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President Obama yesterday congratulated his Colombian counterpart, Juan Miguel Santos, on the historic peace agreement with Farc. The guerillas, holding their 10th National Conference, (background here) celebrated with a mini-Woodstock.
Daylong deliberations ended with nightly concerts on a huge outdoor stage complete with a smoke machine. The guerrillas sang along with fervor to staples of Latin America’s revolutionary repertoire such as El Pueblo Unido (“The People United”) and swayed their hips to the cumbia rhythm of an all-guerrilla band called the Rebels of the South whose songs speak of the end of the war and impending peace.
“It’s a strange mix of an internal consultative process about the peace accord … and a mini Farc Woodstock,” said Alex Fattal, an American anthropologist from the University of Pennsylvania studying the Farc’s media strategy.
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They are starting to air the the Olympic Opening Ceremony on NBC. I wish Lester Holt could narrate the whole thing, he's got the best voice, doesn't dumb it down or hyperventilate or overly dramatize the small stuff.
I've had NBC on in the background for an hour, and so far, the coverage has been very good and interesting (except for the half hour the local affiliate had the air, what a difference between them and the big leagues.)
This is a thread for all things Olympics and Rio related only.
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The media seems intent to run down Rio as host city to the Olympics. I'm seeing articles with headlines like No Game: The Olympics, Rio and Terror, Rio 2016 will be a Brazilian carnival of greed, doping and tear gas, For Olympic athletes in Rio, a lack of buzz over Zika concerns. There's even this Henny Penny articley: Freak 15-foot waves flood TV broadcasting building on Rio’s Copacabana Beach sparking fears it could collapse into the sea
I'm a big fan of Rio and Brazil, I was there in 1977. Yes, things change in 40 years, but the natural wonders of the country remain. [More...]
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Indonesia executed four more drug traffickers this week. Another 10 were taken from their cells on the notorious Nusakambangan prison island at Cilacap, Central Java, and brought to the killing field. Without explanation, these 10 were taken back to their cells. In all, 16 coffins were ordered. Indonesia is not publicly identifying who is next.
Those killed included two Nigerians, a Senegalese and an Indonesian man.
Those executed on Friday were Indonesian Freddy Budiman, as well as Nigerians Seck Osmane, Michael Titus Igweh and Humphrey Jefferson Ejike Eleweke.
Michael Titus Igweh testified police "electrocuted his genitals." Humphrey Jefferson Ejike Eleweke has always maintained his innocence. [More...]
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Turkey's president Erdogan is demanding the U.S. extradite his long time enemy, Fetullah Gulen, alternatively described as a Muslim cleric and scholar or an Islamic ideologue, whom he says is responsible for the failed coup in Turkey. Gulen has resided in Pennsylvania for years.
An extradition request was submitted in Turkey the day before the coup.
The detainees are accused of being members of FETO, the terrorist organization led by U.S.-based preacher Fetullah Gulen. Friday night saw military elements make a “vile” attempt to overthrow Turkey’s elected government, according to Prime Minister Binali Yildirim. Around 160 people were martyred in the ensuing violence.
Some 2,839 military personnel involved in the coup attempt have been arrested, and 20 pro-coup soldiers, including some senior officers, were killed in the attempt to overthrow the government.
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I'm in favor of second chances for all offenders, terrorists included. But it is beyond the pale that Indonesia allows second chances for militant bomb-makers who participated in acts of terrorism to get out of jail and become productive citizens, while foreign drug traffickers, even mules, face death.
There are beautiful beaches all over the world. If you are vacationing this summer, please skip Bali and Indonesia. Visit the Seychelles, Maldives, Mauritius, Fiji, and other beautiful places that don't kill non-violent drug offenders.
So Great Britain has withdrawn from the European Union, David Cameron will resign by October, and stocks tumbled. I have no opinion right now, just some questions, as I'm just now hearing about it.
First, is this really an earth-shattering event? What changes?
In principle, nothing changes immediately. Britons remain EU citizens and business continues as before. In practice, many believe trade, investment and political decisions will quickly anticipate British departure from the bloc. The EU could also face a Britain breaking apart as europhile Scots plan another push for independence and seek to join the EU on their own.
EU leaders and the heads of EU institutions in Brussels have delivered statements that broadly stress a mantra of Three Rs: Regret - at losing nearly a fifth of the EU economy and more of its military and global clout; Respect - for the will of the British people; and Resolve - to keep the other 27 together. They also reminded Britain that it remains a full member for the time being, with all the rights and obligations that entails.
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Ten of at least 15 convicts facing the firing squad at the Nusakambangan prison island in Central Java’s Cilacap regency are foreign citizens. ....In a rare move, police have revealed that among the foreign citizens are four Chinese, one Pakistani, two Nigerians, two Senegalese and one Zimbabwean.
Not on the list: Filipino drug convict Mary Jane Veloso and Frenchman Serge Areski Atlaoui, both of whom got temporary reprieves at the 11th hour last year, and British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford. [More...]
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Brussels was virtually shut down on Tuesday after explosions rocked its main airport and a subway station in the heart of the city. The attacks occurred four days after the capture of Salah Abdeslam, who is suspected to be directly involved in the Paris attacks on Nov. 13.
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The Somalian Government has banned Christmas and New Years' celebrations on the ground they have nothing to do with Islam.
"We warn against celebration of Christmas, which is only for Christians," Sheikh Mohamed Kheyrow, director of Somalia’s ministry of religion, said on state radio. "This is a matter of faith. The Christmas holiday and its drum beatings have nothing to with Islam."
He said the ministry has sent letters to the police, national security intelligence and officials in the capital Mogadishu instructing them to "prevent Christmas celebrations."
al-Shabab, which controlled Mogadishu until 2011, used to do the same thing. Since Somalia is almost entirely Muslim, what's behind the new ban? It's not entirely clear, but one theory: Fear of attacks.[More...]
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Indonesia wants to build a prison for condemned drug traffickers on an island surrounded and guarded by crocodiles.
The proposal is the pet project of anti-drugs chief Budi Waseso, who plans to visit various parts of the archipelago in his search for reptiles to guard the jail.
"We will place as many crocodiles as we can there. I will search for the most ferocious type of crocodile,” he was quoted as saying by local news website Tempo.
Waseso said that crocodiles would be better at preventing drug traffickers from escaping prison as they could not be bribed – unlike human guards. “You can’t bribe crocodiles. You can’t convince them to let inmates escape,” he said.
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A group of 20 tourists, from Britain, South Africa, India and other places have been deported from China for watching video clips promoting terrorism in their hotel room. China says they were terrorism clips.
The group, which included a 68 and 74 year old couple from London were on day 30 of a 47 day tour. They had visited the Genghis Kahn mauseleum in Ordos, Inner Mongolia. The next day they went to the airport to fly to the next leg of their trip (Xian), when they were detained and ultimately deported.
"The group is a mixture of multi-faith men and women from Islamic, Christian and Hindu religions who knew each other well and had travelled the world together in the past, including Israel and the USA.
What they had actually watched (not that it should make a difference what they watch in the privacy of their hotel room): a documentary on Mongol emperor Genghis Khan. [More...]
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Lebanon's Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi has announced the arrest of five members of the Internal Security Forces allegedly responsible for the torture of Islamist prisoners at Roumieh prison. Videos of the torture were leaked Saturday, enraging the world.
Families of the inmates have been protesting conditions and treatment of the inmates for months. A Lebanese political leader said in April Romieh was worse than Abu Ghraib.
ISIS fanboys on Twitter are very upset about the torture. They urge retaliation and have posted the photos and names of the guards allegedly responsible.
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Convicted drug offender Frenchman Serge Atlaoui has lost his appeal challenging the denial of clemency. He was scheduled to be executed with Australians Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan and six others in April, but the date was pushed back because of his pending appeal.
Indonesia says it will schedule his execution after Ramadan is over in mid July. [More...]
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A court in Ireland has refused to extradite accused terrorist Ali Charaf Damache to the United States finding that the conditions of Supermax are overly harsh and would violate his rights under Ireland's constitution. The Court ordered him freed.
Damache was allegedly part of the 2009 plot to kill Danish cartoonist Lars Vilks, who had negatively depicted the prophet Muhammad. He is also the guy who enticed Jamie Paulin-Ramirez to marry him and travel from Colorado to Ireland. She is serving 8 years for providing material support to terrorists. She also allowed him to train her 10 year old son. [More...]
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