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Thursday, Oct 30th

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Africa’s Gays Await Nighttime Door Knock as Crackdown Widens

Africa's gays live in fearWhen Ayo answered a knock at his door one evening last month, four Nigerian secret service officers barged in and found gay pornography on one of the phones and laptops he and six friends had in the apartment.

The officers announced they were taking everyone to jail for being gay. Ayo, 27, and four of his friends gained their freedom by bribing the police the equivalent of $600. Two others had no cash and spent three nights in detention.

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UN reports North Korea torture camps, calls for criminal probe

N Korea torture campsA United Nations panel released a report Monday saying that "unspeakable atrocities" and crimes against humanity have been committed in North Korea and that the U.N. will call for an international criminal investigation, the most serious attempt yet to probe evidence of grave and systematic rights violations in the authoritarian state.

"The gravity, scale and nature of these violations reveal a state that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world," the U.N. Commission of Inquiry (COI) said in a statement.

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Rwanda genocide trial opens in Paris, French first

ruanda genocide trialThe first trial in France over Rwanda's genocide has opened in a Paris court.

Pascal Simbikangwa, a 54-year-old former intelligence chief, faces charges of complicity in genocide and complicity in war crimes. He could face a life sentence if convicted after the seven-week trial.

The case has highlighted criticism of France's own reaction to the genocide a generation ago, and its slow exercise of justice after the slaughter of at least 500,000 people over 100 days.

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The horrors '12 Years a Slave' couldn't tell

Northup familySolomon Northup’s story, which has been studied by historians for decades, now has a second life in American popular culture, thanks to director Steve McQueen’s extraordinary movie “12 Years a Slave.” The film — nominated for nine Oscars, including best picture and best director — brings Northup’s remarkable 1853 memoir to life with searing portrayals of torture and survival.

It has revived curiosity about Northup’s life and renewed debate over how to depict the pain of the past and the present. Does McQueen’s movie go too far with violence?

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Abbas says no peace deal unless all prisoners freed

Palestinian prisonersThere will be no permanent peace deal with Israel until all Palestinian prisoners are set free, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said early Tuesday.

"I promise you, there will be no permanent agreement [with Israel] until all prisoners are set free," Abbas told a reception in Ramallah early Tuesday for the third batch of prisoners released by Israel.

In the nine-month framework for Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations that resumed in July, Israel agreed to release a 104 prisoners held for offenses committed prior to the signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords. So far 78 have been released.

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Large protests over Bedouin resettlement in Israel

Bedouin protestsLarge protests over a plan to resettle nomadic Bedouin Arabs in Israel's southern Negev desert caused injuries Saturday and led to some arrests as well as condemnation from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Protests focused on a bill that would move thousands of Bedouins into government-recognized villages. Opponents charge the plan would confiscate Bedouin land and affect their nomadic way of life, but Israel says the moves are necessary to provide basic services that many Bedouins lack and would benefit their community while preserving their traditions.

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Uganda: no country for gay men

Uganda homophobiaBernard Randall, the British gay man charged with homosexuality-related offences in a Ugandan court, glances up sceptically when I walk into his lawyer's chambers. His Ugandan partner, Albert Cheptoyek, sits protectively in front of him, closer to the door, on a rickety wooden bench. Cheptoyek's white shirt illuminates his dark sweaty skin, while Randall's oversize dull-coloured clothes match his face, making him almost invisible.

And that perhaps may just be the effect he needs to get through the ordeal of having the content of a sex tape of him and his 30-year-old partner splashed over newspapers and across the media here. And not just any media, but the media of a country that has declared homosexuality to be an evil practice, a cancer imported from the west that must be stamped out no matter what the cost.

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