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Around The World Innisfail, Alberta Tortured by the state

Innisfail, Alberta
Tortured by the state? A former Guantánamo Bay inmate from Canada is suing the Canadian government for allegedly conspiring with the U.S. to torture him. Omar Khadr, now 27, was just 15 when he was captured with severe injuries in Afghanistan in 2002 and transferred to the Guantánamo prison camp. After being held for 10 years without charge and subjected to stress positions and sleep deprivation, Khadr pleaded guilty to war crimes and was sentenced to an additional eight years, which he is serving in a Canadian prison. He says his plea was coerced. Canadian interrogators questioned Khadr while he was in U.S. custody and shared information with U.S. agents, so Khadr’s lawsuit alleges the Canadian government was complicit in his mistreatment. Khadr was the first minor since World War II to be prosecuted for war crimes.

Lake Cajititlan, Mexico
Fish die-off: Millions of freshwater fish known as popoche suddenly died in a Mexican lake, and authorities suspect that runoff from wastewater treatment plants killed them. Some 50 tons of stinking dead fish are being hauled away from Lake Cajititlan by the truckload. It’s the fourth unexplained fish kill in the area this year. “You can’t deny that there’s a contamination,” said Jalisco state environment secretary María Magdalena Ruiz Mejía. Popoche aren’t edible, but local fishermen fear the pollution could affect tilapia and other species they harvest.


San Juan La Laguna, Guatemala
Orthodox Jews evicted: A Mayan village has ordered a group of ultra-Orthodox Jews from the Lev Tahor sect to leave town, saying they were trying to impose their religion and change the indigenous culture. Lev Tahor, an anti-Zionist fringe group whose name means “pure heart,” left Israel in the 1990s and settled in the U.S. until its leader, Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans, was convicted of kidnapping a teenage boy. The 230-member sect moved to Canada but, following allegations of child abuse, relocated to Guatemala earlier this year, where it has struggled to fit in. “On one occasion, there was a tourist taking pictures of a hill, and the Jews thought he was taking photos of them and they clashed,” said villager Antonio Ixtamer. “This is not normal behavior in a community that lives off of tourism.”

Caracas, Venezuela
Someone is watching Legends: Venezuela has denounced the “lies and manipulations” in an episode of the poorly received TNT spy drama Legends, which depicts the Venezuelan government as stockpiling chemical gas to use against protesters. Minister of Information Delcy Rodríguez said the show was following a “Hollywood-type script typical in its imperialist actions against legitimate governments.” In real life, Venezuela has been criticized for police brutality in cracking down on anti-government protests, but it has never been accused of using chemical weapons.

Brussels
EU gets a Polish leader: Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, a hawk toward Russia, has been named to the top European Union leadership post, the presidency of the European Council. The center-right Tusk is the first Eastern European to take a top EU position. He will preside over negotiations to keep an increasingly restive Britain in the EU and lead summits on the threat posed by Russia to Europe’s borders. “I come from a country that deeply believes in a united Europe,” said Tusk. “I am also convinced there is no intelligent alternative to the EU.” Tusk speaks German well and has promised to work on his poor English. He doesn’t speak French at all.

Brasília, Brazil
First black president? An environmentalist from a deprived background could become Brazil’s first black president. Marina Silva took the nomination for the centrist Brazilian Socialist Party after its leader, Eduardo Campos, died in a plane crash last month. She is already polling even with incumbent Dilma Rousseff and is favored in a runoff. Silva, the daughter of a poor rubber worker, learned to read only at 16 but rose to become an internationally renowned environmentalist. She has been campaigning on a platform of a “third way” for Brazil that will reform the tax code and curb inflation while expanding hydropower.

Somewhere in Syria
American beheaded: U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff was beheaded this week, apparently by the same Britishaccented executioner who killed reporter James Foley two weeks ago. In a video released by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the masked killer says, “I’m back, Obama, and I’m back because of your arrogant foreign policy towards the Islamic State. So just as your missiles continue to strike our people, our knife will continue to strike the necks of your people.” ISIS said its next victim would be British citizen David Cawthorne Haines. President Obama vowed that the U.S. would punish the Sunni militant group. “Our objective is clear,” said Obama, “and that is to degrade and destroy [ISIS] so that it’s no longer a threat, not just to Iraq but also the region and to the United States.”

Freetown, Sierra Leone
Ebola hits city: The deadly Ebola virus has spread to Freetown, Sierra Leone’s capital, a city of 1.2 million. The nation’s only pediatric hospital has closed after a 4-year-old boy died there of the hemorrhagic fever, and now all 30 doctors and nurses are in quarantine for the three weeks the virus takes to incubate. “We have never had this kind of experience with Ebola before,” said David Nabarro, head of the United Nations’ special task force on Ebola. “When it gets into the cities, then it takes on another dimension.” Public gatherings have been banned, and the city is hung with banners warning, “Ebola is real!” and telling residents to wash their hands. The virus can spread through any bodily fluid, even sweat.

Hong Kong
Limited democracy: Democracy activists pledged a campaign of civil disobedience after Beijing ruled that Hong Kong voters could not choose their own candidates for chief executive. Communist Party official Li Fei explained the decision at a public meeting in Hong Kong, saying, “Anyone who does not love the country, love Hong Kong, or is confrontational towards the central government shall not be the chief executive.” He was immediately heckled by thousands of demonstrators from the Occupy Central protest movement, and police used pepper spray to disperse them. Under the agreement that handed Hong Kong from British to Chinese rule in 1997, Beijing was supposed to guarantee the territory’s basic freedoms and allow universal suffrage by 2017.

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Terror raid: Saudi Arabia has arrested 88 men, almost all Saudi nationals, for allegedly plotting terrorist attacks throughout the country. A government spokesman said those arrested support “misguided ideologies and glorify terrorist acts,” and some were in contact with foreign terrorist groups. Saudi Arabia has long been accused of turning a blind eye to Islamic militant activity by its nationals so long as they wage jihad outside the kingdom. But as the regional threat from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria surged earlier this year, the government barred Saudis from traveling abroad to fight for any group. This week, King Abdullah said ISIS would attack the West unless the international community acted immediately. He said it was “certain that after a month they will reach Europe and, after another month, America.”


Brisbane, Australia
Refugee scandal: Australia’s harsh immigration policy is under criticism after the filthy conditions and lack of medical care at an offshore detention center led a refugee to develop septicemia. Like most refugees who try to claim asylum in Australia, Iranian citizen Hamid Kehazaei, 24, was sent to a detention center in Papua New Guinea, where a cut on his foot became infected. By the time he was transferred to Brisbane for treatment, he was braindead. “This is a disgraceful lack of care given to this young Iranian man,” said Sen. Sarah Hanson-Young, whose Australian Greens party opposes the nation’s policy of processing refugees abroad. The hospital where Kehazaei is being treated will now appoint a guardian to decide whether life support should be withdrawn.

Barawe, Somalia
U.S. kills militants: A U.S. drone strike killed six Somali militants believed to have been involved in last year’s bloody siege of Kenya’s Westgate shopping mall. The strike targeted a convoy heading to the base of Islamist terrorist group al-Shabab, and it may have killed the group’s leader, Ahmed Abdi Godane. Al-Shabab controls parts of Somalia and attacked Kenya last year in retaliation for the country’s military support for the Somali government. The mall raid lasted three days and killed 67 shoppers, some of them children. After the airstrike, Islamic militants arrested dozens of residents on suspicion of spying for the U.S.

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