GlobalPost - Home C. 2014 GlobalPost, only republish with permission. Subscribers must independently license photographs supplied by third-parties en Islamic State is just the latest radical group to destroy ancient art <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> From Khmer Rouge in Cambodia to the Taliban in Afghanistan, numerous movements have destroyed and stolen historic artifacts. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Ambika Kandasamy </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>BOSTON &mdash; Over the centuries, militant groups and radical regimes have targeted not just innocent lives but also historic and cultural artifacts preserved and revered by their victims.</p> <p>In Afghanistan, it was the Taliban.&nbsp;</p> <p>In 2001, Taliban fighters&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">demolished</a>&nbsp;two sandstone statues of Buddha that dated back to the 6th century with dynamite in the Bamiyan Valley.</p> <p>But that wasn&#39;t the first time those pieces came under attack.</p> <p>The towering statues were struck eons before the Taliban obliterated them. &quot;In the 17th century, the Moghul emperor Aurangzeb ordered an attack on the Buddhas,&quot; <a href="" target="_blank">wrote</a> The New York Times&#39; Barry Bearak in 2001.</p> <div class="getty embed image" style="background-color:#fff;display:inline-block;font-family:'Helvetica Neue',Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif;color:#a7a7a7;font-size:11px;width:100%;max-width:594px;"> <div style="overflow:hidden;position:relative;height:0;padding:64.478114% 0 0 0;width:100%;"> <iframe frameborder="0" height="383" scrolling="no" src="//;sig=Fkun6DilswYTNroWlaRJyBL_RUEVGcxhmmWuZAUa-cY=" style="display:inline-block;position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;" width="594"></iframe></div> <p style="margin:0;">&nbsp;</p> <div style="padding:0;margin:0 0 0 10px;text-align:left;"> <a href="" style="color:#a7a7a7;text-decoration:none;font-weight:normal !important;border:none;display:inline-block;" target="_blank">The site of the former Buddha statues in the Bamiyan Valley, Afghanistan. The Taliban destroyed the statues in 2001.</a></div> </div> <p> In Cambodia, it was the Khmer Rouge.</p> <p>The regime was&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">responsible</a> for taking the lives of some two million people from 1975 to 1979.&nbsp;</p> <p>The Khmer Rouge and other groups &quot;began decimating that country&rsquo;s ancient sites in search of treasures to sell on the international art market,&quot; Tess Davis, executive director of Washington, DC-based Lawyers&#39; Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation,&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">wrote</a>&nbsp;in The Los Angeles Times.&nbsp;</p> <div class="getty embed image" style="background-color:#fff;display:inline-block;font-family:'Helvetica Neue',Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif;color:#a7a7a7;font-size:11px;width:100%;max-width:594px;"> <div style="overflow:hidden;position:relative;height:0;padding:70.370370% 0 0 0;width:100%;"> <iframe frameborder="0" height="418" scrolling="no" src="//;sig=bJ4QS3sLjAKOdfMcZfv9eRpFPFp5nvF_6jW85B9cACw=" style="display:inline-block;position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;" width="594"></iframe></div> <p style="margin:0;">&nbsp;</p> <div style="padding:0;margin:0 0 0 10px;text-align:left;"> <a href="" style="color:#a7a7a7;text-decoration:none;font-weight:normal !important;border:none;display:inline-block;" target="_blank">Khmer Rouge guerrilla soldiers drive through a street in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on April 17, 1975.</a></div> </div> <p> In Germany, it was the Nazis.</p> <p>The Third Reich&#39;s reign from 1933 to 1945 saw the destruction and disappearance of hundreds of thousands of priceless pieces of art. Still today, there are ongoing&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">legal battles</a>&nbsp;over artwork that the Nazis allegedly obtained by coercing Jewish art dealers.&nbsp;</p> <div class="getty embed image" style="background-color:#fff;display:inline-block;font-family:'Helvetica Neue',Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif;color:#a7a7a7;font-size:11px;width:100%;max-width:594px;"> <div style="overflow:hidden;position:relative;height:0;padding:68.181818% 0 0 0;width:100%;"> <iframe frameborder="0" height="405" scrolling="no" src="//;sig=XZ8V6uEkQXnitvj6uJgJmB_Ie4KZdjvFYPf76x_Yi7M=&amp;caption=true" style="display:inline-block;position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;" width="594"></iframe></div> <p style="margin:0;">&nbsp;</p> <div style="padding:0;margin:0 0 0 10px;text-align:left;"> <a href="" style="color:#a7a7a7;text-decoration:none;font-weight:normal !important;border:none;display:inline-block;" target="_blank">A visitor walks past a photograph that shows a US soldier holding a painting looted by the Nazis from a Jewish family in Paris in the Jewish Museum in Berlin, Germany, on Sept. 18, 2008.</a></div> </div> <p> The latest group to join the list is the&nbsp;Islamic State.</p> <p>A video released by the group this week and uploaded to YouTube by the Washington, DC-based nonprofit Middle East Research Institute purports to show IS militants summarily destroying archaeological relics.&nbsp;</p> <p>In the video, an unnamed man <a href="" target="_blank">says</a>, &quot;The Prophet ordered us to get rid of statues and relics, and his companions did the same when they conquered countries after him.&quot;&nbsp;</p> <p>The rest of the footage shows men pounding antiquities reportedly from a museum in the Iraqi city of Mosul, with sledgehammers and drills &mdash; in seconds, they reduce years of cherished history to debris and dust.</p> <p>Watch it here:</p> <div gp-youtube-embed=""> &nbsp;</div> <p>According to German news agency&nbsp;Deutsche Presse-Agentur, experts <a href="" target="_blank">said</a>,&nbsp;&quot;dozens of original statues from 7th century BC Nineveh &mdash; which might have then been the world&#39;s largest and most important city &mdash; were destroyed beyond repair.&quot;</p> <p>Irina Bokova, the&nbsp;director-general of the&nbsp;United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO),&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">called</a> the destruction a &quot;deliberate attack against Iraq&rsquo;s millennial history and culture&quot; on Thursday.</p> <p>Bokova <a href="" target="_blank">added</a> that she has &quot;immediately seized the President of the Security Council to ask him to convene an emergency meeting of the Security Council on the protection of Iraq&rsquo;s cultural heritage as an integral element for the country&rsquo;s security.&quot;</p> <p>Many art historians and aficionados&nbsp;around the world are also lamenting the loss of the precious works.</p> <p>&quot;This mindless attack on great art, on history, and on human understanding constitutes a tragic assault not only on the Mosul Museum, but on our universal commitment to use art to unite people and promote human understanding,&quot; Thomas Campbell, director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, <a href="" target="_blank">told</a> Bloomberg.&nbsp;</p> Need to Know Iraq Fri, 27 Feb 2015 18:16:00 +0000 Ambika Kandasamy 6403384 at The Israeli government has exaggerated the Iranian nuclear threat for years <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Analysis: A leaked Mossad report suggests Israel's own spy agency disagrees with the threat posed by Iran. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Arron Merat </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stood on the podium at the UN General Assembly in 2012 &mdash; a picture of a cartoon bomb in hand &mdash; and claimed that Iran was a year away from being able to build a bomb, he did so in the knowledge that his country&rsquo;s own spy agency disagreed with him.</p> <p>A <a href="">classified Mossad</a> report leaked to Al Jazeera and the <a href="">Guardian</a> this week revealed that its own assessment was very different from the prime minister&rsquo;s.&nbsp;</p> <p>At the time, Netanyahu told the UN: &ldquo;By next spring, at most by next summer, at current enrichment rates, they will have finished the medium enrichment and move[d] on to the final stage. From there, it&rsquo;s only a few months, possibly a few weeks before they get enough enriched uranium for the first bomb.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p> <p>The Mossad report, allegedly a correspondence with South Africa&rsquo;s intelligence service dated just one month later, in October 2012, said Iran was &ldquo;not performing the activity necessary to produce weapons&rdquo;</p> <p>It went further: &quot;Even though Iran has accumulated enough 5% enriched uranium for several bombs, and has enriched some of it to 20%, it does not appear to be ready to enrich it to higher levels.&rdquo;</p> <p>This is not the first time Israel, or Netanyahu, has hyped the Iranian nuclear threat.&nbsp;</p> <p>It was in 1992, when he was an MP, that Netanyahu first prophesied an imminent Iranian bomb, claiming that it was <a href="">three to five years</a> from being able to produce a nuclear weapon.</p> <p>He wasn&#39;t the only one. That same year, Israeli foreign minister Shimon Peres warned that Iran would have nuclear warheads by 1999.</p> <p>Later, in 2012, Netanyahu <a href="">claimed again</a> that Iran was &ldquo;very close, they are six months away from being about 90 percent of having the enriched uranium for an atom bomb.&rdquo;</p> <p>A cursory look at news reports going back to the 1990s shows Israel has predicted Iran would produce a bomb by 1998, 1999, 2000, 2004, 2005, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2015.&nbsp;</p> <p>Israel&rsquo;s motivations in containing in Iran have varied over the years. The ideological differences between the the two countries are well known. And Israel has always insisted that Iran represents a mortal threat to its existence.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="">Netanyahu&#39;s trip to Washington&nbsp;is making people angry&nbsp;</a></strong></p> <p>Today, Netanyahu has a more narrow goal in mind. The Obama administration and significant sections of the Iranian elite desire a normalisation of relations between the US and Iran, and a deal that is sellable to both side&rsquo;s spoilers appears within reach, not least due to a confluence of interests over the threat of Sunni radicalism in the post Arab Spring political vacuum in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.</p> <p>But it is precisely this common interest that worries Israel, which has enjoyed unbridled American support for decades; it is likely that Netanyahu sees any US detente with Iran as a zero sum game in a security configuration that will see the current balance of power in its favor eroded.</p> <p>Netanyahu&rsquo;s claim at the UN in 2012 came when US sensitivity to the alleged Iranian nuclear threat was particularly high, ahead of a vote in the US Congress on tightening sanctions. His warnings helped maintain suspicion in the US Congress over Iran&rsquo;s intentions and thereby lubricate the passage by the US of the most <a href=";id=375">stringent sanctions regime in existence</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p>Now, the stakes are just as high. Netanyahu is to make a speech in the US Congress next week that is designed to scupper a deal between world powers (led by the US) and Iran over its nuclear program.</p> <p>Israel&rsquo;s supporters in Congress, together with the Israeli government, are making a final push before the negotiation deadline of March 31 to try and end a deal that would exchange US sanctions relief for more nuclear transparency from Iran.</p> <p>Next week&rsquo;s address to both houses of the US Congress will be Netanyahu&rsquo;s third &mdash; the only other international leader to have done so is Winston Churchill.&nbsp;</p> <p>In his address, the prime minister will again highlight the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, and perhaps even suggest another doomsday timeline.</p> Need to Know Iran Middle East Fri, 27 Feb 2015 15:29:11 +0000 Arron Merat 6404180 at Mexico captures most wanted drug lord Servando 'La Tuta' Gomez <!--paging_filter--><p>Mexico has captured the country&#39;s most wanted drug lord still at large, <span data-scayt_word="Servando" data-scaytid="1">Servando</span> &quot;La <span data-scayt_word="Tuta" data-scaytid="2">Tuta</span>&quot; Gomez, police said on Friday, in a boost for President Enrique Pena <span data-scayt_word="Nieto" data-scaytid="3">Nieto</span> as he grapples with grisly gang violence.</p> <p>The 49-year-old former teacher was the prime target of Pena <span data-scayt_word="Nieto's" data-scaytid="4">Nieto&#39;s</span> drive to regain control of <span data-scayt_word="Michoacan" data-scaytid="5">Michoacan</span>, a violent western state wracked by clashes between Gomez&#39;s Knights Templar cartel and heavily-armed vigilantes trying to oust them.</p> <p>The arrest came just over a year after the capture of Mexico&#39;s most notorious drug lord, Joaquin &quot;Shorty&quot; Guzman, head of the <span data-scayt_word="Sinaloa" data-scaytid="6">Sinaloa</span> Cartel, one of the most powerful drug smuggling gangs in the world.</p> <p>It also comes as Pena <span data-scayt_word="Nieto" data-scaytid="7">Nieto</span> seeks to quell outrage over violence, impunity and corruption in Mexico after the September abduction and apparent massacre of 43 trainee teachers by corrupt police in league with gang members.</p> <p>That incident triggered Pena <span data-scayt_word="Nieto's" data-scaytid="9">Nieto&#39;s</span> deepest crisis. Attorney General Jesus <span data-scayt_word="Murillo" data-scaytid="11">Murillo</span>, under fire for months over his handling of that investigation, will soon step down, a senior government official said on Friday.</p> <p>A police spokesman said federal police captured Gomez in <span data-scayt_word="Morelia" data-scaytid="12">Morelia</span>, <span data-scayt_word="Michoacan's" data-scaytid="13">Michoacan&#39;s</span> state capital, after months of intelligence work. &quot;He will be brought to Mexico City in the coming hours to make a declaration.&quot;</p> <p>Gomez was arrested at a house without any shots being fired, local media reported.</p> <p>Last week, police seized many properties in that area and arrested a handful of people connected to La <span data-scayt_word="Tuta" data-scaytid="14">Tuta</span>. Local media reported that earlier operation had led to the arrest of the drug boss.</p> <p>Police also arrested a number of other people with him.</p> <p><strong>More from <span data-scayt_word="GlobalPost" data-scaytid="27">GlobalPost</span>:&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Mexican troops arrest an alleged cartel gunman over student disappearances</a></strong></p> <p>Since the Mexican government began a military crackdown in 2007 on drug gangs, more than 100,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence.</p> <p>No kingpin sought the limelight as often as Gomez.</p> <p>Whether railing against political corruption on YouTube, or giving interviews in hideouts to the media, Gomez relentlessly baited the government, accusing it of colluding with rival gangs while defending his Knights Templar as a &quot;necessary evil.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;Our only function is to help the people, preserve our state, and preserve our country from people causing terror,&quot; Gomez said in a video posted online in 2012, sitting in front of images of Ernesto &quot;<span data-scayt_word="Che" data-scaytid="16">Che</span>&quot; Guevara and other revolutionary icons.</p> <p>Gomez insisted the cartel followed a strict ethical code, though as time passed he became more open about the criminal side of a gang which in 2013 held much of the impoverished, mountainous terrain of <span data-scayt_word="Michoacan" data-scaytid="17">Michoacan</span> in a firm grip.</p> <p><strong>More from <span data-scayt_word="GlobalPost" data-scaytid="50">GlobalPost</span>:&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">A retired DEA agent dishes on his years spent infiltrating Mexican and Colombian cartels</a></strong></p> <p>During their ascendancy, the Knights Templar extorted a broad sweep of businesses, controlled politicians and diversified from drug trafficking into a myriad of other businesses including the export of iron ore.</p> <p>Gomez became the <span data-scayt_word="frontman" data-scaytid="19">frontman</span> of the Knights Templar after a split within drug cartel La <span data-scayt_word="Familia" data-scaytid="20">Familia</span> <span data-scayt_word="Michoacana" data-scaytid="21">Michoacana</span>, a pseudo-religious gang in which he was also a leading figure.</p> <p>Sporting a goatee beard and often wearing a baseball cap, Gomez began smuggling marijuana independently in 2001 or 2002, before later joining La <span data-scayt_word="Familia" data-scaytid="22">Familia</span>, authorities said.</p> <p>A father of at least seven, Gomez is wanted by the United States for methamphetamine and cocaine trafficking. The Justice Department says he is also implicated in the 2009 murder of 12 Mexican federal police officers.</p> <p>Mexican authorities had placed a bounty of 30 million pesos ($2 million) on his head.</p> Need to Know Mexico Fri, 27 Feb 2015 14:57:05 +0000 Thomson Reuters 6404182 at Deaths of 3 servicemen shake Ukraine's fragile truce <!--paging_filter--><p>Ukraine on Friday reported the first deaths in three days in east Ukraine, denting hopes a <span data-scayt_word="ceasefire" data-scaytid="1">ceasefire</span> will hold, and President Petro <span data-scayt_word="Poroshenko" data-scaytid="2">Poroshenko</span> said Russia would pose a &quot;military threat&quot; even if the truce is solid.</p> <p>Government troops fighting pro-Russian separatists in the east began towing artillery away from the front line on Thursday, a sign that Ukraine&#39;s military recognized a <span data-scayt_word="ceasefire" data-scaytid="3">ceasefire</span> meant to take effect on Feb. 15 was at last holding.</p> <p>But <span data-scayt_word="Kyiv's" data-scaytid="5">Kyiv&#39;s</span> military later announced the deaths of three servicemen in the past 24 hours, following two full days without fatalities that had raised hopes of the truce holding.</p> <p>&quot;Even under the most optimistic scenario ... the military threat from the east would unfortunately remain,&quot; <span data-scayt_word="Poroshenko" data-scaytid="6">Poroshenko</span> said, referring indirectly to Russia in a televised speech at the National <span data-scayt_word="Defence" data-scaytid="8">Defence</span> University.</p> <p><span data-scayt_word="Kyiv" data-scaytid="9">Kyiv</span> and Western governments have accused Russia of sending troops and weapons to support the separatists in east Ukraine, despite a peace deal agreed in the <span data-scayt_word="Belarussian" data-scaytid="10">Belarussian</span> capital Minsk on Feb. 12, but Moscow has denied this.</p> <p>The situation in the conflict zone was &quot;relatively calm&quot; overnight, Ukrainian military spokesman <span data-scayt_word="Anatoly" data-scaytid="11">Anatoly</span> <span data-scayt_word="Stelmakh" data-scaytid="12">Stelmakh</span> said, although he reported isolated attacks by rebels on Ukrainian troop positions.</p> <p>Ukraine continued to withdraw its weapons on Friday, but the army will remain on high alert in case of a new offensive from the separatists, Defense Ministry spokesman <span data-scayt_word="Serhiy" data-scaytid="13">Serhiy</span> <span data-scayt_word="Galushko" data-scaytid="14">Galushko</span> said in a televised briefing.</p> <p>&quot;Sufficient troops and resources remain along the front line in case the terrorists and the forces supporting them violate the <span data-scayt_word="ceasefire" data-scaytid="15">ceasefire</span>,&quot; he said.</p> <p><strong>More from <span data-scayt_word="GlobalPost" data-scaytid="17">GlobalPost</span>:&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Here&#39;s why the UK is sending troops to Ukraine after the <span data-scayt_word="ceasefire" data-scaytid="18">ceasefire</span></a></strong></p> <p>The rebels, who committed to the truce only after seizing a strategic town in a humiliating defeat for <span data-scayt_word="Kyiv" data-scaytid="19">Kyiv</span>, have been pulling back heavy weapons since Tuesday.</p> <p><span data-scayt_word="Kyiv" data-scaytid="22">Kyiv</span> says it fears the rebels could be regrouping and preparing to attack <span data-scayt_word="Mariupol" data-scaytid="30">Mariupol</span> on the Sea of <span data-scayt_word="Azov" data-scaytid="31">Azov</span>, as capturing the port city would help open up a corridor to the Crimea peninsula which Russia annexed from Ukraine last year following the overthrow of a Moscow-leaning president in <span data-scayt_word="Kyiv" data-scaytid="23">Kyiv</span>.</p> <p>Military spokesman <span data-scayt_word="Andriy" data-scaytid="33">Andriy</span> <span data-scayt_word="Lysenko" data-scaytid="34">Lysenko</span> said a convoy of GRAD missile systems and other equipment had been tracked leaving rebel-held <span data-scayt_word="Donetsk" data-scaytid="35">Donetsk</span> in the direction of <span data-scayt_word="Mariupol" data-scaytid="32">Mariupol</span>.</p> <p>Moscow has in turn raised doubts about <span data-scayt_word="Kyiv's" data-scaytid="37">Kyiv&#39;s</span> commitment to the <span data-scayt_word="ceasefire" data-scaytid="38">ceasefire</span> and asked whether the United States and the European Union, which have imposed economic sanctions on Russia, really want the Feb. 12 peace deal to succeed.</p> Need to Know Europe Fri, 27 Feb 2015 13:57:41 +0000 Thomson Reuters 6404162 at Machete-wielding assailants kill atheist US blogger in Bangladesh <!--paging_filter--><p>Machete-wielding assailants hacked to death a blogger in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka, in the latest of a series of attacks on writers who support free thinking values in the Muslim-majority nation.</p> <p>The attack comes amidst a crackdown on <span data-scayt_word="hardline" data-scaytid="1">hardline</span> Islamist groups, which have increased activities in recent years in the South Asian nation.</p> <p><span data-scayt_word="Avijit" data-scaytid="2">Avijit</span> Roy, a US citizen of Bangladeshi origin, and his wife and fellow blogger, <span data-scayt_word="Rafida" data-scaytid="3">Rafida</span> Ahmed, were attacked on Thursday while returning from a book fair. Ahmed was seriously injured.</p> <p>Police retrieved two machetes from the site, but have not yet identified any suspects.</p> <p>They said they were investigating the involvement of Ansarullah Bangla Team, an Islamist extremist group based in Bangladesh that claimed responsibility on Friday for the murder.</p> <p>Roy&#39;s family said Islamist radicals had been threatening him in recent weeks because he maintained a blog, &quot;Mukto-mona&quot;, or &quot;Freemind,&quot; that highlighted humanist and rationalist ideas and condemned religious extremism.</p> <p>&quot;Islamist radicals are behind my son&#39;s murder,&quot; Ajay Roy told reporters on Friday after filing a murder case with police.</p> <p>&quot;We mourn but we are not out,&quot; read a black banner on the site.</p> <p>The Center for Inquiry, a US-based nonprofit group Roy wrote for, said it was &quot;shocked and heartbroken&quot; by the murder.</p> <p>&quot;Dr. Roy was a true ally, a courageous and eloquent defender of reason, science, and free expression, in a country where those values have been under heavy attack,&quot; it said in a statement.</p> <p>Media group Reporters Without Borders rated Bangladesh 146th among 180 countries in a ranking of press freedom last year.</p> <p>In 2013, religious extremists targeted several secular bloggers who had demanded capital punishment for Islamist leaders convicted of war crimes during Bangladesh&#39;s war for independence.</p> <p>Blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider was killed that year in a similar attack near his home in Dhaka after he led one such protest demanding capital punishment.</p> <p>In 2004, Humayun Azad, a secular writer and professor at Dhaka University, was also attacked by militants while returning home from a Dhaka book fair. He later died in Germany while undergoing treatment.</p> <p>(Reporting by Ruma Paul and Serajul Quadir in Dhaka; Writing by Krista Mahr)</p> Need to Know Bangladesh Fri, 27 Feb 2015 13:33:09 +0000 Thomson Reuters 6404136 at It seems 'Jihadi John' was once a fashionable rich kid from West London <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> The masked Islamic State militant that speaks with a British accent and is featured in so many propaganda videos may have been identified. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Peter Gelling </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p></p> Home Need to Know Regions Fri, 27 Feb 2015 13:00:00 +0000 Peter Gelling 5942065 at After Tony Abbott’s insults, Indonesians seek to refund Australia for tsunami aid <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Hoping to block the execution of two Australians, the prime minister unleashed social media outrage among Indonesia's many death penalty supporters. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Marie Dhumieres </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>JAKARTA, Indonesia &mdash; It probably wasn&rsquo;t the reaction Tony Abbott had hoped for.</p> <p> Last week, in an eleventh hour bid to save two <a href="">Australians on death row</a> in Indonesia, the Australian prime minister thought of reminding Indonesia of all the nice things his country had done for its neighbor.</p> <p> &ldquo;Let&#39;s not forget that a few years ago when Indonesia was struck by the Indian Ocean tsunami, Australia sent a billion dollars worth of assistance,&rdquo; Abbott said on Wednesday.</p> <p> &ldquo;I would say to the Indonesian people and the Indonesian government: We in Australia are always there to help you and we hope that you might reciprocate in this way at this time.&rdquo;</p> <p> Unsurprisingly, this didn&rsquo;t go down well in Indonesia, where his response was seen as churlish.</p> <p> The angry backlash against Abbott&rsquo;s comments started in Aceh, where 170,000 were killed in the 2004 tsunami. Several organizations launched a campaign to &ldquo;repay&rdquo; Australia, and started collecting spare change in the streets. The outcry then made it to Twitter, where the hashtags #KoinUntukAustralia or its English equivalent #CoinForAustralia and #CoinForAbbott were trending over the weekend.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Learnt <a href="">#koinuntukaustralia</a> <a href="">#coinforaustralia</a> <a href="">#boycottbali</a> <a href="">@TonyAbbottMHR</a> GO TO HELL WITH YOUR AID BOGANS OZ <a href=""></a></p> <p> &mdash; hendradunz (@hendradunz) <a href="">February 21, 2015</a></p></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Some asked for Tony Abbott to &ldquo;send the bill.&rdquo;</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Dont worry mates, we&#39;ll give you back your money Don&#39;t forget to send us the bill. <a href="">#coinforabbott</a>, <a href="">#CoinForAustralia</a> <a href=""></a></p> <p> &mdash; Lutfi Jatmika (@lutfijatmika) <a href="">February 22, 2015</a></p></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Others asked him for his bank details:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Is it enough? Ur bank account please, Mr.<a href="">@TonyAbbotMHR</a>... <a href="">#KoinuntukAustralia</a> <a href="">#CoinforAustralia</a> <a href=""></a></p> <p> &mdash; Andy Satria (@satriaandy) <a href="">February 20, 2015</a></p></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Australia&rsquo;s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop called Indonesia Vice President Jusuf Kalla in an attempt to cool things down. &ldquo;I have made it quite clear that the prime minister was simply illustrating the point that Australia has been and remains a supporter, a close friend of Indonesia,&rdquo; Bishop told Kalla, <a href="">as she explained</a> to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.</p> <p> &ldquo;Certainly these comments were not any attempt to threaten Indonesia,&rdquo; she also said.</p> <p> Earlier, Indonesia&rsquo;s foreign ministry spokesman Armanatha Nasir had said he hoped Abbott&rsquo;s comments did not &ldquo;reflect the true colors of Australians.&rdquo;</p> <p> &ldquo;Threats are not part of diplomatic language and no one responds well to threats,&rdquo; he <a href="">told local media</a>.</p> <p> Andrew Chan, 31, and Myuran Sukumaran, 33, were arrested in Bali in 2005, and sentenced to death for attempting to smuggle eight kilos of heroin to Australia. The campaign to spare their lives has been massive in Australia, and condemnations have emerged from across the world. Six drug convicts were killed by <a href="">firing squad in January</a> and more foreigners including French, Brazilian, Spanish citizens also face imminent execution.</p> <p> But the Indonesian authorities have stayed firm on their position of no clemency for drug dealers. President Joko &ldquo;Jokowi&rdquo; Widodo argues that Indonesia is in a &ldquo;state of emergency&rdquo; and needs &ldquo;shock therapy&rdquo; to fight drugs.</p> <p> Endy Bayuni, senior editor of the Jakarta Post, says the Indonesian media has been overwhelmingly supportive of Jokowi in his war against drugs. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re basically driving the public opinion to support Jokowi&rsquo;s decision to execute people on death row for drug trafficking,&rdquo; he told GlobalPost.</p> <p> There has been no national survey on the matter, but experts believe the Indonesian public widely support the death penalty for drug convicts.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>NO MERCY for Drug Traffickers and Drug Dealers, because they are the REAL TERRORIST for the nations. <a href="">#CoinForAustralia</a> <a href="">#KoinuntukAustralia</a></p> <p> &mdash; Dodiet Aditya W.S. (@DodietAditya) <a href="">February 24, 2015</a></p></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Bayuni agrees, but says that with the international criticism over drug executions, &ldquo;the story has developed into a question of Indonesia&rsquo;s integrity as a sovereign nation.&rdquo;</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Your money is nothing compared our dignity. We are at war with drugs! So, eat our coins soon! <a href="">#CoinForAustralia</a> <a href="">#Coin4Abbott</a> <a href="">@TonyAbbottMHR</a></p> <p> &mdash; Alkaton (@Alkaton_AT) <a href="">February 24, 2015</a></p></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>The #CoinForAustralia campaign, he says, is &ldquo;a way of expressing frustration and anger&rdquo; at what the general public &ldquo;sees as an attempt by a foreign government to try to interfere in the legal process in Indonesia, which recognizes the death penalty.&rdquo;</p> <p> Caught up in this power struggle, the two Australians on death row seem to be trying to distance themselves from the debate.</p> <p> Relatives of Chan and Sukumaran talked to the media outside of their Bali jail on Sunday. &nbsp;</p> <p> While the two are &ldquo;very grateful for the support and kindness shown to them by so many people,&rdquo; they also ask for &ldquo;everyone to remain respectful at this time,&rdquo; their <a href="">relatives said</a>.</p> <p> &ldquo;Myu and Andrew love Indonesia, they have a great respect for the Indonesian people and its culture,&rdquo; they insisted.</p> <p> But while the executions have been delayed for &ldquo;technical issues,&rdquo; authorities haven&rsquo;t left much room for hope. On Monday, Bali&#39;s chief prosecutor Momock Bambang Samiarso <a href="">said</a> the two would &ldquo;very likely&rdquo; be transferred to the execution site this week.</p> Want to Know Asia-Pacific Indonesia Fri, 27 Feb 2015 05:15:06 +0000 Marie Dhumieres 6403341 at Charges against Argentina’s president are dismissed. Here's why <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Analysis: It's no surprise Judge Daniel Rafecas ruled to drop accusations that the government was blocking the Jewish center bombing investigation. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Will Carless </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>BUENOS AIRES, Argentina &mdash; An Argentine judge dismissed charges Thursday that President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner secretly tried to protect Iran from her country&rsquo;s probe into a Jewish community center bombing.</p> <p>The <a href="" target="_blank">move</a> has stalled a sensational scandal that&rsquo;s been spinning out of control for weeks.</p> <p>The saga <a href="" target="_blank">reads like a crime novel</a>. There&rsquo;s alleged forced <a href="" target="_blank">suicide</a>, shadowy spymasters, suspected Iranian terrorists and, at the center of it all, a polarizing president who&rsquo;s been up to her neck in accusations.</p> <p>The drama peaked earlier this month, when a prosecutor <a href="http://" target="_blank">formally accused</a> Fernandez de Kirchner and other officials of conspiring to cover up Iran&rsquo;s alleged involvement in the 1994 bombing of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) &mdash; the country&rsquo;s deadliest terrorist attack.</p> <p>The prosecutor who first made the allegation was found shot dead in his apartment last month, <a href="" target="_blank">provoking large protests</a> in this South American capital city and stoking anger at the government.</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="" target="_blank">A who&rsquo;s who in Argentina&rsquo;s deadly whodunit</a></strong></p> <p>But let&rsquo;s take a step back for a moment.</p> <p>Criminal charges against a president make for awesome headlines. But there are several reasons why it&rsquo;s not surprising Judge Daniel Rafecas dismissed them.</p> <p>GlobalPost traveled to Buenos Aires to meet legal experts who helped decipher the accusations, Argentina&rsquo;s legal system and the broader political machinations at play. Here&rsquo;s what we learned.</p> <h2> 1. First, understand the accusations and who Alberto Nisman is</h2> <p>President Fernandez de Kirchner and six other suspects, including Foreign Minister Hector Timerman, were accused of conspiring to protect a group of Iranians whom Argentine prosecutors suspect of orchestrating the 1994 bombing, which killed 85 people.</p> <p>The case was built by Alberto Nisman, a prosecutor who investigated the attack for more than 10 years. In January, Nisman announced he had discovered evidence that Fernandez de Kirchner and other top officials had allegedly engaged in a cover-up. He outlined the accusations in a 289-page &ldquo;denuncia&rdquo; or complaint presented to a federal judge.</p> <p>In a nutshell, Nisman alleged the government offered official impunity to the Iranians in exchange for Iran trading oil for Argentine grain. Argentina has been facing a severe energy crisis for more than a decade, and desperately needs cheap oil.</p> <div gp-image-embed="" gp-image-embed-position="left" gp-image-embed-source="Alejandro Pagni/AFP/Getty Images"> Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.</div> <p>The Argentine president and officials deny the accusations, and Iran&rsquo;s government has always refuted allegations the country had a role in the attack.</p> <p>On Jan. 18, hours before he was due to testify on the case before Argentina&rsquo;s congress, Nisman <a href="" target="_blank">was found dead</a> in his bathroom with a bullet in his head and a handgun near his body.</p> <p>Buenos Aires police are currently investigating if Nisman committed suicide, or if he was murdered.</p> <p>But the case didn&rsquo;t end with Nisman&rsquo;s death. On Feb. 13, a new prosecutor resurrected his investigation. More on that in a minute.</p> <h2> 2. The accusations were not quite <em>charges</em> as such</h2> <p>This may sound like semantics, but it&rsquo;s important.</p> <p>Argentina and the United States have very different criminal justice systems. Argentina&rsquo;s federal courts operate largely under the &ldquo;inquisitorial&rdquo; system, rather than the &ldquo;adversarial&rdquo; system used in the US.</p> <p>What&rsquo;s the difference? Mainly that Argentine prosecutors are required to do much less actual investigation and need to provide less evidence than their US counterparts before presenting a case to the court. And prosecutors in Argentina have far less freedom to investigate their suspects. For example, they only have very limited power to request wiretaps or subpoena witnesses.</p> <p>&ldquo;In the inquisitorial system, the discovery is done by the judge,&rdquo; says Martin Bohmer, a New York University global law professor based in Buenos Aires. (&ldquo;Discovery&rdquo; is the process of gathering information for a lawsuit.) In Argentina, Bohmer says, &ldquo;The prosecutor kind of suggests to the judge what to do.&rdquo;</p> <p>Consequently, a denuncia that an Argentine prosecutor files with a judge &mdash; like the one against Fernandez &mdash; is significantly different from US-style federal charges.</p> <p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s putting in motion the discovery that the judge is going to do, it&rsquo;s not finding your stuff out and then putting everything on the judge&rsquo;s table,&rdquo; Bohmer says.</p> <p>Judge Rafecas&rsquo; decision to &ldquo;<a href="" target="_blank">discontinue</a>&rdquo; the case therefore places the burden back onto the prosecutor, who can appeal the ruling.</p> <p>But the prosecutor&rsquo;s case has never looked very strong.</p> <h2> 3. There&rsquo;s no smoking gun (at least not yet)</h2> <p>The key evidence against Fernandez and the other suspects is a series of secretly recorded phone conversations between alleged clandestine negotiators working on behalf of the government.</p> <p>Nisman placed great weight on this evidence. He appeared convinced that he had a foolproof case against the president.</p> <p>But legal observers aren&rsquo;t so sure.</p> <p>Three Buenos Aires attorneys familiar with the case, including two lawyers who acknowledge they are not fans of the president, say the evidence so far made public against the defendants is weak.</p> <p>German Gonzalez Campana, a Harvard-educated defense lawyer, called the case &ldquo;incoherent.&rdquo; He says the evidence cited is questionable both in substance and origin.</p> <p>The recorded conversations were between minor players who weren&rsquo;t themselves part of the government and had little power, according to Gonzalez. And the references to the alleged cover-up were vague.</p> <p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s no conversation between any first officials,&rdquo; Gonzalez says. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s all second-hand and people who were not part of the government.&rdquo;</p> <p>Judge Rafecas apparently agrees.</p> <p>&quot;The evidence gathered far from meets the minimal standard,&quot; said a statement from the judiciary branch&#39;s CIJ information service.</p> <p>&ldquo;He said it&rsquo;s very weak,&rdquo; says Diego Fleitas, a Buenos Aires corporate lawyer and public policy expert, describing the judge&rsquo;s opinion. &ldquo;The evidence doesn&rsquo;t incriminate the officials.&rdquo;</p> <p>There are also significant questions about where exactly this evidence comes from, with much speculation that Nisman was fed the recorded calls by Argentina&rsquo;s former intelligence agency director Antonio Stiusso. The government had fired Stiusso in December.</p> <p>He has since <a href="" target="_blank">disappeared</a>.</p> <p>Shortly after Nisman&rsquo;s death, Fernandez de Kirchner announced a bill to dissolve the spy agency. On Thursday, legislators approved it, replacing the agency with a body with greater federal government oversight.</p> <h2> 4. The prosecutor who charged the president inherited a very hot potato</h2> <p>An obvious question arises: If the case is so weak, why did it even get in front of a judge?</p> <p>The answer gets to the core of this whole scandal.</p> <p>In early February, the Jewish center bombing case was taken over by prosecutor Gerardo Pollicita.</p> <p>On Feb. 13, Pollicita announced he was officially acting on Nisman&rsquo;s allegations and sent his denuncia to a federal judge &mdash; at first glance, a highly significant move. It looked like a wholehearted endorsement of Nisman&rsquo;s investigation, a fellow prosecutor&rsquo;s acknowledgment that Nisman was on to something.</p> <p>But legal experts aren&rsquo;t so sure.</p> <p>Pollicita was presented with an impossible situation when he took on the case.</p> <p>If he had refused to bring the widely publicized charges, he would have faced the wrath of the Argentine public, who would have suspected he too was involved in a government conspiracy, the attorneys say.</p> <p>And they offer startling theories of what could ensue.</p> <p>&ldquo;The Pollicita decision was a spectacle,&rdquo; Fleitas says. &ldquo;For a prosecutor in that situation, he had to move forward. If he doesn&rsquo;t, people will murder him. He&rsquo;s dead.&rdquo;</p> <p>Gonzalez offers an eerily similar assessment.</p> <p>&ldquo;He couldn&rsquo;t do that,&rdquo; Gonzalez says. &ldquo;I mean, he has the legal power to do that, but that would be crazy. He would get killed on the streets.&rdquo;</p> <p>Pollicita, therefore, inherited a legal hot potato. And it looks like the judge has chosen to quickly let go of it.</p> <p>We&rsquo;ll see what happens next.</p> Argentina Want to Know Politics Fri, 27 Feb 2015 05:15:00 +0000 Will Carless 6403490 at Banksy visited Gaza. Here's what the street artist wants us to see there <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> 'If we wash our hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless we side with the powerful.' </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Timothy McGrath </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>Whenever a new piece by graffiti artist Banksy shows up in the world, people take notice.&nbsp;</p> <p>Now, thanks to Banksy, the world is once again looking squarely at Gaza after what feels like the first time since the Gaza war last summer.&nbsp;Israel&#39;s <a href="">50-day military operation</a> against Hamas killed more than 2,000 Palestinians, most of them civilians, and turned much of Gaza City into rubble during the conflict. 72 Israelis also died, including 67 soldiers.</p> <p>You&#39;d think that kind of devastation would be hard to forget. Apparently not.</p> <p>Back in October, world leaders and staff met up at a <a href="">conference in Cairo</a> that was organized to raise money for rebuilding Gaza. Together, they pledged $5.4 billion. But as of mid-February, <a href="">only $300 million</a> has been delivered, according to Al Jazeera.&nbsp;</p> <p>Seems like the world needs a reminder.</p> <p>Enter Banksy.</p> <p>On Thursday, the anonymous street artist and activist posted a series of photographs and a video on his <a href="">official website</a> that show new works of art in what he claims is &mdash; and seems to be &mdash; Gaza.&nbsp;</p> <p>There&#39;s this crying and contorted figure that&#39;s reminiscent of a classical sculpture.</p> <div gp-image-embed="" gp-image-embed-position="nothing" gp-image-embed-source="Courtesy/"> &nbsp;</div> <p>There&#39;s this cartoonish cat.</p> <div gp-image-embed="" gp-image-embed-position="" gp-image-embed-source="Courtesy/"> &nbsp;</div> <p>And there&#39;s this carnival swing ride attached to a surveillance tower.</p> <div gp-image-embed="" gp-image-embed-position="" gp-image-embed-source="Courtesy/"> &nbsp;</div> <p>Banksy isn&#39;t shy about his politics with respect to Gaza. Some of the photos on his website include captions.&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;Gaza is often described as &#39;the world&#39;s largest open air prison&#39; because no-one is allowed to enter or leave,&quot; reads the caption for the guard tower swing. &quot;But that seems a bit unfair to prisons &mdash; they don&rsquo;t have their electricity and drinking water cut off randomly almost every day.&quot;</p> <p>His caption for a photo of the cat: &quot;A local man came up and said&nbsp;&#39;Please &mdash; what does this mean?&#39;&nbsp;I explained I wanted to highlight the destruction in Gaza by posting photos on my website &mdash; but on the internet people only look at pictures of kittens.&quot;</p> <p>There&#39;s more where that came from in a two-minute satirical video accompanying the photos. The video, which is titled &quot;Make this the year YOU discover a new destination,&quot; gives the impressions that Banksy shot it himself and offers the viewer a brief glimpse into life in an unidentified part of Gaza. It presents itself as a travel advertisement, using tourist-y cliches to encourage people to visit and undercutting those same cliches with devastating parenthetical statements. That text accompanies footage of a destroyed Gaza and its people. The effect is jarring.</p> <div gp-youtube-embed=""> &nbsp;</div> <p>The text reads:</p> <blockquote><p>Make this the year YOU discover a new destination. Welcome to Gaza. Well away from the tourist track. (Access is via a network of illegal tunnels.) The locals like it so much they never leave. (Because they&#39;re not allowed to.) Nestled in an exclusive setting. (Surrounded by a wall on three sides and a line of gun boats on the other.) Watched over by friendly neighbors. (In 2014 Operation Protective Edge destroyed 18,000 homes.) Development opportunities are everywhere. (No cement has been allowed into Gaza since the bombing.) Plenty of scope for refurbishment.</p> </blockquote> <p>The video ends with a photo of a wall with the following words written in red: &quot;If we wash our hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless we side with the powerful &mdash; we don&#39;t remain neutral.&quot;</p> <p>When asked by The New York Times, Banksy&#39;s publicist wouldn&#39;t say when or precisely where Banksy was in Gaza. Instead, she <a href="">passed along</a> what she said was a statement from the artist: &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t want to take sides. But when you see entire suburban neighborhoods reduced to rubble with no hope of a future&nbsp;&mdash; what you&rsquo;re really looking at is a vast outdoor recruitment center for terrorists. And we should probably address this for all our sakes.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p> <p>It&#39;s not Banksy&#39;s first time in Palestine. He <a href="">visited</a> the West Bank in 2005. There, he produced some of his most iconic pieces to date, several of them painted directly on the barrier wall separating the West Bank from Israel.</p> <p>Like his child with a beach bucket.</p> <div gp-image-embed="" gp-image-embed-position="nothing" gp-image-embed-source="Marco Di Lauro/AFP/Getty Images"> &nbsp;</div> <p>This girl carried off by balloons.</p> <div gp-image-embed="" gp-image-embed-position="nothing" gp-image-embed-source="David Silverman/AFP/Getty Images"> &nbsp;</div> <p>And this.</p> <div gp-image-embed="" gp-image-embed-position="nothing" gp-image-embed-source="Ian Walton/AFP/Getty Images"> &nbsp;</div> <p>Quite a body of work Banksy&#39;s putting together there.</p> Banksy in Gaza Strange But True Israel and Palestine Thu, 26 Feb 2015 21:26:00 +0000 Timothy McGrath 6403262 at Before 'Jihadi John,' Mohammed Emwazi was 'extremely gentle, soft-spoken' <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> After the naming of Islamic State's masked henchman, his alleged extreme violence gives an urgent note to the efforts to understand who he is and where he came from. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Corinne Purtill </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>LONDON, UK &mdash; Only one person who knew him has spoken publicly about Mohammed Emwazi since the 26-year-old computer science grad was outed as the black-masked man in the Islamic State&rsquo;s ugliest propaganda videos.</p> <p>On Thursday, Asim Qureshi, the research director of a rights group that worked with Emwazi before he disappeared into Syria in 2012, remembers a man who brought &ldquo;posh baklava&rdquo; &mdash; expensive pastries &mdash; into the office as a thank-you treat.</p> <p>&ldquo;You may be surprised to know that the Mohammed I knew was extremely kind, extremely gentle, soft-spoken,&rdquo; Qureshi said. &ldquo;The person I met would never have hurt a single person.&rdquo;</p> <p>Since Thursday&rsquo;s publication of a Washington Post article naming Emwazi, other media have cited unnamed US officials confirming he is the suspect widely called &ldquo;Jihadi John&rdquo; &mdash; the knife-wielding man who delivers angry monologues against the West in a British accent in videos showing the beheadings of civilian hostages, sometimes at his own hands.</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="" target="_blank">For richer, for poorer: Jihadi John is a reminder that extremism comes in all shapes and sizes </a></strong></p> <p>He has appeared in videos with seven victims: journalists James Foley, Steven Sotloff, and Kenji Goto, aid workers David Cawthorne Haines, <span class="st">Abdul-Rahman (</span>Peter) Kassig and Alan Henning, and traveler Haruna Yukawa.</p> <p>Officials and commentators have speculated about the identity of Jihadi John since the first video of Foley&rsquo;s death surfaced in August. His accent seemed to indicate that he was a Londoner. Media have reported for months that US and UK officials knew his identity but were not disclosing it to the public.</p> <p>Hundreds of Brits have left to fight in Syria, where Islamic State (IS) militants are among the insurgents battling President Bashar al-Assad&rsquo;s forces. Many of the recruits have publicly reported joining IS &mdash; through jubilant social media posts.</p> <p>The extreme violence and cruelty of Emwazi&rsquo;s alleged public actions &mdash; and his encounters with UK security before he went to Syria &mdash; give an urgent note to the efforts to understand who he is and where he came from.</p> <p>Feeling alienated from one&rsquo;s government is one thing. Being willing to murder those who carry its passport is another.</p> <p>For a 20-something member of one of the world&rsquo;s most media-savvy terror groups, Emwazi has left a very scant trail on social media. No photographs or posts of his have yet emerged.</p> <p>He was born in 1988 in Kuwait but immigrated to the UK with his family at age 6, according to details in the Washington Post. He lived in Ladbroke Grove, a gentrifying west London neighborhood where it&rsquo;s easier to find a soy latte than a mosque.</p> <p>The Post describes him as a young man from a well-to-do family, who liked stylish clothes. His father drove a taxi, Qureshi said.</p> <p>His family has not spoken publicly. Qureshi said the parents are not convinced that the man in the videos is their son.</p> <p>Qureshi disputed the characterization of himself in the Washington Post story as having definitively identified the man in the video as Emwazi.</p> <p>There are similarities, he said, but &ldquo;I can&rsquo;t be certain. He&rsquo;s got a hood on.&rdquo;</p> <p>Emwazi studied computer science at the University of Westminster in central London, which confirmed that he left the school in 2009.</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-version="4" style=" background:#FFF; border:0; border-radius:3px; box-shadow:0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width:658px; padding:0; width:99.375%; width:-webkit-calc(100% - 2px); width:calc(100% - 2px);"><div style="padding:8px;"> <div style=" background:#F8F8F8; line-height:0; margin-top:40px; padding:50% 0; text-align:center; width:100%;"> <div style=" background:url(data:image/png;base64,iVBORw0KGgoAAAANSUhEUgAAACwAAAAsCAMAAAApWqozAAAAGFBMVEUiIiI9PT0eHh4gIB4hIBkcHBwcHBwcHBydr+JQAAAACHRSTlMABA4YHyQsM5jtaMwAAADfSURBVDjL7ZVBEgMhCAQBAf//42xcNbpAqakcM0ftUmFAAIBE81IqBJdS3lS6zs3bIpB9WED3YYXFPmHRfT8sgyrCP1x8uEUxLMzNWElFOYCV6mHWWwMzdPEKHlhLw7NWJqkHc4uIZphavDzA2JPzUDsBZziNae2S6owH8xPmX8G7zzgKEOPUoYHvGz1TBCxMkd3kwNVbU0gKHkx+iZILf77IofhrY1nYFnB/lQPb79drWOyJVa/DAvg9B/rLB4cC+Nqgdz/TvBbBnr6GBReqn/nRmDgaQEej7WhonozjF+Y2I/fZou/qAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC); display:block; height:44px; margin:0 auto -44px; position:relative; top:-22px; width:44px;"> &nbsp;</div> </div> <p style=" margin:8px 0 0 0; padding:0 4px;"><a href="" style=" color:#000; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none; word-wrap:break-word;" target="_top">University of Westminster, alma mater of Mohammed Emwazi, identified as Jihadi John. Just now, a man walked in off the street and shouted &quot;I hate you Muslims&quot; at a group of female students in hijab in the lobby. Banged on the windows after he was ordered out. Women scared to leave now. #globalpost</a></p> <p style=" color:#c9c8cd; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px; margin-bottom:0; margin-top:8px; overflow:hidden; padding:8px 0 7px; text-align:center; text-overflow:ellipsis; white-space:nowrap;">A photo posted by Corinne Purtill (@corinnepurtill) on <time datetime="2015-02-26T18:42:08+00:00" style=" font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px;">Feb 26, 2015 at 10:42am PST</time></p> </div> </blockquote> <script async defer src="//"></script><p>On Thursday evening, a man stumbled in off of busy Regent Street and into the school&rsquo;s glass-fronted lobby.</p> <p>&ldquo;I hate you Muslims!&rdquo; he shouted at a group of hijab-clad female students who were sitting by the front door.</p> <p>He said a few more slurs before a security guard asked him to leave. He banged on the window as he left.</p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m shaking,&rdquo; one of the women said, and it was clear she was. The man lingered out front for a while. The women said they were scared to leave.</p> <p>The university has drawn criticism in the past as a result of some students&rsquo; support of Hizb ut-Tahrir, a banned Islamist political group that has called for an end to democracy and formation of an Islamic caliphate.</p> <p>Two students with ties to the group were elected to Westminster&rsquo;s student union government in 2011. Former President Tarik Mahri did not respond to requests for comment on Thursday.</p> <p>&ldquo;Jihadi John was radicalized AFTER graduating. And I have never met the guy,&rdquo; former Vice President Jamal Achchi told a journalist on Twitter. &ldquo;If you&rsquo;re looking for the causes of his radicalization, perhaps you ought to scrutinize foreign policy and the role of the MI5,&rdquo; he said, referring to Britain&rsquo;s spy agency.</p> <p>That was also the conclusion of <a href="" target="_blank">Cage</a>, the advocacy group where Qureshi works, which focuses on Muslims affected by the war on terror.</p> <p>Emwazi approached the group after being stopped by British security forces on a post-graduation trip to Tanzania in May 2009. He said he and two friends were detained and questioned before being sent back to the UK.</p> <p>Emwazi was harassed repeatedly by UK security forces over the next two and a half years, Qureshi said, and barred from several attempts to emigrate to Kuwait. He last communicated with Cage in January 2012, after which he went to Syria, Qureshi said.</p> <p><em>Correction: An earlier version <em>of this story</em> neglected to note the name of one IS hostage, aid worker <span class="st">Abdul-Rahman (</span>Peter) Kassig.</em></p> Islamic State Syria Want to Know War United Kingdom Thu, 26 Feb 2015 21:19:00 +0000 Corinne Purtill 6403383 at Argentine judge throws out cover-up charge against President Fernandez <!--paging_filter--><p>An Argentine judge dismissed the accusation made by state prosecutors that President Cristina Fernandez conspired to cover up Iran&#39;s alleged role in a deadly 1994 bombing, the country&#39;s court system said in a statement on Thursday.</p> <p>The judge ruled he would &quot;discontinue&quot; the case which had been revived earlier this month after its initial prosecutor, Alberto <span data-scayt_word="Nisman" data-scaytid="1">Nisman</span>, was found shot dead on Jan. 18 in mysterious circumstances that sparked political turmoil and the revamping of the country&#39;s spy agency.</p> <p>&quot;The evidence gathered far from meets the minimal standard,&quot; said a statement from the judiciary branch&#39;s <span data-scayt_word="CIJ" data-scaytid="2">CIJ</span> information service.</p> <p>Prosecutor Gerardo <span data-scayt_word="Pollicita" data-scaytid="3">Pollicita</span> renewed <span data-scayt_word="Nisman's" data-scaytid="4">Nisman&#39;s</span> investigation into whether Fernandez impeded the probe into the bombing in order to put through grains-for-oil deal with Tehran.</p> <p>Fernandez called the claims &quot;absurd.&quot; But the scandal over the original claim by <span data-scayt_word="Nisman" data-scaytid="5">Nisman</span>, and his death four days later, raised long-festering questions about the integrity of the Argentine justice system.</p> <p>Pollicita is expected to appeal the decision by Judge Daniel Rafecas to discontinue the investigation into the two-term leader, who is constitutionally barred from running for a third term in October&#39;s general election.</p> <p>Iran has consistently denied involvement in the 1994 attack on the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, which killed 85.</p> <p>(Editing by Mark Heinrich and W Simon)</p> Argentina Need to Know Thu, 26 Feb 2015 18:49:05 +0000 Thomson Reuters 6403263 at For richer, for poorer: Jihadi John is a reminder that extremism comes in all shapes and sizes <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Analysis: The White House's focus on poverty as the main cause of extremism may not tell the whole story. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Richard Hall </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>BEIRUT, Lebanon &mdash; &ldquo;When millions of people &mdash; especially youth &mdash; are impoverished and have no hope for the future, when corruption inflicts daily humiliations on people, when there are no outlets by which people can express their concerns, resentments fester. The risk of instability and extremism grow. Where young people have no education, they are more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and radical ideas, because it&#39;s not tested against anything else, they&rsquo;ve got nothing to weigh.&rdquo;</p> <p>Those were Barack Obama&#39;s <a href="">remarks</a> at the closing of an international summit on countering extremism a little over a week ago, the main aim of which was to figure out how to tackle the Islamic State (IS).</p> <p>As the militant group also known as ISIS or ISIL has continued to attract new members from across the world, an image of the type of person who would leave their life behind and travel to Syria or Iraq to join them has become commonplace. <a href="" target="_blank">That person is a loner</a> &mdash; an impoverished, isolated figure with nothing to lose.</p> <p>The link between poverty and terrorism is one frequently made by policymakers (more so than academics). Obama made the same case years earlier, <a href="">saying in 2012</a>: &ldquo;Extremely poor societies&hellip;provide optimal breeding grounds for disease, terrorism and conflict.&rdquo; Less than a year after the 9/11 attacks in New York, George W. Bush spoke of the need to &ldquo;fight against poverty because hope is an answer to terror.&rdquo;</p> <p>But what of the many terrorists and associated sympathizers who do not fit that profile? Enter &quot;Jihadi John,&quot; an IS member who has become something akin to a public face for the group (an irony, given that his face is always covered).</p> <p><strong>&lsquo;Well-to-do&rsquo; </strong></p> <p> A man called Jihadi John, whose nickname was given to him by former captives, has appeared in a number of videos in which he appears to execute Western hostages held by the group &mdash; among them American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and the British aid worker David Haines.&nbsp;</p> <p>On Thursday, he was unmasked by the <a href="">Washington Post</a> as Mohammed Emwazi, a British man described by friends and relatives as &ldquo;from a well-to-do family who grew up in West London and graduated from college with a degree in computer programming.&rdquo;</p> <p>The Washington Post revealed that Emwazi had complained of harassment by UK security services, a point which his friend believes started his path to radicalization.</p> <p>Emwazi&rsquo;s reported route to extremism is likely to divide opinion in the coming weeks, and beyond. The likely dividing lines were neatly expressed by Andrew Exum, a former US Army officer and writer on the Middle East, in the hours after Emwazi&#39;s name was revealed.&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;Mohammed Emwazi as Rorshach test: Did the state radicalize him? Or did the state correctly ID a radical?&quot; he wrote on Twitter.</p> <p>What many find surprising about Emwazi&rsquo;s background is that he was well-educated, and came from wealth.&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;The world now contemplates how a college educated Londoner could behead Westerners with such remorselessness,&rdquo; wrote New York Times political correspondent Michael Barbaro.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>The world now contemplates how a college educated Londoner could behead Westerners with such remorselessness.</p> <p> &mdash; Michael Barbaro (@mikiebarb) <a href="">February 26, 2015</a></p></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>But should that be the most jarring detail about Emwazi&rsquo;s life?</p> <p>The truth is that terrorists come in all shapes and sizes, and this has been true for some time. Notable examples include Osama bin Laden, the former Al Qaeda leader, who came from a family of billionaires. Anwar al-Awlaki, the group&#39;s leader in the Arabian Peninsula until his death, was studying for a PhD at George Washington University in the US when he left to join the fight.</p> <p>The Economist, reviewing several books on the causes of radicalism, <a href="">noted in a 2010 article</a> that &ldquo;the ranks of high-profile terrorism suspects also boast plenty of middle-class, well-educated people.&rdquo;</p> <p>It lists the examples: &ldquo;The would-be Times Square bomber, Faisal Shehzad, boasts an MBA and is the son of a senior Pakistani air-force officer. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who stands accused of lighting a makeshift bomb on a transatlantic flight in the so-called &#39;underwear plot,&#39; had a degree from University College, London, and is the son of a rich Nigerian banker. The suspected suicide-bomber in this week&#39;s attacks in Stockholm had a degree from a British university.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>Engineers, doctors, professionals </strong></p> <p>That same is true today. Since it grew out of the chaos of the Syrian civil war and the occupation of Iraq, IS has been very effective in attracting well-off and well-educated recruits.</p> <p>Among the early volunteers, joining around the same time as Emwazi, was Canadian citizen Andre Poulin. Speaking about his motivation for joining in an <a href="">IS propaganda video</a>, he said: &ldquo;Before I come here to Syria, I had money, I had a family, I had good friends. It wasn&rsquo;t like I was some anarchist or somebody who just wants to destroy the world and kill everybody.&quot;</p> <p>He went on, issuing a call for more volunteers: &ldquo;We need the engineers, we need doctors, we need professionals. Every person can contribute something to the Islamic State.&rdquo;</p> <p>And they have come. Doctors like <a href="">Othman Abdelkayan</a> and <a href="">Mirza Tariq Ali</a> have joined or tried to join IS. Engineers like <a href="">Areeb Majeed</a>, too.</p> <p>A <a href="">report</a> released late last year by King&rsquo;s College London&rsquo;s International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR) found that of nearly two dozen British citizens killed fighting in Syria, many &ldquo;appear to have had well-paying jobs such as driving an HGV for the Highways Agency, or working for north London estate agents, and at least five of those in ICSR&rsquo;s database were enrolled in, or had completed, higher education.&rdquo;</p> <p>Then there is the fact that most foreign IS militants come from Tunisia &mdash; the most educated and cosmopolitan country in the Arab world. Tunisian officials estimate that as many as <a href="">2,400 citizens have gone to join the group</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p>There are many indicators, and some strong trends &mdash; but there is no one route to radicalization.</p> <p>This is something that the Islamic State knows full well, according to John Horgan, a psychologist and professor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell&rsquo;s Center for Terrorism and Security Studies.</p> <p>Speaking to the <a href="">International Business Times last year</a>, he summarized the group&rsquo;s appeal to different sections of society:</p> <p>&ldquo;It is an equal opportunity organization. It has everything from the sadistic psychopath to the humanitarian to the idealistic driven.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p> Need to Know Syria Europe Iraq Middle East United Kingdom Thu, 26 Feb 2015 17:02:00 +0000 Richard Hall 6403101 at Here's why the UK is sending troops to Ukraine after the ceasefire <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> A scathing report from the House of Lords accused Britain and other EU members of 'sleep-walking into the current crisis.' </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Corinne Purtill </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>LONDON, UK &mdash; The arrival of 75 British military personnel in Ukraine in the next few days isn&#39;t exactly going to turn the tide of a deadly crisis that&rsquo;s ruining the country geographically, politically and economically.</p> <p>The eastern Ukraine war, which has killed nearly 5,800 people in almost a year, appears to have quieted down for the time being. Officials in the capital of Kyiv <a href="" target="_blank">announced</a> Thursday they&rsquo;re pulling back heavy artillery from the front line.</p> <p>So why is the UK suddenly interested in lending Ukraine a hand?</p> <p>The British military medics and trainers are going to western Ukraine, some 800 miles from the eastern border where Russian-backed separatist rebels have been clashing with Ukrainian government forces. In the spring, they&#39;ll be joined by support troops from the United States.</p> <p>The distance looks a little bit like stationing troops in Washington, DC, to stave off an invasion of Disney World in Orlando.</p> <p>It&#39;s a deliberate move to ensure that Britain&#39;s show of support has no chance of morphing into an armed clash between a NATO army and Russian troops, even giving a bit of credence to Russian President Vladimir Putin&#39;s <a href="" target="_blank">contention</a> that Ukraine&#39;s army is just a &quot;foreign legion&quot; of the Western alliance.</p> <p>Seen from a distance, the tepid deployment of a few dozen support personnel to an area far from the conflict looks like a hasty fix to recent accusations of a slow, confused and haphazard response from Britain &mdash; and Europe in general &mdash; to the crisis.</p> <p>The news came as US President Barack Obama is grappling with whether to send weapons to Ukraine.</p> <p>On Wednesday, Poland also <a href="" target="_blank">announced plans</a> to send military personnel to help train the Ukrainian troops.</p> <p>Britain and other European Union members have been &quot;sleep-walking into the current crisis,&quot; according to a <a href="" target="_blank">scathing report</a> last week from the UK Parliament&#39;s House of Lords.</p> <p style=" margin: 12px auto 6px auto; font-family: Helvetica,Arial,Sans-serif; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 14px; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; -x-system-font: none; display: block;"><a href="" style="text-decoration: underline;" title="View The EU and Russia: before and beyond the crisis in Ukraine on Scribd">The EU and Russia: before and beyond the crisis in Ukraine</a></p> <p><iframe class="scribd_iframe_embed" data-aspect-ratio="undefined" data-auto-height="false" frameborder="0" height="600" id="doc_92854" scrolling="no" src=";view_mode=scroll&amp;show_recommendations=true" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>&quot;The EU&#39;s relationship with Russia has for too long been based on the optimistic premise that Russia has been on a trajectory towards becoming a democratic &#39;European&#39; country,&quot; the report <a href="" target="_blank">said</a>. &quot;This has not been the case. Member states have been slow to reappraise the relationship and to adapt to the realities of the Russia we have today.&quot;</p> <p>Russia expertise in individual member countries&rsquo; foreign offices has dropped sharply in recent years, the authors found. In the UK, this led to &quot;quite a lot of complaint&quot; at the time of Putin&rsquo;s 2014 incursion into Crimea that no one in the Foreign Office could give any decent advice on what to do next.</p> <p>That uncertainty has hovered over the European response ever since, with Western officials frequently appearing taken by surprise by moves from Russia, or even their own allies.</p> <p>EU officials in Brussels weren&#39;t even aware of Britain&rsquo;s troop commitment this week until <a href="" target="_blank">contacted by reporters</a> from the English-language Kyiv Post for comment &mdash; and, according to the outlet, &quot;were unable to provide one.&quot;</p> <p>The situation is a thorny political issue for British Prime Minister David Cameron. The elections are just a few months away, on May 7. If his Conservative Party wins again, Cameron has promised to hold a referendum in 2017 on whether the UK should leave the EU.</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost:&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Here&#39;s a look at 4 internal trouble spots threatening the EU&#39;s unity</a></strong></p> <p>That promise makes diplomacy in Brussels a little awkward these days, leaving him open to the charge that Britain has taken a back seat on Ukraine.</p> <p>Germany and France took the lead earlier this month on brokering the failed ceasefire between Ukraine and Russia in Minsk, Belarus. (A sign that a truce isn&#39;t really a truce: It took almost two weeks after the &quot;ceasefire&quot; was declared to have a single 24-hour period where <a href="" target="_blank">no troops</a> were killed.)</p> <p>Cameron said it would be &quot;miraculous&quot; if their plan holds, but if he has a better one, he&#39;s keeping it to himself.</p> <p>&quot;I think it&#39;s obvious that the prime minister was seriously stung by the domestic political response to his absence from the Minsk diplomacy, and therefore feels compelled to take a strong position,&quot; Royal United Services Institute senior research fellow Shashank Joshi <a href="" target="_blank">told</a> The Guardian.</p> <p>Military support aside, it&#39;s not clear anyone in Cameron&#39;s government knows exactly what that strong position should be.</p> <p>Yes, Russia annexed Crimea, and yes, Ukrainian troops have surrendered the eastern city of Debaltseve. But the British leader <a href="" target="_blank">says</a> the separatists could target the eastern port city of Mariupol next &mdash; that&#39;s when the UK would get serious.</p> <p>&quot;People will be looking at Mariupol as the next potential flashpoint, and if that were to happen, I think the argument for further action would be overwhelming,&quot; Cameron said.</p> <p>&quot;I think what we should be putting into place is a sense that if there is another Debaltseve then that will trigger a round of sanctions that will be materially different to what we have seen so far.&quot;</p> <p><em>GlobalPost correspondent Dan Peleschuk contributed to this report from Kyiv, Ukraine.</em></p> Need to Know Ukraine conflict War United Kingdom Thu, 26 Feb 2015 16:43:00 +0000 Corinne Purtill 6402980 at Ukraine begins withdrawing artillery from front line <!--paging_filter--><p>Ukrainian troops towed artillery away from the front line in the east on Thursday, a move that amounted to recognizing that a <span data-scayt_word="ceasefire" data-scaytid="1">ceasefire</span> meant to take effect on Feb. 15 was holding at last.</p> <p>The military showed reporters seven or eight guns being towed away from the front at the village of <span data-scayt_word="Paraskoviyvka" data-scaytid="2">Paraskoviyvka</span> north of the government stronghold of <span data-scayt_word="Artemivsk" data-scaytid="3">Artemivsk</span>. Earlier, Reuters journalists saw a larger convoy of 30-40 vehicles also towing guns away from the front on a highway.</p> <p>The move was <span data-scayt_word="Kyiv's" data-scaytid="6">Kyiv&#39;s</span> most direct step to acknowledge that the <span data-scayt_word="ceasefire" data-scaytid="4">ceasefire</span> was finally holding, a week after suffering one of the worst defeats of the war at the hands of rebels who initially ignored the <span data-scayt_word="ceasefire" data-scaytid="5">ceasefire</span> to launch a major advance.</p> <p>The pro-Russian rebels, who committed to the truce after their successful offensive, have been pulling back heavy weapons for two days, but <span data-scayt_word="Kyiv" data-scaytid="9">Kyiv</span> had until now held back from implementing the withdrawal, arguing that fighting had not yet ceased.</p> <p>However, the army reported no combat fatalities at the front for a second straight day on Thursday, the first time no troops have been killed since long before the French- and German-brokered truce was meant to take effect.</p> <p>The withdrawal of artillery is &quot;point two&quot; of the peace agreement reached in the Belarus capital Minsk, so beginning it amounts to an acknowledgement that &quot;point one&quot; &mdash; the ceasefire itself &mdash; is being observed.</p> <p>&quot;Today Ukraine has begun the withdrawal of 100 millimeter guns from the line of confrontation,&quot; the military said in a statement, saying the step would be monitored by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.</p> <p>It said it reserved the right to alter the schedule of withdrawal &quot;in the event of any attempted offensive&quot;.</p> <p>Reuters journalists in rebel-held Donetsk said they had heard no artillery in the night although the occasional distant blast or gunshot could be heard during the day.</p> <p><strong>&#39;We don&#39;t recover dead bodies. We make them&#39;</strong></p> <p>Rebels brought Ukrainian war prisoners on Thursday to the ruins of the airport on the north of the town to recover the dead bodies of their fellow Ukrainian troops, left buried in the wreckage since it the terminal was captured in January.</p> <div class="getty embed image" style="background-color:#fff;display:inline-block;font-family:'Helvetica Neue',Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif;color:#a7a7a7;font-size:11px;width:100%;max-width:594px;"> <div style="overflow:hidden;position:relative;height:0;padding:66.666667% 0 0 0;width:100%;"> <iframe frameborder="0" height="396" scrolling="no" src="//;sig=vKuJZ4TBlODDmNY35QqcgZ1KPBgWS1kdqBr9B1mkGnM=" style="display:inline-block;position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;" width="594"></iframe></div> <p style="margin:0;">&nbsp;</p> <div style="padding:0;margin:0 0 0 10px;text-align:left;"> <a href="" style="color:#a7a7a7;text-decoration:none;font-weight:normal !important;border:none;display:inline-block;" target="_blank">View image</a> | <a href="" style="color:#a7a7a7;text-decoration:none;font-weight:normal !important;border:none;display:inline-block;" target="_blank"></a></div> </div> <p>Rebels carried out controlled explosions to blast holes through walls inside the ruined terminal and sent the prisoners down a ladder where the floor had collapsed.</p> <p>Three dead bodies still lay at the site out of five that had been recovered from the debris the previous day. Prisoners said they were searching for three more they believed were still buried.</p> <p>The commander of the separatist &quot;Sparta&quot; battalion, going by the nom de guerre &quot;Motorola&quot;, said the prisoners had been assigned the task because &quot;it&#39;s not our job to recover dead bodies, it&#39;s our job to make them.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;They take their comrades out to return them to their mums and dads. Did they think we would feed them for free?&quot;</p> <p>The airport is a totemic battlefield for both sides. Ukrainian troops had held out there for months until the rebels assaulted it after abandoning a previous ceasefire agreed in September.</p> <p>The separatist rebels initially ignored the new truce last week to launch an advance that led to one of the biggest battles of a war that has killed more than 5,600 people.</p> <p>But since capturing the strategic town of Debaltseve, where the rebels said the truce did not apply, they have taken pains to emphasize that they now intend to abide by it.</p> <p>Western countries denounced the rebels and their presumed sponsor, Russian President Vladimir Putin, for advancing on Debaltseve after the truce was meant to take effect. But they have since held out hope that the ceasefire will now hold, with the rebels having achieved that objective.</p> <p>In the days after its troops were driven from Debaltseve, Kyiv maintained that it believed the rebels were reinforcing for another advance, particularly expressing fear for the city of Mariupol, a port of 500,000 people.</p> <p>Western countries have threatened to impose new economic sanctions on Moscow if the rebels advance further into territory the Kremlin calls &quot;New Russia.&quot;</p> <p>Moscow, which denies aiding its sympathizers in Ukraine, said on Thursday the threats of more sanctions were cover for Western efforts to undermine the truce.</p> <p>&quot;It&#39;s an attempt to ... distract attention from the necessity to fulfill the conditions of the Minsk agreements,&quot; Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.</p> Need to Know Europe Thu, 26 Feb 2015 14:24:39 +0000 Thomson Reuters 6403042 at South Korea decriminalizes adultery, causing condom stocks to soar <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> After the ruling, shares in Unidus Corp, which makes latex products, soared to the 15 percent daily limit gain. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Thomson Reuters </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>SEOUL, South Korea &mdash; South Korea&#39;s highest court on Thursday struck down as unconstitutional a decades-old law banning adultery, triggering a surge in shares of condom makers and morning-after pills.</p> <p>The 1953 law aimed to protect women in a male-dominated society where divorce was rare, by making marital infidelity punishable with jail.</p> <p>&quot;The law is unconstitutional as it infringes people&#39;s right to make their own decisions on sex and secrecy and freedom of their private life, violating the principle banning excessive enforcement,&quot; said Seo Ki-seok, a Constitutional Court judge, reading an opinion on behalf of five judges.</p> <p>Seven members of the nine-judge panel deemed the law to be unconstitutional.</p> <p>After the ruling, shares in Unidus Corp, which makes latex products, including condoms, soared to the 15 percent daily limit gain.</p> <p>Hyundai Pharmaceutical Co Ltd, a maker of morning-after birth control pills and pregnancy tests, ended up 9.7 percent after the court decision, recovering earlier losses.</p> <p>Critics have said the law against adultery is outdated in a society where rapid modernization has often clashed with traditional values.</p> <p>In 2008, the court had upheld the law, citing South Korean society&#39;s legal perception that adultery damages social order.</p> <p>Several thousand spouses file criminal adultery complaints each year in South Korea, although jailings are rare. Prosecutors say no one was put behind bars last year, despite 892 indictments on adultery charges.</p> Safe Sex Want to Know South Korea Thu, 26 Feb 2015 10:16:00 +0000 Thomson Reuters 6402870 at London Mayor Boris Johnson expounds on Boston's Olympic bid <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> GlobalPost exclusive: Johnson says the 2012 Games transformed the UK capital. 'There was a huge charge of good feeling, euphoria, serotonin.' </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> David Case </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>BOSTON &mdash; On a recent visit to snow-choked Boston, London&rsquo;s iconic mayor Boris Johnson weighed in on how this city could win its bid for the 2024 Olympics, and on how the 2012 Games transformed his city.</p> <p> And he told GlobalPost which event he&rsquo;d really like to compete in.</p> <p><strong>GlobalPost: Was hosting the Olympics good for London?</strong></p> <p> <strong>Mayor Boris Johnson:</strong> Incontestably. Incontestably. It was one of the greatest things London has done in the last fifty years. For all sorts of reasons. It brought people together in a way that they never expected. There was a huge charge of good feeling, euphoria, serotonin. Everyone came together and enjoyed the games. We were proud that London put on a great Olympics.</p> <p> And I think the second reason is that it&rsquo;s delivered a lasting economic benefit for London. I think the year after the games we had a record number of international tourists. We knocked <a href="" target="_blank">Paris off the number one spot</a>. And then last year we did even better. So we&rsquo;ve got money rolling in, investment rolling in from around the world and we&rsquo;re very proud of what&rsquo;s happening in London right now. We&rsquo;re seeing huge huge sums coming in.</p> <p> <strong>Organizing an Olympics is a massive undertaking, a multibillion-dollar project. What lessons did you learn, and what do you wish you had done differently?</strong></p> <p> I think the key thing is, everyone will pull together, it&rsquo;s something that goes beyond party politics. The wonderful thing in London was that the Labor Party, the Conservatives, everybody just worked together for the good of the city and the good of the games. And everyone felt good about it, it can bring people together.</p> <p> One thing you&rsquo;ve got to get right is your stadium, and where you&rsquo;re going to put that. We had a lot of anxiety about that and we didn&rsquo;t get it right, frankly, at the beginning, and we had to correct that. The economic legacy has been terrific, though the stadium hasn&rsquo;t been perfect.</p> <p> You&rsquo;ve got to manage travel demand: taxi drivers, and people who use the road. There will be a lot of needless apprehension. People will be needlessly negative, and they&rsquo;ve got to buoy them up.</p> <p> <strong>Boston, where you are currently visiting, is bidding for the 2024 games. Do you think Boston would be a good location for the Olympics?</strong></p> <p> Well, you know, I would hesitate to blight or jinx any candidacy by endorsing it myself, but I think Boston would have a fantastic case. There&rsquo;s no question. I mean, they&rsquo;ve got a very good story to tell about the urban regeneration they want to pull off, and I think they understand the importance of appealing to the Olympic committee with the sporting participation they want to achieve.</p> <p> <strong>What advice would you have for a city bidding on the games, in order to persuade the Olympic committee?</strong></p> <p> I think you&rsquo;ve got to make a story about how it will be good for everybody in the city, and how it will lead to long-term regeneration for everybody in all kinds of ways: in bringing society together, but also getting kids involved in sport, in creating aspiration. I think you&rsquo;ve got to build that sort of narrative about change and improvement. I think that&rsquo;s what the Olympic Committee want to hear: They want to hear how this thing they&rsquo;ve got, this right to hold the games, this blessing that people seek can be transformational. It&rsquo;s about a long-term legacy, about where this is going to lead your city in the long run, and I think Boston&rsquo;s working on that pretty well.</p> <p> <strong>To get London&rsquo;s public transportation system ready for the games a lot of money was spent &mdash; on a cable car, high speed rail service and other improvements. The goal was to have athletes travel less than 20 minutes to their event. How important is a good public transportation system to a successful Olympics? And to the extent you&rsquo;re familiar with Boston&rsquo;s system, is it adequate?</strong></p> <p> It&rsquo;s absolutely crucial to have good public transport, and it has been one of the great, great benefits of the games. We&rsquo;ve seen a huge investment in mass transit. We&rsquo;ve had the Tube upgrade, we&rsquo;ve got a big new underground commuter rail coming in, we&rsquo;ve got all sorts of stuff happening that wouldn&rsquo;t have happened, really, if it hadn&rsquo;t been for the Olympics. You&rsquo;ve got to dovetail your infrastructure objectives with the games. You&rsquo;ve got to think about using the games to project your city to where it needs to be in the next twenty or thirty years.</p> <p> <strong>A recent poll found that only about half of Bostonians are in favor of holding the games, and some are calling for a referendum. How does that compare to support for the London Games?</strong></p> <p> I remember at this stage, support was pretty tepid. It really solidified when the International Olympic Committee gave us the nod formally, and said okay, guys, you&rsquo;ve got it in London. And then there was a moment of real exultation, and people poured spontaneously into Trafalgar Square to show their happiness. When the city feels that this is it, that the finger of fate is pointing at Boston, I think people will change their views.</p> <p> <strong>There&rsquo;s concern that taxpayers could be forced to shell out billions to host the games. The London Olympics budget was reportedly increased by nearly fourfold from the original estimate, and a big part of the residences at the Olympic Village sold for a loss of nearly $400 million. Financially, were the games good for the city, and what kind of burden did it place on the taxpayers?</strong></p> <p> I would say that the budget never increased at all for about five years. It was underestimated to begin with. We then fixed on a figure of $9.3 billion, and we came under it, actually. For five years we held to that budget. I think that inevitably some taxpayers&rsquo; money has got to be spent on this project, but it will be worth it in the long run. In London, it&rsquo;s hard to deny, we have regeneration happening across the city now, and I think a lot of it is associated with the Olympic Games.</p> <p> <strong>Another concern in Boston is what will happen to the facilities after the games are over. How are they being used in London?</strong></p> <p> We had a spectacular success. Every single one of them has a viable future in the private sector. That&rsquo;s, again, when you set out on these trips you&rsquo;ve got to make sure you end up in that place. In Stratford we&rsquo;re seeing a new city born, in an area that was completely derelict.</p> <p> <strong>If you could compete in any event in the Olympics, what would it be?</strong></p> <p> Well me? Any athletic event? I was quite fast in the 200 meters, would you believe it? But that was a long time ago. I don&rsquo;t know what I&rsquo;d compete in. The egg and spoon race, the tug of war.</p> <p> <strong>Sychronized swimming?</strong></p> <p> No, I don&rsquo;t think I&rsquo;d be any good at that.</p> <p> <strong>Skeet shooting, based on <a href="" target="_blank">your recent photo-op in Iraq </a>...</strong></p> <p>[Laughs] No, I don&rsquo;t think I&rsquo;d be much good at that.</p> <p> Maybe ... cycling?</p> <p>The slow cycle! That&rsquo;s it!</p> Want to Know United Kingdom United States Thu, 26 Feb 2015 05:15:00 +0000 David Case 6402446 at Check out these empowering portraits of drag queens in China <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> They're one sign popular views on gender identity might be changing. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Lizzy Tomei </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>Like in so many <a href="" target="_blank">other countries</a>, it isn&#39;t easy to be transgender in China.</p> <p>A <a href="" target="_blank">widely-cited report</a> released last month by the New York-based NGO <a href="" target="_blank">Asia Catalyst</a> detailed the abuses and discrimination that female transgender sex workers encounter there. &quot;Although there are no outright legal penalties for being a transgender person in China, the absence of non-discrimination laws, lack of professional medical services for transitioning, and a lack of targeted HIV programming and services, mean there is no effective protection,&quot; the report noted.</p> <p>Of course, it&#39;s not just sex workers who are marginalized for being transgender. It&#39;s an identity that&#39;s officially stigmatized by medical definitions and limited legal protections.</p> <p>&quot;The Chinese Society of Psychiatry classifies individuals seeking to change their gender as suffering from a mental illness,&quot; Jess Macy Yu wrote in <a href="" target="_blank">The New York Times</a> last month.&nbsp;</p> <p>But these images by photojournalist <a href="" target="_blank">Kevin Frayer</a> are one sign popular views on gender identity may be changing.</p> <p>In January Frayer, who works for Getty Images, photographed cross-dressing performers at Nanning&#39;s Chunai 98 club, in southern Guangxi Province. The club is &quot;a rare showcase of performances by a small group of cross-dressing Chinese men,&quot; Frayer writes, and &quot;has slowly gained some local acceptance.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;Many of the performers come from small cities in other provinces, having left their families in search of acceptance, employment and a sense of community.&quot;</p> <div class="getty embed image" style="background-color:#fff;display:inline-block;font-family:'Helvetica Neue',Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif;color:#a7a7a7;font-size:11px;width:100%;max-width:594px;"> <div style="overflow:hidden;position:relative;height:0;padding:76.599327% 0 0 0;width:100%;"> <iframe frameborder="0" height="455" scrolling="no" src="//;sig=91ZqwVLuVQ6LF0AspyOjtA0r5MSybnTObOifD7dLG6k=" style="display:inline-block;position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;" width="594"></iframe></div> </div> <div class="getty embed image" style="background-color:#fff;display:inline-block;font-family:'Helvetica Neue',Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif;color:#a7a7a7;font-size:11px;width:100%;max-width:594px;"> <div style="overflow:hidden;position:relative;height:0;padding:75.925926% 0 0 0;width:100%;"> <iframe frameborder="0" height="451" scrolling="no" src="//;sig=xdaF03fSY9HchgVlOsk8YgtbjK_IgVwOz92c6iD0bLw=" style="display:inline-block;position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;" width="594"></iframe></div> <p style="margin:0;">&nbsp;</p> <div style="padding:0;margin:0 0 0 10px;text-align:left;"> </div> </div> <div class="getty embed image" style="background-color:#fff;display:inline-block;font-family:'Helvetica Neue',Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif;color:#a7a7a7;font-size:11px;width:100%;max-width:594px;"> <div style="overflow:hidden;position:relative;height:0;padding:76.262626% 0 0 0;width:100%;"> <iframe frameborder="0" height="453" scrolling="no" src="//;sig=WcSVtSZCd9XKYFNbikrbj9p7Qdwl1j9rM-3xi-VKu7Q=" style="display:inline-block;position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;" width="594"></iframe></div> </div> <div class="getty embed image" style="background-color:#fff;display:inline-block;font-family:'Helvetica Neue',Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif;color:#a7a7a7;font-size:11px;width:100%;max-width:594px;"> <div style="overflow:hidden;position:relative;height:0;padding:76.767677% 0 0 0;width:100%;"> <iframe frameborder="0" height="456" scrolling="no" src="//;sig=5VV82PYNFSj7PTZQs2R5VyeZLNfBXsfKscGsIrVlhEQ=" style="display:inline-block;position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;" width="594"></iframe></div> <p style="margin:0;">&nbsp;</p> <div style="padding:0;margin:0 0 0 10px;text-align:left;"> </div> </div> <div class="getty embed image" style="background-color:#fff;display:inline-block;font-family:'Helvetica Neue',Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif;color:#a7a7a7;font-size:11px;width:100%;max-width:594px;"> <div style="overflow:hidden;position:relative;height:0;padding:76.430976% 0 0 0;width:100%;"> <iframe frameborder="0" height="454" scrolling="no" src="//;sig=ewDGSg2vLDTkBh97Q9F2L9q8tYFO8i_KUrYDhtPYZ7g=" style="display:inline-block;position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;" width="594"></iframe></div> <p style="margin:0;">&nbsp;</p> <div style="padding:0;margin:0 0 0 10px;text-align:left;"> </div> </div> <div class="getty embed image" style="background-color:#fff;display:inline-block;font-family:'Helvetica Neue',Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif;color:#a7a7a7;font-size:11px;width:100%;max-width:594px;"> <div style="overflow:hidden;position:relative;height:0;padding:65.656566% 0 0 0;width:100%;"> <iframe frameborder="0" height="390" scrolling="no" src="//;sig=GN724Si1TqAowN4b-TMD7KK-TgVGApcFSetiQk1R3TM=" style="display:inline-block;position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;" width="594"><br /> </iframe></div> <p style="margin:0;">&nbsp;</p> </div> <div class="getty embed image" style="background-color:#fff;display:inline-block;font-family:'Helvetica Neue',Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif;color:#a7a7a7;font-size:11px;width:100%;max-width:594px;"> <div style="overflow:hidden;position:relative;height:0;padding:67.845118% 0 0 0;width:100%;"> <iframe frameborder="0" height="403" scrolling="no" src="//;sig=l5m26WnapSU-KOOWizY2tsm6A2QuesaNwYlf2meL90Y=" style="display:inline-block;position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;" width="594"></iframe></div> <p style="margin:0;">&nbsp;</p> <div style="padding:0;margin:0 0 0 10px;text-align:left;"> </div> </div> <div class="getty embed image" style="background-color:#fff;display:inline-block;font-family:'Helvetica Neue',Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif;color:#a7a7a7;font-size:11px;width:100%;max-width:594px;"> <div style="overflow:hidden;position:relative;height:0;padding:66.329966% 0 0 0;width:100%;"> <iframe frameborder="0" height="394" scrolling="no" src="//;sig=X5f6l7Cvd9U1F8uGOhTgTW0loGzq2zMvocS9ld8Rk9M=" style="display:inline-block;position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;" width="594"><br /> </iframe></div> <p style="margin:0;">&nbsp;</p> <div style="padding:0;margin:0 0 0 10px;text-align:left;"> </div> </div> <div class="getty embed image" style="background-color:#fff;display:inline-block;font-family:'Helvetica Neue',Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif;color:#a7a7a7;font-size:11px;width:100%;max-width:594px;"> <div style="overflow:hidden;position:relative;height:0;padding:69.360269% 0 0 0;width:100%;"> <iframe frameborder="0" height="412" scrolling="no" src="//;sig=fiz8ffeEyuuMYFXCfD0r4HBeF0-SwodyOfch-n2VnGo=" style="display:inline-block;position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;" width="594"></iframe></div> <p style="margin:0;">&nbsp;</p> <div style="padding:0;margin:0 0 0 10px;text-align:left;"> </div> </div> <div class="getty embed image" style="background-color:#fff;display:inline-block;font-family:'Helvetica Neue',Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif;color:#a7a7a7;font-size:11px;width:100%;max-width:594px;"> <div style="overflow:hidden;position:relative;height:0;padding:66.666667% 0 0 0;width:100%;"> <iframe frameborder="0" height="396" scrolling="no" src="//;sig=jI4ogLaoJpusTKQ6KfcdBdNFAi-Z5RZEgGPsSqXBpBw=" style="display:inline-block;position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;" width="594"></iframe></div> <p style="margin:0;">&nbsp;</p> <div style="padding:0;margin:0 0 0 10px;text-align:left;"> </div> </div> <div class="getty embed image" style="background-color:#fff;display:inline-block;font-family:'Helvetica Neue',Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif;color:#a7a7a7;font-size:11px;width:100%;max-width:594px;"> <div style="overflow:hidden;position:relative;height:0;padding:68.686869% 0 0 0;width:100%;"> <iframe frameborder="0" height="408" scrolling="no" src="//;sig=giM25XmXP_wenQKM43sD9BUEXbMlpnSofjeMH15ZgH0=" style="display:inline-block;position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;" width="594"></iframe></div> </div> <div class="getty embed image" style="background-color:#fff;display:inline-block;font-family:'Helvetica Neue',Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif;color:#a7a7a7;font-size:11px;width:100%;max-width:594px;"> <div style="overflow:hidden;position:relative;height:0;padding:68.518519% 0 0 0;width:100%;"> <iframe frameborder="0" height="407" scrolling="no" src="//;sig=NGKrbwi9vfuzW1Q-5v5dAU3BGIq-8pqmLlnrYzRK63c=" style="display:inline-block;position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;" width="594"></iframe></div> </div> <div class="getty embed image" style="background-color:#fff;display:inline-block;font-family:'Helvetica Neue',Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif;color:#a7a7a7;font-size:11px;width:100%;max-width:594px;"> <div style="overflow:hidden;position:relative;height:0;padding:65.993266% 0 0 0;width:100%;"> <iframe frameborder="0" height="392" scrolling="no" src="//;sig=hbsKN0rjBSqfQhHWgGp7nJoR2lpwKY-nkGSmFRmfOR4=&amp;caption=true" style="display:inline-block;position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;" width="594"></iframe></div> <p style="margin:0;">&nbsp;</p> <div style="padding:0;margin:0 0 0 10px;text-align:left;"> </div> </div> <div class="getty embed image" style="background-color:#fff;display:inline-block;font-family:'Helvetica Neue',Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif;color:#a7a7a7;font-size:11px;width:100%;max-width:594px;"> <div style="overflow:hidden;position:relative;height:0;padding:66.835017% 0 0 0;width:100%;"> <iframe frameborder="0" height="397" scrolling="no" src="//;sig=ZoeM52XPhm7XI4pTfeZbMUZrACvFJ3xPJWDRi_wFWJ0=" style="display:inline-block;position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;" width="594"></iframe></div> <p style="margin:0;">&nbsp;</p> <div style="padding:0;margin:0 0 0 10px;text-align:left;"> </div> </div> <div class="getty embed image" style="background-color:#fff;display:inline-block;font-family:'Helvetica Neue',Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif;color:#a7a7a7;font-size:11px;width:100%;max-width:594px;"> <div style="overflow:hidden;position:relative;height:0;padding:66.329966% 0 0 0;width:100%;"> <iframe frameborder="0" height="394" scrolling="no" src="//;sig=NI-82a1cEtLyrVDywh1GoUbMSHGhk7m5_vaBg3gyAbU=&amp;caption=true" style="display:inline-block;position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;" width="594"></iframe></div> <p style="margin:0;">&nbsp;</p> <div style="padding:0;margin:0 0 0 10px;text-align:left;"> </div> </div> <div class="getty embed image" style="background-color:#fff;display:inline-block;font-family:'Helvetica Neue',Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif;color:#a7a7a7;font-size:11px;width:100%;max-width:594px;"> <div style="overflow:hidden;position:relative;height:0;padding:67.845118% 0 0 0;width:100%;"> <iframe frameborder="0" height="403" scrolling="no" src="//;sig=sndN1oBK4-8hjhJnMwMYD9qNf3zWsSrg3aj0Y9RJMEo=&amp;caption=true" style="display:inline-block;position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;" width="594"></iframe></div> <p style="margin:0;">&nbsp;</p> <div style="padding:0;margin:0 0 0 10px;text-align:left;"> </div> </div> <div class="getty embed image" style="background-color:#fff;display:inline-block;font-family:'Helvetica Neue',Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif;color:#a7a7a7;font-size:11px;width:100%;max-width:594px;"> <div style="overflow:hidden;position:relative;height:0;padding:69.865320% 0 0 0;width:100%;"> <iframe frameborder="0" height="415" scrolling="no" src="//;sig=QkCNg12e-PVfaYvDEPTiDen2yskvp42-xT-HFdrXfk4=&amp;caption=true" style="display:inline-block;position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;" width="594"></iframe></div> <p style="margin:0;">&nbsp;</p> <div style="padding:0;margin:0 0 0 10px;text-align:left;"> </div> </div> identity Want to Know China Culture & Lifestyle Thu, 26 Feb 2015 05:09:37 +0000 Lizzy Tomei 6402522 at Military judge won’t halt the trial of USS Cole terror suspect <!--paging_filter--><p>GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL STATION, Cuba &mdash; An order to relocate military judges to Guantanamo will not immediately delay the trial of the alleged mastermind of the USS Cole bombing, though it is slowing down the trial of 9/11 terror suspect Khalid Sheik Mohammed.</p> <p>Army Col. James <span data-scayt_word="Pohl" data-scaytid="162">Pohl</span>, the judge for the 9/11 trial of Mohammed, said he would not go ahead with the trial until the order is rescinded.</p> <p>But Air Force Col. Vance <span data-scayt_word="Spath" data-scaytid="1">Spath</span>, the judge presiding over the trial of <span data-scayt_word="Abd" data-scaytid="2">Abd</span> <span data-scayt_word="al-Rahim" data-scaytid="3">al-Rahim</span> <span data-scayt_word="al-Nashiri" data-scaytid="4">al-Nashiri</span>, the suspect in the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, said <span data-scayt_word="Pohl’s" data-scaytid="5">Pohl&rsquo;s</span> decision has no bearing on <span data-scayt_word="al-Nashiri’s" data-scaytid="6">al-Nashiri&rsquo;s</span> case.</p> <p>The 9/11 trial consists of the prosecution of Mohammed, the accused planner behind the terrorist attacks, and four other co-conspirators.</p> <p>Retired <span data-scayt_word="Maj" data-scaytid="25">Maj</span>. Gen. Vaughn <span data-scayt_word="Ary" data-scaytid="26">Ary</span>, the civilian responsible for convening military commissions, ordered the military judges to move to Guantanamo in Cuba in an effort to speed up the trials.</p> <p>The trials have not yet begun. Pretrial hearings are still being conducted.</p> <p><span data-scayt_word="Al-Nashiri" data-scaytid="27">Al-Nashiri</span> has been held in Guantanamo since in 2006, accused of multiple war crimes related to the bombing of the USS Cole off the coast of Yemen, resulting in the deaths of 17 Americans. He is also one of five high-level detainees named in the Senate&rsquo;s 2014 CIA torture report as having been subjected to torture and interrogation methods, including <span data-scayt_word="waterboarding" data-scaytid="28">waterboarding</span> and rectal feeding.</p> <p>The defense team for <span data-scayt_word="al-Nashiri" data-scaytid="37">al-Nashiri</span> has argued <span data-scayt_word="Ary’s" data-scaytid="40">Ary&rsquo;s</span> order is unlawful influence on the trial.</p> <p><span data-scayt_word="Ary" data-scaytid="38">Ary</span> testified via video conferencing Wednesday, explaining the relocation order was an effort to make the judges more accessible and address resource constraints.</p> <p>Richard <span data-scayt_word="Kammen" data-scaytid="69">Kammen</span>, a defense lawyer, said <span data-scayt_word="Ary" data-scaytid="53">Ary</span> does not have the authority speed up the trial. He argued <span data-scayt_word="Ary" data-scaytid="54">Ary</span> was acting as a &ldquo;super convening authority.&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;You see your role as somewhat different than the traditional convening authority,&rdquo; <span data-scayt_word="Kammen" data-scaytid="72">Kammen</span> said.</p> <p><span data-scayt_word="Ary" data-scaytid="68">Ary</span> rebutted the &ldquo;super convening authority&rdquo; description, saying he only recommended the relocation order and Robert Work, deputy secretary of defense, enacted it.</p> <p>&ldquo;You certainly did affect the status quo,&rdquo; <span data-scayt_word="Kammen" data-scaytid="90">Kammen</span> said. &ldquo;The biggest criminal case in the history of America is on hold.&rdquo;</p> <p><span data-scayt_word="Kammen" data-scaytid="108">Kammen</span> also asked <span data-scayt_word="Ary" data-scaytid="109">Ary</span> whether he discussed the pace of litigation of the military cases during his meetings with Pentagon officials when he was hired last October. <span data-scayt_word="Ary" data-scaytid="110">Ary</span> said he did not recall talking about it.</p> <p>However, after <span data-scayt_word="Ary’s" data-scaytid="131">Ary&rsquo;s</span> testimony, the defense called on Billy Little, deputy chief defense counsel, who testified that <span data-scayt_word="Ary" data-scaytid="133">Ary</span> did discuss the pace of litigation in an meeting last October. Little described the gist of <span data-scayt_word="Ary’s" data-scaytid="132">Ary&rsquo;s</span> comments on the pace of litigation as <span data-scayt_word="“resourcing" data-scaytid="137">&ldquo;resourcing</span> with an eye toward moving the cases forward.&rdquo;</p> <p>The defense asked to hear additional testimony on the unlawful influence from the Judge Advocate Generals of the Air Force, Army and Navy.</p> Guantanamo Bay Need to Know War United States Thu, 26 Feb 2015 01:16:24 +0000 Tyler Pager, Medill National Security Reporting Project 6402474 at US charges 3 with conspiring to support Islamic State, planning attacks <!--paging_filter--><p>Three men were charged on Wednesday with conspiring to support Islamic State, US authorities announced.</p> <p>One of the men, <span data-scayt_word="Akhror" data-scaytid="1">Akhror</span> <span data-scayt_word="Saidakhmetov" data-scaytid="2">Saidakhmetov</span>, 19, of Kazakhstan was arrested early on Wednesday at John F. Kennedy International Airport, where authorities said he was attempting to board a flight to Turkey on his way to Syria.</p> <p><span data-scayt_word="Saidakhmetov" data-scaytid="3">Saidakhmetov</span> and <span data-scayt_word="Abdurasul" data-scaytid="5">Abdurasul</span> <span data-scayt_word="Hasanovich" data-scaytid="6">Hasanovich</span> <span data-scayt_word="Juraboev" data-scaytid="7">Juraboev</span>, 24, of Uzbekistan and were accused of planning to travel to Syria to fight for Islamic State, also known as ISIS, Brooklyn US Attorney Loretta Lynch said. The two men also had expressed a willingness to carry out attacks on US soil on behalf of Islamic State, according to the criminal complaint.</p> <p><span data-scayt_word="Abror" data-scaytid="8">Abror</span> <span data-scayt_word="Habibov" data-scaytid="9">Habibov</span>, 30, of Uzbekistan, was accused of helping to fund <span data-scayt_word="Saidakhmetov's" data-scaytid="10">Saidakhmetov&#39;s</span> efforts to join Islamic State, prosecutors said.</p> <p>All three men live in Brooklyn.</p> <p><span data-scayt_word="Juraboev" data-scaytid="11">Juraboev</span> had purchased a plane ticket to Istanbul and was scheduled to fly next month, prosecutors said.</p> <p><span data-scayt_word="Saidakhmetov" data-scaytid="13">Saidakhmetov</span> and <span data-scayt_word="Juraboev" data-scaytid="14">Juraboev</span> are expected to make initial appearances in Brooklyn federal court later on Wednesday and <span data-scayt_word="Habibov" data-scaytid="15">Habibov</span> was to appear in federal court in Jacksonville, Florida.</p> <p>Defense lawyers for the three men could not immediately be identified.</p> <p>(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Bill <span data-scayt_word="Trott" data-scaytid="19">Trott</span>)</p> Need to Know United States Wed, 25 Feb 2015 18:16:00 +0000 Thomson Reuters 6402154 at Venezuelan teen dies after being shot at anti-government protest <!--paging_filter--><p>A teenager was fatally shot at an anti-government protest in the western city of San Cristobal on Tuesday, state officials said, exacerbating tensions in Venezuela amid an economic crisis and crackdown on the political opposition.</p> <p>A policeman was arrested after he confessed to shooting the student, identified as <span data-scayt_word="Kluiver" data-scaytid="1">Kluiver</span> <span data-scayt_word="Roa" data-scaytid="2">Roa</span>, 14, with a rubber-bullet shotgun during clashes with some 20 hooded protesters, officials said.</p> <p>With last year&#39;s violent protests and 43 deaths fresh in Venezuelans&#39; minds, President Nicolas <span data-scayt_word="Maduro's" data-scaytid="3">Maduro&#39;s</span> socialist government condemned the killing and called for calm in the volatile state of <span data-scayt_word="Tachira" data-scaytid="4">Tachira</span> near Colombia.</p> <p><span data-scayt_word="Tachira's" data-scaytid="6">Tachira&#39;s</span> head of citizen security said <span data-scayt_word="Roa" data-scaytid="5">Roa</span> died in confusing circumstances during confrontations near the ruling party governor&#39;s home.</p> <p><strong>More from <span data-scayt_word="GlobalPost" data-scaytid="8">GlobalPost</span>:&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Venezuela&#39;s currency plummets but President <span data-scayt_word="Maduro" data-scaytid="9">Maduro</span> keeps talking coups</a></strong></p> <p>&quot;These hooded protesters intercepted four police officers, snatched their motorbikes and to get rid of the protesters, one of the officials shot at the ground,&quot; Colonel Ramon <span data-scayt_word="Cabezas" data-scaytid="10">Cabezas</span> told reporters.</p> <p>&quot;When the protesters scattered ... we saw the students lifting the body of this youngster from beneath a car, we don&#39;t know for now how he got there.&quot;</p> <p>Police officer Javier Mora, 23, will be charged over the death in coming hours, the state prosecutor said.</p> <p><span data-scayt_word="Roa" data-scaytid="11">Roa</span> had no vital signs by the time he arrived at the hospital. Local media reported that his father was a member of opposition party <span data-scayt_word="Copei" data-scaytid="13">Copei</span>.</p> <p>Other stone-throwing students were injured during the clashes, said student leader <span data-scayt_word="Reinaldo" data-scaytid="14">Reinaldo</span> <span data-scayt_word="Manrique" data-scaytid="15">Manrique</span>.</p> <p>Isolated clashes continued on Tuesday in San Cristobal, an epicenter of last year&#39;s massive street demonstrations.</p> <p>Contained protests had kicked off again in recent weeks in the city where shortages of basic goods ranging from toilet paper to medicines are particularly acute due to smuggling over the border.</p> <p>Last week&#39;s arrest of Caracas Mayor Antonio <span data-scayt_word="Ledezma" data-scaytid="16">Ledezma</span>, a veteran opposition leader, also sparked some protests, though nothing close to the massive rallies of 2014.</p> <p>Critics say an increasingly unpopular <span data-scayt_word="Maduro" data-scaytid="17">Maduro</span> is seeking to distract supporters and spook opponents ahead of parliamentary elections this year.</p> <p><span data-scayt_word="Maduro" data-scaytid="19">Maduro</span> has countered that a Washington-backed opposition is plotting violence against his government.</p> <p>The opposition was incensed by <span data-scayt_word="Roa's" data-scaytid="21">Roa&#39;s</span> death, saying it shows repression of protesters and augurs a broader crackdown.</p> <p>&quot;There are no words to transmit my pain and indignation,&quot; said <span data-scayt_word="hardline" data-scaytid="22">hardline</span> opposition leader Maria <span data-scayt_word="Corina" data-scaytid="23">Corina</span> Machado.</p> <p>&quot;They&#39;ve killed a 14 year-old child. A kid protesting with his classmates.&quot;</p> <p>In an uncharacteristically strong statement, state ombudsman <span data-scayt_word="Tarek" data-scaytid="25">Tarek</span> Saab condemned the death as a &quot;vile assassination.&quot;</p> <p><strong>More from <span data-scayt_word="GlobalPost" data-scaytid="24">GlobalPost</span>:&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Venezuela&#39;s secrecy is so bad some people aren&#39;t even sure when Hugo Chavez died</a></strong></p> Need to Know Venezuela Wed, 25 Feb 2015 16:14:00 +0000 Thomson Reuters 6402027 at Islamic State militants seize 100 Iraqi tribesmen before battle for Tikrit <!--paging_filter--><p>Islamic State fighters have abducted 100 Sunni Muslim tribesmen near the city of <span data-scayt_word="Tikrit" data-scaytid="1">Tikrit</span>, local tribal leaders said on Wednesday, apparently to neutralize suspected opponents before a widely expected army offensive.</p> <p>Iraqi soldiers and pro-government <span data-scayt_word="Shia" data-scaytid="3">Shia</span> militias have been massing for days in preparation for an attack on Islamic State strongholds along the Tigris River to the north and south of <span data-scayt_word="Tikrit" data-scaytid="2">Tikrit</span>, hometown of executed former president Saddam Hussein.</p> <p><span data-scayt_word="Tikrit" data-scaytid="5">Tikrit</span>, about 95 miles north of Baghdad, has been controlled by the Sunni Muslim radicals since they swept through northern Iraq in June, scattering Iraq&#39;s security forces.</p> <p>Tribal leaders said Islamic State fighters had detained 42 Sunni tribesmen in the village of <span data-scayt_word="Rubaidha" data-scaytid="7">Rubaidha</span> on Tuesday whom they suspected of being ready to take up arms against them.</p> <p>&quot;They broke into the houses and asked for mobiles,&quot; said <span data-scayt_word="Hatam" data-scaytid="9">Hatam</span> <span data-scayt_word="al-Obeidi" data-scaytid="10">al-Obeidi</span>, a <span data-scayt_word="Rubaidha" data-scaytid="8">Rubaidha</span> resident who escaped to the town of <span data-scayt_word="Tuz" data-scaytid="12">Tuz</span> <span data-scayt_word="Khurmatu" data-scaytid="13">Khurmatu</span> on Wednesday.</p> <p><strong>More from <span data-scayt_word="GlobalPost" data-scaytid="14">GlobalPost</span>:&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Joining the Islamic State is still remarkably easy</a></strong></p> <p>&quot;They were checking everything in the mobiles that might show that the owner is against them,&quot; he said, adding that his own telephone had been returned to him after a gunman told him he was &quot;clean&quot;.</p> <p>Last week, insurgents detained 56 men accused of belonging to a government-backed Sunni militia, said Abu Kareem <span data-scayt_word="al-Obeidi" data-scaytid="15">al-Obeidi</span>, who left <span data-scayt_word="Rubaidha" data-scaytid="16">Rubaidha</span> for the neighboring <span data-scayt_word="Diyala" data-scaytid="19">Diyala</span> province to avoid abduction.</p> <p>The militants initially set up a headquarters in Rubaidha, about 12 miles north of Tikrit, after their June offensive, but pulled out after army helicopters mistakenly bombed the house of the local sheikh beside their base.</p> <p>The sheikh then asked the militants to leave, residents said.</p> <p>Iraq&#39;s military said around 2,000 Shia militia fighters, known as the Popular Mobilisation, had arrived near Tikrit in preparation for a major operation against Islamic State.</p> <p>Raed Jabouri, governor of Tikrit&#39;s Salahuddin province, said on Tuesday that 5,000 fighters from the security forces and the Popular Mobilisation&nbsp;&mdash; formed last year with Iranian support after the rout of the army &mdash; would join &quot;the operation to liberate Tikrit.&quot;</p> <p>Witnesses said the militants had on Wednesday blocked three main entrances to the south, west and north of Tikrit with a 12-foot concrete blast walls.</p> <p>They also covered a bridge across the Tigris with about three feet of sand in the hope of absorbing the impact of bombs.</p> <p>The witnesses saw a stream of SUV vehicles, apparently containing detainees, heading north toward the northern, Islamic State-controlled city of Mosul.</p> <p>After months of air strikes by the United States and its Western and Arab allies, Islamic State is on the defensive in several parts of the &quot;caliphate&quot; it declared in swathes of Iraq and Syria. In Diyala, adjoining Iran, officials say they have all but driven Islamic State out.</p> Need to Know Iraq Wed, 25 Feb 2015 15:20:45 +0000 Thomson Reuters 6401962 at 'American Sniper' killer sentenced to life in prison <!--paging_filter--><p>A former Marine was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison without parole after being convicted of murdering the US Navy Seal whose memoir was adapted as the blockbuster movie &quot;American Sniper.&quot;</p> <p>After deliberating for less than three hours, jurors unanimously rejected claims from Eddie Ray <span data-scayt_word="Routh" data-scaytid="1">Routh</span>, 27, that he was not guilty on grounds of insanity when he killed famed sniper Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield at a Texas shooting range in February 2013.</p> <p>The two-week trial in <span data-scayt_word="Erath" data-scaytid="2">Erath</span> County, about 100 miles southwest of Dallas, attracted massive media attention across America. And it coincided with the release of Clint Eastwood&#39;s controversial movie based on Kyle&#39;s experiences in Iraq.</p> <p>The jury of two men and 10 women found <span data-scayt_word="Routh" data-scaytid="3">Routh</span> guilty with a unanimous vote.</p> <p><strong>More from <span data-scayt_word="GlobalPost" data-scaytid="5">GlobalPost</span>:&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Here&#39;s what moviegoers in Baghdad think of &#39;American Sniper&#39;</a></strong></p> <p><span data-scayt_word="Erath" data-scaytid="6">Erath</span> County District Court Judge Jason <span data-scayt_word="Cason" data-scaytid="8">Cason</span> sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole. It was a capital case, but prosecutors took the death penalty off the table before the trial started, the Washington Post reported.</p> <p>Kyle and Littlefield were killed after <span data-scayt_word="Routh's" data-scaytid="9">Routh&#39;s</span> mother asked the Navy SEAL veteran to help her son with post-traumatic stress disorder, the Post said.</p> <p><strong>Death at a shooting range</strong></p> <p>They picked him up in Kyle&#39;s pickup truck the day of the killings with plans to enjoy the shared hobby of shooting and offer some ways to help.</p> <p>Kyle, a father of two, was shot six times with one of his own .45-caliber pistols, including a wound to the back that pierced his aorta and another to the jaw that caused a lethal spinal cord injury, the Post said.</p> <p>Littlefield, a father of one, was hit seven times, including four that would have been instantly fatal, according to court testimony.</p> <p>Judy Littlefield, the mother of Chad Littlefield, made a brief statement late Tuesday after the verdict.</p> <p>&quot;We have waited two years for God to give us justice on behalf of our son, and God has proved to be faithful,&quot; she said.</p> <p>&quot;We are so thrilled that we have the verdict that we have.&quot;</p> <p>Kyle, officially credited with killing 160 people during four military tours, was lionized in the blockbuster film starring Bradley Cooper as the sniper.</p> <p><span data-scayt_word="Routh's" data-scaytid="10">Routh&#39;s</span> attorneys pleaded insanity and said their client was gripped by psychosis. Himself a former Marine, <span data-scayt_word="Routh" data-scaytid="11">Routh</span> also said he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.</p> <p>After the shootings on February 2, 2013, <span data-scayt_word="Routh" data-scaytid="14">Routh</span> took Kyle&#39;s truck and was later arrested at the home of his sister.</p> <p>He allegedly confessed to the killings after complaining that &quot;people were sucking his soul and that he could smell the pigs.&quot;</p> <p>During the trial, jurors heard how Kyle and Littlefield knew something was badly wrong minutes before <span data-scayt_word="Routh" data-scaytid="16">Routh</span> opened fire.</p> <p>&quot;This dude is straight up nuts,&quot; Kyle wrote to Littlefield in an alarmed text message.</p> <p>&quot;He&#39;s right behind me, watch my six,&quot; replied his friend, using military jargon for &quot;watch my back.&quot;</p> <p>It is not clear how much Kyle and Littlefield knew about <span data-scayt_word="Routh's" data-scaytid="18">Routh&#39;s</span> mental instability.</p> <p><span data-scayt_word="Routh" data-scaytid="19">Routh</span>, who had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress, had been released from psychiatric treatment about a week before meeting Kyle and Littlefield for the first and last time, the Post said.</p> <p>Jurors also heard emotional testimony from Kyle&#39;s widow <span data-scayt_word="Taya" data-scaytid="22">Taya</span>, who sobbed as she recounted their life together.</p> <p>Lawyers had questioned whether <span data-scayt_word="Routh" data-scaytid="23">Routh</span> could receive a fair trial in the small town, given the success of &quot;American Sniper&quot; and the widely held view of Kyle as a hero.</p> <p>&quot;American Sniper&quot; has so far earned more than $320 million to become the highest grossing war film in history.</p> <p>Critics claim it presents a simplistic, black-and-white view of the Iraq conflict, and glosses over Kyle&#39;s references to Iraqis in his memoir as &quot;savages.&quot;</p> <p><strong>More: <a href="">Help <span data-scayt_word="GlobalPost" data-scaytid="25">GlobalPost</span> report on conflicts around the world</a></strong></p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="503" scrolling="no" src="" style="font-size: 13px;" width="670"></iframe></p> Need to Know United States Wed, 25 Feb 2015 14:12:00 +0000 Agence France-Presse 6401915 at Concerns over 'unlawful influence' are holding up the trial of alleged USS Cole bomber <!--paging_filter--><p>GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba &mdash; The military judge in the trial of the alleged USS Cole bomber said Tuesday hearings will not move forward until he determines whether a senior Pentagon official was unlawfully involved in the trial proceedings.</p> <p>Although the judge, Air Force Col. Vance <span data-scayt_word="Spath" data-scaytid="1">Spath</span>, expressed his desire for the trial of <span data-scayt_word="Abd" data-scaytid="2">Abd</span> <span data-scayt_word="al-Rahim" data-scaytid="3">al-Rahim</span> <span data-scayt_word="al-Nashiri" data-scaytid="4">al-Nashiri</span> to carry on, he said facing the issue of unlawful influence is &ldquo;critical&rdquo; and prevents the court from moving to address other motions, including evidentiary hearings.</p> <p>&ldquo;We have to resolve that issue before we continue to anything else,&rdquo; <span data-scayt_word="Spath" data-scaytid="5">Spath</span> said. &ldquo;Because of the issues at hand &hellip; I am not comfortable (moving on).&rdquo;</p> <p><span data-scayt_word="Al-Nashiri" data-scaytid="7">Al-Nashiri</span> faces the death penalty for his alleged involvement in the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole off the coast of Yemen. The attack resulted in the deaths of 17 Americans.</p> <p><span data-scayt_word="Al-Nashiri" data-scaytid="8">Al-Nashiri</span>, who has been held in Guantanamo since he was first arraigned in 2006, is also one of five high-level detainees named in the Senate&rsquo;s 2014 CIA torture report as having been subjected to torture and interrogation methods, including <span data-scayt_word="waterboarding" data-scaytid="10">waterboarding</span> and rectal feeding.</p> <p><span data-scayt_word="Spath" data-scaytid="11">Spath</span> has been ordered to permanently move to Guantanamo for the trial by retired Marine <span data-scayt_word="Maj" data-scaytid="15">Maj</span>. Gen. Vaughn <span data-scayt_word="Ary" data-scaytid="16">Ary</span>, who oversees the court where Guantanamo detainees are prosecuted in the role as convening authority. <span data-scayt_word="Ary" data-scaytid="17">Ary</span> is scheduled to testify Wednesday morning as to why he gave relocation orders to <span data-scayt_word="Spath" data-scaytid="12">Spath</span>.</p> <p>Defense lawyers are arguing that the Pentagon illegally swayed <span data-scayt_word="Ary’s" data-scaytid="18">Ary&rsquo;s</span> directive. Defense attorney <span data-scayt_word="Cmdr" data-scaytid="19">Cmdr</span>. Brian <span data-scayt_word="Mizer" data-scaytid="20">Mizer</span>, dressed in his full white Navy uniform, asked Tuesday to call four additional witnesses.</p> <p><span data-scayt_word="Al-Nashiri’s" data-scaytid="23">Al-Nashiri&rsquo;s</span> attorneys identified more potential witnesses, which include three legal advisers to the military court, to testify based on documents the prosecution provided to them. <span data-scayt_word="Spath" data-scaytid="21">Spath</span> ordered Monday that Pentagon lawyers hand over to the defense informal communications, such as emails and memos, that were pertinent to <span data-scayt_word="Ary’s" data-scaytid="22">Ary&rsquo;s</span> relocation orders.</p> <p><span data-scayt_word="Spath" data-scaytid="26">Spath</span> plans to make a ruling on the relevance of these witnesses based on <span data-scayt_word="Ary’s" data-scaytid="28">Ary&rsquo;s</span> testimony Wednesday. He asked the prosecution to notify the four people of their potential involvement as witnesses so they could testify quickly if <span data-scayt_word="Spath" data-scaytid="27">Spath</span> determines they are needed in the trial. In black judicial robes, the judge joked that he preferred the faster Internet in Washington, DC, over the slower access at the military base.</p> <p>Lt. Col. Robert <span data-scayt_word="Moscati" data-scaytid="34">Moscati</span>, the deputy chief prosecutor, argued that all four witnesses were not relevant to <span data-scayt_word="Ary’s" data-scaytid="32">Ary&rsquo;s</span> order, but <span data-scayt_word="Spath" data-scaytid="33">Spath</span> ensured him he was not making a definitive ruling yet on whether they would testify.</p> <p>&ldquo;I just want to have them closer than farther away,&rdquo; <span data-scayt_word="Spath" data-scaytid="43">Spath</span> said. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m just trying to find efficiencies &hellip; so we&rsquo;re working next week.&rdquo;</p> <p>While the court is convened for this week and the next, <span data-scayt_word="Spath" data-scaytid="51">Spath</span> said he hoped he would be able to hear evidence, but the precedence of determining unlawful influence would likely take up the rest of the time.</p> Need to Know War United States Wed, 25 Feb 2015 13:18:35 +0000 Paige Leskin, Medill National Security Reporting Project 6401842 at Syrian government behind new spate of barrel bomb attacks, says Human Rights Watch <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Government forces have carried out hundreds of indiscriminate air attacks on civilian areas. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> GlobalPost staff </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>The Syrian government has killed or injured thousands of people over the past year with indiscriminate attacks from the air, including the use of barrel bombs, according to Human Rights Watch.</p> <p>The New York-based rights group used witness statements, satellite imagery and video evidence to document hundreds of attack in Aleppo province in the north of Syria and Deraa in the south.</p> <p>The use of barrel bombs has been widely condemned by the international community. Literally barrels filled with dynamite and metal objects, their indiscriminate nature causes high civilian casualties.</p> <p>The United Nations Security Council passed a resolution a little over a year ago that called upon all parties to the conflict in Syria to end the indiscriminate use of barrel bombs and other weapons in populated areas.</p> <p>Human Rights Watch cited a report released earlier this week by the Syrian Network for Human Rights which claimed that 6,163 civilians, including 1,892 children and 1,720 women, have been killed in government barrel bomb attacks since the passage of the UN resolution.</p> <p>President Bashar al-Assad recently <a href="">denied using t</a><a href="">he improvised explosive devices</a>&nbsp;in an interview with the BBC, despite a wealth of evidence to the contrary.</p> <p>&ldquo;For a year, the Security Council has done nothing to stop Bashar al-Assad&rsquo;s murderous air bombing campaign on rebel-held areas, which has terrorized, killed, and displaced civilians,&rdquo; said Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.</p> <p>&ldquo;Amid talk of a possible temporary cessation of strikes on Aleppo, the question is whether Russia and China will finally allow the UN Security Council to impose sanctions to stop barrel bombs.&rdquo;</p> <p>This video from Human Rights Watch explains how barrel bombs work and shows their impact.&nbsp;</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="381" src="" width="678"></iframe></p> Need to Know Syria Middle East Wed, 25 Feb 2015 11:58:00 +0000 GlobalPost staff 6401745 at US 'deeply concerned' by North Korean nuclear advances <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Experts warn North Korea could have as many as 100 nuclear weapons within five years. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Thomson Reuters </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>WASHINGTON, DC &mdash; The United States is &quot;deeply concerned&quot; about North Korea&#39;s nuclear advances, a senior US official said on Tuesday after a US research institute predicted Pyongyang could possess as many as 100 nuclear weapons within five years.</p> <p>Sung Kim, US Special Representative for North Korea Policy, told a Washington seminar he could not comment on findings presented earlier by experts at the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University&#39;s School of Advanced International Studies, because he had not seen the report and US government assessments were classified.</p> <p>&quot;(But) obviously we are deeply concerned about the fact that the North Koreans are continuing to advance their nuclear capabilities; we know that they are continuing to work on their nuclear program,&quot; Kim said when asked about the report.</p> <p>Experts at the US-Korea Institute presented three scenarios for North Korea&rsquo;s future nuclear stockpile, which they estimated now amounts to 10-16 weapons.</p> <p>In the first, assuming minimal technological improvements, the stockpile was expected to grow to 20 weapons by 2020. In the second, it could grow to 50 and advances in miniaturization would allow North Korea to mount warheads on a new generation of intermediate- and shorter-range ballistic missiles.</p> <p>The report&#39;s co-author, Joel Wit, described a &quot;worst-case scenario&quot;, which would see an increase to 100 devices and significant technological advances allowing North Korea to deploy battlefield and tactical weapons if it chose to.</p> <p>&quot;This is a pretty scary scenario,&quot; Wit said, adding that the more nuclear weapons North Korea had, the more difficult it would be to try to coerce it to rolling back its nuclear program.</p> <p>&quot;To me it&#39;s a risky business trying to punish a country with so many nuclear weapons.&rdquo;</p> <p>The report said North Korea&#39;s existing missile systems were able to reach most of Northeast Asia, particularly its foes South Korea and Japan, and Pyongyang may also in the future be able to deploy a limited number of Taepodong missiles - a militarized version of a space-launch vehicle - that could reach the United States.</p> <p>Kim said concern over North Korean advances was driving international diplomatic efforts &quot;to find a credible path to negotiation so that we can stop North Korea&rsquo;s development of their nuclear capabilities.&quot;</p> <p>He said Washington was &quot;under no illusions&quot; about North Korea&#39;s willingness to denuclearize voluntarily and would &quot;continue to apply pressure both multilaterally and unilaterally&quot; though sanctions to increase the cost of failing to do so.</p> Need to Know North Korea Asia-Pacific Wed, 25 Feb 2015 08:02:54 +0000 Thomson Reuters 6401568 at Why 3G might be the best thing that's happened to Ukraine this year <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> It’s a telecom gift to a country in need, even if much of the world is moving on to 4 or 5G. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Dan Peleschuk </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>KYIV, Ukraine &mdash; What might cash-strapped and conflict-ridden Ukraine need the most?</p> <p>With the economy trundling toward default and Russian-backed insurgents still running wild in the east, Western credit and American weapons might be two options.</p> <p>But try 3G.</p> <p>Officials and industry leaders here are hailing the&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">sale of network licenses</a> on Monday to Ukraine&rsquo;s top three mobile operators as a technological milestone, as well as a much-needed financial boost for a country in crisis.</p> <p>Long a straggler in mobile communications, Ukraine has drawn jeers at home for being years behind its European counterparts. Now, some see the widespread introduction of the third-generation network as a clear sign of progress amid a sea of troubling news.</p> <p>Not only are the three companies &mdash; MTS Ukraine, Kyivstar and Life &mdash; instantly injecting close to $300 million into the local economy to purchase the licenses. But they&rsquo;re also expected to invest <a href="" target="_blank">hundreds of millions</a> more in new infrastructure and equipment.</p> <p>What&rsquo;s more, many praised the transparency and competition of the sale. That&rsquo;s still a rarity in a country with a long track record of corruption, where lucrative tenders are often doled out in opaque schemes.</p> <p>Petro Chernyshov, president of Kyivstar, Ukraine&rsquo;s largest mobile operator, told reporters on Tuesday the auction was a positive sign in a political landscape known more for lofty promises than concrete progress.</p> <p>&ldquo;You can discuss reform for a very long time,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;but what happened during the 3G auction is a clean and realistic example of a reform followed through to the end.&rdquo;</p> <p>It&rsquo;s not all good news, though.</p> <p>While 3G service may reach some of Ukraine&rsquo;s largest cities within six months, other parts of the country will have to <a href="" target="_blank">wait several years</a> before they&rsquo;re fully connected.</p> <p>Some critics have also questioned the choice of a network that&rsquo;s already on its way to being outdated by fourth- and even fifth-generation networks.</p> <p>But officials and other insiders would like the critics to calm down, with some saying the technological advance will ultimately energize Ukraine&rsquo;s nascent &mdash; though admirable &mdash; <a href="" target="_blank">tech and startup sectors</a>.</p> <p>Dmytro Shymkiv, a deputy head in the presidential administration in charge of reform, also <a href="" target="_blank">says</a> the 3G rollout is a small part of a <a href="" target="_blank">broader national strategy</a> to promote digital connectivity.</p> <p>He points to two current <a href="" target="_blank">draft laws in parliament</a>: One would regulate public appeals through an electronic register, while the other would create an open data system to make government agencies more transparent.&quot;</p> <p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re moving forward,&rdquo; Shymkiv said at a news conference Tuesday. &ldquo;We&rsquo;d like to move quicker, but we&rsquo;re going with as much speed as the surrounding environment allows.&rdquo;</p> Companies Ukraine Want to Know Europe Technology Wed, 25 Feb 2015 05:30:00 +0000 Dan Peleschuk 6401331 at Here's a look at 4 internal trouble spots threatening the EU's unity <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Meanwhile, external threats from Russia and the Islamic State are also putting pressure on the bloc. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Paul Ames </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>LISBON, Portugal &mdash; There&#39;s little doubt that Europe sorely needs a dose of strength and unity right now.</p> <p>The Islamic State (IS) has spread from its bases in Syria and Iraq along the southern shores of the Mediterranean, slaughtering Christians on a Libyan beach and issuing bloodcurdling threats to export devastation to southern Europe.</p> <p>To the east, Russian leader Vladimir Putin is pushing ahead with the dismemberment of Ukraine despite the ceasefire cobbled together by France and Germany.&nbsp;</p> <p>Yet, beset by internal problems, Europe is struggling to muster a coherent response.</p> <p>After IS threatened to conquer Rome last week on a beach barely 500 miles from Sicily, Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti suggested Italy could lead an international coalition against the &quot;imminent&quot; threat of militants across the sea.</p> <p>Italy soon backtracked. &quot;It&#39;s not the time for a military intervention,&quot; said Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. Instead, he said Rome would deploy &quot;wisdom, prudence and a sense of situation&quot; to tackle the threat in Libya.</p> <p>The conquest of the Ukrainian town of Debaltseve by pro-Putin forces days after <a href="" target="_blank">the ceasefire</a> mentored by French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel was greeted in Europe by a barrage of statements expressing concern of the type the Kremlin has repeatedly ignored over the past year.</p> <p>With Ukraine now bracing for an attack on the key Black Sea port of Mariupol, European Union leaders are mulling more sanctions.</p> <p>However, their only concrete measure in recent weeks has been the addition of a handful of Russian officials to an EU travel ban and asset freeze &mdash; the highest-profile target is a nationalist crooner-turned-lawmaker once dubbed the Soviet Sinatra.</p> <p>Underlying Europe&#39;s lack of resolve are a series of economic and political fault lines which have fractured the internal cohesion of the EU and NATO.&nbsp;Here&#39;s a look at four of them:</p> <h2> 1. Greece</h2> <p>Today&#39;s last-gasp deal between Greece&#39;s new government and its partners in the euro zone has given the country a four-month extension on its bailout. But risks that the debt-ridden country could be forced out of the currency bloc, with potentially catastrophic consequences, have not gone away.</p> <p>Fundamental differences remain between the demands by Germany and other euro zone nations &mdash; that Greece stick to fiscal discipline and reforms to boost competitiveness in return for loans essential for keeping the economy afloat &mdash; and the election pledges of far-left Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. He&#39;s promised to break free from restraints imposed by Greece&#39;s creditors and reverse austerity policies he blames for shrinking the economy and spreading hardship.</p> <div class="getty embed image" style="background-color:#fff;display:inline-block;font-family:'Helvetica Neue',Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif;color:#a7a7a7;font-size:11px;width:100%;max-width:594px;"> <div style="overflow:hidden;position:relative;height:0;padding:66.498316% 0 0 0;width:100%;"> <iframe frameborder="0" height="395" scrolling="no" src="//;sig=wF05QEdnBdQCu2Ge8aSbOjKpy1S-uhMSm-FgLBJY9dE=&amp;caption=true" style="display:inline-block;position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;" width="594"></iframe></div> <div style="padding:0;margin:0 0 0 10px;text-align:left;"> <a href="" style="color:#a7a7a7;text-decoration:none;font-weight:normal !important;border:none;display:inline-block;" target="_blank"><br /> Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Finance Minister Yianis Varoufakis at the Greek parliament on Feb. 18, in Athens.</a></div> </div> <p>Markets, for the moment, seem to have faith in EU firewalls designed to prevent a &quot;Grexit&quot; from infecting other fragile euro zone countries, such as Portugal, Spain and Ireland. But there&rsquo;s still a risk of contagion.</p> <p>Even if Greece goes alone, the impact would be enormous. Athens would likely default on the $360 billion it owes; the economy would hemorrhage cash; the banking system could collapse.</p> <p>Then there are the geopolitics.</p> <p>Tsipras&#39; Greek government has made no secret of its desire for friendly relations with Moscow. Russia has reciprocated by offering to step in should EU financing run out.</p> <p>If Greece were forced out of the euro zone and EU, many are questioning the impact on its commitment to NATO, where it has long held a strategic position on the alliance&#39;s southeastern flank.</p> <h2> 2. Hungary</h2> <p>Another of Putin&#39;s friends in Europe is Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.</p> <p>As troops loyal to the Russian leader closed the noose on Debaltseve, Ukraine last week, Orban was rolling out the red carpet for Putin in Budapest.</p> <p>Amid the mutual backslapping, Putin came making cheap gas offers that Orban found impossible to refuse &mdash; despite EU efforts to reduce the 28-nation bloc&#39;s dependency on Russian fuel imports.</p> <p>Having secured a long-term gas supply deal with Putin, Orban said he expected an &quot;escalating conflict&quot; to bloc EU efforts to unify its energy market, then announced Hungary would refrain from re-sales of Russian gas to Ukraine.</p> <p>&ldquo;Those who think that the European economy can be competitive without Russian economic cooperation, that energy security can be achieved in Europe without Russian energy, are chasing illusions,&rdquo; he told reporters.</p> <p> The Budapest trip was Putin&#39;s first bilateral invite from an EU leader for months, as other European governments give him the cold shoulder. But the Kremlin is stepping up its outreach, seeking meetings in coming weeks with leaders of other friendly EU countries &mdash; like Greece and Cyprus &mdash; in an apparent attempt to undermine the bloc&#39;s efforts to forge a united response.</p> <div class="getty embed image" style="background-color:#fff;display:inline-block;font-family:'Helvetica Neue',Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif;color:#a7a7a7;font-size:11px;width:100%;max-width:594px;"> <div style="overflow:hidden;position:relative;height:0;padding:68.350168% 0 0 0;width:100%;"> <h2> <iframe frameborder="0" height="406" scrolling="no" src="//;sig=obCCy0MBPXmh1bZE79yzpKYrXL9hZjeuo6HOEklsu24=" style="display:inline-block;position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;" width="594"></iframe></h2> </div> <p style="margin:0;">&nbsp;</p> <div style="padding:0;margin:0 0 0 10px;text-align:left;"> <a href="" style="color:#a7a7a7;text-decoration:none;font-weight:normal !important;border:none;display:inline-block;" target="_blank">Russian President Vladimir Putin and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban converse during a signing ceremony between the two countries on Feb. 17, in Budapest, Hungary.</a></div> </div> <p> Orban &mdash; who has been criticized by other EU leaders for squeezing Hungary&#39;s judiciary, press and civil society &mdash; made a speech last year outlining his objective to create an &quot;illiberal new state.&quot; He cited Putin&#39;s Russia as a role model.</p> <h2> 3. Britain</h2> <p>Britain&#39;s role in Europe is a key issue ahead of general elections set for May. In early campaigning, much of the running is being made by the upstart United Kingdom Independence Party, which wants to pull Britain out of the EU.</p> <p>Polls show UKIP &mdash; whose leader Nigel Farage names Putin as the foreign politician he most admires &mdash; finishing in third place with around 15 percent. That&#39;s five times more than it got in the last vote in 2010.</p> <p>UKIP won&#39;t win, and its score of seats will be limited by Britain&#39;s electoral system, which favors established parties. But it&#39;s influence on the race is huge.</p> <div class="getty embed image" style="background-color:#fff;display:inline-block;font-family:'Helvetica Neue',Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif;color:#a7a7a7;font-size:11px;width:100%;max-width:594px;"> <div style="overflow:hidden;position:relative;height:0;padding:63.299663% 0 0 0;width:100%;"> <iframe frameborder="0" height="376" scrolling="no" src="//;sig=89LfCCZQCf7Xu4Wa12UeV623aImWkyb3oYBp4q2UD2c=" style="display:inline-block;position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;" width="594"></iframe></div> <p style="margin:0;">&nbsp;</p> <div style="padding:0;margin:0 0 0 10px;text-align:left;"> <a href="" style="color:#a7a7a7;text-decoration:none;font-weight:normal !important;border:none;display:inline-block;" target="_blank">United Kingdom Independence Party leader Nigel Farage speaks to supporters as he launches UKIP&#39;s General Election Campaign on Feb. 12, in Canvey Island, England.</a></div> </div> <p> Fearful of the euro-skeptics&#39; undermining of his core Conservative support, Prime Minister David Cameron has vowed to call a referendum on pulling Britain out of the EU if he&#39;s re-elected.</p> <p>Public opinion is split down the middle, but the debate on a &quot;Brexit&quot; and Cameron&#39;s pledge to weaken the EU&#39;s role is affecting British influence in Europe.</p> <p>Officials at EU headquarters in Brussels complain Britain, which rivals France as Western Europe&#39;s biggest military power, no longer pulls its diplomatic weight in Europe.</p> <p>Cameron has been largely sidelined in EU efforts to resolve Ukraine&#39;s crisis. Instead Merkel and Hollande have taken the lead &mdash; to the discomfort of those who see them as too willing to appease Putin.</p> <p>At NATO too, Britain&#39;s traditional role as the United States&#39; staunchest European ally is no longer taken for granted.</p> <p>US commanders are worried British defense spending may soon slip below NATO&#39;s 2 percent of GDP target &mdash; a development that would leave Greece and Estonia as the only European allies above the alliance&#39;s threshold.</p> <p>Britain&#39;s fading will to fight alongside the US was highlighted in 2013 when lawmakers voted down Cameron&#39;s proposal for the Royal Air Force to join airstrikes in Syria.</p> <p>Although Britain now participates in the US-led air campaign against IS in Iraq, its contribution is &quot;strikingly modest&quot; according to a report this month from the House of Commons&rsquo; Defense Select Committee. Legislators said they were &quot;surprised and deeply concerned&quot; British forces were not playing a greater role.</p> <h2> 4. France</h2> <p>Amid the frenzied efforts during the past month to head off an existential crisis over Greece, the euro zone&#39;s broader economic blight has dropped from the headlines.</p> <p>Yet, even without the risk of Grexit, prospects for many in the 19-nation currency bloc were looking grim.</p> <p>After years without economic growth, falling prices prompted fears the bloc will be sucked into a deflationary spiral dragging down investment, raises debt and cementing stagnation.</p> <p>In response, the European Central Bank on Jan. 22 agreed to pump around $1.25 trillion into the economy over the next year and a half. Many economists fear even that will not solve the problem unless governments push through reforms to make their economies more competitive.</p> <p>France and Italy are key. Italy&#39;s economy has shrunk by 4.7 percent over the past three years. France has stood still.</p> <div class="getty embed image" style="background-color:#fff;display:inline-block;font-family:'Helvetica Neue',Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif;color:#a7a7a7;font-size:11px;width:100%;max-width:594px;"> <div style="overflow:hidden;position:relative;height:0;padding:66.666667% 0 0 0;width:100%;"> <iframe frameborder="0" height="396" scrolling="no" src="//;sig=2lsCm_lNyRcs42zuyanmi2OFvBUINFrpRPOUsPXbVw0=" style="display:inline-block;position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;" width="594"></iframe></div> <p style="margin:0;">&nbsp;</p> <div style="padding:0;margin:0 0 0 10px;text-align:left;"> <a href="" style="color:#a7a7a7;text-decoration:none;font-weight:normal !important;border:none;display:inline-block;" target="_blank">French President Francois Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi at the Franco-Italian summit on Feb. 24, in Paris, France.</a></div> </div> <p> Both governments are touting reform, but Hollande in particular faces stiff resistance. A rebellion by lawmakers in his Socialist Party last week threatened to block a modest package of pro-business measures &mdash; like allowing stores to stay open more on Sundays and letting private buses compete against inter-city trains.</p> <p>In a rare move, the government pushed through the reforms by decree circumventing parliament, but that has done nothing to bolster Hollande&#39;s approval ratings which dropped to just 24 percent, according to a poll published Sunday, reversing the brief jump in support following last month&#39;s Paris terror attacks.</p> <p>Europe&#39;s weakened economy makes it harder for the EU to wean itself off cheap Russian gas, or muster support for sanctions that hurt trade.</p> <p>Putin could also benefit from Hollande&#39;s political woes.</p> <p>Former President Nicolas Sarkozy, who leads the mainstream opposition, has made comments recently that appear to legitimize Russia&#39;s annexation of Crimea, dismiss Ukraine&#39;s EU membership ambitions, and suggest the US stirred up antagonism against Russia.</p> <p>And the far-right National Front &mdash; France&#39;s most popular party according to a poll published Monday &mdash; gets funding from Russian banks and is assertively pro-Putin.</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost:&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Greece and Ukraine have something in common: They could both sink the euro zone</a></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--> Need to Know Europe Tue, 24 Feb 2015 20:24:00 +0000 Paul Ames 6400956 at Egyptians mock the Islamic State on Twitter <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Italians joined in too. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Laura Dean </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>CAIRO, Egypt &mdash; The Islamic State has been known to use Twitter to attract recruits and supporters to its cause. But recently, the social network has been used as a weapon against it.</p> <p>The hashtag &ldquo;I&rsquo;m going to join Daesh&rdquo; (Daesh is the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State, or IS) was trending on Twitter earlier in the week when Egyptians joked about joining the militant group to escape their everyday problems.</p> <p>&ldquo;Every time I clean the house the children dirty it again. I&rsquo;m sick of it. I&rsquo;m going to join Daesh,&rdquo; <a href="">read </a><a href="">one</a>.</p> <p>Others ran along a similar theme.</p> <p>&ldquo;<a href="">I have a big problem, there&rsquo;s no more light roast coffee so my wife made me dark roast. I&rsquo;m going to join Daesh</a>.&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;<a href="">My brother took my charger and my phone died. I&rsquo;m going to join Daesh.</a>&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;<a href="">I want to lose weight. I&rsquo;m going to join Daesh</a>.&rdquo;</p> <p>But keen to make the best of being the butt of the joke, some tweeters identifying themselves as IS members responded by inviting those who had used the hashtag to join them.</p> <p>&quot;Daesh is the only solution to bring you out from under the humiliation of slavery to the oneness of the praised and glorious one,&rdquo; wrote one.</p> <p>The Islamic State has been at the front of many people&rsquo;s minds in Egypt since the dramatic execution by the group of <a href="">20 Egyptians on a beach in Libya</a>.</p> <p>The Egyptian government responded by launching airstrikes in eastern Libya. There are currently up to 500 Egyptians believed to be fighting in Iraq and Syria, most of them likely with IS.</p> <p>But Egyptians aren&rsquo;t the only ones taking a shot at IS on Twitter.</p> <p>Accounts linked to the group began using the hashtag, #We_Are_Coming_O_Rome‪, threatening to invade the city to advance its war against other religions.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p><a href="">#ISIS</a> linked accounts warn, &quot;<a href="">#ISIS</a> to Rome, God willing&quot;; create hashtags: <a href="">#We_Are_Coming_O_Rome</a>; <a href=""></a></p> <p> &mdash; Rita Katz (@Rita_Katz) <a href="">February 19, 2015</a></p></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Italian tweeters responded by offering some helpful travel tips to the jihadists.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p><a href="">#We_Are_Coming_O_Rome</a> ahahah Be careful on the highway-Ring Road: there&#39;s too much traffic, you would remain trapped!</p> <p> &mdash; Alessio Conte (@alessioconte28) <a href="">February 19, 2015</a></p></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p><a href="">#We_Are_Coming_O_Rome</a> bring lots of cash it looks like you need new fashions and we have the best! That look is so 7th century ...</p> <p> &mdash; An Italian (@Be_Italian_) <a href="">February 21, 2015</a></p></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p><strong>More: <a href="">Help GlobalPost report on conflicts around the world</a></strong></p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="503" scrolling="no" src="" style="font-size: 13px;" width="670"></iframe></p> Egypt Need to Know Middle East Italy Tue, 24 Feb 2015 18:46:00 +0000 Laura Dean 6401067 at Islamic State in Syria abducts at least 90 from Christian villages: monitor <!--paging_filter--><p>Islamic State militants have abducted at least 90 people from Assyrian Christian villages in northeastern Syria, a monitoring group that tracks violence in Syria said on Tuesday.</p> <p>The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the militants carried out dawn raids on rural villages inhabited by the ancient Christian minority west of <span data-scayt_word="Hasaka" data-scaytid="1">Hasaka</span>, a city mainly held by the Kurds.</p> <p>Syrian Kurdish militia launched two offensives against the militants in northeast Syria on Sunday, helped by US-led air strikes and Iraqi <span data-scayt_word="peshmerga" data-scaytid="2">peshmerga</span>.</p> <p>This part of Syria is strategically important in the fight against Islamic State because it borders territory controlled by the group in Iraq, where it last year committed atrocities against the minority religious <span data-scayt_word="Yazidi" data-scaytid="3">Yazidi</span> community.</p> <p><strong>More from <span data-scayt_word="GlobalPost" data-scaytid="5">GlobalPost</span>:&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank"><span data-scayt_word="Kobani" data-scaytid="6">Kobani</span> residents in limbo as they wait to return to a destroyed city</a></strong></p> <p>Many Assyrian Christians have emigrated in the nearly four-year-long conflict in which more than 200,000 have people have been killed. Before the arrival of Kurds and Arab nomadic tribes at the end of the <span data-scayt_word="19th" data-scaytid="7">19th</span> century, Christians formed the majority in Syria&#39;s <span data-scayt_word="Jazeera" data-scaytid="8">Jazeera</span> area, which includes <span data-scayt_word="Hasaka" data-scaytid="4">Hasaka</span>.</p> <p>Sunday&#39;s offensive by Kurdish <span data-scayt_word="YPG" data-scaytid="10">YPG</span> militia reached within 5 km (3 miles) of Tel <span data-scayt_word="Hamis" data-scaytid="11">Hamis</span>, an Islamic State controlled town south east of <span data-scayt_word="Qamishli" data-scaytid="12">Qamishli</span>, the Observatory said.</p> <p>At least 14 IS fighters died in the offensive, which involved Assyrian fighters, and eight civilians were also killed in heavy shelling by the Kurdish side which seized several Arab villages from Islamic State control, the monitoring group said.</p> <p>Last year, Islamic State fighters abducted several Assyrians in retaliation for some of them fighting alongside the <span data-scayt_word="YPG" data-scaytid="13">YPG</span>. Most were released after long negotiations.</p> <p><strong>Relieving pressure</strong></p> <p>Military experts following Syria said Islamic State was trying to open a new front to relieve pressure on the group after the string of losses since being driven from the Syrian town of <span data-scayt_word="Kobani" data-scaytid="15">Kobani</span> near the border with Turkey.</p> <p>&quot;Islamic State are losing in several areas so they want to wage an attack on a new area,&quot; said retired Jordanian general <span data-scayt_word="Fayez" data-scaytid="17">Fayez</span> <span data-scayt_word="Dwiri" data-scaytid="18">Dwiri</span>.</p> <p>Since driving IS from <span data-scayt_word="Kobani" data-scaytid="19">Kobani</span>, Kurdish forces, backed by other Syrian armed groups, have pursued the group&#39;s fighters as far as their provincial stronghold of <span data-scayt_word="Raqqa" data-scaytid="21">Raqqa</span>.</p> <p>A resident of <span data-scayt_word="Hasaka" data-scaytid="22">Hasaka</span>, which is jointly held by the Syrian government and the Kurds, said hundreds of families had arrived in the last few days from surrounding Christian villages and of Arab Bedouin refugees were arriving from areas along the border.</p> <p>&quot;Families are coming to <span data-scayt_word="Hasaka" data-scaytid="24">Hasaka</span> seeking safety,&quot; said Abdul <span data-scayt_word="Rahman" data-scaytid="26">Rahman</span> <span data-scayt_word="al-Numai" data-scaytid="27">al-Numai</span>, a textile trader said via telephone.</p> Need to Know Syria Tue, 24 Feb 2015 15:25:50 +0000 Thomson Reuters 6400921 at UN climate chief quits after sexual harassment complaint <!--paging_filter--><p>India&#39;s <span data-scayt_word="Rajendra" data-scaytid="1">Rajendra</span> <span data-scayt_word="Pachauri" data-scaytid="2">Pachauri</span> stepped down as chair of the UN panel of climate scientists on Tuesday, ending 13 turbulent years in charge after allegations of sexual harassment, which he has denied.</p> <p><span data-scayt_word="Pachauri" data-scaytid="3">Pachauri</span>, aged 74 and chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (<span data-scayt_word="IPCC" data-scaytid="5">IPCC</span>) since 2002, pulled out of an <span data-scayt_word="IPCC" data-scaytid="6">IPCC</span> meeting in Kenya this week after Indian police started an investigation into a sexual harassment complaint against him.</p> <p>He has denied the allegations, according to an Indian court order. <span data-scayt_word="Pachauri" data-scaytid="7">Pachauri</span>, whose second term as <span data-scayt_word="IPCC" data-scaytid="8">IPCC</span> chair had been due to end in October 2015, has also suffered cardiac problems.</p> <p>In a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban <span data-scayt_word="Ki-moon" data-scaytid="12">Ki-moon</span>, <span data-scayt_word="Pachauri" data-scaytid="11">Pachauri</span> said that his inability to travel to Kenya showed he may be unable to ensure the &quot;strong leadership and dedication of time and full attention by the chair&quot; needed by the panel.</p> <p>&quot;I have, therefore, taken the decision to step down from my position as chair of the <span data-scayt_word="IPCC" data-scaytid="14">IPCC</span> some months before completion of my term,&quot; he wrote.</p> <p>He collected the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the <span data-scayt_word="IPCC" data-scaytid="18">IPCC</span> in 2007, when the panel shared the award with former US Vice President Al Gore.</p> <p>Findings by the <span data-scayt_word="IPCC" data-scaytid="22">IPCC</span> about global warming are the main guide for action by almost 200 governments which have agreed to work out a deal in December 2015 to combat climate change. The panel completed a set of mammoth reports last year.</p> <p>The United Nations said the <span data-scayt_word="IPCC" data-scaytid="24">IPCC</span> had appointed vice-chair Ismail El <span data-scayt_word="Gizouli" data-scaytid="26">Gizouli</span> as acting chair and would continue business as usual.</p> <p>&quot;The actions taken today will ensure that the <span data-scayt_word="IPCC’s" data-scaytid="28">IPCC&rsquo;s</span> mission to assess climate change continues without interruption,&quot; <span data-scayt_word="Achim" data-scaytid="29">Achim</span> Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment <span data-scayt_word="Programme" data-scaytid="30">Programme</span>, which oversees the <span data-scayt_word="IPCC" data-scaytid="27">IPCC</span>, said in a statement.</p> <p><span data-scayt_word="Pachauri" data-scaytid="32">Pachauri</span> said he had considered retiring last year after the <span data-scayt_word="IPCC" data-scaytid="33">IPCC</span> completed a series of reports that raised the probability that climate change is mainly man-made to at least 95 percent from 90 percent in its previous study in 2007.</p> <p>He weathered pressure to quit after an error in the 2007 report exaggerated the rate of melt of Himalayan glaciers. An external review at the time recommended that <span data-scayt_word="IPCC" data-scaytid="36">IPCC</span> chairs should only serve one seven-year term.</p> Need to Know India Tue, 24 Feb 2015 14:53:27 +0000 Thomson Reuters 6400906 at Teenage suicide bomber kills at least 15 at northeast Nigeria bus station <!--paging_filter--><p>A teenage girl blew herself up at a crowded bus station in a northeastern Nigerian town on Tuesday, killing at least 15 people and wounding 53 in the second such attack there this week.</p> <p>No one claimed responsibility for the bombing in <span data-scayt_word="Potiskum" data-scaytid="1">Potiskum</span> but the main suspect is likely to be group <span data-scayt_word="Boko" data-scaytid="2">Boko</span> <span data-scayt_word="Haram" data-scaytid="3">Haram</span>, whose struggle for an Islamic state in religiously mixed Nigeria has killed thousands of people and displaced over a million.</p> <p>Witness Musa <span data-scayt_word="Ayuba" data-scaytid="4">Ayuba</span>, who was knocked over by the force of the blast, said the girl arrived at the <span data-scayt_word="Tashan" data-scaytid="5">Tashan</span> Dan <span data-scayt_word="Borno" data-scaytid="6">Borno</span> bus station in a rickshaw and was trying to board a bus when she detonated the bomb.</p> <p>A security source confirmed the blast and a source at the local hospital said 15 bodies had so far been brought in and 53 people were receiving treatment for wounds, some serious.</p> <p><strong>More from <span data-scayt_word="GlobalPost" data-scaytid="7">GlobalPost</span>:&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Since #<span data-scayt_word="BringBackOurGirls" data-scaytid="11">BringBackOurGirls</span>, <span data-scayt_word="Boko" data-scaytid="8">Boko</span> <span data-scayt_word="Haram" data-scaytid="9">Haram</span> has only gotten stronger</a></strong></p> <p>On Sunday, a girl with explosives strapped to her killed five people and wounded dozens outside a market in <span data-scayt_word="Potiskum" data-scaytid="10">Potiskum</span>.</p> <p>The use of female suicide bombers has become a common tactic of <span data-scayt_word="Boko" data-scaytid="15">Boko</span> <span data-scayt_word="Haram" data-scaytid="16">Haram</span> since last year as the group expanded territory and became stronger and more deadly. But in the past three weeks it has begun to suffer a string of defeats in a military offensive by Nigeria and <span data-scayt_word="neighbours" data-scaytid="19">neighbours</span> Cameroon, Niger and Chad.</p> <p>Last Saturday, Nigerian troops backed by air strikes seized the northeastern border town of <span data-scayt_word="Baga" data-scaytid="22">Baga</span> from <span data-scayt_word="Boko" data-scaytid="20">Boko</span> <span data-scayt_word="Haram" data-scaytid="21">Haram</span>, the military said, a significant victory in the offensive.</p> <p>But failure to protect civilians is a major criticism of President <span data-scayt_word="Goodluck" data-scaytid="25">Goodluck</span> Jonathan&#39;s administration ahead of an election scheduled for March 28.</p> <p><span data-scayt_word="Potiskum" data-scaytid="26">Potiskum</span> lies in <span data-scayt_word="Yobe" data-scaytid="31">Yobe</span> state, which has seen many <span data-scayt_word="Boko" data-scaytid="27">Boko</span> <span data-scayt_word="Haram" data-scaytid="28">Haram</span> attacks but has not been taken over by them the way neighboring <span data-scayt_word="Borno" data-scaytid="29">Borno</span> state has, and is hundreds of miles from the main <span data-scayt_word="theatre" data-scaytid="35">theatre</span> of the war against the insurgents.</p> <p>On Monday, defense spokesman Major-General Chris <span data-scayt_word="Olukolade" data-scaytid="39">Olukolade</span> said air strikes were under way on <span data-scayt_word="Boko" data-scaytid="36">Boko</span> <span data-scayt_word="Haram" data-scaytid="37">Haram</span> targets in the <span data-scayt_word="Borno" data-scaytid="38">Borno</span> state towns of <span data-scayt_word="Gwoza" data-scaytid="43">Gwoza</span>, where the group first declared an Islamic state, <span data-scayt_word="Bama" data-scaytid="44">Bama</span> and <span data-scayt_word="Sambisa" data-scaytid="45">Sambisa</span>.</p> Need to Know Nigeria Tue, 24 Feb 2015 14:05:00 +0000 Thomson Reuters 6400868 at Alan Turing's family demands the UK pardon 49,000 convicted gays <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> The computer scientist portrayed in 'The Imitation Game' was posthumously pardoned for homosexual acts. His family and supporters want the royal family to do the same for the thousands of others convicted under the country’s former 'gross indecency' laws. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Corinne Purtill </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>LONDON, UK &mdash; Amid the lame jokes and <a href="" target="_blank">creepy John Travolta touching</a>, this year&rsquo;s Oscars ceremony had some political moments.</p> <p>There was John Legend&rsquo;s reminder of skyrocketing incarceration rates and the erosion of voting rights in the United States, after <a href="" target="_blank">his win with rapper Common</a> for best original song.</p> <p>There was Patricia Arquette&rsquo;s <a href="" target="_blank">call for wage equality</a> (and Meryl Streep&rsquo;s &ldquo;<a href=";utm_medium=embed&amp;utm_source=iframe" target="_blank">GO, girl!</a>&rdquo; response) while accepting her best supporting actress statue.</p> <p>&ldquo;Birdman&rdquo; director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu used his best picture <a href="" target="_blank">acceptance speech</a> to appeal for cleaner politics in Mexico and better treatment of immigrants in the US.</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="" target="_blank">How Mexicans became Hollywood&rsquo;s best directors</a></strong></p> <p>And Graham Moore, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of the film &ldquo;The Imitation Game,&rdquo; received a standing ovation after a <a href="" target="_blank">moving speech</a> in which he encouraged alienated-feeling young people to &ldquo;stay weird,&rdquo; and acknowledged his own suicide attempt as a teenager.</p> <p>But the politics of the &ldquo;The Imitation Game,&rdquo; at least, didn&rsquo;t end at the stage.</p> <p>On Monday morning, the family of Alan Turing &mdash; the famed English mathematician and codebreaker whose work led to modern computer science &mdash; went to the UK prime minister&rsquo;s residence at 10 Downing Street.</p> <p>They asked that the government officially pardon 49,000 men who, like Turing, were legally persecuted for having consensual sexual relationships with other men before homosexuality was decriminalized in the UK.</p> <p>The family handed over a <a href="" target="_blank"> petition</a> with more than 500,000 signatures calling for a pardon for all UK men convicted under the country&rsquo;s &ldquo;gross indecency&rdquo; laws. Such a pardon could clear the records of some 15,000 men still alive today.</p> <p>Homosexual acts between two men were decriminalized in England and Wales in 1967. However, laws against &ldquo;gross indecency&rdquo; and &ldquo;buggery&rdquo; &mdash; offenses generally applied only to gay men &mdash; officially <a href="" target="_blank">remained on the books</a> until 2003.</p> <p>Turing, whose work breaking Nazi codes was key to Allied success in World War II, was convicted in 1952 of gross indecency following his relationship with a 19-year-old man. He was chemically castrated, and died of an apparent suicide two years later.</p> <p>He received a royal pardon in 2013. His family and supporters now want the same for others.</p> <p>Benedict Cumberbatch, the actor who played Turing in the Oscar-nominated film, and Stephen Fry, the British comedian who has campaigned for Turing to be placed on the 10 pound bill, signed an <a href="" target="_blank">open letter</a> in the Guardian newspaper last month calling on the royal family to extend the pardon to all men convicted under the laws.</p> <p>&ldquo;The UK&rsquo;s homophobic laws made the lives of generations of gay and bisexual men intolerable,&rdquo; the letter read. &ldquo;It is up to young leaders of today including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to acknowledge this mark on our history and not allow it to stand.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>More: <a href="">Help GlobalPost report on conflicts around the world</a></strong></p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="503" scrolling="no" src="" style="font-size: 13px;" width="670"></iframe></p> Gay rights Want to Know Culture & Lifestyle United Kingdom Tue, 24 Feb 2015 11:55:33 +0000 Corinne Purtill 6400327 at Kobani residents in limbo as they wait to return to a destroyed city <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> The Islamic State was repelled from the city weeks ago, but residents have been unable to return home. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Susannah George </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>SAYGIN, Turkey &mdash; While the fight for Kobani largely ended weeks ago, the Syrian town&rsquo;s more than 40,000 residents remain scattered in neighboring Turkey and further abroad.</p> <p>A handful have returned. But months of clashes and airstrikes that ultimately forced Islamic State (IS) militants out of Kobani also leveled much of the border town, depriving many of a home to return to.</p> <p>Mohammed&#39;s family is just one of them. In September, he and his wife &mdash; then pregnant with their youngest, who&#39;s now two months old &mdash; and their two toddlers were forced to flee, becoming part of the largest influx of refugees into Turkey since the Syrian crisis began nearly four years ago.</p> <p>At the border Mohammed asked a taxi driver if he knew of a nearby place where he and his family could stay, and was brought here to Saygin: a few dozen small mud-brick homes along a dirt road. Traditionally farmhouses, they now mostly serve as summer residences for Turkish families living in nearby urban areas. Just 10 kilometers south across tracts of agricultural fields lies the Syrian border.</p> <p>Saygin village looks like a place from another time. Mohammed&rsquo;s family lives in a small two-room home with a thatched roof and thick walls made of a mixture of mud and dried grass. Only recently wired with electricity, a single outlet hangs from a wall powering a small space heater in the main room.</p> <div gp-image-embed="" gp-image-embed-position="NOTHING" gp-image-embed-source="Ivor Prickett/UNHCR"> Three-year-old Syrian refugee Ali plays outside the cottage where he lives with his family in the Turkish village of Saygin.</div> <p>Desperate to return home now that active clashes have ended, Mohammed&rsquo;s family has found themselves playing another waiting game. The border crossing from Turkey into Kobani has not yet fully reopened; some men have been allowed to cross, but not entire families.</p> <p>Concerned by the lack of infrastructure and the possibility that as IS militants withdrew, they may have booby-trapped homes and buildings in the town, local authorities have so far refused to formally, fully open the border.</p> <p>&ldquo;Once we hear it&rsquo;s okay to go back we will go the next day,&rdquo; Mohammed says. He asks only to be identified by his first name out of concern for his family&rsquo;s safety. &ldquo;If there was a chance I could go back today I would.&rdquo;</p> <p>The long fight for Kobani that at times reached deep into its dense residential center destroyed an estimated 80 percent of the city&rsquo;s buildings, according to local officials. The first images to emerge from Kobani in late January showed a town in ruins: entire blocks of houses leveled, and among them Mohammed&rsquo;s family home.</p> <p>For the past five months Mohammed says he watched the fight for Kobani unfold from just outside his door.</p> <p>&ldquo;We could see the smoke,&rdquo; Mohammed explains, gesturing out the window where on the horizon the outskirts of his hometown are just visible. &ldquo;When it turned black we knew our house was gone.&rdquo;</p> <p>The confirmation came weeks later. Mohammed&rsquo;s brother returned to Kobani just days after the fighting ceased and reported back that the house had been destroyed. He sent Mohammed a photograph by text message. The house had been burned to the ground along with the rest of his neighborhood.</p> <p>Building a life in Turkey, Mohammed says, is out of the question. Unable to speak Turkish, he can&#39;t find work and food is expensive. So far landowners in Saygin village have allowed families like Mohammed&rsquo;s to stay rent-free. That combined with handouts and aid from local humanitarian groups has allowed them to survive.</p> <p>&ldquo;Sometimes I think I just want to kill myself,&rdquo; Mohammed says flatly, &ldquo;we should just die instead of living this miserable life.&rdquo;</p> <div gp-image-embed="" gp-image-embed-position="NOTHING" gp-image-embed-source="Ivor Prickett/UNHCR"> UNHCR together with its implementing partner ASAM deliver NFI&rsquo;s (non food items) to Mohammed and his family who are living as refugees with other Syrian families in the Turkish village of Saygin.</div> <p>From the main road that runs through Saygin village, neat rows of brand new white tents gleam in the sunlight on a far hillside. The newly opened Suruc refugee camp, operated by the Turkish government, has a capacity of over 30,000 and provides residents with free housing, food, medical care and schooling.</p> <p>But despite the perks and encouragement from local officials to make the move, Mohammed and other Kobani families in Saygin say it&rsquo;s out of the question. Expecting to go home any day now, Mohammed says relocating to a camp now is pointless.</p> <p>Turkey&rsquo;s southern countryside is littered with farming villages like this one. Once sleepy places inhabited by only a handful of families during the winter months, they&rsquo;ve now become hives of activity, hosting dozens of Kobani families refusing to stray too far from home. Caught in between, these re seen their hometown liberated, but are still unable to return.</p> <p>The waiting and uncertainty has taken a toll on Mohammed. He says no matter what the situation he&rsquo;ll never flee his home again, that looking back he would have rather died staying in Kobani than be forced to endure the humiliation of life in exile.</p> <p>&ldquo;I will be honest, I can&rsquo;t sleep at night,&rdquo; he says, admitting that while he&rsquo;s determined to return home, he&rsquo;s also haunted by doubts. &ldquo;I stay up until two or three in the morning, sometimes I can&rsquo;t sleep until dawn.&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;I smoke a lot as a result,&rdquo; he continues steadily. &ldquo;I think about the situation, what will happen and how will we go back.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p> <p><em>This reporting was funded by UNHCR. Susannah George is a freelance journalist who has worked regularly for GlobalPost.</em></p> <div gp-image-embed="" gp-image-embed-position="NOTHING" gp-image-embed-source="Ivor Prickett/UNHCR"> Mohammed fled his home in Kobani more than four months ago with his wife Dozgeen, 24, and three young children.</div> <p><strong>More: <a href="">Help GlobalPost report on conflicts around the world</a></strong></p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="503" scrolling="no" src="" style="font-size: 13px;" width="670"></iframe></p> Need to Know Syria Middle East Tue, 24 Feb 2015 10:58:00 +0000 Susannah George 6399960 at Efforts to speed up a Guantanamo detainee trial may actually slow it down <!--paging_filter--><p>GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba &mdash; The judge in the trial of the alleged mastermind behind the USS Cole bombing Monday ruled in favor of hearing testimony from the senior Pentagon official who has ordered the judge to move to Guantanamo to speed up the trial.</p> <p>Air Force Col. Vance <span data-scayt_word="Spath" data-scaytid="1">Spath</span>, the judge presiding over the trial of <span data-scayt_word="Abd" data-scaytid="3">Abd</span> <span data-scayt_word="al-Rahim" data-scaytid="4">al-Rahim</span> <span data-scayt_word="Al-Nashiri" data-scaytid="5">Al-Nashiri</span>, ruled in favor of the defense team&rsquo;s request to have the convening authority for the trial, retired <span data-scayt_word="Maj" data-scaytid="6">Maj</span>. Gen. Vaughn <span data-scayt_word="Ary" data-scaytid="7">Ary</span>, explain why he wants <span data-scayt_word="Spath" data-scaytid="2">Spath</span> to move to Guantanamo. <span data-scayt_word="Ary" data-scaytid="8">Ary</span>, as the civilian who oversees the trial, is responsible for ordering military commissions for the prosecution of Guantanamo detainees.</p> <p><span data-scayt_word="Al-Nashiri" data-scaytid="9">Al-Nashiri</span>, who is charged with multiple war crimes, has been held at Guantanamo since 2006. He is one of five high-level detainees identified in the Senate&rsquo;s 2014 CIA torture report as having been subject to torture and interrogation methods, such as <span data-scayt_word="waterboarding" data-scaytid="11">waterboarding</span> and rectal feeding.</p> <p>The convening authority&#39;s effort to speed up the trial may actually result in the opposite. <span data-scayt_word="Al-Nashiri's" data-scaytid="14">Al-Nashiri&#39;s</span> hearing could be stalled until the commission receives <span data-scayt_word="Ary’s" data-scaytid="15">Ary&rsquo;s</span> testimony, since <span data-scayt_word="Spath" data-scaytid="12">Spath</span> has not yet made a decision on whether other motions could be heard before the unlawful influence motion is settled. A delay of the hearing could push back the trial even further, which is exactly what <span data-scayt_word="Ary" data-scaytid="13">Ary</span> was trying to avoid.</p> <p>That means the trial of one of Guantanamo&#39;s highest-profile detainees, who was first arraigned in 2011, is still months or maybe even a year away. Navy <span data-scayt_word="Cmdr" data-scaytid="28">Cmdr</span>. Brian <span data-scayt_word="Mizer" data-scaytid="29">Mizer</span>, one of <span data-scayt_word="al-Nashiri’s" data-scaytid="30">al-Nashiri&rsquo;s</span> lawyers, argued <span data-scayt_word="Spath" data-scaytid="26">Spath</span> should not be told how to run his case. He said <span data-scayt_word="Ary’s" data-scaytid="27">Ary&rsquo;s</span> order is &ldquo;naked unlawful influence.&rdquo;</p> <p><span data-scayt_word="Spath" data-scaytid="41">Spath</span> ordered the prosecution to turn over additional documents related to the unlawful influence motion, including email correspondence. He said the defense would have the opportunity to ask for additional witnesses after they finish reading the documents. In court Monday, the defense asked to hear from multiple witnesses, but <span data-scayt_word="Spath" data-scaytid="42">Spath</span> only approved testimony from <span data-scayt_word="Ary" data-scaytid="43">Ary</span>.</p> <p><span data-scayt_word="Spath" data-scaytid="55">Spath</span> asked the prosecution to see how soon <span data-scayt_word="Ary" data-scaytid="57">Ary</span> can testify in person or via videoconferencing.</p> <p>Prosecutors asked <span data-scayt_word="Spath" data-scaytid="56">Spath</span> if he believed <span data-scayt_word="Ary’s" data-scaytid="58">Ary&rsquo;s</span> order would affect his ability to preside over the case.</p> <p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t know,&rdquo; <span data-scayt_word="Spath" data-scaytid="71">Spath</span> answered, although he noted that it was clear the prosecution played no role in the order to have him moved to Guantanamo. Despite the order, <span data-scayt_word="Spath" data-scaytid="72">Spath</span> has not yet moved to Guantanamo.</p> <p>Throughout the trial, <span data-scayt_word="al-Nashiri" data-scaytid="75">al-Nashiri</span> was calm and relaxed. Before and after the trial, he hugged the members of his defense team, laughing and joking with them.</p> <p>The 50-year-old Saudi citizen was captured in 2002 and is facing execution if convicted of the Cole bombing and other terrorist activities.</p> <p>The judge and lawyers will meet Tuesday at noon for a closed session when the prosecution will give an update on <span data-scayt_word="Ary’s" data-scaytid="76">Ary&rsquo;s</span> availability. The judge is also expected to decide by Tuesday afternoon whether other motions can be heard.</p> Guantanamo Bay Need to Know War United States Tue, 24 Feb 2015 02:34:29 +0000 Tyler Pager, Medill National Security Reporting Project 6400476 at Egypt jails prominent blogger and activists for breaking protest law <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alaa Abdel Fattah was one of the guiding voices of Egypt's 2011 revolution. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Laura Dean </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>CAIRO, Egypt &mdash; Alaa Abdel Fattah, one of the most prominent voices of Egypt&rsquo;s 2011 revolution, has been sentenced to five years in prison for violating a protest law deemed &ldquo;<a href="">draconian</a>&rdquo; by rights groups.</p> <p>He was sentenced alongside more than a dozen other activists and a student linked to a protest against a constitutional reform that would allow civilians to be tried in military courts in November 2013.</p> <p>Abdel Fattah&rsquo;s case was closely followed by the activists and revolutionaries who first led calls for the removal of then President Hosni Mubarak four years ago. A blogger and activist, he became one of the leading figures of the revolution and a guiding voice in the turmoil of the years that followed.</p> <p>Abdel Fattah was sentenced at a retrial on Monday for 25 defendants arrested for the protest, which took place outside Egypt&rsquo;s upper house of parliament.</p> <p>Eighteen of the defendants received three-year sentences, while a further four were given 15-year terms in absentia.</p> <p>Abdel Fattah was sentenced to 15 years in jail last June after being tried in absentia, despite presenting himself at the courtroom. In June 2014, the sentence was thrown out and a retrial ordered for him and the others detained during the protest.</p> <p>He has been on hunger strike since October last year, but moved to a partial strike and began consuming juices for health reasons earlier this month.</p> <p>Also sentenced to five years was Ahmed Abdelrahman, a student who worked as a security guard. He was given five years despite claiming not to have been involved in the protest at all.</p> <p>Abdelrahman claimed to have been walking by when he saw two young female protesters being set upon by a group of men. He was arrested when he tried to intervene, and was found with a kitchen knife in his bag &mdash; a fact that led to extra time being added on to his sentence.</p> <p>Two of the activists sentenced were members of the Constitution Party &mdash; the party founded by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mohammad ElBaradei.</p> <p>Khaled Daood, the party&rsquo;s current leader, said the sentences were unprecedented.</p> <p>&ldquo;Our kids never used to go to jail for three and five years, never have we seen these kinds of sentences before,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>&ldquo;This is sending us a negative message: stay at home don&rsquo;t take part in any political activity, don&rsquo;t express your opinions peacefully otherwise you will go to jail. Of course it&rsquo;s discouraging for many young people to take part in politics.&rdquo;</p> <p>When the judge read the verdict, those present in the court chanted &ldquo;down, down with military rule&rdquo; and &ldquo;free revolutionaries, we will continue the journey.&rdquo;</p> <p>The chants eventually gave way to clapping as the detainees were led from the cages. Family members and friends wept at the news.</p> <p>The verdict comes just a day after former general now President Abdel Fattah el Sisi said in a speech that he would release wrongly detained young people.</p> <p>&quot;I told them I don&#39;t deny there might be innocent youths in prison,&rdquo; he said, adding, &quot;Over the next few days the first group of our youths in detention will be released.&rdquo;</p> <p>Human rights lawyers have argued that the protest law violates the constitution, passed in January 2014, that enshrines the right for citizens to peacefully assemble, and organize protests once they notify the authorities.</p> <p>Human Rights Watch denounced the law before it was passed in October 2013.</p> <p>&ldquo;This draft law would effectively mandate the police to ban all protests outright and to use force to disperse ongoing protests,&rdquo; said Sarah Leah Whitson, director of the Middle East and North Africa division at the time.</p> Egypt Need to Know Mon, 23 Feb 2015 22:17:23 +0000 Laura Dean 6400301 at After apparent Al Shabaab mall threat, shoppers keep calm and carry on <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Security is heightened at malls from Minnesota to Paris but officials see no sign of attack plans. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Corinne Purtill </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>LONDON, UK &mdash; Security is tighter at certain malls in the United States, Britain, Canada and France since the emergence this weekend of a video urging terror attacks on Western shopping centers.</p> <p>US police have stationed additional guards at Minnesota&#39;s Mall of America but said &ldquo;<a href="" target="_blank">no credible</a>&rdquo; evidence suggests any specific attack being plotted.</p> <p>Armed police officers were on guard at Le Forum des Halles in Paris, one of two French malls mentioned by name in the video. Security was upped at Canada&rsquo;s West Edmonton Mall as well. UK police wouldn&rsquo;t comment on whether additional officers have been deployed in London.</p> <p>But whatever the threat level, shoppers appeared undeterred.</p> <p>On Monday, shoppers at London&rsquo;s two Westfield mall locations &mdash; both mentioned by the video&rsquo;s masked narrator as potential terror targets &mdash; were happily Instagramming their purchases and food court snacks (like yummy<a href="" target="_blank"> ice cream</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">beer</a>).</p> <p>On Oxford Street, a busy central shopping district and major tourist draw also named in the video, people were bravely carrying on with the street&rsquo;s most popular activities: shopping, and photographing red phone booths and buses.</p> <p>Even Kanye West was still out shopping. KANYE WEST, PEOPLE.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Casually met <a href="">@kanyewest</a> in Oxford street today <a href=""></a></p> <p> &mdash; Tundzzz (@Tundzz_Official) <a href="">February 22, 2015</a></p></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>A spokesperson for London&rsquo;s Metropolitan Police said only that counterterror experts are still assessing the video.</p> <p>The Met has also warned Brits not to look at the video &mdash; just having extremist materials on a computer or mobile device can be considered a criminal offense here.</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="" target="_blank">When information is a crime</a></strong></p> <p>The video, which surfaced on Twitter Saturday, features a British-accented masked man claiming to be from the Al Qaeda-linked militia group Al Shabaab. That group carried out the <a href="" target="_blank">2013 attack on the Westgate</a> shopping center in Nairobi, Kenya, that left at least 67 people dead and scores more injured.</p> <p>&quot;If just a handful of mujahedeen fighters could bring Kenya to a complete standstill for nearly a week, just imagine what the dedicated mujahedeen could do in the West to American or Jewish shopping centers across the world,&quot; the militant said.</p> <p>Commenters said the video appeared to have been influenced by the propaganda of the Islamic State.</p> <p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a new tactic, copying the Islamic State and saying if you can&rsquo;t come out and join us then [attack at home],&rdquo; Sajjan Gohel, international security director at the London-based Asia-Pacific Foundation, <a href="" target="_blank">told Bloomberg</a>.</p> <p><strong>More: <a href="">Help GlobalPost report on conflicts around the world</a></strong></p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="503" scrolling="no" src="" style="font-size: 13px;" width="670"></iframe></p> Need to Know France Canada United Kingdom United States Mon, 23 Feb 2015 18:50:00 +0000 Corinne Purtill 6400197 at Syrians slowly return to Kobani after Kurds win back town from Islamic State <!--paging_filter--><p>Around 4,000 refugees have trickled back to the Syrian Kurdish town of <span data-scayt_word="Kobani" data-scaytid="1">Kobani</span> but many are wary of returning to the site of a four-month battle between Kurdish forces and Islamic State militants, officials said on Monday.</p> <p>Much of the town of over 200,000 was destroyed by the fighting, in which the Kurds held off militant <span data-scayt_word="Islamists" data-scaytid="2">Islamists</span> trying to overrun the border area, and potential returnees are worried by the many unexploded bombs and mortars there, they said.</p> <p>&quot;Turkey keeps track of exits as well as entries. And the latest figure shows around 4,000 people have gone back to <span data-scayt_word="Kobani" data-scaytid="3">Kobani</span>,&quot; a spokesman for Turkey&#39;s disaster management agency <span data-scayt_word="AFAD" data-scaytid="5">AFAD</span> told Reuters.</p> <p><span data-scayt_word="Kobani" data-scaytid="6">Kobani</span> official <span data-scayt_word="Idris" data-scaytid="8">Idris</span> <span data-scayt_word="Nasan" data-scaytid="9">Nasan</span> said 15 people had died and many have been injured in accidents involving live explosives since the siege of the city was lifted last month.</p> <p><strong>More from <span data-scayt_word="GlobalPost" data-scaytid="11">GlobalPost</span>:&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">After a series of defeats, the Islamic State resorts to shock tactics</a></strong></p> <p>&quot;It&#39;s not safe for them. But they were looking forward to coming back,&quot; he said, calling on the international community to help clear <span data-scayt_word="Kobani" data-scaytid="10">Kobani</span> of explosives.</p> <p>Almost the entire population of the town fled across the border to Turkey last year to escape Islamic State&#39;s advance.</p> <p>Kurdish forces assisted by Iraqi <span data-scayt_word="peshmerga" data-scaytid="13">peshmerga</span> forces and almost daily air strikes by the US-led coalition drove out the ultra radical Sunni insurgents in late January and took back the town, which is now in ruins.</p> <p>The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said last week that Kurdish forces have regained control of at least 163 villages around <span data-scayt_word="Kobani" data-scaytid="14">Kobani</span>. But their progress had been slowed by renewed clashes to the west and southwest of the town.</p> <p>Some experts said the retaking of <span data-scayt_word="Kobani" data-scaytid="16">Kobani</span> and the advance of Kurdish forces made possible Turkey&#39;s weekend incursion into Syria to relocate a historical tomb, which has been surrounded by Islamic State militants, and evacuate the soldiers guarding it.</p> <p>Turkey, home to around two million Syrians fleeing the civil war, set up its biggest refugee camp in January to house refugees from <span data-scayt_word="Kobani" data-scaytid="18">Kobani</span>.</p> <p>The camp, located in the southeastern border town of <span data-scayt_word="Suruc" data-scaytid="22">Suruc</span>, has a capacity of 35,000 people but currently it is home to around 8,000 to 9,000 people, <span data-scayt_word="AFAD" data-scaytid="21">AFAD</span> spokesman said.</p> Need to Know Syria Mon, 23 Feb 2015 15:32:21 +0000 Thomson Reuters 6400103 at France seizes passports of suspected militants headed for Syria <!--paging_filter--><p>Authorities in France seized the passports of six alleged French militants who were planning to depart to fight in Syria, the first time this anti-terrorism measure has been used, Interior Minister Bernard <span data-scayt_word="Cazeneuve" data-scaytid="1">Cazeneuve</span> said on Monday.</p> <p>The ability to seize passports and identity cards of those suspected of imminent departure abroad to fight was one of the key measures of an anti-terrorism bill passed by parliament in November.</p> <p>&quot;Today these six administrative bans on leaving the country have been signed, another 40 are in preparation,&quot; <span data-scayt_word="Cazeneuve" data-scaytid="2">Cazeneuve</span> told reporters outside the interior ministry.</p> <p>&quot;We wanted this measure ... because if French people leave to commit actions in Iraq and Syria, upon their return they represent an even greater danger for the national territory and risk committing wide-scale terrorist acts.&quot;</p> <p>The government estimates that about 1,400 French citizens have links to recruitment cells for Syria and Iraq, of which about 400 are already fighting alongside militants.</p> <p>Some of the suspected militants banned from leaving France on Monday were signaled to authorities through a hot line put in place last year, while others were identified through ongoing investigations, an aide to <span data-scayt_word="Cazeneuve" data-scaytid="4">Cazeneuve</span> told Reuters.</p> <p>Suspects have the right to appeal the new measure in an administrative court.</p> <p>France has been on high alert following Islamist attacks in Paris last month that killed 17 people and three gunmen. The country has long been a target for Islamist militants because of its record as a colonial power in North Africa and problems integrating its large Muslim minority.</p> Need to Know France Mon, 23 Feb 2015 14:51:36 +0000 Thomson Reuters 6400068 at Ukraine says it cannot withdraw heavy weapons as rebel attacks persist <!--paging_filter--><p>Ukraine&#39;s military said on Monday it could not start withdrawing heavy weapons from the front line in the east as required under a tenuous <span data-scayt_word="ceasefire" data-scaytid="18">ceasefire</span> because pro-Russian separatists who advanced last week were still attacking its positions.</p> <p>It said two of its soldiers had been killed and 10 wounded in the past 24 hours, signaling that fighting has not stopped to allow a truce deal to be implemented.</p> <p>A truce to end fighting that has killed more than 5,600 people appeared stillborn last week after rebels ignored it to capture the strategic town of <span data-scayt_word="Debaltseve" data-scaytid="20">Debaltseve</span> in a punishing defeat for <span data-scayt_word="Kyiv" data-scaytid="56">Kyiv</span>.</p> <p>Nevertheless, the peace deal&#39;s European sponsors still hold out hope it can be salvaged, now that the Moscow-backed separatists have achieved that objective.</p> <p><span data-scayt_word="Kyiv" data-scaytid="57">Kyiv</span> says it fears the rebels, backed by reinforcements of Russian troops, are planning to advance deeper into territory the Kremlin calls &quot;New Russia.&quot; Moscow denies aiding the rebels.</p> <p><strong>More from <span data-scayt_word="GlobalPost" data-scaytid="76">GlobalPost</span>:&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Police who killed protesters at Ukraine&#39;s <span data-scayt_word="Maidan" data-scaytid="84">Maidan</span> are still free</a></strong></p> <p>Fighting has diminished since <span data-scayt_word="Kyiv's" data-scaytid="59">Kyiv&#39;s</span> forces abandoned <span data-scayt_word="Debaltseve" data-scaytid="22">Debaltseve</span> in defeat last Wednesday, and there were hopeful signs for the truce over the weekend, with an overnight exchange of around 200 prisoners late on Saturday and an agreement on Sunday to begin pulling back artillery from the front.</p> <p>But <span data-scayt_word="Kyiv" data-scaytid="61">Kyiv</span> said on Monday that it still could not start the artillery withdrawal.</p> <p>&quot;Given that the positions of Ukrainian servicemen continue to be shelled, there can not yet be any talk of pulling back weapons,&quot; spokesman <span data-scayt_word="Vladislav" data-scaytid="24">Vladislav</span> <span data-scayt_word="Seleznyov" data-scaytid="25">Seleznyov</span> said in a televised briefing.</p> <p><span data-scayt_word="Anatoly" data-scaytid="26">Anatoly</span> <span data-scayt_word="Stelmakh" data-scaytid="27">Stelmakh</span>, another military spokesman, said rebel forces had attacked the village of <span data-scayt_word="Shyrokyne" data-scaytid="28">Shyrokyne</span> overnight, along the coast on the road to <span data-scayt_word="Mariupol" data-scaytid="29">Mariupol</span>, a port of half a million that <span data-scayt_word="Kyiv" data-scaytid="66">Kyiv</span> fears could be the next big rebel target.</p> <p><strong>More from <span data-scayt_word="GlobalPost" data-scaytid="152">GlobalPost</span>:&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Why Ukraine&#39;s <span data-scayt_word="ceasefire" data-scaytid="154">ceasefire</span> is falling apart in <span data-scayt_word="Debaltseve" data-scaytid="155">Debaltseve</span></a></strong></p> <p>&quot;The fighters have not stopped their attempts to storm our positions in <span data-scayt_word="Shyrokyne" data-scaytid="30">Shyrokyne</span>, in the direction of <span data-scayt_word="Mariupol" data-scaytid="31">Mariupol</span>. At midnight the armed groups again attempted unsuccessfully to attack our soldiers. The battle lasted half an hour.&quot;</p> <p>Rebel commander <span data-scayt_word="Eduard" data-scaytid="34">Eduard</span> <span data-scayt_word="Basurin" data-scaytid="35">Basurin</span> denied the fighters had launched any such attack, and said the situation was calm. &quot;At the moment all is quiet, there is no shelling,&quot; he told Reuters.</p> <p>In the biggest rebel stronghold <span data-scayt_word="Donetsk" data-scaytid="36">Donetsk</span>, occasional artillery fire could be heard through the night and on Monday morning, although it was not clear who was firing and it was far less intense than before the truce.</p> <p>The separatist press service DAN reported two homes destroyed by shelling on the city&#39;s outskirts overnight.</p> <p>Nearly a million people have been driven from their homes by the war between pro-Moscow separatists in eastern Ukraine and government forces. Last week&#39;s <span data-scayt_word="ceasefire" data-scaytid="37">ceasefire</span> was reached after the rebels abandoned a previous truce to launch their advance, arguing that previous battle lines had left their civilians vulnerable to government shelling.</p> <p><strong>More from <span data-scayt_word="GlobalPost" data-scaytid="112">GlobalPost</span>:&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Ukraine&#39;s new peace deal: The good, the bad, the ugly</a></strong></p> <p>&quot;I hope, I just hope, in the truce. No one knows what will happen with the way the sides are behaving,&quot; said <span data-scayt_word="Donetsk" data-scaytid="39">Donetsk</span> resident Sergei, 52. &quot;Now it&#39;s quiet, it&#39;s ok on the streets. You want such quiet. It was difficult to sleep before, not knowing whether you would wake up.&quot;</p> <p><span data-scayt_word="Kyiv" data-scaytid="67">Kyiv</span> says the rebels are reinforcing near <span data-scayt_word="Mariupol" data-scaytid="41">Mariupol</span> for a possible assault on the port, the biggest city in the two rebellious provinces still in government hands. Defense analyst <span data-scayt_word="Dmytro" data-scaytid="44">Dmytro</span> <span data-scayt_word="Tymchuk" data-scaytid="45">Tymchuk</span>, who has close ties to the military, said rebels had brought 350 fighters and 20 armored vehicles including six tanks to the area.</p> <p><span data-scayt_word="Kyiv" data-scaytid="73">Kyiv</span> also fears unrest could spread from the war zone to other parts of the mainly Russian-speaking east, where its troops are firmly in control and most residents are loyal but violent separatist demonstrations have occasionally flared in the past year.</p> <p>Two people were killed on Sunday in <span data-scayt_word="Kharkiv" data-scaytid="47">Kharkiv</span>, 200 km (140 miles) from the war zone, in a blast at a demonstration marking the anniversary of the deaths of 100 protesters a year ago in an uprising that toppled the country&#39;s pro-Moscow leader. Kiev said it had arrested four suspects who had received weapons and instructions in Russia.</p> Need to Know Europe Mon, 23 Feb 2015 14:25:00 +0000 Thomson Reuters 6400034 at Egyptian court sentences leading activist Alaa Abdel Fattah to 5 years in jail <!--paging_filter--><p>An Egyptian court sentenced a prominent activist to five years in jail on Monday for violating limits on demonstrations, part of one of the toughest crackdowns on dissent in Egypt&#39;s history.</p> <p>After the verdict was read out, chants of &quot;Down, down with military rule!&quot; rang out from supporters of <span data-scayt_word="Alaa" data-scaytid="1">Alaa</span> <span data-scayt_word="Abdel" data-scaytid="2">Abdel</span> <span data-scayt_word="Fattah" data-scaytid="3">Fattah</span> crowded into the courtroom.</p> <p><span data-scayt_word="Abdel" data-scaytid="4">Abdel</span> <span data-scayt_word="Fattah" data-scaytid="5">Fattah</span> was a leading secular figure in the 2011 revolt that toppled autocrat <span data-scayt_word="Hosni" data-scaytid="10">Hosni</span> Mubarak. He was originally sentenced in absentia to 15 years in jail, along with 24 others, before a retrial was ordered.</p> <p>The blogger and software engineer is one of several activists to have been jailed since the army overthrew Islamist president Mohammed <span data-scayt_word="Morsi" data-scaytid="12">Morsi</span> in mid-2013 and launched a crackdown not only on his Muslim Brotherhood but also on secular democracy activists.</p> <p><span data-scayt_word="Laila" data-scaytid="13">Laila</span> <span data-scayt_word="Seif" data-scaytid="14">Seif</span>, <span data-scayt_word="Abdel" data-scaytid="11">Abdel</span> <span data-scayt_word="Fattah's" data-scaytid="16">Fattah&#39;s</span> mother, said she hoped her son would draw on the strength that helped his father, a human rights lawyer, through a five-year sentence under Mubarak.</p> <p>One other defendant, Ahmed <span data-scayt_word="Abdulrahman" data-scaytid="17">Abdulrahman</span>, also received five years in jail; 18 accused received three years; and others who were tried in absentia were given 15 years. <span data-scayt_word="Abdulrahman's" data-scaytid="18">Abdulrahman&#39;s</span> lawyer said his client would appeal.</p> <p>The same court also adjourned to March 8 the trial of two Al <span data-scayt_word="Jazeera" data-scaytid="19">Jazeera</span> television journalists charged with aiding a terrorist organization &mdash; a reference to the Muslim Brotherhood.</p> <p><strong>&#39;Not a single official&#39;</strong></p> <p>Activists say that, as officials from Mubarak&#39;s police state are gradually rehabilitated, all political dissent is being stifled.</p> <p>&quot;Not a single official from the Mubarak regime has been sentenced, not a single police officer,&quot; said <span data-scayt_word="Khaled" data-scaytid="20">Khaled</span> <span data-scayt_word="Dawoud" data-scaytid="21">Dawoud</span>, spokesman for the opposition <span data-scayt_word="Dostour" data-scaytid="22">Dostour</span> Party.</p> <p>&quot;We have young Egyptians dying every day, and not a single person gets sentenced except those who believe in peaceful protest.&quot;</p> <p>In January, the high court overturned the only remaining conviction against Mubarak himself, opening the way for his possible release, four years after a revolt that raised hopes of greater freedoms in the most populous Arab state.</p> <p>Egypt&#39;s police force, which retreated into the background during Mubarak&#39;s demise, appears more powerful than ever.</p> <p>The Interior Ministry says it investigates any allegations of wrongdoing, but human rights say police are rarely prosecuted for abuses.</p> <p>President <span data-scayt_word="Abdel" data-scaytid="23">Abdel</span> <span data-scayt_word="Fattah" data-scaytid="24">Fattah</span> <span data-scayt_word="al-Sisi" data-scaytid="27">al-Sisi</span>, a former army chief, said on Sunday that the government would bring to justice those responsible for the death of activist <span data-scayt_word="Shaimaa" data-scaytid="28">Shaimaa</span> <span data-scayt_word="Sabbagh" data-scaytid="29">Sabbagh</span>, who was shot during a protest last month, and those who were killed in a football stadium stampede weeks later.</p> <p>Another activist, Ahmed <span data-scayt_word="Douma" data-scaytid="30">Douma</span>, was sentenced to life in prison this month on charges of rioting, inciting violence and attacking security forces in late 2011.</p> <p>(Writing by <span data-scayt_word="Yara" data-scaytid="31">Yara</span> <span data-scayt_word="Bayoumy" data-scaytid="32">Bayoumy</span>; Editing by Michael <span data-scayt_word="Georgy" data-scaytid="33">Georgy</span> and Kevin <span data-scayt_word="Liffey" data-scaytid="34">Liffey</span>)</p> Egypt Need to Know Mon, 23 Feb 2015 13:41:00 +0000 Thomson Reuters 6400006 at Hear from Egypt’s young revolutionaries behind bars <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> In their own words. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Laura Dean </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>CAIRO, Egypt &mdash; Four years on, many of the authors of Egypt&rsquo;s January 2011 revolution &mdash; the young, idealistic faces that were splashed across Western television screens following the fall of strongman Hosni Mubarak &mdash; are behind bars.</p> <p>The true number of those locked up since the army toppled Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013 is impossible to tell, but many believe it to be in the tens of thousands.</p> <p>People from all walks of life now find themselves behind bars: Islamists, students, university professors, journalists, doctors, engineers, company owners, workers,&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">children</a>.</p> <p>Locked up with them are many of the young voices trying to shape Egypt&rsquo;s democracy.</p> <p>One such voice is Ahmed Douma, a prominent activist and blogger who has been jailed under every government Egypt has seen in his lifetime. On Feb. 4, he was <a href="" target="_blank">sentenced to life</a> in prison along with 229 others and fined over $2 million on charges of rioting, attacking security forces and inciting violence in late 2011.</p> <p>Prominent blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah was sentenced to five years in jail on Monday, after being held for about seven months in pre-trial detention. Eighteen other activists were sentenced to three years and still others 15 years in absentia.&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Yara Sallam</a>, a researcher on transitional justice and recipient of the <a href="" target="_blank">North African Human Rights Defender Shield</a>, was detained in June 2014 for violating the draconian protest law. She and Sana Seif, daughter of prominent human rights activist Ahmed Seif al-Islam, along with 22 others, are serving two-year sentences despite <a href="" target="_blank">international calls for their release</a>.</p> <p>Mahienour el-Massry, a prominent human rights lawyer, was just sentenced to another two years in prison, after being released in November. The list goes on.</p> <p>Stories of torture in police stations, in prisons, in military detention centers, have much in common with one another. Detainees describe beatings with hands and sticks and belts, electric shocks, deprivation of food, sexual assault.</p> <p>Detainees at el-Azouli military prison in Ismailia <a href="">report</a> being held in complete darkness, suspended from doors, having boiling water and oil poured on them during interrogations, electric shocks in the mouth when they beg for water. One wrote that he had even seen wives brought in and suspended from doors to make their husbands confess.</p> <p>In an essay written March 4, entitled &ldquo;Autism,&rdquo; Alaa Abdel Fattah describes how it feels to encounter other inmates who have been tortured when he has not.</p> <p class="rteindent1"><em>&ldquo;We&#39;ve expected them since the news of their torture was leaked into the papers. We tried to prepare to receive them, but how do you welcome a friend who went through the battle with you but went through his experience alone? Will he be comforted if you tell him that your old jail/his new jail is safe and that his ordeal is over? Will he be angry? Should I feel guilty or grateful?&rdquo;</em></p> <p>He explains that certain detainees are subject to torture while others are not.</p> <p class="rteindent1"><em>&ldquo;The groups whose torture is prohibited are generally defined by social class, race, possession of a second nationality, party alliance, level of education, age, and other details that can be used to categorize people.&rdquo;</em></p> <p>Some manage to find dark humor in the situation.&nbsp;Mohamed Fawzi, a student in the Faculty of Pharmaceuticals in Mansoura, wrote the following on April 18:</p> <p class="rteindent1"><em>&ldquo;Shut up you people, we want to sleep. It seems those electric shocks have scorched your brains,&rdquo; said one of the cellmates to others who were laughing at the time for sleep. &ldquo;And they wonder where the electricity problems are coming from! It&rsquo;s only natural. If all electricity is channeled to state security to use on detainees.&rdquo; The whole cell breaks into laughter.&nbsp;</em></p> <p>Sherif Farag, a lecturer at Alexandria University, describes the moment he was allowed to have a pillow in al-Hadra prison:</p> <p class="rteindent1"><em>&ldquo;Time must stop, the earth must stop turning, and you must focus your eyes and hearts to this important date in my life here in Hadra prison. At about 2 p.m. today I have become owner of a pillow, where I can lay my head heavy with thought and dreams &hellip; &quot;</em></p> <p class="rteindent1"><em>&quot;We were lucky to have woolen covers before our transfer to the directorate. Here we began to learn that the officer is the source of life: he can give or can take away, tempt or withhold, carrying life or death, depending on his whims. From my pillow and my bed I moved to an ice-cold stone floor, which makes the cold seem more biting and cruel.&quot;</em></p> <p class="rteindent1"><em>&quot;With time and through the visits we began to have covers, underwear, soap and a sponge. I mentioned only underwear because you don&rsquo;t need other clothes. In prison you learn to focus on the essentials. With those simple accessories you can make a nice, softer pillow. A trouser leg or a T-shirt stuffed with the other clothes is nice and sufficient. The most important thing is that they be clean or else you will not tolerate the smell of your own sweat. Don&rsquo;t be disgusted. This is simple and nice if compared to the smell of the toilets.&quot;</em></p> <p class="rteindent1"><em>&quot;To own a pillow in prison is something akin to a dream.&rdquo;</em></p> <p>Many describe the friendships and camaraderie they have found behind bars.</p> <p class="rteindent1"><em>&ldquo;I don&#39;t think he [the president] realizes that a generation is growing and a whole community is bonding and integrating inside detention places, a community whose memory has been engraved with memories that remind us every morning with the real reason why we are on this earth: to fight every injustice,&rdquo; </em>writes Fawzi.</p> <p>Novelist Omar Hazek writes of a barrel of garbage a meter from where he sleeps, the stench of which is unbearable. The prisoners devise a way to pay for the barrel to be washed and lined with plastic bags, which are closed at night to mitigate the odor.</p> <p>Karim el-Beheiry describes an instance in which officers handcuff a detainee to be beaten by soldiers. The prisoners shout &quot;horeya&quot; &mdash; &quot;freedom&quot; &mdash; and bang on the walls of the cell until the officers release the prisoner. The next day the officers threatened to shoot tear gas into the cell if such an incident happened again.</p> <p>Small acts of kindness take on special significance. Hazek&rsquo;s friend devises, after several attempts, an oil lamp for him so that he can stay up and work on his novel in the quiet of the night. The wick is made from orange peel and matches, and stands in oil collected from the prison food, placed inside a cup made from the bottom of a water bottle.&nbsp;Another detainee makes chess pieces out of soap.&nbsp;</p> <p>Some even manage to be grateful for the experience.</p> <p class="rteindent1"><em>&ldquo;I thank God for putting me in this place, maybe it is a chance that God will forgive me for my bad deeds and maybe it was a chance to know the most brave, pure and honest revolutionists and maybe to know the value of my friends,&rdquo;</em> writes Ahmed Ayman, 20, detained on June 30, 2013.</p> <p>Others continue to fight for democratic ideas from inside prison.</p> <p class="rteindent1"><em>&ldquo;I know that despair is treason<br /> but the revolutionary in my country<br /> &mdash; even if he&rsquo;s a sinless prophet &mdash;<br /> when he sees the tyrant empowered<br /> by the oppressed&rsquo;s command<br /> amid the rejoicing of the poor<br /> will lose his faith.&rdquo;</em></p> <p>These are the opening words of a piece entitled &ldquo;Graffiti for Two&rdquo; and written jointly from prison by Ahmed Douma, who was just given a life sentence, and Abdel Fattah who will be sentenced on Feb. 23. They collaborated by shouting to one another between cells.</p> <p>They go on to suggest it is more bearable in some ways to be undergoing the ordeal than to be a loved one outside:</p> <p class="rteindent1"><em>&ldquo;I was given an inheritance better than that of my two sisters, for they inherited morgues and victims of torture and the embrace of grieving mothers. I&rsquo;m too scared to even ask about their nightmares.&rdquo;</em></p> <p>Abdel Fattah writes of a renewed commitment to a long-term democratic struggle, drawing on the experiences of older Egyptian rights activists:</p> <p class="rteindent1"><em>&ldquo;I write of a generation that fought without despair and without hope, that won only small victories and wasn&rsquo;t shaken by major defeats because they were the natural order of things. A generation whose ambitions were lower than the ambitions of those who came before, but whose dream was larger.&rdquo;</em></p> <p>He explains the goals of the original revolutionary moment:</p> <p class="rteindent1"><em>&ldquo;Our aim was to emphasize will in a country that aimed to destroy you. Our instinct was to move towards the unknown in a country whose instinct was stasis. We fought for a day, one day that would end without the suffocating certainty that tomorrow would replicate it as all days had been replicated before.&rdquo;</em></p> <p>But ultimately, he accuses the government of targeting the revolutionary generation:</p> <p class="rteindent1"><em>&ldquo;Everyone knows that the current regime offers nothing to most of the young people of the country, and everyone knows that most of those in jail are young, and that oppression is targeting an entire generation to subjugate it to a regime that understands how separate it is from them and that does not want, and cannot in any case, accommodate or include them.&rdquo; </em></p> <p>For many, despair is never far off and the uncertainty and the indignity at times becomes too much to bear.</p> <p>Mahmoud Abu Zeid, who goes by &ldquo;Shawkan,&rdquo; has been detained for more than 550 days without charge. On Feb. 16, a Cairo court sentenced him to indefinite pretrial detention.</p> <p class="rteindent1"><em>&ldquo;It is an endless nightmare inside this black hole that I am stuck in. The sunset has become a tiny strip through the iron mesh. ...</em></p> <p class="rteindent1"><em>&ldquo;Iron is taking over the place here. Heavy iron doors and a dark room like a dungeon. ... </em></p> <p class="rteindent1"><em>&ldquo;I will share with you the degrading story of the bathroom. It is just a very small part of the same room. Everyone can hear what happens inside so very clearly. We cook, eat, pray and use the bathroom in this same room. We are robbed not just of our freedom, but also our dignity even in the most basic of functions. ...</em></p> <p class="rteindent1"><em>&quot;I simply ask that now that you know of me, please do not turn away. I am a photojournalist, not a criminal. I&rsquo;m Mahmoud Abou Zeid, Shawkan &hellip;. Write to me at your neighborhood Cemetery in Tora prison.&rdquo;</em></p> <p><strong>More: <a href="">Help GlobalPost report on conflicts around the world</a></strong></p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="503" scrolling="no" src="" style="font-size: 13px;" width="670"></iframe></p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--> Egypt Need to Know World Leaders Conflict Zones Military Mon, 23 Feb 2015 08:58:00 +0000 Laura Dean 6399576 at Scientists hope an AIDS vaccine lies in llamas <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> The cute Andean animal’s antibodies are nearly 100 percent effective in stopping the deadly virus from spreading, researchers say. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Simeon Tegel </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>LIMA, Peru &mdash; Fluffy, photogenic and super hardy at altitude, llamas have it all.</p> <p>They&rsquo;re ideal for schlepping backpackers&rsquo; luggage over the high Andes or as a picturesque companion for that once-in-a-lifetime Machu Picchu selfie.</p> <p>But now they may have an addition to their list of undoubted qualities: Llamas appear to be immune to AIDS and HIV.</p> <p>The discovery, experts say, just might lead to a vaccine against the deadly virus or a treatment for those already infected.</p> <p>That&rsquo;s according to new research by a team of experts from around the world, including University College London, Harvard Medical School and Argentina&rsquo;s Center of Animal Virology.</p> <p>Their <a href="" target="_blank">study</a>, published in December in the PLOS Pathogens magazine, says that one llama antibody, which develops in response to the virus, &ldquo;potently neutralizes more than 95 percent of HIV strains.&rdquo;</p> <p>Compare that to human antibodies, which appear in people infected with HIV or AIDS. For reasons scientists don&rsquo;t entirely understand, they are completely ineffective at halting the virus they have evolved to target.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s that unresolved biological jigsaw that has allowed AIDS to spread into a global pandemic that&#39;s <a href="" target="_blank">infected</a> more than 30 million people and kills nearly 2 million every year, even if new drugs often now minimize the symptoms.</p> <p>Nevertheless, scientists are responding cautiously to this latest breakthrough, noting that this is hardly the first time a vaccine or cure for AIDS has appeared to be around the corner since the virus was first named back in 1982.</p> <p>The discovery was made after three llamas were injected with a portion of the AIDS virus. After the antibodies were given a chance to develop, the animals&#39; blood was then extracted and examined.</p> <p>Unlike human antibodies, llama antibodies have a single chain of proteins, which allows them to accurately aim at specific viruses.</p> <p>Human antibodies have a short and a long chain and tend to use a scatter-gun approach, attacking all foreign viruses they find. For some reason, that has stopped them from effectively attacking the AIDS virus.</p> <p>Apparently, it&rsquo;s not just llamas but also alpacas, their even fluffier Andean cousins, that have this characteristic.</p> <div gp-image-embed="" gp-image-embed-position="nothing" gp-image-embed-source="Cris Bouroncle/AFP/Getty Images"> Andean women and their herd of alpacas.</div> <p>Doctors at Peru&#39;s Alexander von Humboldt Institute of Tropical Medicine are already researching the potential to prevent or treat the liver disease Hepatitis B using alpaca antibodies.</p> <p>Eduardo Gotuzzo, the center&rsquo;s director, who was not involved in the HIV study, gave a cautious welcome to its findings.</p> <p>&ldquo;It has only been carried out with three llamas so far, and the effect has only been seen in vitro [in other words, in a lab, using cells taken from a living animal],&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>&ldquo;So, there is a long way to go before we can really see how significant this is, but it is certainly a very interesting discovery.</p> <p>&ldquo;It is an open door, and here in Peru there are five institutions that are now researching this aspect of alpaca and llama antibodies [and its potential against various diseases].&rdquo;</p> <p>And before you ask &mdash; no, the llamas didn&rsquo;t suffer.</p> <p>The portion of the AIDS virus that was injected into them was not enough for the animals to actually contract the disease, although it does appear to have allowed them to develop immunity to it.</p> Peru Want to Know Health Mon, 23 Feb 2015 05:15:00 +0000 Simeon Tegel 6399632 at Al Shabaab threatens to attack Mall of America <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> The Al-Qaeda-linked group also threatened Canada's West Edmonton Mall, London's famous Oxford Street shopping hub and two malls in France. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Agence France-Presse </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>US homeland security chief Jeh Johnson warned shoppers in one of America&#39;s biggest malls to be on their guard Sunday after an Islamic militant group posted a video calling for attacks on Western malls.</p> <p>The warning comes as the US and other nations are increasingly jittery about the threat of &quot;lone wolf&quot; attacks carried out by radicalized people in their home country.</p> <p>&quot;I would say that if anyone is planning to go to the Mall of America today, they&#39;ve got to be particularly careful,&quot; Johnson said on CNN&#39;s &quot;State of the Union.&quot;</p> <p>The Al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab insurgent group also threatened Canada&#39;s massive West Edmonton Mall, London&#39;s famous Oxford Street shopping hub and two malls in France: Le Forum des Halles and Les Quatre Temps.</p> <p>A US administration official said, however, there was &quot;no indication of a specific, credible threat to the US.&quot;</p> <p>But attacks in Paris, Copenhagen, and Ottawa by homegrown extremists have set security officials on edge, and prompted Washington to sponsor a security summit earlier this week to discuss the threat.</p> <p>Shabaab carried out a bloody attack and takeover of a mall in Nairobi in September 2013 that killed at least 67 people.</p> <p>In a video distributed on Twitter Saturday, the group ran a documentary-style account of the Kenya attack. It was followed by an appearance by a masked fighter who suggested similar attacks could be carried out on other malls in the United States, Canada, Britain and France.</p> <p>&quot;If just a handful of mujahideen fighters could bring Kenya to a complete stand-still for nearly a week, just imagine what the dedicated mujahideen could do in the West to American or Jewish shopping centers across the world,&quot; the militant said.</p> <p>&quot;What if such an attack were to occur in the Mall of America in Minnesota? Or the West Edmonton Mall in Canada? Or in London&#39;s Oxford Street?&quot; he said.</p> <p>The video was picked up by SITE, a group that monitors jihadist websites.</p> <p>The Mall of America, located in Minnesota and reputedly the country&#39;s largest with 40 million visitors a year, said it had taken extra security measures in response to the threat by the Shabaab, a Somalia-based insurgent group.</p> <p>Johnson said the threat was indicative of a new type of home-grown threat and requires careful tracking of people suspected of supporting militant groups.</p> <p>&quot;This latest statement from al-Shabaab reflects the new phase we&#39;ve evolved to in the global terrorist threat in that you have groups such as al-Shabaab, ISIL, publicly calling for independent actors in their home lands to carry out attacks,&quot; said Johnson, who is the US secretary of homeland security.</p> <p>&quot;We&#39;re beyond the phase now where these groups would send foreign operatives into countries after being trained someplace,&quot; he added.</p> <p>Johnson said the government has to take it seriously any time a group calls for an attack against a specific place, but he did not say if his department had other specific information about the threat.</p> <p><strong>Funding battle</strong></p> <p>The Department of Homeland Security is in the middle of a funding battle between President Barack Obama and the Republican-controlled Congress.</p> <p>Lawmakers have funded all federal departments until the end of the 2015 fiscal year, except for DHS, held up by a Republican attempt to override Obama&#39;s decision to defer deportations of millions of undocumented immigrants.</p> <p>In his appearances on Sunday television shows, Johnson brought up the funding battle in context of the most recent mall threat.</p> <p>&quot;It&#39;s all the more reason why I need a budget,&quot; Johnson said about the lack of funding and the latest threat.</p> <p>The department may have to furlough 30,000 people if it doesn&#39;t receive funding by the end of the week, and a &quot;skeleton&quot; staff hampers the ability to detect threats, Johnson said.</p> <p>&quot;It&#39;s absurd that we&#39;re even having this conversation about congress&#39;s inability to fund homeland security in these challenging times.&quot;</p> Need to Know Somalia Politics Culture & Lifestyle United States Sun, 22 Feb 2015 22:25:38 +0000 Agence France-Presse 6399623 at Kyiv points finger at Russia after two killed in blast <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Kyiv said it had arrested suspects who had been armed and instructed in Russia. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Vitaly Gnidy, Thomson Reuters </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>KHARKIV, Ukraine &mdash; At least two people were killed on Sunday when a blast struck a crowd at a pro-Ukrainian rally far from eastern Ukraine&#39;s war zone, and Kyiv said it had arrested suspects who had been armed and instructed in Russia.</p> <p>Ukrainian authorities fear violence could spread from two rebellious provinces to other areas in the mainly Russian-speaking east, a swathe of territory which the Kremlin calls &quot;New Russia.&quot;</p> <p>The bomb in Kharkiv, the biggest city in the east, struck one of numerous events across Ukraine on Sunday marking the deaths of 100 protesters a year ago in an uprising that toppled a Moscow-backed president.</p> <p>&quot;Today is memorial Sunday, but on this day terrorist scum revealed its predatory nature,&quot; President Petro Poroshenko said on Facebook. &quot;This is a bold attempt to expand the territory of terrorism.&quot;</p> <p>Amateur footage posted on the Internet showed a few hundred marchers with Ukrainian flags shouting &quot;glory to the heroes!&quot; when the blast occurred. The demonstrators, including a woman pushing a baby in a pram, fled in panic. A wounded man in military uniform lay in snow crying for help.</p> <p>A Reuters journalist at the scene filmed the bodies of two men lying by the road, draped in blue and yellow Ukrainian flags and surrounded by shrapnel.</p> <p>Kharkiv is more than 200 km (140 miles) from the war zone. It has occasionally seen violent protests by separatists in the past year but is now firmly under government control, and residents mostly support Kyiv.</p> <p>A Ukrainian prosecutor said one of those killed and four of the wounded were police who had been guarding the demonstration.</p> <p>Demonstrator Igor Rossokha told Reuters Television his friend Igor was one of those killed: &quot;We tried to give him first aid, but the paramedics arrived and said he&#39;d died instantly because he was struck in the heart.</p> <p>&quot;We just wanted to commemorate the anniversary, and this happened right at the start of our march,&quot; he said. &quot;The whole thing was called off immediately out of fear there could be more bombs on the route.&quot;</p> <p>Markian Lubkivskyi, an aide to the head of Ukraine&#39;s SBU security service, said four suspects had been arrested. They were planning to conduct a series of attacks in the city with a Russian-made &quot;Shmel&quot; rocket launcher.</p> <p>&quot;They are Ukrainian citizens, who underwent instruction and received weapons in the Russian Federation, in Belgorod,&quot; he told Ukraine&#39;s 112 Television. Belgorod is a city across the nearby Russian border from Kharkiv.</p> <p>Moscow did not immediately respond to the accusations. It has long denied aiding its militant sympathizers in Ukraine.</p> <p>Ukrainian officials initially said the blast was caused by an explosive thrown from a car, but later said a bomb had been buried under snow. The explosion follows blasts in other Ukrainian cities in recent weeks, although it appears to be the first in which fatalities were reported.</p> <p><em>(Reporting by Reuters Television in Kharkiv and Natalia Zinets in Kyiv; Writing by Alessandra Prentice and Peter Graff)</em></p> Need to Know Conflict Zones Europe Politics Russia Sun, 22 Feb 2015 19:49:54 +0000 Vitaly Gnidy, Thomson Reuters 6399447 at Come home, families beg Syria-bound UK schoolgirls <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> The three girls flew to Istanbul on a Turkish Airlines flight from London's Gatwick airport. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Agence France-Presse </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>The families of three British schoolgirls feared to be travelling to join the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria issued emotional appeals for them to come home Saturday.</p> <p>Close friends Kadiza Sultana, 17, and 15-year-olds Shamima Begum and Amira Abase left their east London homes Tuesday and flew to Istanbul.</p> <p>Turkey is a key entry point for those seeking to travel to Syria.</p> <p>Police believe the three girls &mdash; all of whom are academic high achievers &mdash; were following the example of a friend who fled to join IS jihadists in December.</p> <p>British media reported that the girls had been interviewed by police about where their friend had gone but were not considered at risk of leaving the country themselves.</p> <p>Abase&#39;s family agreed that she could be identified for the first time Saturday in the hope of securing her safe return.</p> <p>&quot;You are strong, smart, beautiful and we are hoping you will make the right decision,&quot; they said in a statement issued by police. &quot;Please return home.&quot;</p> <p>Sultana&#39;s family described how they were feeling &quot;completely distressed&quot; and that her departure had been &quot;a complete nightmare.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;We miss you terribly, especially Mum, and things have not been the same without you,&quot; they said.</p> <p>Begum&#39;s family added that Syria was &quot;a dangerous place and we don&#39;t want you to go there.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;We understand that you have strong feelings and want to help those you believe are suffering in Syria,&quot; the family said. &quot;You can help from home, you don&#39;t have to put yourself in danger.&quot;</p> <p>The girls flew to Istanbul on a Turkish Airlines flight from London&#39;s Gatwick airport.</p> <p>Counter-terrorism experts estimate that around 50 women have traveled from Britain to Syria to join the IS group, which has captured swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria.</p> Need to Know Conflict Zones Syria Politics Culture & Lifestyle United Kingdom Sun, 22 Feb 2015 12:14:23 +0000 Agence France-Presse 6399293 at 5 edible Latin American bugs <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> With the UN promoting insects as a new sustainable food, GlobalPost looks at five Latin American creepy-crawlies that locals just love to eat. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Simeon Tegel </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>LIMA, Peru &mdash; If you&rsquo;re hungry enough, then you&rsquo;ll eat it.</p> <p>That seems to be the reasoning from the United Nations as it promotes &ldquo;entomophagy,&rdquo; the fancy scientific name for eating insects, as the <a href="" target="_blank">key to food security</a> in the 21st century.&nbsp;</p> <p>With increasing ecological depletion and the earth&rsquo;s human population set to reach as much as 11 billion by 2040 &mdash; compared to today&rsquo;s 7 billion &mdash; <a href="" target="_blank">bugs are one of the cheapest, most efficient and nutritious</a> food sources available.&nbsp;</p> <p>Yuck, you might say. But in many parts of the world, including Latin America, they&rsquo;ve been eating tasty, tiny creatures with way too many legs since time immemorial.</p> <p>Here GlobalPost highlights five:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2> Wriggling weevil babies</h2> <div gp-image-embed="" gp-image-embed-position="nothing" gp-image-embed-source="Daniel Rosenberg/YouTube"> Weevil larvae in Peru.</div> <p>No, not the daughter of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. In Peru, suri is the name of the outsize <a href="" target="_blank">larvae of the palm weevil</a>, a staple of the Amazonian diet. An inch or two long, fat and fatty, this grub can be fried, roasted or barbecued on a spit. Locals in jungle towns, however, prefer to offer it to visitors not just raw but live and wriggling.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2> Grasshoppers and beer</h2> <div gp-image-embed="" gp-image-embed-position="nothing" gp-image-embed-source="Beelzebubilein/Wikimedia Commons"> Chapulines at a market in Oaxaca.</div> <p>Mexicans have been eating all kinds of arthropods since long before the Spanish showed up in the 16th Century. <a href="" target="_blank">Chapulines</a>, or grasshoppers, are probably the most famous. There are various recipes but a personal favorite is Oaxacan-style; deep fried and smothered in chili powder. Spicy and salty, they go perfectly with a cold cerveza.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2> Ant larvae tacos</h2> <div gp-image-embed="" gp-image-embed-position="“nothing&quot;" gp-image-embed-source="Cvmontuy/Wikimedia Commons"> Ant larvae for dinner.</div> <p>Another Mexican classic is <a href="" target="_blank">escamoles, ant larvae that are a common delicacy</a> in the Yucatan peninsula. They are harvested from agave cactuses used to make tequila and mezcal. Often described as &ldquo;nutty&rdquo; and &ldquo;buttery&rdquo; in flavor, they are typically served in a tortilla, along with the usual Mexican musts of hot salsa, salt and lime juice.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2> Barbecued tarantulas</h2> <div gp-image-embed="" gp-image-embed-position="“nothing&quot;" gp-image-embed-source="John/Flickr Commons"> Goliath bird-eater tarantula.</div> <p>OK, OK, so spiders aren&rsquo;t insects. But this one was too good to leave out. Various cultures around the world eat tarantulas but the <a href="" target="_blank">Piura tribe in the Venezuelan Amazon have the best recipe</a>. They barbecue goliath, aka &ldquo;bird-eating&rdquo; tarantulas whole, on the end of a stick. Cooked this way, the giant spider, the size of an adult human&rsquo;s hand, is about as crunchy as Col. Sander&rsquo;s extra crispy chicken recipe.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2> Big-assed ants</h2> <div gp-image-embed="" gp-image-embed-position="nothing" gp-image-embed-source="Sascha Grabow/Wikimedia Commons"> Fried ants in Colombia.</div> <p>In Colombia, they like their ants <a href="" target="_blank">culonas or &ldquo;big-assed.&rdquo;</a> They even export them to Europe now, where one company sells them covered in chocolate. In Brazil, the preference is for queen ants, or ica, of several species. Amazonian ants aren&rsquo;t like their US cousins; they can get up to an inch long and many are poisonous. They can be cooked in various ways or eaten raw. If you do eat them alive though, be sure to rip off their lower jaw to stop them biting inside your mouth!&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>More: <a href="">Help GlobalPost report on conflicts around the world</a></strong></p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="503" scrolling="no" src="" style="font-size: 13px;" width="670"></iframe></p> Americas Peru Want to Know Food & Drink Colombia Mexico Sun, 22 Feb 2015 07:11:00 +0000 Simeon Tegel 6398874 at Ukraine army, pro-Russian rebels swap prisoners under tattered truce <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> The swap was in rare compliance with a truce so badly breached that the US warned it could escalate sanctions on Russia within days. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Agence France-Presse </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>Ukraine&#39;s military and pro-Moscow rebels on Saturday swapped scores of prisoners in rare compliance with a truce so badly breached over the past week that the US warned it could escalate sanctions on Russia within days.</p> <p>AFP journalists present in the eastern town of Zholobok for the exchange saw the rebels trade 139 Ukrainian soldiers for 52 separatist fighters held by the other side.</p> <p>Some of the released soldiers were wounded. A few had to walk on crutches through a landscape scarred and cratered by months of fighting.</p> <p>Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko tweeted confirmation of the prisoner swap, calling the freed soldiers &quot;Ukrainian heroes.&quot;</p> <p>It was the biggest prisoner exchange in the conflict since December.</p> <p>The insurgents said their prisoners had included some of the troops seized when this week they overran the strategic town of Debaltseve, located between Lugansk and the other rebel stronghold of Donetsk.</p> <p>That bloody offensive &mdash; which killed 179 soldiers, according to one Ukrainian presidential aide &mdash; was the most egregious breach of the UN-backed ceasefire that came into effect Feb. 15, prompting furious reaction from the United States which blamed Russia.</p> <p>&quot;Serious sanctions&quot; could be applied to Russia within days, US Secretary of State John Kerry said in London after talks with his British counterpart Philip Hammond.</p> <p>Earlier, he slammed Moscow for &quot;extraordinarily craven behavior at the expense of the sovereignty and integrity of a nation.&quot;</p> <p>The death toll of 179 soldiers in the month-long battle over Debaltseve was given by Yuri Biryukov, an aide to Poroshenko, on his Facebook page.</p> <p>If that figure is confirmed, it would represent one of the bloodiest losses suffered by the Ukrainian side in the 10-month conflict.</p> <p>But Kyiv is officially giving a much lower toll. Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak on Saturday said the government&#39;s tally of troop deaths in the retreat from Debaltseve this week was 20.</p> <p>He added that 112 soldiers had been taken prisoner, while 2,500 had braved rebel fire to flee to safety on Wednesday.</p> <p><strong>No &#39;illusions&#39; over truce</strong></p> <p>Germany and France, which brokered the Ukraine truce, still stand behind it despite the many violations. They say it is the only solution towards ending a conflict that the UN estimates has so far cost the lives of 5,700 people.</p> <p>&quot;We don&#39;t have any illusions&quot; about the difficulty involved, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said after meeting French President Francois Hollande in Paris on Friday.</p> <p>Under the truce, both sides were to observe a ceasefire, withdraw heavy weapons from the frontline by March 3 and carry out a prisoner exchange. If those steps could be met, they were then to conduct negotiations on greater autonomy in rebel-held areas, and eventually restore Ukraine&#39;s control over all of its border with Russia.</p> <p>But Kyiv and the rebels continue to trade accusations of shelling, mortar rounds and rocket strikes targeting their positions.</p> <p>Ukrainian defense officials allege that Russia has deployed 20 tanks towards the port city of Mariupol and that a dozen enemy reconnaissance drones controlled from over the border have been shot down.</p> <p>The rebels claimed to have pulled back weapons in some areas, but there was no confirmation from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which is monitoring the truce.</p> <p>They have so far barred the OSCE observers from entering Debaltseve to assess the situation, but promised they would finally be allowed in on Sunday.</p> <p><strong>US: Russia undermining &#39;global order&#39;</strong></p> <p>Russia&#39;s repeated denials of militarily backing the separatists have been dismissed by the West, which says it has satellite imagery and other confirmation of troop and material movements.</p> <p>&quot;Russia&#39;s continued support of ongoing separatist attacks in violation of the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine is undermining international diplomacy and multilateral institutions &mdash; the foundations of our modern global order,&quot; US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.</p> <p>Moscow is under several rounds of US and EU sanctions over the crisis, but while they have accelerated Russia&#39;s slide towards recession they have thus far failed to change President Vladimir Putin&#39;s stance.</p> <p>In one sign of the effects on Russia&#39;s economy, rating agency Moody&#39;s cut its debt note by one notch into &quot;junk&quot; territory, just a month after its last downgrade.</p> Need to Know Conflict Zones Europe Politics Russia Sat, 21 Feb 2015 21:36:00 +0000 Agence France-Presse 6398941 at Tsipras declares victory as Greece dodges financial collapse <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> 'We won a battle, not the war. The difficulties, the real difficulties ... are ahead of us,' Tsipras said. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> George Georgiopoulos and Karolina Tagaris, Thomson Reuters </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>ATHENS, Greece &mdash; Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras declared victory on Saturday after agreeing to a last-minute conditional financial rescue deal with Europe, despite making big concessions to avert financial collapse within days.</p> <p>With his left-wing leadership pilloried by German conservatives, Tsipras insisted defiantly that Friday night&#39;s agreement canceled austerity commitments and dispensed with the &quot;troika&quot; &mdash; European and IMF inspectors loathed by many Greeks.</p> <p>&quot;Yesterday we took a decisive step, leaving austerity, the bailouts and the troika behind,&quot; he said in a televised statement to the Greek nation. &quot;We won a battle, not the war. The difficulties, the real difficulties ... are ahead of us.&quot;</p> <p>After often ill-tempered negotiations in Brussels, Greece secured a four-month extension to euro zone funding, which will avert bankruptcy and a euro exit, provided it comes up with promises of economic reforms by Monday.</p> <p>Had no deal been reached, some officials had feared panic when Greek banks reopened on Tuesday after a long holiday weekend. But Athens said agreement at the meeting of euro zone finance ministers should calm Greek savers who thought capital controls might be imposed as a prelude to leaving the euro.</p> <p>A source at the European Central Bank also ruled out restrictions on savers&#39; right to withdraw their deposits, aiming to dismiss expectations that &mdash; as euro zone member Ireland put it &mdash; the Greek banking system might have gone &quot;belly up&quot;.</p> <p>Tsipras and his Syriza party won power last month on promises to end Greece&#39;s EU/IMF bailout program and cooperation with the &quot;troika&quot; &mdash; European Commission, ECB and IMF officials who have monitored Greece&#39;s compliance with its austerity and reform commitments.</p> <p>However, Athens has been forced to accept a conditional extension of the bailout at the insistence of Eurogroup members led by Germany. It must also still deal with the troika, albeit renamed in the Brussels agreement as &quot;the three institutions.&quot;</p> <p><strong>Going &quot;belly up&quot;</strong></p> <p>Ireland, which had to make deep budget cuts under its own EU/IMF bailout program, spelt out the uncomfortable truth that the euro zone had yielded nothing to the Greeks, for all the brave talk from Tsipras.</p> <p>&quot;Their political problem is that this a reversal of their election position. There is absolutely nothing on the table that could be considered a concession,&quot; Irish finance minister Michael Noonan said.</p> <p>&quot;They&#39;re now compromising and compromising quite significantly,&quot; he told national broadcaster RTE, but made clear Athens had had little choice. &quot;The biggest threat to Greece was that their banking system would go belly up next Wednesday.&quot;</p> <p>Tsipras has won wide support at home for what Greeks see as their leaders finally getting tough instead of going to Brussels cap in hand and taking orders from Berlin. But he was also under intense pressure at home, with emergency funding controlled by the ECB for the banks due to hit a ceiling mid-week.</p> <p>About a billion euros ($1 billion) flooded out of Greek bank accounts on Friday, a senior banker told Reuters, due to savers&#39; fears that the talks would fail and Athens might have to halt such withdrawals or prepare to reintroduce its own currency.</p> <p>This added to an estimated 20 billion euros that Greeks have withdrawn since December, when it became clear that Syriza was likely to win last month&#39;s elections.</p> <p>While Ireland has already exited its bailout and is one of Europe&#39;s fastest growing economies, Noonan said Greece now faces another bailout on top of the two totaling 240 billion euros that it has taken since 2010.</p> <p>Friday&#39;s deal had been &quot;the first set of discussions to ensure Greece doesn&#39;t collapse next week,&quot; said Noonan. &quot;Once you get them into the safe space for the next four months, there&#39;ll be another set of discussions which will effectively involve the negotiation of a third program for Greece.&quot;</p> <p>Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis assured savers that the country did not face financial ruin.</p> <p>&quot;It is quite clear that the reason why we had a deposit flight was because every day, even before we were elected, Greeks were being told that if we were elected and we stayed in power for more than just a few days the ATMs will cease functioning,&quot; he told reporters on Friday. &quot;Today&#39;s decision puts an end to this fear, to the scaremongering.&quot;</p> <p>The deal did open the possibility of lowering a target for Greece&#39;s primary budget surplus, which excludes debt repayments, freeing funds to ease what Tsipras calls the nation&#39;s &quot;humanitarian crisis.&quot; Athens must now negotiate a long-term deal with the euro zone before the extension runs out in the early summer.</p> <p>Some Greeks wondered what the government had achieved. &quot;We went through two months of agony, emptied the banks, to realize we are still a debt colony,&quot; 54-year-old electrician Dimitris Kanakis told Reuters. &quot;The paymasters call the shots.&quot;</p> <p><em>(Additional reporting by Padraic Halpin, Alastair Macdonald, Renee Maltezou and Jan Stupczewski; Writing by David Stamp; Editing by Louise Ireland)</em></p> Need to Know World Leaders Debt Crisis Diplomacy Europe Sat, 21 Feb 2015 16:00:45 +0000 George Georgiopoulos and Karolina Tagaris, Thomson Reuters 6398858 at Yemen's former leader leaves Sanaa after house arrest <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi is reported to have fled his residence in disguise. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Mohamed Ghobari, Thomson Reuters </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>SANAA, Yemen &mdash; Yemen&#39;s former president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi escaped his official residence after weeks of house arrest by the Houthi militia on Saturday and flew to his home town of Aden, a senior political source and a Houthi official said.</p> <p>Hadi fled his residence in disguise, Houthi politburo member Ali al-Qahoum was quoted as saying by the local news website al-Akhbar. But it added that it no longer mattered if the former president remained there or departed.</p> <p>The United Nations, which oversaw a new power-sharing agreement between the Houthis and Yemen&#39;s other rival factions on Friday, helped him travel to Aden, a senior political source told Reuters.</p> <p>Hadi&#39;s Sanaa residence was looted by Houthi militiamen after he left, witnesses said, but that was denied by Qahoum. The former president arrived at his home in the Aden district of Khormaksar, sources told Reuters.</p> <p>Early on Saturday, Houthi militiamen opened fire on protesters in the central city of Ibb, killing one person and wounding another, activists said.</p> <p>The crowd had gathered in a square to demonstrate against the Houthis&#39; role in overturning the government last month.</p> <p>Following the shooting, thousands more people took to the streets in protest. Witnesses said the Houthis were deploying more security forces in response.</p> <p>Yemen&#39;s rival parties agreed on Friday to create a transitional council to help govern the country and allow a government to continue operating with input from other factions after the effective Houthi takeover.</p> <p>Western countries are worried that unrest in Yemen could create opportunities for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to plot more attacks against international targets.</p> <p>Late on Friday a drone destroyed a car carrying suspected members of AQAP in Shawbwa Province, a bastion of the militant group in the rugged mountains of southern Yemen, killing at least three people, residents said.</p> <p>The United States has acknowledged it carries out drone strikes against militant targets in Yemen but does not comment on specific attacks. The strikes, which have sometimes killed civilians, have angered many people in the country.</p> <p>Hadi was seen as a supporter of the use of drone strikes against AQAP.</p> <p>The car was traveling in the Wadi al-Houta district of Shabwa, the residents said. They saw flames surging out of the vehicle and heard several small explosions coming from it after it was struck.</p> <p><em>(Additional reporting by Mohammed Mukhashaf in Aden, Writing by Angus McDowall; Editing by Angus MacSwan)</em></p> Need to Know World Leaders Conflict Zones Middle East Sat, 21 Feb 2015 15:34:05 +0000 Mohamed Ghobari, Thomson Reuters 6398807 at The search for truth and reconciliation in church sex abuse scandal <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Leading voices around the world try to push the Catholic Church further toward justice. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Jason Berry </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>The Vatican&rsquo;s protection of bishops complicit in recycling clergy sex abusers is a front-burner issue for Alberto Athi&eacute;, one of Mexico&rsquo;s most respected public figures.</p> <p>Last July, when Pope Francis met with abuse survivors in Rome, Athi&eacute; posted an open letter asking the pope to dismiss Mexico City Cardinal Norberto Rivera for his defense over many years of the long-accused pedophile and founder of the Legion of Christ religious order Father Marcial Maciel.</p> <p>Athi&eacute;&rsquo;s manifesto, signed by 128 abuse survivors, lawyers and supportive groups, called for reforms in the way church leadership handles abuse cases &mdash;&nbsp;and the loophole that gives bishops full discretion and has kept Pope Francis from making significant progress in his efforts to create a &ldquo;<a href="">zero tolerance</a>&rdquo; policy.</p> <p>&ldquo;They know that such behavior existed within the institution, and the [internal] mechanism is precisely what prolonged the abuse,&rdquo; Athi&eacute; told GroundTruth in an email this week.&nbsp;&ldquo;The damage caused by bishops, cardinals and the Holy See for years of protecting abusers must be confronted.&rdquo;</p> <p>Athi&eacute; argues that Rivera bears responsibility beyond the Maciel case, which stained the tenures of Pope John Paul II and his successor Pope Benedict.</p> <p>&ldquo;Cardinal Norberto Rivera,&rdquo; <a href="">Athi&eacute; recently told a prominent journalist</a>, Carmen Aristegui, &ldquo;has systematically hidden pederasts and more so, deceived the victims.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p> <p>Athi&eacute; singles out Rivera&rsquo;s handing of the case of Father Nicol&aacute;s Aguilar, who in the 1980s moved between Mexico and Los Angeles &mdash; trailed by accusations known to Rivera as well as Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony, as lawsuit documents have since shown.</p> <p>Aguilar has disappeared in Mexico with pending arrest warrants in both countries. He eluded police in Los Angeles in 1987 after a tipoff from chancery officials.</p> <p>&ldquo;Aguilar had 30 victims in California and 60 in Mexico,&rdquo; plaintiff attorney Jeff Anderson told GroundTruth.</p> <p>In Los Angeles, eleven of Aguilar&rsquo;s estimated 26 victims agreed to negotiated legal settlements last February with the archdiocese in the range of $500,000 per victim, according to media accounts and legal sources.</p> <p>The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) is broadening its canon law tribunal to consider charges against bishops. But cardinals are Princes of the Church. Cardinals elect popes.<br /> How much weight &mdash; if any &mdash; will a Vatican forum give to voluminous civil findings against the likes of Rivera and Mahony? Cardinal Bernard Law suffered no penalty in the Vatican for the damage he left in Boston.</p> <p><strong>Papal interventions in Peru, the Dominican Republic and Spain</strong></p> <p>Pope Francis has spoken out boldly for victims, while buying time for a a a stronger standard of justice for bishops and cardinals.</p> <p>The CDF&rsquo;s 2011 &ldquo;Circular Letter&rdquo; to bishops calls for them to cooperate with secular authorities while maintaining historic leeway under canon law. The CDF as the church&rsquo;s legal arena does not have the powers of an independent judiciary that relies on open jury trials.</p> <p>The CDF protocols give bishops the final call on whether a priest is removed, unless he is criminally prosecuted. Most who are removed do not leave the priesthood.</p> <p>Francis, however, took an important step with a 2013 motu proprio (by his own hand). It promulgated a new church law that specified criminal penalties for lay or clerical personnel including Vatican cardinals and papal diplomats who are proven guilty of money-laundering and child abuse.&nbsp;</p> <p>The law has shown some teeth.</p> <p>In 2013, just two months after announcing the law, Francis defrocked a Peruvian bishop, Gabriel Miranda Melgarejo after a CDF investigation of allegations that he abused youths. Laicizing a bishop is the most extreme penalty a pope impose upon a member of the hierarchy and it is exceptionally rare.</p> <p>Ousted by the pope, Miranda has not been prosecuted in Peru.</p> <p>The Vatican also defrocked the former nuncio, or ambassador to the Dominican Republic, Archbishop Josef Wesolowski, for sexually abusing youths on the island, after a CDF secret proceeding. Now a layman shorn of diplomatic immunity, Wesolowski sits under house arrest awaiting a Vatican city-state criminal proceeding and potential extradition to face criminal charges in Santo Domingo.</p> <p>Francis made a more personal intervention several months ago, responding to a letter from alleged abuse victim David Ramirez Castilo of Grenada, Spain. The pope telephoned Ramirez, told him to report the charges to the bishop, and told the bishop to investigate.</p> <p>That move emboldened Spanish prosecutors, who indicted a priest as part of an alleged sex ring with several victims. A court in Grenada has dismissed charges on nine other implicated clerics due to the statute of limitations.</p> <p>&ldquo;This case never would have come to light if the pope hadn&rsquo;t intervened,&rdquo; journalist Amina Nassaer told Raphael Minder of the New York Times.</p> <p><strong>American injustice</strong></p> <p>The US Conference of Catholic Bishops adopted the most stringent protocols on dealing with clergy sex abusers in 2002. But the conference has no method to enforce its own standards on those who ignore them.</p> <p>Where should sex offenders live? Who supervises them? How does the tradition of sheltering pedophiles stand up against Vatican policy, such as it is, toward victims?</p> <p>Countless bishops have escaped judgment, other than as defendants in expensive civil lawsuits for concealing predators who left a trail of human damage. The Vatican has no procedure against such men.</p> <p>The CDF is investigating Kansas City, Missouri Bishop Robert Finn, who was given a suspended sentence after a criminal misdemeanor for failure to report to authorities a priest with child pornography. The priest has since gone to prison.</p> <p>&ldquo;Bishops&rsquo; conferences can deny membership or tell people like Finn, or Cardinal Roger Mahony, that they&rsquo;re not welcome at the meetings,&rdquo; says SNAP director David Clohessy. &ldquo;But they don&rsquo;t. It&rsquo;s frustrating to read about &lsquo;new procedures&rsquo; being drawn up for &lsquo;holding bishops accountable&rsquo; when there are plenty of ways to oust a complicit prelate.&rdquo;</p> <p>The lack of a consistent, enforceable global policy, as borne out in the Philippines, Mexico, the CDF loophole and cardinals&rsquo; immunity, is like a cadaver in the parlor for O&rsquo;Malley and the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.</p> <p>Justice is a pendulum cutting deep in the lives of priests and nuns who have taken public stands against bishops and religious order superiors on behalf of victims.</p> <p>Father Bruce Teague of the Springfield, Mass. diocese, was abused as a boy by a pastor in Dorchester. After dealing with his trauma over many years he forged ties with other survivors, speaking out against bishops. As a priest, he stood at the grave of his perpetrator, offering forgiveness.</p> <p>Teague is prominent in the small society of church whistleblowers.</p> <p>&ldquo;A priest would get up in the morning, go down and say Mass, molest a child, come up and have breakfast. How could that be? I still can&rsquo;t understand it at all, but that&rsquo;s what happened, over and over again.&rdquo;</p> <p>These words of Sister Sally Butler, who has lived and worked with Latinos and blacks in a Brooklyn housing project for 45 years, come from a powerful new film, &ldquo;<a href="">A Matter of Conscience: Confronting Clergy Abuse</a>.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p> <p>Produced by Susan and John Michalczyk, the documentary profiles religious whistleblowers, nuns and priests caught in a crisis of conscience with their bishops, akin to what the papal advisory commission faces with the CDF.</p> <p>The film screened at Benjamin Cardozo Law School in New York City on Feb. 5.</p> <p>Sister Butler uses a motorized wheelchair, greeting project dwellers she has known for years. In 1993, she and two other nuns learned that three priests they trusted had for years sexually assaulted children from families they considered extensions of their own.</p> <p>The diocese removed the priests after the sisters reported them. No one was prosecuted; the black and Latino families went into a freefall &mdash; no counseling, no compensation. One boy set tried to fire to the church. The church has since closed, not for damage but in a cost-saving downsize process. After the Boston scandals in 2002, Butler joined a circle of church insiders, priests and nuns, who became whistleblowers.</p> <p>&ldquo;And there are compelling forces pulling you one way or another,&rdquo; Butler says in the film. &ldquo;One is a sense of loyalty that you have to your order or to the church; but then there&rsquo;s that dreadful anger at betrayal of children and their families. This has affected everybody. So there comes a turning point when you realize that you&rsquo;ve got to do the right thing no matter what.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>Reform blueprints</strong></p> <p>Athi&eacute; of Mexico City wants a Truth and Reconciliation Commission for the church&rsquo;s abuse crisis, on the model by Archbishop Desmond Tutu as South Africa moved beyond the apartheid system of racial subjugation and institutionalized violence.</p> <p>A well-placed Vatican source said on background that a TRC approach is impossible. If bishops spoke truthfully and apologized, they would further incriminate themselves and the church in litigation.</p> <p>As the pope seeks a culture of reconciliation, the crisis he inherited has several prongs:</p> <ul> <li> <strong>Guilty cardinals above the law.</strong></li> <li> <strong>Abuse survivors barred by time prescription from seeking civil redress.</strong></li> <li> <strong>Litigation grinding away on valid cases.</strong></li> <li> <strong>Dioceses filing for bankruptcy as valid cases mount.</strong></li> </ul> <p>The barrier facing O&rsquo;Malley and the abuse commission is how to provide Francis with a wedge, a solution that draws on the weight of public information, but using methods outside the box of the legal saga.</p> <p>Otherwise, the commission will issue a report and the CDF will maintain its loopholes and control of the Vatican machinery.</p> <p>One area where the Vatican can engineer a change is financial compensation for victims.<br /> If Pope Francis authorized an international fund to compensate victims unable to gain legal redress, overseen by a neutral expert of impeccable reputation, the establishment of standards allowing survivors with proof of the abuse would position the Vatican and local churches, in at least some countries without a history of such lawsuits, as an ally in providing belated justice to victims.</p> <p>Combining an international fund with some modified form of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, even with the bad publicity that would come from such testimony, would in the long run work better than the stanch-the-dyke approach that the hierarchy and two previous popes have taken. Justice is a servant of truth; and the truth holds a better chance of freeing the church of its self-made shackles than church policies that have failed many times over.</p> <p> <em>Jason Berry is GroundTruth religion correspondent. His books include Render unto Rome, Vows of Silence, and Lead us Not Into Temptation. The Fund for Investigative Journalism provided assistance for this report.<br /> &nbsp;&nbsp;</em></p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--> Need to Know Europe Sat, 21 Feb 2015 15:23:00 +0000 Jason Berry 6398495 at