Thursday, May 24, 2018
News Roundup

Drag queens stars in a Rio samba parade while blackface for Carnival elsewhere sparks debate; Israeli police recommend charging Netanyahu with bribery, fraud; more in world news

Brazil

Drag queen stars in Rio parade

A drag queen headlined the parade of one of Rio de Janeiro’s most storied samba schools during Brazil’s Carnival celebrations, while another school’s blackface performance drew criticism. Singer Pabllo Vittar performed late Monday with the Beija-Flor de Nilopolis school, which had a theme of promoting tolerance. Vittar is a sensation in the Brazilian pop scene, and Carnival has long been a place to celebrate sexuality and diversity. But Brazil also has some of Latin America’s highest rates of violence against gay and transgender people, and Beija-Flor tackles prejudice against the LGBT community and others. A day later, a performance by the Salgueiro school sparked debate about depictions of race in Brazil, which has only begun in recent years to grapple with a fraught racial legacy. The performance featured two groups in blackface in a parade that paid tribute to African culture and black women, in particular. Many people took to Twitter to express shock that the storied school would rely on a trope that has been used to demean black people. But others defended Salgueiro, saying the black-painted faces don’t carry the sort of racist implication they do in the United States, where blackface was a staple of racist minstrel shows.

Israel

Police recommend corruption charges for Netanyahu

Israeli police on Tuesday recommended Benjamin Netanyahu be indicted on bribery, fraud and breach of trust charges in a pair of corruption cases, dealing an embarrassing blow to the prime minister that is likely to fuel more calls for him to step down. Netanyahu angrily rejected the accusations, which included accepting nearly $300,000 in gifts from a pair of billionaires and offering preferential legislation to a publisher in exchange for favorable coverage in a newspaper. Netanyahu accused police of a witch hunt and vowed to remain in office and even seek re-election. The recommendations marked a dramatic ending to a more than yearlong investigation. Attorney General Avihai Mendelblit will review the material before deciding whether to file charges. Netanyahu can remain in office during that process, which is expected to drag on for months.

Russia

Human error, faulty sensor likely behind deadly plane crash

Human error may be to blame for the Russian plane crash that killed 71 people, investigators said Tuesday, noting the plane’s pilots failed to turn on the heating unit for its measuring equipment before takeoff, resulting in flawed speed data. After studying the An-148’s flight data recorder, the Interstate Aviation Committee said Sunday’s crash near Moscow occurred after the pilots saw conflicting data on the plane’s two air speed indicators. One showed the speed at zero, investigators said. The committee said it is continuing to study the data. Andrei Litvinov, a pilot, told the RBC news outlet the plane’s pilots probably took it into a dive because of low speed readings to avoid stalling and didn’t have time to correct their mistake at such a low altitude.

Britain

Judge upholds arrest warrant
for WikiLeaks founder Assange

A judge upheld a British arrest warrant for Julian Assange on Tuesday, saying the WikiLeaks founder should have the courage to come to court and face justice after more than five years inside Ecuador’s London embassy. Judge Emma Arbuthnot rejected arguments by Assange’s lawyers that it is no longer in the public interest to arrest him for jumping bail in 2012 and seeking shelter in the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden. Prosecutors there were investigating allegations of sexual assault and rape, which Assange denies. Arbuthnot said Assange "appears to consider himself above the normal rules of law and wants justice only if it goes in his favor."

Haiti

President: Oxfam workers violated ‘basic human decency’

Haiti’s president condemned the British charity Oxfam on Tuesday for a sexual misconduct scandal, describing the alleged misbehavior of aid workers handling earthquake recovery efforts as a violation of basic human decency. The anti-poverty charity has faced condemnation since the Times of London revealed last week some Oxfam employees paid for sex while working in Haiti among people devastated by the 2010 earthquake. "There is nothing more shameful than a sexual predator using the veil of catastrophe as a means to exploit the vulnerable," President Jovenel Moise said Tuesday. "What transpired is a violation of basic human decency." Also Tuesday, Britain’s charity watchdog opened an inquiry into how Oxfam handled the allegations of sexual abuse in Haiti in 2011. The investigation was launched a day after Oxfam Great Britain’s deputy chief executive resigned and apologized to the government and donors. — tbt* wires

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