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Iraq Report, Messi & Pistorius Sentenced, Castles By Couch


After seven long years, the Chilcot report on Britain's role in the Iraq war was released this morning. As anticipated, the report, which was initially supposed to be concluded in 2011, is very critical of former Prime Minister Tony Blair and of how he led Britain into the war.

The team led by Sir John Chilcot, a longtime British civil servant, concluded that the UK "chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted," and not as a "last resort." Speaking about the threat of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, Chilcot said that the conditions in the lead up to the March 2003 invasion "were presented with a certainty that was not justified," and added that the policy on Iraq was made "on the basis of flawed intelligence and assessments."

But the report on Blair's role begs the Bush question: Why was the U.S. administration so intent on pursuing this particular war at that particular moment? The harshest critics talk about oil money and a president struggling with the shadow of his father's past. Some note that Sept. 11 attacks were still fresh in the American and Western consciousness. Others say Iraqi opposition figures played Washington for fools. Chilcot's conclusions, in any case, are worth further study.

  • The report contains 2.6 million words. That's three times more than the Holy Bible.
  • Sir John Chilcot said he hoped his report would make it impossible "in future to engage in a military or indeed a diplomatic endeavour on such a scale and of such gravity without really careful challenge analysis and assessment and collective political judgment being applied to it."
  • Some of the families of the 179 British soldiers killed want to see Tony Blair in court. "Because the consequences for the people they send is that some of them die doing the job they were told to do," a father told The Independent.
  • Writing in the Daily Mailbefore the report's publication, conservative commentator Peter Oborne warned that "if Chilcot fails to nail Blair's lies, it's final proof our democracy is broken."
  • The Daily Telegraph's chief foreign correspondent David Blair (not related to Tony) argues in a comprehensive piece that neither the former prime minister, nor indeed the West, are the only ones to be blamed for what happened in Iraq.
  • Follow the latest updates live on The Daily Telegraph's blog.



The Syrian army has unilaterally declared a three-day nationwide ceasefire starting today, to coincide with celebrations to mark the end of Ramadan. The announcement came hours after terror organization ISIS claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing against Kurds in northeastern Syria today that killed 16 people and wounded 40 more, according to AFP.


Security forces in France have foiled more than 10 terrorist attacks over the past year, an intelligence report seen by journalists at Le Figaro reveals. Some of these planned attacks intended to target French officials, shopping malls and even a nuclear power plant. Four women, including three minors, were arrested in March for planning to attack a concert hall, cafés and a mall in Paris. Yesterday, a parliamentary investigation concluded that France needed a U.S.-inspired counter-terrorism agency.


Today's 57-second shot of History is worth at least one U.S. dollar and 50 Cent … Check it out here!


Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump accused his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton of "bribing" Attorney General Loretta Lynch with the promise to retain her job under her administration in exchange for not pursuing charges for Clinton's use of a private email server while Secretary of State, ABC reports. FBI Director James Comey yesterday said that Clinton had been "extremely careless" but recommended that no charges be filed against the Democratic nominee.


The Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro will kick off in just 30 days. But even though the city is mostly ready for the big day, Folha de S. Paulo reports that many promises have been abandoned along the way, especially concerning the cleanup of the Guanabara bay. Close to $2 billion were spent on infrastructures, about 50% more than initially planned.


France's satirical weekly Le Canard enchaîné is celebrating its century-long existence. Read more about this unique newspaper's story here on Le Blog.


Former South African Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius was sentenced to 6 years in prison for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day in 2013. The prescribed minimum sentence for murder is 15 years, but High Court judge Thokozile Masipa, who had already sentenced him to 5 years for "culpable homicide," said that "public opinion may be loud and persistent, but it can play no role in the decision of this court." More from the Mail & Guardian.


Peace between Bogota and leftist FARC guerrillas could signal a new path well beyond the borders of Colombia. Still, as Chile's former president Ricardo Lagos writes in Buenos Aires daily Clarin, a post-Brexit Europe may be hard to reach. "A new diplomacy is emerging in our region, with myriad potential benefits. Look at Panama, which recently inaugurated its expanded canal. Just 30 years ago it was difficult to predict if or when it would control and administer the waterway. Now, the completion of an immense engineering project has made the little republic a crucial passage for global shipping. But globalization imposes its will not just on physical projects but also on the essence of human interaction and cooperation. Bridges must be built to ensure globalization has clear, commonly accepted rules to ensure everyone benefits from new technologies and shortened distances."

Read the full article, Colombian Peace, Some Good News On The Globalization Front.


Soccer star Lionel Messi, who plays for the Spanish club of FC Barcelona, and his father have been sentenced to 21 months in jail for defrauding the country of more than 4 million euros in taxes, La Vanguardia reports. Under Spanish law, people sentenced to fewer than two years don't actually have to serve time.


Dated in Palmyra — Syria, 1996



Thanks to Google Street View, you can now visit some of France's most stunning castles on the Loire river without leaving the comfort of your couch.

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France, Portrait Of A Nation In Denial — In Our World In Denial

The continuous increase of public debt and a tone-deaf president in France, the rise of authoritarian regimes elsewhere in the world, the blindness to global warming: realities that we do not want to see and that will end up destroying us if we do not act.

Photo of ​police forces in riot gear clashing with demonstrators as piles of garbage burn in Paris on March 23

Police forces clashing with demonstrators as piles of garbage burn in Paris on March 23

Les Echos


PARIS — In France, the denial of reality seems to be the only thing that all of our public figures have in common: The president (who is right to say that it is his role to propose unpopular measures) refuses to see that other solutions than his own were possible and that institutions will not be sufficient in the long term to legitimize his solitary decisions.

The parliamentary opposition groups refuse to see that they do not constitute a political majority, since they would be incapable of governing together and that they have in common, for too many of them, on both sides of the political spectrum, left and right, only the hatred of money, the mistrust of success, and the contempt for excellence.

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