U.S. boaters are frustrated by new rules meant to tighten security along the border. Residents along the St. Lawrence River say the rules are complicating their lives and interfering with water fun.
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Children sleep on the outdoor floor of the Keleti railway station in Budapest, Hungary, on Tuesday.
A flood of migrants, including refugees from Syria and Afghanistan, are now stranded in Budapest after the Hungarian government closed down the city’s main train terminal.
Authorities had been allowing migrants to travel to Western Europe without checking passports, but on Tuesday, the station was closed and migrants began protesting.
“About 1,000 migrants congregated outside Keleti station, in the east of the city, as it was evacuated on Tuesday. It was closed briefly and public announcements said no trains would be leaving. But it soon reopened to non-migrant passengers, with lines of police preventing migrants from going through the main entrance.
“The move came amid chaotic scenes after hundreds of migrants had tried to board services to Austria and Germany. Some complained that they had paid hundreds of euros for tickets, and called for the station to be reopened so that they could continue their journey.
“Many of the migrants have been waiting at Keleti station for days. Reporters said they are mainly Syrians, Afghans and Eritreans.”
As we’ve been reporting, Europe is in the midst of an acute migrant crisis. In July, more than 100,000 migrants entered Europe. More than 340,000 have done so this year.
European ministers have called an emergency meeting for Sept. 14 to talk about how to deal with the crisis.
To try to stem the tide, Hungary erected 100 miles of razor-wire fence along the Serbian border.
The BBC took a trip there to find out how that was working:
Russian President Vladimir Putin wore a white T-shirt and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev wore black to exercise during their meeting at the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
Russian tabloids and TV channels had a field day this week with newly released pictures of President Vladimir Putin working out at a gym with his prime minister.
The president and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev are shown using the exercise equipment at Putin’s residence near the Black Sea resort city of Sochi, where Putin appears to mentor his workout buddy on the use of the machines.
Afterward, they grill a manly meal of steaks for breakfast and clink teacups in a toast. There’s an opportunity for symbolism, there, too. In Russia, tea is considered a more down-to-earth, more quintessentially “Russian” beverage than coffee.
Putin and Medvedev clinked teacups during lunch.
The scene is in keeping with Putin’s well-burnished image as an active, athletic man who likes adventure.
Last week, the Russian media were also agog at rumors that Putin, 62, might be dating a former super-middleweight women’s boxing champion, Natalia Ragozina.
The 39-year-old blonde, known as “Sledgehammer,” sat between Putin and Medvedev at an international Sambo martial arts tournament.
Putin’s image is very carefully controlled, and all such photos must be approved and released by the Kremlin.
The latest photo blitz may be part of a government effort to boost the president’s approval ratings, which have dipped slightly as low oil prices and Western sanctions eat away at Russia’s prosperity.
Putin’s ratings, hyped by uniformly positive coverage on Russia’s state-run media, would still be the envy of most Western politicians.
A recent poll shows that 72 percent of Russians would have voted for him in August, down from 76 percent in May.
It’s noteworthy that Putin is being shown in such friendly and intimate relations with Medvedev. The two changed places from 2008 to 2012, when Putin was forced to leave the presidency because of term limits.
When the two men announced in 2011 that Putin would run for president again, the news triggered mass protests in Moscow, St. Petersburg and other Russian cities.
After Putin was reelected, the government cracked down on the opposition.
The pair strolled in tracksuits during their meeting.
Because Medvedev was seen as a liberal, some analysts believed that he would quickly be eased out of his job as prime minister, but that no longer seems to be in the cards.
At least once a year, the Kremlin releases footage of Putin engaged in some new stunt.
Earlier this month, he and Medvedev rode a mini-submarine on a dive in the Black Sea to inspect an ancient shipwreck off the coast of Crimea.
The wreck, more than 270 feet below the surface, was reportedly discovered by Russian divers earlier this year.
The ship dates from Byzantine times, and Putin told reporters that he hoped the discovery would help in the study of Russia’s “historical development.”
The two showed their grill skills.
After Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine in March of last year, Putin has often referred to the idea that Russia’s connection to the region dates back to medieval times.
Many of these stunts were later criticized as being staged for publicity.
In 2011, for instance, Putin was shown diving in the Black Sea and emerging with two ancient amphorae that he purportedly discovered in about six feet of water.
Aides later acknowledged that the suspiciously clean clay jugs “may” have been planted for the president to find.
Refugees from the Middle East are silhouetted against the setting sun as they walk on railway tracks from Serbia, in Roszke, Hungary, on Sunday.
European ministers have called for an emergency summit to discuss the hundreds of thousands of migrants who are pouring into European countries.
As The New York Times reports, almost as soon as Germany, France and the U.K. made the call, Luxembourg, which currently holds the EU presidency, obliged by setting a meeting date for Sept. 14 in Brussels.
The Times reports:
“What is most urgent, the interior ministers of the three countries said, is agreement on the establishment of welcome centers in Greece and Italy to house, feed and screen migrants and asylum seekers, and to decide who should be allowed to remain as a legal refugee and who should be sent back home.
“Similarly, the ministers said, the European Union must agree on a list of ‘safe countries of origin,’ from which people would be considered migrants, not refugees, and therefore allowed to be sent home. The ministers’ appeal included the prospect of an emergency summit meeting of bloc leaders to follow.”
The Guardian reports that this migrant crisis, which has been driven by refugees fleeing Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, is unprecedented. In July alone, 100,000 migrants entered Europe and more than 340,000 have done so this year.
“Pressure is building on the EU to step up its efforts as the number of tragedies involving migrant deaths mounts—and occur closer to home. An estimated 200 migrants drowned Thursday after two boats capsized off the coast of Libya, the same day a truck containing 71 dead migrants was discovered in Austria near the Hungarian border.
“And on Friday, Austrian police stopped another truck, this time with 26 refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, close to the German border. The group included three children in an advanced stage of dehydration. On Sunday, the police said the children had recovered and left the hospital with their parents.
“By Sunday afternoon, Austrian forensic experts had performed 16 autopsies on the migrants discovered in the truck last week, a police spokeswoman said. Though authorities said it was too soon to determine the timing or cause of death they noted that the truck’s cargo had no openings for ventilation on its sides, suggesting the migrants—59 men, eight women and four children — suffocated.”
Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, has a crisis. The ethnic Buddhists and minority Muslims fought in 2012, and that incident underlies the “boat people” crisis facing several Southeast Asian nations.
Police in Thailand are looking for two new suspects, a woman and a man, in connection with a bombing in Bangkok that left 20 dead.
Michael Sullivan filed this report from Thailand for Newscast:
“One of the suspects is a 26-year-old woman, a Thai, her picture shown today on national television — a photo of a young woman wearing a headscarf. A sketch of the man was also shown. Police did not identify him by name or nationality. The national police spokesman said bomb-making materials were found on Sunday after police raided an apartment rented by the Thai woman.
“On Saturday, police made their first arrest in the case, a man whose identity and nationality have not been released. That arrest is believed to have led to Sunday’s raid and the new warrants. No group has taken responsibility for the attack on the Erawan Shrine in the commercial heart of the capital two weeks ago. Most of the dead were foreigners. Four from mainland China and two from Hong Kong.”
Reuters reports that the police search of the property in the city’s Min Buri district turned up fertilizer, digital watches and an explosives detonator. The news service adds that during Saturday’s raid and arrest, police “seized several kinds of explosives and more than 200 passports.”
Over the weekend, Thailand’s police chief also awarded his own employees the $84,000 reward for the arrest.
“Somyot Pumpanmuang said the officers deserved it as there had been no public tip-off to help them.
“Police chief Pumpanmuang said that the Thai police should be credited for capturing the suspect.
” ‘The accomplished work that led to the arrest is truly the work of the authorities and their investigative abilities. This was the work of the Thai authorities, there were no tip-offs,’ he added.”
The New York Times reports that the man might not be the government’s prime suspect. The police chief, the newspaper reports, made the announcement of the arrest and the reward holding a bag full of money.
The Times adds:
“The decision quickly added to criticism on social media over police handling of the bombing investigation. Many Thais have expressed doubt that the bombing will be solved, citing a reputation Thai police have for corruption and forcing confessions.
“Within days of the blast, Somyot said he was offering a 1 million baht ($28,000) reward to help find the perpetrators. The sum quickly tripled after he said two of his friends who wished to remain nameless had chipped in 2 million baht ($56,000) more.”
The accused terrorist in the recent foiled train attack in France is a Moroccan who lived in Algeciras, Spain. It’s a diverse port city where immigrants are well integrated.
Protesters hold a sign Saturday that reads, in Portuguese, “Don’t kill our children,” in a march against police and gang conflicts that have left residents of the Complexo de Alemao favela in the crossfire.
On a Saturday morning, in a group of Rio de Janeiro’s notoriously violent shanty towns, or favelas, heavily armed pacification police stand on one side of the street, on the other side, protestors call for them to withdraw.
On the protest side, Mayse Freitas lists the people she knows who have been injured or killed in shootouts in the area recently.
“I’m a mother and a grandmother,” Freitas says. “I don’t want my children or grandchildren to be next.”
Six years ago, the police moved into Rio’s notorious favelas in a pacification project aimed to reduce violence in the city’s worst neighborhoods, violence that was daily and brazen. The government was hoping to reduce crime ahead of the Olympics next summer.
But in Freitas’ group of favelas, called Complexo de Alemao, pacification has been a failure, she says.
“There is no pacification here,” she says. “What we have is a war. Criminals against police, fighting over who are the more powerful the more influential. And who suffers? We do.”
In some of the larger favela complexes, where armed traffickers are more entrenched, police pacification units, known as UPPs, have been much more heavy-handed. In Alemao, shootings in which residents are caught in the crossfire are common.
Police have been discovered trying to plant weapons on innocent bystanders. There have even been cases of forced disappearances and torture. Traffickers have also attacked and surrounded pacification police outposts, and many cops have been injured and some killed.
But the pacified favela of Vidigal feels completely different: relaxed and quiet. Visitors are ferried up to the top of the community by motorcycle to take ocean-view snaps or stay at guesthouses.
“Here it is peaceful,” says resident Carlos Pedroso. “I go to other pacified favelas, and it is also much better than before.”
Vidigal and a clutch of other favelas that are doing well are close to the tourism areas of Leblon and Copacabana. They are also smaller, and in many cases, pacification was followed by investment in infrastructure and social welfare spending.
“They are not a single experience,” says Ignacio Cano, an expert on pacification with Rio de Janeiro’s State University. “The situation varies a lot from some communities to others. Anything good or bad which has happened in the last five, six years in terms of public security in Rio has systematically been attributed to the UPPs.”
But the data, he says, show that the situation is much more complicated.
Since pacification began in 2008, UPPs are now in 38 communities encompassing 264 separate favelas — only a quarter of the total number of favelas in Rio.
Cano says between the program’s start and 2012, Rio saw a steep decline in homicides and robberies all over the city. Inside favelas with UPPS, homicide rates were actually halved.
He says before pacification, there was no state presence in most of these informal communities.
“They have given us an alternative paradigm for public security,” he says. “After the UPPs, even though the results are mixed, I think there is a clear perception that there is another way to deal with insecurity.”
But there are still many problems. Recently, crime is again on the rise. There had been a hope that this type of community policing would change the extremely violent police culture in Rio, but that hasn’t happened.
“The relationship between the police and the communities are still very tense and very bad in many UPP communities,” Cano says. “Most policemen don’t want to work in the UPPs, so the degree of internal legitimacy is very low.”
Still, analysts say pacification has been a net positive for the city, and simply ending the program would be disastrous. So far, the promise is that the program will continue through at least 2018, beyond next summer’s Olympic Games in Rio.
But a massive economic crisis currently grips Brazil.
“The state has already cut its budget by over 25 percent when it comes to public security,” says Robert Muggah, a specialist with the IGARAPE Institute, which studies public security in Rio. “There is a big question mark looming over all of this, which is whether the Brazilian government can sustain financing for these kinds of innovative models.”
UPP commander Lt. Carlos Viega in Vidigal says the pacification program is already feeling the pinch.
“It’s important to have a budget to meet our needs” he says. “We can try to be more efficient. But we need more money, as sometimes we feel we are kind of alone out here.”
Inspektor Jan Gieber of Austrian police shows the inside of the large van outside the police station in Braunau, Upper Austria, on Sunday, where the children were found among 26 migrants trying to reach Europe.
Three refugee children who were rescued from a minivan as they were being smuggled into Europe have reportedly disappeared from a hospital where they were being treated for dehydration.
Meanwhile, there were more arrests in a similar case in Austria last week in which 71 migrants were found dead in a truck.
The Syrian children, two girls and a boy aged five and six, were part of a group of 26 migrants also from Afghanistan and Bangladesh who were pulled over by police near the town of St. Peter am Hart, near the German border. The refugees were crammed into the vehicle and described by medical officials as being near death.
Police said they van was intercepted after a chase with police and that its Romanian driver was arrested.
“The emergency doctor told us they would not have made it much longer — two, maybe three hours,” said David Furtner, police spokesman for Upper Austria province, according to Reuters.
But the BBC reports that the children and their families, who faced deportation, had disappeared from the hospital.
Last week, 71 would-be migrants from war-torn North Africa and the Middle East were found dead after apparently suffocating in a truck that was abandoned along Austria’s A4 autobahn.
The Independent reports:
“A fifth suspect of Bulgarian citizenship was arrested today by Hungarian police in connection with the deaths.
“Austrian police have said that they believe the migrants suffocated after autopsies were performed on 16 of the bodies.
“Three Bulgarians and one Afghan citizen are currently under arrest pending an investigation in Hungary. They face up to 16 years in prison for trafficking in Hungary plays murder charges in Austria.”
Three Al Jazeera English journalists, Mohamed Fahmy, Baher Mohamed and Peter Greste were sentenced to up to 3 years and 6 months in prison in a controversial case that’s dragged on for nearly 2 years.