MOGADISHU, July 31 -- There is a tree in Somalia that's unusually leafless all year round, even when it rains.
With no other trees growing nearby, it stands more than seven feet tall on a dry and stony patch of land. Rocky, barren hills neighbour it on one side and a huge camp for people fleeing conflict on the other.
Almost all Somalis know it, or have seen photos of it. It is called the tree of death or the execution tree and it is the most dreaded tree in the country. It grows, or simply stands depending on who you ask, in the city of Bossasso in the Puntland region. Anyone sentenced to death in this part of the country is first tied to it and their hands are bound behind their backs.
A firing squad then shoots them dead. No one knows who planted it, or when, and it is said it is now wretched because of the human blood it has tasted during its unknown lifespan. Its bark is the last physical contact with anything living that death-row prisoners have before bullets from masked sharp-shooters drive the life out of their limbs. The gravediggers who work in the expansive cemetery where it grows say it is cursed.
Bullet holes mark its trunk and splatters of clotted blood form an extra coat on the sun-baked bark.
Scared to cut down
It is an unnecessary and painful reminder for anyone who has had a family member executed by the region's feared firing squad who act after death sentences are handed down by the local courts.
Many wish it was cut down for charcoal but wonder who would dare cook with charcoal from a tree that had human blood on it? No one here is tempted to cross that line. Not for any amount of money. The gravediggers who sleep at the cemetery to make sure no one is buried illegally at night will not even sit underneath its shade despite the baking heat.
"Only a mad man would dare seek shelter under that tree. I would rather be burnt by the sun. Hundreds were tied and shot there," one middle-aged digger at the cemetery told me.
As the golden sun set behind the rolling hills, we drove away from the cemetery and took one last look over our shoulders. A gust of wind blew brown sand and dust around the "haunted tree".
"I hope that gust blows it away," a gravedigger sitting beside me in the car said.
STOCKHOLM, July 30 -- An unofficial gay Pride parade organised by a right-wing nationalist is planned for July 29 to run through a predominantly immigrant neighbourhood with a large Muslim population. The event is making the headlines in the country and globally for all the wrong reasons.
Pride Järva is organised by Jan Sjunnesson, a former editor-in-chief of Samtiden, a web-magazine owned by Sweden Democrats (SD), the anti-immigration party that became the third largest political party in the Swedish parliament following the 2014 general election.
Sjunnesson is also the editor of website Avpixlat, often described in mainstream Swedish media as a xenophobic and far-right website. The planned parade has attracted criticism from the official Pride organisers, Sweden's LGBT federation, and anti-racism groups. They believe the agenda behind this parade organised by the far-right is to try to provoke Muslims in the predominantly immigrant areas.
In a joint statement the official Stockholm Pride and the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (RFSL) said they were distancing themselves from the initiative.
"Jan Sjunnesson has for a long time made himself known as a person who's spreading hatred towards Muslims on social media [and] who's not supporting LGBT rights. "The magazine Expo in February published a compilation in which they, among other things, showed how Sjunnesson ... had shared an American film where Muslims were described as paedophiles and homosexuals and a 'Satanistic threat against society' who should be deported," the statement said.
ANKARA, July 26 -- Two Turkish soldiers have been killed and four others wounded in a car bomb attack in the southeastern province of Diyarbakir, while Turkish aircraft continued bombing ISIL positions in neighbouring Syria and Kurdish fighters in Iraq.
The blast struck a military vehicle passing through the town of Lice on Saturday night. Local officials and state media blamed the attack on "terrorists", but did not name a specific group. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the explosion.
"Two of our personnel were killed in the heinous attack, four were wounded," a statement from Diyarbakir's governor's office said, adding that large-scale operations have been launched to find the perpetrators.
The attack came amid ongoing military campaigns, which began on Friday, one against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group across the border in Syria and the other targeting the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) in northern Iraq.
The air raids followed a suicide bombing in the southern Turkish town of Suruc earlier in the week that killed dozens of Kurdish activists. Turkish authorities blamed ISIL for that attack.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has said the military operations would not be have a time frame, indicating a prolonged offensive. The PKK said Turkish strikes on its bases meant the government in Ankara had ended a fragile 2013 ceasefire between the two sides.
The Kurdish group that seeks self-rule has for decades waged a deadly rebellion in Turkey's southeast that claimed tens of thousands of lives. A peace process that began in 2013 has so far failed to yield a final deal.
ANKARA, July 24 -- Turkey has launched air strikes against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) positions in Syria following a suicide bomb attack by a suspected ISIL affiliate in Suruc.
Three F-16 fighter jets bombed three ISIL targets from Diyarbakir airbase shortly before 4am local time on Friday, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu's office said in a statement.
"Four guided bombs targeted two headquarters and an assembly point," the statement said.
Meanwhile, Turkish anti-terrorism police raided more than 100 suspected ISIL, Kurdish and leftist armed group locations in Istanbul in an overnight operation on Friday.
The number of detained was not immediately clear.
One member of the Marxist Revolutionary People's Liberation Party Front (DHKP/C), was killed in an exchange of fire with police forces during the raids in the Bagcilar neighbourhood of Istanbul.
The raids, carried out in 26 districts of the city, were supported by 5,000 police officers and helicopters.
The police conducted a separate set of raids in the Turkish capital, Ankara. At least nine people were detained in 12 different locations.
In total, similar operations were carried out in 13 provinces of Turkey that resulted in 251 detentions, according to the coordination centre of the Turkish Prime Ministry.
Москва, июля 23 -- По заявлению правообладателя «ТНТ-Телесеть» определением Московского городского суда от 07 апреля 2015 были приняты предварительные обеспечительные меры защиты исключительных прав на многосерийные фильмы «ФИЗРУК» (1 сезон, серии 1-20), «ФИЗРУК» (2 сезон, серии 1-4, 6-14), «Чернобыль» (серии 1-2, 5-8), размещенные на видеохостинге http://www.youtube.com.
Первоначальное уведомление о нарушении авторских прав направлялось администрации YouTube 8 апреля 2015 года, после чего противоправная информация была удалена.
В дальнейшем по результатам мониторинга сайта YouTube неоднократно выявлялось повторное размещение указанных многосерийных фильмов.
20 июля 2015 года был проведен очередной мониторинг нелегального размещения сериалов «Физрук» и «Чернобыль» на портале видеохостинга. В результате выявлено 137 ссылок, где размещается нелегальный контент.
Уведомления с просьбой об удалении противоправно размещенных материалов неоднократно направлялись администрации интернет-ресурса.
В настоящее время доступ к нелегальному видео администрацией ресурса не ограничен.
Роскомнадзор предупреждает российских пользователей, что в понедельник, 27 июля 2015 года, отдельные указатели страниц сервиса YouTube будут включены в реестр нарушителей авторских прав. По истечении трех рабочих дней в случае неудаления противозаконной информации доступ к этим ссылкам будет ограничен операторами связи. Это может привести к тому, что для абонентов отдельных интернет-провайдеров будет ограничен доступ ко всему сервису YouTube.
В то же время Роскомнадзор рассчитывает на неукоснительное исполнение администрацией видеопортала вступившего в силу судебного акта.
MOSCOW, July 23 -- Russia’s emergencies ministry has sent yet anouther, the 33rd, humanitarian convoy to Donbass, the ministry’s press service said on Thursday.
"More than 100 trucks set off from the emergencies ministry’s Don rescue centre at 04:00 Moscow time and are now heading for the state border," the press service said.
The trucks are carrying more than 1,000 tonnes of humanitarian cargoes, including medicines, foods and articles of daily necessity, to Donetsk and Lugansk. Before the border, the convoy will break in two - one will drive towards the Donetsk border crossing point to further head for Lugansk, and the other will go to Donetsk vie the Matveyev Kurga border crossing point.
Since mid-August 2014, Russia’s emergencies ministry has delivered more than 40,000 tonnes of humanitarian cargoes to Donbass.
NEW YORK, July 23 -- Protesters have poured into New York's Times Square to denounce the Iran nuclear deal as a threat to Israel and global security, demanding that the US Congress reject the pact.
Speakers at Wednesday's rally, including Republican politicians, called on the US Congress to throw the deal out, whipping up the crowd on that included supporters of right-wing Jewish and evangelical Christian groups. The protest came as US Secretary of State and other senior officials briefed members of Congress about the deal behind closed doors.
Reports from Washington where the talks were held, said that some members of Congress came out from the discussions and told reporters that they were still very sceptical about the deal. In New York, Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, co-organiser of the Stop Iran Rally, claimed that there were 10,000 people in the crowd. Protesters held up US flags and placards denouncing the deal.
"We're here as Americans to speak with one voice to say stop Iran now, reject this deal," said George Pataki, the former three-term Republican governor of New York. "This is a God-awful deal, this must be rejected. Congress must do its job and stand up for the American people, stand up for our safety and say no to this Iranian deal," he said.