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Ukraine-EU Pact, Plastic Wrap Torture, Narcopizzeria

London protest Thursday, the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.
London protest Thursday, the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko penned this morning an association agreement that includes free-trade and political cooperation with the European Union, the same that former president Viktor Yanukovych had refused to sign months ago, triggering massive protests in Kiev that eventually brought his presidency to an end. "I think this is one of the most historic days for my country after getting independence," Poroshenko said, adding that this was only a first step towards full EU membership. Moldova and Georgia, two former Soviet republics, signed similar deals with Brussels. Russia immediately reacted to the news by saying that “grave consequences” would follow, while an adviser to Vladimir Putin branded Poroshenko a “Nazi” in an interview with the BBC.

Islamist fighters with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria have gained control of another town located just one hour away from the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, Al Arabiya reports, quoting security sources. Yesterday, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said he hoped that military jets from Russia and Belarus would arrive within two or three days and help turn the tide against ISIS. He also criticized the U.S. for its “long-winded” jets-buying process.
This came as Barack Obama asked the U.S. Congress to authorize a $500 million budget to fund U.S. military training and equipment for “vetted elements” among the fighters in the Syrian opposition who are fighting both the Syrian army of Bashar al-Assad and ISIS. Read more fromThe Washington Post.

EU leaders today are expected to confirm center-right politician Jean-Claude Juncker as the new President of the European Commission, despite vocal protests from British Prime Minister David Cameron who said that Juncker was "the wrong person," according to The Guardian. Other EU leaders had voiced their opposition to Juncker’s appointment before deciding to back him. But Cameron, who is seeking to renegotiate the UK’s relationship with the EU and bring back powers to Westminster, sees Juncker as too much of a federalist. The Daily Telegraphmeanwhile reveals that a number of European leaders have expressed their concern in private over allegations that Juncker, who resigned as Luxembourg’s PM last year over his implication in a spying scandal, has a drinking problem.

Learn more about Amnesty International’s “cellophane wrap” protest in front of London’s Mexican embassy here.

After the anti-immigration party's success in recent European elections, Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza’s Katarzyna Brejwo checks out sentiment in the heart of UKIP country: “Bob tolerated all of it with patience and dignity, until the day an explosion ignited in an illegal bottling plant run by Lithuanians. The tragedy took five lives and pushed him to call for the first demonstration against immigration. In 2013, he was elected to the town council as a member of the UKIP. Nobody knows how many immigrants now live in the town. The official number is 9,000, but Mike Gilbert, a conservative member of the town council, mentions 14,000.”
Read the full article, In British "Little Poland," Where Anti-Immigrant Party Rising.

North Korean authorities said they had successfully tested "a newly developed tactical guided missile." According to South Korean news agency Yonhap, such missiles “can pose a great threat to South Korea,” and the improved range would make it possible for Pyongyang to strike military facilities. North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un is said to have hailed the technology’s importance in “providing a credible pre-emptive strike capability,” AFP explains.

Police uncover a new recipe that had helped drug dealers around Buenos Aires to hide their stash. Read here.

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Scientists at the University College London announced that a simple blood test that could provide women with early warning of breast cancer was being developed, after they discovered a genetic “early marker” of risk, The Independent reports.

$104.9 MILLION
Bill Clinton has been paid quite a hefty sum for 542 speeches around the world between January 2001, when he left the White House, and January 2013.

In a move that will please all Monty Python’s fans, Britain’s most famous comedy group is releasing a smartphone game version of the sketch “The Ministry of Silly Walks.”

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The Last Boss: Messina Denaro's Death Marks The End Of An Era For The Sicilian Mafia

Eight months after being arrested, following 30 years on the run, Matteo Messina Denaro died Monday. The son of a mobster and successor of Sicily's notorious boss of bosses, he had tried to transform Cosa Nostra into a modern criminal enterprise — with only partial success.

photo of Matteo Messina Denaro

Matteo Messina Denaro after his arrest

Carabinieri handout via ZUMA
La Stampa Staff

Updated Sep. 25, 2023 at 4:45 p.m.


PALERMO — Matteo Messina Denaro, who for more than a decade was the Sicilian Mafia's "boss of bosses," died on Monday in an Italian hospital prison ward. His death came eight months after being captured following decades on the run as a fugitive from justice. His arrest in January 15, 1993, came almost 30 years to the day after Totò Riina, then the undisputed head of the Corleone clan, was captured in Palermo.

Tracing back in time, Messina Denaro began his criminal ascent in 1989, around the first time on record that he was reported for mob association for his participation in the feud between the Accardo and Ingoglia clans.

At the time, Messina Denaro's father, 'don Ciccio', was the Mafia boss in the western Sicilian city of Trapani — and at only 20 years of age, the ambitious young criminal became Totò Riina's protégé. He would go on to help transform Cosa Nostra, tearing it away from the feudal tradition and catapulting it into the world of would-be legitimate business affairs.

For 30 years he managed to evade capture. He had chosen the path of ‘essential communication’: a few short pizzini - small slips of paper used by the Sicilian Mafia for high-level communications - without compromising information by telephone or digital means.

“Never write the name of the person you are addressing," Messina Denaro told his underlings. "Don’t talk in cars because there could be bugs, always discuss in the open and away from telephones. Also, take off your watches.”

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