As Gabriel García Márquez, a man who heightened our reality and pushed the boundaries of our imagination through his writing, expressed in Love in the Time of Cholera "I discovered to my joy, that it is life, not death, that has no limits."
In many ways, the Colombian novelist and Nobel laureate's life did seem limitless. 'Gabo,' as he was often called, pioneered the magical realism genre and gave literature a whole new perspective on the world and the written word -- but his works also held nuggets of wisdom about love, war and life that are immortalized in the pages of One Hundred Years of Solitude,Love in the Time of Cholera and other classics.
Here are lessons from 'Gabo' that will live on forever:
On Wednesday 16, Korean media broadcasted the news about the sinking of the ferry in Jindo during the whole day. It was horrible. And the current state of Korean media is as horrible as the news.
The HBO series "The Newsroom" is about people who produce news. This TV show, which realistically conveys the atmosphere of a newsroom centered around well-known anchor Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels), gives the impression of witnessing how real news is made through the integration of actual contemporary events. In doing so, it explores the value of fairness in televised journalism.
I think the most impressive scene was the ending of the first season's fourth episode, which depicts the process of collecting information and preparing the news broadcast following a sudden shooting that occurred one weekend in Arizona. The essence of this breaking news is the fact that Representative Gabrielle Giffords was shot while attending an event. As the shooting is reported on the radio, all cable news channels start to do a follow up on her death, and Will's newsroom starts to buzz as well. Yet the staff merely observe the situation and gird themselves for the official confirmation of her death instead of joining the other media's series of newsflashes on inaccurate pieces of information. But the broadcasting station's president's young son starts to press them about why they are not officially announcing Gifford's death, and he even storms into the newsroom in the midst of newscast. Then a staff member says, "It is a person's life. It is not the news but the doctor who should announce it." Finally we learn that the other media outlets carried a false report as the hospital announces that Giffords is still alive and undergoing surgery. McAvoy's newsroom has a chance to report the truth only by being patient and fact-checking the information.
It was a tough day, and another tough day continues. Since the morning of the 16, news reported the sinking of a ferry in the sea around Jindo. Around 10 am, a government brief announced that a total of 477 passengers were on board this Jindo-bound ferry, including 325 students of Danwon High School who were on a school trip. It was agonizing just to hear about it. Fortunately the follow-up news reported that all the students would be rescued, and at around 11 am the students' parents received text messages that they all had been. Further news, however, announced that this previous report was false.
The number of missing persons continued to change, and even the total number of passengers began to appear unclear. The government's announcement of the number of missing persons behaved like a rubber-band, increasing at one moment and decreasing at another. Accordingly, the media continued to correct their initial figures. The worst situation occurred at around 4:30 pm. The media corrected the number of rescues from 368 to 164, cutting the initial number in half, following the discovery of an error in counting. Not much progress has been made regarding the number of further rescues since this dreadful news had drowned people's hope for a fully successful rescue operation. As if encouraging this dark premonition, night set in, and my heart continued to sink.
A reporter sullenly expressed complaints that the government's data had never been so inaccurate. But was the government's data the only problem? The media race to report on the event, which started around 10 am, was widely inaccurate.
Without exception, online and television news, including public broadcast and cable channels, put up the sign "breaking news" for all information received from the scene of the tragic events in Jindo. All reported on the government's announcement. No one asked any questions. The will to report was stronger than the will to know. The speed of information was more important than its accuracy. It seemed like there were no reporters, only stenographers. The present state of media clearly came into view. Jindo became a battlefield for a media competing for breaking news and accelerated by online news portals. In the meantime, unspeakable things started appearing in the press under the guise of an accurate report. An article of The Etoday, inconceivably entitled "Titanic, Poseidon, and What Other Movies of Boating Accidents?" was published around 2.40 pm and swiftly denounced by the public. It didn't matter. For it was an "abusive" article that sought to attract more traffic by being controversial. In 15 minutes this media outlet displayed its full identity as media by publishing another article with the scandalous headline "SKT Sends Relief and Installs a Temporary Base-Station 'Handsome~Handsome'" (translator's note: SKT is a telecommunications company and "Handsome~Handsome" is the title of a song in one of their well-known commercials). The article has since been deleted.
On the other hand, a few internet media outlets started delivering articles focusing on the ferry's insurance coverage. Chosun.com released an article with the headline "Sewol Ferry's Insurance: Dongbu Insurance for Students and Meritz Marine Insurance for the Ferry." As if encouraged by these online articles, the public broadcasting company MBC reported a detailed analysis of how much compensation for the loss could be claimed based on the insurance policy. Such reports could have given rise to conspiracy theories about the sinking being a form of product placement for the insurance company. On the same day, News 9 of JTBC began with a long apology by the anchorman Suk-hee Son: "Today many audience members took offense at some questions that our reporter asked a rescued student during the news of the ferry's sinking. No excuses and explanations will be necessary. As a senior anchor and the chief executive of the news department, it is my fault that I didn't relay what I had learned to junior anchors. My sincere apologies." His apology felt like a ray of sunshine in the middle of the news media's daylong battle for fast information on Wednesday. Media's responsibility to acknowledge errors and apologize for them is as important as the imperative of impartial reporting. At least News 9, or at least Suk-hee Son stood up to that responsibility. How fortunate.
"We have to recover media. We have to make it an honorable profession again. We have to make sure that the evening news delivers information and provides a discussion forum suiting a great country and that it recognizes and respects etiquette and thus returns to its original mission. Forget the superficial, no more gossip or voyeurism. Deliver the truth to the public even if they are blind -- not the story people want to hear. Let the media become what binds us together."
These are lines from "The Newsroom". Ironically, today's Korean media behaves in a different way. Something horrible happened, and the media delivers the news. Before relaying the truth, however, a hideous tendency takes over. Their inaccurate reporting tramples on the wounded victims. We are still waiting to hear the information we want to know, yet incorrect information is rashly offered instead.
Somebody's tragedy becomes a show, sold and used up in a second. It appears as if all media outlets were on the same page because they were all shameless. The behavior of the press on Wednesday was no better than selling goods on the shelves of online shopping malls and home shopping channels. There was no courtesy for the news' source nor for its readers. Jindo was struck by a salesman's desire to sell anything. On social networks, reporters were called "Giregi" in mockery, which is a neologism of "gija" (reporter) and "ssuregi" (garbage). It is an attack that summarizes the current state of Korean media, a bitter analogy of how language is used and abused for the sake of profit.
The film "Good Night, and Good Luck" directed by George Clooney is about Edward R. Murrow, CBS's famous news broadcaster. He never gave up on the voice of truth during the wave of McCarthyism in America during the 1940s and was a persistent, contributing factor when Joseph McCarthy stepped down. Murrow said, "TV can teach us. It may even enlighten us and inspire us. But in order for it to do so, we must use it for that purpose. Otherwise, TV is nothing but a stupid box." It is always apparent that media must pursue truth. But pursuing truth requires resolution and ability. For the process of approaching truth is not possible through merely planning and aiming for justice. People in today's society are surrounded by many languages. They share all sorts of information via smart phones and see events all over the world. But being able to assess all this information is an individual responsibility.
The reader knows, can know, or must know. It is not only media that produces gossip. Delivering public information that potentially has a great influence on individuals' lives, which is commonly known as "the right to know," is the purpose of journalistic media. The most important thing is whether media is functioning properly or not. Next is whether we are capable of assessing the information it reports. As important as the appearance of a media with convictions might be the public itself who can make sure the media stays true to its mission.
Edward Murrow remarks, "To persuade others, you must be trusted; to be trusted, you must inspire confidence; and to inspire confidence, you must be honest." It is ideal that the public and media trust one another. A society that features a trustworthy media and a supportive public can move forward. And we can and must find better values. News is still being reported from Jindo. I just saw the news that the second part of the search has begun. We must not give up hope. Media must become a newsstand that banks on the public's desire for hope. Please promise to do your best today. Do not drive for simple gossip but for the truth that is necessary for everyone. Make the mere show go away.
Above all, I earnestly hope for the long-awaited news of further rescues. I pray.
And my warmest tribute to the memory of the deceased.
This post has been translated from Korean and was originally published on HuffPost Korea.
Today, the 16-year-old activist is teaming up with Free The Children, leading the #WeAreSilent campaign. In a powerful video, celebrities such as Selena Gomez and Joe Jonas are taking a stand with Malala by taking a 24-hour vow of silence in support of those who do not have a voice.
Meet Ashol-Pan. She is 13 years old, and she is an eagle huntress-in-training.
Photographer Asher Svidensky captured this stunning shot of Ashol-Pan during a 40-day trip to Mongolia late last year. Svidensky, who lives in Israel, told The Huffington Post over Skype Thursday that he had traveled to Mongolia to document the lives of Kazakh eagle hunters who live in the Altai mountain range. These hunters, reports the BBC, are the only people in the world who hunt with the magnificent golden eagle. According to Svidensky, the Kazakh falconers use eagles to hunt animals for fur and to protect their livestock and property from predators.
Svidensky, 24, said he had started out his trip photographing established eagle hunters in the region, but his plan soon took an unexpected turn after he met a 13-year-old boy who was training to be a falconer.
"This is an interesting turning point in history and I wanted to photograph that," he told HuffPost. "[These kids will determine] what eagle hunting will be in the 21st century and the 22nd."
Svidensky ended up photographing four young boys and one inspiring young woman: Ashol-Pan, the daughter of a celebrated hunter.
"It was amazing to see her with the eagle," Svidensky told the HuffPost of watching Ashol-Pan at work. "I actually felt she was a lot more comfortable with the eagle [than some of the other trainees]. She was a lot more at ease with it. It takes a lot of courage and power to hunt the way she does. It's a big scary bird, you know. This is not a Disney character. This is a killer."
According to the BBC, Ashol-Pan may be the country's only apprentice eagle huntress. Eagle hunting is a Kazakh tradition that dates back some 2,000 years, National Geographic notes, and Svidensky said he has heard of no other female falconer in the country. He's excited, he said, to see if Ashol-Pan becomes what could be Mongolia's first full-fledged eagle huntress.
Svidensky's photographs of Ashol-Pan and the other children has gone viral this month after being shared online by the BBC and other news outlets. "I've received hundreds of emails. I'm completely shocked," said Svidensky of the reception his photos have received.
Artyom Lukin, Deputy Director for Research at the School of Regional and International Studies, Far Eastern Federal University (Vladivostok, Russia).
VLADIVOSTOK -- There is one international player that stands to gain from the recent turn of events in Ukraine, regardless of its outcome. This player apparently has nothing to do with the crisis, which has engulfed Russia, the EU and the United States, and makes a point of staying on the sidelines. The country in question, of course, is China.
The leadership in Beijing must be secretly delighted watching the struggle between Russia and the West. The Ukraine mess can seriously poison Moscow's relations with Washington and Brussels for a long time to come, thus reducing their mutual ability to coordinate policies on the major issues in world politics. One such issue, perhaps the most important, concerns geopolitical risks associated with China's rise and its impact on the global economic and military balance.
Up to the present, Russia has pursued a relatively balanced and circumspect policy toward its giant Asian neighbor. Although the Chinese side recently has signaled that it would welcome closer strategic ties with Russia, even a security alliance perhaps, Moscow so far has been reluctant to transform their current "strategic partnership" into a full-blown geopolitical entente. In particular, Russia has not been ready to back Beijing's assertive stance on the various territorial disputes in East Asia.
Political and economic sanctions, now threatened against Russia by the West, will inevitably push Moscow toward Beijing, increasing the likelihood that the sides will align their policies toward the West. This, in turn, will reinforce the Middle Kingdom's strategic positions in Asia. Having acquired Russia as a safe strategic rear area, as well as privileged access to its vast energy and minerals base and advanced military technologies, China would feel far more confident in its rivalry with the United States for primacy in the Asia-Pacific. For one, just watch Putin's visit to China in May. The Ukraine events are likely to finally clinch a Russia-China gas pipeline deal long delayed by haggling over the fuel price. Western sanctions will certainly make Moscow more compliant with Beijing, landing China a bargain which will provide it with a stream of cheap Siberian gas.
China's response to the recent developments around Ukraine is telling. Ever since the crisis began to develop last fall, the Chinese media have tended to blame the Western meddling for what was happening there. After Russia took over Crimea and declared its readiness to use military force, the PRC's Foreign Ministry blandly urged "the relevant parties in Ukraine to resolve their internal disputes peacefully within the legal framework so as to safeguard the lawful rights and interests of all ethnic communities in Ukraine." Discussing the crisis with Putin, China's President Xi Jinping remarked, somewhat enigmatically, that "the situation in Ukraine, which seems to be accidental, has the elements of the inevitable." So far there has been no sign whatsoever of Beijing's condemnation of the Kremlin's moves in Crimea and the rest of Ukraine.
China's official press commentary is sympathetic with Moscow, stressing that Putin's determination to protect the interests of Russia and Russian-speaking citizens is "quite understandable." Many of China's netizens blogging on the websites like Weibo have displayed admiration for Putin's defiance of the West.
Beijing's abstention at the U.N. Security Council vote on Crimea can hardly be interpreted as opposition to Russia. In fact, Beijing has made it quite clear that it disapproves of using the U.N. stage to pressure Russia, with China's foreign ministry commenting that the Security Council's vote on the draft resolution prepared by the United States "will only lead to confrontation among all parties, which will further complicate the situation.
What really matters is China's willingness to go along with the sanctions against Russia. However, there is zero probability that Beijing will support any political or economic penalties on Moscow. In terms of international diplomacy, such a stance by China can be interpreted as nothing other than benevolent neutrality toward the Kremlin. One may suspect that, in exchange Beijing would expect from Moscow the same kind of "benevolent neutrality," for example, regarding its actions in East Asia and the Western Pacific.
In the 1990s, Zbigniew Brzezinski likened Eurasia to a grand chess board, emphasizing the geopolitical interconnectedness of various parts of the supercontinent. That metaphor is now even more relevant, with Eurasia being geopolitically interdependent more than ever. What is now occurring in Ukraine and around it will inevitably affect the games being played out on the opposite side of the board, if only because the players are oftentimes the same. This is well understood by some American strategists, who worry that, excessive pressure from the West "may alter the geopolitical balance by putting Russia closer to China." However, Washington has not still made up its mind as to who is America's top geopolitical competitor in this grand chess game -- Russia or China?
When the U.S. enjoyed its "unipolar moment" in the 1990s and the first half of the 2000s, Washington could easily pursue a dual containment policy -- against both Russia and China. Since that time, the balance of power has changed significantly. Now America is hardly in a position to confront two great powers in Eurasia simultaneously. Americans have to decide which region is more important to them -- the post-Soviet Eastern Europe (whose heart is constituted by Ukraine) or East Asia. The choice may be unpalatable, but indefinitely postponing it will have consequences. Today engaging Russia in the uncompromising battle over eastern Ukraine, the U.S. may, in 10 or 15 years from now, pay the price of losing East Asia.
It is a cruel irony that the Ukraine crisis should have broken out at the year of the 100th anniversary of the First World War. That war was triggered by the mess in the seemingly insignificant Balkans.
To continue with the pre-World War I analogies, Russia's current stance toward Crimea and eastern Ukraine is reminiscent of how, in the late 19th and early 20th century, Austria-Hungary felt about the Balkans, which it deemed its vital sphere of influence. The fear of losing control over the Balkans drove Austria-Hungary into the embrace of Imperial Germany, even though Vienna and Berlin had traditionally vied for control of Central Europe and fought a war in 1866. The alliance of Germany and Austria-Hungary contributed to Europe's splitting into two camps and eventually the general war.
Sino-Russian relations, of course, have been historically complicated, but this may not preclude them forming an entente, as long as they perceive the common adversary. Hopefully, the current Ukraine situation will not result in war, but it can well become a major step toward transforming the international order into a confrontational bipolarity, with the U.S.-led West facing a Sino-Russian axis. The Western push to "isolate" Russia may prove self-defeating. Rather than forcing Moscow to withdraw from Ukraine, it will draw it closer to Beijing.
(This essay is an expanded version of an article published originally by the Russian International Affairs Council).
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama conveyed skepticism Thursday about Russian promises to de-escalate a volatile situation in Ukraine, and said the United State and its allies are ready to impose fresh sanctions if Moscow doesn't make good on its commitments.
"My hope is we do see follow-through," Obama said at an impromptu news conference at the White House a few hours after Secretary of State John Kerry wrapped up a meeting in Geneva with diplomats from Russia, Ukraine and the European Union. "The question now becomes, will in fact they use the influence that they've exerted in a disruptive way to restore some order so that Ukrainians can carry out an election, move forward with the decentralization reforms that they've proposed, stabilize their economy and start getting back on the path of growth and democracy and that their sovereignty will be respected?" he said.
Obama did not say what additional sanctions might be in the offing if commitments made by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva do not materialize. U.S. officials have prepared penalties on wealthy Russians in Putin's inner circle, as well on the entities they run.
The president discussed the developments with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose support for additional sanctions would be crucial given her country's close economic ties with Russia. In a statement about their discussion, the White House said the two leaders agreed that they were prepared to enact further penalties on Russia if it does not de-escalate the situation "in short order."
In his comments from the White House, Obama noted that Russia has thousands of troops massed along its border with eastern Ukraine, a deployment he called a measure of intimidation. He said the United States and others think Russia has played a hand in the "disruption and chaos" that have recently spread through southern and eastern Ukraine.
The agreement sketched out in Geneva would give amnesty to protesters who evacuate buildings they have occupied, except those found guilty of capital crimes. It says Kiev's plans to reform its constitution and transfer more power from the central government to regional authorities must be inclusive, transparent and accountable — including through the creation of a broad national dialogue.
At the same time, the agreement gives Moscow a days-long reprieve from threatened U.S. and European Union economic sanctions. The U.S. accuses Russia of stoking a potential eastern Ukraine separatist revolt against Kiev following Russia's annexation of Ukraine's strategic Crimean peninsula.
Obama said Ukraine had promised to respect the rights of residents of the southern and eastern part of the country, many of whom speak Russian or have other ties to their next-door neighboring country.
As for Russia, Obama said, "My hope is that we actually do see follow-through over the next several days, but I don't think, given past performance, that we can count on that, and we have to be prepared to potentially respond to what continue to be, you know, efforts of interference by the Russians in eastern and southern Ukraine."
Eighteen percent of the world’s population was living in extreme poverty in 2010, down from 36 percent in 1990, according to the World Bank study, which was released on April 10 in conjunction with the group's annual spring conference.
The World Bank has a set a goal of reducing extreme poverty to 9 percent by 2020 -- which will require more than just economic growth, the group said. The study impressed the need to develop policies that allocate more direct resources to people living in extreme poverty.
He also argued against the oft-propagated theory that giving aid to the poor makes them too dependent. Investing in the health and well-being of the poor, Gates said, plays an integral role in empowering impoverished countries.
"Health aid is a phenomenal investment," he wrote back in January. "When I look at how many fewer children are dying than 30 years ago, and how many people are living longer and healthier lives, I get quite optimistic about the future."
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the Nobel laureate whose novels and short stories exposed tens of millions of readers to Latin America's passion, superstition, violence and inequality, died at home in Mexico City around midday, according to people close to his family. He was 87.
Widely considered the most popular Spanish-language writer since Miguel de Cervantes in the 17th century, Garcia Marquez achieved literary celebrity that spawned comparisons to Mark Twain and Charles Dickens.
His flamboyant and melancholy fictional works — among them "Chronicle of a Death Foretold," ''Love in the Time of Cholera" and "Autumn of the Patriarch" — outsold everything published in Spanish except the Bible. The epic 1967 novel "One Hundred Years of Solitude sold more than 50 million copies in more than 25 languages.
His stories made him literature's best-known practitioner of magical realism, the fictional blending of the everyday with fantastical elements such as a boy born with a pig's tail and a man trailed by a swarm of yellow butterflies.
His death was confirmed by two people close to the family who spoke on condition of anonymity out of respect for the family's privacy.
"One Hundred Years of Solitude" was "the first novel in which Latin Americans recognized themselves, that defined them, celebrated their passion, their intensity, their spirituality and superstition, their grand propensity for failure," biographer Gerald Martin told The Associated Press.
When he accepted the Nobel prize in 1982, Garcia Marquez described Latin America as a "source of insatiable creativity, full of sorrow and beauty, of which this roving and nostalgic Colombian is but one cipher more, singled out by fortune. Poets and beggars, musicians and prophets, warriors and scoundrels, all creatures of that unbridled reality, we have had to ask but little of imagination, for our crucial problem has been a lack of conventional means to render our lives believable."
With writers including Norman Mailer and Tom Wolfe, Garcia Marquez was also an early practitioner of the literary nonfiction that would become known as New Journalism. He became an elder statesman of Latin American journalism, with magisterial works of narrative non-fiction that included the "Story of A Shipwrecked Sailor," the tale of a seaman lost on a life raft for 10 days.
Other pieces profiled Venezuela's larger-than-life president, Hugo Chavez, and vividly portrayed how cocaine traffickers led by Pablo Escobar had shred the social and moral fabric of his native Colombia, kidnapping members of its elite, in "News of a Kidnapping." In 1994, Garcia Marquez founded the Iberoamerican Foundation for New Journalism, which offers training and competitions to raise the standard of narrative and investigative journalism across Latin America.
Like many Latin American writers, Garcia Marquez transcended the world of letters. The man widely known as "Gabo" became a hero to the Latin American left as an early ally of Cuba's revolutionary leader Fidel Castro and a critic of Washington's violent interventions from Vietnam to Chile.
Garcia Marquez was born in Aracataca, a small Colombian town near the Caribbean coast, on March 6, 1927. He was the eldest of the 11 children of Luisa Santiaga Marquez and Gabriel Elijio Garcia, a telegraphist and a wandering homeopathic pharmacist who was also something of a philanderer and fathered at least four children outside of his marriage.
Just after their first son was born, his parents left him with his maternal grandparents and moved to Barranquilla, where Garcia Marquez's father opened a pharmacy, hoping to become rich.
Garcia Marquez was raised for 10 years by his grandmother and his grandfather, a retired colonel who fought in the devastating 1,000-Day War that hastened Colombia's loss of the Panamanian isthmus.
His grandparents' tales would provide grist for Garcia Marquez's fiction and Aracataca became the model for "Macondo," the village surrounded by banana plantations at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains where "One Hundred Years of Solitude" is set.
"I have often been told by the family that I started recounting things, stories and so on, almost since I was born," Garcia Marquez once told an interviewer. "Ever since I could speak."
Garcia Marquez's parents continued to have children, and barely made ends meet. Their first-born son was sent to a state-run boarding school just outside Bogota where he became a star student and voracious reader, favoring Hemingway, Faulkner, Dostoevsky and Kafka.
Garcia Marquez published his first piece of fiction as a student in 1947, mailing a short story to the newspaper El Espectador after its literary editor wrote that "Colombia's younger generation has nothing to offer in the way of good literature anymore."
His father insisted he study law but he dropped out, bored, and dedicated himself to journalism. The pay was atrocious and Garcia Marquez recalled his mother visiting him in Bogota and commenting in horror at his bedraggled appearance that: "I thought you were a beggar."
Garcia Marquez's writing was constantly informed by his leftist political views, themselves forged in large part by a 1928 military massacre near Aracataca of banana workers striking against the United Fruit Company, which later became Chiquita. He was also greatly influenced by the assassination two decades later of Jorge Eliecer Gaitan, a galvanizing leftist presidential candidate.
Garcia Marquez suffered a strong official backlash to his story about how government corruption contributed to the disaster recounted in "Story of A Shipwrecked Sailor." A dictatorship seized power and Garcia Marquez made a new home in Europe. After touring the Soviet-controlled east, he moved to Rome in 1955 to study cinema, a lifelong love. Then he moved to Paris, where he lived among intellectuals and artists exiled from the many Latin American dictatorships of the day.
Garcia Marquez returned to Colombia in 1958 to marry Mercedes Barcha, a neighbor from childhood days. They had two sons, Rodrigo, a film director, and Gonzalo, a graphic designer.
After a 1981 run-in with Colombia's government in which he was accused of sympathizing with M-19 rebels and sending money to a Venezuelan guerrilla group, Garcia Marquez moved to Mexico City, his main home for the rest of his life.
Despite being denied U.S. visas for years over his politics, he was courted by presidents and kings and counted Bill Clinton and Francois Mitterrand among his friends. He denounced what he considered the unfair political persecution of Clinton for sexual adventures
Clinton himself recalled in an AP interview in 2007 reading "One Hundred Years of Solitude" while in law school and not being able to put it down, not even during classes.
"I realized this man had imagined something that seemed like a fantasy but was profoundly true and profoundly wise," he said.
Dirt poor and struggling through much of his adult life, Garcia Marquez was somewhat transformed by his later fame and wealth. A bon vivant with an impish personality, Garcia Marquez was a gracious host who would animatedly recount long stories to guests. Fiercely protective of his image, a trait shared by his wife, he would occasionally unleash a quick temper when he felt slighted or misrepresented by the press.
The author with the bushy grey eyebrows and white mustache spent more time in Colombia in his later years, founding the journalism institute in the walled colonial port city of Cartagena, where he kept a home.
Garcia Marquez turned down offers of diplomatic posts and spurned attempts to draft him to run for Colombia's presidency, though he did get involved in behind-the-scenes peace mediation efforts between Colombia's government and leftist rebels.
In 1998, already in his 70s, Garcia Marquez fulfilled a lifelong dream, buying a majority interest in the Colombian newsmagazine Cambio with money from his Nobel. Before falling ill with lymphatic cancer in June 1999, the author contributed prodigiously to the magazine.
"I'm a journalist. I've always been a journalist," he told the AP at the time. "My books couldn't have been written if I weren't a journalist because all the material was taken from reality."
In later years there were persisting reports about the author's memory problems, which were not publicly diagnosed, and Garcia Marquez's public appearances were limited, although he continued to enjoy socializing with friends.
When he turned 87, he was feted before the press by friends and well-wishers who gave him cake and flowers outside his home in an exclusive neighborhood in Mexico City.
I don't have close personal relations with Obama, but I think he's a good and courageous person and for sure he would save me.
But Putin stressed that he'd prefer it to never come to that, the newspaper noted.
2. Putin really hopes he won't have to use force in east Ukraine.
Asked about the turmoil of pro-Russian demonstrations in eastern Ukraine, Putin insisted he doesn't know for sure what is happening, according to a Kremlin transcript of the show. He continued:
But we believe that we ought to do everything we can to help these people defend their rights and determine their fate on their own. This is what we will fight for.
Let me remind you that the Federation Council of Russia gave the President the right to use the Armed Forces in Ukraine. I very much hope that I will not have to exercise this right and that, through political and diplomatic means, we will be able to resolve all the pressing, if not to say burning, issues in Ukraine.
3. East Ukraine ... or 'New Russia'
Putin repeatedly dove into Ukraine's historical connections to Russia, calling eastern Ukraine by its tsarist name "Novorossiya," (New Russia), The Guardian noted. In one example:
Central, eastern and southeastern Ukraine is another matter. I’ve just mentioned this area, New Russia, which has intertwined its roots with those of the Russian state. The local people have a somewhat different mentality. They found themselves part of present-day Ukraine, which had been pieced together in the Soviet period.
4. West Ukraine is just bitter.
Putin tore into the Kiev government and far-right movements in western Ukraine, claiming that "nationalism and even neo-Nazism are experiencing a resurgence in western Ukraine," according to the Kremlin transcript.
Ever the psychoanalyst, Putin claimed the root of right-wing politics is historical insecurity, referencing Ukrainians' experience of discrimination in Europe. He said:
This still lurks in their historical memory, under the crust, deep down in their hearts, see? It’s where their nationalism comes from, I think.
5. 'Little green men' are Russian.
The president on "Direct Line With Vladimir Putin," April 17, 2014.
In response to a remark that the unmarked forces in Crimea before the annexation "looked a lot like Russians," Putin admitted they were in fact Russian troops.
The Russian-speaking forces flooded Crimea after Kiev's president was overthrown, but their refusal to identify themselves led to the nickname "little green men."
According to the Kremlin, Putin says he sent troops to protect Crimeans:
"We had to take the necessary measures in order to prevent the situation in Crimea unfolding the way it is now unfolding in southeastern Ukraine. We didn’t want any tanks, any nationalist combat units or people with extreme views armed with automatic weapons. Of course, the Russian servicemen did back the Crimean self-defense forces. They acted in a civil but a decisive and professional manner, as I’ve already said."
6. 'From one spy to another'
Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked details of U.S. surveillance programs, appeared on the show via video link from an unknown location in Russia, Russian television station RT reported. In response to Snowden's question about Russia's surveillance activities, Putin greeted him warmly:
You are a former agent or spy. I used to work for an intelligence agency, so we are going to talk the same professional language.
With a smile, Putin told Snowden that he hoped Russia would never have the same mass surveillance as the U.S., according to RT.
7. Alaska is not warm enough to annex.
Putin responded to a question about whether he had plans to annex Alaska with musings on its weather. In contrast to balmy Crimea, the icey U.S. state may just be too cold for Putin. “Who needs Alaska?” he quipped, according to Rio Novosti. He added:
It’s cold there, too. Let’s not get hot-headed.
And then he went on to make a joke about Alaska and ice cream, which was probably funny in Russian.
8. Ukraine's ex-president Viktor Yanukovych 'went on a trip.'
The president on "Direct Line With Vladimir Putin," April 17, 2014. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Alexei Nikolsky, Presidential Press Service)
Putin admitted that he had discussed using force against protesters when speaking with ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych during mass demonstrations against Yanukovych's government earlier this year, according to the Kremlin transcript. In the end, Yanukovych "did not have the heart to sign the order," according to Putin.
Russia views Yanukovych's ouster as illegitimate and refuses to extradite the former leader from Russia.
According to Putin's version of history, Yanukovych did not actually flee Ukraine:
I don’t agree that Yanukovych fled. He had to leave, but he did not flee from Kiev; he was on a regional trip while the presidential administration and government buildings were taken over in Kiev in breach of a signed agreement.
9. Nuclear war or emotional breakdown?
Putin assured the audience that he will work with all Ukraine's politicians. He lauded his relationship with prominent Ukrainian leader Yulia Tymoshenko, and talked down recordings in the Russia press which appeared to show the opposition figure advocating attacks on Russians. But he couldn't resist a jibe:
I know Ms. Tymoshenko very well. Even though she calls for Russians to be “destroyed by nuclear weapon," I think she said that while having some sort of emotional breakdown.
10. Gentlemen help their ex-wives.
And on an equally pressing topic, Putin answered a question about when the country would see a new first lady, by graciously offering to set up his ex-wife.
According to Russian news service Ria Novosti, Putin outlined his dating strategy:
First, I need to marry off my former wife, Lyudmila Alexandrovna, and then think about myself.
A gentleman with a beard and a shabby shirt reads the newspaper in a Reina street doorway. "These people are re-inventing the wheel..." I can hear him say. The daily he has in his hands has a tabloid insert with the new Foreign Investment Law, recently voted on in the National Assembly. Unanimously approved, the controversial legislation comes at a time when the Cuban economy is in desperate need of foreign capital.
The rush to get investment has not caused, however, greater flexibility in areas such as contracting for personnel. The recently approved law will maintain the state's monopoly as the employing company. Only through this entity will a foreign business be able to contract for its workers. People trusted by the government will continue to rise to the top of the list it's time to get hired.
Thus, Raul Castro's government guarantees that the workforce of foreign investors will be people the government trusts. If we understand that economic autonomy is an indispensable requisite to achieving political autonomy, we know very well that the General President is going to assure that the best salaries are going to go to the pockets of the proven faithful. In this way he maintains the ability to buy loyalty with privileges, which has characterized the Cuban model.
However, ideological fidelity and working ability don't always go hand-in-hand. New businesses with foreign capital will see their performance hampered--among other reasons--by not having access to the best available human capital. On this point it's clear that the Foreign Investment Law can't jump beyond its own shadow. It continues to be marked by the fear that individuals can make themselves independent--both with regards to wages and politics--from the state.
The execution of an Iranian convicted of murder was halted at the very last minute in a dramatic scene this week when the mother of his victim forgave him as he stood on the gallows with the noose around his neck, according to Iranian media.
The convict, identified by his first name Bilal, had been sentenced to death for killing a teenager, Abdollah Hosseinzadeh, during a street fight in the market of the northern Iranian town of Nour seven years ago, the ISNA news agency reported. At the time, both Bilal and Hosseinzadeh were around 17 years old, ISNA said. Bilal was brought blindfolded to the site of his planned execution Tuesday in a town square. He was stood on a chair on the gallows and the noose was put on his neck, according to pictures of the scene published by ISNA.
But at the last minute, Hosseinzadeh's mother, Samereh Alinejad, forgave him, after giving a speech to the crowd and then slapping Bilal in the face. Hosseinzadeh's father helped take the noose off of Bilal, whose weeping mother hugged Alinejad in thanks, as seen in the photos.
Hosseinzadeh's family had come under calls by famous artists, soccer coaches and town residents to pardon Bilal and accept blood money instead of execution, a provision allowed to victim's families under Iranian law. Bilal was a student of Hosseinzadeh's father, a well-known former local soccer player who now coaches the sport. Even an episode of a popular sports program on Iranian state television had urged the family to forgive Bilal the day before his planned execution.
Alinejad told the Shargh newspaper in an interview published Thursday that she resisted the pressure, including from her own family. She and her husband, who also have a daughter, lost another son who was killed in a car crash years earlier.
She told Shargh that her son Abdollah appeared to her in a dream and asked her to forgive his killer, and still she was reluctant. She said that in her speech at the gallows, she scolded the crowd for pressuring her to forgive, saying: "Do you know what I have gone through all these years and how my life became like poison?"
But after Bilal pleaded to her — and she slapped him — "I felt at ease" and forgave him, she said.
Bilal will serve a prison sentence instead of being executed, according to the newspaper.
Iran has the second highest number of executions in the world — 369 in 2013 — after China, according to Amnesty International.
Follow Lee Keath on Twitter at www.twitter.com/lkeath .
Footage captured by Vice News on Monday appears to show the violent and chaotic seizure of a police station by pro-Russian activists in eastern Ukraine.
In the video, reporter Simon Ostrovsy watches chaos unfold in the Ukrainian town of Horlivka. A protester attempting to plant a Russian flag atop the station becomes involved in a scuffle with authorities and subsequently falls, or is pushed, to the ground below. The event causes tensions to boil over, as the already irate crowd storms the building en masse while police try to push them back with shields and tear gas. Between varying scenes of violence and tension we see the protesters eventually overtake the building, before brutally beating the policeman they blame for sparking the incident into a nearby ambulance.
The video is shot in true Vice-style, but provides a vivid look at the scene on the ground in Ukraine's east, where separatist protesters backed or led by heavily armed masked militiamen have been engaging in similar seizures of government buildings. Their actions have sparked a military response from the Ukrainian government in Kiev to take back control in the region, one that has so far been met with difficulties and Russian threats.
BRUSSELS - Russia is rolling out two major projects – a gas pipeline and a Crimea deep water port – with China, as EU countries and the US weigh options on economic sanctions.
Russia’s ambassador to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, told EUobserver on Wednesday (16 April) that work on the “Power of Siberia” pipeline and the Chinese construction of a 25-metre-deep port in Crimea are proceeding as normal despite the Ukraine crisis.
Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton host Girls: A No Ceilings Conversation – the first in a series of live and virtual dialogues designed to hear directly from girls and women, men and boys about their lives, experiences, and hopes for the future.
The event is part of the Clinton Foundation’s No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project, which is working to advance progress for women and girls around the world.
Today, the Western press caught up with the Ukrainian rumor mill: apparently, the People's Republic of Donetsk had ordered all Jews over the age of 16 to pay a fee of $50 U.S. and register with the new "authorities," or face loss of citizenship or expulsion. This was laid out in officious-looking fliers pasted on the local synagogue. One local snapped a photo of the fliers and sent it to a friend in Israel, who then took it to the Israeli press and, voila, an international scandal: American Twitter is abuzz with it, Drudge is hawking it, and, today in Geneva, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry slammed the fliers as "grotesque."
On April 17, 1946, French mandatory rule over Syria came to an end after 25 tumultuous years of a colonial rule which started with violence and ended with violence.
For France, the granting of Mandatory rule over the Levant was the realization of a long expectation to extend its tutelage over the Christians of the region, particularly the Maronite Catholics of Mount Lebanon, "our little brothers of the Orient." For the overall Sunni Muslim majority of the Levant, particularly in Syria, that meant the replacement of a Sunni Muslim domination [the Ottoman Empire] with a Colonial Christian control, an historic upheaval which the Sunnis were not ready for, nor willing to compromise about. If Syrian Sunnis needed a reminder that their fears were well-placed, they got it soon enough, when General Gouraud, who defeated the feeble Syrian opposition in Maysalun [24 July 1920], declared in Damascus that this was a victory of the Cross over the Crescent. It could not be clearer than that!
In 1945, these were the British who forced the hand of another French General, who had similar views, though never expressing them so blatantly, the great Charles De Gaulle, and after a French attempt to suppress Syrian uprising, issued an ultimatum to the General, and the proud Frenchman had to swallow his pride and commit himself and France to a complete, final withdrawal which came to an end exactly 68 years ago. De Gaulle held the grudge against the British for many years to come, but Syria became independent and thus started an era which can be summed up as an ongoing attempt to cement common identity as part of a state formation, in a country so fractured by long-held sectarian divisions. We know now that it failed, and the search for common identity proved futile, and so a state was formed, but from its very inception, it lacked the basic elementary ingredients of a viable, stable national community.
There are some important reasons for that, and they can be seen also as the root cause of troubles in other Middle Eastern countries [see the examples of Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen and Libya], but this is Syria's day today, so the emphasis is on the country which never came to grips with its boundaries. Syria, after 1946, was a country claiming to be the great loser of the post WW1 and 2 territorial arrangements in the Middle East.
While lack of internal stability caused an unbridgeable gap between aspirations and capabilities came the era of supposed stability as of 1970, when Hafiz Al Assad completed his takeover of the ruling Ba'ath Party and enforced an iron-fist dictatorship.
As of 1970, the political bon ton in Syria was clearly revisionist, as the regime explained in words, and sometimes in actions that Syria had a claim over Palestine [Hafiz Assad in a famous speech on March 8, 1974], over Lebanon [Hafiz Assad in another famous speech, on July 20, 1976], and even on Jordan [the crisis of November 1980]. Surely, the new posture of Syria as stable state seemed to give credence to some of Assad's words and actions.
The problem was that Syria under Assad was NOT really stable, and the horrendous repression of the Sunni majority by a coalition of minorities, led by the Alawites, managed to create a semblance of stability, predicated on fear, rather than on genuine legitimacy.
Legitimacy was not achieved, as the Sunni majority never accepted the right of Alawites to control. Arab Nationalism, Arab Socialism and Syrian Patriotism were used by the regime as means of mass mobilization, but it did not work.
The writing was on the wall much before Hafiz Assad was born. In 1870, a British Consul in the Levant sent an illuminating report to London about the people of the Levant, "they hate each other... Sunnis hate the Sh'ites, Muslims hate the Christians... they ALL despise the Alawites...''
Here is where primordial tribal and sectarian/religious loyalties have collided with the notion of a modern state based on commonality of values and a sense of civic solidarity. Not in most parts of the Middle East, surely not in Syria. The sword of oppression did not bring a sense of solidarity, and fear is effective only up to a point.
When sectarianism is backed up by economic deprivation, people have nothing to lose and then they rise up. The rebellion fittingly started in a Sunni region [Dera'], long neglected, on the verge of starvation due to scarcity of water and economic opportunities. And this was the picture also in other peripheral Sunni regions, which suffered intentional neglect due to the policies of preferring the minorities over the majority.
The current state of affairs in Syria, whereby the country is virtually partitioned along sectarian lines is the most striking indication that Arab Nationalism as espoused by the Ba'ath Party could not overcome more fundamental forces, with much greater legitimacy, chief among them is sectarianism. Syria does not celebrate today the final evacuation of French colonialism. Syria is too bleeding to celebrate anything these days.
* More funds for Iran unblocked as it curbs nuclear activity
* But plant needed to implement nuclear deal faces put off
* Interim pact meant to buy time for talks on long-term deal (Adds expert comments, detail, paragraphs 6, 9, 17-18)
By Fredrik Dahl
VIENNA, April 17 (Reuters) - Iran has acted to cut its most sensitive nuclear stockpile by nearly 75 percent in implementing a landmark pact with world powers, but a planned facility it will need to fulfil the six-month deal has been delayed, a U.N. report showed on Thursday.
The monthly update by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has a pivotal role in verifying that Iran is living up to its part of the accord, made clear that Iran so far is undertaking the agreed steps to curb its nuclear programme.
As a result, it is gradually gaining access to some previously blocked overseas funds. Japan has made two more payments totalling $1 billion to Iran for crude imports, two sources with knowledge of the transactions said.
Under the breakthrough agreement that took effect on Jan. 20, Iran halted some aspects of its nuclear programme in exchange for a limited easing of international sanctions that have laid low the major oil producer's economy.
It was designed to buy time for negotiations on a final, long-term settlement of the decade-old dispute over nuclear activities that Iran says are peaceful but the West fears may be covertly directed toward developing an atomic bomb capability.
Those talks - made possible by the election last year of a pragmatist, Hassan Rouhani, as new Iranian president after years of confrontation with the West under his hardline predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - got under way in February and are aimed at reaching an agreement by July 20. Washington has not ruled out military action against Iran if diplomacy were to fail.
The IAEA update showed that Iran had - as stipulated by the Nov. 24 agreement with the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia - diluted half of its higher-grade enriched uranium reserve to a fissile content less prone to bomb proliferation. One of the payments from Japan, of $450 million on April 15, hinged on Iran meeting this target.
Tehran has also continued to convert the other half of its stock of uranium gas refined to a 20 percent fissile purity - a relatively short technical step from 90 percent weapons-grade material - into oxide for making reactor fuel.
Together, Iran has in the last three months either diluted or fed into the conversion process a total of almost 155 kg (340 pounds) of its higher-grade uranium gas, which amounted to 209 kg when the deal came into force, a bit less than the roughly 250 kg experts say would be needed for a bomb, if refined more.
This will be seen as a positive development by Western states since it lengthens the time Iran would need for any effort to amass enough fissile material for the core of a nuclear weapon. The Islamic Republic has insisted it is only refining uranium to fuel nuclear reactors, not bombs.
NUCLEAR FACILITY DELAY
The IAEA report also pointed to a new delay in Iran's construction of a plant designed to turn low-enriched uranium gas (LEU) into an oxide powder that is not suitable for further processing into highly-enriched bomb-grade uranium.
Iran told the IAEA last month that the site would be commissioned on April 9. But Thursday's update by the U.N. nuclear watchdog said the commissioning had been put off, without giving any reason.
However, "Iran has indicated to the agency that this will not have an adverse impact on the implementation of (its) undertaking" to convert the uranium gas, the agency said.
The delay means that Iran's LEU stockpile - which it agreed to limit under the agreement hammered out in Geneva in November - is almost certainly continuing to increase for the time being, simply because its production of the material has not stopped, unlike that of the 20 percent uranium gas.
Western diplomats said earlier that this matter was of no immediate consequence as Iran's commitment concerns the size of the reserve towards the end of the deal, in late July, meaning it has time both to complete the site and convert enough LEU.
But they also say that the Islamic Republic's progress in building the conversion line will be closely monitored. The longer it takes to complete it, the more material Iran will have to process to meet the target in three months' time.
"The delay is not long enough to raise a red flag," said Iran expert Ali Vaez at the International Crisis Group think-tank. Once the plant is "up and running, Iran could retroactively convert any excess material to oxide", he said.
Mark Hibbs of the Carnegie Endowment think-tank said he believed there may be a technical reason for the postponement. "It is hard to believe that Iran would not meet that commitment it has made on the conversion in good faith," he said.
If it complies with the interim deal, Iran will get a total of $4.2 billion in revenues long frozen oversees, in eight instalments over the January-July period. Including Japan's latest payments, it has received $2.55 billion. South Korea, another importer of Iranian oil, has made one payment. (Additional reporting by Aaron Sheldrick in Tokyo; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
It was a haunting discovery: a terrified 11-year-old girl cowering in the corner of a ransacked house three days after her village had been attacked in a horrific act of ethnic cleansing. Her parents had also been killed and in the streets outside, dogs fed on the decomposing bodies of her neighbors. This scene, witnessed by Amnesty International researchers, may be reminiscent of one that occurred during the Rwanda genocide. But this girl was a Muslim, not a Tutsi. The village was in the Central African Republic, not in Rwanda. And this happened in February, not 20 years ago.
A decade ago, marking the 10th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, the former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan lamented the collective failure of the international community to protect the 800,000 people who perished. "Such crimes cannot be reversed. Such failures cannot be repaired. The dead cannot be brought back to life. So what can we do?" Far from being a rhetorical question, Kofi Annan was raising the key issue facing all concerned with safeguarding against genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Since the Rwandan genocide, regional and international institutions have developed new norms and mechanisms aimed at providing some answers to Kofi Annan's question. The International Criminal Court and other UN-assisted tribunals, including the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, are attempting to ensure that those who commit atrocities are held to account. The principle of "responsibility to protect" also provides that states must protect their populations from crimes against humanity.
The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights has the power to investigate widespread human rights violations whilst the African Union has the right to intervene in member states where genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes are taking place.
And yet, despite these institutional changes, this renewed commitment to principles of international justice does not translate to sufficient practical action on the ground. The recent events in the Central African Republic and in South Sudan underscore the continued failure of regional and international bodies to act firmly, decisively and quickly enough to prevent atrocities.
Since December, the Central African Republic has experienced ethnic cleansing on a massive scale with targeting of the country's Muslim population. War crimes and crimes against humanity have been perpetrated against civilians and many have been caught up in fighting between the mostly Muslim Seleka and the mainly Christian anti-balaka militias. It is only now that the UN has finally decided to bolster the peacekeeping mission to CAR to 12,000. But that will not be fully in place until September.
In South Sudan thousands of civilians have been killed since the outbreak of conflict in December 2013. Both the government and opposition forces have targeted civilians based on their ethnicity, raped women and girls, burned homes, and looted badly needed humanitarian supplies. Heavy weaponry has been used indiscriminately in civilian areas, churches and hospitals sheltering civilians have been attacked and more than a million people have fled their homes. In response to the violence in South Sudan, the UN Security Council unanimously agreed to increase peacekeeping force levels but deployment has been slow. The African Union Peace and Security Council called for a Commission of Inquiry in December 2013, but it was not formed until last month and its members have yet to set foot in South Sudan. Meanwhile peace negotiations being brokered by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development have stalled.
The role of human rights organizations is crucial in raising awareness of the threat of mass atrocities in order to spur the international community into action. In the Central African Republic, Amnesty International experts have made three separate in depth research trips to the country as well as to refugee camps in neighbouring Chad. The organization published a report flagging the escalating violence as far back as October 2013. It also published satellite images providing evidence of 485 homes being torched in the town of Bouca as well as internally displaced persons massing near the town of Bossangoa as people fled the violence. Amnesty International was the first to describe the bloodshed there as ethnic cleansing. And yet, despite international expressions of concern, the killing goes on.
Time is running out for the millions of men, women and children who are in desperate need of help in the Central African Republic and South Sudan. Tragically the young girl found hiding among the dead in her village in CAR is far from being an isolated example.
The genocide in Rwanda was shocking not just because of the extremity and scale of the atrocities but also because it was preventable.
If the international community is truly committed to stopping mass atrocities, it must ensure that its mechanisms are effective. States and individuals must know that they cannot act with impunity. The Security Council must deploy peacekeeping forces where they are needed most and must be resourced to ensure they can carry out their mandate to protect civilians.
We may not be able to bring the dead back to life, but by taking these steps we can ensure we protect the living.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States on Thursday condemned as "grotesque" the distribution of leaflets demanding that Jews in eastern Ukraine register with a self-proclaimed local authority or face consequences. U.S. officials also denounced other instances of religious intolerance that are inflaming tensions the crisis in Ukraine and said no such behavior could be tolerated.
Speaking in Geneva after top diplomats from the U.S., European Union, Russia and Ukraine reached agreement on steps to de-escalate the situation, Secretary of State John Kerry denounced the leaflets.
"In the year 2014, after all of the miles traveled and all of the journey of history, this is not just intolerable; it's grotesque," Kerry told reporters. "It is beyond unacceptable. And any of the people who engage in these kinds of activities, from whatever party or whatever ideology or whatever place they crawl out of, there is no place for that. "
Kerry also denounced apparent threats to members of the Russian Orthodox Church from members of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. He noted that the agreement signed on Thursday "strongly condemned and rejected all expressions of extremism, racism and religious intolerance, including anti-Semitism."
In Washington, U.S. officials said the anti-Semitic leaflets, which recall the days of czarist pogroms and Nazi-era persecution of Jews, have appeared recently in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk. The State Department said it was looking into who is responsible but said it took the threat seriously no matter who was behind the leaflets.
The leaflets seen by U.S. officials purport to come from the Donetsk People's Republic, a self-styled, unrecognized breakaway authority that seeks to join Russia. The Donetsk Republic press office denied any involvement in the matter and says the leaflets are fake.