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Monday, December 23, 2013

Iraq Skirts Syrian Embargo

According to shipping and payment documents acquired by Reuters, the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad has received massive quantities of crude oil from Iraq via an Egyptian port during the last nine months. While Assad’s administration has been blacklisted by Western governments, in an attempt to exhaust his war machine, the cache of Iraqi petroleum suggests Iran and Russia are no longer the only lifelines for the Syrian regime.

Meanwhile according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, more than 300 people were killed in Aleppo by so-called barrel bombs dropped from government helicopters. In what the Human Rights Watch calls as indiscriminate and unlawful, dozens of government airstrikes have struck civil targets. “Government forces have really been wreaking disaster on Aleppo in the last month, killing men, women, and children alike,” said Ole Solvang, senior emergencies researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The Syrian Air Force is either criminally incompetent, doesn’t care whether it kills scores of civilians – or deliberately targets civilian areas.

Mexican Smugglers Repatriated from Nicaragua

The Nicaraguan government has repatriated 18 jailed Mexican nationals caught posing as journalists in a bid to smuggle $9.2 million through the country. Nicaraguan security forces at checkpoint a few miles past the border with Honduras found stacks of cash hidden in six faux Televisa news vehicles last year, traces of cocaine were found on the money.

The caravan of six vehicles, $9.2 million, and 18 people entered the country telling Nicaraguan authorities they were to cover the trial of Henry Fariñas, the Nicaraguan music promoter who along with Argentine folksinger Facundo Cabral, was attacked by police-associated gunmen in Guatemala City in 2011, killing Cabral and injuring Fariñas. Fariñas was found guilty of facilitating drug shipments and money laundering activities for various drug trafficking organizations in the region. Why the faux journalists were attempting to enter the Fariñas trial remains unclear. All 18 smugglers were sentenced to 30 years in prison, which was cut to 18 on appeal. Nicaragua and Mexico share an agreement to allow prisoners to serve out their sentences in their respective home countries.

French Jail Italian Serial Killer

Italian serial killer Bartolomeo Gagliano, better known as the St. Valentine’s Beast, is once again behind bars today, this time in France. Gagliano was serving a sentence in Italy for extortion, when he was granted a good behavior pass last Tuesday, which he used to hijack a car and forced its driver to take him to Genoa, roughly 100 miles from the Franco-italian border. French police re-arrested him, and a Nice court convicted him of carrying forged papers and a gun. He’s been transferred to Aix-en-Provence where a court will decide whether to extradite him back to Italy to serve the remainder of his 2006 extortion sentence immediately.

Gagliano has already served sentences for three murders committed in the 1980s. He escaped from prison where he had been confined for murdering a woman in 1983 and held a family hostage, only after a shoot-out with police was he recaptured. Declared mentally ill by Italian courts, Gagliano earned his sobriquet in 1989 when he killed his third victim on Valentine’s Day after breaking out of a psychiatric ward.

AU Forces Kill During CAR Peacekeeping Mission

At least one person was killed after African Union forces opened fire on protesters in the Central African Republic. Roughly 40 others were injured, according to Medecins Sans Frontieres, in an ensuing stampede as protestors fled the airport in CAR’s capital Bangui. Demonstrators said members of the Chadian AU contingent drove their vehicle at the crowd after protestors lobbed rocks at them.

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