Sunday, May 20, 2018
News Roundup

Freedom returns to the storied city of Timbuktu

TIMBUKTU, Mali — On the morning French commandos parachuted onto the sand just north of this storied city and ended 10 months of Islamist rule, Hawi Traore folded up her veil. The next day, she wore heels. On the day after, she put on sparkly earrings, got her hair braided and tried her mother's perfume.

Finally on Thursday, the 12-year-old girl dared to dance in the streets, celebrating freedom from the draconian rules that were imposed by the al-Qaida-linked militants.

Four days since French special forces liberated Timbuktu, there is a growing sense of freedom — particularly among women. The speed with which women have claimed back their freedom underscores one of the advantages the French hold against an elusive enemy on unforgiving terrain: The population here has long practiced a moderate Islam rather than the extremism of the militants.

Although Timbuktu has long been a code word for the ends of the Earth, until recently its women led a relatively modern existence, where they were not required to be covered and could socialize with men. That changed abruptly last year, when radical Islamists seized control of the northern half of Mali in the chaos after a coup in the distant capital.

When they first arrived, Hawi, a tall, fast-talking, sassy preteen, was just learning how to put on makeup. She learned the hard way to wear the toungou, the word for veil in the Songhai language. Her slender arm bears the scar left by the whip of the Islamist police, her punishment for not properly covering up.

The Islamists showed no mercy, beating everyone from pregnant women to grandmothers to 9-year-old girls who weren't fully covered with a colorless veil.

"We even bought a veil for this baby," said 21-year-old Fatouma Traore, picking up her 1-year-old niece. "Even if you are wearing the veil and it happens to slip off and you are trying to put it back on, they hit you."

Smoking, drinking and music were banned. So was playing soccer. Even talking to a brother on the front stoop of a woman's own home could get her in trouble. The worst punishment was reserved for love outside the rules, and an unmarried couple who had two children out of wedlock were stoned to death in one northern Malian town.

The French military launched an intervention to oust the Islamists from power in northern Mali on Jan. 11, and rapidly forced their retreat from the major cities in less than three weeks.

As the troops rolled into Timbuktu this week in a massive convoy, they drew crowds so thick that at times the armored personnel carriers came to a standstill. People waved homemade French flags sewn together from bolts of red, white and blue fabric. Hawi and her mother stood on the side of the road, screaming, "Vive la France!"

U.N. to consider new peacekeepers in Mali

A top diplomat says the U.N. Security Council will consider plans for a new U.N. peacekeeping force for Mali following France's ejection of hard-line Islamists from the West African country's northern cities.

The council last month passed a resolution approving a multinational African force to help stabilize Mali. But with the Islamist rebels in retreat, that plan has been overtaken by events on the ground.

The Security Council instead will discuss a regular U.N. peacekeeping force to replace the plan for the African-led force, according to a senior Western diplomat, the Associated Press reported.

Comments
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Sunday’s Rays-Angels game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Sunday’s Rays-Angels game

* It's always interesting to think of how many amazing plays you see made in a game, then often a simple one — such as the fourth-inning comebacker to Rays RHP Matt Andriese — gets messed up and costs teams heavily, as that led to two run...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rays journal: Pitching plan works, until Sergio Romo leaves in second inning

Rays journal: Pitching plan works, until Sergio Romo leaves in second inning

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Doubling down on their innovativeness and starting veteran reliever Sergio Romo for a second straight day worked out fine Sunday for the Rays.It was the less-effective pitchers who followed, plus the ineffectiveness of their h...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Expansion Vegas advances to Stanley Cup final

Expansion Vegas advances to Stanley Cup final

WINNIPEG — The Vegas Golden Knights are going to the Stanley Cup final — with a chip on their shoulder."Everybody on this team has something to prove," forward Ryan Reaves said. "We call ourselves 'The Golden Misfits' for a reason. We're ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
What a long, strange and winning road trip it was for Rays

What a long, strange and winning road trip it was for Rays

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The nearly Yanny-vs.-Laurel level national debate over their latest pitching strategy innovation of starting relievers isn't quite as entertaining today. The In-N-Out burgers in the clubhouse after the game weren't as tasty. T...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Chief US hurricane forecaster: Education key to storm prep

Chief US hurricane forecaster: Education key to storm prep

WEST PALM BEACH — The new U.S. National Hurricane Center director says learning about specific storm hazards is key to preparing for the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season. Ken Graham leads the U.S. government’s hurricane forecasting hub in Miami. At...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Unveiling for

Unveiling for "Fortune Taylor Bridge" marker rained out, but celebration continues indoors

TAMPA — There’s a saying that everyone dies twice, Tampa City Council member Guido Maniscalco said Sunday: Once when they take their last breath. And again the last time someone mentions their name.So in this case, he said, the name "Fortune Taylor" ...
Updated: 4 hours ago

TALLAHASSEEFlorida districts fight charter school lawEleven school districts in Florida are refusing to give up their legal battle over an education law that steered more money to charter schools. A Leon County circuit judge in April threw out the la...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Taggart delivers a bolt to area

Taggart delivers a bolt to area

TAMPA — After spending four years as USF’s football coach, Willie Taggart knows what to expect this time of year in the area, so it’s no surprise how he began a chat with reporters Sunday before a booster stop at Armature Works."Go Lightning," he sai...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Willie Taggart: ‘Pretty cool’ to be back in Tampa as FSU coach

Willie Taggart: ‘Pretty cool’ to be back in Tampa as FSU coach

TAMPA – After spending four years as USF's football coach, Willie Taggart knows what to expect this time of year in the area, so it's no surprise how he began a chat with reporters Sunday before a booster stop at Armature Works."Go Lightning," ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Venezuela elections draw protests

Venezuela elections draw protests

Photos by Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesMarcos Carbono, center, joins with others in front of the Consulate General of Venezuela in Miami to protest the Venezuelan elections taking place on Sunday. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro seems to be set to win ...
Updated: 4 hours ago