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Hillary Holds, Dilma Sinks, Sodom Found

Hillary Holds, Dilma Sinks, Sodom Found

U.S.-RUSSIA TALKS OVER SYRIA CAMPAIGNS

U.S. and Russian officials are expected to meet today for a third round of talks to discuss safety procedures in their respective Syrian campaigns after what the BBC describes as a “near-miss” on Saturday. American and Russian warplanes were reportedly in visual contact and within miles of each other. According to U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, an agreement to prevent potential accidental conflict between planes could take place “in very short order,” Voice of America reports. Yesterday, the Russian Defense Ministry said Russian warplanes in Syria had carried out 88 sorties and hit at least 86 ISIS targets, saying this resulted in the elimination of the most part of ISIS ammunition, heavy vehicles and equipment.”


VERBATIM

Photo: Josh Haner/NYT /ZUMA

“I’m a progressive, but I’m a progressive who likes to get things done,” was the statement that won yesterday’s first Democratic debate for Hillary Clinton, according to The Washington Post. The two-hour long debate was largely dominated by the former First Lady and Bernie Sanders, who Clinton at one point accused of not being tough enough on gun legislation. The two also disagreed over the role of Edward Snowden’s revelations on the NSA, though both would want him to face trial. By the Google metric, however, Sanders was the clear winner.


ISRAEL SEALS OFF EAST JERUSALEM

Hundreds of Israeli troops were deployed over night in Israeli cities and in the Palestinian areas of Jerusalem as part of measures aimed at curbing the recent violence in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, Ynet News reports. Three Israelis were killed Tuesday, including two in an attack on a public bus. According to The Times of Israel, another Israeli man was stabbed in the chest by a fellow Israeli who “mistook him for an Arab.” The victim survived.


TALIBAN WITHDRAW FROM KUNDUZ

Taliban insurgents announced yesterday they had withdrawn from the Afghan city of Kunduz, 15 days after they seized it, leaving behind many destroyed buildings, The New York Times reports. Kunduz is also the location of a Doctors Without Borders’ hospital bombed in U.S.-led airstrikes on Oct. 3, which the humanitarian NGO says was a war crime.


ON THIS DAY


The whims of history bring together Nikita Khrushchev and Winnie-the-Pooh, on today’s 57-second shot of history.


NORTH KOREA FLIRTS WITH CAPITALISM

A South Korean news report says the Pyongyang regime is encouraging North Koreans to open private banks, and the first ATM machines have been sighted in the capital. Read more here.


VW CUTS INVESTMENTS

Volkswagen has announced annual spending cuts of 1 billion euros as part of the German brand’s effort to make savings to pay for future fines and settle lawsuits, not to mention repairs after the emergence of the diesel emissions scandal, the Financial Times reports. VW has already set aside 6.5 billion euros, but some analysts believe the scandal could cost the carmaker more than 30 billion euros. The London-based daily says the scandal could have serious repercussions in Eastern European countries, where many VW components are manufactured.


BELGIANS TOAST MEGA-BEER MERGER

This is how the front page of Brussels-based business daily De Tijd looked this morning after the mega beverage merger that it says ensures that the “biggest pint in the world is Belgian.”


61%

The pressure keeps piling on Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff. On top of the imminent threat of impeachment, a poll published today in newspaper Folha de S. Paulo shows that 61% of its readers want the center-left leader to resign, with an overwhelming 77% judging her government’s action “bad or terrible.” Addressing her party’s conference yesterday, Rousseff said she had a “clean biography” and lambasted her opponents, calling them “putschists” and “moralists without morals.” Read more in English from AFP.


WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

Typically reliant on solid argument and logical persuasion, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is now turning to the humanity of Germans on the refugee crisis, Thorsten Denkler writes for Süddeutsche Zeitung. It's a revolutionary approach â€" and a big political risk â€" for the world's most powerful woman: “This time around, Merkel stands alone. Her party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), is largely lined up against her now, especially at the grassroots level. Her cabinet of ministers is wobbling on its formerly secure pedestal, and Interior Minister Thomas de Mazière has made it abundantly clear that he's unconvinced by Merkel's ‘we can do it’ attitude.”

Read the full article, Germany’s Refugee Crisis And The Remaking Of Angela Merkel.


FORMER BURKINA FASO LEADER AUTOPSIED

An autopsy of the remains of Burkina Faso’s Thomas Sankara showed the African Che Guevara was “purely and simply riddled with bullets” during a 1987 coup that saw his former brother-in-arms Blaise Campaoré take power, AFP reports. Sankara’s official death certificate says he died of “natural causes,” and Campaoré, who was himself removed from power in an uprising last year, had repeatedly opposed the exhumation of Sankara’s remains during his rule.


MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD



CITY OF SODOM FOUND?

Archaeologists believe they have discovered the ruins of the infamous city of Sodom, which the Bible says was destroyed by God, in Jordan. According to the researchers, the location and the size of the city matches Biblical descriptions. Evidence shows the site was suddenly abandoned, and was uninhabited for 700 years before being partly rebuilt.


LONDON CHURCH BELLS RING FOR 24 HOURS

Residents within earshot of the South London church of St George The Martyr will probably be forgiven for any bad words they might have used Monday and Tuesday as the church’s bells rang non-stop for 24 hours. But the church’s cool response to Twitter messages probably partly made up for the disturbance.

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Paying tribute to the victims of the attack in Kongsberg

Terje Bendiksby/NTB Scanpix/ZUMA
Carl-Johan Karlsson

The bow-and-arrow murder of five people in the small Norwegian city of Kongsberg this week was particularly chilling for the primitive choice of weapon. And police are now saying the attack Wednesday night is likely to be labeled an act of terrorism.

Still, even though the suspect is a Danish-born convert to Islam, police are still determining the motive. Espen Andersen Bråthen, a 37-year-old Danish national, is previously known to the police, both for reports of radicalization, as well as erratic behavior unrelated to religion.

Indeed, it remains unclear whether religious beliefs were behind the killings. In an interview with Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter, police attorney Ann Iren Svane Mathiassens said Bråthen has already confessed to the crimes, giving a detailed account of the events during a three-hour interrogation on Thursday, but motives are yet to be determined.

Investigated as terrorism 

Regardless, the murders are likely to be labeled an act of terror – mainly as the victims appear to have been randomly chosen, and were killed both in public places and inside their homes.

Mathiassens also said Bråthen will undergo a comprehensive forensic psychiatric examination, which is also a central aspect of the ongoing investigation, according to a police press conference on Friday afternoon. Bråthen will be held in custody for at least four weeks, two of which will be in isolation, and will according to a police spokesperson be moved to a psychiatric unit as soon as possible.

Witnesses have since described him as unstable and a loner.

Police received reports last year concerning potential radicalization. In 2017, Bråthen published two videos on Youtube, one in English and one in Norwegian, announcing that he's now a Muslim and describing himself as a "messenger." The year prior, he made several visits to the city's only mosque, where he said he'd received a message from above that he wished to share with the world.

Previous criminal history 

In 2012, he was convicted of aggravated theft and drug offenses, and in May last year, a restraining order was issued after Bråthen entered his parents house with a revolver, threatening to kill his father.

The mosque's chairman Oussama Tlili remembers Bråthen's first visit well, as it's rare to meet Scandinavian converts. Still, he didn't believe there was any danger and saw no reason to notify the police. Tlili's impression was rather that the man was unwell mentally, and needed help.

According to a former neighbor, Bråthen often acted erratically. During the two years she lived in the house next to him — only 50 meters from the grocery store where the attacks began — the man several times barked at her like a dog, threw trash in the streets to then pick it up, and spouted racist comments to her friend. Several other witnesses have since described him as unstable and a loner.

The man used a bow and arrow to carry the attack

Haykon Mosvold Larsen/NTB Scanpix/ZUMA

Police criticized

Norway, with one of the world's lowest crime rates, is still shaken from the attack — and also questioning what allowed the killer to hunt down and kill even after police were on the scene.

The first reports came around 6 p.m. on Wednesday that a man armed with bow and arrow was shooting inside a grocery store. Only minutes after, the police spotted the suspect; he fired several times against the patrol and then disappeared while reinforcements arrived.

The attack has also fueled a long-existing debate over whether Norwegian police should carry firearms

In the more than 30 minutes that followed before the arrest, four women and one man were killed by arrows and two other weapons — though police have yet to disclose the other arms, daily Aftenposten reports. The sleepy city's 27,000 inhabitants are left wondering how the man managed to evade a full 22 police patrols, and why reports of his radicalization weren't taken more seriously.

With five people killed and three more injured, Wednesday's killing spree is the worst attack in Norway since far-right extremist Anders Breivik massacred 77 people on the island of Utøya a decade ago.

Unarmed cops

As questions mount over the police response to the attack, with reports suggesting all five people died after law enforcement made first contact with the suspect, local police have said it's willing to submit the information needed to the Bureau of Investigation to start a probe into their conduct. Police confirmed they had fired warning shots in connection to the arrest which, under Norwegian law, often already provides a basis for an assessment.

Wednesday's bloodbath has also fueled a long-existing debate over whether Norwegian police should carry firearms — the small country being one of only 19 globally where law enforcement officers are typically unarmed, though may have access to guns and rifles in certain circumstances.

Magnus Ranstorp, a terrorism expert and professor at the Swedish Defence University, noted that police in similar neighboring countries like Sweden and Denmark carry firearms. "I struggle to understand why Norwegian police are not armed all the time," Ranstorp told Norwegian daily VG. "The lesson from Utøya is that the police must react quickly and directly respond to a perpetrator during a life-threatening incident."

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