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Otto Warmbier Dies Days After Return from N. Korea

Otto Warmbier has died. His parents released this statement:

It is our sad duty to report that our son, Otto Warmbier, has completed his journey home. Surrounded by his loving family, Otto died today at 2:20pm.

...Unfortunately, the awful torturous mistreatment our son received at the hands of the North Koreans ensured that no other outcome was possible beyond the sad one we experienced today. When Otto returned to Cincinnati late on June 13th he was unable to speak, unable to see and unable to react to verbal commands. He looked very uncomfortable — almost anguished. Although we would never hear his voice again, within a day the countenance of his face changed — he was at peace. He was home and we believe he could sense that.

I believe (and hope) he could sense it too. This is such a sad story and such an unnecessary death. [More...]

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London Bridge is Latest Attack Target

Three men in white van drove into passerbys at the London Bridge. London Bridge station has been shut down.

A second incident was reported at nearby Borough Market, where some men jumped out of a car and started randomly stabbing people.

Police say shots were fired and there is at least one fatality. A third incident (as yet undefined) occurred at the Vauxhall area of south London. London police say that was a stabbing but is unrelated to the first two incidents.

Here is the London police twitter feed. BBC is updating here. Here's a map.

The Daily Mail now has auto-play video. Buzzfeed for some reason includes in its news article what Donald Trump tweeted about this. Who cares? It has nothing to do with him. No links for either.

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Marine Le Pen Concedes Election to Winner Macron

France dodged a right-wing bullet by electing Emmanuel Macron. Marine Le Pen has conceded the race.

I heard earlier on the car radio that French turnout was high -- 77% or so. That may be considered high when compared to the U.S. which has hovered around 55%. But reports are that the French turnout was around 75%, lower than the past two French elections. Then again, this report has French turnout in 2012 at 71%. (Belgium had an 87.2 percent turnout rate in 2014, Turkey's was 84.3 percent in 2015, and Sweden's was 82.5 percent in 2014.)

Regardless, it was not a close race. Marcron won 65.% to Le Pen's 35%.

Lucky for France they don't have an electoral college.

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Death Toll Climbs From Colombian Mudslides

More than 250 people, including at least 60 children, have been killed by the huge mudslides in Mocoa, Colombia.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has been in Moca since yesterday, and he's tweeting continuous updates. The heads of dozens of countries have expressed their condolences to the people of Colombia. Many have offered aid, including China. One country prominently missing from Santos' twitter feed: the United States. Where's Donald Trump?

What does the State Department have to say about Colombia in its website and Twitter pages? Nothing so far. [More..]

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Ecuador Elections: Leftist Candidate Lenin Moreno Wins

Julian Assange is happy tonight. Leftist candidate Lenin Moreno has been declared the winner in Ecuador's presidential election. Moreno defeated right-wing ex-banker Guillermo Lasso. Earlier Sunday, dueling exit polls had each of them winning.

Here is Moreno's Twitter account.

Lasso sounds like a Trump clone. [More...]

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Germany Repeals Law Prohibiting Criticism of Foreign Leaders

Germany has repealed a law allowing prosecution of those who criticize foreign leaders. It takes effect 1/1/2018.

The Washington Posts suggests it's just in time for Donald Trump.

In related news, the Netherlands is proposing to start a fund for international groups offering abortion counseling, to circumvent Trump's plan: [More...]

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Obama Expels Alleged Russian Spies, Imposes Sanctions

President Obama today expelled 35 Russian alleged spies and imposed sanctions on two Russian intelligence agencies for meddling in the 2016 Presidential election by hacking political groups.

The FBI and Homeland Security blame Russia both for hacking and meddling in the U.S. election. Here is the report by Homeland Security and the FBI on the Russian hacking

This Joint Analysis Report (JAR) is the result of analytic efforts between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). This document provides technical details regarding the tools and infrastructure used by the Russian civilian and military intelligence Services (RIS) to compromise and exploit networks and endpoints associated with the U.S. election, as well as a range of U.S. Government, political, and private sector entities. The U.S. Government is referring to this malicious cyber activity by RIS as GRIZZLY STEPPE.

The Report confirms: [More]

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Fidel Castro Has Died

Fidel Castro died Friday, November 25, 2016. He was 90 years old.

Raul Castro has pledged to step down in 2018. What then? The New York Times reports on how the power likely will pass -- to a lot of Raul's children. [More....]

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Who Killed the Mexican Military in Badiraguato/Culiacan?

Through El Chapo's lawyer, his sons have denied the allegation they had anything to do with the attack on the military. The Mexican defense department says the man in the ambulance with the false name was indeed El Chapo's brother, Guano.

The Mexican media is rushing to judgment and claiming the sons of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman are responsible for killing a convoy of military persons who were taking a wounded man to the hospital following a shooting.

At a press conference, officials said :

The commander [Alfonso Duarte] said that the first attack was in the .....the municipality of Badiraguato, where monitoring the surveillance and combating drug trafficking, the military found a wounded man, identified as Julio Oscar Ortiz Vega, whom the military personnel led to the municipal head later to be moved to the square of Culiacan for health care.


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FARC Celebrates Historic Peace Deal

President Obama yesterday congratulated his Colombian counterpart, Juan Miguel Santos, on the historic peace agreement with Farc. The guerillas, holding their 10th National Conference, (background here) celebrated with a mini-Woodstock.

Daylong deliberations ended with nightly concerts on a huge outdoor stage complete with a smoke machine. The guerrillas sang along with fervor to staples of Latin America’s revolutionary repertoire such as El Pueblo Unido (“The People United”) and swayed their hips to the cumbia rhythm of an all-guerrilla band called the Rebels of the South whose songs speak of the end of the war and impending peace.

“It’s a strange mix of an internal consultative process about the peace accord … and a mini Farc Woodstock,” said Alex Fattal, an American anthropologist from the University of Pennsylvania studying the Farc’s media strategy.


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Rio Olympics: Opening Ceremony

They are starting to air the the Olympic Opening Ceremony on NBC. I wish Lester Holt could narrate the whole thing, he's got the best voice, doesn't dumb it down or hyperventilate or overly dramatize the small stuff.

I've had NBC on in the background for an hour, and so far, the coverage has been very good and interesting (except for the half hour the local affiliate had the air, what a difference between them and the big leagues.)

This is a thread for all things Olympics and Rio related only.

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Rio Summer Olympics Begin

Here is the live stream schedule for the Olympics. Opening ceremonies are tomorrow but the games have already begun. The Torch has now reached Rio.

The media seems intent to run down Rio as host city to the Olympics. I'm seeing articles with headlines like No Game: The Olympics, Rio and Terror, Rio 2016 will be a Brazilian carnival of greed, doping and tear gas, For Olympic athletes in Rio, a lack of buzz over Zika concerns. There's even this Henny Penny articley: Freak 15-foot waves flood TV broadcasting building on Rio’s Copacabana Beach sparking fears it could collapse into the sea

I'm a big fan of Rio and Brazil, I was there in 1977. Yes, things change in 40 years, but the natural wonders of the country remain. [More...]

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Indonesia Executes 4 More Foreign Drug Offenders

Indonesia executed four more drug traffickers this week. Another 10 were taken from their cells on the notorious Nusakambangan prison island at Cilacap, Central Java, and brought to the killing field. Without explanation, these 10 were taken back to their cells. In all, 16 coffins were ordered. Indonesia is not publicly identifying who is next.

Those killed included two Nigerians, a Senegalese and an Indonesian man.

Those executed on Friday were Indonesian Freddy Budiman, as well as Nigerians Seck Osmane, Michael Titus Igweh and Humphrey Jefferson Ejike Eleweke.

Michael Titus Igweh testified police "electrocuted his genitals." Humphrey Jefferson Ejike Eleweke has always maintained his innocence. [More...]

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Mass Arrests After Failed Coup in Turkey

Turkey's president Erdogan is demanding the U.S. extradite his long time enemy, Fetullah Gulen, alternatively described as a Muslim cleric and scholar or an Islamic ideologue, whom he says is responsible for the failed coup in Turkey. Gulen has resided in Pennsylvania for years.

An extradition request was submitted in Turkey the day before the coup.

Thousands of people have been detained in the coup's wake. More than 2,700 judges and prosecutors have been dismissed and 132 judges have been arrested.

The detainees are accused of being members of FETO, the terrorist organization led by U.S.-based preacher Fetullah Gulen. Friday night saw military elements make a “vile” attempt to overthrow Turkey’s elected government, according to Prime Minister Binali Yildirim. Around 160 people were martyred in the ensuing violence.

Some 2,839 military personnel involved in the coup attempt have been arrested, and 20 pro-coup soldiers, including some senior officers, were killed in the attempt to overthrow the government.


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Indonesia: Militants Get Second Chances While Drug Traffickers Face Death

I'm in favor of second chances for all offenders, terrorists included. But it is beyond the pale that Indonesia allows second chances for militant bomb-makers who participated in acts of terrorism to get out of jail and become productive citizens, while foreign drug traffickers, even mules, face death.

There are beautiful beaches all over the world. If you are vacationing this summer, please skip Bali and Indonesia. Visit the Seychelles, Maldives, Mauritius, Fiji, and other beautiful places that don't kill non-violent drug offenders.

Indonesia has long coddled terrorists while showing no mercy or tolerance for non-violent drug offenders, especially foreigners. Here's another example .

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