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Vox Sentences: Seychelles — land of sun, surf, and suspicious meetings with Russians

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Robert Mueller homes in on a meeting in Seychelles; Buddhists and Muslims clash in Sri Lanka.


Seychelles and secrets

Erik Prince.
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
  • The latest place of interest in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is Seychelles, an East African archipelago nation in the Indian Ocean. [Huffington Post / Nick Visser]
  • It’s the location of a January 2017 meeting that Mueller is homing in on, between Trump campaign adviser (and Blackwater founder) Erik Prince and a Russian investor named Kirill Dmitriev, who was reportedly there representing Russian President Vladimir Putin. [NYT / Mark Mazzetti, David Kirkpatrick, and Adam Goldman]
  • Reporters have been getting bits and pieces about this meeting from anonymous sources, who have long claimed that the Seychelles meeting was supposed to set up a covert channel between the Trump and Putin teams, to communicate without others knowing. We now know that Mueller is digging deeper. [Vox / Andrew Prokop]
  • The interesting news is that a Lebanese-American businessman named George Nader, one of the people who helped set up and attend the meeting, is now claiming that’s exactly what happened. Nader is cooperating with Mueller and recently testified before a grand jury. [Washington Post / Sari Horwitz and Devlin Barrett]
  • This goes against what Prince said in testimony last year (he claimed he was in Seychelles on business). [Vox / Andrew Prokop​]
  • On Capitol Hill, Democrats working on the congressional Russia investigation are wondering if Prince lied under oath, while some Republicans are dismissing the issue. [CNN / Manu Raju and Marshall Cohen]
  • We don’t know what was discussed at the meeting, but we do know Mueller is examining a money trail between the men. Where it leads is the next question. [NYT / Mark Mazzetti, David Kirkpatrick, and Adam Goldman]

Sri Lanka’s Muslim population is under attack

  • Sri Lanka’s Muslim population is under siege — and many in the community fear there’s more violence to come, after Buddhist mobs tore through Muslim neighborhoods in Sri Lanka’s central Kandy District over the weekend. [Al Jazeera / Tasnim Nazeer]
  • Violence continued throughout the week, despite the Sri Lankan government imposing curfews and declaring a state of emergency. Buddhist mobs ignored security measures, burning homes to the ground with gasoline bombs and destroying shops and restaurants. [Associated Press / Bharatha Mallawarachi]
  • The government has shut down social media sites and messaging apps including Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp in another measure to curb violence, citing inflammatory posts. One Sri Lankan government official said the platforms were banned for “spreading hate speeches and amplifying them.” [NYT / Vindu Goel, Hari Kumar, and Sheera Frenkel]
  • Sri Lanka has long faced deep ethnic divides — the latest escalated by growing Sinhalese Buddhist nationalist groups, which have railed against the minority Muslim population, saying they have forced people to convert to Islam and are stealing from Buddhist temples. Buddhists make up 70 percent of the population, while Muslims make up close to 10 percent. [Economist]

Miscellaneous

  • Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke does NOT want to talk about his $139,000, taxpayer-funded set of office doors, thank you very much. [Associated Press / Michael Biesecker and Matthew Daly]
  • France has proposed 90-euro fines for catcalling as part of its initiative against sexual violence. [ABC News]
  • Amelia Earhart’s remains may finally have been identified, after those same remains were previously declared definitely not her. [Washington Post / Marwa Eltagouri]
  • Why do we keep clicking on those stories of ridiculous Instagram beauty “trends” that turn out to have been adopted by no more than three people? Racked explains. [Racked / Cheryl Wischhover]

Verbatim

“Turning off the buzzing breaking-news machine I carry in my pocket was like unshackling myself from a monster who had me on speed dial, always ready to break into my day with half-baked bulletins.” [NYT / Farhad Manjoo]


Watch this: Why the market for skin whitening is growing

Skin whitening has proven to be damaging, physically and mentally. But sales are booming. The market is predicted to be worth $31.2 billion by 2024. [YouTube / Aleli May Vuelta]


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