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Brussels Raids, Pope's Foot Washing, Permission To Pee

Brussels Raids, Pope's Foot Washing, Permission To Pee


Brussels police launched a series of raids overnight after Tuesday's deadly terror attacks, detaining at least six people — three of them in a vehicle right outside the prosecutor's office, Belgian broadcaster RTBF reported. Two people were taken into custody in Brussels' Jette neighborhood, and another was detained in a different part of the Belgian capital. There were even more arrests during a raid this morning in the Forest neighborhood of Brussels, CNN reports.

  • Reda Kriket, who French police arrested outside Paris last night, had been wanted since January and is reportedly connected to the suspected ringleader of the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, The Localreports. Police found explosives and "an arsenal" during their search of Cricket's home. Authorities describe him as "extremely dangerous" and say he is suspected of preparing an attack on France. Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve characterized those plans at an "advanced stage" before his arrest.
  • New names of victims have been made official this morning, Le Soirreports.


Photo: Osservatore Romano/Eidon Press/ZUMA

"We are brothers," Pope Francis said yesterday as he washed and kissed the feet of Muslim, Christian and Hindu refugees in Italy. As AP reports, the holy rite ahead of Easter Sunday re-enacts the foot-washing ritual Jesus performed on his apostles before being crucified, and is meant as a gesture of service.


The news agency KCNA announced this morning that a Korean-American man detained in North Korea has confessed to stealing military secrets and plotting subversion with South Koreans, Reuters reports. Kim Dong Chul, a naturalized American citizen with ties to Virginia, was arrested in North Korea in October, admitted to committing "unpardonable espionage" under the direction of the U.S. and South Korean governments and apologizing for his crimes. The confession comes weeks after another American, Otto Warmbier, was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for trying to steal a propaganda banner.


Former Bosnian Serb politician Radovan Karadzic will appeal yesterday's genocide conviction by the UN court in The Hague, Dutch daily De Telegraaf reports. Karadzic was also found guilty of nine other charges and sentenced to 40 years in prison for orchestrating Serb atrocities throughout Bosnia's 1992-95 war that left 100,000 people dead.


Opposition parties in Congo are accusing the re-elected president of fraud and calling for civil disobedience, The New York Times reports. After yesterday's election results were announced — in which President Denis Sassou-Nguesso won 60% of the vote, extending his 32-year reign — a coalition of five opposition candidates said that their own results showed Sassou-Nguesso headed for defeat. It was expected to provide its own vote tally today.


As part of what the AP characterizes as an "expanding" U.S. combat role in Iraq, U.S. Marines are supporting Iraqi troops in efforts to retake Mosul from ISIS. It reports that about 200 marines provided targeting assistance and artillery fire as Iraqi troops took control of several villages on the outskirts of Makhmour, southeast of Mosul.


From Venice to Elton John, here's your 57-second shot of history.


"J.C. Superstar," the front page of Dutch-language daily nrc.next reads today, as it pays tribute to 68-year-old soccer legend Johan Cruyff, who died yesterday in Barcelona after a long battle with cancer. Read more about him on Le Blog.


Protests against new labor laws in Paris are intensifying with some demonstrators burning vehicles and attacking police, Le Monde reports. Dozens of people have been detained, and several officials have been injured during interventions in turbulent neighborhoods.


As part of our Rue Amelot essay series, contributor Alidad Vassigh reflects on how to grieve for Brussels. "For life's problems your first stop may be the psychology supermarket available online," he writes. "But in time, you may move on toward spiritual guidance, and if I may use the word, religion (as Francois Mitterrand once said, ‘let us not fear words'). Ultimately, I find that the solutions to life's turmoil lie in the wide and surprisingly flexible sphere of religion, or religiosity, not in therapy or coaching."

Read the full article, Faraway Brussels: How We Do And Don't Grieve For Others.


A minibus crash in central France this morning claimed the lives of 12 Portuguese travelers, including a 7-year-old girl, Le Figaro reports. The bus bound for Portugal crashed into a truck going the opposite direction near the small town of Montbeugny, 300 kilometers from Paris. Officials are still investigating.



Workers at a call center in Blagnac, France, were told they had to email their bosses for permission every time they needed a pee break, Le Parisien reports.

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Migrant Lives

They Migrated From Chiapas When Opportunities Dried Up, Orchids Brought Them Home

An orchid rehabilitation project is turning a small Mexican community into a tourist magnet — and attracting far-flung locals back to their hometown.

They Migrated From Chiapas When Opportunities Dried Up, Orchids Brought Them Home

Marcos Aguilar Pérez takes care of orchids rescued from the rainforest in his backyard in Santa Rita Las Flores, Mapastepec, Chiapas, Mexico.

Adriana Alcázar González/GPJ Mexico
Adriana Alcázar González

MAPASTEPEC — Sweat cascades down Candelaria Salas Gómez’s forehead as she separates the bulbs of one of the orchids she and the other members of the Santa Rita Las Flores Community Ecotourism group have rescued from the rainforest. The group houses and protects over 1,000 orchids recovered from El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve, in the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas, after powerful storms.

“When the storms and heavy rains end, we climb to the vicinity of the mountains and collect the orchids that have fallen from the trees. We bring them to Santa Rita, care for them, and build their strength to reintegrate them into the reserve later,” says Salas Gómez, 32, as she attaches an orchid to a clay base to help it recover.

Like magnets, the orchids of Santa Rita have exerted a pull on those who have migrated from the area due to lack of opportunity. After years away from home, Salas Gómez was one of those who returned, attracted by the community venture to rescue these flowers and exhibit them as a tourist attraction, which provides residents with an adequate income.

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