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Indonesia Police Prepare for Bali 9 Executions

Bali 9 inmates Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran are closer to execution. They could be killed within weeks. Andrew Chan's appeal for clemency was denied last week. (Background here.) A police commander says he has received messages the two are on a list for February.

Indonesia President President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and the country's Attorney General say no more appeals are allowed by law. Their lawyers disagree, and have filed a new appeal in the Densepar District Court. Today, according to their lawyers, the court accepted the new appeal for filing.

Police at Indonesia's two killing fields, the Nirbaya and Li- musbuntu on the island of Nusakambanga, are ready and waiting for them, as well as 6 other convicted drug offenders whose killings are scheduled next. They include [More...]

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Australian Faces 12 Years For Smoking Joint on Bali Beach

Police in Bali paraded Australian Nicholas James Langan, 25, before the media this week. His offense: he and an Indonesian acquaintance were caught sharing a joint on the beach. Police also showcased the joint, which contained less than one gram of pot. They also found a "roach" that weighed 1/10 of one gram. The combined weight was under one gram.

The penalty for drug possession (as opposed to trafficking for which the death penalty is authorized) is 4 to 12 years in prison. Using drugs carries an additional 5 year penalty. Police will ask prosecutors to charge them with both offenses. [More...]

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U.S. Statement on ICC Inquiry into Possible War Crimes

From the State Department on the International Court announcement it will open open an inquiry into possible war crimes in the Palestinian territories, beginning with actions of Israel and Hamas militants last summer.

We strongly disagree with the ICC Prosecutor's action today. As we have said repeatedly, we do not believe that Palestine is a state and therefore we do not believe that it is eligible to join the ICC. It is a tragic irony that Israel, which has withstood thousands of terrorist rockets fired at its civilians and its neighborhoods, is now being scrutinized by the ICC. The place to resolve the differences between the parties is through direct negotiations, not unilateral actions by either side. We will continue to oppose actions against Israel at the ICC as counterproductive to the cause of peace.

Reuters reports:

This allows the court to delve into the war between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza in July-August 2014.

Please keep your comments civil. Opinions on both sides are fine, so long as they are expressed without venomous attacks on Israelis or the Palestinians, and without ridicule of other commenters who don't share your view.

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Je Suis Voltaire

I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it. - Voltaire

There has been a bit of back and forth about the Je suis Charlie. See contra Denise Oliver Velez.

Maybe I'm simple, but to me the issue is really simple - je suis Voltaire - I'm not agreeing with what you say, I'm defending your right to say it without getting killed.

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Indonesia President Wants Foreign Drug Traffickers Killed Now

Indonesia has a new president, Joko Widodo. In December, he pledged to get tough on the drug traffickers sentenced to death, including the foreign prisoners who have languished for years in Bali's hellhole Kerobokan prison.

The inmates will be taken to the prison at Nusa Kambangan, an island off the coast of Java, where they will be executed by a 10-person firing squad from the Central Java Police’s Mobile Brigade Unit (Brimob). Basically, they are tied to a wooden cross and shot.

Last week he rejected clemency for Bali 9 inmate Myuran Sukumaran, convicted in 2005 of attempting to smuggle 8.3 kilograms of heroin from Bali to Australia. Myuran gives his reaction to the news here. [More...]

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Air Asia Flight Goes Missing

An AirAsia Flight from Surabaya, Indonesia to Singapore has gone missing.

"The aircraft was on the submitted flight plan route and was requesting deviation due to enroute weather before communication with the aircraft was lost while it was still under the control of the Indonesian air traffic control," the airline said in a statement.

No distress signal was sent. It was somewhere between the port of Tanjung Pandan in Indonesia and West Kalimantan on Borneo island, when contact was lost.

Here is the airline's full statement.

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Obama Restores Ties With Cuba

After 50 years, the U.S. has restored ties with Cuba.

After 18 months of secret talks, Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro agreed in a phone call on Tuesday on a breakthrough prisoner exchange, the opening of embassies in each other's countries, and an easing of some restrictions on commerce.

The two leaders made the announcement in simultaneous televised speeches. The Vatican and Canada facilitated the deal.

Obama is also calling for an end to the embargo. Republicans aren't happy with that and Congressional approval is necessary to lift it. There was also a prisoner exchange: [More...]

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Mass Arrests of Erdogan Media Critics in Turkey

Turkey conducted mass raids of journalists and a media organizations today. The targets of the raids were those who support Fethullah Gulea, a U.S. cleric and opponent of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. More from The Guardian here.

Among the 31 people arrested: Ekrem Dumanli, the editor-in-chief of the Zaman daily newspaper. The paper is known for its exposure of government corruption.

Those held include an executive of Samanyolu television, also seen as close to Gulen, as well as a TV director, producers, scriptwriters and some police officers. Arrest warrants were issued for a total of 31 people, the official Anatolia news agency reported.

Among the offenses charged: "Using intimidation and threats" to "form a gang to try and seize state sovereignty", "forgery" and "slander."

I was watching this develop on the newspaper's Twitter feed last night. The raids were expected and 2,000 people gathered outside the Zaman's headquarters in support of the media and particularly the editor. Check out this short video. [More...]

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How the Failed Yemen Raid Went Down

The Wall. St. Journal has an open access link to an article on how the failed Yemen rain went down.

ISIS has taken a town in Libya. The Guardian has an interesting article on how bad and frightening it is. Isis posts a series of pictures showing people in Anbar laughing and hanging out with the ISIS police. You can view the photos, which have no violence, here.. [More...]

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Shootings at Parliament in Ottawa

There were three shooting incidents today in Ottawa. One was inside Parliament, one at the War Memorial where a soldier was shot, and one near the Rideau Centre Mall. At least one shooter, the one at Parliament, is dead. Prime Minister Harper was inside Parliament at the time but rushed to a secure location.

Much of downtown Ottawa is on lockdown. All Canadian military bases and Ottawa police stations are now closed to the public. The U.S. Embassy is also closed. People are being urged to stay away from downtown as the shooting investigation is still active.

Here's a Reddit live thread. The City of Ottawa twitter feed is providing updates of closures. Ottowa police provide this address for anyone with photos or video of the Parliament shooting.

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Saudi Arabia Sentences Cleric to Crucifixion

These kinds of headlines make me find 3 confirming reports before writing about them, in case there's a language difference as to the use of some words, like "crucifixion. In this case, it means what we think it means.

Nimr Baqer al-Nimr, a reformist cleric, has been sentenced to death by crucifixiton , the country's harshest punishment. He will be beaheaded and his body will be tied to two perpendicular pieces of wood. He'll be strung up and his severed head will be by him. This barbarity will take place in the public square severed head will be place by him. The event takes place in town square, with the public watching.

What was al-Nimr's sin? He preached against the Saudi King, arguing for civil rights. and an end to corruption and discrimination against minorities. [More...]

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Houthi Rebels Take Yemen Govt Offices, PM Resigns

It's a mess in Yemen. Houthi rebels (who are Shi'ite and a minority) have stormed government headquarters, ministries and TV stations in Sanaa. The Prime Minister of Yemen has resigned.

Last night UN envoy Jamal Benomar had announced a truce with the rebels. It's unclear what that means now, although Yemen's President says the accord will be signed today.

The Houthis are based in the north of Yemen, bordering on Saudi Arabia. As part of their demands, they want Yemen's recent decreases in fuel subsidies rolled back.

The fighting is said to benefit AQAP, which has been attacking Yemen security forces while the Houthis wage their battle. Yemen has also been fighting separatist rebels in the south.

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Saudi Arabia Beheads Four Drug Traffickers But Complains About ISIS

ISIS and jihadists aren't the only ones who use beheadings as a means of execution. Yesterday, Saudi Arabia beheaded four drug traffickers.

Four drug traffickers from Syria and Iran were decapitated by sword in northern and eastern Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, the government said, disregarding concerns raised by human rights organizations and raising the number of people executed over the last month to 30.

The King of Saudi Arabia has been harshly critical of ISIS, launching a crackdown on the "deviants." So have Saudi religious leaders. The King specifically criticized ISIS beheadings last week.

Abdullah denounced ISIS’s savage beheadings and mass killings. He said ISIS jihadists “do not know humanity,” according to a Saudi Press Agency report.

...Abdullah condemned the “cruelty” of the beheadings and children’s involvement in them, saying they are “against the teachings of Allah almighty.”

First, what a hypocrite. [More...]

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Colombian Victims Meet With FARC in Havana

Saturday, for the first time, some victims of the decades of violence in Colombia met directly with FARC members at the Peace Talks in Havana.

The victims told the BBC's Sarah Rainsford in Havana that they were listened to by the negotiators with a great deal of respect.

I was glad to see the victims of the right-wing paramilitary groups were also included. Some in Colombia (mostly FARC victims it seems) didn't think it was appropriate but:

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay praised the move, calling it unprecedented and a potential model for other countries dealing with issues of justice, peace and reconciliation.

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ISIS Slaughters Detained al Sha'etat Tribe Members

Ten days ago, ISIS captured these members of the al Sha'etat tribe in Deir Ezzor, Syria. I thought they were going to be killed immediately but ISIS gave them a reprieve, allowing them to repent. Non violent photos of them when they were captured are here and after the reprieve here.

Apparently, many either didn't repent or repented then rescinded, because today ISIS reported and showed photos of their slaughter. They were beheaded, crucified or otherwise executed and the photos are disgusting. I'm not linking to the photos, but it's clear they are the same young men.

Also today, ISIS supporters deny killing Yazidi civilians or that ISIS intends to do so. [More...]

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