How Dennis Rodman Got To North Korea

John Gara/BuzzFeed

WASHINGTON — John Doldo IV is a senior at American University in Washington, D.C., with a passionate interest in international affairs; he visited Libya during its revolution and has been to Pyongyang multiple times. In February 2013, he watched from afar as Dennis Rodman went to North Korea with the Harlem Globetrotters for a documentary by Vice, the hipster media company.

“Seeing the supreme leader of the DPRK meeting with an American in a friendly atmosphere was a positive change,” Doldo said during an interview in a student center at his school. “We were excited to see that.”

The “we” to whom Doldo was referring comprises Joseph Terwilliger, a professor of neuroscience at Columbia University with a degree in tuba, and Michael P. Spavor, a Canadian consultant based in China who is well connected in North Korea, according to several people familiar with him. Together, the three men have been the driving force facilitating Rodman’s trips to North Korea. They planned the logistical details of his last three trips, arranged visas, and facilitated Rodman’s meetings with the country’s dictatorial leader, Kim Jong Un — a man Rodman affectionately refers to as “the Marshal.” The three became involved out of a wish, Doldo said, to help Rodman’s vision of “basketball diplomacy” and increase the chances of a rapprochement between North Korea and the West.

Doldo met Terwilliger during travels to North Korea with the Pyongyang Project, a Canadian “social enterprise” that runs some tours in North Korea for which Spavor is listed as a director on his LinkedIn profile. Doldo first traveled there in 2011 and then twice in 2012, studying the Pyongyang dialect of the Korean language along with Terwilliger. The next year, Rodman made his notorious visit with Vice.

“Dr. Terwilliger contacted me after we saw Mr. Rodman in the DPRK and said ‘we should meet this guy,’” Doldo said. To that end, Terwilliger entered and won an auction in the spring of 2013 where the prize was to play horse with Rodman. He and Doldo met Rodman in New York later that spring. They shot hoops and talked about North Korea. Terwilliger already had plans to spend the summer teaching genetics at a university in Pyongyang.

“As we were finishing, his agent Darren Prince said ‘we’ll be in touch,’” Doldo said. “Shortly thereafter Dr. Terwilliger got an email from Darren Prince saying basically that Mr. Rodman wants to go back to the DPRK and doesn’t want to go with Vice.”

Rodman didn’t want to work with Vice anymore, Doldo said, because the North Koreans found the coverage of their country too critical.

“The DPRK government does not like them because they have in the past produced several documentaries that portrayed their country in a negative light and a unfair light,” he said. And what’s more, Rodman didn’t want the media attention, Doldo said, but wished for a “private visit” with Kim Jong Un — which is what he ended up getting in September 2013.

[A Vice spokesman said that the company never planned to do more than one trip to North Korea with Rodman.]

Over the summer, Spavor, the Canadian, began arranging visas from his base in China. Rodman wrote to the North Korean government announcing his return and went back in September, having promised to make a visit in August, accompanied by his bodyguard plus Terwilliger and Spavor.

Organizing the visits is “not as simple as it looks,” Doldo said. “We’ve got Mr. Rodman’s people, we’ve got the sponsors, Paddy Power, we’ve got our people, and suppliers in different countries and different continents, so I helped with that as well.” Paddy Power, the Irish betting giant, sponsored Rodman’s December trip that he took to train North Korean basketball players, but it pulled out before the latest trip in January, citing Kim Jong Un’s murder of his uncle.

The September trip, Doldo said, was more of “a small kind of vacation for Mr. Rodman.” As Rodman prepared to travel back to the country in December to train the North Korean team, Terwilliger, Spavor, and Doldo once again sprung into action. Doldo recalled working the phones in the middle of the night, calling Chinese companies to order basketball gear.

According to Doldo, Terwilliger helped grease the wheel by working with North Korea’s representatives in New York, whom he declined to name beyond saying that the organizers had gone “through the normal channels that anyone would go through to get a Korean visa.” He said Terwilliger’s contact was not Han Song Ryol, the North Korean diplomat at the U.N. and custodian of the “New York channel” by which the U.S. exchanges messages with Pyongyang.

“There are various individuals in the Korean government with whom we deal,” Doldo said. When Rodman goes to North Korea, he is officially hosted by the country’s Olympic committee.

Doldo and others involved in the trips have said that the North Korean government isn’t paying for them. Both Doldo and Jules Feiler, a publicist for Rodman, were vague on the topic of whether or not Paddy Power paid for the January trip and exhibition game.

“I’m sure it does seem strange but for obvious reasons the person who sponsored this at some point decided they didn’t want their name on it,” said Feiler.

“We withdrew all of our involvement with the project before Christmas, however honoured our contractual obligations,” Rory Scott, a spokesman for Paddy Power, said in an email.

He declined to say whether the former NBA players had been paid, saying: “I’m afraid we never discuss our commercial arrangements.”

Doldo said that the only thing the North Koreans might have paid for was Rodman’s hotel room.

“As far as I’m aware the most the DPRK government might have done in terms of sponsoring or funding this would have been for hotels,” he said. “I don’t know for certain whether Mr. Rodman is paying his own hotel bill.” Doldo later said that he had confirmed that the North Koreans had not paid for the hotel.

“I don’t have any answer for you” on the topic of the hotel room, Feiler said on Thursday. “We’re trying to get to the bottom of it and I don’t have an answer for you right now.”

Both Terwilliger and Spavor spoke to Canadian magazine Maclean’s for a lighthearted article on their North Korean adventures last year. According to the story, Spavor has been traveling to North Korea since 2005 and “developing key contacts in the regime along the way. Spavor speaks the North Korean dialect—a more formal variant of the southern—so fluently that he fools people on the phone, and he ran a school specializing in DPRK Korean in Yanji, the city in a largely Korean corner of northeast China where he now lives.” Terwilliger, for his part, “had become fascinated by the DPRK as a kid listening to shortwave radio from Pyongyang; he’d been on North Korea’s propaganda mailing list for years and found the material he received ‘interesting.’”

“For the past seven years, I have amassed a considerable amount of experience, and made many contacts and friends working within the DPRK,” Spavor writes on his personal website. “In addition to working in many organisational leadership and management positions, my past roles have involved close cooperation with various governments, UN organisations, humanitarian and development NGOs, academics, investors, tourists, professional athletes, celebrities, and world leaders.”

“In the media, Marshall Kim Jung Un is portrayed as serious,” Spavor told Maclean’s. “But we were able to see a more charismatic, friendly side to him. He has a good sense of humour.”

Spavor did not respond to repeated requests for an interview. Terwilliger said he was under a “media embargo as Rodman has the right to first interviews.”

“All I can say regarding your questions is that I paid my own way on all trips and was not reimbursed for travel costs, nor was I compensated in any way by anyone,” Terwilliger said. “Paddy Power paid the players consistent with their preexisting contracts, as far as I know, and Rodman received no compensation whatsoever, as far as I know. Sorry I cannot answer any other questions, but we are prohibited from discussing details of the trips before Rodman gives his exclusive interviews in a few weeks.”

According to people involved in a tour group that traveled to Pyongyang to watch the exhibition game between the North Korean team and the former NBA players, the experience was bizarre, though at times thrilling.

Koryo Group, a company that organizes guided tours to North Korea on a monthly basis, brought a group of 20 to the country during the time that the players and Rodman were in Pyongyang. The price, according to more than one person who attended the tour, was about $10,000. Accoding to Koryo Group organizer Simon Cockerell, who said the trip cost 6500 euros, the extremely high price “reflects the exclusive nature of the tour (single rooms, higher quality restaurants, etc. and all inclusive nature of the tour throughout) but also the charitable aspect of it.” Cockerell said that some of the proceeds from this trip are going to a charity for the deaf called Together, a German initiative that he said was involved in building a school for deaf children in Pyongyang. Another tour group run by a group called Uri Tours was also in Pyongyang at the time, though they did not attend the game.

The tourists stayed at the same hotel in Pyongyang as Rodman and his teammates, and had drinks with them at night, mostly with the other players but one night with Rodman himself.

“On the last night we hung out and talked with Rodman,” said Sean Agnew, a music promoter from Philadelphia. “It was definitely pretty weird and unusual.”

“He didn’t talk about the game much other than saying it was history making,” said one American tourist who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not willing to speak publicly about the trip. “But he kept asking personal questions to the group of guys at the table, asking about women we’ve slept with, etc.” The tourist said Rodman didn’t mention Kenneth Bae, an American citizen currently being held in a North Korean labor camp, but “did talk up ‘the Marshal’ Kim Jong-un though, saying he’s a good guy and that what the media says about him is not true.”

Rodman “seems to have a completely different conception of [North Korea] than pretty much all other Americans,” the tourist said.

The group got to attend the game itself, traveling there as part of a diplomatic caravan arranged by countries that have relations with North Korea . They were told that they were not allowed to take pictures or bring their phones into the game.

“There were 15,000 people in monochrome outfits, and everyone’s sitting there quietly,” said John Milton, an American investment banker based in Budapest who went on the trip.

“Every seat is completely full but it’s pin-drop quiet,” said Agnew. “Then Kim Jong Un came in and the place erupts, goes crazy. It probably lasted around 15 minutes or so. Loudest applause I’ve ever heard in my life.”

Rodman took the microphone and started singing “Happy Birthday” to the North Korean leader.

“It was creepy,” said the American tourist who asked not to be named. “I’ve been saying that the only time I felt nervous in the DPRK was when Rodman had the microphone and was speaking to the stadium.”

“I think he was intoxicated, to be honest,” said Milton.

Rodman played for one quarter and spent the rest of the game sitting with Kim Jong Un, smoking cigars while Kim smoked cigarettes.

Of Spavor, Agnew said: “He was the ringleader for sure. During the game he actually spoke to Kim Jong Un.”

At night, the tourists spent time with the players accompanying Rodman, though not with Rodman and them at the same time. According to Agnew, Rodman traveled in a separate car while the rest of the players traveled in a bus.

“I actually never saw Rodman hanging out with the players,” the tourist said. “The players didn’t seem too unhappy when we were drinking, although some of them expressed that they were ready to go home even before the game.”

Rodman brought along with him several former NBA stars, including Cliff Robinson, Kenny Anderson, Doug Christie, Vin Baker, Charles Smith, and Eric “Sleepy” Floyd.

“There was animosity between a few of the guys,” said Milton. “A lot of people might have been upset that Dennis was being outspoken,” he said, particularly after a now infamous CNN interview in which Rodman appeared to blame Bae for his own imprisonment in North Korea.

Rodman’s publicist later blamed the outburst on the attitudes of the players, telling BuzzFeed, “A lot of these comments and the mood there with some of the players really contributed to his lashing out at [CNN anchor Chris] Cuomo.”

Several of the players have publicly said they regret traveling to North Korea with Rodman, including Smith, a former Knicks player, who told the Associated Press, “Some of the statements and things that Dennis has said has tainted our efforts. Dennis is a great guy, but how he articulates what goes on — he gets emotional and he says things that he’ll apologize for later.” Through a representative, Smith declined requests for an interview.

Floyd told ESPN last week that he was “misled” about the trip.

“I wasn’t given all the information regarding the events that were going to take place,” Floyd said. “In no way shape or form did I know that I would be crossing paths with the leader of North Korea, and definitely not attending a birthday celebration or ceremony or anything like that.” Floyd said “none of this was stated” on the itinerary given to players.

“After the first 10 hours I was in North Korea and I realized what the agenda was, I was trying to arrange a flight out the very next day,” Floyd said.

Floyd declined requests to do an interview with BuzzFeed and did not respond when asked how much he and others were paid to be there.

Kenneth Bae’s parents, Sung Seo and Myunghee Bae, attend a vigil for him in Seattle on Aug. 10. Matt Mcknight / Reuters

Hanging over all of Rodman’s trips to see his “friend” Kim Jong Un has been the issue of Bae, an American tour guide and missionary who has been imprisoned in North Korea for more than a year and charged with “hostile acts” against the government.

Rodman tweeted over the summer about the issue, calling for Kim Jong-un to “do him a solid” and release Bae. But since then, Rodman has retreated and even cast aspersions on Bae in the CNN interview, which “outraged” Bae’s family. Asked by CNN about Bae, Rodman launched into a rant, saying, “The one thing about politics, Kenneth Bae did one thing. If you understand — if you understand what Kenneth Bae did,” and asking Chris Cuomo, “Do you understand what he did? In this country?”

“Mr. Rodman did not state that Mr. Bae had deserved to be in prison in the DPRK, that’s not what he said,” Doldo said. “He simply said that Mr. Bae had done something. In other words the DPRK did not arrest him without any apparent reason. That interviewer was saying no charges had been released, and that’s not correct.”

Doldo cited “Operation Jericho,” a missionary operation in which North Korean state media accused Bae of participating.

“I would refer you to the report in the Korean Central News Agency that announced that Mr. Bae was convicted of engaging in subversive activities, especially his Operation Jericho, which allegedly entailed setting up bases in China and encouraging DPRK citizens to act against their government,” Doldo said. He added that he hoped the North Korean government releases Bae in the interest of improving relations with the United States.

Rodman later apologized for the CNN interview, saying that he had been drinking. But he has shown no signs of helping Bae despite his status as the only Westerner with any personal access to Kim Jong Un.

Rodman’s agent Darren Prince did not respond to requests for comment. Feiler said Rodman was not yet available for interviews.

North Korea has shown no sign it intends to release Bae anytime soon, even rescinding an invitation for a State Department envoy who planned to visit Pyongyang late this summer and negotiate Bae’s release.

“I think if people want results you shouldn’t ask a retired NBA star who happens to know Marshal Kim Jong Un to make this request again,” Doldo said. “You should appeal to President Obama to pick up the phone and speak with Marshal Kim Jong Un about this and other issues.”

Doldo said that he and his partners were not involved in the project for any political reason beyond a real belief in Rodman’s concept of “basketball diplomacy.”

“We are no Marxists,” he said. “Dr. Terwilliger is a lifelong Republican with libertarian leanings. We are involved with this simply because we want to help Mr. Rodman realize his dream of using sport to develop mutual understanding between the U.S.A. and the DPRK, at the very least on a people-to-people level.”

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21 Ways Indians Reacted To A Diplomat Being Strip-Searched By The U.S.

The arrest and strip-search of Devyani Khobragade, an Indian diplomat in New York accused of alleged visa fraud, has strained relationships between India and the U.S. This is how India reacted to her “humiliating” and “barbaric” treatment by the U.S.

Stringer / Reuters

2. No one was hurt in the attack according to the police and the Indian franchise of the U.S. pizza chain.

Mansi Thapliyal / Reuters

A policeman is seen through a broken glass window of the Dominos Pizza outlet after it was ransacked by activists of the Republican Party of India (RPI) in Mumbai on Dec. 20.

3. The student wing of the Congress, India’s ruling party, protested outside the U.S. consulate in Mumbai. The message on the sign “Atithi Dev Bhavo” translates to “The Guest is God.”

AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool
Danish Siddiqui / Reuters
Danish Siddiqui / Reuters

6. Supporters of a Hindu hardline group, the Rashtrawadi Shiv Sena, shouted anti-U.S. slogans during a protest near the U.S. embassy in the nation’s capital of New Delhi.

Ahmad Masood / Reuters
Ahmad Masood / Reuters

The Washington Post explained the photograph above:

“The half-naked man is meant to represent both the United States (see: American flag) and President Obama; he is naked both to symbolize the affront of Khobragade’s strip-search and as a declaration that the United States and Obama deserve similar humiliation as punishment. The man in the suit with the Obama mask is tied up to likewise symbolize Khobragade’s arrest.”

Ahmad Masood / Reuters

9. Members of the Democratic Youth Federation of India protested outside the U.S. consulate in Kolkata on Dec. 19.

Stringer/India / Reuters

Police detain members of the DYFI during a protest outside the U.S. consulate office in Kolkata.

10. Activists from a political party affiliated with India’s main opposition party — the BJP — burned Obama effigies during a protest in the eastern Indian city of Bhubaneshwar.

Stringer/India / Reuters

11. Protestors burned an Obama effigy in the city of Ajmer in west India.

AP Photo/Deepak Sharma
AP Photo/Deepak Sharma

13. India’s Left Party activists protested near the U.S. consulate in the city of Hyderabad.

AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A.
AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A.

Left Party activists shout slogans from inside a truck after being detained by police during during their protest near the U.S. Consulate in Hyderabad on Dec. 19.

15. Police removed security barricades that were erected as a safety measure outside the U.S. embassy in New Delhi.

AP Photo

16. On one of the top-rated primetime shows on an English news channel, anchor Arnab Goswami blatantly criticized the U.S.’s handling of the matter.

On his primetime show, The Newshour, Arnab Goswami grilled Martina Vandenberg, President of Human Trafficking Pro Bono Legal Center, on America’s handling of the case. He said, “There has been considerable time for America to understand the deep mistake it has made and the hurt it has caused.”

He also came down strongly on America’s “supercop attitude” and asked Vandenberg if the American authorities have had time “to reflect on the massive mistakes they are making one after the other.”

He added that “America can no longer expect to get away with this rubbish.”

Goswami said Preet Bharara was the man “responsible for the arrest and humiliation of an honest diplomat.”

He added that Bharara’s comments have led him to being “completely isolated tonight, so much so that even America has distanced itself from his biased and prejudiced view in the case.”

19. A Facebook group called “I support Devyani Khobragade” was started and has more than 900 likes.

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Uzbek Dictator’s Daughter Vanishes From Twitter Amid Rumors Of Succession Struggle

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The Game of Thrones-like succession scandal gripping the repressive Central Asian nation of Uzbekistan took a new turn Thursday when President Islam Karimov’s eldest daughter, Gulnara, disappeared from Twitter after accusing her mother of a plot against her.

Karimova wrote that she was deleting her account shortly after she posted a rant accusing her mother of “promising to destroy everything to do with me if I so much as think of ‘messing in her affairs,’” the latest in a bizarre series of online outbursts pointing to a struggle to succeed her aging father, 75, since he reportedly suffered a heart attack in March. Karimova, 41, gave no explanation for shutting down the account and said she would close her charitable organization, which she appeared to have been expanding nationwide as an independent power base.

A sometime businesswoman, pop star, diplomat, and fashion designer whose dyed blonde hair and relatively lax dress sense make her stand out in the traditional country, Karimova’s active presence on Twitter and Instagram provided a rare window into the highly secretive former Soviet republic, which her father has ruled with an iron fist since 1989. Though foreign media has been banned for the better part of a decade and internet access is tightly controlled, Karimova styled herself as a Westernized dilettante. She duetted with French actor turned Russian tax exile Gerard Depardieu and hobnobbed with fashion designers like Jimmy Choo at a fashion week she ran in the capital, Tashkent.

Karimova has long been touted as a potential successor to her father and has made little secret of her own desire to become president. She left her position as Uzbekistan’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva earlier this year and mounted a tacit presidential campaign, touring the country and expanding her charity, Fund Forum.

Recently, however, the knives have appeared to be out for her. While Uzbekistan is so tightly controlled that almost nobody knows what is going on, reports have trickled out in recent months pointing to a campaign to sideline her. Her media holding company’s bank accounts were frozen. Her TV and radio channels went dark. Fund Forum was investigated for tax evasion. Her cousin, Akbarali Abdullayev, was arrested on corruption charges.

Karimova subsequently took to Twitter to protest the moves against her. After her younger sister, Lola, criticized her in a September interview with BBC’s Uzbek service, Karimova accused her of being “friends with sorcerers” and using them to turn her mother, Tatiana Karimova, against her. Yesterday she claimed that members of a youth group she runs were arrested for “alleged extremism.”

“What’s been going on [in her mother’s] affairs for the last two years couldn’t but put you on edge!” Karimova wrote in her final series of messages. Karimova went on to accuse her mother of illegal business dealings in China, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates, and said that this had led to the jailing of her cousin, Abdullyaev, believed to control most of the Ferghana Valley region of the country.

“The female half of our family was always uncomfortable with my personal growth,” she added, “but it is progressing depending on circumstances and on the people they talk to!”

Karimova herself is the target of multiple money-laundering investigations in Europe and thought to have a harpy-like zeal for seizing businesses in Uzbekistan: a State Department cable published by Wikileaks referred to her as a “robber baron.” Some analysts — including a rollicking account from a political scientist thought to be a cipher for the country’s notorious secret services — have suggested that the scandal may be a ruse to help her repatriate the Karimov family’s illicit wealth. Others, however, doubt that Uzbekistan’s notorious secret services, the SNB, are sophisticated enough for such a strategy.

“As the inevitable presidential succession loomed closer over the last couple of years and the Uzbek elite feared Gulnara’s ambitions, plans were made to derail her succession attempts,” a London-based business consultant who frequently works on Uzbekistan said. “The SNB has been slowly positioning itself to take over the country for several years – a plan was hatched which would not only clip the president’s daughters wings and humiliate her but also return much-needed foreign currency to the empty government coffers or the pockets of the elite,” she added.

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Russia Fines Organizers Of Lady Gaga Concert For “Harming Children”

NEW YORK — The Russian company that organized a concert by Lady Gaga in St Petersburg last year will have to pay a fine of 20,000 rubles ($614), a Russian court has decided, local news reports said.

Planet Plus, the St Petersburg promoter that put on Gaga’s show, was found guilty in May of breaking a law that “protects children from information that is harmful to their health and/or development.” In August, a higher court overturned the decision. On Thursday, the same court reinstated the decision and ordered the company to pay the 20,000 ruble fine.

The law under which Planet Plus was fined is separate from the Russian law that bans the “propaganda of non-traditional relationships to minors.” But Lady Gaga caused a storm of controversy after her show in December 2012, when she publicly stood up for LGBT rights as Russia’s anti-gay campaign got underway. St Petersburg had already adopted its own anti-gay propaganda law, and seven months later the law became federal.

According to Russian news reports, the fine came after a member of The Union of Russian Citizens, a conservative group, complained after seeing the show with her 13-year-old daughter. Another member of the group told RIA-Novosti, a state-run news agency, that “we proved that the organizers, the promoters were not right and broke Russian laws, especially an important one like the one protecting children.”

Here’s what Gaga said in St. Petersburg last year:

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Massachusetts Anti-Gay Activist Tells Jamaica To Preserve Law Banning Sodomy

Michele McDonald/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

An anti-gay activist from Massachusetts has warned Jamaicans that repealing the country’s sodomy provision would end freedom of speech and lead to a surge of sexually transmitted diseases during a rally in Kingston.

Brian Camenker, founder of MassResistance, was the keynote speaker at an event organized by the Jamaican Coalition for a Healthy Society in the Jamaican capital’s Emancipation Park on Dec. 10. The organization has led a campaign to preserve the sodomy provision — known locally as the “buggery law” — following Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller’s suggestion just before her 2011 election that she might allow a vote on its repeal.

“I am here to warn you that [repeal of the buggery law] will have terrible consequences,” Camenker said, according to a video of the event uploaded by MassResistance on Saturday. “A law that contradicts God’s law is the beginning of a slippery slope that you cannot imagine.”

Camenker described a series of events that he said flowed from the decriminalization of sodomy in Massachusetts, including the “indoctrination” of children in schools and the suppression of religious people opposed to LGBT rights.

“If you think it can’t get worse, think again,” he said, saying that protections for transgender students in schools were the latest diktat from “the radical homosexual movement.” “Students or Teachers who disagree can be punished — it’s madness!”

MassResistance is considered a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Camenker has previously accused LGBT activists of borrowing techniques from the Nazis and imposing laws reminiscent of Jim Crow segregation.

In Kingston, Camenker denounced efforts to ban treatments designed to turn LGBT children straight.

What about kids who are sexually molested early on and as a result have homosexual or crossdressing feelings. Suppose they want help and counseling to deal with those issues. The radical homosexual movement will have none of that. They’re saying that kids shouldn’t be allowed to get counseling or help because, they say, the kids are really quote born that way and that homosexuality is natural and normal…. It’s a horrible thing to do to helpless kids, but it’s part of the radical political agenda that started with legalizing the behavior.

Camenker also refuted the notion that homophobia was the main cause of violence against LGBT people. “You’ll hear a lot of talk about violence against gays; what they don’t tell you is that it’s predominantly from other gays,” Camenker said.

His comments echo arguments frequently made by conservatives in Jamaica to minimize widespread reports of hate crimes, which have surged recently on the island.

“The repeal of the buggery law is being sold to you in a very slick and dishonest way,” Camenker concluded:

They say [repealing] it is about freedom and tolerance and anti-violence… That’s what we were told too, but it’s ultimately about tyranny and an increase in diseases and the loss of your freedoms. I hope that you in Jamaica can use our experience to your advantage. As Martin Luther King said in his famous “Letter from [a] Birmingham Jail”, a law that doesn’t square with God’s law is no law at all.”

Camenker’s appearance followed a by another American anti-gay activist, Peter LaBarbera, at a conference organized by the Jamaican Coalition for a Healthy Society on Dec. 7. LaBarbera appeared alongside the British activist Andrea Minichiello Williams, and both argued that homosexuality was a choice and linked to pedophilia.

After Camenker’s remarks, JCHS Chairman Wayne West told the audience that the organization was inviting these speakers to Jamaica so that we can have “a truthful discussion about the implications of [repealing the buggery law] so that when the decision is made, no one can say we didn’t know this will happen.”

“We are speaking the truth under the stars before this country; it is being broadcast over the air,” he said. “Our hands will not have the blood of the generations of children who may be living in a country where there is no freedom of speech, no freedom of conscience, and one has to bow and cow-tow to a sexual rights agenda. You have been warned.”

Watch Brian Camenker’s appearance in Jamaica / Via

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11 Reasons To Give A Shit That It’s World Toilet Day

Everybody poos. But for some it has far more of a daily consequence. So here are 11 facts appropriate for dinner discussion:

1. Around the world 2.5 billion people lack access to improved sanitation.

The World Health Organization defines improved sanitation as facilities that hygienically separate human excreta from human contact.

2. Open defecation is practiced by 1 billion people worldwide.

3. A gram of human feces can contain 10 million viruses and 1 billion bacteria.

4. Nearly 1.5 million children under the age of 5 die every year from diarrhea globally.

Diarrhea also makes children more vulnerable to malnutrition and other infections.

5. In Subsaharan Africa, 69% of the population does not have access to improved sanitation.

6. In India, over 600 million people, or more than 50% of Indian households, do not have access to a toilet or latrine to defecate.

7. Globally, 43% of people living in rural areas lack access to improved sanitation, compared with 27% in urban areas.

8. An estimated 443 million school days are lost each year worldwide due to wash-related diseases.

9. A study in Ethiopia found that more than 50% of girls missed one to four days of school during menstruation.

10. A study in Bangladesh found that 60% of workers used dirty factory rags as menstrual cloths, likely leading to infections that caused 73% of the workforce to miss several works days a month.

11. Investing $1 in sanitation can lead to a $5 return in social and economic development.

This toilet also has something to say.

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Journalists Worldwide Protest Egypt’s Crackdown On The Press

Over the weekend the Tahrir News Network aired footage from Egypt’s Ministry of the Interior showing the arrest and interrogation of the Al-Jazeera television crew in the Marriott Hotel.

The footage shows the Al Jazeera team being interrogated without the presence of a lawyer. The camera zooms in on notebooks, external hard drives, and laptops while increasingly menacing music plays in the background.

“First they came for them, and next they’ll come for the rest of us. That’s why it is so important that we make our voices heard now — while we still can.”

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Mariah Carey Performs For Angolan Dictator

WASHINGTON — Legendary pop diva Mariah Carey performed for Angola’s autocratic ruler José Eduardo dos Santos earlier this week, marking the latest appearance by an American celebrity for a dictator this year.

Carey reportedly performed for two hours on Sunday in Luanda, the capital of Angola, in a performance sponsored by the phone company owned by dos Santos’ daughter, who also is president of the Angolan Red Cross.

Dos Santos, who has been the president of Angola since 1979, has been accused of many human rights abuses and restrictions on the media. “The media face a broad range of restrictions that hamper the right to free expression and encourage self-censorship,” Human Rights Watch says. “The state media and a number of private media owned by senior officials are ruling party mouthpieces in which censorship and self-censorship are common.”

In a release about the performance, Human Rights Foundation President Thor Halvorssen said that Carey received a reported $1 million for the show.

This is not the first time Carey has performed for a dictator: She apologized in 2011 for performing for Moammar Gadhafi in 2009.

A number of U.S. celebrities have performed for autocratic human rights abusers this year, including Kanye West, who performed for Kazakhstan’s president’s family, and Jennifer Lopez, who gave a show at the birthday of Turkmenistan’s dictator.

A spokesperson for Carey didn’t return a request for comment.

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It Took Less Than 24 Hours To Deface The New Monument In Tahrir Square

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Cairo — More than 1,000 people marched in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Monday night ahead of larger protests planned Tuesday to condemn the violence perpetrated by Egyptian security forces.

The protesters attacked and defaced a monument that had been inaugurated just hours earlier by members of the Egyptian cabinet, who laid stones on it in a ceremony designed to symbolize a new start for Tahrir Square.

By nighttime, protesters had stormed the monument and removed its memorial plaque bearing the names of the ministers and replaced it with their own messages.

Egyptian engineers and the artists who designed the monument told BuzzFeed it was a temporary fixture that the government wanted completed before the Nov. 19 protests.

The monument, which government officials said symbolized the “rising up” of the Egyptian people in Tahrir Square, was seen by some as an attempt by the government to re-write history.

The protests planned for Tuesday mark the anniversary of the killing on November 19, 2011 of 40 protesters on Mohamed Mahmoud Street off Tahrir Square. In an apparent attempt to commandeer the protests as their own, the Egyptian government security forces announced they would also hold ceremonies and celebrations Tuesday.

At least 20 armored personal carriers belonging to the army sealed off Tahrir Square on Monday, but protesters still weaved through.

“A word in your ear, Sisi, don’t dream of being my president!” the protesters yelled. In some parts of Tahrir, supporters of the Egyptian military and of General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi began clashing with protesters.

Sisi has become wildly popular in Egypt since the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood, and many believe he would win if he ran for president in elections expected next year.

There are growing concerns that the country has descended into various warring sects. The organizers of Monday’s protests said they chose to take the streets the day before the planned Tuesday anniversary to avoid clashes with security forces. Meanwhile, rhe anti-military, anti-Brotherhood group “The Way of the Revolution Front” planned a demonstration Tuesday on Mohamed Mahmoud Street.

Both sets of demonstrators have vowed not to allow Brotherhood supporters to join their protests. Brotherhood members, meanwhile, have called for their own day of protests which will include wearing all-white in solidarity with ousted president Morsi’s white prison uniform.

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Under Pressure, Scribd Yanks Ecuadorian Spy Documents

A supporter of Edward Snowden holds a sign outside the Embassy of Ecuador in London on June 24. Luke Macgregor / Reuters

WASHINGTON — Uploading service Scribd Thursday pulled down a trove of Ecuadorian intelligence documents published by BuzzFeed in response to a copyright complaint from a Spanish firm with apparent connections to the Latin American government.

BuzzFeed received a notification from Scribd that the documents, which appear to show a deal between the Ecuadorian intelligence agency and an American broker for the purchase of spy equipment made by Israeli companies, had been removed. According to the notification, the documents were removed “because Scribd received a legally valid claim of copyright infringement pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA).”

The complaint was filed by Jonathan Palma of Spanish anti-piracy firm called Ares Rights, wrote to Scribd on behalf of Gabriel Guecelevich, Pablo Romero, Jose Miguel Delgado, Kobi Reuven, Amit Morag, Gabriel Marcos, and Carlos Diaz. Those names include two officials in SENAIN, Ecuador’s spy agency, as well as the American intermediary and two of the Israeli manufacturers.

Palma asked Scribd to

Please suspend Accounts for massive copyright Violations***

d) The name, address, telephone number and email address of the Complainant:

Referred in section “a” (Electronic Signature)

e) I have a good faith belief that the disputed use of the material or activity is not authorized by the copyright or intellectual property owner and that the information provided in the notice is accurate.

f) I swear, under penalty of perjury, that the Complainant is the copyright or intellectual property owner or is authorized to act on behalf of the copyright or intellectual property owner and that the information provided in the notice is accurate.

In an email to BuzzFeed, Palma refused to confirm that he held legitimate rights to the material and refused to identify his client.

Unaware that any of the thousands of files that regulates our company was directly related to you, with an article or news content.

I see that apparently, some sources hosted on other servers, totally unrelated to Buzzfeed have been eliminated. Obviously our action has triggered a drop of the content that you embed, so I feel your content has been affected by a violation of another person. It was not our intention.

I can’t explain the motives, strategies or identity of our clients. The reasons are part of our confidentiality agreement, our knowhow strategies, and with respect to customers, the Organic Law on Data Protection (LOPD) Spanish, prohibits the dissemination of data from our customers.

I just saw your second email. If the service you mentioned has sent the request to you, you are the uploader, which is very interesting and valuable information. Too I see now more sources in your post, hosted in Documentcloud and dropbox.

Ares Rights, does not have to discuss with the uploader, only to the server or service provider. If you need information, Ask him for the server or service provider.

Sorry I can’t help more, now also, I confirm that you are the author of the publication of illegal files, With Copyright Violations.

Asked directly if he had been employed by the Ecuadorian government, Palma refused to answer.

“Sorry Rosie, i dont need make any statement,” he said. “I wish you luck.”

This is not the first time Ares Rights has involved itself in matters of concern to the Ecuadorian government.

In December, Ares Rights brought a copyright complaint to YouTube and Vimeo and tried to have a documentary that was critical of Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa taken down.

On Friday, Correa alluded directly to BuzzFeed’s story on Twitter, saying that the allegations of surveillance had been a “farce” cooked up as punishment for Ecuador’s rebelliousness. At a press conference on Thursday morning, the Minister of the Interior threatened the press: “We invite the national or international press to demonstrate one single case of groundless wiretapping. You have 24 hours to do so, or you will be determined to be liars.”

BuzzFeed has re-uploaded the documents to DocumentCloud and into a Dropbox folder and has formally contested the complaint with Scribd. As of this writing, Palma had already sent another copyright claim to DocumentCloud.

Update – 1:55 p.m.: DropBox, like Scribd, also received a copyright complaint and removed the documents that BuzzFeed had uploaded.

Update – 7:55 p.m.: Legal blogger Adam Steinbaugh has dug up more examples of Ares Rights seeming to work on behalf of the Ecuadorian government, including this complaint lodged with Google that shows Ares claiming copyright on behalf of Ecuador’s communications secretary, Fernando Alvarez.

Update – July 9: DropBox decided last week to reinstate the documents, according to a notice sent to BuzzFeed after BuzzFeed sent a counter-notice to contest the copyright claim by Ares Rights.

“The DMCA notice was submitted on behalf of Ares Rights, and our email to you on June 28 identifies the allegedly infringing material,” DropBox’s July 3rd email to BuzzFeed reads. “On June 28, we received and approved your DMCA counter notice, and have unblocked your public links. However, we need to continue to block the allegedly infringing material for the time period provided in the DMCA (not less than 10, nor more than 14, business days after our receipt of your counter notice).”

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