Former Syrian intelligence officer Anwar Raslan was sentenced to life in prison yesterday in a landmark ruling by a German court for war crimes committed against humanity. Raslan, 58, is the first person to be criminally convicted over a state-led torture program under President Bashar al-Assad during the ongoing Syrian civil war, which began in 2011.
Raslan was charged with 4,000 counts of torture, 58 murders, and numerous counts of rape and sexual assault while overseeing a detention facility in Damascus from 2011-12. He is the highest-ranking former government official to be tried for such crimes in a foreign criminal court. Germany applies the concept of “universal jurisdiction," allowing a national court to prosecute individuals for serious international crimes against all humankind (see 101).
Raslan fled Syria in 2012 and gained asylum in Germany in 2014. He was arrested in 2019 after Germany uncovered his involvement in the Syrian war.
Federal officials arrested Stewart Rhodes, leader of the antigovernment Oath Keepers militia group, in connection with the Jan. 6 storming of the US Capitol. The 56-year-old Rhodes, who was arrested outside Dallas by the FBI, faces charges of seditious conspiracy, among other counts.
While more than 700 people face charges linked to activities from the day, the majority relate to disorderly conduct and entry of a restricted building. Within the larger crowd, officials allege a number of militia and far-right groups carried out a premeditated attack on the Capitol that included mapping out entry points and how to navigate the complex's underground tunnels. The charge of seditious conspiracy carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Ten other members of the group were also arrested and face similar charges. See background on Stewart here.
Costa Concordia Anniversary
Italy yesterday marked the 10th anniversary of the Costa Concordia shipwreck with a memorial ceremony honoring the 32 victims. The cruise ship partially capsized near the island of Giglio Jan. 13, 2012, after the ship’s captain got too close to the island while performing a sail-by salute and hit a reef. The ship then began taking on water, resulting in power loss on board. The captain, Francesco Schettino, delayed the evacuation order, causing chaos as more than 4,000 passengers and crew tried to evacuate the ship.
The wreck recovery was one of the most expensive in history—nearly $2B, more than three times the cost to build the ship. Schettino is serving a 16-year prison sentence for manslaughter, causing the shipwreck, and abandoning the ship while many passengers were still on board.
See stories from survivors here and photos of the wreck here.
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The Future of Rum Isle
NYT | Stephen Castle. A tiny island off the Scottish coast—population roughly 40—has appealed to a number of families deciding on their post-pandemic future. (Read, paywall)
The Beginning of the End of Poverty
Our World in Data | Max Roser. The percentage of the global population living in extreme poverty has dropped from 75% to under 10% in two centuries. What will it take to keep making progress? (Read)
Swapping and Trading
Guardian | Emma Beddington. On the rise of "buy nothing" groups, where everything and anything can be reused. (Read)
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Historybook: RIP astronomer Edmond Halley (1742); RIP “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” author Lewis Carroll (1898); HBD actress Faye Dunaway (1941); Franklin D. Roosevelt is first president to travel on official business by airplane in office (1943); NBC’s “Today” debuts (1952).
"All that is really worth the doing is what we do for others."
- Lewis Carroll
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