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Monday, December 9, 2013

L.A. Deputies Charged with Beating Prison Visitors

California grand jury indictments unsealed today reveal that 18 former or current Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department officials have been charged in five distinct criminal cases in connection with allegations of abuse inside L.A. County jails. Prosecutors allege that deputies assaulted jail inmates and visitors without justification, unjustly detained people, and then conspired to obstruct the federal investigation into misconduct at the Men’s Central Jail. In one of the cases prosecutors say L.A. deputies illegally arrested the Austrian consul and his wife, both of whom have diplomatic immunity, for walking near the doors going into the Men’s Central Jail visiting center.

In another, deputies are accused of beating Gabriel Carrillo in an off-camera deputy break room as he was attempting to visit his incarcerated brother. Carrillo, who was charged that day with battery against the deputies before prosecutors dropped the case due to lack of evidence, said today’s indictments mean “justice is being served.” “I feel like now people are starting to believe the cops aren’t always telling the truth,” he said. “Now it’s showing, don’t just take their word because they have a badge. Look at the facts.”

Clampdown in Kiev

As protests in Kiev moved into their third week, Ukrainian security forces moved against Euromaidan demonstrators to put down a week-long blockade of the government headquarters. Protesters manning those barricades rejoined compatriots in Independence Square, known colloquially as Maidan, where opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk called for resolve, telling several thousand people gathered there that police were ordered not to storm the encampment but to blockade the protest camp to deplete it of food and other amenities. To counter increased police presence, Yatsenyuk asked for reinforcements as well, “I am turning to all Ukrainians: You must all go to the heart of the Maidan.”

Meanwhile unidentifiedarmed people stormed the headquarters of the Ukrainian opposition party, Fatherland, stealing a number of computers. Party member Ostap Semerak said some troops were walking along the building’s corridors while others were climbing in through the windows. He called the situation “insane.” Jailed Fatherland leader Yulia Tymoshenko blamed police for the raid, but police have denied any involvement.

Today’s clampdown came after yesterday’s Euromaidan march which drew hundreds of thousands into the streets, perhaps the largest such demonstration since the 2004 Orange Revolution protests that annulled President Viktor Yanukovych’s first presidential victory. Perhaps in light of yesterday’s protest, Yanukovych announced today that he would sit down with three former Ukrainian presidents tomorrow to discuss a solution to the crisis that has gripped the country. The European Union’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, is also en route Kiev in a bid to avert further violence.

Riots in Singapore

Twenty-seven South Asian workers were arrested today for alleged rioting in Singapore as Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong ordered a probe into what is believed to be the worst such riot in more than 4 decades. According to police at least 18 people were injured when 400 people rioted after Sakthivel Kumaravelu was fatally hit by a private bus in Little India. Little India is typically busy on Sundays, with many construction workers from Bangladesh and India gathering there to spend their day off. A statement by the Civil Defense Force (CDF) said more than 300 police officers were deployed to counter the riot, in which a number of private cars, motorcycles, and police vehicles were torched.

The bus driver that killed Kumaravelu has been charged with “causing death by a negligent act” and is assisting investigators. Despite the riot lasting less than an hour, police have announced their intention to continue their investigation and hope to arrest more rioters in the coming days. Singapore Police Force Commissioner Ng Joo Hee said, “As far as we know now, there was no Singaporean involved in the riot.”

Israel, Jordan, Palestine Sign Landmark Water Deal

According to the World Bank’s Water Practice, representatives from the Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian governments have signed a trilateral agreement which will see more than 100 million cubic meters of water change hands. Alexander McPhail, the lead water and sanitation specialist at the World Bank, told The Jerusalem Post a number of initiatives will begin as a result of this signing. Perhaps most saliently, the development of a desalination plant near Aqaba, the potable water from which will be shared by Israel and Jordan, and the salty brine refuse will be piped 125 miles to the Dead Sea. Israel has pledged to increase the annual releases of water from Lake Kinneret to Jordan and increase its sales of water to the Palestinian Authority.

“This is a historic agreement that realizes a dream of many years and the dream of [Zionist leader Theodore] Herzl,” said Israeli Regional Cooperation and Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom “The agreement is of the highest diplomatic, economic, environmental and strategic importance.”

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