Brazil Unrest, GOP Digs In, Happy Denmark

Brazil Unrest, GOP Digs In, Happy Denmark


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.


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.


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.


“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.


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 Times reports. “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.


“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.


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.


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


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 Post reports. 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.


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


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.



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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Migrant Lives

The Other Scandal At The Poland-Belarus Border: Where's The UN?

The United Nations, UNICEF, Red Cross and other international humanitarian organizations seems to be trying to reach the Polish-Belarusian border, where Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko is creating a refugee crisis on purpose.

Migrants in Michalowo, Belarus, next to the border with Poland.

Wojciech Czuchnowski

WARSAW — There is no doubt that the refugees crossing the Belarusian border with Poland — and by extension reaching the European Union — were shepherded through by the regime of Alexander Lukashenko. There is more than enough evidence that this is an organized action of the dictator using a network of intermediaries stretching from Africa and the Middle East. But that is not all.

The Belarusian regime has made no secret that its services are guiding refugees to the Polish border, literally pushing them onto (and often, through) the wires.

It can be seen in films made available to the media by... Belarusian border guards and Lukashenko's official information agencies.

Tactics of a strongman

Refugees are not led to the border by "pretend soldiers" in uniforms from a military collectibles store. These are regular formations commanded by state authorities. Their actions violate all rules of peaceful coexistence and humanitarianism to which Belarus has committed itself as a state.

Belarus is dismissed by the "rest of the world" as a hopeless case of a bizarre (although, in the last year, increasingly brutal) dictatorship. But it still formally belongs to a whole range of organizations whose principles it violates every day on the border with Poland.

Indeed, Belarus is a part of the United Nations (it is even listed as a founding state in its declaration), it belongs to the UNICEF, to the International Committee of the Red Cross, and even to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Photo of Polish soldiers setting up a barbed wire fence in the Border Zone near Krynki, Belarus

Polish soldiers set up a barbed wire fence in the Border Zone near Krynki, Belarus

Maciej Luczniewski/ZUMA

Lukashenko would never challenge the Red Cross

Each of these entities has specialized bureaus whose task is to intervene wherever conventions and human rights are violated. Each of these organizations should have sent their observers and representatives to the conflict area long ago — and without asking Belarus for permission. They should be operating on both sides of the border, as their presence would certainly make it more difficult to break the law.

An incomprehensible absence

Neither the leader of Poland's ruling party Jaroslaw Kaczyński nor even Lukashenko would dare to keep the UN, UNICEF, OSCE or the Red Cross out of their countries.

In recent weeks, the services of one UN state (Belarus) have been regularly violating the border of another UN state (Poland). In the nearby forests, children are being pushed around and people are dying. Despite all of this, none of the international organizations seems to be trying to reach the border nor taking any kind of action required by their responsibilities.

Their absence in such a critical time and place is completely incomprehensible, and their lack of action raises questions about the use of international treaties and organizations created to protect them.

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