The Atlas Newsletter - Volume 23

The Atlas Newsletter – World Updates & International News

Monday, July 3rd, 2023

Good morning everyone,

Thank you for your continual feedback. Rest assured, another newsletter is on its way and should be dropping soon. However, this newsletter will remain largely the same, with a longer article highlighting the biggest news of the week and then several very brief write-ups on smaller news throughout the various regions of the world. Additionally, we have heard you on the length of the read and will be shortening it going forward; it's easy to get carried away when you love your work.

It is for that reason that we are unable to really dive into topics at length. So for that, please check out our articles on for a deeper look. We also plan to have an individual newsletter for each region of the world to offer the deeper reports and analyses you are asking for.

Now, let's get to the news. In Europe this week, a French hero dies, Poland worries about the border with Belarus, and skirmishes continue between the Azeris and Armenians. Over in the Middle East, Iraqi protestors storm a foreign embassy, and Israel raids Jenin again. In Africa, a car crash leaves devastating effects in Kenya, Senegal experiences more political unrest, as South Africa experiences its own political unrest. In the Americas, a Mexican vigilante is murdered, Jair Bolsanaro is barred from office, and a Venezuelan commander is accused of helping rebels. Then over in Asia and Oceania, Japan experiences heavy flooding, there’s a shooting in Australia, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization meets.

It’s just another day at the office. Let's take a look:

- Joshua Paulo, Sebastien Gray, Trent Barr, & the Atlas team

France on Fire

(Photo - Yoan Valat/EPA-EFE)

Sunday, July 2nd, 2023: (3 Minute Read) France is experiencing a series of extremely violent protests following the shooting of a 17-year-old Algerian teenager. On Tuesday, police shot and killed Nahel Merzouk after he allegedly tried to flee a traffic stop. This incident has sparked massive outrage nationwide, leading the government to place a ban on demonstrations in certain cities, issue travel warnings, and renew discussions on excessive policing in marginalized communities.

Following the shooting, France has been engulfed in six days of intense clashes between the police and rioters, resulting in widespread chaos. As politicians pass austerity measures, security forces struggle to regain control of the streets. During these confrontations, protesters have resorted to using fireworks, firebombs, and even firearms to attack both the police and innocent bystanders. Over 2,000 individuals have been arrested, and hundreds have been injured, 500 of whom are police officers.

To restore peace in various cities, namely Nanterre, Paris, and Marseille, approximately 45,000 security personnel have been deployed. Protests have also taken place in overseas French territories, such as Réunion and French Guiana.

In Nanterre, the mayor's residence was targeted when protestors slammed a burning car into the building around 1 a.m., injuring his wife and child. Additionally, numerous reports have emerged regarding the use of illegal firearms by protesters against civilians, police, and security infrastructure. In one instance captured on video, protesters used firearms to shoot out police cameras in a large crowd.

President Macron has announced a ban on all "large-scale events" in France, including celebrations and gatherings, and has urged parents to keep their children at home, citing the number of youth detained. He has also called upon social media platforms like TikTok and Snapchat to remove "sensitive content" and identify users who exploit these platforms to incite disorder or promote violence.

The unrest has resulted in the destruction, looting, and burning of hundreds of businesses, leaving numerous small business owners in need of government assistance. Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has promised government support for these affected shop owners, emphasizing the importance of order and common rules for a functioning nation.

In response to the situation, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin has ordered a nationwide nighttime shutdown of all public buses and trams, as they have become targets for the rioters. He has also expressed support for President Macron's call to social media platforms, cautioning them against allowing their platforms to be used for violent purposes.

While many view these protests as indicative of deteriorating race relations and anti-immigrant sentiment in France, critics argue that some individuals have exploited these events to propagate anarchy, violence, and anti-French sentiments, particularly among younger citizens. In fact, over 20,000 French citizens have signed a petition demanding the release of the officers involved in Nahel's case, claiming their innocence.

The officer who shot Nahel has been preliminarily charged with voluntary homicide, indicating strong suspicions of wrongdoing by investigating magistrates. However, further investigation is required before the case can proceed to trial.


July 3, 2023 - France’s last surviving D-Day Veteran, Léon Gautier, has passed away at 100 years old. Gautier was one of just 177 French soldiers who participated in the June 6, 1944, Invasion of Normandy. He was a member of the Kieffer Commando, a group of French soldiers working with US and UK forces to topple the Nazi regime. Gautier saw combat in Syria, Lebanon, the Congo, and France and would later become an outspoken advocate for peace after the war. "You kill people on the other side who never did anything to you, who have families and children. For what?" he said during a celebration for his 100th birthday last year. He passed away in a hospital with his family in Caen, France.

Léon Gautier, assigned to Troop 8
1er bataillon fusilier-marin commando
1st Special Service Brigade

July 2, 2023 - Poland has announced plans to send 500 police officers to help bolster border security at its border with Belarus in an effort to bring order to the thousands of illegal crossings into the country. Deputy Minister Coordinator of Special Services Stanislaw Zaryn told Reuters that the increased presence on the border is not only due to the illegal crossings but also due to the transport of Wagner mercenaries into Belarus. Zaryn also expressed concerns that the mercenaries may contribute to instability in the region and on the migration route, noting that the group may have an unknown mission that could target Poland, Ukraine, or Lithuania. Anna Michalska, a spokeswoman for the border guard, stated that Polish patrols have recently encountered more aggressive behavior from migrants.

June 27, 2023 - The Artsakh MoD accused Azerbaijan of attacking a group of their soldiers using a UAV, resulting in the deaths of four Artsakh soldiers. The attack came one day after Azerbaijan accused Artsakh soldiers of shooting and wounding one of their soldiers. Artsakh’s government has denied this. The strike, which took place at 1:30 a.m. local time, never received any sort of statement from the Azeri MoD.

Middle East

June 29, 2023 - Protestors in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad breached the Swedish embassy after a Quran was once again burned in a demonstration held in Stockholm, Sweden. The Quran was burned by an ethnic Iraqi living in Sweden. His demonstration was controversially allowed by Swedish authorities in accordance with their free speech laws and has drawn criticism from a number of Muslim countries, including Iraq. In Iraq itself, several militia outlets began calling for protests outside of the Swedish Embassy, quickly growing in size. Eventually protestors overwhelmed the security forces there, began scaling the embassy walls, and entered the embassy itself, reportedly burning several Swedish flags along the way.

Iraqi protestors in Baghdad protesting the Quran burning in Sweden.

July 3, 2023 - (Note that at the time of publication this is actively occurring and information may have changed. Updates will be regularly provided on the app and website)

In the early hours of July 3, Israeli forces launched a series of airstrikes on Jenin, which they say were "targeting terrorist infrastructure". Not long after, Israeli armored vehicles began moving into Jenin, accompanied by a number of bulldozers. The airstrikes were reportedly targeting a Palestinian Islamic Jihad headquarters. In contrast, Palestinian groups have said that the strikes have hit a house, an apartment building, a hospital, and a mosque, among other sites. As it presently stands, at least five Palestinians have been killed and dozens injured. Clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian militant groups have been ongoing since the moment the IDF set foot in Jenin. Reportedly, over 1000 IDF troops are involved in the operation, called "Operation Home and Garden" by the Israelis and "Fury of Jenin" by the PIJ.

More information is available on the App and Website.


June 30, 2023 - 51 people were killed and 32 injured after a transport truck lost control and crashed into one of Kenya's busiest intersections, surrounded by markets. Many of the fatalities came from the truck slamming into a small bus station with several buses and pedestrians in the area. The crash occurred amid heavy rains, slowing down rescue efforts by both Kenyan authorities and the Red Cross. The area is known for crashes due to the heavy traffic; however, Transport Minister Kipchumba Murkomen has stated the government will seek to move the markets away from the highway in order to try and avoid further incidents of this severity.

Wreckage from one of the vehicles involved in the crash (Photo - AP).

July 2, 2023 - Senegalese opposition leader Ousmane Sonko has called upon the Senegalese to "go out in droves" in protest against the government after Sonko was sentenced to two years in prison last month. His conviction renders him ineligible to run for president—a conviction from a case that Sonko says was falsified and politically motivated. After his conviction, Senegal underwent intense protests, which resulted in the deaths of 16 people.

June 30, 2023 - South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has been exonerated of all charges of misconduct and betraying the honor of his office in a burglary scandal that almost resulted in his resignation. The scandal originated in 2020, when a group of burglars robbed one of his properties and found bundles of cash underneath some couch cushions. It was alleged that after the theft, Ramaphosa paid the burglars to be silent about their findings. The case was brought up in 2022 after a former intelligence chief accused him of covering up the theft. The $580,000 that was found, President Ramaphosa said, came from selling buffalo on his farm.

The Americas

June 29, 2023 - The leader of a Mexican self-defense group based in Mexico’s western state of Michoacan was killed on Thursday following a surge of crime in the region. Hipolito Mora formed the self-defense group in 2013 in an effort to combat the Knights Templar Cartel, which had previously harassed both himself and his family. Authorities discovered two destroyed trucks as well as a badly burned body, which is believed to be Mora. Three other bodies were also found, most likely belonging to his armed security guards who were accompanying him.

June 30, 2023 - The former President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, was barred from holding public office until 2030 on Friday following a hearing by the Supreme Court over his actions during the previous election. The former president has been convicted of abuses of power and misuse of the media following his claims that the electronic voting system had been compromised by a hacker in 2018’s election during a meeting with foreign diplomats, which led to a riot in the capital following his loss to his leftist rival and current president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Justice Benedito Goncalves wrote in the majority opinion that Bolsonaro used the meeting to "spread doubts and incite conspiracy theories."

Former President Jair Bolsanaro (Photo - EVARISTO SA/ AFP)

June 30, 2023 - A retired Venezuelan General has pleaded guilty to charges of providing material support to the FARC, a Marxist-Leninist paramilitary group, and the illicit transfer of firearms. Cliver Alcala was scheduled to go to a Manhattan federal court on charges of conspiring with the FARC and other senior Venezuelan officials, including the current President, Nicolás Maduro, to smuggle cocaine into the United States. Alcala pleaded not guilty to the smuggling charges in a plea deal meant to minimize his prison time and avoid narcotics offenses. Alcala claims he met with the CIA multiple times between 2017 and 2020 to plan a revolt to overthrow Maduro, leading his lawyers to claim he could not have been conspiring with Maduro to ship cocaine.

Asia and Oceania

July 2, 2023 - Over 360,000 Japanese citizens have been ordered to evacuate the Kyushu area as record rainfall creates dangerous flooding and mudslides. Evacuation orders have been issued in 14 municipalities in the prefecture, including the city of Kumamoto, as well as in some municipalities in Fukuoka, Saga, Oita, Miyazaki and Kagoshima prefectures. In Yamato a bridge collapsed, and elsewhere emergency services have been rescuing people from their rooftops or on boats as their houses are washed away.

The Kanauchi Bridge over the Mifune River in Yamato, Kumamoto Prefecture which collapsed due to the rainfall. (Photo - KYODO)

June 27, 2023 - One is dead in a rare mass shooting in Sydney, Australia in what local media is calling a “gang hit”. Police have been forced to shut down the busy Bondi shopping center as shots were fired in the parking lot, with one 40 year old male dead on the scene and a Porsche found burnt out. Police have reported both incidents are being linked to organized crime groups.

July 1, 2023 - Russian President Vladmir Putin will meet with members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization this week. This year’s meeting is being hosted by India and will likely feature discussion on regional security, economic cooperation, and environmental policies. This will be a major event for both India and Russia as Modi seeks to increase India’s international stature and Putin wishes to show strength following an attempted coup in Russia. China will likely be watching both of their fellow participants with heavy interest.

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