Globe Trot: Snow in Europe, French fashion, standoff in Algeria, Mali, ethnic cleansing in Sudan

International | Mindy Belz

Globe Trot: Snow in Europe, French fashion, standoff in Algeria, Mali, ethnic cleansing in Sudan

A snowboarder near the Sacre Coeur Basilica in Paris Sunday.
Associated Press/Photo by Zacharie Scheurer

In Washington it’s Inauguration Day. In Paris and other European capitals, it’s a snow day. Big headaches for European travelers but a fond view for those of us who grew up on Hans Brinker.

Note: I will be a traveler in Europe beginning tomorrow, and there will be no Globe Trot on Jan. 23. The rest of this week and next week will depend on internet connectivity—so stay tuned.

Speaking of Paris, one of its cutting-edge designers premiered “violently clashing styles” in an androgynous mode that made it hard to tell if the models were male or female. At least one thing was clear about Hedi Slimane’s debut menswear show: “The wardrobe confusion was intentional.”

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Three Americans have died in the standoff in Algeria between government forces and al-Qaeda. And, yes, this was a targeted attack on Americans (and Europeans) with bartering for two of the U.S. citizens killed. The Associated Press reports:

“Militants who attacked the Ain Amenas gas field in the Sahara had offered to release the pair in exchange for the freedom of two prominent terror suspects jailed in the United States: Omar Abdel Rahman, a blind sheik convicted of plotting to blow up New York City landmarks and considered the spiritual leader of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani scientist convicted of shooting at two U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.”

The Obama administration “rejected the offer outright.” But last fall at least three Obama officials indicated that the president was considering transferring Rahman to Egypt—essentially a “get out of jail free” card.

French fighters and Malian troops have retaken Diabaly, a key town in northern Mali seized by Islamist fighters last week. The Islamist group Masked Brigade is calling this a “crusader campaign” and warns of retaliation against any country supporting the French intervention.

I’m following: The ethnic cleansing “now complete” in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states in Sudan. Former senior UN envoy Mukesh Kapila just completed a 620-mile tour of the border region between Sudan and South Sudan and reports:

“This is the world’s biggest human rights disaster. … The tactics they [the Khartoum government of President Omar al-Bashir] are using point towards war crimes and crimes against humanity being committed with the circumstantial evidence that it is quite strongly ethnically based.”

Delegates from the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North are in Washington and New York—pressing President Obama’s new national security team and members of the UN Security Council to take action. Estimates are that half a million people have been displaced in this disaster.

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