We begin with the latest from Ferguson, Missouri, via BuzzFeed News:
Prosecutor Says He Knew Some Witnesses Were Lying To The Ferguson Grand Jury
St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch says he knew some of the witnesses who said they saw Michael Brown get shot were lying, but he let them testify to the grand jury anyway.
In his first interview since announcing Officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted in the shooting of Mike Brown, St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch told radio station KTRS that he allowed witnesses to testify to the grand jury he knew were lying.
KTRS: Why did you allow people to testify in front of the grand jury in which you knew their information was either flat-out wrong, or flat-out lying, or just weren’t telling the truth?
McCulloch: Well, early on, I decided that anyone who claimed to have witnessed anything was going to be presented to the grand jury.
And I knew that no matter how I handled it, there would be criticism of it. So if I didn’t put those witnesses on, then we’d be discussing now why I didn’t put those witnesses on. Even though their statements were not accurate.
A fugitive’s status secured, via Al Jazeera America:
Extradition of Assata Shakur from Cuba unlikely despite restored ties
- Exiles from both sides unlikely to face extradition given political nature of any alleged crimes, legal experts say
Soon after President Barack Obama announced the restoration of diplomatic ties with Havana on Wednesday, Cuba watchers began to raise questions over potential extradition orders U.S. exiles in Cuba, specifically regarding rights activist Assata Shakur — who has been living on the island for decades.
Shakur and other black activists, including Black Panther Party (BPP) founder Huey P. Newton, fled from U.S. intelligence and security agencies in the 1960s and 1970s to Cuba, which was sympathetic to socialist ideals. Now supporters of Shakur, also known as Joanne Chesimard, wonder what the future holds for the 67-year-old exile.
Questions have also been raised over Cubans who fled to the United States during the same period, especially those who allegedly took part in organizing the failed 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion.
But legal experts say extraditions from either country are unlikely to pass muster considering provisions contained in the extradition treaty the United States has with Cuba.
From the Guardian, bellicose branding:
US general rebrands Isis ‘Daesh’ after requests from regional partners
- Leader of operations against group uses alternative name – a pejorative in Arabic that rejects fighters’ claims on Islam
A top Pentagon general has informally rebranded the jihadists of Isis with the name “Daesh” after allies in the middle east asked he not use the group’s other monikers for fear they legitimize its ambitions of an Islamic state.
Lieutenant General James Terry almost exclusively used Daesh in reference to the militants at a press conference Thursday, although the Pentagon’s policy to primarily use “Isil” – an acronym for “the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” – has not changed.
Terry, who leads US operations against Isis in Iraq, said partners in the region had asked him not to use the terms Islamic State, Isil or Isis (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria). Secretary of state John Kerry has also shifted his language in recent weeks, using Daesh 16 times and Isil only twice during remarks to Nato counterparts in Belgium. Retired general John Allen, the US envoy to coordinate the coalition against Isis, also prefers Daesh. French president Francois Hollande has used Daesh interchangeably with the group’s other names.
Daesh is also an acronym for an Arabic variation of the group’s name: al-Dawla al-Islamyia fil Iraq wa’al Sham. Most of the middle east and many Muslims abroad use Daesh, saying that although the jihadists have declared the nebulous region they control a caliphate, they neither adhere to Islam nor control a real state. Islamic clerics in particular have taken issue with the terms that include “Islamic State”. A group of British imams has suggested to prime minister David Cameron that he call the group “the Un-Islamic State”.
Another branding, via United Press International:
Egyptian jihadists thank U.S. for terror designation
The new terror designation was well received by Ajnad Misr, which posted a message to its official Twitter page thanking the U.S. for the “blessing.”
Ajnad Misr, a Salafist militant group in Egypt, was designated a “global terrorist” by the U.S. Department of State Thursday, eliciting an unexpected expression of gratitude from the extremist group.
The State Department designated Ajnad Misr, a splinter group of Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, a Foreign Terrorist Organization, citing claims of “numerous attacks on Egyptian security forces at government buildings, public spaces and universities, often injuring or killing innocent bystanders.”
The new designation was well received by Ajnad Misr, which posted a message to its official Twitter page thanking the U.S. for the “blessing.”
BBC News covers dronal dubeity:
Leaked CIA report: Targeting Taliban leaders ‘ineffective’
The removal of senior Taliban leaders has had little impact on the organisation, a CIA report released by Wikileaks has said.
The 2009 report analyses “high value targeting” in a number of conflicts – the assassination of senior insurgents. It said the Taliban’s ability to replace lost leaders has hampered the effectiveness of coalition operations against its leadership.
The CIA would not comment on the leaked documents.
The report, which Wikileaks describes as “pro-assassination”, looks at the pros and cons of “high value targeting” (HVT) programmes.
Cold War 2.0 from United Press International:
Poland orders more Norwegian missiles
- Poland has ordered missiles from Norway’s Kongsberg Defense for a second coastal defense missile squadron
Poland is getting a second coastal defense missile squadron equipped with truck-mounted naval strike missiles from Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace.
The Norwegian company said the contract from Poland’s Ministry of National Defense is worth about $175.3 million.
“This agreement proves the leading position of NSM and our position as a reliable partner and supplier to Poland,” said Harald Annestad, president of Kongsberg Defense.
Neoliberal vengeance? From El País:
“Ruined businessman” rams car with explosives into PP headquarters
- Gas canisters failed to explode. Man blames ruling party for his financial woes
A man claiming to be a ruined businessman drove a car containing explosive material into the headquarters of the ruling Popular Party (PP) in Madrid early Friday morning, police said.
The failed attack took place shortly before 7am, with no injuries reported.
The car, a Citroën Xantia with Guadalajara license plates, contained two gas canisters, along with two sacks of industrial fertilizer. The material failed to explode, and police said there was no further risk of detonation.
A fed fail from the McClatchy Washington Bureau:
FBI’s genetic tests didn’t nail anthrax killer, GAO says
For a second time in three years, a federal inquiry cast doubt Friday on the FBI’s assertion that genetic testing had cinched its conclusion that a now-dead Army bioweapons researcher mailed anthrax-laced letters that killed five people and terrorized the East Coast in 2001.
The long-awaited report from the Government Accountability Office found that the FBI’s exhaustive, cutting-edge attempt to trace the killer with matches of genetic mutations of anthrax samples at times lacked precision, consistency and adequate standards.
The 77-page report, perhaps the final official word on the FBI’s seven-year investigation known as Amerithrax, lent credence to a National Academy of Sciences panel’s finding in 2011 that the bureau’s scientific evidence did not definitely show that the anthrax came from the Maryland bioweapons laboratory of Bruce Ivins.
More of the same from the New York Times:
F.B.I. Evidence Often Mishandled, Inquiry Finds
F.B.I. agents in every region of the country have mishandled, mislabeled and lost evidence, according to a highly critical internal investigation that discovered errors with nearly half the pieces of evidence it reviewed.
The evidence collection and retention system is the backbone of the F.B.I.’s investigative process, and the report said it is beset by problems. It also found that the F.B.I. was storing more weapons, less money and valuables, and two tons more drugs than its records had indicated.
The report’s findings, based on a review of more than 41,000 piece of evidence in F.B.I. offices around the country, could have consequences for criminal investigations and prosecutions. Lawyers can use even minor record-keeping discrepancies to get evidence thrown out of court, and the F.B.I. was alerting prosecutors around the country on Friday that they may need to disclose the errors to defendants.
Many of the problems cited in the report appear to be hiccups in the F.B.I.’s transition to a computer system known as Sentinel, which went online in 2012 and was intended to move the bureau away from a case-management system based on paper files. But other problems, including materials that disappeared or were taken from F.B.I. evidence rooms and not returned, are more serious.
More dronal dubeity from the Associated Press:
Poll: Americans skeptical of commercial drones
Americans broadly back tight regulations on commercial drone operators, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll, as concerns about privacy and safety override the potential benefits of the heralded drone revolution.
By a 2-1 margin, the poll found, those who had an opinion opposed using drones for commercial purposes. Only 21 percent favored commercial use of drones, compared with 43 percent opposed. Another 35 percent were in the middle.
Only 3 percent of people say they’ve operated small drones, which are essentially the same as remote-controlled model aircraft.
Support for using commercial drones was the weakest among women and seniors, while college graduates and wealthier people were more apt to favor it.
After the jump, government cyberspooks abound, and on the the Sony hack and Obama fingering Pyongyang, faulting Sony, and vowing vengeance, Sony fires back, and the FBI piles on Pyongyang, Staples customers’ payment cards hacked, Target customers can sue for losing data to hackers, major flaws patched in software controlling oil and gas pipelines, on to Asia and soaring Afghan civilian deaths, Pakistan begins an campaign of executions as a school mass execution triggers a crackdown on the Taliban, China gains growing military projection power, approaching American frigate sale to Tawian triggers Beijing anger, and hints of a Chinese nuclear buildup, Japan gets its own whistleblower website as Korean peace activists seek a Nobel for the engandered pacifist provision of Japan’s constitution. . . Continue reading