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2 Police Officers Shot And Killed Near Orlando

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2 Police Officers Shot And Killed Near Orlando

Editor’s note: This is a developing story; we’ll provide updates as they become available.

Police in Kissimmee, Fla., just south of Orlando, reported late Friday that two officers there had been shot.

Both were killed, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs confirmed on Twitter.

Heartbreaking loss of two of Kissimmee’s finest officers. Please join in prayers for families, friends, and law enforcement.

— Mayor Teresa Jacobs (@Mayor_Jacobs) August 19, 2017

A suspect has been arrested, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

“There are no county or jurisdiction lines when it comes to our Law Enforcement Brotherhood,” Osceola County Commissioner Fred Hawkins Jr. wrote in response to the shootings.

There are no county or jurisdiction lines when it comes to our Law Enforcement Brotherhood. Thank U 4 the support & Prayers

— Fred Hawkins, Jr. (@fhawkinsjr) August 19, 2017

Florida Highway Patrol spokeswoman Sgt. Kim Montes told the Sentinel that one person was in custody.

Details of the shootings, including whether the officers were on duty or responding to a call at the time, have not been released yet, the Sentinel reported.

Further north in Jacksonville, the local sheriff’s office also reported that two of their officers had been shot, with information about the circumstances or their conditions withheld until family members were notified.

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Venezuela's Pro-Maduro Assembly Seizes Congressional Powers

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Venezuela's Pro-Maduro Assembly Seizes Congressional Powers

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro addresses the constituent assembly earlier this month. The group, which Maduro called for and which enjoys wide-ranging powers, granted itself the ability to pass laws.

Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images

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Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images

The Venezuelan Constituent Assembly, an extremely powerful group called into existence by President Nicolas Maduro, just granted itself another power — one that was once the exclusive province of the country’s elected congress: The 2-week-old assembly packed with Maduro supporters decreed Friday it has the power to pass laws.

While the move does not officially dissolve the Venezuelan legislature, it effectively renders the body of lawmakers moot by appropriating its principle responsibility. The Venezuelan congress, which has been filled with opposition politicians since their big wins in 2015 elections, has long been a thorn in the side of a president who has been tightening his hold on power.

As NPR’s Philip Reeves notes, the assembly’s maneuver Friday marks “another milestone in a rapid journey toward dictatorship.”

As the pro-Maduro legislative superbody accumulates powers, the Venezuelan president and his Socialist Party now enjoy wide-ranging influence over every branch of government — including the Supreme Court, whose abortive attempt to nullify the country’s opposition-controlled congress at the end of March helped set off months of violent unrest.

Earlier this year, amid the rampant protests against his administration, Maduro called for the election of the Constituent Assembly to rewrite the country’s 18-year-old constitution. He did not allow voters a say in whether they wanted such a group — only in which pro-Maduro politicians they wanted as its members.

Since the controversial vote was held, many international observers — including the U.S. — have censured Maduro’s government for what they called a “sham election.” In the process, Maduro became only the fourth sitting head of state to be sanctioned by the U.S. government.

Still, Maduro allies deride the outside criticism as overblown and driven by foreign powers seeking to undermine his government.

“Those lazy bums have to work,” Delcy Rodriguez, president of the assembly, said Friday of the opposition lawmakers, according to Reuters. She says the move does not amount to a power grab. Rather, she said, “What we are doing is telling them ‘Gentlemen, we are not going to let you take a holiday.’ “

The wire service notes the congressional lawmakers rejected the assembly’s invitation to attend the session, saying the group “was fraudulently created and usurped their powers.”

“The Constituent Assembly is null, and its acts are illegal and unconstitutional,” the opposition tweeted, as translated by The Washington Post. “The National Assembly [Venezuela’s congress], the international community and the people will not abide by the annulment decision.”

For now, though, the opposition faces diminishing options in its struggle against Maduro, who — after months of protests, the deaths of more than 120 people in the unrest, and thousands more arbitrary detentions — now appears to have a stronger hold on power than ever before.

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Two Dead In Stabbing Attack In Turku, Finland

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Two Dead In Stabbing Attack In Turku, Finland

Police officers and rescuers in the Finnish city of Turku after several people were stabbed on Friday.

Bernat Majo /AFP/Getty Images

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Bernat Majo /AFP/Getty Images

Two people were killed in a stabbing attack in Turku, Finland, and police say they have apprehended a suspect after shooting him in the leg.

Regional police forces said on Twitter that six other people were injured in the attack, which took place in the center of the city about 100 miles away from the capital, Helsinki. It wasn’t immediately clear what condition they were in.

Authorities did not immediately identify the attacker or state what his motivations may be. The Associated Press reports that Finland’s YLE broadcaster quotes the county’s top police chief Seppo Kolehmainen saying that “nothing is known about the motives … or what precisely has happened in Turku.”

Police said the incident “was not being investigated as a terror attack, but that could change as new information comes to light,” according to YLE.

It’s also not clear how many people took part in the attack. Local police say they are “searching for possible more perpetrators in Turku.”

They asked people to avoid the area in the center of the city, though according to YLE, by evening authorities said they “were confident that the centre of Turku was safe for the general public once again.”

Police presence has been ramped up around the country, and YLE quotes the interior minister saying that “surveillance of foreigners was to be stepped up at ports and airports.”

The Interior Ministry says the case has been turned over to the National Bureau of Investigation.

The AP reports that witness Laura Laine described the attack to YLE: “We heard that a young woman was screaming. We saw a man on the square and a knife glittered. He was waving it in the air. I understood that he had stabbed someone.”

Another eyewitness, Jesse Brown, told the BBC: “I saw police shoot a person, a man I think. People were running and there was talk about a knife attack, possibly multiple perpetrators.”

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Two Dead In Stabbing Attack In Turku, Finland

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Two Dead In Stabbing Attack In Turku, Finland

Police officers and rescuers in the Finnish city of Turku after several people were stabbed on Friday.

Bernat Majo /AFP/Getty Images

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Bernat Majo /AFP/Getty Images

Two people were killed in a stabbing attack in Turku, Finland, and police say they have apprehended a suspect after shooting him in the leg.

Regional police forces said on Twitter that six other people were injured in the attack, which took place in the center of the city about 100 miles away from the capital, Helsinki. It wasn’t immediately clear what condition they were in.

Authorities did not immediately identify the attacker or state what his motivations may be. The Associated Press reports that Finland’s YLE broadcaster quotes the county’s top police chief Seppo Kolehmainen saying that “nothing is known about the motives … or what precisely has happened in Turku.”

Police said the incident “was not being investigated as a terror attack, but that could change as new information comes to light,” according to YLE.

It’s also not clear how many people took part in the attack. Local police say they are “searching for possible more perpetrators in Turku.”

They asked people to avoid the area in the center of the city, though according to YLE, by evening authorities said they “were confident that the centre of Turku was safe for the general public once again.”

Police presence has been ramped up around the country, and YLE quotes the interior minister saying that “surveillance of foreigners was to be stepped up at ports and airports.”

The Interior Ministry says the case has been turned over to the National Bureau of Investigation.

The AP reports that witness Laura Laine described the attack to YLE: “We heard that a young woman was screaming. We saw a man on the square and a knife glittered. He was waving it in the air. I understood that he had stabbed someone.”

Another eyewitness, Jesse Brown, told the BBC: “I saw police shoot a person, a man I think. People were running and there was talk about a knife attack, possibly multiple perpetrators.”

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The Sun, The Moon And A String Quartet: Kronos Plays Live To The Solar Eclipse

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The Sun, The Moon And A String Quartet: Kronos Plays Live To The Solar Eclipse
[embedded content]
YouTube

Preparation for Monday’s solar eclipse has focused on safe viewing techniques: Don’t forget to don those special “eclipse glasses.” But you also may want to insert earbuds, because the ever-intrepid Kronos Quartet will be making music with the sun in real time as the eclipse unfolds. You can stream it live on this page on Monday, Aug. 21, beginning at 12:15 p.m. EDT.

Wayne Grim, a composer based at the Exploratorium, San Francisco’s science museum, has devised a way to turn what is essentially a silent viewing event into a musical one as well. He calls it the “sonification” of the eclipse.

At the sun’s core, subatomic particles smash into each other. Grim plans to soak up the resulting nuclear fusion and turn it into notes. Photons from the fusion, captured by telescopes in Casper, Wyo., are converted to pixels. Those are sent back into space and relayed via satellite to the Exploratorium, where Kronos is on stage. Grim’s special software recasts each pixel’s digital fingerprint into unique tones. Kronos will perform with the sounds of the sun, adapting as the eclipse comes and goes.

Score for composer Wayne Grim’s “sonification” of Monday’s solar eclipse.

Wayne Grim/Wayne Grim

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Wayne Grim/Wayne Grim

Grim has pre-baked part of the music, organizing samples from the quartet into a colorful score with 23 cells that looks more like a collage than your standard staff notation. There aren’t any specific instructions; it’s a kind of road map to follow as the eclipse proceeds.

This is Grim’s initial collaboration with Kronos, but it isn’t his first time with “sonification.” He created musical evocations of the 2012 transit of Venus and last year’s total solar eclipse in Micronesia.

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South Africa Puts A 'Red Alert' At Its Borders For Zimbabwe's Grace Mugabe

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South Africa Puts A 'Red Alert' At Its Borders For Zimbabwe's Grace Mugabe

South African model Gabriella Engels, allegedly assaulted by Zimbabwe First Lady Grace Mugabe, looks on during a press conference at the civil rights organization AfriForum on Thursday.

Phill Magakoe /AFP/Getty Images

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Phill Magakoe /AFP/Getty Images

A 20-year old South African model accusing Zimbabwean First Lady Grace Mugabe of beating her with an extension cord has rejected a proposed cash settlement, according to her legal team.

Mugabe’s whereabouts are unknown, and South African Police Minister Fikile Mbalula told reporters that the country implemented a “red alert” for her at its borders. “She is not somebody who has been running away,” Mbalula said, according to South Africa’s News24.

The first lady, wife of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, “failed to turn herself in to South African authorities Tuesday,” NPR’s Colin Dwyer reported. Mugabe allegedly assaulted Gabriella Engels at a Johannesburg hotel in the presence of her body guards, and her two sons were reportedly in a nearby room, Colin added.

“On Wednesday, the government of Zimbabwe requested diplomatic immunity for Mugabe, saying she was in South Africa for a regional summit,” reporter Peter Granitz tells our Newscast unit. “But the victim’s lawyers said she was in the country for personal reasons, including shopping and medical treatment, and that means she would not qualify for the immunity.”

Engels’ legal team said that an unnamed third party “offered to settle the case out of court for an undisclosed amount of money,” which she has rejected, Granitz added.

Engels appeared at a press conference Thursday with a large white bandage on her forehead. “One feels powerless if you are the victim of violence by a person like Mrs Mugabe, who occupies a position of power,” she said, according to the advocacy group representing her.

Her lawyer Gerrie Nel, who is known for winning a murder conviction against Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius, said “no one, not even Mrs Grace Mugabe, must be allowed to bypass the law as a result of their position of power.” He vowed to pursue private prosecution if the National Prosecuting Authority “fail to prosecute Mrs. Mugabe without good cause.”

Should Mugabe be granted diplomatic immunity, the organization representing Engels says it is “prepared to fight this in the highest court.”

A police official told Reuters that authorities have not yet issued an arrest warrant because they are still considering Mugabe’s request for diplomatic immunity.

The situation is delicate diplomatically and politically. South Africa’s primary opposition group is pressuring President Jacob Zuma to make sure Mugabe doesn’t leave, The Associated Press reported.

Robert Mugabe – the world’s oldest sitting president – arrived in South Africa Wednesday evening. Zimbabwe’s Herald newspaper says he is there for a regional summit and does not mention his wife’s legal troubles. Other news outlets suggest the leader is there at least partially to manage the crisis.

According to Reuters, “the South African government has made no official comment on the case and foreign ministry spokesmen have not answered their phones for two days but the issue is causing waves at the highest level.”

This isn’t the first time that the Zimbabwean first lady has faced accusations of assault. The AP says several prior alleged incidents include “a 2009 visit to Hong Kong in which a photographer accused her of beating him up.”

Grace Mugabe is seen as a possible successor to her aging husband. Nel has said that a conviction could result in jail time, according to the AP.

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South Africa Puts A 'Red Alert' At Its Borders For Zimbabwe's Grace Mugabe

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South Africa Puts A 'Red Alert' At Its Borders For Zimbabwe's Grace Mugabe

South African model Gabriella Engels, allegedly assaulted by Zimbabwe First Lady Grace Mugabe, looks on during a press conference at the civil rights organization AfriForum on Thursday.

Phill Magakoe /AFP/Getty Images

hide caption

toggle caption

Phill Magakoe /AFP/Getty Images

A 20-year old South African model accusing Zimbabwean First Lady Grace Mugabe of beating her with an extension cord has rejected a proposed cash settlement, according to her legal team.

Mugabe’s whereabouts are unknown, and South African Police Minister Fikile Mbalula told reporters that the country implemented a “red alert” for her at its borders. “She is not somebody who has been running away,” Mbalula said, according to South Africa’s News24.

The first lady, wife of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, “failed to turn herself in to South African authorities Tuesday,” NPR’s Colin Dwyer reported. Mugabe allegedly assaulted Gabriella Engels at a Johannesburg hotel in the presence of her body guards, and her two sons were reportedly in a nearby room, Colin added.

“On Wednesday, the government of Zimbabwe requested diplomatic immunity for Mugabe, saying she was in South Africa for a regional summit,” reporter Peter Granitz tells our Newscast unit. “But the victim’s lawyers said she was in the country for personal reasons, including shopping and medical treatment, and that means she would not qualify for the immunity.”

Engels’ legal team said that an unnamed third party “offered to settle the case out of court for an undisclosed amount of money,” which she has rejected, Granitz added.

Engels appeared at a press conference Thursday with a large white bandage on her forehead. “One feels powerless if you are the victim of violence by a person like Mrs Mugabe, who occupies a position of power,” she said, according to the advocacy group representing her.

Her lawyer Gerrie Nel, who is known for winning a murder conviction against Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius, said “no one, not even Mrs Grace Mugabe, must be allowed to bypass the law as a result of their position of power.” He vowed to pursue private prosecution if the National Prosecuting Authority “fail to prosecute Mrs. Mugabe without good cause.”

Should Mugabe be granted diplomatic immunity, the organization representing Engels says it is “prepared to fight this in the highest court.”

A police official told Reuters that authorities have not yet issued an arrest warrant because they are still considering Mugabe’s request for diplomatic immunity.

The situation is delicate diplomatically and politically. South Africa’s primary opposition group is pressuring President Jacob Zuma to make sure Mugabe doesn’t leave, The Associated Press reported.

Robert Mugabe – the world’s oldest sitting president – arrived in South Africa Wednesday evening. Zimbabwe’s Herald newspaper says he is there for a regional summit and does not mention his wife’s legal troubles. Other news outlets suggest the leader is there at least partially to manage the crisis.

According to Reuters, “the South African government has made no official comment on the case and foreign ministry spokesmen have not answered their phones for two days but the issue is causing waves at the highest level.”

This isn’t the first time that the Zimbabwean first lady has faced accusations of assault. The AP says several prior alleged incidents include “a 2009 visit to Hong Kong in which a photographer accused her of beating him up.”

Grace Mugabe is seen as a possible successor to her aging husband. Nel has said that a conviction could result in jail time, according to the AP.

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Spotify Removes Racist Music In Response To Charlottesville

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Spotify Removes Racist Music In Response To Charlottesville

Virginia State Police in Charlottesville, Va., on Sunday, the day after a “Unite the Right” rally ended in violence and the death of a 32-year-old woman.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Spotify and other streaming services have begun removing white supremacist content from their platforms, as websites and musicians alike scramble to distance themselves from the white nationalist movement.

In a statement on Wednesday, Spotify blamed the labels and distributors that supply music to its database but said “material that favors hatred or incites violence against race, religion, sexuality or the like is not tolerated by us. Spotify takes immediate action to remove any such material as soon as it has been brought to our attention.”

Tidal, the streaming service partially owned by Jay-Z, seems to be following suit. Two “hate bands” NPR found on the platform on Tuesday had been removed as of Thursday morning.

The existence of racist music on music platforms isn’t a new phenomenon. Nearly three years ago, the Southern Poverty Law Center pointed out to Apple and the iTunes Store that they were selling, and thereby profiting from, openly racist, neo-fascist musicians, like the hardcore band Skrewdriver.

In March 2015, the SPLC published a follow-up to its iTunes report that specifically addressed the fact that other digital platforms — most notably, Spotify and Amazon — were continuing to sell such music.

Swift rebuke of racist content wasn’t limited to listening platforms. Country music website Wide Open Country took the unorthodox step of publishing an editorialdirected at any racist readers, after a roundup of country musicians’ reactions to the events in Charlottesville, Va., drew polarizing criticism on social media.

Matt Alpert, the website’s managing editor, wrote, “I want to make something very clear to everyone who follows us and reads this site: Wide Open Country vehemently opposes any form of racism. We stand firmly against any type of hatred, bigotry and especially any Nazi scum.”

“I felt compelled to say something,” Alpert told NPR. “With this particular thing that happened in Charlottesville, we wanted to be clear about how we felt about that and where we stand. Seeing those comments, and seeing them rise to the top [of the post] … it felt like we needed to say something.”

Writing on Facebook Wednesday, country music royalty Rosanne Cash took aim at a “self-proclaimed neo-Nazi” who was photographed wearing a T-shirt with Johnny Cash’s face on it. “We were sickened by the association,” she wrote, going on to point out that her father’s “pacifism and inclusive patriotism were two of his most defining characteristics.”

Facebook also took steps this week to make it harder for racist fans to share photos like the one featuring Johnny Cash. The social network drew its own line in the sand, removing the profile pages of Christopher Cantwell, a fascist activist who promotes overthrowing the U.S. government according to the SPLC. Cantwell, who was profiled by Vice while in Charlottesville, says on video that “we’re not nonviolent; we’ll f****** kill these people if we have to.”

Facebook’s terms prohibit posting content it classifies as “hate speech, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence.” The dominance of Facebook’s platform helped to legitimize voices like Cantwell’s through proximity to more legitimate news sources within people’s feeds, a problem it says it is working to fix.

In a memo to his staff yesterday, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced his company would donate $2 million and double its employees’ donations to human rights groups through Sept. 30. “As a company, through our actions, our products and our voice, we will always work to ensure that everyone is treated equally and with respect,” Cook wrote.

Examples of tech’s circling of the wagons in the midst of a racist storm of philosophical shrapnel abound. But the connection between Wide Open Country and Spotify is clear — both are finally saying,We don’t want you here.”

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Overcoats On World Cafe

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Overcoats On World Cafe

Overcoats’ debut album is called Young.

Courtesy of the artist

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Courtesy of the artist

  • “23”
  • “Hold Me Close”

In this session, we bring you a live session with Overcoats. The duo’s music rests on two voices so perfectly in sync you’d swear they were coming from the same person — or, at least, from people who are related. Or, at least, people who’ve known each other their whole lives.

But none of those things are true for Hana Elion and JJ Mitchell. They met at Wesleyan college and formed a near-instant bond that’s the stuff of sisterhood dreams. Their connection is the centerpiece of their sound as Overcoats, and I’ll tell ya: After spending an afternoon with them in studio, that connection goes way beyond the music.

Overcoats’ debut album is called Young. It’s a coming-of-age record with a twist: The usual loneliness of growing pains is impossible for the band, because no matter what one member is going through, she has a friend locked in musical step.

Hear the complete session in the player above. You can also get a look inside the studio as the duo performs “Hold Me Close” in the VuHaus performance video below.

[embedded content]
VuHaus

Episode Playlist

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Despite Rift, Saudi Arabia Says It Will Allow Qatari Pilgrims To Attend Hajj

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Despite Rift, Saudi Arabia Says It Will Allow Qatari Pilgrims To Attend Hajj

After a meeting between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and a member of the Qatari royal family, Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani, Saudi Arabia said Thursday it is reopening its border with Qatar to allow Qataris to attend the hajj.

AP

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AP

Qatar has been isolated by neighboring countries in a heated diplomatic standoff. But on Thursday, Saudi Arabia announced it plans to open its border to allow pilgrims from the tiny Gulf country to attend the annual hajj to Islam’s holiest sites.

The announcement comes after a meeting between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and a member of the Qatari royal family, Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani.

According to a report in the Saudi state news agency, both men spoke about the “brotherly feelings” between the two nations — a marked change in tone from the highly public spat in which Saudi has accusing Qatar of funding terrorist organizations and is blockading the country.

The Saudi crown prince said the country would open the Salwa border crossing to Qatari citizens who wanted to perform the hajj, without requiring them to obtain electronic permits. The hajj begins later this month and ends in early September.

The official news agency added that the Saudi king would dispatch Saudi planes to Qatar’s capital, Doha, “to fly all Qatari pilgrims at his own expense to the city of Jeddah and host them completely at the expense of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.”

A Saudi official named Hussein Al-Sharif, undersecretary of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, told the Saudi broadcaster Al Arabiya that Saudi has reserved a 4,000 square meter plot for some 2,400 Qatari pilgrims in “the most desirable area” along a primary hajj route.

Just last month, Saudi had said pilgrims from Qatar “would face certain restrictions if they wanted to attend the Hajj,” according to the BBC. In response, a Qatari human rights organization complained to the U.N. special rapporteur on freedom of belief and religion.

It’s worth noting that the Qatari royal family member who met with the Saudi crown prince does not hold an official government position and his “branch of the family was ousted in a place coup in 1972,” The Associated Press reports.

“He’s certainly not an envoy of the Qatari government. This was not a deal that was struck,” Gerd Nonneman, professor of International Relations and Gulf Studies at Georgetown University in Qatar, tells the wire service.

Nonnemann added that Sheikh Abdullah has lived in Saudi previously and “his last position was as head of the equestrian and camel racing federation in the 1970s and 1980s.”

There was no comment from Qatari government officials for about 12 hours after the news broke, according to the AP.

At a news conference in Sweden, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani called it a “step forward” but warned that it was “politically motivated,” the BBC reported.

Saudi Arabia’s actions are being praised by regional allies such as the UAE. The country’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash tweeted, “Every day, Saudi proves how big it is, and Qatar’s clamor and politicization of the hajj must end. … There are things bigger than politics.”

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