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Easter preparations commence across the world

Danish film maker Lasse Spang Olsen is nailed to a cross during the a re-enactment of the Crucifixion of Christ during
         Good Friday celebrations in Cutud, Pampanga, north of Manila on April 18, 2014.  Eight Filipinos and a Dane re-enacted the
         death of Jesus Christ on Friday by nailing themselves to crosses before thousands of people in a gruesome annual Easter spectacle
         in the Philippines. Photo by Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images

Danish film maker Lasse Spang Olsen is nailed to a cross during the a re-enactment of the Crucifixion of Christ during Good Friday celebrations in Cutud, Pampanga, north of Manila on April 18, 2014. Eight Filipinos and a Dane re-enacted the death of Jesus Christ on Friday by nailing themselves to crosses before thousands of people in a gruesome annual Easter spectacle in the Philippines. Photo by Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images

In a decades-old tradition, Filipinos were nailed to crosses on Good Friday re-enacting the death of Jesus Christ. This year, locals were joined by a Danish man.

Filmmaker Lasse Spang Olsen was one of nine to have nails driven through his hands and feet, the AFP reported, and hung on the cross for 10 minutes. He was allowed to wear a small video camera to document the experience.

Olsen’s participation in the annual events occurred despite restrictions prohibiting foreigners. The ban on foreigners was put in effect in 2006 when a British national backed out last minute. A tourism officer told the AFP that Olsen had been allowed to participate after he presented a waiver of liability from the Danish embassy.

Local officials gave no explanation for why Olsen’s waiver allowed them to violate the ban.

While not promoted as such, the Good Friday rituals are big revenue generators for hotels and vendors. The annual events are not encouraged or endorsed by Catholic Church leaders.


In Mexico, processions of masked men trudged through the streets of the southern town of Taxco to mark the beginning of Easter celebrations. Known as “encruzados,” crucified ones in English, these men flog themselves, while carrying thorny brunches, as heavy as 88 pounds, to mimic the suffering of Jesus Christ bearing the cross. Others self-flagellate, lashing their backs with whips made of rope and nails.

Note: The following video includes graphic depictions of self-flagellation. Viewer discretion advised.


Penitents of the “Los Negritos” brotherhood parade in Sevilla, Spain.

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Magnitude-7.2 earthquake rattles Mexico

Instagram video courtesy of Wikichava

A magnitude-7.2 earthquake hit Mexico Friday.

The quake was centered northwest of the Pacific resort of Acapulco, where many Mexicans are vacationing for Easter, according to the Associated Press. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

The earthquake, which the U.S. Geological Survey initially calculated as a magnitude 7.5, struck about 170 miles southwest of Mexico City.

Mexico’s capital is vulnerable to even distant earthquakes because much of it sits atop the muddy sediments of drained lake beds.

“This earthquake had tremendous power — it lasted 30 seconds, instead of just a few seconds,” journalist James Blears, who’s based near Mexico City, told the UK’s Sky News. “Buildings were swaying and thousands of people have evacuated buildings and are standing in the street.”

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First Person: Venezuela divided as Maduro completes first year in office

Opposition
         students protest against the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro at the Venezuelan Central University (UCV)
         campus in Caracas, on April 3, 2014. Photo by Federico Parra/AFP/Getty Images

Opposition students protest against the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro at the Venezuelan Central University (UCV) campus in Caracas, on April 3, 2014. Photo by Federico Parra/AFP/Getty Images

Two months of protests in Venezuela, fueled by slow economic recovery and high crime, have left at least 40 people dead and prompted the Vatican and neighboring countries to intervene. If you ask the pro- and anti-government demonstrators why they rally for their cause, they reveal a disparate picture of how President Nicolas Maduro is handling this most recent crisis.

The PBS NewsHour sent a camera crew to talk to two women with very different views about how they see their country and their future.

“I can’t go out on the street and get what I want to feed my child, I always have to stand in line, always have to be looking from supermarket to supermarket to see what I can find,” said Geraldine Colmenares, who lives in San Cristóbal, Táchira state, with her son. “Also the lack of safety, I can’t go out on the street without thinking if I’m going to get back home alive, I mean, if I’ll get back home at all.”

She said former longtime President Hugo Chávez “had a good idea of what he wanted to do, but he didn’t know how to implement it.” Maduro “wants to do the same as Chávez but he can’t. He doesn’t have the intellectual capability to do it,” she added.

In Caracas, Marlin Marchand defended Maduro, who has been in office for a year. “President Maduro is a good person. He is on the side of the poor.”

Marchand said the president is trying to implement socialism the way Chavez would have wanted. “Maduro in spite of his mistakes, because nobody is perfect, is trying … to deal with this peacefully.”

Videos shot by Vincent Chanza and Daniel Ramirez, and edited by Victoria Fleischer and Justin Scuiletti. Watch Friday’s PBS NewsHour for a full report on Venezuela.

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U.S. cautious about diplomatic deal to calm conflict in Ukraine

Meeting about Ukraine crisis

Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

GWEN IFILL: Margaret’s here with more.

Margaret, you are going to have to parse this for us. On one hand, John Kerry came out and said big new agreement, and then the president sounded more cautious, and we heard Putin saying things that the United States believes not to be true.

MARGARET WARNER: That’s right.

GWEN IFILL: Do they believe this is the real deal?

MARGARET WARNER: They honestly don’t know, Gwen. I talked to officials late this afternoon. They say, we don’t know.

And a glimmer of hope is about as far as President Obama went. And there were a couple of things that I think are noteworthy. One, it makes no mention of Russia drawing back the 40,000 troops they have got massed on the border, which was one of the things that Secretary Kerry was going in there to talk about, or at least that’s what we were told.

Secondly was the incident — or the conversation that I referred to in the tape piece, and I followed up further, which is from one of the heads of one of these armed groups that’s taken over that building in Donetsk.

And, basically, he told both Reuters and me through a translator that, well, let’s — if all illegal occupations have to end, let’s first clear the Maidan, which of course Independence Square in Kiev where the original revolutionary demonstrations took place this winter and protesters still remain, trying to keep the new government honest.

And when I followed up with a question about, well, were you reassured at least that in this agreement it talks about constitutional reforms that will protect the rights of minorities, he said, what we want is federalization in the constitution. That’s a Russian codeword for essentially creating a bunch of little rump states in Eastern Ukraine so disconnected from Kiev that they are easily manipulated by Russia.

GWEN IFILL: So, that means that Russia has the upper hand or at least the leverage in this kind of negotiation?

MARGARET WARNER: Yes, that’s — that’s a really interesting question.

All right, clearly, on the ground, Russia has the leverage. They have got the 40,000 troops. They have got armed people on the ground, both Russians and Ukrainians. And they have got the initiative. The United States and the West have as their partner this — this transitional government in Kiev that is really back on its heels and struggling on many levels, which we have talked about.

However, the administration does believe that the sanctions and the threat of sanctions on a broader scale give the U.S. and the West some leverage. And you heard President Obama say that, when he said — he didn’t say, well, some — something brought Russia to the table, but he said essentially they recognize that their economy, which was already, I think he said stuck in the mud has been hurt by further sanctions and perhaps they are thinking about the fact that further sanctions would damage them more.

GWEN IFILL: But, to be clear, when we hear the word de-escalation, the U.S. hears Russia steps back and takes away its troops, and Russia hears that Maidan is disarmed. They hear a completely opposite thing.

MARGARET WARNER: Certainly, their supporters hear it.

GWEN IFILL: Yes.

MARGARET WARNER: And it was clear that the president and Secretary Kerry, they are putting the onus, as we heard, squarely on the Russians, right?

GWEN IFILL: Right.

MARGARET WARNER: But Lavrov in his press conference said as — Kerry said, well, I made it clear to Secretary Lavrov or Minister Lavrov that, if we didn’t see improvement by the weekend, there will be more costs.

Lavrov told those Russian reporters, as far as we’re concerned, it’s up to Ukraine to make it work.

GWEN IFILL: Oh, great. OK.

MARGARET WARNER: Right.

GWEN IFILL: So, who in the end has to enforce this deal, assuming it’s an enforceable deal?

MARGARET WARNER: Well, they talk about these monitors from the OSCE.

Now, this is a well-meaning, but I would say toothless group of 57 countries that was created at the end of the Cold War. It includes Russia, all the Europeans and many others. They don’t have any enforcement. They may be the eyes and ears. I think television cameras are going to be the greater eyes and ears.

But the other question is, will there just be a lot of quibbling about language. Right? Does ending all occupations mean that first the pro-Kiev government protesters have to disband? And all of that — first of all, we haven’t gotten a fine, granular reading of these meetings and what the side conversations were, because they are all on a plane.

But that is really where — I don’t want to use the cliché that everyone does, the devil is in the details, but really the administration doesn’t know.

GWEN IFILL: That glitzy call-in show that we saw Putin…

MARGARET WARNER: An annual event for him.

GWEN IFILL: The annual event where he walked on stage and he took questions, including from Edward Snowden, watching that carefully, as we can only assume U.S. officials are, what did they see in it that gave them any reason to hope and what did they see in it that worried them?

MARGARET WARNER: Yes.

Well, I don’t think they saw much reason to hope, because, remember, he did that first. It was almost like he was laying the groundwork for the talks.

GWEN IFILL: Right.

MARGARET WARNER: And they saw the same preeny, cocky, confident Vladimir Putin.

They tried to make much of the fact that, aha, he admitted Russian agents were behind what happened in Crimea and they are following the same playbook in Ukraine. But Russian experts in the administration I talked to were very troubled by two things.

One, he started about talking all of Eastern and Southern Ukraine as Novorossiya, which is a term that goes back 300 years, when this whole area from Crimea all the way west, all the way up to Moldova, including the important port city of Odessa, and then all the way east to the Russian border, were part of Russia.

GWEN IFILL: They call that new Russia. That’s what that means.

MARGARET WARNER: Novorossiya, I see — I should have said that.

GWEN IFILL: Right.

MARGARET WARNER: That’s what that means. And that was the term.

And he said something about, so, Novorossiya, that was part of Ukraine in czarist times, and that was given away in 1920s. Well, why? Only God knows.

So it sounded to people in the administration as if he is laying that sort of historical…

GWEN IFILL: Again.

MARGARET WARNER: … rationale once again.

GWEN IFILL: Margaret Warner, thanks always for clearing it up for us.

(LAUGHTER)

MARGARET WARNER: My pleasure.

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