More than 400,000 people have been displaced in CAR since Seleka rebels - many who are Muslims from neighboring countries Chad and Sudan - seized political power in March 2013, ousting then-president Francois Bozize. Shortly after the transition, the majority Christian population was subject to increasing incidents of rapes, murders and looting. Michel Djotodia, rebel leader turned interim president, has largely lost control of his gunmen. Christians fled reprisals following a failed offensive on Bangui the first week of December. A French initiative to disarm all fighters on both sides has weakened Seleka’s influence in the capital, leading to counter-attacks by Christian militias.
President Francois Hollande visited CAR on his return trip to France from the funeral of Nelson Mandela in South Africa on Monday after two French soldiers were killed in fighting and shortly after France sent a 1,600-strong force into its former colony to neutralize the chaos and end the deadly fighting.
In the Fouh neighborhood on Tuesday, a Reuters correspondent saw civilians armed with wooden clubs and machetes attack a mosque and houses, and at least six people were lynched overnight mainly during violence targeting Muslims, according to residents. French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the current French troop levels were sufficient to stabilize the country. CAR is roughly the size of France. The U.S. said it will fly African forces into the country: two U.S. military C-17 aircraft will fly 850 troops from Burundi, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Firman, a Pentagon spokesman, said. It was unclear what U.S. support might follow, but Firman said consultations were ongoing. The forces will help bolster the contingent from the African Union, due to be increased to 6,000 from about 3,500.
UN Refugee Agency reported that by Monday night, an estimated 108,000 people in Bangui have left their homes and staying in 30 locations across the capital, mainly in churches, mosques, public buildings and the airport. In addition, an unknown number of people have also moved to Kilometre 5, a mostly Muslim neighborhood in the northwest of Bangui, to stay with relatives or friends. In the capital Bangui, religious leaders met to distribute food to the more than 10,000 displaced people huddled at a gathering at a community center for protection. They urged an end to the violence.
David Rhode, two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize and Reuters columnist writes: Wealthy nations are funding a poorly-equipped regional peacekeeping force instead of authorizing more costly United Nations troops, and it is unclear whether the approach will work.
Top Photo: A Christian youth inside a burned-out car in Bangui on December 10, 2013. REUTERS/Emmanuel Braun
The growing popularity of e-cigarettes has not escaped the notice of critics, who call for new regulations even though scientific evidence about exposure to vapors remains inconclusive.
They worry that the addictive nicotine found in e-cigarettes could lure more people into smoking and discourage others from quitting all together. In the United States, such concerns have led to calls for increased government regulation.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration currently has no regulations on e-cigarettes, but it is expected to release rules this month that would extend its “tobacco product” authority over the devices. New FDA rules could follow.
The non-profit foundation Mars One says its goal is to have the first human settlement on the Red Planet in 2025, but first must test out the Martian terrain through a robotic mission.
Nicaragua’s national assembly approved a constitutional change to remove presidential term limits, which could allow incumbent Daniel Ortega stay in power for years and raises concerns about democracy.
Full story: http://reut.rs/18Slk2b
Photo: An opponent of President Daniel Ortega’s government fires a homemade mortar towards the National Assembly Building during a protest in Managua, on December 10, 2013. REUTERS/Oswaldo Rivas
Canada, Denmark, and Russia are competing to own the North Pole
Russia, Canada and Denmark all say an underwater mountain range known as the Lomonosov Ridge, which stretches 1,800 km (1,120 miles) across the pole under the Arctic Sea, is part of their own landmass.
Photo: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Russian President Vladimir Putin just shut down the primary state news agency and replaced it with an organization that will promote Moscow’s image abroad. Full story: http://reut.rs/1ckAbgY
The move to abolish RIA Novosti and create a news agency to be known as Rossiya Segodnya is the second in two weeks strengthening Putin’s hold on the media as he tries to reassert his authority after protests against his rule.
Photo: REUTERS/Mikhail Metzel/RIA Novosti/Kremlin
How to survive an art fair: A day at Art Basel Miami Beach
I’m at Art Basel this week in Miami Beach. Surviving an art fair is surprisingly complicated — and exhausting. Here’s how to get the most out of it, based on yesterday’s Art Basel VIP preview:
First you are going to have to find parking. The nicer your car, the less it matters that where you stopped isn’t actually a parking spot. Look for the long line of valets.
Then, get ready to queue. Everyone coming to the VIP day at the fair is of some importance. Unless your name is on a museum somewhere (and maybe not even then!), you’ll need to wait in line with the rest of the Very Important set.
Once you’re in, it’s time to shop. Art fairs are basically the world’s most expensive mall. As with any mall, look for the name brands: Warhol, Calder, Koons… or in this case, a booth designed by an architect famous for making things white.
If you’re looking for a certain thing, check your map. Or, in my own case, look at the map, get confused, and just start walking.
If you really collect art, by all means, start looking at the work. Otherwise, it’s time to head over to the center of the fair, where there’s already a crowd wanting to see and be seen outside dealer Larry Gagosian’s booth.
That crowd may or may not include Leonardo DiCaprio and his entourage (center, with the cap).
Follow the crowds to the hidden sculpture, behind which is…
A bar handing out free coconuts! Remember, this is the 21st century and everything is art.
Now’s the time to buy your art. The VIP day is probably the only day the big dealers will actually be at the fair, so get in before it’s too late. For the most cachet, pass up the dealers in suits for the ones in jeans, like David Zwirner.
What you’re really angling for is to be invited into the back room, where there is more — and sometimes better — art for sale.
Perhaps most importantly, try to get out early, sparing yourself the humiliation of 1) feeling like you just spent six hours in a giant room full of bland art you can’t really remember and 2) having to wait in yet another line.
— Shane Ferro