Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: September 19, 2021

Australia PM: France would've been aware about submarine concerns, Rally in support of Jan. 6 rioters draws sparse crowd in D.C., and more

1

Australia PM: France would've been aware of submarine concerns

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Sunday said France "would have had every reason to know that we have deep and grave concerns" about the French-built submarines Canberra had initially agreed to purchase before canceling the contract and reaching a separate agreement with the United States and the United Kingdom. The move sparked surprise and anger in Paris, and French President Emmanuel Macron recalled France's ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia in response. It doesn't appear the French government will be satisfied with Morrison's latest words — on Saturday, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian accused its allies of "duplicity, a major breach of trust, and contempt."

2

Rally in support of Jan. 6 rioters draws sparse crowd in D.C.

United States Capitol Police estimate the "Justice for J6" rally, a demonstration in support of the hundreds of rioters charged with crimes during the Capitol breach on Jan. 6, drew about 400-450 attendees in Washington, D.C., on Saturday. Organizers were hopeful the crowd would reach about 700, but it appears a heavy security presence likely contributed to the smaller gathering. The Washington Post reports that the right-wing activists were outnumbered by police, journalists, and counter protesters. The event was mostly without incident, though police did make four arrests throughout the day, seizing two weapons. 

3

Kabul mayor says female city employees must stay home

In yet another sign that the Taliban may continue to restrict women's rights in Afghanistan, female employees in the Kabul city government must stay home unless their work cannot be replaced by men, the capital's interim mayor said Sunday. The latest development follows announcements that limit the ability of girls and women to continue their education, despite previous Taliban rhetoric suggesting that would not be the case. The group also shutdown Afghanistan's Women's Affairs Ministry and replaced it with a ministry for the "propagation of virtue and the prevention of vice," which will enforce Sharia law. Just over a dozen women staged a short protest against the Taliban's rules on Sunday, while other activists held a news conference in the basement of a private home and said they would demand the Taliban re-open public spaces to women.

4

First all-civilian crew returns from space

The first fully amateur, private space crew returned to Earth on Saturday night, their SpaceX Dragon capsule splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean off the Florida coast. Inspiration4 launched on Wednesday and spent three days in orbit. The crew members, none of whom were astronauts, didn't share many updates with the public while they were up there, and the first live audio or visuals from inside the capsule came two days after launch, so it's not entirely clear how they were feeling during the mission. Many astronauts have reported motion sickness symptoms after arriving in space, CNN notes, though it's also possible the crew members simply wanted to enjoy their experience privately, a luxury that astronauts on government-funded missions don't have.

5

Putin's party poised to retain power as Russians vote

Russians took to the polls on Sunday for the final stretch of a three-day parliamentary election that will almost certainly keep President Vladimir Putin's ruling United Russia party in power. Ahead of the vote, the Kremlin barred certain opponents from running and cracked down on jailed Putin critic Alexey Navalny's movement. United Russia, which holds nearly three quarters of the State Duma's 450 seats, has taken a ratings hit of late due to a drop in living standards, but it was still polling ahead of its closest rivals on the ballot, the Communist Party and the nationalist LDPR party, both of which often back the Kremlin anyway, Reuters notes. Meanwhile, Navalny and his allies have accused Google and Apple of caving to Putin and limiting access to their tactical voting campaign, which amounts to supporting the candidate most likely to take down the United Russia candidate in any electoral district.

6

World leaders head to New York for U.N. General Assembly

Many world leaders will return to New York this week as part of the United Nation's 76th General Assembly a year after the coronavirus pandemic forced them to send video statements instead. There are still several heads of state who won't make the trip while COVID-19 remains a significant public health risk, but the others, including President Biden (who will speak Tuesday), will be there in person. Anyone entering the assembly hall is effectively declaring themselves to be vaccinated against the virus, though they are not required to actually show proof, effectively creating an honor system. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who will be the first leader to speak, will break it immediately, having declared last week he doesn't need to get a shot because he has natural immunity from a previous infection.

7

Israel recaptures two remaining Palestinian prison escapees

Israel on Sunday captured the final two Palestinian escapees who broke out of the maximum-security Gilboa prison two weeks ago alongside four other inmates who had already been apprehended. Munadil Nafayat and Eham Kamamji were the only ones who were able to reach the West Bank; the other four were caught in Israel. It was Israel's biggest jailbreak in more than two decades, The New York Times reports. Many Palestinians consider the escape an act of heroism, while Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett praised Israeli security forces for "an impressive, sophisticated, and rapid operation" to return the men to prison. Five of the six fugitives were members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, an extremist group that has carried out attacks against Israeli civilians since the 1980s.

8

Texas doctor pens op-ed explaining why he violated new abortion ban

Dr. Alan Braid, a San Antonio-based physician, wrote an op-ed published by The Washington Post on Saturday explaining why he violated Texas' recent abortion ban just five days after it went into effect earlier this month. The law prohibits nearly all abortions after six weeks into a pregnancy, but Braid said he "had a duty of care to this patient," who was in her first trimester, but beyond the new limit. He said that during his residency in 1972, a year before the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade, he saw "three teenagers die from illegal abortions," and he fears similar situations will happen again. While Braid understands he could face legal consequences, he added that he wants to ensure Texas doesn't "get away with its bid to prevent this blatantly unconstitutional law from being tested." 

9

Notre Dame ready for restoration work

Paris' Notre Dame Cathedral remains on course to reopen in 2024, authorities said Saturday. The landmark, which suffered damage after an incidental fire in 2019, is finally ready to undergo restoration after workers completed efforts to secure the structure. Before things get underway, however, companies will bid for contracts to work on the restoration process. The goal is to hold the cathedral's first full Mass on April 16, 2024, five years after the fire. Paris will also host the Olympic Games that year, so there's likely motivation to have one of the city's most visited tourist sites back open to the public. The cathedral will be restored to its previous design, including the 315-foot spire that collapsed during the blaze.

10

Emmys set to air Sunday night

The 2021 Emmys are set to take place Sunday night in Los Angeles. The event will air live at 8 p.m. ET on CBS, and it will also be available at CBS.com and the streaming service Paramount+. There will be a limited live audience, and attendees will walk down a red carpet, though the media presence will be smaller than usual because of the coronavirus pandemic. Comedian Cedric the Entertainer will host the ceremony. Netflix's The Crown, Disney+'s The Mandalorian and WandaVision, and Apple TV+'s Ted Lasso all earned 20 or more nominations and have a good shot at winning multiple awards.

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