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Brazil Unrest, GOP Digs In, Happy Denmark

Brazil Unrest, GOP Digs In, Happy Denmark

TURKEY REFUGEE DEAL TOPS EU SUMMIT

European Union leaders are gathering today to discuss a controversial deal with Turkey aimed at easing the ongoing refugee crisis. Negotiations are likely to be tough in Brussels, with European Council President Donald Tusk acknowledging a "catalogue of issues" still unresolved, the BBC reports. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is expected to join the talks tomorrow.

  • The Financial Times, meanwhile, believes that the EU and Turkey "are set for a collision" over Turkey's demands. As part of the deal, Ankara wants to reopen negotiations to enter the EU, something many members vehemently oppose, including Cyprus (part of which is occupied by Turkey).
  • Le Monde describes the "one for one" deal, which Davutoglu and German Chancellor Angela Merkel brought forward 10 days ago behind the backs of other EU leaders, as a move that "broke something inside Europe." Many leaders are now reportedly distrustful of Merkel and even more so of Turkish officials.

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

Photo: Nelson Antoine/Xinhua/ZUMA

President Dilma Rousseff inspired protests across the country last night after appointing her predecessor Lula da Silva as her chief of staff. The appointment was quickly followed by a leaked conversation between the two leaders suggesting that the move's main purpose was to protect Lula from being charged with money laundering as part of the Petrobras corruption scandal. In an editorial today, Brazilian daily Folha de S. Paulo asks: "Is it possible to understand this exchange as anything but a deal between concerned parties to escape justice? Is the word ‘collusion' too strong to describe a president and an ex-president making a panicked rush to put together a desperate artifice to keep corruption from going unpunished, to paralyze the justice system, to keep the privileged above the law?"

Read the full piece, For Dilma And Lula, This Is The End.


JAPANESE HOSTAGE EMERGES IN VIDEO

A video posted yesterday on Facebook appears to show Japanese journalist Jumpei Yasuda, who was reportedly captured by the al-Nusra Front terror group after entering Syria from Turkey in June, Japan's Kyodo news agency reports. Early last year, the militant group beheaded two Japanese nationals.


EXTRA!

"Can Barbarin fall?" asks French-language weekly Tribune de Lyon on this week's cover, in reference to Lyon Archbishop Philippe Barbarin, who is accused of covering up acts of paedophilia. Cardinal Barbarin, one of France's top Catholic clerics, is accused of failing to act against 70-year-old priest Bernard Preynat in 2009, when he became aware that Preynat had sexually abused children between 1986 and 1991. Preynat, who was removed from duty in May, has been under official investigation since January. "I have never, never, never covered up acts of paedophilia," Barbarin told journalists at a press conference in Lourdes earlier this week. Read more from Le Blog.


GOP DIGS IN ON OBAMA'S SUPREME PICK

Republicans are predictably vowing to reject President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee, moderate appellate judge Merrick Garland. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appeared on the Senate floor shortly after Obama's announcement yesterday, saying the party would refuse to even consider Garland during the hearing process, no matter his qualifications. The 63-year-old judge, who would replace late Justice Antonin Scalia, is a well-known figure in Washington legal circles and has drawn praise from members of both parties, The New York Timesreports. "I've selected a nominee who is widely recognized not only as one of America's sharpest legal minds, but someone who brings to his work a spirit of decency, modesty, integrity, even-handedness, and excellence," Obama said.


VERBATIM

"It would have been more humane to shoot me than to treat me like an animal," Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik told judges yesterday during his second day in court, AP reports. Breivik, who was sentenced to 21 years in prison (the maximum sentence in Norway, though it can later be extended) five years ago, is suing the government, claiming that his total isolation breaches human rights laws. He also said he would fight "to the death" for Nazi principles, which he claimed are "the only reasons" he's still alive.


FAREWELL FRANK SINATRA JR.

Frank Sinatra Jr., who followed in his father's footsteps as a singer (though with less success) died of cardiac arrest yesterday while on tour in Daytona Beach, Florida, his sister Nancy Sinatra announced in a Facebook post. He was 72.


7.526

Denmark is the world's happiest country, with the Scandinavian country scoring 7.526 points out of 10 in the latest World Happiness Report.


KURDS CLAIM NEW REGION IN SYRIA

Syrian Kurds plan to declare a federal region in northern Syria after being excluded from peace talks aimed at ending the 5-year-old conflict, The Washington Postreports. The news has caused trepidation in neighboring Turkey and has been promptly dismissed by the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad and the rebels who oppose him, both fearing it would lead to a partition of the country. But Kurdish official Ahmad Araj said the establishment of a federal region that would effectively combine three Kurdish-led autonomous areas would help preserve national unity and prevent Syria from dividing along sectarian lines.

  • Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK) militia has claimed responsibility for a suicide attack that killed 37 people in the Turkish capital of Ankara, The Independent reports. In a statement on its website today, the group describes Sunday's attack as a "vengeful action" for continued Turkish security operations against Kurdish militants in the southeast, which human rights groups say have killed hundreds of civilians. TAK claims the attack targeted security forces and was not indented to harm civilians, but it described civilian casualties as "inevitable" while also warning of future attacks on authorities.

ON THIS DAY


The Dalai Lama fled Tibet 57 years ago today. That, and more, in your 57-second shot of history.


CHINA OPPOSES U.S. SANCTIONS ON N. KOREA

Chinese officials said this morning they oppose President Barack Obama's unilateral sanctions against North Korea, Reuters reports. China said that the new U.S. sanctions, that threaten to exclude from the global financial system anyone who does business with broad swaths of North Korea's economy, would only worsen tensions.


MY GRAND-PERE'S WORLD



A VICTORY FOR ANIMAL WELFARE

In what NPR characterizes as "a major concession" to animal welfare advocates, SeaWorld has announced that it will stop breeding captive killer whales. "We will introduce new, inspiring, natural orca encounters rather than theatrical shows, as part of our ongoing commitment to education, marine science research and the rescue of marine animals," the company said in a statement.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Wagner's MIA Convicts: Where Do Deserting Russian Mercenaries Go?

Tens of thousands of Russian prisoners who've been recruited by the Wagner Group mercenary outfit have escaped from the frontlines after volunteering in exchange for freedom. Some appear to be seeking political asylum in Europe thanks to a "cleared" criminal record.

Picture of a soldier wearing the Wagner Group Logo on their uniform.

Soldier wearing the paramilitary Wagner Group Logo on their uniform.

Source: Sky over Ukraine via Facebook
Anna Akage

Of the about 50,000 Russian convicts who signed up to fight in Ukraine with the Wagner Group, just 10,000 are reportedly still at the front. An unknown number have been killed in action — but among those would-be casualties are also a certain number of coffins that are actually empty.

To hide the number of soldiers who have deserted or defected to Ukraine, Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin is reportedly adding them to the lists of the dead and missing.

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Some Wagner fighters have surrendered through the Ukrainian government's "I Want To Live" hotline, says Olga Romanova, director and founder of the Russia Behind Bars foundation.

"Relatives of the convicts enlisted in the Wagner Group are not allowed to open the coffins," explains Romanova.

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