologic and Social Union) in Paris on October 16, 2022. (Photo by JULIEN DE ROSA / AFP)
Protesters march towards Place de la Bastille during a rally against soaring living costs and climate inaction called by French left-wing coalition NUPES (New People’s Ecologic and Social Union) in Paris on October 16, 2022. (Photo by JULIEN DE ROSA / AFP)

 

France on Monday braced for nationwide transport strike action as the government and unions remained in deadlock over walkouts at oil depots that have sparked fuel shortages.

Leading unions have called for strikes Tuesday in their biggest challenge yet to President Emmanuel Macron since he won a new presidential term in May.

The move comes after workers at several refineries and depots operated by energy giant TotalEnergies voted to extend their strike action, defying the government which has begun to force staff back on the job.

Motorists scrambled to fill tanks as the fuel strike, which has lasted for nearly three weeks, cripples supplies at just over 30 percent of France’s service stations.

The government, increasingly impatient with the striking workers, said it was forcing key staff back to work.

“The time for negotiation is over,” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told the BFMTV broadcaster Monday.

The government said it would begin to requisition workers at the Feyzin depot in southeastern France on Monday, having already employed the same strategy at the Mardyck depot in the north of the country.

Fuel workers voted to continue stoppages at several refineries run by TotalEnergies, the coordinator for the hard-left CGT union Eric Sellini said, rejecting a pay package agreed between the group’s management and mainstream unions.

Three out of seven of the country’s oil refineries and five major fuel depots (out of around 200) are affected, the government said.

Macron said on Monday he wanted a solution to the fuel crisis “as quickly as possible”, adding: “I stand with our fellow citizens who are struggling and who are fed up with this situation”.

During a visit to the Paris car show, Macron also said he would summon the cabinet ministers for finance, energy, the environment and transport as well as the government spokesman later Monday “for an update on solutions”.

Strike action at Esso-ExxonMobil meanwhile ended at the end of last week at the company’s two French refineries, after a pay deal between management and moderate unions which represent a majority of workers.

A return to normal supply conditions at petrol stations will take at least two weeks after strikes end, the government has warned.

‘Severe disruptions’

Unions in other industries and the public sector have also announced action to protest against the twin impact of soaring energy prices and overall inflation on the cost of living.

Leftist unions CGT and FO have called for a nationwide strike Tuesday for higher salaries, and against government requisitions of oil installations, threatening to cripple public transport in particular.

Rail operator SNCF will see “severe disruptions” with half of train services cancelled, Transport Minister Clement Beaune said.

Suburban services in the Paris region as well as bus services will also be impacted, operator RATP said, but the inner-Paris metro system should be mostly unaffected.

Beyond transport workers, unions hope to bring out staff in sectors such as the food industry and healthcare, CGT boss Philippe Martinez told France Inter radio.

Their action will kick off what is likely to be a tense autumn and winter as Macron also seeks to implement his flagship domestic policy of raising the French retirement age.

But the economic squeeze partly caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, along with the failure of Macron’s party to secure an overall majority in June legislative polls, only adds to the magnitude of the task.

On Sunday tens of thousands of protesters marched in Paris to express their frustration at the rising cost of living.

The demonstration was called by the left-wing political opposition and led by the head of the France Unbowed (LFI) party, Jean-Luc Melenchon.

Security forces fired teargas and launched baton charges after they were pelted with objects, while on the fringes of the march, masked men dressed in black ransacked a bank.

Some protesters wore yellow fluorescent vests, the symbol of the often violent anti-government protests in 2018 that shook the pro-business government of Macron.

“We’re going to have a week the likes of which we don’t see very often,” Melenchon told the crowd.

Organisers claimed 140,000 people attended Sunday’s march, but police said there were 30,000.

AFP

French Strikes Spread As Macron’s Opponents Push For ‘Confrontation’

France's President Emmanuel Macron gestures as he visits a third place called "Le Quarante" in Laval, northwestern France, on October 10, 2022. (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / POOL / AFP)
France’s President Emmanuel Macron gestures as he visits a third place called “Le Quarante” in Laval, northwestern France, on October 10, 2022. (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / POOL / AFP)

 

French railway workers and civil servants voted Thursday to join striking oil refinery staff with a walkout next week, raising fears that anger over the rising cost of living could spiral into a series of blockages.

Railway staff and civil servants represented by the hard-left CGT union, the biggest in the public sector, will stop work next Tuesday, with several labour groups calling for a national day of stoppages.

The famously militant CGT said it was pushing for higher wages for railway workers but also wanted to protest government efforts to break a strike by refinery workers that has caused nationwide fuel shortages.

“Railway workers want to press again for salary improvements and denounce the repression and attack against the right to strike,” said a union statement.

The government has resorted to emergency powers to compel some striking refinery workers to return to their jobs to release fuel stocks stuck inside blockaded facilities.

Six out of seven refineries have been affected by strikes that are now in their third week, causing huge tailbacks outside petrol stations and growing frustration among motorists.

“The time for a confrontation (with the government) has arrived,” left-wing opposition parliamentarian Clementine Autain from the France Unbowed party told France 2 television on Thursday.

A leading Greens lawmaker, Sandrine Rousseau, said Wednesday she hoped the refinery standoff would be “the spark that begins a general strike”.

Not all unions have joined the call for strikes next Tuesday, however, with the country’s biggest, the CFDT, opting out.

Left-wing political parties are to hold a protest rally against the policies of President Emmanuel Macron and the rising cost of living on Sunday.

Sympathy and anger

Until Tuesday, the government had been reluctant to inflame the pay dispute at French energy group TotalEnergies and US giant Esso-ExxonMobil whose refineries are affected.

TotalEnergies made a net profit of $5.7 billion in the April-June period and is distributing billions to shareholders, sparking some sympathy for employees pushing for higher wages.

But with 30 percent of French service stations with little or no fuel, particularly those in the Paris region and the north, the government has begun requisitioning some fuel depot workers, forcing them to return to work or risk prosecution.

After an ExxonMobil depot Wednesday, a TotalEnergies site in northern France was requisitioned Thursday, with the first laden fuel tankers protected by police seen leaving during the afternoon.

Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne’s office said the emergency measures were justified because of a “real economic threat” for northern France, which relies heavily on agriculture, fishing and industry.

But the unions have reacted furiously to the government intervention.

“What we are seeing here is the Macronian dictatorship,” CGT official Benjamin Tange told AFP. The current industrial action, he said, arose out of “the anger of several months, several years and a rupture of social dialogue”.

Striking workers at an Esso-ExxonMobil refinery in Fos-sur-Mer, outside Marseille in the south, voted Thursday to lift their blockade after reaching a pay deal with management.

That leaves five out of seven of France’s refineries still affected by industrial action.

TotalEnergies announced it would hold talks with trade union representatives for the first time since the start of the strikes, raising hopes of a breakthrough.

The group has proposed a six percent raise for next year, below the CGT’s demand for an immediate 10 percent hike, retroactive to January 1.

The company has come under increasing pressure from the government to reach an agreement.

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told RTL radio that given its huge profits this year, it had “the capacity… and therefore an obligation” to raise workers’ pay.

 

AFP

At Least 82 Killed In Iran’s Zahedan Crackdown Since Sept 30 – Amnesty

Activist Forouzan Farahani shaves her head in protest over the death of Mahsa Amini in Iran outside The New York Times building in New York City on September 27, 2022. – More than 75 people have been killed in the Iranian authorities’ crackdown against unrest sparked by the death of Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in morality police custody, a rights group said on September 26. (Photo by ANGELA WEISS / AFP)

 

At least 82 people have been killed by Iranian security forces in the city of Zahedan in the southeastern Sistan-Baluchistan province since protests erupted there on September 30, Amnesty International said on Thursday.

In a violent crackdown after Friday prayers on September 30, security forces killed at least 66 people, including children, Amnesty said.

Since then, 16 people have been killed in an ongoing clampdown on protests, it added, warning the real toll is likely to be even higher.

With Iran already convulsed by protests over the death of Mahsa Amini who had been arrested by the Tehran morality police, the protests in Zahedan were triggered by anger over the reported rape of a teenage girl by a police commander in the region.


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Amnesty said that security forces fired “live ammunition, metal pellets and teargas” at protesters, bystanders and worshippers when a group of people gathered for a protest outside a police station after Friday prayers on September 30 in Zahedan.

“Evidence gathered by Amnesty International shows that the majority of victims were shot in the head, heart, neck and torso, revealing a clear intent to kill or seriously harm.”

It added that the firing had come from the “police station rooftop”. At least three children were killed on September 30, it added.

Iranian officials have characterised the unrest as attacks by “extremists” on police stations that left five members of the Revolutionary Guards dead.

But Amnesty said that beyond “a minority” of protesters throwing stones towards the police station, it had found “no evidence” the conduct of protesters posed a serious threat to security forces.