U.S. student imprisoned in Vietnam after participating in protest

An American graduate student, Will Nguyen of Los Angeles, has been sitting in a jail cell in Vietnam since June 10.

The family of a U.S. graduate student jailed in Vietnam more than a week ago contacted the White House to seek its help securing his release. The student, 32-year-old Will Nguyen of Los Angeles, was arrested June 10 in Ho Chi Minh City during a mass demonstration against a proposal that would create “special economic zones” to encourage more Chinese investment in Vietnam.

Nguyen was vacationing in Vietnam and joined the demonstration, whose organizers were rallying against what they perceive is growing Chinese influence over Vietnamese economic and political life. Nguyen joined the demonstration and posted a series of tweets from the scene up until his arrest.

”I can’t stress how enormous of an achievement this is for the #Vietnamese people,” he wrote on June 10. ”The communist government is allowing people to assemble peacefully and the people are exercising their civic duty to protest injustice.”

Vietnamese officials said that police arrested Nguyen for “disturbing the public order.” He had reportedly asked police officers to move their vehicles that were blocking demonstrators’ path, and when the officers refused, he stood on a police vehicle and urged fellow protesters to defy police and pass through them.

According to a government statement, he will stay in a prison cell for the duration of an ongoing government inquiry into the matter and will have no rights to legal representation.

A video shows Nguyen with blood on his face while police drag him along the pavement. He reportedly suffered a head injury, cuts, and bruises while the officers took him into custody.

A U.S. consulate in Ho Chi Minh City visited Nguyen and reported that he was recovering from his injuries and was “in good spirits,” according to Nugyen’s sister, Victoria. But family members do not know how long the government will hold him.

Border Patrol to stop referring migrant parents for prosecution

A DOJ spokesperson denied the change in policy, but the decision to refer migrants for criminal charges after crossing illegally rests with the U.S. Border Patrol.

The U.S. Border Patrol will stop the practice of referring migrant parents who cross into the U.S. illegally with children to federal courthouses for criminal charges, a senior U.S. Customs and Border Protection official told The Washington Post on Thursday.

The announcement comes just one day after President Trump signed an executive order ending his administration’s widely condemned practice of separating children from families after illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

Trump’s order said the government would maintain a “zero tolerance” policy toward those who break the law, but the senior U.S. official told the Post that Border Patrol agents were instructed Wednesday evening to stop sending parents with children to federal courthouses to face prosecution.

Sarah Isgur Flores, Justice Department spokesperson, said “zero tolerance” remained in effect, and that “there has been no change to the Department’s zero tolerance policy to prosecute adults who cross our border illegally instead of claiming asylum at any port of entry at the border.”

Still, the decision to refer migrants for criminal charges after crossing the border illegally rests with the U.S. Border Patrol, and the senior CBP official said the agency will no longer send parents who arrive with children to federal courts.

“We’re suspending prosecutions of adults who are members of family units until ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) can accelerate resource capability to allow us to maintain custody,” the official told the Post.

Borussia Dortmund attacker hoped to profit from the carnage

According to authorities, the 28-year-old’s plan was to injure and kill the club’s players, drive down its share price and make a huge profit.

A German-Russian citizen was arrested on Friday, accused of attempting to blow up the Borussia Dortmund team.

According to authorities, the 28-year-old’s plan was to injure and kill the club’s players, drive down its share price and make a huge profit.

The man, identified as Sergei W, was arrested by Germany’s elite anti-terrorism unit at his home near the southwestern city of Tubingen early on Saturday morning.

After several days of speculation in which the attack was attributed to Islamic terrorists, the far right and the far left, Sergei was charged with attempted murder, inflicting serious bodily harm and carrying out an election.

According to Frauke Kohler, the spokeswoman for federal prosecutors, the purchase of “suspicious options” related to Borussia Dortmund shares on the morning of the attack tipped off the investigators.

According to Ms. Kohler, the suspect, after taking out a short-term loan worth several tens of thousands of euros, went ahead and purchased 15,000 put options.

The options would have entitled him to sell shares at a pre-determined price at any point over the next six days – and the more the stock price fell, the more substantial his gain.

Investigators traced the IP address for the purchase, to a hotel in Dortmund. The team had been staying at the hotel before its Champions League quarterfinal match against A.S. Monaco.

The team bus suffered extensive damage in the attack in Dortmund.

A piece of shrapnel was found stuck in the headrest of a seat, suggesting the fatalities could have been more had the bomb gone off a few seconds earlier.

The only player who suffered injuries was Marc Bartra, 26, a Spanish defender.

Bartra was hit by broken glass and sustained injuries to his right arm and wrist, which required surgery.

 

 

 

South Korea will cover nearly more than $2.5 million at winter Olympic game

In an effort to possibly pave the way for Inter-Korean peace, South Korea will pay $2.65 million to cover North Korea’s expenses at the winter Olympic games.

On Wednesday (Feb. 14), South Korea approved a government plan which will cover all of  North Korea’s expenses at the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang Olympics,

The fund, approved by the South and North Exchange and Cooperation Promotion Council, costs roughly 2.86 billion won (roughly $2.65 million), according to the Korea Herald. It will cover the expenses of hundreds of North Korean participants—including cheerleaders, art performers and the taekwondoe demonstration team. All members are part of North Korea’s involvement in the PyeongChang games.

“The North Korean delegation’s participation in various forms is serving as a pretty good opportunity to (achieve) Seoul’s goal to hold an Olympics of peace and becoming an important chance for harmony that improves the inter-Korean relationship and opens up the door for peace on the Korean Peninsula,” Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon said.

“This could further pave the way for (inter-Korean) discussion to build and sustain peace on the peninsula,” Cho added.

Whether or not South Korea will fund North Korea’s participation in the Paralympics, which take place in PyeongChang in March, remains to be seen. The Korea Herald reports that it will be determined at a future council meeting.

Bone analysis gives insight into Hiroshima bombing

Analysis of a human jawbone could one day help researchers better understand how to handle the fall out from a terrorist attack.

Brazilian scientists at the University of São Paulo’s Ribeirão have conducted a new analysis on the jawbone of a Hiroshima bombing victim to determine how radiation affects the human body.

In the research, the team used a method known as electron spin resonance spectroscopy to perform a dose calculation on the remains. They separated two signals trapped within the bone — one associated with Hiroshima radiation and the “background noise” created by the explosion. That then revealed the victim came into contact with roughly 9.46 grays of radiation.

“About half that dose, or 5 Gy, is fatal if the entire body is exposed to it,” explained study co-author Oswaldo Baffa, a researcher at the University of São Paulo’s Ribeirão, according to Tech Times.

The research is unique because it used the technique on human tissue. Scientists tried similar analyses in the past, but only on non-human tissue found at bomb sites like fragments of bricks and house tiles. This study goes beyond such studies and helps provide new information into how radiation affects the body.

Not only are the findings important from an intellectual standpoint, but the method used in the research could also have potential applications in future modern-day terrorist attacks.

For example, if a suspect in New York plants a bomb with a small amount of radioactive material, authorities can use the technique to quickly figure out who has been exposed to the fallout. That then enables them to provide those people with immediate medical attention.

“There were serious doubts about the feasibility of using this methodology to determine the radiation dose deposited in these samples, because of the processes involved in the episode,” said lead author Angela Kinoshita, a professor at the University of São Paulo’s Ribeirão, according to Gizmodo. “The results confirm its feasibility and open up various possibilities for future research that may clarify details of the nuclear attack.”

The study is published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Colombia football ex-president discussed bribes for Qatar’s 2022 World Cup bid

The ex-president of Colombian football told a U.S. court Monday that they received an offer of a bribe in exchange for supporting Qatar’s 2022 World Cup bid. The testimony is one of numerous allegations of bribery and fraud that court witnesses have leveled against Qatar.

lombia football ex-president discussed bribes for Qatar’s 2022 World Cup bid

The former president of Colombia’s football federation testified in a New York City court Monday that he received an offer in 2010 to back Qatar’s bid to host the 2022 World Cup in exchange for cash. Luis Bedoya, who has already pleaded guilty to corruption charges as part of a U.S. government investigation of FIFA, the international governing body of soccer, told the court that he was one of three South American officials whom Qatari contacts attempted to bribe.

The trial, now in its third week, involves criminal charges against more than 40 people in connection with $150 million or more in bribes that exchanged hands among soccer officials, marketing executives, and politicians over two decades. Bedoya is one of more than two dozen defendants who have pleaded guilty.

Qatar has been at the center of some of the trial’s most detailed allegation corruptions, one of which was Bedoya’s. Bedoya said that he and his two colleagues were in Madrid when an unnamed “important person from Qatari television” and the Argentine businessman Mariano Jinkis, the owner of the sports marketing company Full Play, approached them at their hotel.

According to Bedoya, Jinkis told them that the Qatari official “wanted to know if South America was willing to support them” in their bid for the World Cup.” Jinkis said that he could solicit $10 million to $15 million in bribes and divide it up among Bedoya, his two colleagues, and three other South American soccer officials.

Bedoya and his colleagues ultimately did not go through with the offer, and Bedoya ended up supporting the United States’ 2022 bid. But the former football president admitted to taking other bribes over the years related to Colombia’s National team.

Former NATO chief can’t get U.S. visa because he visited Iran

Javier Solana, a retired head of NATO and former top foreign-policy adviser to the European Union.

The United States denied a Spanish former head of NATO authorization to enter U.S. territory over a work trip to Iran. Javier Solana, who headed NATO from 1995 to 1999 and was the European Union’s foreign-policy chief until 2009, said that he applied for a visa renewal on the U.S. Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), only to get an application rejection notice.

It was the first time that the United States has ever denied Solana permission to enter, he said. Solana was scheduled to visit Washington to speak at an event at the Brookings Institution, where he is also a fellow.

Solana attributed the rejection to a trip he made to Iran in 2013, where he participated in negotiations for the now-defunct 2015 nuclear accord. He said that he visited Iran “as a representative for all those who negotiated.”

This trip was a problem because Solana was applying online via the ESTA’s system, which all European nationals are expected to use if they intend to stay in the United States for three months or more. In 2016, the Obama administration enacted a Congressionally approved bill that prohibited citizens of 38 countries from getting visas if they had visited Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, or Yemen.

The measure did not apply to government officials. But Solana has not been a government official since 2013.

“What they (the US) have is a computer with an algorithm, and if it knows you went to Iran recently, it takes you off the system,” Solana said.

Solana can come to the United States if he applies for a “full visa.” This is a lengthier and costlier process.

Protests erupt in Iran over sinking currency

Iran’s currency has dropped nearly 50% in value over the last six months–in large part because of the return of U.S. sanctions–and Iranian merchants held a mass strike Monday to protest it.

Thousands of merchants in Iran’s capital of Tehran closed their shops and went on strike Monday against the troubled state of Iran’s currency. The merchants were pushing back against a nearly 50% drop in the value of the Iranian rial over the last six months, a deflation that is said to stem from the United States’ re-imposition of sanctions on Iran.

The rial sank to 90,000 against the dollar Monday, down from 75,500 to the dollar Thursday. It stood at 42,890 to the dollar at the end of last year.

Monday’s protest ended after several hours, and merchants reopened their shops. But their concerns still loom large, according to Abdollah Esfiandari, head of the historical covered market’s administrative board, who said that “the high exchange rate, foreign currency fluctuations, goods being blocked at customs, and the lack of clear criteria for duties” all contribute to the merchants’ discontent.

“The demands of bazaar traders are legitimate. They want the situation on the foreign exchange market to be clarified once and for all,” Esfiandari said.

The currency’s value has plunged with U.S. President Trump’s decision to abandon the nuclear agreement and reestablish some sanctions. The sanctions, which go into effect in August and November, are triggering a mass flight of Iranians’ savings from the rial to dollars, due to fears that the sanctions will reduce the revenue Iran earns from oil exports.

As the rial’s value drops, Iranians experience surging inflation and rising prices for imported goods. In response, Iranian officials have banned the import of 1,339 goods that Iranians can produce in-country, including many home appliances, textile products, footwear, leather items, furniture, medical goods, and some machinery. Iran may be returning to being a “resistance economy” that weathers U.S.-led sanctions and keeps currency reserves afloat by being as economically self-sufficient as possible.

U.S. to withdraw from U.N. human rights council

The move adds to concerns that the United States is, under Trump, abandoning its leadership position as an international advocate for human rights.

The United States is expected to announce Tuesday that it will withdraw from the U.N. Human Rights Council, human rights advocates with contacts in the Trump administration have told POLITICO. The council is an entity the administration has regularly accused of being biased against Israel and giving a platform to rights-abusing governments such as China.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley are scheduled to publicly announce the decision at 5 p.m., a day after the U.N.’s human rights chief, in a speech to the council, criticized President Trump’s immigration policy decisions that have led his administration to separate families apprehended after entering the U.S. illegally.

It’s not clear whether the U.S. will quit the council in entirely and will not cooperate with it in any form, or whether it will continue to at least observe its sessions and engage in some of its investigations, POLITICO reported.

Nevertheless, the move will add to concerns that the United States is, under Trump, abandoning its leadership position as an international advocate for human rights.

Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, criticized the expected withdrawal as a “sad reflection” of the Trump administration’s “one-dimensional human rights policy: defending Israeli abuses from criticism takes precedence above all else.”

“The U.N. Human Rights Council has played an important role in such countries as North Korea, Syria, Myanmar and South Sudan, but all Trump seems to care about is defending Israel,” Roth said.

FIFA bans Palestinian FA head for spreading hate

FIFA has banned Palestinian Football Association president Jibril Rajoub from all soccer activities for one year after he called on fans to burn jerseys and pictures of-Argentine star Lionel Messi.

FIFA has banned Palestinian Football Association president Jibril Rajoub from all soccer activities for one year after he called on fans to burn jerseys and pictures of  Argentine star Lionel Messi.

According to ESPN, Rajoub’s opposition to the Argentine Football Association’s (AFA) decision to play a friendly match between Argentina and Israel in Jerusalem motivated his actons. The game was reportedly cancelled amid political tenson in the region.

“The disciplinary committee held that Mr. Rajoub’s statments incited hatred and violence and consequently imposed severe sanctions,” FIFA said in a statement Friday. “The 12-month suspension entails a ban on taking part in any future match or competition taking place during the given period.  Consequently, Mr. Rajoub will not be able to attend football matches in any official capacity, which includes, among others, participating in media activities at stadiums or in their vicinity on matchdays. ”

In addition to the12-montjh suspension, Rajpoub has aso been ordered to pay a fine of 20,000 Swiss francs ($20,349). The suspension becomes effective “once the grounds of the decision have been notified,” FIFA noted.

Rajoub reportedly made his remarks about Messi before this summer’s World Cup, speaking out firmly against Messi taking part in the game, which he said would “whitewash the face of racism.”

“Messi is a big symbol so we are going t target him personally,” Rajoub said at the time. “And we call on everyone to burn his picture and his shirt and to abandon him. We hope that he will not come.”

The controversy surrounding the game centered on the site where it was scheduled to be played, the Jerusalem neighborhood of Malha, which was constructed over a former Palestinian village destroyed during the war that established Israel 70 years ago.