Aleksandr Krushelnitckii, seen during the bronze medal game against Norway last week. The Olympian from Russia won that mixed doubles bronze — but had the medal stripped Thursday for testing positive for a banned substance.

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Aleksandr Krushelnitckii, seen during the bronze medal game against Norway last week. The Olympian from Russia won that mixed doubles bronze — but had the medal stripped Thursday for testing positive for a banned substance.

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Aleksandr Krushelnitckii has officially lost his Olympic bronze.

The Russian curler, who tested positive for a banned substance known as meldonium, admitted to violating anti-doping rules in Pyeongchang. And on Thursday, the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the highest court in international athletics, handed down its punishment: Krushelnitckii has been disqualified, and he and his teammate and wife, Anastasia Bryzgalova — who did not test positive — have lost the medal they won in mixed doubles competition.

That bronze is now expected to go to the Norwegian team that finished fourth.

The ruling comes as a blow to a Russian delegation that had already been competing beneath the heavy cloud of scandal. Late last year, the International Olympic Committee banned the Russian Olympic Committee and dozens of the country’s athletes from these Winter Games due to “a widespread culture of doping in Russia” — and specifically, an alleged state-sponsored system of cheating in evidence at the 2014 Games in Sochi.

Those athletes who were allowed to compete in Pyeongchang, such as Krushelnitckii, had to leave their Russian colors at home and compete beneath a neutral Olympic flag. They also had to pass particularly rigorous testing.

It is partly for this reason some of Krushelnitckii’s fellow curlers expressed surprise at the failed test for meldonium, a drug believed to improve athletic performance by boosting blood flow.

‘You’d never know if it was on purpose or by accident,” U.S. curling captain John Shuster said earlier this week, according to The Associated Press, “but obviously that’s been banned for a year and a half and I can’t imagine that that was something that happened on purpose.”

The president of Russia’s curling federation, Dmitry Svishchev, has claimed it is possible Krushelnitckii’s food or drink was spiked. In a statement Thursday, Svishchev asserted that Krushelnitckii’s decision to waive his right to a CAS hearing was “by no means an admission of guilt” — and he vowed to keep fighting on Krushelnitckii’s behalf.

“Unfortunately we have to part with the Olympic bronze medal,” he said, according to a Reuters translation. “I really hope and believe that this is temporary.”

Article source: https://www.npr.org/sections/thetorch/2018/02/22/587849425/russian-curler-stripped-of-olympic-bronze-after-hes-found-guilty-of-doping?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Alexei Navalny takes a selfie with his supporters during a rally last month calling for a boycott of the presidential election in March, which he has been banned from running in.

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Alexei Navalny takes a selfie with his supporters during a rally last month calling for a boycott of the presidential election in March, which he has been banned from running in.

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Russian police detained Alexei Navalny for less than an hour Thursday, the prominent opposition leader tweeted Thursday. Navalny said that during the brief arrest, which came just as he was leaving a dental appointment, officials warned him that he faces up to 30 days in prison for organizing illegal protests.

“They offered me a lift somewhere,” he said, according to a translation by Reuters, “but I declined and have gone to work. I don’t understand what happened, and why it took seven people to detain me.”

It is not the first time the 41-year-old critic of the Kremlin has run afoul of Russian authorities this year. Just last month, Navalny got wrestled to the ground during widespread protests calling for a boycott of the March 18 presidential election — an election the anti-corruption campaigner has been barred from running in, after he was convicted of fraud in a case widely viewed as politically motivated.

“I’m definitely not alone, and I’m not some kind of dissident,” he told NPR’s Lucian Kim earlier this month. “If you take any of my anti-corruption investigations or any points from my political platform, I’m sure the majority of Russian citizens would support me — and that’s why I wasn’t allowed to run.”

As Lucian notes, his banned presidential campaign says it has already attracted more than 200,000 volunteers and opened dozens of offices across the country.

It’s unlikely the election will be anything but a victory lap for President Vladimir Putin, who has held power in Russia for 18 years and claims approval ratings north of 80 percent.

Still, Putin’s critics point to his rough treatment of the opposition as evidence his support is built on authoritarian practices — including the arrest of Navalny’s chief of staff, Leonid Volkov, who tweeted Thursday that he had also been detained shortly before Navalny was.

Reuters, citing Navalny’s spokeswoman, reports that Volkov remains in police custody after he was picked up at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport.

Article source: https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/02/22/587858709/russian-police-briefly-detain-opposition-leader-alexei-navalny-again?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Syrian gardeners at the Domiz refugee camp in northern Iraq share the harvest.

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Syrian gardeners at the Domiz refugee camp in northern Iraq share the harvest.

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Fig and pomegranate trees, grapes, carrots, and narcissus flowers are some of the plants that Aveen Ismail like to grow in the Domiz refugee camp in Northern Iraq where they live. That’s because these plants remind her of Syria and home.

At first, Ismail did not find the dry land welcoming. But she values greenery and gardening, so she cultivated a small patch of land next to the house her family built in the camp.

In 2015, after seeing her garden, members of a U.K.-based nonprofit called The Lemon Tree Trust asked Ismail to help them encourage others to garden in the camp. Now she has a formal role with the group.

“I hope to give a beautiful view for my neighbors and support for others, to encourage agriculture, and provide myself with a few fresh vegetables every day,” Ismail says.

Ismail, her husband, and three children fled the Syrian Civil War in 2011. They left their home in Damascus after several family members were killed in their neighborhood. More than 11 million Syrians have been displaced and more than 250,000 have died in the ongoing war. Ismail’s family is among about 26,500 refugees in the Domiz camp, which covers approximately 710 square miles.

Aveen Ismail fled to the camp from Damascus with her family in 2011.

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Aveen Ismail fled to the camp from Damascus with her family in 2011.

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The Lemon Tree Trust is an international branch of Citizen D, a Texas-based nonprofit that focuses on developing urban agriculture projects with marginalized communities, including refugees. Trust Founder Stephanie Hunt says the Kurdish Regional Government that manages the Domiz camp is unique because it is “particularly open to ideas around tree planting, gardening, agriculture and landscape improvement.”

The Trust team approached the camp community and got to know the population by surveying established green spaces, talking to local gardeners, and connecting community members. They funded a small nursery in the camp and hired refugees like Ismail to disseminate seeds, trees, and knowledge.

But what really got refugee gardeners engaged was a Trust-sponsored home garden competition — now an annual event — with cash prizes. The number of participants rose from 50 to 150 between 2016 and 2017, says Hunt.

After the first contest, the Trust brought the community together to hear its priorities for greening the space. “A training and demonstration garden for food growing and small livestock, space for individual garden plots and recreation areas for children,” were the strongest desires, project director Carrie Perkins says.

Ismail (in the red headscarf) helped build the camp’s community garden and mentors other gardeners.

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Ismail (in the red headscarf) helped build the camp’s community garden and mentors other gardeners.

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The Trust hired refugees to handle the mapping, construction and maintenance of a demonstration garden in an unused plot, which is now a flourishing enterprise and community hub called Azadi Garden. Azadi means “liberation” in Kurdish. It contains greenhouses, tree and plant nurseries, and raised beds for personal, communal, and commercial use. There are also areas for men, women, and children to socialize. A repaired well and gray water — recycled household waste water, excluding toilet sewage — are used to irrigate the arid soil.

One of the obstacles refugee camp gardening initiatives like these face is that cultivating the land can feel permanent. While many refugees do end up staying in camps for decades, accepting them as a new home can be difficult.

Perkins and her colleagues emphasize the immediate rewards of camp greening with residents — farming skills, keeping memories of home alive, building community, and accessing fruits and vegetables they would not otherwise have. At Domiz, people access prepackaged and canned goods from a United Nations World Food Programme-run grocery and frozen meat from butchers, but rarely any fresh food. Now the gardening and livestock programs have introduced olive and fruit trees, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, lettuce, herbs, garlic, rabbits and chickens to the camp, among other products.

Ismail tends her plot.

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Ismail tends her plot.

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Shaza Moghraby, a WFP communications officer who previously worked in a Syrian refugee camp, says gardening also gives refugees “a feeling of accomplishment and productivity … For Syrians who are used to working and producing at a relatively young age, it was pretty traumatic for them to spend their day doing nothing.”

There is a lack of employment in the Domiz camp for workers of all levels of expertise and education. Ismail’s husband was unable to take construction work, which was the main type available, due to a back injury. Instead, he joined the Peshmerga, a Kurdish force fighting the Islamic State. He sends his earnings home and comes back to his family every 10 days. It is not uncommon for women to stay in the camp when men leave to find work, and there are many women who must become independent or bring up families on their own.

To support its camp gardeners, the Trust pays wages that are reduced annually with the intention that over time, the gardeners will be able to make money selling some produce. The refugee gardeners even made a deal to sell produce to a local supermarket.

The Trust also helped launch a workers’ cooperative to design and build Crisis Response Garden Kits, which provide new refugees with tools and seeds to begin growing food as soon as they arrive. The Trust hopes the project will become a “self-contained business” for Domiz families when they obtain orders from other relief organizations in crisis regions.

Daily, Hunt and Perkins fight public perceptions that refugees are somehow responsible for their plight or helpless, or that camps are hopeless environments.

“They want to be a productive part of humanity, just like us all,” Hunt says.

The Trust is also currently working in Jordan and Uganda and plans to branch out into other regions in Iraq, as well as potentially in Greece and Bangladesh.

Ismail, along with about half of the camps’ population, wants to stay in Domiz. She is ready to drop the refugee label and hopes to see the area become a regular village. She sees the effect of the community’s greening and growth on her neighbors faces; “I see their smiling looks to their plants, full of love and longing. It brings me peace.”

Julie Travers writes about science, art, and creative responses to adversity. Find her on Twitter @traversjul.

Article source: https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2018/02/22/587708405/community-and-vegetables-grow-side-by-side-in-syrian-refugee-camp-gardens?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Italian far-right party activists hold a banner reading “fatherland” during a demonstration against a government proposal to reform citizenship procedures for the descendants of immigrants living in Italy, in Rome, Nov. 4, 2017.

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Italian far-right party activists hold a banner reading “fatherland” during a demonstration against a government proposal to reform citizenship procedures for the descendants of immigrants living in Italy, in Rome, Nov. 4, 2017.

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A satirical movie that envisions dictator Benito Mussolini staging a comeback opened in Italy just as the campaign for March 4 general elections was getting underway. It has received rave reviews.

The mockumentary I’m Back is an Italian version of the 2015 German film, Look Who’s Back, which envisioned the return of Adolf Hitler.

In a country that has never come to terms with its fascist past, the Italian movie is seen as a warning shot as populism and racism taint the campaign.

The film opened in a national climate of widespread unease over the arrival by boat of more than 600,000 mostly African migrants in the last four years.

In one scene, the dictator is guest of honor on a TV celebrity show. The host asks, “Duce, how does Italy look now?” Wearing jackboots and military garb, his chin jutting forward, the Mussolini look-alike replies, “it’s like Rhodesia, Congo or Nigeria.” When the audience laughs, he fires back, “You won’t find it so funny when an African steals your job.”

Luca Miniero, the movie’s director, told the daily La Repubblica, “I’m convinced that if Mussolini were to return today, he’d win the elections, except that he’d see his government fall after two years.”

In the real Italy, the latest polls favor a right-wing coalition — headed by one man trying to make a political comeback, former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Italians thought they’d seen the last of the 81-year-old media tycoon — disgraced by sex scandals and court trials — since his tax fraud conviction bars him from running for office. Now, he aspires to be kingmaker.

Berlusconi “is the only one who has been able to put this together,” says Roberto D’Alimonte, professor of political science at Rome’s Luiss University, “to create [a] coalition among strange bedfellows, the various segments of the Italian right.”

The coalition includes the League (formerly known as the Northern League), headed by Matteo Salvini. Salvini is anti-European Union, wants to legalize brothels and pledges to deport all undocumented migrants — whose arrival he blames on what he considers the lax immigration policies of the outgoing center-left government.

Many observers say the use of racist campaign slogans has reached new levels and is encouraging violence.

The migrant issue became even more explosive after a right-wing extremist shot and wounded six migrants from countries including Ghana, Mali and Nigeria, in the town of Macerata, in central Italy, earlier this month.

The suspect — who has a Nazi tattoo on his forehead — claimed he acted in revenge for the murder of an 18-year-old Italian woman whose suspected killer is Nigerian.

League leader Salvini was quick to say, whoever shoots people goes to jail, but added that uncontrolled immigration leads to social conflict.

“Those who allowed hundreds of thousands of phony refugees, and real criminals to land here, are morally responsible for acts of violence committed in Italy,” Salvini said.

Official statistics show the crime rate by noncitizens in Italy is lower than that of Italians.

The League’s escalating racist rhetoric poses problems for Berlusconi, says analyst D’Alimonte. “He wants to appear as the moderate leader and he cannot go too far in following the League down the path of chastising immigrants,” he says.

And yet, in a TV interview after the shooting, Berlusconi did exactly that.

“Those 600,000 migrants who are here are a social bomb, ready to explode because they live on expediency and crime,” Berlusconi said.

Emma Bonino, a veteran human rights activist running on a pro-EU slate with the center-left coalition, also warns of dangers posed by that kind of statement.

“Violence is violence, it can never, never, never be excused,” she said. “Leaders and media should be careful in not fueling this sentiment, and it is exactly the opposite that is happening.”

The drive-by shooting in Macerata was only the latest in a series of attacks carried out by right-wing extremists. For the last five years, the Interior Ministry has recorded an average of one attack by a neofascist group per week, according to L’Espresso newspaper.

Small, ultra-right-wing parties such as Casa Pound and Forza Nuova are also campaigning for the March 4 elections.

This raises the specter that, for the first time since the 1945 fall of Mussolini’s dictatorship, lawmakers who openly embrace fascism could be back in the Italian parliament.

Article source: https://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2018/02/21/587276577/anti-migrant-slogans-are-overshadowing-italys-election-race?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

It appears the Kurds of northwestern Iraq, who get backing from the U.S., are making a deal with the Syrian regime. They want regime forces to protect them from a Turkish invasion.

Article source: https://www.npr.org/2018/02/21/587502683/apparent-new-twist-to-syrias-civil-war-has-implications-for-the-u-s?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

It appears the Kurds of northwestern Iraq, who get backing from the U.S., are making a deal with the Syrian regime. They want regime forces to protect them from a Turkish invasion.

Article source: https://www.npr.org/2018/02/21/587502683/apparent-new-twist-to-syrias-civil-war-has-implications-for-the-u-s?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Tommie Smith and John Carlos, gold and bronze medalists in the 200-meter run at the 1968 Olympic Games, raise their fists to protest the inequity and discrimination that black people in the U.S. face.

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Tommie Smith and John Carlos, gold and bronze medalists in the 200-meter run at the 1968 Olympic Games, raise their fists to protest the inequity and discrimination that black people in the U.S. face.

Bettmann Archive

There’s no question that 1968 was a pivotal year in civil rights history. In 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated as he stood on the balcony of a hotel in Memphis; the Fair Housing Act was passed; two U.S. athletes, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, took a stand and raised their fists in a monumental salute at the 1968 Summer Olympics; and Star Trek aired the first intergalactic and interracial on-screen kiss. All this, while the U.S. was embroiled in the Vietnam War.

Now, 50 years later, a team of NPR research librarians, social media producers and reporters are capturing those moments and more with our Twitter project, @todayin1968. Through that account, we’ll tweet news and articles from 1968 as if it were all happening today. In addition to major events, we’ll share “everyday” parts of life — like the change in price for stamps or Billboard hits.

This is a revival of NPR’s project from five years ago, @todayin1963.

Follow along on Twitter as we rediscover 1968. Let us know if there are any key dates, events or people that we should be on the lookout for. Send us a tweet at @todayin1968.

Here are some tweets from @todayin1968:

Article source: https://www.npr.org/2018/02/21/585349704/today-in-1968-replays-a-historic-year-on-twitter?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Tommie Smith and John Carlos, gold and bronze medalists in the 200-meter run at the 1968 Olympic Games, raise their fists to protest the inequity and discrimination that black people in the U.S. face.

Bettmann Archive


hide caption

toggle caption

Bettmann Archive

Tommie Smith and John Carlos, gold and bronze medalists in the 200-meter run at the 1968 Olympic Games, raise their fists to protest the inequity and discrimination that black people in the U.S. face.

Bettmann Archive

There’s no question that 1968 was a pivotal year in civil rights history. In 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated as he stood on the balcony of a hotel in Memphis; the Fair Housing Act was passed; two U.S. athletes, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, took a stand and raised their fists in a monumental salute at the 1968 Summer Olympics; and Star Trek aired the first intergalactic and interracial on-screen kiss. All this, while the U.S. was embroiled in the Vietnam War.

Now, 50 years later, a team of NPR research librarians, social media producers and reporters are capturing those moments and more with our Twitter project, @todayin1968. Through that account, we’ll tweet news and articles from 1968 as if it were all happening today. In addition to major events, we’ll share “everyday” parts of life — like the change in price for stamps or Billboard hits.

This is a revival of NPR’s project from five years ago, @todayin1963.

Follow along on Twitter as we rediscover 1968. Let us know if there are any key dates, events or people that we should be on the lookout for. Send us a tweet at @todayin1968.

Here are some tweets from @todayin1968:

Article source: https://www.npr.org/2018/02/21/585349704/today-in-1968-replays-a-historic-year-on-twitter?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Aleksandr Krushelnitckii, seen here competing with his teammate and wife Anastasia Bryzgalova, has tested positive for a banned substance, the Olympic Athletes from Russia says. The pair won a bronze medal at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

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Aleksandr Krushelnitckii, seen here competing with his teammate and wife Anastasia Bryzgalova, has tested positive for a banned substance, the Olympic Athletes from Russia says. The pair won a bronze medal at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Russian curler Alexander Krushelnitckii, who won a bronze medal at the Pyeongchang Olympics, has tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug at the Winter Games, a spokesman for the Olympic Athletes from Russia team says. The team says it will investigate to learn how the banned drug came to be in the curler’s system.

OAR spokesman Konstantin Vybornov issued a statement on Tuesday saying that the “B” sample, which had been opened for testing yesterday, had returned the same result as the “A” sample: a positive for the presence of meldonium. The drug, sometimes prescribed to treat heart conditions, is believed to boost athletes’ recovery.

“We express our sincere regret over the fact of this incident,” the Russian spokesman said.

While Vybornov acknowledged that the test confirmed the presence of meldonium in the curler’s system, he added that an earlier test had been negative.

“The samples taken from Alexander Krushelnitsky prior to the Olympic Games, on January 22, as well as the preceding samples, tested negative. Thus, the fact of a conscious or systematic use of the banned substance is not confirmed,” Vybornov said, in a translation by state-run Tass media.

He also said that meldonium is known to be effective only if taken consistently. The Russian Olympic Committee will investigate the matter to learn the circumstances, Vybornov said.

The findings could jeopardize the bronze medal Krushelnitckii won as part of a mixed doubles team with his wife, Anastasia Bryzgalova.

A formal doping case was opened against the curler on Monday, by the anti-doping division of the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

International Olympic Committee Communications Director Mark Adams has said that in the case of a positive test result, the OAR Implementation Group would be expected to submit its report on the matter to the IOC’s executive board by the end of the Winter Games.

Meldonium is the same drug for which Maria Sharapova tested positive, resulting in a lengthy ban from tennis in 2016 — the same year the the substance was placed on the prohibited list.

The testing was handled by the Doping-Free Sport Unit — which is part of the Global Association of International Sports Federations, an IOC-recognized group that’s based in Switzerland. World Curling Federation President Kate Caithness is a member of the GAISF Council.

Article source: https://www.npr.org/sections/thetorch/2018/02/20/587211448/russian-curlers-b-sample-confirms-doping-result-bronze-medal-in-jeopardy?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

In Iraq, it’s not easy trying to navigate life as a young woman — particularly when your culture doesn’t give girls many choices. Add war and poverty on top of that and it’s even harder.

Article source: https://www.npr.org/2018/02/20/587215492/despite-obstacles-1-yazidi-woman-is-determined-to-change-her-life?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world