7 Places You Didn’t Know Were UNESCO World Heritage Sites

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

7 Places You Didn’t Know Were UNESCO World Heritage Sites

From national parks and natural wonders to ancient cities and historic buildings, World Heritage Sites are selected by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for being significant places.

As of December 2018, there are 1,092 World Heritage Sites, recognized for their cultural, historical, scientific or natural standing. Italy, China and Spain have the most sites on the list with 54, 53 and 47, respectively.

While every travel destination has some degree of importance, World Heritage Sites are legally protected, promoting their conservation.

Here are 7 places you may not have known were UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Quito, Ecuador

Quito, Ecuador

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The capital city of Ecuador, Quito, was one of the first places marked as a World Heritage Site in 1978, mainly due to its pristine historic center, which UNESCO calls the “best-preserved, least altered” in all of Latin America. The integrity of the city’s original configuration is noted as one of its reasons for being included.

Ancient City of Damascus

Ancient City of Damascus

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One of seven Syrian sites on the list that are in danger due to conflict in the region is the Ancient City of Damascus. Founded in the 3rd millennium B.C., it’s one of the oldest cities in the Middle East. It has around 125 monuments from different periods of its history, including the famous 8th century Great Mosque of the Umayyads, which has thus far survived the Syrian Civil War.

Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park

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Also on the World Heritage Sites “in danger” list is South Florida’s Everglades National Park, the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States. Home to rare and endangered species like the manatee, American crocodile and Florida panther, the Everglades itself is threatened by the “serious and continuing degradation of its aquatic ecosystem,” UNESCO announced when it re-added the park to the list in 2010.

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Rock Drawings in Val Camonica

Rock Drawings in Val Camonica

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Located in northern Italy, Val Camonica has one of the world’s greatest collections of prehistoric petroglyphs. There are more than 140,000 symbols and figures carved in the rock over a period of 8,000 years. The valley, located in the Lombardy region, has petroglyphs throughout that depict themes linked with agriculture, duels and deer hunting.

Pre-Hispanic Town of Uxmal

Pre-Hispanic Town of Uxmal

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The Pre-Hispanic Town of Uxmal, Mexico was founded in the year 700 by roughly 25,000 inhabitants. It was selected as a UNESCO site in 1996 because of the layout of its buildings, dated from 700 to 1000, which reveal a knowledge of astronomy. The Pyramid of the Magician — known to the Spaniards as the Pyramid of the Soothsayer — is at the city’s ceremonial center. It is among the high points of Mayan art and architecture.

The Grand Canal

The Grand Canal

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Running from Beijing in the north to the Zhejiang province to the south, the Grand Canal was added as a World Heritage Site in 2014. Construction on the vast Chinese waterway system began in the 5th century B.C. By the 13th century, it consisted of more than 2,000 kilometers of artificial waterways that link five of China’s main river basins.

Palau de la Música Catalana and Hospital de Sant Pau, Barcelona

Palau de la Música Catalana and Hospital de Sant Pau, Barcelona

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Barcelona’s Palau de la Música Catalana and Hospital de Sant Pau are listed as a singular World Heritage Site, recognized as “two of the finest contributions to Barcelona’s architecture by the Catalan art nouveau architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner.”

4 Best Countries to Retire In

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

4 Best Countries to Retire In

With great exchange rates, beautiful weather, and locals welcoming of U.S. expats, it’s not surprising these four countries to our south stand out as retirement meccas. One of them, Mexico, is so close and so easy to assimilate to, it makes perfect sense to shift your life and assets south of the border for the golden years. Slightly more exotic and further afield, Central American and South American locales with tropical tendencies and inexpensive living round out the righteous retirement roster.

Ecuador

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Straddling the equator on the west coast of South America, Ecuador is where diverse geographies and ecosystems collide, with the Amazon jungle, Andean highlands, and the wildlife-rich Galápagos Islands all lying within the country’s boundaries. This confluence of land forms equates to excellent weather throughout the entire country, for sunshiny days without the mugginess factor.

The capital, Quito, sits at an elevation of nearly 10,000 feet in the Andean foothills, with a moderate mountain climate most of the year. Quito is renowned for its intact Spanish colonial center, palaces, and churches — along with big-city conveniences. Head down to the coast for warm weather all year. With reasonable beachfront real estate prices and low property taxes, retirees get a lot for their money here. Consider that a home on the Pacific Ocean can be had for $150,000, and that home prices and rental rates in the interior are far less expensive than that. So whether you prefer lush green valleys, ocean views, or mountain village life, Ecuador is a retirement dream.

Mexico

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If you are concerned about how far your Social Security earnings might go after retirement — or if you simply want to retire more extravagantly — Mexico is an obvious choice for life after work. The cost of living is so low that you can, in many places, subsist quite substantially on Social Security alone. Factor in the solid exchange rate, and Mexico just makes sense.

Beyond cost, there is the wonderful culture and climate of our southern neighbor to take into account. Sandwiched between the southern U.S. and Central America, Mexico boasts both Pacific Ocean and Gulf of Mexico beaches for miles. The huge, ecologically diverse country also enjoys desert, mountain, and jungle landscapes throughout its many regions. From small beach towns like Cancun to the metropolis of Mexico City, retirees will find a country steeped in the ancient and the modern. Throughout the country are scattered important archaeological sites such as  Teotihuacán and the Mayan city of Chichén Itzá, along with Spanish colonial-era historic towns. Meanwhile, Mexico City’s trendy shops, world-class museums and gourmet dining display modern Mexico.

Costa Rica

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With pristine coastal beaches on both the Caribbean and Pacific shores, Costa Rica is a tropical paradise, yet in contrast its interior is a rugged, rain-forested area studded with volcanoes. Much of the country – about a quarter of it – is protected jungle preserves with thriving biodiversity and wildlife, such as spider monkeys and exotic quetzal birds. Areas humans do inhabit are known for wonderful climate, an incredible cost of living, bargain real estate prices, and quality health care.

The capital is San Jose, where the climate is referred to as “eternal spring,” if that gives you an idea how nice it is year-round. The same is true for the rest of the surrounding Central Valley. Coastal beach towns are hot and dry, but benefit from cooling marine breezes, while the lush landscape in the southern part of the country remains moist and temperate. With such great weather, Costa Rico is perfect for outdoor-loving, active retirees into fishing, golf, horseback riding, hiking, diving, or yoga.

Panama

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Look at it this way: Not only is Panama modern and convenient — with close access back to the U.S. to visit the grand-kids — but it’s also a tropical paradise. Even if you choose to live in the capital, Panama City, amidst the modern hustle, your city park is a tropical rain-forest. Taking up the center of the isthmus linking Central and South America, Panama is famous for its Panama Canal, which was sliced through the center of the country in order to link the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, creating an essential and strategic international trade route.

Panama City’s modern skyscrapers, casinos, and nightclubs are juxtaposed with historic colonial buildings, many in the Casco Viejo district. As mentioned, Natural Metropolitan Park is a large patch of rain-forest preserved in the city. With no taxes on income earned outside of Panama, retirees can keep costs low even in metro Panama City. For even more value, head to more remote mountain and beach towns for pretty scenery and peaceful vibes, places such as Coronado, the Pedasi region and Bocas del Toro, among other retirement gems. No wonder Panama ranked at the top of the 2019 Annual Global Retirement Index.

5 Best Places to See Wild Penguins Beyond Antarctica

(THIS ARTICLE IS CUTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

5 Best Places to See Wild Penguins Beyond Antarctica

Penguins may be rare to see in the wild, but that doesn’t mean you have to go all the way to Antarctica to catch a glimpse of them in their natural habitat. There are between 17 and 19 species of penguin that currently exist on the planet, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere. Unfortunately, the penguin population is declining because of climate change, overfishing, and pollution, all of which have had a drastic impact on the places they call home.

Cape Town, South Africa

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South Africa’s southern tip is home to the African penguin, particularly at Boulders Beach just outside of Cape Town. The African penguin is one of the endangered species, having lost 80 percent of its population over the past 50 years. The penguin colony in Africa, which begins in southern Namibia and goes all the way down to Port Elizabeth in South Africa, began not too long ago, in 1983. They migrated from Dyer Island to reach the plentiful food source at Boulders Beach. Thanks to conservation efforts, there are now more than 3,000 African penguins in the Boulders Beach colony, so plenty to see here where penguins are concerned. Boulders Beach is located inside of Table Mountain National Park, and aside from penguin viewing with magnificent views, the area is also great for swimming, hiking, wind sailing, and plenty of other wildlife viewing opportunities.

Tierra del Fuego, Argentina and Chile

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The Tierra del Fuego archipelago at the southernmost part of South America is separated from the mainland by the Strait of Magellan. Two-thirds of the area is Chilean and one-third is Argentine. The islands of Tierra del Fuego are where Magellanic, Humboldt, Rockhopper, Gentoo, and King penguins can be found in the wild. Penguins can be reached via the southernmost city in the world: Ushuaia, Argentina. From there, you can find day tours to visit the penguins, some even offering the chance to walk among them (in tour groups that never exceed 20 people). Here the penguins, often in crowds of hundreds, waddle adorably along the shore.

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

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Most penguins don’t live in tropical climates, nor in the Northern Hemisphere; in fact, only the endangered Galapagos penguins do, and they live here year-round. This is unusual for penguins, as they usually migrate with the seasons. The western Galapagos islands have much cooler water, and that is where many of the penguins can be found, namely on Fernandina Island or Isabela Island. No tour of the Galapagos Islands would be complete without visiting the penguins. Likely you will see the penguins from a boat, but if your tour offers swimming, you may very well find yourself in the rare circumstance of being in the water alongside these cute little guys. The Galapagos National Park Service does not allow tourists in certain areas, so before booking a tour, it’s best to determine with them that you will be able to see the penguins from a reasonable distance.

Phillip Island, Australia

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The smallest species of all penguins, called the Little Penguin, live mainly on Phillip Island, about a 90-minute drive from Melbourne (where you can also see koalas, seals, whales, anteaters, and wallabies). The only other place they can be found is in New Zealand. These penguins are about a foot tall and weigh less than 3 pounds. Today, the most typical way to see them is from an elevated viewing platform when they get back from the day’s fishing to feed their young. If you would like to see this grand parade of penguins up-close, there are limited tour options available, allowing people to walk among the penguins on a remote beach.

Sub-Antarctic New Zealand

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While 13 species of penguin have been spotted in New Zealand, only nine breed there, and only three on the mainland. Those three, which people can visit, are the Little Penguin, the Hoiho Penguin, and the Fiordland Crested Penguin. You can see the Little Penguin in the evening or at night when they are on shore in Oamaru, Akoaroa Harbour, Marlborough Sounds, Dunedin, and Stewart Island. At Otago Peninsula, not too far south from Dunedin, you’ll be able to visit the rare, yellow-eyed Hoiho Penguins up-close in their natural habitat. The Fiordland Crested Penguin is one of the rarest of them all, and they live on New Zealand’s South Island in the rainforests of Lake Moeraki, Stewart Island, Fiordland, and Haast. Because these wild penguins are on the decline, many tour operators offer sustainable ecotourism.

Some penguin species are endangered and some aren’t (yet). The best time to pay wild penguins a visit, outside of Antarctica, is during the Southern Hemisphere summer season. During this time these charming tuxedoed creatures spend more time breeding and nesting onshore.

3 Animals You Wouldn’t Think You Could Swim With — But You Can

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

3 Animals You Wouldn’t Think You Could Swim With — But You Can

Swimming and snorkeling with dolphins and sea turtles in tropical locales is wildly popular as a tourist attraction. Diving with sharks has been on the radar of thrill seekers for a while, as well. But there are a few animals that don’t immediately come to mind when swimming with them is concerned. Following is a short list of unexpected animal swimming companions.

Penguins, Cape Town, South Africa

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Most penguins inhabit places you wouldn’t want to swim, like Antarctica. However, one colony of black-footed penguins reside in the more temperate climes of South Africa. Bobbing and torpedoing through the surf off Boulder Beach, near Cape Town, the African penguins are perfectly adapted to the relatively warmer Atlantic waters off the cape. The colony of 3,000-plus birds lives within Table Mountain National Park Marine Protected Area. The waddling, braying penguins are best viewed in numbers from boardwalks and platforms that wind through dense dunes at nearby Foxy Beach, according to the Cape Town tourism website. While you can’t approach the birds, they don’t know the sanctuary boundary and are found on the rocks and in the water near the swimming beach at Boulders Bay, so swimming encounters are perfectly possible.

Marine Iguanas, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

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The Galápagos Islands, a volcanic archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, lies some 1,000 miles off the coast of Ecuador. The islands are one of the world’s most diverse and best places for viewing wildlife, most famous as the natural laboratory of naturalist Charles Darwin. The area also offers excellent scuba diving for intermediate to advanced divers, who may find themselves up close with the planet’s only water lizard. The marine iguana looks tough, but don’t let its mini-dinosaur looks fool you: Those teeth let the gentle herbivore scrape algae off of rocks. Its body buoyancy and tail shape are perfectly adapted to swimming, and long, sharp claws let it cling to rocks in rough tides. Again, diving Galapagos waters isn’t for beginners, but those with the skills and desire to swim alongside these cool creatures can find information on Galapagos dive outfitters through Galapagosislands.com.

Pigs, Exuma, Bahamas

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An uninhabited island in Exuma, Bahamas, Pig Island is named for the colony of feral but friendly pigs that live there. Pigs aren’t exactly native to tropical islands, and no one is quite sure how they got there. Somehow, at least a couple of pigs made it to shore from a boat. Stories say they were stashed by sailors who never came back for their feast, or that they swam to land from a shipwreck. Either way, the swimming sows are now a tourist attraction in their own right. You won’t need an entire day to check out the playful pigs. Instead, book an Exuma Cays day trip through Exuma Tourist Office. In addition to a stop at Pig Island for swimming and selfies with the snub-snouted swimmers, you will also feed Bahamian rock iguanas, visit Blowhole Beach, enjoy lunch on Staniel Cay, pet a stingray and hold a starfish. All of that is before snorkeling in the Out Islands.

The Oldest Continually Inhabited Cities on Each Continent

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

The Oldest Continually Inhabited Cities on Each Continent

On every continent we find some of the oldest cities that early human civilizations called home. Successful long-term dwelling habitation occurs from a blending of sources. The region needs a strong economy with quality and consistency in the creation of trade. A perpetual food and water supply, availability of work, enduring infrastructure and uninterrupted peace and harmony are classic explanations.

Maintenance of the ratio of birth and death rates, as well as immigration and migration, must balance the population. All these society-friendly conditions continue to come together in some of the oldest cities on the continents of North America, South America, the Middle East, Africa and Europe.

North America: Cholula, Mexico

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In North America, the pre-Columbian city of Cholula is found in the state of Puebla, Central Mexico. It is the oldest continuously inhabited city in North America, expanding from a settlement to a village and is now a regional city. The available data regarding the establishment of first-time inhabitants are conflicting, ranging from anywhere from 2000 B.C., between 800 B.C. and 200 B.C., and from the 7th century. The current thinking is that Toltec refugees settled in the area following the fall of Tula. However, other information indicates that the peoples were the children of one of the seven Aztec tribes.

Eighteen neighborhoods make up the city, and each one has a leader. This city is well known for the Iglesias de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios sanctuary. The local economy continues to endure, thanks to visitors from all over the world.

South America: Quito, Ecuador

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In South America, the oldest inhabited city is Quito in Ecuador. Located at the Guayllabamba river basin, it is the capital of Ecuador. Sources cite varying dates for first-time inhabitants, stretching from the occupation of the Kingdom of Quito from 2000 B.C. to 980 A.D., or the 13th or 16th century.

Despite earthquakes, there is enough water for residential and industrial use that the city’s population continues to replenish itself. A renewing spirit of culture, economy and environmental resources has engaged the 2 million residents and their government. Rebuilding and renovation projects have included a new airport, the Mariscal Sucre International Airport, an ecologically sustainable Metrobus-Ecovia that links the northern and southern edges of the city and a new subway system.

Middle East: Jericho, West Bank

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Based on archeological support, it is suggested that Jericho is among the oldest inhabited cities in the world. Destroyed, abandoned, re-inhabited and enlarged many times, the city dates back to 11,000 to 9000 B.C. with the walled defenses around 6800 B.C. Researchers have uncovered 20 successive communities.

Located below sea level, Jericho has the distinction of not only being the oldest inhabited, walled city, but also geographically the lowest, located 847 feet below sea level. Local springs found near the city from the nearby Jordan River are a welcome water supply to the nearly 20,000 current residents. Considered the oasis of the Jordan Valley, tourists make a pilgrimage to soak in the unique history of this biblical-era city.

Africa: Luxor (Thebes), Egypt

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The oldest continuously inhabited city in Africa, Luxor is home to about 500,000 residents and situated near the Nile River. Estimates place the time of habitation as 7200 B.C. to 3200 B.C. Luxor was established as a sacred religious capital, yet saw decline during the Roman occupation.

Today, visitors travel the globe to explore this ancient Egyptian city. Ruins and classical artifacts abound within the monuments of the Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens, the West Bank Necropolis, and the ruins of the temples of Karnak and Luxor. Supported by the tourist economy, Luxor continues to contribute to antiquity art, culture and knowledge.

Europe: Plovdiv, Bulgaria

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Assessments place the establishment of Plovdiv at 6,000 years ago. Rich in history, the city was a travel crossroads for the Roman Empire, connecting Western Europe and the Middle East. The survival of thousands of years of conflicts and occupations have left behind a vibrant cultural tapestry. Architectural landmarks, monuments, statues, art and education unite with the Thracian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman times. Ethnic diversity is still seen today, as Plovdiv, the second-largest city in Bulgaria, is home to 340,000 inhabitants of Roman, Armenian, Greek, Jewish, and Turkish heritage.

The world’s oldest cities evoke thoughts of faraway places and classical times. Archeological discoveries link us to our common ancestry, and there are many histories yet to be revealed. From the seven hills of Rome to the Americas, communities are the cornerstone of humanity.

5 Must-Visit Places in Quito, Ecuador

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

5 Must-Visit Places in Quito, Ecuador

One of South America’s best-kept secrets, Quito is Ecuador’s capital, built high in the foothills of the Andes Mountains above the ruins of an ancient Incan city. Blessed with a moderate year-round climate and well-preserved architecture with few crowds, the remote city sits at more than 9,000 feet in elevation. Quito draws from ancient indigenous, Moorish, and European colonial histories for its distinct heritage—all of which make it the perfect destination for intrepid travelers not afraid to leave the beaten path.

The Old Town

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Quito’s European influences shine especially bright in its Old Town district, offering visitors a visual feast of historic homes, picture-postcard plazas, and ornate churches along quaint cobblestone streets. Must-see plazas include the Plaza Grande and Plaza San Francisco. Also, make sure to check out the Compania de Jesus Church, where you’ll gawk at its immaculate, gold-leaf interior.

La Floresta Neighborhood

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Laying just beyond the city center is the trendy La Floresta neighborhood, the name of which translates to “the verdant grove.” One of the first areas of the city to branch out from the colonial center during the 1920s, La Floresta attracted artists and musicians. This, along with its location near a university, means its energy is appropriately young and vibrant, with colorful murals lining the streets. Simply wander around and soak in the atmosphere while checking out historic tile-roof gardens, crafts shops, and galleries of local art. Or stake out a spot at one of the area’s many cafes and restaurants to people-watch and enjoy a drink or meal. For Ecuadorian cuisine, diners can enjoy Él Esmeraldas and Lo Nuestro, or try Italian fare with vegetarian options at La Briciola.

El Panecillo Viewpoint

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On clear days, the distant El Panecillo—perched high on a hill above Quito—is visible throughout much of the city. Conversely, the entire city is visible from the viewpoint, which is marked by a monument to the winged Virgin of Quito. It is here, from the base of the statue, that panoramic shots of the city below come into view. Mornings are the best bet for views unobstructed by clouds or fog. For an even better vantage, visitors can pay a nominal fee to climb up to the first platform on the statue, all the better to take in the colorful hues of the city below. For logistics and safety, the best route to the viewpoint is by car, since the hiking route can be treacherous.

Calle La Ronda Neighborhood

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Ironically, neglect and a bad reputation in the past have made La Ronda one of Quito’s best-preserved and most popular neighborhoods today. Calle La Ronda, the main street, is the city’s oldest thoroughfare, now lined with carefully restored, vividly colored buildings. As Quito grew, it seems, La Ronda gradually lost some of its original luster, and its population declined, making way for criminals and vagrants. Precisely due to this, its old buildings were never bulldozed for redevelopment. A late 20th-century restoration movement resulted in today’s romantic ambiance and bohemian feel, enhanced by flower-draped balconies along lamp-lit streets, where a series of doorways opens to reveal courtyards containing galleries, shops, and elegant restaurants.

Bell Tower of the Basilica del Voto Nacional

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Walking beneath the towering Basilica del Voto Nacional, you get an idea of the workout ahead. To obtain a breathtaking view of the Quito, you have to expend some breath along the way. Before getting to that, check out the church, the largest neo-Gothic basilica in the Americas, complete with intricately carved, menacing gargoyles. Located in the historic center of Quito, the basilica’s central locale makes it a great viewpoint. From the roof, visitors begin the real climb, up near vertical steps ascending inside the bell tower, where panoramic views await at the top.

Brazil: Former President Lula says Assange is a “Hero Of Our Time”

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BRAZIL 24/7)

 

U.S. Paid Ecuador $4.2 Billion To Get Julian Assange Arrested?

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Julian Assange: Wikileaks co-founder arrested in London

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Julian Assange: Wikileaks co-founder arrested in London

Media caption Video footage shows Julian Assange being dragged from the Ecuadorian embassy in London

Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange has been arrested at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

Assange took refuge in the embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over a sexual assault case that has since been dropped.

At Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday he was found guilty of failing to surrender to the court.

He now faces US federal conspiracy charges related to one of the largest ever leaks of government secrets.

The UK will decide whether to extradite Assange, in response to allegations by the Department for Justice that he conspired with former US intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to download classified databases.

He faces up to five years in US prison if convicted on the charges of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion.

Assange’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson said they would be fighting the extradition request. She said it set a “dangerous precedent” where any journalist could face US charges for “publishing truthful information about the United States”.

She said she had visited Assange in the police cells where he thanked supporters and said: “I told you so.”

Assange had predicted that he would face extradition to the US if he left the embassy.

What happened in court?

Sketch of Julia Assange at Westminster Magistrates' Court on 11 April 2019Image copyright JULIA QUENZLER, BBC

After his arrest, the 47-year-old Australian national was initially taken to a central London police station before appearing in court.

Dressed in a black suit and black polo shirt, he waved to the public gallery and gave a thumbs up. He pleaded not guilty to the 2012 charge of failing to surrender to the court.

Finding him guilty of that charge, District Judge Michael Snow said Assange’s behaviour was “the behaviour of a narcissist who cannot get beyond his own selfish interest”.

He sent him to Southwark Crown Court for sentencing, where he faces up to 12 months in prison.

The court also heard that during his arrest at the embassy he had to be restrained and shouted: “This is unlawful, I am not leaving.”

Julian Assange pictured in a police vanImage copyright REUTERS
Image caption Assange gave a thumbs up as he was taken to Westminster Magistrates’ Court in a police van

Why does the US government want to extradite Assange?

Assange set up Wikileaks in 2006 with the aim of obtaining and publishing confidential documents and images.

The organisation hit the headlines four years later when it released footage of US soldiers killing civilians from a helicopter in Iraq.

Former US intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning was arrested in 2010 for disclosing more than 700,000 confidential documents, videos and diplomatic cables to the anti-secrecy website.

She said she only did so to spark debates about foreign policy, but US officials said the leak put lives at risk.

She was found guilty by a court martial in 2013 of charges including espionage. However, her jail sentence was later commuted.

Manning was recently jailed for refusing to testify before an investigation into Wikileaks’ role in revealing the secret files.

What are the US charges against him?

The indictment against Assange, issued last year in the state of Virginia, alleges that he conspired in 2010 with Manning to access classified information on Department of Defense computers. He faces up to five years in jail.

Manning downloaded four databases from US departments and agencies between January and May 2010, the indictment says. This information, much of which was classified, was provided to Wikileaks.

The US Justice Department described it as “one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States”.

Assange's lawyer Jennifer Robinson and Wikileaks editor-in-chief Kristinn HrafnssonImage copyright REUTERS
Image caption Assange’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson and Wikileaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson say the arrest sets a dangerous precedent

Cracking a password stored on the computers, the indictment alleges, would have allowed Manning to log on to them in such a way as to make it harder for investigators to determine the source of the disclosures. It is unclear whether the password was actually broken.

Correspondents say the narrowness of the charge seems intended to avoid falling foul of the US Constitution’s First Amendment guarantee of freedom of the press.

Why did the Ecuadorian embassy stop protecting him?

The Wikileaks co-founder had been in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012, after seeking asylum there to avoid extradition to Sweden on a rape allegation.

The investigation into the alleged rape, which he denied, was later dropped because he had evaded the arrest warrant. The Swedish Prosecution Authority has said it is now considering whether to resume the inquiry before the statute of limitations runs out in August 2020.

Scotland Yard said it was invited into the embassy on Thursday by the ambassador, following the Ecuadorian government’s withdrawal of asylum.

Ecuadorian president Lenin Moreno said the country had “reached its limit on the behaviour of Mr Assange”.

Mr Moreno said: “The most recent incident occurred in January 2019, when Wikileaks leaked Vatican documents.

“This and other publications have confirmed the world’s suspicion that Mr Assange is still linked to WikiLeaks and therefore involved in interfering in internal affairs of other states.”

His accusations against Assange also included blocking security cameras at the embassy, accessing security files and confronting guards.

Julian AssangeImage copyright REUTERS
Image caption Julian Assange outside the embassy in 2017

Mr Moreno said the British government had confirmed in writing that Assange “would not be extradited to a country where he could face torture or the death penalty”.

The arrest comes a day after Wikileaks said it had uncovered an extensive spying operation against its co-founder at the Ecuadorian embassy.

There has been a long-running dispute between the Ecuadorian authorities and Assange about what he was and was not allowed to do in the embassy.

BBC diplomatic correspondent James Landale said that over the years they had removed his access to the internet and accused him of engaging in political activities – which is not allowed when claiming asylum.

He said: “Precisely what has happened in the embassy is not clear – there has been claim and counter claim.”

How have people reacted?

Prime Minister Theresa May told the House of Commons: “This goes to show that in the UK, no one is above the law.”

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the arrest was the result of “years of careful diplomacy” and that it was “not acceptable” for someone to “escape facing justice”.

But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said that Assange had revealed “evidence of atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan” and his extradition “should be opposed by the British government”.

Press freedom organisation Reporters Without Borders said that the UK should resist extradition, because it would “set a dangerous precedent for journalists, whistleblowers, and other journalistic sources that the US may wish to pursue in the future”.

Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne said he would continue to receive “the usual consular support” and that consular officers will try to visit him.

And actress Pamela Anderson, who has visited the embassy to support Assange, said the arrest was a “vile injustice”.


Timeline: Julian Assange saga

  • August 2010 – The Swedish Prosecutor’s Office first issues an arrest warrant for Assange. It says there are two separate allegations – one of rape and one of molestation. Assange says the claims are “without basis”
  • December 2010 – Assange is arrested in London and bailed at the second attempt
  • May 2012 – The UK’s Supreme Court rules he should be extradited to Sweden to face questioning over the allegations
  • June 2012 – Assange enters the Ecuadorean embassy in London
  • August 2012 – Ecuador grants asylum to Assange, saying there are fears his human rights might be violated if he is extradited
  • August 2015 – Swedish prosecutors drop their investigation into two allegations – one of sexual molestation and one of unlawful coercion because they have run out of time to question him. But he still faces the more serious accusation of rape.
  • October 2015 – Metropolitan Police announces that officers will no longer be stationed outside the Ecuadorean embassy
  • February 2016 – A UN panel rules that Assange has been “arbitrarily detained” by UK and Swedish authorities since 2010
  • May 2017 – Sweden’s director of public prosecutions announces that the rape investigation into Assange is being dropped
  • July 2018 – The UK and Ecuador confirm they are holding ongoing talks over the fate of Assange
  • October 2018 – Assange is given a set of house rules at the Ecuadorean embassy in London. He then launches legal action against the government of Ecuador
  • December 2018 – Assange’s lawyer rejects an agreement announced by Ecuador’s president to see him leave the Ecuadorean embassy
  • February 2019 – Australia grants Assange a new passport amid fears Ecuador may bring his asylum to an end
  • April 2019 – The Metropolitan Police arrests him for “failing to surrender to the court” over a warrant issued in 2012. He is found guilty and faces up to 12 months in prison, as well as extradition over US charges of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion.

Ecuador’s president says “the road is clear” for Julian Assange to leave embassy

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CBS NEWS)

 

Ecuador’s president says “the road is clear” for Julian Assange to leave embassy

QUITO, Ecuador — Ecuador’s president has ramped up pressure on Julian Assange to leave the country’s embassy in London. Lenin Moreno said Britain had provided sufficient guarantees the WikiLeaks founder won’t be extradited to face the death penalty abroad.

Moreno’s comments in a radio interview Thursday suggest that months of quiet diplomacy between the U.K. and Ecuador to resolve Assange’s situation is bearing fruit at a time when questions are swirling about the former Australian hacker’s legal fate in the U.S.

“The road is clear for Mr. Assange to take the decision to leave,” Moreno said, referring to written assurances he said he had received from Britain.

Lenin Moreno

Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno said conditions have been met for Assange to leave the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

 GETTY

Moreno didn’t say he would force Assange out, but said the activist’s legal team is considering its next steps.

Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy since 2012, when he was granted asylum while facing allegations of sex crimes in Sweden that he said were a guise to extradite him to the U.S.

But his relations with his hosts have soured to the point that Moreno earlier this year cut off his access to the internet, purportedly for violating the terms of his asylum by speaking out on political matters.

Assange in turn sued, saying his rights as an Ecuadorian — he was granted citizenship last year as part of an apparent attempt to name him a diplomat and ferry him to Russia — were being violated.

Julian Assange

Julian Assange speaks to the media from the balcony of the Embassy of Ecuador on May 19, 2017, in London, England.

 GETTY

The mounting tensions has drawn Moreno closer to the position of Britain, which for years has said it is barred by law from extraditing suspects to any jurisdiction where they would face capital punishment.

But nothing is preventing it from extraditing him to the U.S. if prosecutors there were to pledge not to seek the death penalty.

Assange has long maintained the he faces charges under seal in the U.S for revealing highly sensitive government information on his website.

Those fears were heightened when U.S prosecutors last month mistakenly referenced criminal charges against him in an unrelated case.

The Associated Press and other outlets have reported Assange is indeed facing unspecified charges under seal, but prosecutors have so far provided no official confirmation.

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Thursday’s development comes after a revelation that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort traveled to Ecuador in 2017 in an effort to broker an investment deal between that country and China, his spokesman told CBS News. And during that trip, the spokesman said, Ecuador’s president raised the possibility of a deal that would remove Assange from the embassy.

Manafort’s trip to Ecuador and what he discussed regarding Assange has become a subject of speculation in recent weeks. Manafort recently dismissed a story that he met with Assange in person during the 2016 campaign as “false and deliberately libelous.”

On Monday, The New York Times reported that Manafort discussed Assange’s fate with Moreno at least twice.