Russian opposition plans protests on Putin's birthday, Brazil Olympic committee president arrested


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Update

  • The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded The 2017 Nobel Peace Prize to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons according to the Guardian.
  • Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is planning protests to be held on Saturday – the day of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s 65th birthday, according to the Guardian. The opposition leader’s campaign team said protests are being organized in 80 cities across Russia. Navalny was given a 20-day prison sentence for repeatedly violating a ban on organizing public meetings two days ago. His supporters say his detention is a politically-motivated attempt to stop him from participating in March’s presidential elections. Putin is expected to seek a fourth term despite his previous assertions that he is not yet decided.
  • Spain’s Constitutional Court blocked the Catalonia regional parliament from holding a session that is expected to include a formal declaration of independence. Relations between Spain and Catalonia remain tense after the northeastern region held a plebiscite for independence last week, where 90 percent of voters favored secession.
  • Brazil’s Olympic committee president Carlos Nuzman was detained by police after being accused of participating in a cash-for-votes scheme to win the bid for the Rio 2016 Olympics. Nuzman previously denied all wrongdoing. Leonardo Gryner, the committee’s director general, was also arrested, according to police.
  • British author Kazuo Ishiguro was awarded the 2017 Nobel Literature Prize. The writer born in Nagasaki, Japan was praised by the Swedish Academy for his “novels of great emotional force.” His most famous novels The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go have been adapted into critically acclaimed films.

Earlier

  • Afghan President Ashraf Ghani told the BBC he has the “worst job on earth,” saying that his ultimate goal is to reach a “peace agreement with the Taliban.” He said that Afghanistan has turned a corner in its battle with the Taliban, saying he believes the conflict is more about the drug trade than terror. Ghani said he predicts that NATO’s 14,000 troops will be able to pull out of Afghanistan “within four years.”
    • Afghan security forces, backed by a U.S.-led coalition, have been battling the Taliban for 16 years. The conflict has claimed thousands of lives and has cost trillions of dollars.
  • A joint patrol of U.S. special forces and Nigerian troops “came under hostile fire” while on a training mission in southwest Niger, according to the U.S. Africa Command. The Associated Press reports that three Green Beret commandos were killed and another two wounded in the ambush. The New York Times says there were also Nigerian casualties. Both Al Qaeda affiliates and Boko Haram have been known to operate in the area. The deaths represent the first U.S. military casualties from hostile fire in Niger. U.S. special forces are providing Niger’s military with training and security assistance to combat violent extremist groups in the region.
  • Iraqi forces have displaced the so-called Islamic State (IS) from one of its last urban bastions, according to the operation’s commander, Lt. Gen. Abdel Amir Yarallah. Hawija, which lies between Mosul and Baghdad and is home to tens of thousands of Iraqis, had been under IS control since 2014. Once the militant group is cleared from the surrounding area it will only control a stretch of land along the Syrian border. Earlier this week, the UN warned that up to 78,000 civilians were still trapped in Hawija and were being prevented from leaving by IS.
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