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North Korea Missiles, Brazil Crisis, Norway Jails

North Korea Missiles, Brazil Crisis, Norway Jails


North Korea fired a pair of ballistic missiles today from its eastern coast, the latest in a series of provocations that included a nuclear detonation in January and the launch, last month, of a long-range rocket.

  • The mid-range missile test came one day after U.S. President Barack Obama imposed new sanctions on the government of Kim Jong-un. U.S. officials said the missiles flew approximately 500 miles before falling into the Sea of Japan.
  • The show of force also comes on the heels of a decision by North Korea's Supreme Court to sentence a U.S. university student to 15 years of hard labor for crimes against the state, Voice of America reported. The student, Otto Warmbier of the University of Virginia, was visiting North Korea as a tourist when he allegedly attempted to take down a banner containing a political slogan. Pyongyang released what it said was surveillance video of the incident.


Brazil is barreling toward a full-blown constitutional crisis over President Dilma Rousseff's decision to appoint her predecessor, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, as chief of staff — presumably as a way to shield him from an ongoing graft investigation.

  • Less than an hour after the administration rushed to swear Lula in yesterday morning, a federal judge ordered that the appointment be blocked, Brazilian daily O Globo reports.
  • "It's an unprecedented crisis. The facts change from hour to hour, day after day," Antônio César Bochenek, president of the Association of Federal Judges of Brazil, told The Wall Street Journal.
  • Nationwide demonstrations and calls for the president's resignation were sparked by a leaked conversation between the two leaders suggesting the purpose of giving Lula a cabinet post is to protect him from money laundering charges tied to the Petrobras corruption scandal. "This is how coups start," said Rousseff.


"For Turkey, the refugee issue is not an issue of bargaining but an issue of values, humanitarian values as well as European values," Ahmet DavutoÄŸlu said today in Brussels, Turkish daily Hürriyet reports. The Turkish Prime Minister is set to meet with European leaders today as they try to find a solution to the influx of migrants into the 28-nation bloc. The discussion will center around the "one in, one out" deal according to which for every Syrian readmitted by Turkey from the Greek islands, another Syrian will be resettled from Turkey to the EU member states.


A new light is shining on the Norwegian penal system as terrorist Anders Behring Breivik demands (even) better treatment. Check out Worldcrunch's exclusive video: Norway's Alternative Prisons, Part Of Global Push To Innovate On Inmates.


The Chilean Navy has rescued the entire crew of an experimental Norwegian expedition called Kon-Tiki2. The group was located yesterday approximately 1,000 miles of the coast of Puerto Montt, in southern Chile, and is expected to reach the mainland by Saturday, Chilean daily La Tercera reports.


Photo: Zhai Jianlan/Xinhua/ZUMA

South African President Jacob Zuma is facing new accusations of influence peddling, in what may be the most perilous scandal of his political career. On its front page today, Cape Town-based Afrikaans-language daily Die Burger asked if this was "The End?"


She was born on March 18 and is considered one of hip hop's pioneer feminists. Who is she? Find out in today's shot of history!


A U.S. man who was captured in Iraq and is accused of fighting for ISIS forces said in an interview aired yesterday on the Kurdish news station K24 that he made "a bad decision." The man, identified as 26-year-old Mohamad Jamal Khweis of Virginia, said he traveled to Europe, passing through London and Amsterdam before heading to Turkey, where he met an Iraqi woman from the ISIS-controlled city of Mosul. Together they traveled to Iraq, arriving in Mosul on Jan. 16. There he received indoctrination: "There was an imam who taught us the sharia and the religion," Khweis said. "At the time I made the decision, I was not thinking straight," he added. "On the way there I regretted, and I wanted to go back home after things didn't work out and I saw myself living in such an environment."


User ratings systems on service apps and websites are making some people obsessive about their online reputations, even as customers, Guillemette Faure writes for Le Monde. But where is all this headed? "Annual company ratings, customer service appraisals, user-to-user websites. It's now possible to spend half the day rating and the other half being rated. When a smartphone owner downloads an app, he is pestered and prodded to decide how many stars to give it. Ask Uber drivers how they cope with the pressure of ratings, and they'll answer, ‘You know, we rate them too.' Discreetly, once they've left the vehicle. And when drivers answer a request, the platform gives them the customer's average score."

Read the full article, The Spreading Psychodrama Of Being Rated Online.



Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey denied reports that the famously terse social media platform would extend its character limit from 140 to 10,000. Asked about the limit on the Today show, he simply said: "It's staying." For the record, if his words were a tweet, that's 13 characters, period included.

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How Brazil's Evangelical Surge Threatens Survival Of Native Afro-Brazilian Faith

Followers of the Afro-Brazilian Umbanda religion in four traditional communities in the country’s northeast are resisting pressure to convert to evangelical Christianity.

image of Abel José, an Umbanda priest

Abel José, an Umbanda priest

Agencia Publica
Géssica Amorim

Among a host of images of saints and Afro-Brazilian divinities known as orixás, Abel José, 42, an Umbanda priest, lights some candles, picks up his protective beads and adjusts the straw hat that sits atop his head. He is preparing to treat four people from neighboring villages who have come to his house in search of spiritual help and treatment for health ailments.

The meeting takes place discreetly, in a small room that has been built in the back of the garage of his house. Abel lives in the quilombo of Sítio Bredos, home to 135 families. The community, located in the municipality of Betânia of Brazil’s northeastern state of Pernambuco, is one of the municipality’s four remaining communities that have been certified as quilombos, the word used to refer to communities formed in the colonial era by enslaved Africans and/or their descendents.

In these villages there are almost no residents who still follow traditional Afro-Brazilian religions. Abel, Seu Joaquim Firmo and Dona Maura Maria da Silva are the sole remaining followers of Umbanda in the communities in which they live. A wave of evangelical missionary activity has taken hold of Betânia’s quilombos ever since the first evangelical church belonging to the Assembleia de Deus group was built in the quilombo of Bredos around 20 years ago. Since then, other evangelical, pentecostal, and neo-pentecostal churches and congregations have established themselves in the area. Today there are now nine temples spread among the four communities, home to roughly 900 families.

The temples belong to the Assembleia de Deus, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and the World Church of God's Power, the latter of which has over 6,000 temples spread across Brazil and was founded by the apostle and televangelist Valdemiro Santiago, who became infamous during the pandemic for trying to sell beans that he had blessed as a Covid-19 cure. Assembleia de Deus alone, who are the largest pentecostal denomination in the world, have built five churches in Betânia’s quilombos.

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