Rebecca Rosman/The World
Top of The World — our morning news roundup written by editors at The World. Subscribe here.
Former US Secretary of State and top military commander Colin Powell, who served Democratic and Republican presidents, has died at the age of 84 from COVID-19 complications, his family announced. Powell — who, during his four decades of public service rose to become the first African American national security adviser, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and secretary of state, serving under President George W. Bush — had his reputation stained after making faulty claims before the UN Security Council to justify the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq. In a speech, he cited false information claiming that then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had secretly stockpiled weapons of mass destruction. At the end of the Cold War, as national security adviser to President Ronald Reagan, Powell helped negotiate arms treaties and cooperation agreements with Soviet then-President Mikhail Gorbachev. Powell was born in Harlem to Jamaican parents and grew up in the South Bronx in New York City.
Nicolas Maduro’s government has said that it is halting ongoing negotiations with the Venezuelan opposition in Mexico City after businessman Alex Saab, a close ally of Maduro, was extradited to the United States. Saab, who could be a significant witness in corruption cases in Venezuela, according to US prosecutors, was flown to the US from the African island nation of Cape Verde on Friday and is expected to appear in a Miami court on Monday. In 2019, Saab was indicted on money-laundering charges linked to an alleged bribery scheme that embezzled over $350 million from a low-income housing project for the Venezuelan government. Saab has also been subject to sanctions by the Trump administration for allegedly using shell companies around the world to hide huge profits from food contracts obtained through bribes and kickbacks.
Haitian authorities are working with US officials to secure the release of 17 people from the Ohio-based missionary group Christian Aid Ministries. Twelve adults and five children were kidnapped by the notorious 400 Mawozo gang east of the capital Port-au-Prince over the weekend. Haiti is struggling with a precarious security situation and gang-related abductions are on the rise. The Caribbean nation has one of the highest rates of kidnapping in the world, with 600 such crimes reported so far in 2021.
Rebecca Rosman/The World
New residents in France must take mandatory classes to learn how to integrate into French society. But immigration and integration are hot-button issues in upcoming elections, and not everyone agrees on what it means to be French.
Scientists are tracking the evolution and spread of SARS-CoV-2 and developing critical responses to it. Efforts have ramped up a lot this year — thanks to a growing global network.
The Nebra Sky Disc is set to go on display at the British Museum. It was unearthed in Germany in 1999, and is believed to be 3,600 years old — dating back to the Bronze Age. The disc is about 12 inches with a blue-green patina and gold symbols representing the sun, moon, stars, solstices and other cosmic phenomena. 💫 But some scholars have also disputed its authenticity.
In the United Kingdom, Conservative Party Member of Parliament David Amess was stabbed to death on Friday in his constituency of Leigh-on-Sea, England. The 69-year-old father of five had served in Parliament since 1983 and was known politically as a social conservative and prominent campaigner against abortion. Also, in the last chaotic days of US operations in Afghanistan, Najibullah Quraishi was there reporting as the Taliban took over the country. Quraishi, whose documentary, “Taliban Takeover,” just premiered on Frontline, gives us an unvarnished view of the new Afghanistan. Plus, The Wizard of New Zealand, Ian Brackenbury Channell, is out of a job. The Christchurch City Council has decided to stop paying him to provide public acts of wizardry.