Hello. We are covering French anger over a deal on US-Australian submarines, a pilot home quarantine program in Australia and the fallout from a US drone strike in Afghanistan.
Underwater tensions escalate
Relations between France and the United States have fallen to their lowest level in decades, after the United States and Australia secretly negotiated a plan to build nuclear submarines.
The two countries have made extraordinary efforts to keep Paris in the dark about the plan, which scuttled a French defense contract worth at least $ 60 billion for diesel-electric submarines.
In response, President Emmanuel Macron recalled the French ambassadors to the United States and Australia. It was the first time in the history of the long alliance between France and the United States, dating back to 1778, that Paris thus recalled an ambassador.
Engineering: Australia was concerned that French-built diesel-electric submarines would be obsolete by the time of delivery. The country has expressed interest in seeking a fleet of quieter nuclear-powered submarines based on US and UK designs that could patrol areas of the South China Sea with less risk of detection.
At the moment, it can be incredibly difficult to enter Australia. Travelers spend two weeks at a government-appointed facility, but quarantine locations are difficult to find and the country has a strict limit on the number of arrivals.
In the new pilot program, 175 people fully vaccinated against the coronavirus will instead be isolated at home for seven days. Police will use tracking and facial recognition technology to monitor their movements.
Details: Australia has exceeded its target of providing a dose of the Covid-19 vaccine to 70% of people over 16, said Greg Hunt, the Federal Minister of Health.
Here are the latest pandemic updates and maps.
In other developments:
An American drone strike by mistake
The Pentagon has admitted that a drone strike in August that killed 10 civilians in Kabul, Afghanistan, was a “tragic mistake.”
But these rare American apologies did nothing to allay the sense of vulnerability among surviving family members and co-workers. On the contrary, their fears and feelings of exposure only increased.
Zemari Ahmadi’s brother, the Afghan aid worker targeted by the strike, described his family as having been tarnished twice. First, for being suspected by the United States of being linked to the Islamic State of Khorasan, an enemy of the Taliban. And second, because the strike revealed that his brother worked for an American aid organization, which the Taliban viewed with suspicion.
“There is a great threat against us now that everyone knows he was working for the Americans,” said Emal Ahmadi. But to prove that the family was unrelated to ISIS, he said, “we had no choice but to tell the media.” The family is asking the United States for help to leave Afghanistan, the Washington Post reported.
Impact: The Pentagon’s extensive examination of the strike followed a Times investigation into questioning Zemari Ahmadi’s connection to ISIS-K and the presence of explosives in his vehicle.
Power change: The Panjshir Valley, with its history of resistance and reputation for impenetrability, would be an ideal place to start an insurgency against the Taliban. But on a recent visit, Times reporters found little sign of an active fight.
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Fighting fire with goats
In the rush to prevent the worsening of wildfires in the American West, state and local agencies that want to remove excess weeds are relying on herbicides and machinery as well as prescribed burns: Intentional Fires that periodically clean up undergrowth, dead trees and other combustibles.
Goat breeder Lani Malmberg takes a different approach. She deploys her 200 goats to graze strategically, a technique she developed in college. It is a two-part strategy, one aimed at preventing fires rather than just suppressing them.
First, goats, which can stand up to nine feet tall on their hind legs, eat grass, leaves, and tall brush that cows and other grazers can’t reach. This type of vegetation is known as the fuel ladder and leads to wider spread when forest fires start.
Their waste then returns organic matter to the soil, increasing its potential for water retention. A 1% increase in organic matter can hold an additional 16,500 gallons of water per acre, Malmberg said.