British suicide bomber in Iraq had won compensation for Guantanamo stay

British militant Abu-Zakariya al-Britani who blew himself up in Iraq had won compensation for his stay at Guantanamo Bay, security sources say.

(SOCIAL MEDIA WEBSITE) – An Islamic State suicide bomber from Britain who blew himself up in an attack on Iraqi forces this week had been given compensation for his detention in the Guantanamo Bay military prison, Western security sources said on Wednesday (February 22).

Islamic State militants said Abu-Zakariya al-Britani, a British citizen who was originally known as Ronald Fiddler and then cast himself as Jamal Udeen al-Harith, detonated a car bomb at an Iraqi army base southwest of Mosul this week.

The militants also released a photograph of the smiling bomber surrounded by wires in the seat of what appeared to be the car in which he blew himself up.

The photograph was published on Dawaall al-Haq, a website that describes itself as a non-affiliated news agency. Dawaall al-Haq publishes content relating to the Islamic State and other militant groups.

The Islamic State statements could not be independently verified by Reuters but three Western security sources said it was highly likely that Britani was the bomber and now dead.

Britain made a civil damages settlement with British former Guantanamo Bay inmates in 2010 but did not disclose the size of the payouts, citing confidentiality agreements, then-Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke told parliament at the time.

The Daily Mail reported that al-Britani had been awarded $1.25 million by the British government after claiming British agents knew or were complicit in his alleged mistreatment.

Originally from the northern English city of Manchester, he converted to Islam in his 20s. He was detained in Afghanistan by U.S. special forces and taken to Guantanamo in 2002.

He was released in 2004 after the government of then-Prime Minister Tony Blair lobbied for his release. He later travelled to Syria to fight with Islamic State.

Britain’s foreign ministry declined to comment on the death of al-Britani but said it had advised for some time against all travel to Syria and large parts of Iraq.

27Feb/17

Rio’s elite samba schools begin world-famous parades in Sambadrome

Rio de Janeiro’s top samba schools compete in the Sambadrome parades.

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RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL (FEBRUARY 27, 2017) (REUTERS) – With a bright fireworks display lighting up the night sky, Rio’s top samba schools stepped to the beat as they began their renowned parade competition in the Sambadrome.

The energy was high as Tuiuti School started the parade with drums beating and costumes aflutter.

At least one participant was overcome by the heat and weight of the costume, and was quickly whisked away by emergency officials.

The nationally televised annual parades featuring up to 5,000 dancers each and near-naked Carnival queens are a serious competition for the top samba schools, and are judged on choreography, atmosphere, organization and singing, among other points.

Representing a particular neighbourhood, each samba school functions as a social club with dancers and musicians practicing all year to bring their pageantry to the public.

A disorganised wing or a faulty float can cost a school the title and bragging rights over the next year.

Each school has its own colours, a flag and many life-long supporters who eagerly attend rehearsals and watch the night’s show, rooting for their school.

Over 70 samba schools will compete this year during the five-day festival, with schools ranked in the top division competing on Sunday and Monday.

Each school chooses a central theme or story for its entry.

Flavio Rocha of the Calida Samba School explained how his costume fit into the story.

“It represents a passenger arriving as the sun sets and he is going to go to a favela,” he said, referring to the slums that lie on the outskirts of the city.

This year, the Rio Carnival spectacle plays out as Brazil seeks to emerge from a two-year recession, its worst on record, and political volatility that last year led to a presidential impeachment.

With crime sharply up since the city hosted the Olympics last August and the state suffering an intense fiscal crisis, Rio remains deeply indebted and can barely maintain basic services like police, hospitals and schools.

Despite all that, the annual party, as always, goes on.

The festival, whose roots lie in a tradition of carnal indulgence before the austere Catholic season of Lent, officially ends next Wednesday.

Rio de Janeiro expects Carnival to draw more than 1 million visitors and generate about $1 billion for the local economy.

26Feb/17

Actor Bill Paxton, known for roles in ‘Big Love,’ ‘Titanic,’ dies at 61

American actor Bill Paxton, who rose to stardom with roles in Hollywood blockbusters such as “Aliens” and “Titanic,” has died at age 61 after complications from surgery, his family said in a statement.

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LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES (JANUARY 18, 2017) (UNRESTRICTED POOL) – American actor Bill Paxton, who rose to stardom with roles in Hollywood blockbusters such as “Aliens” and “Titanic,” has died at age 61 after complications from surgery, his family said in a statement on Sunday (February 26).

Paxton, who appeared in dozens of films over some four decades, had recently starred in the HBO television series, “Big Love,” about a polygamous Mormon family, and acted alongside Tom Cruise in the film, “Edge of Tomorrow.”

For his role in “Apollo 13,” Paxton won a Screen Actors Guild Award for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture in 1996.

He was nominated for three Golden Globe Award in the best actor category for his work in “Big Love” and the 1990s miniseries, “A Bright Shining Lie.”

It was not immediately known what surgery Paxton, a Fort Worth, Texas, native had undergone.

“It is with heavy hearts we share the news that Bill Paxton has passed away due to complications from surgery,” a family representative said in the statement.

“Bill’s passion for the arts was felt by all who knew him, and his warmth and tireless energy were undeniable,” it said.

Paxton leaves behind his wife, Louise Newberry, and two children, James and Lydia.

26Feb/17

Former CIA director denies involvement in leaks of Russia reports

In his first interview since leaving office, former CIA director John Brennan says he had nothing to do with the leaks of national security information to the media. Continue reading

26Feb/17

Specter of xenophobic chaos looming over South Africa again

Various,South Africa (China Global Television) – Tensions between South Africans and foreigners rose again in Pretoria and parts of Johannesburg recently.
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