Hard Numbers: Turkey hikes rates, US strikes Syria, France sentences jailbreak legend, Qatar to execute Indians, China cracks cat caper
35: Turkey’s central bank ordered another monster rate hike on Thursday, upping the key lending benchmark by 5 percentage points to 35%. The move comes after a similar increase last month as the Central Bank struggles to tame an annual inflation rate above 60%. Since President Erdogan was reelected in May, he’s allowed the bank to drop his “actually high interest rates cause inflation” approach in favor of a more orthodox hawkish policy.
14: France’s most notorious career criminal and jailbreak artist, Rédoine Faïd, was sentenced to 14 years for his cinematic 2018 escape from Reau prison, a getaway involving two of his brothers, a handful of smoke bombs, and a hijacked helicopter. Faid was later caught dressed in a burqa in his hometown north of Paris. “I have an addiction which consumes me,” Faïd said at the trial. “I am addicted to freedom.”
2: US forces on Friday carried out airstrikes on two targets in eastern Syria that are linked to Iran-backed militias. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the strikes had nothing to do with the current conflict in Gaza, and that they were "narrowly tailored in self-defense" following a recent wave of rocket and drone attacks on US forces in the region. As Israel readies its expected ground invasion of Gaza, the US has been bolstering its defenses in the region to deter possible escalation by Iran or its proxies.
8: A Qatari court has ordered the death penalty for eight Indian citizens who were arrested in the Gulf kingdom last year. The charges against them have never been made public, but local media have suggested they were believed to be spies. The Indian government has said it will “take up” the issue with Doha directly.1,000: Acting on a tip from local animal rights activists, police in the eastern Chinese city of Zhangjiagang stopped a truck filled with 1,000 cats en route to be slaughtered and passed off as pork or lamb skewers. We’re happy the cats were rescued, but we have one pressing question: Who on earth managed to herd a thousand cats into a truck? Have you ever tried to herd as many as one cat into anything? Whoever this person is, we could use their skills in the US Congress.