A trip by Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr to Singapore over the weekend to watch Formula One races has come under attack from critics who described it as “utterly callous” while thousands of Filipinos remain displaced due to a recent typhoon. Marcos Jr confirmed his trip to Singapore for the Grand Prix event in a brief statement and pictures he posted on Facebook on Monday night after a flurry of online criticism. “They say that playing golf is the best way to drum up business, but I say it’s Formula 1,” Marcos Jr said. “What a productive weekend.” He said without elaborating that he was invited with other dignitaries and met new business friends who were willing to invest in the Philippines, adding that would disclose more details later. Over the weekend, reports circulated on social media about Marcos Jr’s unannounced trip to Singapore. Marcos Jr’s press secretary did not issue a confirmation until after a Singaporean official posted pictures of Marcos Jr in the city-state on Facebook. Singaporean Minister for Manpower Tan See Leng (陳詩龍) named Marcos Jr among the foreign dignitaries he had met “to affirm our bilateral economic relationships and strengthen collaborations in energy cooperation as well as exchange views on manpower policies on the sidelines of the race.” Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (李顯龍) also posted pictures on Facebook showing him with others including Marcos Jr and his wife, Liza Araneta-Marcos. “Happy to link up again with friends from both here and abroad, to watch the race and enjoy the good company,” the caption read. Critics hit the secrecy that shrouded the president’s trip and demanded more details from the government about the trip, including if public funds and resources were used. “We assert that the Singapore F1 weekend getaway was insensitive, unnecessary and irresponsible given the crisis that the nation is in,”
The Solomon Islands agreed to sign an accord between the US and more than a dozen Pacific nations only after indirect references to China were removed, Solomon Islands Minister of Foreign Affairs Jeremiah Manele said yesterday. “There were some references that put us in a position where we’ll have to choose sides, and we did not want to be placed in a position where we have to choose sides,” Manele told reporters in Wellington. His remarks represented the first time the Solomon Islands has publicly acknowledged it had initial concerns about the agreement and expressed why it had a change of heart. The accord was signed in Washington last week, with US President Joe Biden telling visiting Pacific leaders that the US was committed to bolstering its presence in the region and becoming a more collaborative partner. The administration pledged the US would add US$810 million in new aid for Pacific Island nations over the next decade. The summit came amid growing US concern about China’s military and economic influence in the Pacific. However, the final agreement focused mainly on issues like climate change, economic growth and natural disasters. A small section on security contained mostly broad language and while it specifically condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it made no mention of China. Ahead of the summit, diplomats had said the Solomon Islands was signaling it was unlikely to sign the joint declaration, which would have represented a diplomatic blow for the US and the Pacific nations. Many in the US and the Pacific had been eager to get the Solomon Islands on board after becoming alarmed about the increasing ties between the Solomon Islands and China, especially after the two nations signed a security agreement earlier this year. “In the initial draft, there were some references that we were not comfortable with, but then with the officials,
A Philippine radio broadcaster has been shot dead near his home in suburban Manila, police said yesterday, the latest in a long list of journalists killed in the country. The archipelago nation is one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists and most of the killers go unpunished. DRIVING TO WORK Percival Mabasa was driving to work at DWBL radio station on Monday night when he was gunned down by two assailants on a motorcycle, Las Pinas police chief Colonel Jaime Santos told news channel Teleradyo. “He was dedicated to his work and this is possibly the angle for his murder,” Santos said. Mabasa, known locally as Percy Lapid, was a critic of former Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte as well as policies and officials in the government of his successor, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. ‘RED-TAGGING’ He has been critical of “red-tagging” — accusing someone of being a communist sympathizer — as well as online gambling operations and misinformation around martial law, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said. The press advocacy group described the killing in the capital as “brazen” and said it showed “journalism remains a dangerous profession in the country.” Mabasa is the second journalist to be killed since Marcos Jr took power on June 30, the group added. TASK FORCE Acting Metro Manila police chief Brigadier General Jonnel Estomo said a special task force had been created to investigate Mabasa’s death. In a report in October last year, the New-York based Committee to Protect Journalists ranked the Philippines seventh on a global impunity index, with 13 murders still unsolved. The nation has been a mainstay in the annual index since it started in 2008.
INDIA Prisons chief killed The chief of the prison service in Indian Kashmir has been murdered, police said yesterday, as the interior minister visited the disputed Himalayan region that has been riven by a decades-long insurgency. The body of Hemant Kumar Lohia, 57, the region’s director general of prisons, was found at his home on Monday night in the Jammu region, police said. Police said a household helper was the main suspect, but a Muslim militant group said it had targeted and killed Lohia. Muslim-majority Kashmir is divided between mostly Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan, which both claim it in full. Separatist Muslim groups have fought against Indian security forces in its part of Kashmir since the late 1980s. BANGLADESH Refugee boat sinks At least a dozen people were missing off the Bangladesh coast yestserday after a boat carrying Rohingya refugees sank in rough weather, the South Asian country’s coast guard said. The fishing trawler left at dawn and was bound for Malaysia before it ran into trouble in the Bay of Bengal, with two search boats scrambling to rescue survivors. “We have rescued 39 people, including 35 Rohingya refugees and four Bangladeshis,” coast guard spokesman Lieutenant Al Amin told reporters. Coast guard station commander Ashiq Ahmed said at least 50 people were on the boat, which had picked up passengers from several coastal towns before embarking. “Around a dozen people are still missing. The rescue operation is still going,” he told reporters. The vessel sank near southern Cox’s Bazar district, the site of camps that are home to about 1 million Rohingya refugees. Most arrived in Bangladesh five years ago after a military crackdown in neighboring Myanmar.
TERRITORY SEIZED: Ukrainian troops recaptured the town of Dudchany along the bank of the Dnipro River, 30km south of where the front stood before Monday
Ukrainian forces have broken through Russian defenses in the south of the nation while expanding their rapid offensive in the east, seizing back more territory in areas annexed by Russia and threatening its troops’ supply lines. Making their biggest breakthrough in the south since the war began, Ukrainian forces on Monday recaptured several villages in an advance along the strategic Dnipro River, Ukrainian officials and a Russian-installed leader in the area said. Ukrainian forces in the south destroyed 31 Russian tanks and one multiple rocket launcher, the military’s southern operational command said in a nightly update, without providing details of where the fighting occurred. Reuters could not immediately verify the battlefield accounts. The southern breakthrough mirrors Ukrainian advances in the east even as Russia has tried to raise the stakes by annexing land, ordering a mobilization and threatening nuclear retaliation. Ukrainian forces have made significant advances in two of the four Russian-occupied regions Moscow last week annexed after what it called referendums — votes that were denounced by Kyiv and Western governments as illegal and coercive. In a sign Ukraine is building momentum on the eastern front, Reuters on Monday saw columns of Ukrainian military vehicles heading to reinforce the rail hub of Lyman, retaken at the weekend, and a staging post to press into the Donbas region. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Ukraine’s army had seized back towns in a number of areas, without giving details. “New population centers have been liberated in several regions. Heavy fighting is going on in several sectors of the front,” Zelenskiy said in a video address. Luhansk Governor Serhiy Gaidai said that Russian forces had taken over a psychiatric hospital in the town of Svatovo, a target en route to recapturing the major cities of Lysychansk and Sivierodonetsk. “There is quite a network of underground rooms in the building and they have taken
Russia’s retreat from a key Ukrainian city over the weekend elicited an outcry from an unlikely crowd — state-run media outlets that typically cast Moscow’s war in glowing terms. A series of embarrassing military losses has presented a challenge for prominent hosts of Russian news and political talk shows struggling to find ways to paint Ukraine’s gains in a way that is still favorable to the Kremlin. Frustration with the battlefield setbacks has long been expressed in social media blogs run by nationalist pundits and pro-Kremlin analysts, and the volume grew after Ukraine’s counteroffensive last month around Kharkiv in the northeast, but it is now spilling out on state TV broadcasts and in the pages of government-backed newspapers. The less conciliatory tone from state-run media comes as Russian President Vladimir Putin faces widespread discontent about his partial mobilization of reservists and as government officials struggle to explain plans to annex Ukrainian regions at the same time they are being retaken by Kyiv’s forces. “The Russian defeat in Kharkiv and Lyman, combined with the Kremlin’s failure to conduct partial mobilization effectively and fairly, are fundamentally changing the Russian information space,” Washington-based Institute for the Study of War said in a report. After Ukraine recaptured Lyman, a city in the east that Russian troops had used as a key logistics and transport hub, Putin’s media allies dropped the niceties and more directly criticized his military, saying tougher measures were necessary for the sake of victory. “What happened on Saturday, Lyman — it is a serious challenge for us,” said Vladimir Solovyov, host of a prime-time talk show on state TV channel Russia 1 and one of the Kremlin’s biggest cheerleaders. “We need to pull it together, make unpopular, but necessary decisions and act,” he said. A story about the Lyman retreat in Russia’s popular pro-Kremlin tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda painted a
Tesla and SpaceX chief executive officer Elon Musk drew the wrath of Ukrainians from the president down for Twitter posts urging Ukraine to seek a negotiated solution to the invasion by Russia and to cede Crimea for good. Musk also launched a Twitter poll asking citizens of occupied areas of eastern Ukraine annexed by the Kremlin — plus Crimea, which Moscow took in 2014 — to decide if they want to live in Russia or Ukraine. The survey comes as Ukraine, Europe and the US denounced Russian President Vladimir Putin’s move to annex four regions and declare them Russian territory. In another post, Musk called for the sham referendums conducted by Russia in occupied areas — which led to Putin authorizing their annexation — to be redone under UN supervision. He also said Crimea should be formally part of Russia. On Ukraine, he said it should “remain neutral.” The reaction from Ukraine was immediate. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy responded by posting his own poll to Twitter asking his followers if they preferred an Elon Musk who supports Ukraine ... or Russia. Musk later wrote in response to Zelenskiy, professing support for Kyiv, but sticking with his appeal. Since the early days of the war, Musk has provided Starlink dishes to Ukraine, a network that has proved crucial in supporting communications infrastructure across Ukraine as it counters disinformation from Russia. Musk touted that effort later on Twitter: “SpaceX’s out of pocket cost to enable & support Starlink in Ukraine is ~$80M so far. Our support for Russia is $0. Obviously, we are pro Ukraine.”
FINGER-POINTING: Joe Biden said the US would impose ‘further costs’ on Iran for the crackdown, while Tehran accused the US of hypocrisy over its human rights record
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi yesterday appealed for national unity and tried to allay anger against the nation’s rulers, even as the anti-government protests that have engulfed the country for weeks continued to spread to universities and high schools. Raisi acknowledged that the Islamic republic had “weaknesses and shortcomings,” but repeated the official line that the unrest sparked last month by the death of a 22-year-old woman in the custody of the morality police was nothing short of a plot by Iran’s enemies. Amini, 22, was pronounced dead on Sept. 16, days after the morality police detained the Kurdish Iranian for allegedly breaching rules requiring women to wear hijab headscarves and modest clothes. “Today the country’s determination is aimed at cooperation to reduce people’s problems,” Raisi told a parliament session. “Unity and national integrity are necessities that render our enemy hopeless.” His claims echoed those of Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who on Monday blamed the US and Israel nited States and Israel for inciting the unrest in his first remarks on the nationwide protests. The riots “were engineered by America and the occupying, false Zionist regime, as well as their paid agents, with the help of some traitorous Iranians abroad,” Khameni said. Iranian police must “stand up to criminals,” he said. “Some people, without proof or an investigation, have made the streets dangerous, burned the Koran, removed hijabs from veiled women and set fire to mosques and cars,” he said, adding that “this is not about hijab in Iran,” and that “many Iranian women who don’t observe the hijab perfectly are among the steadfast supporters of the Islamic republic.” A series of mounting crises have festered and helped fuel public rage, including the country’s political repression, ailing economy and global isolation. Iran’s security forces have sought to disperse demonstrations with tear gas, metal pellets and in some
‘NO JUSTIFICATION’: The US adding Cyprus to the State Partnership Program has disrupted the balance between the two sides of the island, Ankara said
Turkey on Monday condemned the US’ decision to add Cyprus to a security cooperation program, saying that Washington is losing its impartiality in the dispute surrounding the divided island. The US move came two weeks after it lifted a decades-old arms embargo on the internationally recognized Greek Cypriot government in the south of the Island. In response, Turkey first pledged to boost defenses of the Turkish Cypriots in the north of the island — a breakaway republic that is only recognized by Turkey itself. On Monday, the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the latest US step had no justification and disrupted the balance between the two sides on the island. “The US has evidently become partial,” it said in a statement. Tensions over Cyprus come at a time when Turkey and Greece are engaged in a war of words over what Ankara says is a growing Greek military buildup on Aegean islands, as well as Western military support to Athens. The State Partnership Program that the US added Cyprus to is a “security cooperation tool, facilitating cooperation across all aspects of international civil-military affairs,” the US National Guard’s Web site says. Cyprus will be paired with the New Jersey National Guard for the program, a US Department of Defense statement said. The Mediterranean island — less than half the size of New Jersey — was effectively partitioned in 1963 when fighting erupted between its two main groups: Greek and Turkish Cypriots. It was fully divided in 1974 after Turkey intervened, capturing the northern third of the island, saying it intended to protect the minority Turkish Cypriots following an Athens-backed coup by supporters of union with Greece. US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on Sunday met Ibrahim Kalin, the spokesman of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in Istanbul and urged Turkey to seek dialogue and diplomacy to resolve any
Iranian state media yesterday said the government has launched a space tug capable of shifting satellites between orbits. State TV said the Saman test spacecraft was built by the country’s Space Research Center and launched on Monday by the Ministry of Defense. Hassan Salarieh, head of the Islamic republic’s space agency, told state TV that officials “hope to use and test the main tug in near future.” Iran unveiled the craft in 2017. A space tug can transfer a satellite from one orbit to another. Iran has long pursued a space program saying it is aimed at peaceful purposes. The country has both a civilian and a military space program, which the US fears could be used to advance its ballistic missile program. Tehran in June launched a solid-fuel rocket into space and in August a Russian rocket successfully launched an Iranian Khayyam satellite into orbit. It is named after Omar Khayyam, a Persian scientist who lived in the 11th and 12th centuries. However, Iran has seen a series of mishaps and failed satellite launches over recent years. Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard in April 2020 revealed its own secret space program by successfully launching a satellite into orbit. The Guard operates its own military infrastructure parallel to Iran’s regular armed forces.
As the sun beats down on Iraq, most people swelter in their concrete homes — but not the inhabitants of one mountain town known for its ancient and cool stone houses. Tracing its roots back 2,700 years, the picturesque Kurdish town of Akre says it is better adapted to the modern-day perils of climate change than other parts of Iraq. “Stone houses are far more resistant” to the rising temperatures and also preserve the town’s unique character, Akre Mayor Baland Reda Zubair said. “Cement radiates heat, raises temperatures and affects the environment,” Zubair said of the building material that is allowed only in outlying neighborhoods. Many of Akre’s narrow alleyways can only be navigated by donkeys and wind through a historic city center bathed in the pale yellow and brown hues of the locally quarried stone. Oil-rich Iraq is the world’s fifth-most vulnerable country to the effects of climate change, the UN has said. The Kurdistan region where Akre lies suffers from heat and water scarcity like the rest of the country. However, while Iraqi authorities have done little to address the challenges, Akre, a city of 100,000 residents about 500km north of Baghdad, believes sticking with the old ways will help it adapt. Since 1991, when Kurdistan gained de facto autonomy from Iraq, it has declared concrete off limits for construction and renovation in the old city of Akre. An impressive building welcomes those entering the old city. Dating to 1853, it is a remnant of the Ottoman Empire that once ruled the area. “It’s an old military barracks,” said Jamil Siddik, a 63-year-old engineer who oversees renovation works in the city. The limestone used for renovation is sourced from the mountains that surround Akre, he said. For its residents, “limestone is easy to use. It’s cheap and available,” Siddik said. It also provides great insulation. “Concrete
Australia yesterday listed a small wallaby and the gray snake among 15 new threatened species as it launched a zero-extinction plan for its unique wildlife. Many of Australia’s species are clinging to existence, their habitats shrinking from human activity and extreme events such as the 2019-2020 Black Summer bushfires, wildlife groups say. Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s government announced a new 10-year scheme to try and halt the slide into extinction of 110 “priority species” and shield 20 “priority places” from further degradation. It aims to prevent any new extinctions of plants and animals while conserving at least 30 percent of Australia’s land mass. Wildlife groups blame Australia’s poor record in protecting its unique species largely on habitat destruction, accelerated by global warming and resulting extreme weather. BLACK SUMMER The Black Summer fires burned through 5.8 million hectares in eastern Australia and killed or displaced an estimated 1 billion to 3 billion animals. “The Black Summer bushfires in particular have seen devastating results for many species. We are determined to give wildlife a better chance,” Australian Minister for the Environment and Water Tanya Plibersek said. “Listing species as threatened under national environment law is a critical step in protecting the species and habitats in need of urgent help,” she said. Australia’s attempts to protect its wildlife had not worked so far, she said. “Australia is the mammal extinction capital of the world,” she said. Among the 15 plants and animals listed as threatened are the vulnerable small parma wallaby, which faces danger from bushfires and predators, the endangered mildly venomous gray snake of Queensland and the endangered small wingless matchstick grasshopper, which is sensitive to drought and frequent bushfires. Wildlife groups welcomed the government’s goal of preventing any new plant or animal extinctions. The objective “is ambitious but essential if future generations of Australians are to see animals like koalas, mountain pygmy possums,
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida appointed his son as a senior political aide, sparking speculation that the 31-year-old was being groomed as an eventual successor and prompting criticism of nepotism. Shotaro, the oldest of Kishida’s three sons, was named executive secretary to the prime minister, government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno said yesterday, adding that the appointment was appropriate. “Appointments are about putting the right person in the right role based on character and expertise, and I believe this one is no different,” he told a regular press briefing. The move places Shotaro, already a member of Kishida’s staff, within a small group that follows the prime minister almost everywhere, including meetings with world leaders, and is involved in behind-the-scenes political negotiations. Public broadcaster NHK said the older Kishida was likely preparing his son for eventual succession by exposing him to high-level policymaking, while critics said the nation’s leadership was increasingly controlled by powerful dynasties. “This is, essentially, preferential treatment for family,” Yuichiro Tamaki, the head of the opposition Democratic Party for the People, was quoted as saying by Kyodo News. While placing family members in influential government positions is not rare, even among democracies, hereditary politics is particularly entrenched in Japan. Prime Minister Kishida himself hails from a long line of lawmakers in Hiroshima. His predecessor, Yoshihide Suga, the son of a strawberry farmer, was the only leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in the past two decades who did not come from a political family. Kishida’s approval ratings have already been falling due to rising living costs and distrust over the LDP’s ties with the Unification Church, which has a long list of court judgements against it in Japan over its fundraising methods. Before joining Kishida’s personal office, Shotaro worked at a major trading house, NHK said. He becomes one of eight executive secretaries, including six
SEPARATE CAMPAIGNS: While Russia is attempting to amplify divisive topics and sow distrust in the electoral system, China is focused on shaping policy, officials said
US officials are warning ahead of the November midterm elections that Russia is working to amplify doubts about the integrity of US elections, while China is interested in undermining US politicians it sees as threats to Beijing’s interests. An unclassified US intelligence advisory says China is probably seeking to influence select races to “hinder candidates perceived to be particularly adversarial to Beijing.” In the advisory, sent to state and local officials in last month, intelligence officials said they believe Beijing sees a lower risk in meddling in the midterms versus a presidential election. While officials said they have not identified any credible threats to election infrastructure in the US, the latest intelligence warning comes amid the peak of a midterm campaign in which a rising number of candidates and voters openly express a lack of confidence in the nation’s democratic processes. Foreign countries have long sought to sway public opinion in the US, perhaps most notably in a covert Russian campaign that used social media to sow discord on hot-button social issues ahead of the 2016 presidential election. The US government has been on high alert since, warning about efforts by Russia, China and Iran to meddle in US politics and shape how voters think. The US faces foreign influence campaigns, while still dealing with growing threats to election workers domestically and the systematic spread of falsehoods and disinformation about voter fraud. Former US president Donald Trump and many of his supporters — including candidates running to oversee elections in several states — continue to lie about the 2020 presidential election even as no evidence has emerged of significant voter fraud. “The current environment is pretty complex, arguably much more complex than it was in 2020,” US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Jen Easterly told reporters on Monday. Russia is amplifying divisive topics already circulating on the
Hidden inside pristine forests in Chile’s deep south, known as the end of the world, lie potential early warning signs of climate change. Puerto Williams on Navarino Island, which is separated from the South American mainland by the Beagle Channel, is the world’s southern-most town. Far from the pollution that blights major urban and industrial centers, it is a paradise that provides unique conditions to study global warming. “There is nowhere else like it,” said Ricardo Rozzi, director of the Cape Horn International Center for global change studies and biocultural conservation in Puerto Williams. It is “a place that is especially sensitive to climate change” as average temperatures do not rise above five degrees Celsius. This cold and windy area is the last inhabited southern frontier before reaching Antarctica. The Omora Ethnobotanical Park is home to an immense variety of lichens, mosses and fungi that scientists study by crouching down onto their knees with magnifying glasses. In the crystal clear Robalo river, minuscule organisms act as sentinels of the changes produced by global warming. In both the park and river, the alarm bells are ringing. At this latitude — 55° south — climate change has an exponential effect on flora that react by seeking out low temperatures, Rozzi, 61, said. “The most obvious aspect of climate change is the rising temperatures,” he said. “These lichens cannot survive” if a certain threshold is passed, and to escape the higher temperatures, they move, he said. “In the case of [mosses], we’ve noticed that they have moved. Before they were between 50 and 350 [meters above sea level] and now they are between 100 and 400,” he said. Rozzi says that Omora has more diversity per square meter of lichens and mosses than anywhere else in the world. They also help to absorb carbon dioxide. Another aspect is the elevational diversity gradient, an ecological pattern in which biodiversity
UNCLEAR: Surveillance footage from the scenes of several shootings showed a person wearing all black, but police said that multiple people might be involved
Ballistics tests have linked the fatal shootings of six men and the wounding of one woman in California — all potentially at the hands of a serial killer — in crimes going back more than a year, police said on Monday. Authorities last week announced that five men in Stockton had been slain in the past few months, ambushed and shot to death alone in the dark. Late on Monday, police said two additional cases last year — a man’s death in Oakland and the nonfatal shooting of a woman in Stockton — had been tied to those killings. “It definitely meets the definition of a serial killer,” Stockton Police Public Information Officer Joseph Silva said. “What makes this different is the shooter is just looking for an opportunity, and unfortunately our victims were alone in a dark area.” Police would not say whether all seven shootings had been linked to the same gun. In the fatal Stockton cases, none of the men was robbed or beaten before the killings — which all took place within a radius of a few square kilometers between July 8 and Tuesday last week — and none appeared to have known each other, Silva said, adding that the shootings do not seem to be related to gangs or drugs. The other Stockton crime — in which a 46-year-old woman was shot but survived her injuries — occurred on April 16 last year at about 3:20am, police said. The woman was also alone at the time. The shooting death of a 40-year-old man in Oakland has also been connected to the violence, police said. The man was shot to death at about 4:15am on April 10 last year. It was not immediately clear whether the man was also unaccompanied when he was killed. The Stockton City Government, Stockton Crime Stoppers and a
At least 15 prisoners on Monday died in the latest unrest inside Ecuador’s prison system, officials in the South American country reported. The agency that manages Ecuador’s prisons, SNAI, gave the death toll in a statement which also said 21 people were injured in the clashes between inmates. It had earlier announced that tactical units conducted operations to regain control of the facility in Latacunga. The prison houses about 4,300 prisoners and is one of the largest in the country. Violence in Ecuador’s prisons, where drug gangs vie for power, is often carried out with knives and sometimes involves beheadings. The violence has left more than 400 prisoners dead since February last year. On Monday, inmates climbed onto roofs while detonations were heard, television news footage showed. SNAI deputy director Jorge Flores told reporters that Leandro Norero appeared to be “among the victims.” Norero, suspected of links to drug trafficking, became one of the inmate leaders. Known by the alias “El Patron,” he was arrested in May last year for allegations of money laundering, in an operation in which US$6.4 million, 24 gold bars, firearms and ammunition were allegedly seized. “Regarding the death of the defendant #LeandroN., #FiscaliaEc reports that after the corresponding identification experts will be able to confirm or not his death,” the Ecuadoran Attorney General’s office wrote on Twitter. SNAI said that military and police tactical units worked to regain control of the prison in what provincial authorities called a successful operation. “Control was retaken,” Cotopaxi Governor Oswaldo Coronel announced in the evening. The country’s overcrowded prisons contain about 35,000 inmates, many of whom are members of gangs linked to drug trafficking, according to government estimates. A government committee in April said that Ecuadoran prisons “are considered warehouses of human beings and torture centers.” Bordered by Colombia and Peru, the world’s largest cocaine producers, Ecuador serves as a departure port
The Onion has some serious things to say in defense of parody. The satirical site that manages to persuade people to believe the absurd has filed a US Supreme Court brief in support of a man who was arrested and prosecuted for making fun of police on social media. “As the globe’s premier parodists, the Onion’s writers also have a self-serving interest in preventing political authorities from imprisoning humorists,” lawyers for the Onion wrote in a brief filed on Monday. “This brief is submitted in the interest of at least mitigating their future punishment.” The court filing does not entirely keep a straight face, calling the federal judiciary “total Latin dorks.” The Onion said it employs 350,000 people, is read by 4.3 trillion people and “has grown into the single most powerful and influential organization in human history.” The Supreme Court case involves Anthony Novak, who was arrested after he spoofed the Parma, Ohio, police force in Facebook posts. The posts were published over 12 hours and included an announcement of new police hiring “strongly encouraging minorities to not apply.” Another post promoted a fake event in which child sex offenders could be “removed from the sex offender registry and accepted as an honorary police officer.” After being acquitted of criminal charges, the man sued the police for violating his constitutional rights, but a federal appeals court ruled the officers have “qualified immunity” and threw out the lawsuit. One issue is whether people might reasonably have believed that what they saw on Novak’s site was real. The Onion said Novak had no obligation to post a disclaimer. “Put simply, for parody to work, it has to plausibly mimic the original,” the Onion said, citing its own tendency to mimic “the dry tone of an Associated Press news story.” More than once, people have republished the Onion’s claims as true, including when
RUSSIA Agency eyes longer ISS deal Roscosmos is discussing with Moscow a continuation of its participation in the International Space Station (ISS) past 2024, a space agency official said on Monday. Sergei Krikalev, head of human space flight programs at Roscosmos, told reporters that the agency had started “to discuss extending our participation in ISS program with our government and hope to have permission to continue next year.” Amid strained ties with the West over the war in Ukraine, Roscosmos Director-General Yuri Borisov over the summer announced that Russia would leave the ISS “after 2024,” and seek to build its own space station. Krikalev said that building a new station would not happen quickly, “so probably we will keep flying until we will have any new infrastructure.” UNITED STATES Trump sues CNN Former president Donald Trump on Monday sued CNN, seeking US$475 million in damages, saying the network defamed him in an effort to short-circuit any potential political campaign. The lawsuit, filed in US District Court for Southern District of Florida, focuses primarily on the term “the big lie” about Trump’s false claims of widespread fraud that he says cost him the 2020 presidential election to President Joe Biden. CNN said it had no comment on the lawsuit. Trump repeatedly attacked CNN as president, which resonated with his conservative followers. He has similarly filed lawsuits against big tech companies with little success. His case against Twitter for knocking him off its platform following the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6 last year was thrown out by a California judge earlier this year. NICARAGUA Family of opposition charged Two women with dual French and Nicaraguan citizenship are to be tried on charges of conspiring to undermine national integrity and spreading disinformation, a court order released on Monday showed. The women have been detained. At the request of prosecutors, Judge Rolando
A man dressed as demon king Ravana performs during the Bathukamma festival dedicated to the Hindu goddess Gauri in Hyderabad, India, on Monday. The festival celebrated primarily in India’s Telangana region coincides with Navratri, or the festival of nine nights.