China Mass Trial, Slow Google Cars, Snowden 007

A farmer walks along a paddy field, as China enters plowing season.
A farmer walks along a paddy field, as China enters plowing season.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Pro-Russian fighters in Donetsk have shot down a drone, self-appointed local authorities said, amid reports of ongoing fighting outside the building of the Security Service of Ukraine in the center of the eastern city, seized by the rebels. According to RT journalist Paula Slier, fights have also resumed around the city’s airport, which separatists are said to have regained control of. This comes after separatists said they lost up to 100 fighters in the last two days of fighting against Ukrainian troops at the airport.

Meanwhile in Abkhazia, a Georgian breakaway state recognized only by Russia, protesters stormed the presidential headquarters, attempting to stage what President Alexander Ankvab described later as an “armed coup attempt,” though he stated that he he had not left the country. Russian officials are expected to travel there later today.

Some 7,000 people and local officials gathered in a stadium in the Chinese region of Xinjiang for the mass trial of 55 people accused of “violent terrorist” crimes, AFP reports citing local media. Three were sentenced to death, in an event that shows the authorities’ “resolute determination to crack down” on terrorism, separatism and religious extremism, an official said. Xinjiang, home to a large Muslim Uighur minority, has been hit by violent attacks over the past few months, including one on a market last week that killed 39 people.

Check out our beautiful picture of the day here.

Afghanistan Taliban organization said in a statement released this morning that the U.S. plan to reduce its military presence in the country to 9,800 next year before withdrawal in 2016 amounted to “continued occupation,” AFP reports. The statement said that “even if one American soldier is in Afghanistan, it is not acceptable to our nation and Jihad will continue against them.” Two Americans were hurt this morning when their U.S. Consulate vehicle was attacked, and were being treated in hospital. In its editorial, The New York Times writes: “Mr. Obama has dragged out the biggest part of the withdrawal from Afghanistan for two years and now wants to leave more troops there until the end of 2016. His promise to end the war, made years ago, won’t be honored until he’s practically out of office.”

25 MPH
Google cars coming soon … but not so fast!

Louis Imbert, reporting for Le Monde from Ukraine, profiles a certain oligarch who may be the most influential figure in the contested eastern part of the country. “Billionaire Ihor Kolomoyskyi plays his game far from the capital,” Imbert writes. “From his hometown of Dnipropetrovsk to Odessa on the Black Sea, he is busy building himself a kingdom in the southeast of Ukraine. A trained engineer, Kolomoyskyi, 51, is believed to be worth at least $3.5 billion, with a fortune built on oil, media and finance holdings."
Read the full article, Ihor Kolomoyskyi, A Ukrainian Oligarch Rises In The East.



The presidential election in Egypt was extended for one extra day by the country’s electoral commission in the face of desperately low turnout, Mada Masr reports. The two candidates, former army leader Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Hamdeen Sabbahi, are said to have objected to the decision, a move described by a commission official as a “a game of politics.” The BBC’s correspondent in Cairo Kevin Connolly writes that the Egyptian media and army’s argument that the election was a formality for al-Sisi might have backfired and alienated voters, even among his supporters. “A win for Mr. Sisi on a very low turnout would damage his authority as he takes office,” he adds.

The quote of the day comes from Snowden, Edward Snowden.

At least 20 elderly patients and a nurse were killed after a fire broke out at a hospice in South Korea, leaving seven others injured, including six in a critical condition, Yonhap news agency reports. About 10 patients managed to escape the building, but most were bedridden. The police later arrested an 81-year-old patient suffering from dementia on suspicion that he might have started the fire. Read more from the BBC.

This short animation film from South Korean director Han-Jae Park give us a quirky glance at how bad subway behavior looks in Asia. Watch it here.

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File:Parsin Gas and CNG Station in Karaj-Qazvin Freeway, Iran ...

Gas stations in many Iranian cities had trouble supplying fuel earlier in the week in what was a suspected cyberattack on the fuel distribution system. One Tehran daily on Thursday blamed Israel, which may have carried out similar acts in past years, to weaken Iran's hostile regime.

The incident reportedly disrupted the credit and debit card payments system this time, forcing users to pay cash and higher prices, the London-based broadcaster Iran International reported.

Though state officials didn't publicly accuse anyone specific, they did say perhaps this and other attacks had been planned for October, to "anger people" on the anniversary of the anti-government protests of 2019.

Khamenei, where's our gas?

Cheeky slogans were spotted Tuesday in different places in Iran, including electronic panels over motorways. One of them read "Khamenei, where's our gas?"

Iran International reported that Tehran-based news agency ISNA posted, then deleted, a report on drivers also seeing the message "cyberattack 64411" on screens at gas stations, purported to be the telephone number of the office of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

A member of parliament's National Security Committee, Vahid Jalalzadeh, said the attack had been planned months ahead, and had inflicted "grave losses," Iran International and domestic agencies reported Thursday. The conservative Tehran newspaper Kayhan named "America, the Zionist regime and their goons" as the "chief suspects" in the attack.

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