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Friday, November 15, 2013

French Priest Kidnapped in Cameroon

Boko Haram mujahideen kidnapped French priest Georges Vandenbeusch, in Nguetchewe, Cameroon for ransom this week. “His suitcase was found on the road to Nigeria with only a chequebook in it,” Monseigneur Gerard Daucourt, the bishop in Paris responsible for Vandenbeusch. Cameroonian officials suggested the father was likely targeted by the Nigerian rebel group for sheltering Nigerians who had fled across the border from Boko Haram’s insurgency against the Nigerian government. Nine months ago Boko Haram kidnapped a French family living in the same area, freeing them in April after more than $3m was paid in ransom.

Political Prisoners Released in Myanmar

In what Myanmar officials called an act of “loving kindness”, 69 political prisoners were released today, granted amnesty as part of President Thein Sein’s promise to free all such prisoners before the new year. Ko Talkie of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Myanmar (AAPP) told Reuters the freed prisoners include general Ne Win, who seized power in a 1962 coup and ruled until 1988, when he was deposed by other generals. As well as Aye Ne Win and Kyaw Ne Win, grandsons of former dictator who were imprisoned in 2002 for attempting to overthrow the junta along with Sayalay Aung Pwint Khaung, a sorcerer accused of performing black magic rituals to ensure the coup’s success. All three were released in today’s amnesty.

AAPP believes roughly 230 people are still imprisoned for their political proclivities. “We continue to receive reports of peaceful activists and human rights defenders being harassed and at risk of imprisonment for nothing but expressing their opinion,” Amnesty International said in a statement following Friday’s release. “This has to end immediately, otherwise releases like the one today will be meaningless.”

Canadian Police Bust Child Pornography Ring

According to Canadian police, 386 children around the world were “rescued from child exploitation” as part of Project Spade, a global child pornography investigation which has also led to the arrest of 348 people. “It is alleged that officers seized hundreds of thousands of videos detailing horrific sexual acts against very young children, some of the worst that they have ever viewed,” Inspector Joanna Beaven-Desjardins said. Her department’s investigation began when Brian Way was accused of running a company that distributed child pornography videos. Police believe Way, currently in prison, instructed people around the world to create the videos of children ranging from 5 to 12 years of age, then distributed those videos to international customers. The videos included naked boys from Germany, Romania, and Ukraine, which it marketed as naturist movies and claimed were legal in Canada and the United States.

Violence in Libya

At least a score of people lay dead in Tripoli today, as gunmen reportedly opened fire on protesters who had marched from a downtown mosque to the Misrata militia’s Tripoli headquarters calling for their exit from Libya’s capital. More than 200 others were injured in the ensuing bedlam. Today’s violence is the worst since the 2011 revolution which toppled Muammar al-Gaddafi. Despite efforts to tame the militias which played instrumental roles in that revolution, the weak central Libyan government has instead been cowed by increasing threats of violence.

Libyan television footage shot early in the confrontation showed men running, carrying bodies, as they retreated down a street, pursued by the militia fighters in trucks who directed bursts of gunfire from the antiaircraft guns mounted in their truck beds. “They were shooting directly at us. They were shooting from the streets. They were ready for us,” said Khaled Attwibi, an IT engineer for Libya’s elected parliament. “There were kids with us,” he added. A number of protestors demanded the head of Tripoli city council use force to expel the armed men.

Weekend Read: The Nazi Anatomists

The work of Hermann Stieve, head of the University of Berlin’s Institute of Anatomy in the 1940′s, continues to have important medical and political ramifications. But it’s also the result of materials seized from the corpses of political prisoners executed during the Third Reich. Emily Bazelon details the haunting effect Stieve’s work continues to have on society for Slate.

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