Controversy stirs from Israeli soldier’s conviction for killing Palestinian attacker

Azaria’s relatives screamed in the courtroom as the verdict was being read. In March 2016, two Palestinians stabbed and wounded an Israeli soldier on patrol in the West Bank city of Hebron. At one point, he raised his weapon and shot the injured Sharif in the head at close range. The court said it gave weight to testimony the soldier said at the scene that the Palestinian deserved to die because he stabbed his fellow soldier. Defense lawyers argued the soldier was told the Palestinian attacker was wearing an explosive device, and shot him so he wouldn’t set it off. Many in Israel see these weighty questions — and the complexity of Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians — now weighing on one 20-year-old soldier’s shoulders. How has the case reverberated in Israel? The footage went viral and immediately sparked controversy, leading to the soldier’s trial for manslaughter. How did Sharif’s family react? Many Palestinians say this was just one of numerous cases of excessive use of force against Palestinians by Israeli troops. What happened? Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank has been brought to the fore recently. But some of his senior cabinet ministers are calling for major changes, like annexing the West Bank to Israel, and blocking the creation of a Palestinian state. And many in the Israeli public, including some Israeli cabinet ministers, said Palestinians who stab Israelis must be prepared to be killed. A Palestinian man on the street took out his video camera and filmed what happened next. His sentencing is scheduled for Jan. The president does. They say a soldier cannot execute a man if the man is incapacitated and no longer posing a threat, even if he is the enemy. Sharif’s father said he smoked two packs of cigarettes out of nervousness as he watched the verdict being delivered live on Israeli television. So has Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, although he does not have the power to grant it. Some Israeli cabinet ministers   and one prominent Israeli opposition lawmaker   called for a pardon to be granted to Azaria.

Sgt. Elor Azaria is only the second soldier to be convicted of manslaughter since the year 2000, and the case has caused a major rift in Israeli society. A long courtroom drama has come to an end: An Israeli military court has convicted a 20-year-old soldier of manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a 21-year-old Palestinian attacker, which was caught on video.Player utilitiesPopout
downloadListen to the Story. How did Azaria’s family and supporters respond to the ruling? 15. Here’s why this story matters. But a large swath of the Israeli public sympathized with the soldier, saying he was sent to a tough spot in the West Bank to defend the country at a tense time, and should not be punished for his actions in the heat of the moment. In the majority of the cases, Israeli troops or armed civilians responded to an attack or an attempted attack by shooting the Palestinian and killing or injuring him or her. The military judge said Azaria’s lines of defense were contradictory. Some carried signs with slogans like “Today it’s Elor, tomorrow it’s your son.” One demonstrator carried a Donald Trump banner. Israeli military leaders said Azaria’s shooting Sharif was against Israeli military ethics. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he supports granting clemency to the soldier. He said he was very happy with the result. The court said he acted out of revenge, not self-defense. US   Secretary of State John Kerry said in a major speech in December that the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is in peril. The majority of Israeli Jewish high school graduates are conscripted into the army, and many feel this soldier could have been anyone’s child. But the defense also argued the Palestinian was dead before the soldier shot him. The context is important: This shooting took place during a tense period of stabbing attacks by Palestinians against Israeli soldiers and civilians. Israeli troops immediately responded during the stabbing attack, shooting the two Palestinian attackers. One died, while the other, 21-year-old Abdul Fattah al-Sharif, remained injured face up in the street. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he supports the creation of a demilitarized Palestinian state alongside Israel. Human rights groups and Palestinians accused   Israel of excessive use of force in those incidents. One woman screamed “disgusting leftists,” while the soldier’s mother cried out to the judges:   “You should be ashamed of yourselves.”
Outside the courtroom, hundreds of the soldier’s   supporters gathered, briefly blocking a busy intersection. Azaria, a medic who was then 19 years old, stood at the scene with other soldiers. Why did the court convict the soldier? They hope President-elect Donald Trump will support those moves. Why does this case matter now?

What the ‘hack’?

“This idea of chopping something ends up getting used in sports, in which you can talk about a golf player who isn’t really good and just ‘hacks’ at the ball,” Zimmer says. “It actually all goes back to an undergraduate group at MIT called the Tech Model Railroad Club,” Zimmer says. You can hack the electoral process. Unsurprisingly, this nerdy-sounding club kept copious records and in the minutes of one of their 1955 meetings there’s one of the first mentions of the word:
“Mr. The correct term for this sense is cracker.”

For a time in the 1980s, computer programmers, self-identified “hackers,” tried to reclaim the word by trying to create a distinction between good and bad hacks. One version of the word goes back to the Middle English of the 13th century and means “to cut with heavy blows” and chopping. The etymology of the word “hack” can be traced to two different iterations of the word, according to Zimmer. MIT is known for its elaborate pranks and,   according to Zimmer, the word garnered an association with mischief early on. “They said, ‘People who do these bad things of breaking into computer systems, those are actually ‘crackers.’ Well that didn’t really work and hacker to this day has this negative connotation frequently,” Zimmer   says. There are mentions in the MIT newspapers of the 1960s about pranks involving the “hackers” of the MIT phone system. “There were positive and negative uses of that word ‘hack’ going back to the MIT days,” Zimmer says. Hence   password hacker,   network hacker. “Then there were all of these media accounts of people taking over computer systems and doing bad things; hijacking computer systems for malicious ends and that’s when the negative sense of it really caught on in the public consciousness.”
However, the pejorative sense of the word that we hear in the media (think Russian hackers) was just a tiny portion of the word’s meaning within programming circles. Listen to the full interview. You can hack a recipe. So we also have things like political hacks or party hacks or a hack writer — all of these since that come out of the oridinary horse, back in the olden days,” says Zimmer. The term today is an intermingling of these two different etymologies and the word really caught on in the 1980s, according to Zimmer. We keep hearing that what Russia allegedly did was hack the election.Player utilitiesPopout
downloadThis story is based on a radio interview. Eccles requests that anyone working or hacking on the electrical system turn the power off to avoid fuse blowing.”
In 1959, the TMRC put out a dictionary of their club’s terminology, which included the word “hack.”
“They gave definitions including, ‘something done without constructive end; a project undertaken on bad self-advice; an entropy booster; or as a verb to produce or to attempt to produce a hack,’” says Zimmer. “That ordinary horse then got extended to people —   if you were hackneyed or [a] hack, that meant you were a drudge. Its association with technology goes back to MIT in the 1950s, says Ben Zimmer, language columnist for the Wall Street Journal. As computers took off, the term was seamlessly adopted by computer programmers. “You could do something as a hack that was clever and create   a solution to a problem that an engineer might come up — but then there was also this darker side that we also see that’s more like malicious meddling.”
In fact, in software developer Eric Raymond’s 1975 “comprehensive compendium of hacker slang”   — known as the Jargon File   —   the word “hacker” has a list of eight definitions, and only the last entry has a negative connotation. “8. “There was a book about the computer programming revolution called ‘Hackers’ that used it in a generally positive way,”   Zimmer says.

Hack seems to mean so many things. The other version of the word goes back to the old French word “hackney,”   which meant an average work horse that could be leased out for a horse and carriage. [deprecated] A malicious meddler who tries to discover sensitive information by poking around. And apparently, you can hack life.

What 2017 could bring for millions of displaced Syrians

10, 2015. Syrian refugees wait to board a Jordanian army vehicle after crossing into Jordanian territory with their families, in the   Rukban border area, near the northeastern Jordanian border with Syria   and Iraq, Sept. Michel Aoun’s election as Lebanese president at the end of October   is expected to lead to even greater restrictions on Syrian refugees. In Lebanon, over   a million refugees from Syria are obliged to pay a prohibitive fee every year to renew their residence permits to remain in the country legally, and face numerous restrictions on formal employment. These IDPs include Syrian citizens, as well as   430,000 Palestinian refugees, an estimated   5,000 stateless Kurds   and thousands of Iraqi refugees. In Turkey,   38 percent of all Syrian refugees   are in the poor regions of the southeast. Lives and livelihoods
Despite significant press attention to refugee camps like Jordan’s Zaatari and Azraq   camps,   fewer than 10 percent   of all refugees from Syria across the Middle East actually live in camps. In addition to   closing 17 of its 19 border crossings, Turkey routinely used physical force   to prevent Syrian refugees from entering its territory last year. In June, Jordan effectively closed its border with Syria, citing security concerns. Syria’s internally displaced people (IDPs)   remain at risk both within the towns and cities they once called home, and also when attempting to escape. As a result, hundreds of thousands of women and children continue to engage in   unsafe and exploitative forms of labor   to survive. Turkey has been heralded for accepting such a large number of Syrians and   for officially developing policies to grant Syrians the right to work legally in the country. Credit:

Osman Orsal/Reuters

Even Turkey, which has been heralded as having the most accessible border policy out of these three countries, started building a   concrete wall   along its 500-mile border with Syria in 2014. Newcomers can only enter formal employment if they are sponsored by a Lebanese employer through a system which effectively leads to exploitative labor. Credit:

Muhammad Hamed/Reuters

At the Rukban border crossing, in the far northeast of Jordan, the number of people in the border camps has been increasing dramatically. Credit:

Muhammad Hamed/Reuters

The international community is encouraging host states to grant Syrian refugees legal access to the labor market in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey to overcome these vulnerabilities. Only one delivery   of humanitarian aid reached the   Rukban camp   between June and August, and satellite images showed   graves and burial sites   there. To put this figure into context,   a total of   884,461 Syrian refugees   applied for asylum in Europe between April 2011 and October 2016. This has meant that increasing numbers of refugees from Syria are   forced to live in hiding. Satellite images   published by Amnesty International showed that 90 shelters were present in July 2014. Employment opportunities in these poor towns and cities, even in the informal market, remain low, and large proportions of both refugees and host communities continue to live in acute poverty. Aoun, along with   other political leaders   in Lebanon, has proposed the creation of “safe zones” within Syria, with the expectation that refugees in neighboring countries could be moved back. However, such deliveries remain under threat, as do the lives of the camps’ residents. But given high unemployment and impoverishment levels among each country’s own citizens, this seems   unlikely. As 2016 drew to a bloody close in Syria and the government took back control over eastern Aleppo, over   4.8 million   Syrian refugees   continued to seek safety and a means of living a dignified life across the Middle East. A Syrian refugee man sits by a   fire at the Zaatari refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria, Dec. Aoun’s   inaugural speech   called directly for Syrian refugees to return to their country of origin, irrespective of the conflict. By the end of July 2016, the number   had increased to 6,563, and by September it was   8,295. As a result, more than 75,000 Syrian refugees have spent more than six months   stranded   on the Syrian-Jordanian border, including in the Rukban and Hadalat camps. There are 2.8 million   Syrians currently registered in Turkey, over a million in Lebanon, and around 656,000 in Jordan. Syrian men are particularly vulnerable to arrest at the many checkpoints across Lebanon and can find themselves at risk of immediate deportation. More than 4.3 million   live alongside   host communities   in cities, towns and rural areas across Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey —   in addition to hundreds of thousands of   new and established Palestinian and Iraqi refugees. A similar sponsorship system exists in Jordan and Turkey. Turkish soldiers stand guard as a Syrian refugee boy waits behind the border fences to cross into Turkey on the Turkish-Syrian border, near the southeastern town of Akcakale in Sanliurfa province, Turkey, June 5, 2015. Continually seeking safety
More than   6.3 million   people   remained displaced inside Syria’s borders at the end of 2016. But between   last January and April, only 2,000   Syrians applied for permission to work in Turkey, and the actual number of permits issued remains undisclosed. Regional and international leaders alike have a great deal to learn from the humanity and hospitality of these communities. Borders will become tougher to cross
As in Jordan, Lebanon’s border controls have been increasing over the past year, with border closures and forcible returns to Syria occurring on and off since at least 2013. Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon have for over   60 years been prohibited from employment in over 20 professions, including medicine, law and engineering. This year will invariably witness new and ongoing border closures and forcible returns over the Turkish-Syrian border, in light of the ongoing unrest across Turkey and the   EU-Turkey deal   that allows European states to return those refugees who have crossed the Mediterranean to Turkey. In Jordan, an estimated   93 percent   of Syrian refugees in urban areas   are living under the poverty line. This deal has helped to provide an air of legitimacy for Turkey to close its border with Syria in the name of protecting the EU, while sacrificing refugees from Syria in the process. The camp was reportedly struck by a   car bombing   in October and an   IED explosion   in mid-December. Meanwhile, a media focus on international forced migration continues to leave internal displacement largely invisible to international audiences. It also hides the realities of of millions of Syrians who are physically prevented from crossing Syria’s borders to its neighboring countries. It is due to be completed by spring 2017. The international community has not yet supported such a proposal, which — history clearly tells us —   could result in the creation of hypermilitarized zones that are far from “safe” for those corralled there. A version of this   story was originally published by The Conversation. As early as 2012, Jordan had already   barred   the entry of certain groups of refugees fleeing Syria: all   Palestinian refugees who had been living in Syria,   unaccompanied men without family ties in Jordan   and people without valid identity documents. Here’s what the new year could bring for millions of these Syrians. 18, 2016. In one city, Kilis, they make up 49 percent of the population. What will 2017 bring for those people who have been displaced by the ongoing Syrian conflict? As states continue to develop increasingly restrictive policies, and as the international community continues to fail to deliver its promises to meaningfully support Syrian refugees,   local communities   will continue to be the most important sources of support, even when they themselves are highly vulnerable. Desperately needed aid deliveries resumed in   October.

A father remembers when Korea was one country. His son dreams of seeing the same someday.

World War II ended, the Japanese army left Korea, and communism took over in the north. In 1975, he began working at Livermore National Laboratory, a US nuclear weapons research facility. It was the start of a journey that would bring the Kang family to the United States. “That’s what I will do.”

David Kang and his father,   Sang-Wook Kang. “One day, he burned the deeds. “The fact that North Korea has nuclear weapons is, sadly, one of the reasons that unification — or solving the problem — is so hard,” he said. In early 2016, after North Korea claimed to test a hydrogen bomb and put a satellite in orbit, the collaboration ended. “He is a good son. “Everywhere else in the world, no matter how bad it is, the Cold War is over,” reflected the younger Kang. “Just to give them the message, you have to make them feel that we are stronger,” he remembers thinking. “I’m glad I pass on that desire to my son,” he said. And so, when Kang joined   the laboratory, he was asked a question. Livermore scientists often played “war games,” which helped them imagine what might happen in the event of a nuclear war.

But they let him through — and on the other side, in an industrial city called Kaesong, he spoke Korean with workers who could almost be considered his countrymen. It’s the optimism that stems from a family bond, a family’s commitment to its roots. “We’re back now to where we were 10 years ago.”
David Kang and his father, Sang-Wook Kang, have learned to live with the yearning for a reunified Korea. Credit:

Courtesty of   David C. But it was also deeply personal. What’s more, his encounter with communism in northern Korea had made him fiercely anti-communist — a stance that shaped his career as a physicist. David Kang holds a memorial banner from his visit to Kaesong, North   Korea. “You couldn’t do even experiments because both sides bombed the heck out of the infrastructure.”
At 20 years old, Kang left Korea to study in the United States. The whole family moved south, to Seoul. “Very fond memories,” he told me, sitting in his living room in Livermore, California. When I described his son’s dream of a unified Korea, his raspy voice grew warm. “It was emotional just going through,” Kang said. In other words, Sang-Wook Kang can’t go home in part because of the same logic of deterrence he embraced at Livermore National Laboratory. His optimism has eroded over the years, he said. The city of Kaesong helped   keep alive the memory of a unified Korea. His ancestors had lived in the same town for centuries. “To do that the only way is nuclear.” Kang believed in the Cold War concept of deterrence: the idea that if two countries have the power to destroy each other, neither one will. Dreams of reunification have been tested and thwarted many times in recent decades. “I’m the 39th generation of this family,” said the younger Kang. “Especially the prospect of being alive, with my son.” Now he thinks that the North Korean regime may outlive him. For more than a decade, it was home to collaboration across the demilitarized zone, or DMZ, dividing north and south. Alongside stories about Sang-Wook Kang’s homeland of Korea, the younger Kang heard about Cold War concepts like deterrence. But Sang-Wook Kang has a different kind of optimism. This was the height of the Cold War. “I wouldn’t, no,” he replied. “I would love to fly to Seoul, with my father,” he said. “Except one place — and that’s North and South Korea.”
Kang became an expert on the place of his father’s birth and co-published a book called “Nuclear North Korea.”
The irony, Kang said, is that as long as North Korea has nuclear weapons, it’s unlikely that his father will see his hometown again. A North Korean employee works in the   factory of a South Korean company at the Joint Industrial Park in the Kaesong industrial zone, a few miles inside North Korea from the heavily fortified border, Dec. Proud of him.” His father was born in northern Korea, 81 years ago. He used to be almost certain it would happen during his lifetime. “And drive — and go see where he was born.” The thought made his eyes well up with tears. South Korean companies there employed 50,000 North Korean workers. Both men know from experience,   and from research into the impact of nuclear weapons,   how deeply the divisions run. Credit:

Courtesy of David Kang

A few days later, I visited Sang-Wook Kang in Livermore, and asked him what he thinks his hometown looks like today. Though he mostly worked on energy projects, any work on the nuclear arsenal would have been classified. He remembers ice skating in winter and swimming in summer. They didn’t like it when he tried to snap some pictures.Player utilitiesPopout
downloadListen to the Story. He took a deep breath. 19, 2013. “To be in the northern side, with real North Korean people.”
The trip was a treasure trove of information for Kang, a professor of Korean studies at the University of Southern California. Kang said yes. If the US wanted him to help build nuclear weapons, would he? At first, he planned to go back, but then he met his American wife at the University of California, Berkeley. I asked Kang what he’ll do if that day comes. But David Kang believes that, just as the stalemate of the Cold War had to end, Korea will reunify one day. “Politics took over,” Kang said. Credit:

Kim Hong-Ji   /Reuters

But the project, like so many efforts at Korean reconciliation,   didn’t last. A recent photo of Sang-Wook Kang at his home in Livermore, California. Credit:

Courtesy of David Kang

When the   Soviet Union disintegrated 25 years ago, the nuclear arms race seemed to be a thing of the past. Korea had a thousand-year history of unity, and the Kang family lived through it. At the border, guards inspected his US   passport. Ten years ago, David Kang walked from South Korea to North Korea. The Soviet Union was still considered America’s greatest adversary. He pointed to his bookshelf, which included a thick volume on the Korean war. “They grew up there, they got old there.”
But in 1945, all that changed. At 81, his voice is weak, but his stories are many. Kang went to graduate school in Korean studies. “‘Mum’ is the word.”
War games
David Kang first learned about nuclear weapons by listening to stories his father told. I asked Kang if, after two decades at Livermore National Laboratory, he would be allowed to say whether he’d actually helped construct nuclear weapons. “My guess is that the village is completely gone,” he said. “At the time, it was one,” Kang said. But in 2006, North Korea tested its first nuclear weapon, and suddenly the politics of the Cold War were back. “Used to be high,” he said. A family dreams of unity
North and South Korea have now been adversaries for 71 years. But their family history is also a reminder of the deep connections between North and South Korea. He was convinced that nuclear weapons were essential in the fight against the USSR. “It’s an extraordinary sense of belonging.”
‘I will never go back’
When Sang-Wook Kang was born in 1935, there was no North Korea. “Destroyed, in 1950 October.”
I asked Kang if he, like his son, still dreamed of seeing Korea reunified. Kang

In the years after Korea split in two, South Korea struggled to recover from the effects of war and partition. He said, ‘In my lifetime, I will never go back,’” Kang recalled. Landowners, including Sang-Wook   Kang’s grandfather, lost their rights. Though the Korean   peninsula was then occupied by the Japanese army, Kang describes his childhood as happy. Kang wanted to become a physicist in Seoul, but the country could barely provide electricity and sanitation   for its citizens. “My field of physics was in shambles,” he said. Kang hasn’t been back to his hometown in 71 years.

Trump’s public disagreement with intelligence community unprecedented and ‘adversarial’

On Twitter is one thing but just in public in general. He published a book last year on the Presidential Daily Briefing   called, “The President’s Book of Secrets.” He was himself a daily intelligence briefer for Cabinet-level officials under President George W. — Donald J. But he says “it certainly doesn’t build a good relationship. It’s for the president to get to know the intelligence community, and for the intelligence community to get to understand the preferences and style and policy direction of the incoming president. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 4, 2017
Trump is referring to the assessment of the CIA and FBI that Russia used cybertools to try to gain information and use it to influence the US election. And we’re not seeing that at the same level in this transition.”   
Priess points out it’s not clear what Trump has been briefed on yet. “We don’t have any record of a president-elect going public with disagreements on intelligence assessments and waging this out in the public sphere.

This thought came out Tuesday night:
The “Intelligence” briefing on so-called “Russian hacking” was delayed until Friday, perhaps more time needed to build a case. Bush. Listen to the full interview. If the president prefers to have judgments expressed in easy-to-digest short form, that’s doable, and there is precedent for that.” This kind of thing has not done before,” he says. And that’s been the goal of all presidential transitions, on both sides. Very strange! Let’s start this story with a tweet, since that’s the way President-elect Donald Trump seems to prefer communicating.Player utilitiesPopout
downloadThis story is based on a radio interview. He’s confident that assessments on Russia would have figured in any briefing he’s received, “and he may simply disagree with them.”
“On the other hand, he made some judgments and conclusions of his own about the likelihood of Russian interference before seeing that intelligence.”
Priess says the intelligence community will continue to try to adapt to the new president, and suggests “at one extreme that could mean producing the President’s Daily Brief in the form of tweet-length analysis. It was an assessment presented with “a high level of confidence,” but has not been accepted by Trump. Unnamed officials, quoted in different news media, said the intelligence community sees Trump’s tweet as “adversarial.”
“This kind of thing is simply unprecedented,” says David Priess, who spent his career in the CIA. The Obama administration has responded by letting it be known that the intelligence briefing had always been scheduled for Friday. Priess declined to comment on morale inside the intelligence community, or whether they see this tweet as adversarial.

Mexico’s peso is tanking, and a new administration in Washington isn’t expected to help

From her base in Mexico City, reporter Karla Zabludovsky has been writing about it for BuzzFeed News. 1 and frustrated by the currency’s ongoing fall — the peso lost about 20 percent against the dollar last year — Mexicans were confronted Tuesday with Ford’s announcement that it had scrapped plans to build a $1.6 billion plant in Mexico. Since Donald Trump’s election, Mexico’s economy has been reeling.Player utilitiesPopout
downloadListen to the Story. “This bloodbath could continue in a massive way for the next few months.”
The peso was the second-worst performing major currency in the world last year, behind the post-Brexit UK pound. Its deep tumble is widely attributed to a number of factors: a fall in oil prices, the resignation of the president of the Mexican central bank last month — and Trump’s victory. She told us the streets there erupted in protests this week in response to spiking gas prices. … “This catches us at a moment of enormous complexity,” said Armando Rios Piter, a senator from the opposition Democratic Revolutionary Party.

The latest blow is a hike in the price of gasoline. Still reeling from a sharp increase in gas prices on Jan. And she filed this report on the latest for BuzzFeed:
If Mexico ended 2016 concerned about the consequences of US President-elect Donald Trump’s protectionist economic policies, it has grown outright fearful in 2017. Earlier that day, Trump threatened General Motors with a “big border tax” for building one of its compact car models south of the border. Read the rest of the story here.  

Britain’s Brexit plans are rocked by the resignation of the UK’s ambassador to the EU

“He was very competent, but not convinced by the Brexit decision and the British government line, leading the UK into an area of dangerous uncertainty.”
In the June 2016 referendum, 52 percent voted for Britain leave the EU. Triggering Article 50 will start a two-year countdown after which Britain will leave all the institutions and the single market unless alternative arrangements have been agreed. Rogers urged colleagues to provide British ministers with their “unvarnished” understanding through Brexit negotiations — “even where this is uncomfortable.”
“I hope you will continue to challenge ill-founded arguments and muddled thinking and that you will never be afraid to speak the truth to those in power,” Rogers said. ‘Massive’ headache for May
The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported that May and her senior team had “lost confidence” in him over his “pessimistic” view of Brexit. British diplomatic sources at the time of the leaked “10 years” comments voiced suspicions that he may have been knifed in the back by pro-Brexit forces who wanted him out. “His resignation is not a surprise for those who work with him,” one European diplomat told AFP. Speak truth to power
“We do not yet know what the government will set as negotiating objectives for the UK’s relationship with the EU after exit,” he said, revealing that the embassy was no clearer on the issue than what May has made public. “We regret the loss of a very professional, very knowledgeable while not always easy interlocutor and diplomat, who always loyally defended the interests of his government,” said Natasha Bertaud, a spokeswoman for the commission, the EU’s executive arm. The Guardian described it as “a blow for this country,” while the choice of his successor would send a “critical” message to other European capitals. Rogers said Tuesday he accepted his departure would add to the “uncertainty” over the coming years of Brexit negotiations. The mild-mannered Rogers is widely respected in Brussels where he is known as a vastly experienced operator. The European Commission said Wednesday it regretted, just as London prepared to launch fraught Brexit divorce negotiations. The government insisted, though, that he was only reporting back what was being said in European capitals. Ivan Rogers’ resignation from his position as the UK’s ambassador to the EU shed new light on the difficulties faced by Prime Minister Theresa May, who wants to hand in Britain’s notice for withdrawing from the European Union by the end of March. The unexpected departure “delighted Brexiteers but left the PM with a massive New Year headache,” said The Sun newspaper. London is set to appoint a new ambassador and deputy ambassador shortly. However, he left with some pointed remarks in his resignation email to staff at the UK’s EU embassy. He also criticized the British government for its short supply of “serious multilateral negotiating experience” in London and said the structure of the UK’s negotiating team “needs rapid resolution.”
Rogers came under fire last month for saying it could take 10 years for Britain to conclude a trade deal with the EU. His critics say he is a europhile, but European diplomatic sources described him as being a realist. May has faced criticism for saying little about Britain’s divorce settlement objectives: Last month she went beyond her “Brexit means Brexit” mantra to specify that she wanted a “red, white and blue Brexit.”
And Rogers made clear that he knew little more about how Britain intended to tackle thrashing out its future relationship with the EU. The move to trigger the Article 50 mechanism would start a two-year clock ticking on sorting out future relations between Britain and the EU before it leaves the bloc. A highly-regarded diplomat who had been due to end his four-year stint in October, Rogers quit nine months early so his successor could see through the whole Article 50 process.

Families in Chicago are tired of gun violence. Will 2017 be different for them?

To date, only three arrests have been made in those shootings. And by the time I got there, I was saying in my head, ‘This can’t happen to me again.’ Because I have been the mother of seven kids, and I’ve lost four — two died in a fire and one died at birth.”
Robert’s older sister, Sharon Burgman-Owens, still feels the blistering sting of loss that came with her brother’s death. “I took out my anger with what happened to Mushy on all teenagers,” says Burgman-Owens. Arthur Morris, the grandfather of Tacarra Morgan, a 6-year-old girl who was hit by a stray bullet in July, says that justice should be sought even if community members are afraid to talk to the police. “I took off running, but for some reason my legs were just like lead.

Last year, violence there reached levels not seen since the late 1990s, with 3,550 shooting incidents and 762 murders. “The impact [of gun violence] isn’t just on the family, it’s on the whole community,” Smith says. Some in the Chicago Police Department, including Johnson, believe community members are reluctant to come forward to report gang-related crime because there is a fundamental distrust of law enforcement in the Windy City’s poorest communities. No, I didn’t want to be there anymore.”
When gun violence kills one person, it ripples through an entire family, she adds. Will 2017 be different for Chicago?Player utilitiesPopout
downloadListen to the Story. Robert’s friend, 14-year-old Delvon Harris, also died during the incident. “I heard it again and again from people in every neighborhood in the city, and also from criminologists, and I heard it from police,” Smith says. “I got bars on my doors — I couldn’t get the key to work to save my life,” she says. Though the shootings in 2016 placed the Windy City under a microscope, many there have been struggling with the pain of gun violence for decades, including Seonia Owens. And the city’s kids were often the unintended victims of a spiking crime rate. I had seen seven of my friends’ sons get killed and stuff, and [I wondered if] I was next. “My son had a friend who was about the size of the kid that killed my brother — I hated this kid.”
The family has since relocated to Kenosha, Wisconsin. He argues that law enforcement will aggressively search for suspects if one of their own is killed or injured, but not if a community member is. While the debate over justice and policing marches forward, Smith says Chicago is left in a vulnerable position. She lost her 15-year-old son, Robert “Mushy” Owens, when he was fatally shot in 1998. “It wasn’t safe for my family — people was getting killed. “When you take that one bullet, you have destroyed a whole family,” she says. “You might as well say you shot everybody.”
Though Robert Owens was killed nearly 20 years ago, his story is all too familiar for many families in Chicago. “The day Mushy got killed, my mind just went completely blank,” Owens says. Seonia Owens says she was crippled when she found out that her young son had been killed. “Forty-one shootings is just so much higher than any time in the last 10 years,” says Patrick Smith, a reporter for Chicago’s WBEZ. “It’s basically 2013, 2014   and 2015 combined.”
As gun violence claims more and more young victims in Chicago, residents are readjusting. “I left Chicago because I didn’t want to be there any more,” says Owens. According to authorities, Robert Owens was killed by a 12-year-old boy during a gang initiation. “That is certainly what you hear from police, but I don’t know if that’s true,” says Smith. “I talked to Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who leads our police department here, and he said he not only is seeing that callousness from gang members, but he thinks that people in the community are also not as shocked when an innocent victis is killed or wounded.”
“There’s no outrage when you see a young kid killed by a gang member, and I don’t understand that,” says Johnson. According to Smith, unintended gun deaths are being normalized among some residents. In 2016, children under the age of 13 were wounded or killed in 41 shootings, a figure that doubled from the previous year. “When you have something like this where an innocent kid can be shot and there are no repercussions for the people who do the shooting, it sends shock waves — it kind of means no one is safe, or at least that’s what I’m hearing from people.”
This story was first published as an interview on PRI’s The Takeaway, a public radio program that invites you to be part of the American conversation.

Finding the long-lost ‘City of the Monkey God’ in dense Honduras jungle

Mystery surrounds The Lost City of the Monkey God.  


Dave Yoder/ National Geographic Magazine  

So who were the people who lived in this grand City of the Monkey God? “In this case, they flew over the valley with this million-dollar LIDAR machine in the plane. “I can recall the very moment when I first saw that jaguar head coming out of the ground. And how did this city disappear back in the 16th century?
— Grand Central Pub (@GrandCentralPub) December 16, 2016 They were all almost entirely buried, with only the tops visible, like stone icebergs. It was a treacherous undertaking. “But when we saw these images,” Preston says, “you didn’t have to be an archaeologist to see a pyramid, plazas, mounds, terracing — it was incredible and stretching for several miles along this valley.”

The jungle at dawn, seen from the banks of the unknown river flowing through the valley, 2015. stumbled over a cache of objects at the base of the pyramid that would prove to be of singular importance. A shout went up and everyone crowded in to see. As we were strolling past a leafy hollow in the drenching rain, a team member spied, peeking from the leaves, the carved head of a snarling jaguar. David Yoder photographed the artifacts using a special   “light-painting” photographic technique. Seeking the lost city, also called “the White City,” is a fabled search adventurers have taken on since conquistador times. The answers are all in Preston’s book. Even so, we had some close calls. Three years earlier, scientists had deployed advanced LIDAR (Light Imaging, Detection, And Ranging) technology to peer through the rainforest canopy to reveal a sprawling ancient metropolis. Read all about it in Douglas Preston’s new book, available for pre-order. The objects took shape in the forest twilight: vessels with carved rims; thrones decorated with the heads of half-animal, half-human deities; bowls; and effigies. What had been theoretical became real: this spirited image had been created by people who were confident, accomplished, and formidable. In three days they mapped the valley; the next day they had an image of the ground with the trees removed, and the reaction of the scientists was something I’d never seen before.”
Preston has detailed the experience in a new book, “The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story.”
The archaeologists Preston followed had the advantage of detailed survey maps to guide them to precise locations. Just poking out of the ground were the tops of dozens of stone sculptures. What was their   fate after Christopher Columbus and Europeans arrived to the New World? “On the third day, we … In his book, Preston writes about one of the team’s first moments of discovery in the jungle:
“We had to win every foot by machete, our blades marked with stripes of pink Day-Glo tape so we could avoid one another’s slashing strokes cutting through the vegetation. Preston says many of the scientists on the mapping expedition were skeptical there would be anything in this remote valley, and initially felt it was a crazy, obsessive search. Legend had it that an ancient metropolis was buried under centuries worth of jungle growth. It was an image that spoke directly across the centuries — forging an immediate, emotional connection to these vanished people. Gleaming with rain, it rose up snarling, as if struggling to escape the earth. Standing in the gloom among the ancient mounds, I could almost feel the presence of the invisible dead.”

The jaguar head as it first appeared emerging from the ground. This expedition was a success. The river valley where the team headed is near a corridor used by cocaine smugglers. When archaeologists ventured into a thick Honduran rainforest in 2015, they were searching in an unexplored valley for the remnants of a long-lost city. Credit:

Douglas Preston

The 2015 ground expedition was mounted in cooperation with Honduras. Deep in the forest, with the help of new technologies, scientists discovered the untouched ruins of a vanished culture: the so-called “Lost City of the Monkey God.”
“Usually an archaeological discovery takes a long time. There were mosquitos (and malaria) to contend with, not to mention jaguars and deadly snakes. There’s a lot of digging, you sit around doing nothing,” says Douglas Preston, who went along on the expedition.

Advocates suggest another option for US-bound Central Americans: Stay and work in Mexico

“Just as they were about to shoot him I bowed my head and I prayed to God: ‘Forgive him.’ They didn’t forgive him. “If anyone opens up a little stand, [the gangs] start to pressure them to pay monthly extortion fees. He asked that we use only his first name to protect his and his family’s safety. “They treated us worse than dogs,” he says. Only 123 of them were unaccompanied minors, children who crossed the border alone. As he sits on the bed in a room he shared with at least four other youths, he touches a brown, beaded rosary around his neck. It’s not clear how a President Donald Trump and his talk of a wall along the US-Mexico border might affect the plans of Central American migrants seeking to get to the US, and whether more of them might ask for protection in Mexico. And they’re all escaping violence or poverty back home. More: On the way to the US, children seeking asylum are often put in Mexico’s detention centers
But Solalinde says it shouldn’t be an option to send them home. Esteban admits the officer wasn’t wrong. In Esteban’s case, it was both. Those eligible for humanitarian visas include migrants who report being victims of a violent crime in Mexico, as well as those who might qualify for refugee status. He also accompanies them on the journey to Mexico City. So Esteban set off for the US in June to earn enough money to help his family move somewhere else in Honduras. He swam across the Rio Grande into Texas and then walked for two days in the desert. They also presented him with a new option: stay and work in Mexico. “Gangs are arriving in even the most distant towns,” Esteban says in Spanish. “I accompany them from the south to get them away from danger,” he says in Spanish. After that, he was held in a jail for two weeks for entering the US illegally. And that makes them more vulnerable to gangs. They shot him in the head and took his body away. Esteban, 19, arrived at the Adolescentes en el Camino   shelter   in July after he an another group of young migrants were transported by bus from Ixtepec, Oaxaca. Esteban got a job working in a thrift store, where he earned the equivalent of about US$40 per week. Still, Solalinde knows he can’t keep kids from leaving his shelter in Mexico City. Mexico apprehended close to 360,000 undocumented migrants from 2015 to October 2016, and it granted refugee status to a little more than 3,000 people. They made everyone take off their clothes to see if they were hiding money — and also to check if any of them had tattoos from rival gangs. “They face extortion, kidnapping, disappearance, sexual exploitation and trafficking.”
And that journey has only gotten more dangerous for Central Americans, as Mexico has stepped up immigration enforcement in the past few years. He played drums in church and soccer at school — he likes to joke that he become a fast runner and that came in handy when he had to outrun immigration authorities. But it wasn’t enough to help his family in Honduras so after four months at the shelter, he took off for Texas. “Given the increase in the crisis in their countries, meaning violence and poverty, teenagers can no longer live in their homeland,” he says. But it didn’t take long for him to run into the very problems he was trying to escape. Credit:

Valeria Fernández/PRI

When gangs arrived in his town and demanded that his family pay a cuota,   a monthly fee, they couldn’t afford it. Some advocates and analysts of Mexico’s immigration policies say that it could drive greater numbers of detentions and deportations of vulnerable migrants. If the US won’t help them, he says, Mexico should. Most of them have gone to Central Americans. “When he took off his shirt, they saw his tattoos. Valeria Fernández is a fellow of “Bringing Home the World,” a program from the International Center for Journalists, which helped make this report possible. Over the past year, officials say applications for refugee status in Mexico have soared. It’s like sharing ghost stories, but these are real. “I have a friend who can get me a job, and if I send that money to Honduras it would go a long way.”
The humanitarian visa Esteban obtained in Mexico made it easier for him to travel through the country by bus, out in the open. They don’t know what is to be poor or anything like that. One of them did. Before US immigration officers put him on a plane back to Honduras, he says that one of them tore up his Mexican humanitarian visa, so he wouldn’t try the journey again. Blood speaks to them,” he says during an interview in the shelter in July. I don’t know why.”
Esteban shakes when he talks about what he saw. All of them are young Central Americans traveling on their own, hoping to reach the US. Then he got caught and spent a couple of nights inside a Border Patrol processing cell known as a   hielera, or refrigerator because of how cold the facilities are. But given the opportunity, he says he would still do it again. Father Alejandro Solalinde runs several shelters for Central Americans across Mexico, and he helped open the shelter in Mexico City for young migrants where Esteban was staying. The visas are temporary — usually one year — but they can be renewed, and they’re faster and easier to get than refugee status. One day, when he was walking along the train tracks with other Central Americans, gang members stopped them and held them   at gun point. And you have to do it or they might kill your family.”
Esteban, 19, grew up on a farm in a small town in Honduras. “In the US you get paid in dollars,” he says. The number of humanitarian visas granted in the past year has more than doubled, from 1,303 to 2,951, according to immigration records. “I felt scared because those people don’t have pity. Esteban is one of a growing number of Central American migrants who have applied for Mexico’s humanitarian visas. I didn’t dare open my mouth because if I said anything they’d think I was his friend,” Esteban says. However, it didn’t help him on the US side of the border. The result has been that migrants are increasingly altering their routes to avoid checkpoints, pushing into more dangerous areas in the jungle. Late in the evening, Esteban and his new friends at the Adolescentes en el Camino shelter in Mexico City are sitting around a kitchen table, trading tales about their journey. Credit:

Valeria Fernández/PRI

On July 7, 2014 Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto launched a new southern border strategy known as “Plan Frontera Sur.” The plan promised to protect migrants, in part by conducting inspections on freight trains to prevent migrants from traveling on them. Central Americans making their way through Mexico are increasingly traveling through isolated areas to avoid checkpoints. He eventually made his way to Ixteptec, Oaxaca, where human rights advocates put him on a bus to the shelter in Mexico City, 500 miles away. Once Esteban crossed into Mexico, he traveled on foot and on top of freight trains to avoid immigration checkpoints.

With a deaf community of millions, hearing India is only just beginning to sign

“It makes me happy to see all of these people signing and learning.”
Sharma is also part of a society called Children of Deaf Adults (CODA). “The education system urgently needs to be updated to make the development of social and life skills easier as well.”
And this is before factoring in India’s high illiteracy rates — close to 26 percent according to the 2011 census — and the many villages short on public services. This group is chatting in Bangalore. “People can easily listen to and learn other languages, but they don’t try to learn sign language,” signed Chhetri, who is deaf. As Indian Sign Language is not formalized or widely taught, however, the signs themselves vary widely across regions and states. Every Saturday since April, Chettri and 15 to 20 others have met in Delhi’s public parks to teach and learn basic sign language for free. Credit:

Courtesy of Finger Chats

“The way there are so many different dialects in oral language, sign language has a lot of variations,” says Aparna Dass, who has worked with Enable India for 14 years. Credit:

Courtesy of Finger Chats

“We are a multilingual nation, and we need to look at the deaf community as a linguistic minority,” says Ruma Roka, the founder of the NGO Noida Deaf Society. Currently, there are close to 400 government-funded schools for the hearing-impaired across the country. “People at the policy level should be exposed to places where the deaf are working and learning,” says Dass. Credit:

Courtesy of Finger Chats

The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment does oversee the Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre, which is currently compiling a crowdsourced ISL video and print dictionary. Language ability is also often stunted, as the deaf are forced to communicate in a language they know only partially. While members of CODA are fluent in Indian Sign Language and often in American Sign Language as well, they cannot be certified interpreters without completing a mandatory nine-month diploma training. The boy was brought to an outreach program when his relatives learned that he could get a job through the organization. According to several social workers, deaf Indians who cannot access formal education learn signs primarily when they meet other deaf people. As she signed rapidly, those around her practiced the basic words they had learned over the last few months. But the mainstreaming of Indian Sign Language faces many more roadblocks, the biggest one being the   lack of official recognition. But the law does not include specific measures for the deaf, nor does it mention Indian Sign Language or its promotion. Unaware of how they sound and conscious of the reactions of hearing people, many deaf students are too uncomfortable to attempt speech. Often there’s an emphasis on training the deaf to accommodate the hearing community — by forcing speech therapy, written communication and lipreading — while discouraging sign language. The ministry’s Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities runs programs like a job search portal for the hearing-impaired, and a program for the prevention and control of avoidable hearing loss. In September, Rupmani Chhetri sat in a circle of people in a park in central Delhi. Among other things, the new law reserves 4 percent of government jobs and seats at educational institutes for people with disabilities. However, Dass emphasizes the need for awareness campaigns to make India’s deaf community known to the hearing majority. “I met a boy who is deaf and who didn’t even know any sign language, he had no method of communication,” says Vishnu Soman, who works with the nongovernmental organization Enable India on improving deaf people’s access to the workforce. “Since we have systematically created barriers in their way, the onus also stays on us to break down those barriers,” says Roka. (The wide range in population estimates exists because the Indian census doesn’t track the number of deaf people —   instead, it documents an aggregate number of people with disabilities.)
Chhetri and other deaf and hearing volunteers are looking to bridge this gap, one sign at a time. “ISL needs to be accepted as another Indian language, and the effect of that recognition would percolate to schools, universities and parents.”
In December, a revised bill on the rights of persons with disabilities was passed by both houses of parliament. A “Finger Chat” gathering in Bangalore is pictured here. “Deaf kids go through 12 years of school without learning anything,” she continues. “Every communication I have with hearing persons is very short because the interpreter also has trouble communicating as quickly.”
There are only about 250 certified sign language interpreters in India, translating for a deaf population of between 1.8 million to 7 million. “National organizations for the deaf are limited to Delhi and Mumbai, but they need to be scaled up and replicated across the country.” However, over 12 years of work with the deaf community in India, Roka has found a troubling pattern at schools as well as in society. “A sign I use at home may not be used outside, but ISL can allow people to communicate across the country.”
For now, government programs focusing on skill development for people with disabilities, and the improvement of physical and workforce accessibility are seen as steps in the right direction. They call the gatherings “Finger Chats.”
“Both my parents are deaf, and Indian Sign Language is my mother tongue,” said Sarah Sharma, who volunteers at Finger Chats sessions.

US drama over congressional ethics resonates in Latin America

“I’m worried … “The US has historically had very strong institutions that create checks and balances and through their autonomy they can control those they are meant to be controlling.”
Salas also worries about what that will do to the United States’ credibility. Latin American transparency activists are keen to see what becomes of the Office of Congressional Ethics, a corruption watchdog in the US House of Representatives that’s now in the media spotlight.Player utilitiesPopout
downloadListen to the Story. Alejandro Salas, Transparency International’s regional director for the Americas, worries that the US is sending mixed signals to those fighting corruption around the world. with many of the things President-elect Trump is doing like saying ‘Well no problem for me with the conflict of interest,’ or appointing people that are likely to have conflicts of interest.

Republican lawmakers voted to gut the powers of the independent office Monday night. “I’m very worried, not only from what happened [Tuesday] in the discussion in the [US] Congress about the ethics office, but also this issue that the president had to hold to certain conflict of interest rules,” Salas says. And they are not disclosing their whole tax history,” Salas says. But is that about to change? “I’m not accusing anyone because maybe it’s too early to say, but the fact that these things are called into question and are constantly in the news is a yellow light that at least we need to pay attention to closely.” “One has to lead by example. So we have to be very careful that the US doesn’t start sending the wrong messages.”
Transparency International has programs all over the Americas, including in Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Honduras, Peru and the Dominican Republic. If you look in the recent past, many of the big scandals at the global level — for example FIFA, or last year there was also a scandal in the United Nations and more recently with Odebrecht, the huge Brazilian construction company linked to the Petrobras scandal — the US has been prosecuting, chasing and has been putting a stop even to these global corruption problems. But on Tuesday they withdrew the plan under heavy criticism, including from President-elect Donald Trump. Within the region, only Canada is seen as “cleaner” than the United States when it comes to official corruption, according to the group’s data.

New evidence indicates Nixon himself tried to sabotage Vietnam War peace talks

Johnson made a private phone call to a friend of Richard Milhous Nixon, and bluntly accused the Republican presidential candidate of treason.Player utilitiesPopout
downloadThis story is based on a radio interview. He received an emphatic denial from Nixon in person the next day. Haldeman later became Nixon’s chief of staff and was one of those later found guilty in the Watergate conspiracy trial. Everett Dirksen (R-Ill.). He even asks, “Any other way to monkey wrench it?” and, “Anything RN can do?”
One instruction that Haldeman noted from his boss: “Keep Anna Chennault working on SVN” — South Vietnam. She had very close ties to the government of South Vietnam, and was identified by US intelligence as one of the principal people trying to persuade the South Vietnamese to delay or boycott the peace talks in Paris. The Communists stopped shelling cities and halted attacks across the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Vietnam. Johnson ordered a halt to the massive US aerial bombing campaign. 22, 1968, Haldeman made notes of a phone conversation with Nixon. They were afraid that peace in Vietnam would help Nixon’s Democratic rival, Hubert Humphrey, to clinch the election. Tragically, the world never got a chance to find out. The South Vietnamese did boycott the talks, which collapsed. That’s distasteful, but not illegal for the executive office. Some have reservations, but most agree with author Ken Hughes that Farrell has found the long-sought “smoking gun.”
Historians acknowledge that Johnson was himself using the peace talks as a tool to help Democratic candidate Humphrey. Many historians say it’s implausible. “My god,” he told Johnson on Nov. On Oct. 2 call to Nixon’s friend, Sen. 2, 1968, President Lyndon B. More than 21,200 Americans died in Vietnam and elsewhere in Southeast Asia after the collapse of the Paris peace talks, along with hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese. The election was just days away. The peace process in 1968 was real. At the beginning of November, both sides made goodwill gestures to prepare for the talks.

Treason. One intercepted message from her to the South Vietnamese embassy was said   to be from “her boss,” and it read, “Hold on, we are gonna win.”
To his dying day, Nixon insisted he had nothing to do with efforts to sabotage the 1968 peace talks. Of course, it’s not clear that the talks in Paris could have led to peace or even a temporary cessation of hostilities. Johnson threatened to go public with his information. Several of these appear to show Nixon himself talking about ways to scupper the peace process. It’s published in The New York Times. On Nov. The Soviet Union had persuaded North Vietnam to come to the table, the US just needed to deliver South Vietnam. 3, 1968, “I would never do anything to encourage [South Vietnam] not to come to the table.” Farrell argues that that too was a lie, writing in the Times that “given the human lives at stake and the decade of carnage that followed in Southeast Asia, [his efforts to hurt the peace talks] may be more reprehensible than anything Nixon did in Watergate.”
Historians surveyed by the   Times show a range of responses to Farrell’s revelation. “If Nixon keeps the South Vietnamese away from the conference, well, that’s going to be his responsibility. And perhaps more importantly, Johnson never had the definitive evidence he needed tying Nixon himself to the efforts being made by his campaign team. There was no doubt, said Johnson, that Nixon’s campaign team was trying to scupper peace talks aimed at ending the Vietnam War. That’s a reference to Republican doyenne Anna Chennault, the widow of a World War II hero who’d fought in East Asia. Listen to the full interview. Up to this point, that’s why they’re not there.”  
Farrell has found notes kept by close Nixon   aide H.R. But as a private citizen, candidate Nixon would have been in violation of federal law if proven to have taken steps to “defeat the measures of the United States.” Both men were willing to use issues of war and peace as a mere political football. But Johnson never did go public. A new discovery by historian John Farrell might well be the smoking gun that Johnson needed. “We’ve had 24 hours of relative peace,” he said in that Nov. The war went on. Haldeman.