Sectarian bloodshed kills 52
A wave of violence on Friday killed 52 people, most of whom were kidnapped and shot dead with their corpses abandoned, in scenes harking back to the country’s sectarian war. The killings come amid a surge in violence that has left more than 600 people dead this month, including several who were snatched from their homes, only for their bodies to be found later. Violence on Friday struck in Baghdad and mostly Sunni Arab parts of the north and west, with shootings and bombings targeting civilians, local officials, security forces and even a brothel.
Rebels end ceasefire
Separatist Tuareg rebels said on Friday they were ending a five-month-old ceasefire with the government and taking up arms following violence in the northern city of Kidal. The declaration came a day after troops clashed with stone-throwing protesters who blocked a visit by the prime minister to the city, a northern rebel stronghold. Several demonstrators were wounded, but there were conflicting accounts of how the incident started.
Child rapist, killer freed
A court on Friday ordered the immediate release of a man who raped and killed three children, cutting his prison time by 10 years in line with a European human rights ruling. The killer, Miguel Ricart, was the latest convict to benefit from an Oct. 21 ruling by the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights. The Strasbourg court said the country had acted illegally by retroactively cutting short the years of remission that an ETA prisoner had earned from good behavior. Ricart raped and killed young girls Miriam, Toni and Desiree in 1992 in the eastern Valencia region, a crime that shocked the country. He was condemned to 170 years in jail in 1997, although he actually faced a maximum of 30 years.
Erotic frescoes brought to life
Naked artists posing as cavorting nymphs and satyrs star in a new exhibition that opened this week that features adapted images of some of the eye-catching erotic frescoes from the ancient Roman city of Pompeii. Among images that leave little to the imagination are a man having sex with a goat, a transsexual posing and a naked woman straddling a supine Roman god. “Even today when we talk about erotic works, it is difficult to show them, but as a politically incorrect museum, we thought that it was really interesting,” said Antonio Manfredi, director of the Contemporary Art Museum in Casoria and himself a model in one work. Manfredi said the culture ministry had attempted to “censor” the exhibition by initially giving the artists permission to photograph the frescoes, but then withdrawing approval when their intent became clear.
No Lawson drug use: Saatchi
Charles Saatchi says he has no knowledge of his ex-wife Nigella Lawson ever taking drugs — days after the release of an e-mail in which he referred to the celebrity chef as drug-addled. Saatchi testified on Friday at the fraud trial of two former personal assistants, who are accused of spending the former couple’s money on luxury goods. They deny wrongdoing. When asked if he believed allegations Lawson was so high she allowed the assistants to spend freely, Saatchi told the court “not for a second.” The art baron said it was a “terrible mistake” that an e-mail he had sent Lawson claiming she was on drugs was made public in court. Saatchi says he has “never, never seen any evidence of Nigella taking any drug whatsoever.”
Toronto mayor to host show
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and his brother say they will host an online show so they can take their message straight to “Ford Nation,” the term they use for the embattled mayor’s conservative suburban supporters. Doug Ford, a city councilor, told reporters on Friday that the show is meant to “get their message out and not have that message be twisted by the media.” After the mayor admitted to smoking crack in a “drunken stupor” and refused to resign, Toronto’s city council stripped him of most of his powers. The new online show follows last week’s airing of a single episode of a TV talk show hosted by the Fords that premiered on Sun News Network before it was cancelled. Network executives said Ford Nation was the highest-rated program ever on the two-year-old cable channel, but said it was too costly to make. Doug Ford said the new self-funded online series, also to be called Ford Nation, will be uploaded to YouTube before Christmas. “Numerous people have approached us around the world about doing a show and since technology has changed, you can get your message out easily to a larger audience on your own,” Doug Ford said.
Former KKK man charged
A former leader of the white supremacist group the Ku Klux Klan was arrested and charged with burning a cross in a black neighborhood in 2009, officials said on Friday. Steven Dinkle, 28, who was an “exalted cyclops,” the name given to leaders of the KKK, was charged in a five-count indictment on Wednesday over the burning of the large cross in the city of Ozark in the southern state of Alabama and with obstruction of justice, according to a statement. His mother, Pamela Morris, 45, the former secretary of the KKK chapter, was arrested on Nov. 21 for committing perjury before the grand jury investigating the cross burning. The indictment alleges Dinkle “conspired with another person to burn a cross in an African-American neighborhood to threaten and intimidate residents of that neighborhood and thereby interfere with their federally protected housing rights.” He is accused of having constructed a 1.8m cross, which he wrapped in jeans and a towel, transporting it to the entrance of the neighborhood, pouring fuel on it, sticking it in the ground and lighting it on fire. Dinkle is accused of then lying to investigators by saying he had quit the KKK before the cross burning, providing a false alibi and denying he knew an individual who was his superior in the KKK. Dinkle is charged with conspiracy to violate housing rights, criminal interference with the right to fair housing, using fire to commit a federal felony and two counts of obstruction of justice. If convicted on all counts, Dinkle faces up to 55 years in prison and US$1 million in fines.
Man arrested for child porn
Police said they have arrested a 29-year-old man on child pornography charges for using the Internet to lure about 500 kids into online sex. Arturo Dodero Tello, who was sought in several countries, “used the Internet and an e-mail he set up in Argentina to pose as a minor to seek friendship with boy, girl and teen victims,” General Cesar Cortijo said. “We have put behind bars the Spanish-speaking world’s worst known offender of minors unable to defend themselves,” Cortijo said after the suspect’s arrest on Thursday in Lima. His victims were located in Argentina, Peru, Chile, Spain and Ukraine, authorities said.
A senior UN official has said he is “alarmed” that a peaceful Australian climate protester has been jailed for 15 months — and refused bail before her appeal — amid global outrage at her “disproportionate” punishment. On Friday, Deanna “Violet” Coco was sentenced to 15 months in prison for blocking a single lane of traffic on the Sydney Harbour Bridge in April in a protest staged to draw attention to the global climate emergency. “I am alarmed at a NSW court’s prison term against climate protestor Deanna Coco and refusal to grant bail until a March 2023 appeal hearing, ” UN Special
SECOND ATTEMPT: An overhaul of the criminal code is expected this month, after a similar move was in 2019 stymied by large-scale protests in the Muslim-majority country The Indonesian parliament is this month expected to pass a new criminal code that would penalize sex outside marriage with a punishment of up to one year in jail, officials have said. The legislative overhaul would also ban insulting the Indonesian president or state institutions, and expressing any views counter to the country’s state ideology. Cohabitation before marriage is also banned. Decades in the making, the new criminal code is expected to be passed on Dec. 15, Indonesian Deputy Minister of Justice Edward Omar Sharif Hiariej said. “We’re proud to have a criminal code that’s in line with Indonesian values,” he told Reuters
CARROT-AND-STICK: Authorities tightened control over virtual private networks, which protesters used to access banned non-Chinese news and social media apps Chinese authorities have initiated the highest “emergency response” level of censorship, according to leaked directives, including a crackdown on virtual private networks (VPNs) and other methods of bypassing online censorship after unprecedented protests demonstrated widespread public frustration with the “zero COVID” policy. The crackdown, including the tracking and questioning of protesters, comes alongside the easing of pandemic restrictions in an apparent carrot-and-stick approach to an outpouring of public grievances. During an extraordinary week in China, protests against “zero COVID” restrictions included criticism of the authoritarian rule of Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) — which was further highlighted by the death of
EASING RESTRICTIONS: China has not approved any foreign COVID-19 vaccines and is opting for those produced domestically, the US Director of National Intelligence said Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) is unwilling to accept Western vaccines despite the challenges China is facing with COVID-19, and recent protests could affect his personal standing in the Chinese Communist Party, US Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said on Saturday. Although China’s daily COVID-19 cases are near all-time highs, some cities are taking steps to loosen testing and quarantine rules after Xi’s “zero COVID” policy triggered a sharp economic slowdown and public unrest. Despite the social and economic impact of the virus, Xi “is unwilling to take a better vaccine from the West, and is instead relying on a vaccine