Was the Mali coup leader trained in the U.S.?

An interesting nugget from the AP's latest dispatch from Bamako:

A diplomat who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the press said that [Capt. Amadou Haya] Sanogo, the coup leader, was among the elite tier of soldiers selected by the U.S. Embassy to receive military counterterrorism training in America. Sanogo, the official said, traveled "several times" to America for the special training.

That means that he had to pass a background check indicating that he was not complicit in any human rights crimes. The official requested not to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

As blogger Laura Seay quips, "your tax dollars at work."

The U.S. hasn't yet made a decision on whether to cut off military assistance to Mali following the coup.  According to State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland, annual U.S. assistance to Mali is around $137 million, about half of which is humanitarian aid. France suspended its military cooperation with Mali yesterday.

See also: Elizabeth Dickinson's post from 2010 on why coups always seem to be led by captains or colonels not generals. 


Russian court strikes down Bhagavad Gita ban

As Dmitry Medvedev prepares to head to India next week to visit his Soviet era trade partner and fellow BRICS countries, a Russian court dismissed an appeal to ban a translated edition of the Bhagavad Gita after protests erupted outside the Russian consulate in Calcutta.

A top court in Tomsk's Siberian province upheld a ruling from late 2011 by a lower district court, and perhaps considered Indian parliamentarians who protested last year and won.

State prosecutors in Tomsk contended that the book includes remarks that are "hostile to other faiths," and wrote off the Russian translation of one of Albert Einstein's go-to religious texts as book that belongs on the same reading list as Hitler's Mein Kampf for its "social discord."

Following the decision, Alexander Shakhov, a lawyer for a Hare Krishna society in Tomsk, told Interfax, "I believe this is an absolutely fair, logical and most important of all - a law-abiding decision."

Reuters reported that Russia's foreign ministry said that the complaint was not against the Bhagavad Gita itself, which was translated into Russian in 1984, but "a translation with a preface written in 1968 by a founder of the movement A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada."

Regardless, the Hindu holy text could have become a mainstay on Russia's expansive list of banned literature, which now includes more than 1,000 titles including L. Ron Hubbard's Scientology collections, which were reconfirmed as illegal on Wednesday after a regional court upheld a lower court's ruling from 2010.

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