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SPOTLIGHT: UK IRAQ WAR REPORT BASHES BLAIR

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.


WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY



SYRIAN ARMY ANNOUNCES 72-HOUR CEASEFIRE

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.


SEVERAL ATTACKS FOILED IN FRANCE, REPORT CLAIMS

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.


— ON THIS DAY

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


TRUMP ATTACKS CLINTON AFTER FBI RECOMMENDATION

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.


30 DAYS

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.


EXTRA!

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.


PISTORIUS SENTENCED FOR MURDER

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.


— WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

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.


MESSI SENTENCED FOR TAX FRAUD

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.


MY GRAND-PERE'S WORLD

Dated in Palmyra — Syria, 1996


— MORE STORIES, EXCLUSIVELY IN ENGLISH BY WORLDCRUNCH

COUCH VISITING

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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War In Ukraine, Day 280: Massive New 600 Billion Euro Estimate Of War Damage, EU Says Russia Will Pay

Ukrainian flag flies on the pole near the ruins of an apartment building destroyed by Russian troops in Kyiv

Anna Akage, Shaun Lavelle and Emma Albright

The European Union is committed to setting up a special court with the backing of the UN to investigate and prosecute Russian war crimes in Ukraine, and force Russia and its oligarchs to pay the growing pricetag for the destruction of the country.

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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen promised in a video statement that “Russia’s horrific crimes will not go unpunished.” She said that it was estimated so far that 20,000 Ukrainian civilians and 100,000 Ukrainian military officers had been killed so far.

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