Category Archives: Ethnicity

Chart of the day: The policing confidence gap


From Gallup:

BLOG Cops

InSecurityWatch: Threats, war, cops, hacks, Asia


We begin with the New York Times:

Governor Activates Missouri National Guard

Anticipating protests after the grand jury’s decision in the death of Michael Brown, Gov. Jay Nixon of Missouri activated the National Guard on Monday.

The governor said the National Guard will play a limited role as it did during protests in August, providing security at command posts, fire stations and other locations.

“As part of our ongoing efforts to plan and be prepared for any contingency, it is necessary to have these resources in place in advance of any announcement of the grand jury’s decision,” Governor Nixon said in a statement.

Under the executive order, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, St. Louis County Police Department and St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department will operate as a unified command, with the St. Louis County police responsible for security in Ferguson.

And then there’s this from the Independent:

Terrorism fuelled by state violence, extra-judicial killings and ethnic tensions

Terrorism has become dramatically more deadly and more widespread across the globe with a 60 per cent rise in the number of deaths and countries affected by major attacks, a study has found.

Fatalities from terrorist incidents rose from just over 11,000 in 2012 to nearly 18,000 last year, while the number of countries which experienced more than 50 deaths from terror attacks rose from 15 to 24, according to the Global Terrorism Index (GTI).

The authors of the comprehensive annual survey of terrorist incidents and trends said that the vast majority of the bloodshed was restricted to five countries – Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria – where groups such as Isis (also known as Islamic State or Isil) adhering to extreme Wahhabist interpretations of Islam are leading attacks.

From the Los Angeles Times:

CIA intelligence gap hinders counter-terrorism efforts in Syria, Iraq

“It’s a black hole,” one U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity in discussing intelligence, on the challenge of tracking terrorists and assessing casualties in a war zone that is in effect off-limits to U.S. personnel.

U.S. counter-terrorism officials have identified about a dozen Americans fighting with militants in Syria or Iraq, for example, including some who have joined Islamic State. But U.S. intelligence analysts have struggled to develop a complete picture of their movements or what roles they play in the militant groups.

U.S. intelligence agencies have poured resources into the war since the spring, and the CIA has set up a training camp in Jordan for Syrian fighters. They also rely on information gathered from U.S.-backed rebel groups, including the Free Syrian Army.

Nordic suspicions from TheLocal.se:

Isis sleeper cells suspected in Sweden

A defector from the rebel group Isis has told a Scandinavian broadcaster that his former organization has terrorist sleeper cells in Sweden awaiting orders.

The man told Norwegian news network NRK: “There are cells awaiting orders, and there is more than one group.” NRK met the defector at a secret location in Turkey, near the border to Syria.

The man claimed to have a background as a special soldier for Isis (also known as the Islamic State or IS) and said he had defected from the terror group a few months ago.

From Homeland Security News Wire:

Terror financiers operate freely in Qatar: U.S.

Qatar’s massive financial support of the most extreme Jihadist movements in the Middle East and North Africa is not exactly a secret – notwithstanding the sheikhdom rulers’ half-hearted denials, and the nominal membership of Qatar in the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition.

Qatar, with a small territory, about 250,000 citizens, and a lot of oil money – some derisively call it “a bank, not a country” — some years ago made the strategic decision that, in order be taken seriously as a regional actor, it had to do things differently. It could not compete with regional power-houses such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, so it decided to undermine and weaken both countries by undermining and weakening their rulers and their allies in the region.

Qatar has been doing so in two ways.

In November 1996 Qatar has launched Al Jazeera, which, in addition to some mainstream news reporting and relatively open studio debates and call-in shows, has been a tool of the Qatari government in its propaganda and disinformation campaign to undermine the governments of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, other Gulf Sheikhdoms, and other moderate states in the region (note that this applies to Al Jazeera in Arabic. The English-language Al Jazeera operates in a manner which is largely similar to Western news outlets).

The other way Qatar has sought to weaken moderate government in the region is by providing massive financial aid to Jihadist groups in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and the Palestinian Territories.

Notable, from the Los Angeles Times:

Putin vows to protect Ukraine separatists from defeat

Russian President Vladimir Putin has vowed to prevent the defeat of allied separatists in eastern Ukraine while clinging to his insistence that Russia hasn’t been involved in the deadly, 7-month-old conflict.

In an interview with Germany’s ARD television, Putin repeated his claim that ethnic Russians and Russian-speakers in Ukraine are in danger of repression by a Kiev leadership he suggested was plotting to oust them en route to creating a fascist state.

“We are very concerned about any possible ethnic cleansings and Ukraine ending up as a neo-Nazi state,” Putin said, according to the Kremlin news service account of the interview. “What are we supposed to think if people are bearing swastikas on their sleeves? Or what about the SS emblems that we see on the helmets of some military units now fighting in eastern Ukraine?”

A shotgun wedding from Taiwan’s Want China Times:

US makes ‘fatal mistake’ driving China and Russia closer: Duowei

The United States is making a “fatal mistake” by antagonizing both China and Russia and forcing the two primary opponents closer together, says Duowei News, a US-based Chinese political news website.

Washington turned against Moscow following the start of the Ukraine crisis in February this year, leading the European Union and Japan in imposing heavy sanctions against Russia. The increasing distrust between the two countries has been apparent, with Russian president Vladimir Putin and US president Barack Obama coming into contact for only 20-30 minutes during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders summit in Beijing last week, with neither leader having much to say to the other.

Putin also berated the US shortly before the ensuing G20 in Australia, accusing Washington of undermining the very trade institutions it created by imposing sanctions on Russia, a “mistake” that it said went against international law and trade agreements.

Trackin’ pistol-packin’, from MIT Technology Review:

Police in California and Texas Test Networked Guns

  • A chip that tracks how a police officer’s gun is being used could prove useful in investigations and court cases

When a police officer draws a firearm he or she often doesn’t have an opportunity to radio for backup.

YardArm, a California-based company, is building technology that will automatically alert headquarters in such situations. The company makes a chip that goes into the handle of a regular firearm and transmits data over a cell-phone network connection. The data transmitted includes the location of a gun and whether it has been unholstered or discharged. The company is also working to track the direction in which a gun is pointing. The data can be fed to a police dispatch system or viewed on a smartphone.

Founded in 2013, YardArm started out making a consumer product for monitoring a firearm’s location. But since many American gun owners object to technology or policies aimed at regulating firearms, it did not find many customers.

The despicable, enabling the despicable, via the New York Times:

Indictment of Ex-Official Raises Questions on Mississippi’s Private Prisons

In 1982, Christopher B. Epps, a young schoolteacher, took a second job as a guard at the facility known as Parchman Farm, the only prison operated at the time by the Mississippi Department of Corrections.

Eventually he had to choose a path. “It worked out that I was making more as a correctional officer than as a teacher,” Mr. Epps would later recall in an interview for a corrections newsletter.

By the time he spoke those words in 2009, Mr. Epps was being feted as Mississippi’s longest-serving corrections commissioner. The state inmate population had quadrupled, five private prisons had been built to help house them, and, according to a federal grand jury indictment, Mr. Epps had found a new, secretive way to bolster his income.

The 49-count indictment, unsealed last week, accuses Mr. Epps of receiving more than $1 million in bribes from a former Mississippi lawmaker named Cecil McCrory, beginning in 2007. In exchange, the indictment charges, Mr. Epps helped secure lucrative corrections department contracts for private prison companies owned or represented by Mr. McCrory.

More penal despicability, via the Miami Herald:

Detention at Guantánamo grinds on: 13 years and counting, 148 captives remain

It’s the first Tuesday in November, just another day as Guantánamo grinds on toward the detention center’s 14th year as the most expensive prison on earth with no end in sight. President Barack Obama ordered it emptied in 2009, on his second day in office, and people here are dubious that it will be done before his last.

It will close “a year from now, six months from now, 10 years from now — I don’t know,” says Zak, a Pentagon employee who has served as the prison’s Muslim cultural adviser since 2005.

“My focus is to ensure that I have operationally effective and safe facilities for a mission with an indeterminate end date,” says Rear Adm. Kyle Cozad, the 14th commander of the prison operation.

Bobby despicability, via the London Telegraph:

A million crimes reported by public left out of police figures

  • Watchdog warns that police are failing to record one in five crimes because of the ‘target culture’ in forces

Almost a million crimes a year are disappearing from official figures as chief constables attempt to meet targets, a study by the police watchdog has disclosed.

Its report exposed “indefensible” failures by forces to record crime accurately, and said that in some areas up to a third of crimes are being struck out of official records.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary said violent crimes and sex attacks were particularly vulnerable to being deleted under “inexcusably poor” systems.

Although the report stopped short of accusing police of widespread “fiddling” it said there was an “undercurrent of pressure not to record a crime across some forces” and “wrongful pressure” by managers.

From Network World, a criminal marketing twist:

New ransomware CoinVault allows users to decrypt one file for free

Cybercriminals behind a new ransomware program called CoinVault are trying out a new psychological tactic to convince users to pay up—freebies.

The new threat was discovered by security researchers from Webroot and is similar in functionality to more prevalent ransomware programs like CryptoWall. It uses strong 256-bit AES encryption with keys stored on a remote server, it kills the Windows Volume Shadow Copy Service so that users can’t use it to recover their files and only supports Bitcoin as a payment method.

Users are asked to pay 0.5 bitcoins—around $200 at the current exchange rate—in order to receive the key that decrypts their files, but the cost increases every 24 hours.

One aspect that sets CoinVault apart from other file-encrypting ransomware programs is that it allows users to see a list of encrypted files on their computer and choose one they can decrypt for free.

SecurityWeek covers more criminal despicability:

Research Finds 1 Percent of Online Ads Malicious

One percent does not sound like a lot, but multiple it by the right number, and it can be.

Such is the case when it comes to malicious advertising. In research recently presented at the 2014 Internet Measurement Conference in Vancouver, a team of security experts from Ruhr-University Bochum, University College London and the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) examined more than 600,000 online advertisements on 40,000 websites over a three-month period and used multiple detection systems to assess whether they were good or bad. The end result: one percent of the ads were found to be involved in suspicious or malicious activity such as drive-by downloads and link hijacking.

“While this is bad news for the advertising networks, advertisers and Internet users who are all under attack from the malware producers, the good news is there are several things available today that can stop malvertising,” said Giovanni Vigna, co-founder and CTO of Lastline, one of the members of the team that worked on the research. “One of these is the use of the sandboxing attribute in iframes within HTML5. None of the 40,000 websites we observed leveraged this mechanism, even though it could stop the link-hijacking that is by far the most prevalent method by which miscreants are getting past other security measures in order to distribute malware through advertisements.”

After the jump, hard times intolerance in Britain, attacks on immigrant housing in Germany, a Columbian general captured by rebels and a massive manhunt ensues, a disillusioned Mossad agent speaks out, Pakistani police thuggery, a killer Indian medical mob, illegal student protests in Myanmar, a crackdown on Hong Kong Occupy camp nears, more repercussions from the election of an Okianawa govenor opposed to a U.S. base move as activists work to expose the toxic legacy of Vietnam War-era Agent Orange exposures on the island, and a unique Californian match made in prison. . . Continue reading

InSecurityWatch: War, cops, hacks, hate


And so much else.

First, you knew it was coming, via the Guardian:

US military considers sending combat troops to battle Isis forces in Iraq

  • General Martin Dempsey tells House committee that he would consider abandoning Obama’s pledge and send troops to fight Isis in Iraq

The top-ranking officer in the American military said on Thursday that the US is actively considering the direct use of troops in the toughest upcoming fights against the Islamic State (Isis) in Iraq, less than a week after Barack Obama doubled troop levels there.

General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, indicated to the House of Representatives armed services committee that the strength of Isis relative to the Iraqi army may be such that he would recommend abandoning Obama’s oft-repeated pledge against returning US ground troops to combat in Iraq.

Retaking the critical city of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest, and re-establishing the border between Iraq and Syria that Isis has erased “will be fairly complex terrain” for the Iraqi security forces that the US is once again supporting, Dempsey acknowledged.

“I’m not predicting at this point that I would recommend that those forces in Mosul and along the border would need to be accompanied by US forces, but we’re certainly considering it,” he said.

And, uh, that droned guy? Uh, well. . .via BBC News:

Islamic State: ‘Baghdadi message’ issued by jihadists

Islamic State has released an audiotape it says was recorded by its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, days after reports that he had been killed or injured.

In the recording, released via social media, the speaker says IS fighters will never stop fighting “even if only one soldier remains”.

Correspondents say the recording appears authentic and recent. BBC analysts say the message is probably also intended to counter the claim that Baghdadi has been killed.

Ancillary action, via BBC News:

Egypt sailors missing after navy ship attacked in Med

Gunmen have attacked an Egyptian navy ship in the Mediterranean Sea, state media say, leaving five servicemen injured and eight more missing at sea.

The vessel reportedly caught fire in the assault, some 70km (45 miles) off the northern port of Damietta. In two further attacks in northern Sinai, militants killed five policemen and soldiers, officials said.

A three-month state of emergency was declared in northern Sinai last month after 31 soldiers were killed.

Gettin’ spooky, from the Guardian:

Race to revive NSA surveillance curbs before Congress handover

  • Harry Reid, leader of the outgoing Democratic Senate majority, attempts to bring USA Freedom Act to a vote

The major post-Edward Snowden legislation meant to constrain the National Security Agency received a new lease on life Wednesday when the Senate majority leader paved the way for the USA Freedom Act to receive a vote before the congressional session expires.

Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat who will cease being majority leader when his party returns to the minority in January, filed a procedural motion that will permit the bill to receive a hearing on the Senate floor, perhaps as early as next week. Its supporters have feared that Senate inaction would quietly kill the only post-9/11 attempt at curtailing mass surveillance.

The USA Freedom Act, which passed the House of Representatives in May with bipartisan support, seeks to get the NSA out of the business of bulk domestic phone records collection, though how far it restrains the surveillance agency is a matter of dispute.

The London Telegraph covers cellular spooks aloft:

US using fake cellphone towers on planes to gather data

  • The devices, nicknamed ‘dirtboxes,’ can collect information from tens of thousands of cell phones in a single flight

An agency of the US Justice Department is gathering data from thousands of cell phones, including both criminal suspects and innocent Americans, by using fake communications towers on airplanes, according to reports.

The program run by the US Marshals Service began operations in 2007 and uses Cessna planes flying from at least five major airports and covering most of the US population, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

The planes use devices made by Boeing Co that mimic the cell phone towers used by major telecommunications companies and trick mobile phones into revealing their unique registration data, the report said.

The devices, nicknamed “dirtboxes,” can collect information from tens of thousands of cell phones in a single flight, which occur on a regular basis, according to those with knowledge of the program, the Journal said.

Big Brother’s Mini-Mes, from the East Bay Express:

Controlling the Surveillance State

A new report from the ACLU shows that local law enforcement agencies have been spending big bucks on surveillance technology — and offers recommendations on how to rein in the spending

California cities and counties have spent more than $65 million on surveillance technologies in the past decade while conducting little public debate about the expenditures, according to a new report published this week by three American Civil Liberties Union chapters in the state. Public records reviewed by the ACLU also indicate that though cities and counties in California bought surveillance technologies 180 instances, they only held public discussions about the proposals just 26 times.

The technologies examined in the report included automated license plate readers, closed-circuit video cameras, facial recognition software, drones, data mining tools, and cellphone interception devices known as ISMI catchers or stingrays. The report analyzed purchases by 59 cities and by 58 county governments in California. In many instances, city and county officials used federal grant money to make the purchases, and then asked local legislative bodies to rubber-stamp their decisions. “We long suspected California law enforcement was taking advantage of federal grant money to skirt official oversight and keep communities in the dark about surveillance systems,” said Nicole Ozer, the technology and civil liberties director for the ACLU of California.

The report also found that only one-third of the cities and counties surveyed had privacy policies to prevent law enforcement abuse.

Nuclear cowboys reined in, from International Business Times:

Chuck Hagel To Order Shake-Up Of US Nuclear Forces, Following Series Of Scandals

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is ordering significant changes to the management of the country’s nuclear weapons, after internal reviews concluded that the “incoherent” structure of forces means they cannot be properly managed, according to the Associated Press.

Two senior U.S. defense officials, who discussed the situation with the AP on condition of anonymity, told the agency that Hagel will be proposing additional investment of between $1 billion and $10 billion dollars and appointing more senior military officers to key posts.

U.S. nuclear forces have been rocked by a series of scandals in recent months. In January, a group of Air Force officers who work on nuclear launch duty were suspended and had their security clearances revoked, after being caught cheating on proficiency tests.

In addition, military-run nuclear facilities have failed safety inspections, troops have been found violating safety protocols surrounding launch command centers and an Air Force general in charge of an entire section of U.S. nuclear weapons was removed from his post, following an incident of embarrassing, drunken behavior while on an official visit to Russia, according to the AP.

Drones over the border with BBC News:

US-Mexico border ‘patrolled by drones’

The US government is using drones to patrol half of its border with Mexico, a report by the Associated Press says.

The strategy means that the US is increasingly able to move away from using large numbers of border patrol agents along the entire frontier. The drones allow border control agents to focus on areas of “greater threat”, says the report.

The US border immigration system is under pressure in the face of a worsening border crisis.

And Amazon drones launched, from the Guardian:

Amazon to begin testing same-day delivery drones in Cambridge

  • Online retailer expands R&D operations in England, two years after buying Cambridge-based startup Evi Technologies

Amazon is planning to test drones in Cambridge, England, as the battle to offer consumers same-day deliveries heats up.

The US company announced with considerable fanfare late last year that it was considering using drones as a way of dramatically reducing the time it takes to deliver orders to customers. At the time there was speculation that the move was little more than a publicity stunt. But Amazon said in July that it had sought permission from the US Federal Aviation Administration to test drones that could fly as fast as 50 miles per hour for up to 30 minutes at a time to deliver packages weighing up to 2.3kg (5lb).

Amazon is now expanding its R&D operations in Cambridge – two years after buying Cambridge-based startup Evi Technologies – to take advantage of the talent pool of academics and researchers in the area. The lab will focus on Prime Air, Amazon’s name for its drones project, the blog TechCrunch reported.

Old-fashioned spookery, from intelNews:

Lithuania charges state employee with spying for Belarus, Russia

Prosecutors in Lithuania have charged an employee of a state-owned airline navigation services provider with spying for neighboring Belarus, though it is presumed the compromised information may have also been shared with Russia.

Lithuanian government prosecutor Darius Raulusaitis told reporters at a news conference on Monday that the man charged was a Lithuanian national living and working in capital Vilnius. He has been identified only with his initials, which are R.L.

The alleged spy is being accused of collecting information relating to Lithuania’s military strength with the intention of sharing it with unregistered agents of Belarus.

TheLocal.es covers a continuing coverup:

Spain scraps plan to declassify military files

Spain’s decision to shelve plans to declassify thousands of documents relating to the country’s Civil War and the dictatorship of Francisco Franco is a mistake, a top historian has told The Local.

Defence Minister Pedro Morenés has said that the government will not be classifying some 10,000 armed services documents from the Civil War and Franco dictatorship era because of insufficient resources to analyse their contents.

The papers from the 1936-1968 period, which reportedly shed light on issues such as the military’s role during the Civil War and relations with foreign powers during the dictatorship, had been slated for declassification by the previous Socialist government.

BuzzFeed starts our “cops behaing badly” segment:

Secret Service Agent Chatting On Cell Phone Missed White House Intruder

A new review points to a series of Secret Service failings as the reason Omar Gonzales managed to penetrate the White House in September.

An intruder managed to climb the White House fence and make it inside the presidential residence due to Secret Service failures, a new review has found.

The Department of Homeland Security review explores how 42-year-old Army veteran Omar Gonzalez penetrated the White House on Sept. 19. Gonzalez had hundreds of rounds of ammunition in his car, investigators later found.

According to the review, the Secret Service’s radios and alarms didn’t function correctly, The New York Times reported. In addition, a Secret Service officer missed Gonzales because he was talking on his personal cellphone and didn’t have his earpiece in. The officer had also left his second radio in his locker.

From the Guardian, slightly harder than shooting fish in a barrel:

Ex-Maryland police officer sentenced for shooting handcuffed suspect

  • Johnnie Riley to serve five years in prison for shooting which paralyzed suspect from the waist down, far less time that prosecutors had requested

A former Maryland police officer convicted in a shooting that paralyzed a handcuffed suspect from the waist down was sentenced Thursday to five years in prison, far less time than prosecutors had requested.

Former District Heights police Sg Johnnie Riley, 44, was sentenced in Prince George’s County Circuit Court. He could have faced up to 45 years in prison, and prosecutors asked for a 20-year sentence.

Prosecutors say Riley shot a handcuffed man in the back in September 2012 after the man got out of a police cruiser and ran away. The injured man, Kalvin Kyle, was paralyzed from the waist down. Riley had pulled Kyle over on suspicion of driving a stolen motorcycle.

From euronews, a Parisian police protest:

Schools barricaded in Paris in anger over alleged police brutality

Program notes:

Hundreds of students barricaded school entrances across Paris and held demonstrations on Thursday against alleged police brutality.

It’s the latest in three weeks of protests since the death of 21-year-old botany student Remi Fraisse.

He was killed during a march against plans to build a dam in southwestern France. His death has been blamed on a grenade fired by police which hit him in the back, getting lodged between his back pack and clothes before exploding.

And from the Independent, prosecutorial misbehavin’:

Hundreds of asylum-seekers ‘wrongly deported’ on drug smuggler’s evidence

Theresa May is facing fresh embarrassment amid allegations that the Home Office has for years been relying on the work of a convicted drug smuggler who lied about his qualifications to help it determine sensitive asylum cases – which may have resulted in hundreds of people being wrongly deported.

The unnamed individual works as a language analyst for Sprakab, a Swedish firm which since 2000 has been paid by the Home Office to study audio recordings of people claiming asylum in Britain. It often uses the firm’s judgements – which are based on 20-minute telephone interviews – to support its rejection of asylum applications.

Allegations have now surfaced in Sweden suggesting that the man is a convicted criminal who fabricated parts of his CV. Several independent linguistic experts have also cast doubt on the quality of his work, which earlier this year was criticised by the UK’s Supreme Court as offering “wholly inappropriate” views on whether an asylum-seeker sounded convincing.

After the jump, hard times intolerance in Rome Ferguson, and Germany [where an an alleged neo-Nazi pederast is busted as well], anti-Semitism resurgent in Europe, European Memory Hole fines for Google, California concealed weapons upheld, tracing a hack attack’s epidemiology, fake iPhone app hack attacks, and a jailed hacker confesses, on to China and a promise of maritime peace, Taiwan cedes air supremacy to the Mainland, Japan next and an Abe bid for a three-way with Seoul and Beijing, Abe’s cops stage a heavy-handed raid on leftist students, Japanese/Australian defense talks, and Robocop, the mall version. . . Continue reading

InSecurityWatch: Cold War 2.0, hacks, zones


And so much more.

First up, Cold War 2.0, from BBC News:

Russian planes to patrol in Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico

Russia has said its air force will conduct regular air patrols from the Arctic Ocean to the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. Russia had wound down such long-range missions after the end of the Cold War.

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said there was a plan to provide long-range aviation maintenance for the flights.

Amid renewed tensions over Ukraine, Western analysts say Russia has been returning to methods used to test Nato defences during the Cold War. On Wednesday, Mr Shoigu said “long-range aviation units” would fly along the borders of the Russian Federation and over the waters of the Arctic Ocean.

More from the Los Angeles Times:

NATO says fresh columns of Russian armor and troops entering Ukraine

NATO’s top commander said Wednesday that the alliance has seen columns of Russian troops, armored vehicles and heavy guns entering eastern Ukraine over the last two days.

U.S. Gen. Philip Breedlove told reporters during a visit to Bulgaria that the border between Ukraine and Russia where Moscow-backed separatists are in control is now “completely wide open” to infusions of foreign fighting power into the conflict area.

“We have seen columns of Russian equipment, primarily Russian tanks, Russian artillery, Russian air-defense systems and Russian combat troops entering Ukraine,” Breedlove said.

He said NATO didn’t have a firm number on the invading vehicles but said they were in “multiple columns.”

Still more Cold War 2.0 hype from News Corp Australia:

Russian warships ‘heading to Australia’

A CONVOY of heavily armed Russian war ships, including at least one high powered missile cruiser, are cruising international waters to Australia’s north, Defence has confirmed.

Defence is monitoring the fleet of four ships, which include a cruiser, a destroyer a tug boat and a refueller, which were believed to be in the Coral Sea, south of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea on Wednesday evening.

Australian ships HMAS Parramatta and HMAS Stuart were ordered to “crash sail” to the Coral Sea earlier this week in a bid to “greet” the Russian fleet. It is believed HMAS Parramatta arrived last night and HMAS Stuart was a day away.

From the New York Times, depends on what the meaning of is is, as in torture:

U.S. Tells U.N. Panel of Steps to Revise Policy on Interrogation

The Obama administration told a United Nations panel in Geneva on Wednesday that the United States had tortured terrorism suspects after the Sept. 11 attacks, but that it had since taken steps to prevent any future use of unlawful, coercive interrogation techniques.

“The United States is proud of its record as a leader in respecting, promoting and defending human rights and the rule of law, both at home and around the world,” Mary McLeod, the acting State Department legal adviser, told the panel. “But in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, we regrettably did not always live up to our values.”

The panel addressed by Ms. McLeod monitors compliance with the United Nations Convention Against Torture. In her testimony, she formally introduced a new position by the United States government on whether a provision of that treaty, which prohibits “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment,” imposes legal obligations on its conduct abroad. The George W. Bush administration contended that it applied only on American soil.

From the Guardian, sins of omission?:

Doubt cast over US torture investigation as more CIA detainees come forward

  • Lawyers for men allegedly tortured by the CIA say their clients were never interviewed as part of a major criminal investigation concluded in 2012

More lawyers for men allegedly tortured by the CIA are coming forward to say that the major US criminal investigation into torture never interviewed their clients.

The Justice Department inquiry, concluded in 2012 without charging anyone involved in the CIA’s Bush-era network of secret prisons, is receiving new scrutiny thanks to a United Nations committee hearing in Geneva this week examining US compliance with international anti-torture law.

Looking at US conduct on torture for the first time since 2006, the committee on Wednesday specifically asked a US delegation about the defunct investigation, conducted by John Durham, an assistant US attorney in Connecticut.

The McClatchy Washington Bureau covers an urgent impulse:

Senate to vote on NSA overhaul bill

The Senate could vote as early as Friday on a bill that would revamp the way the National Security Agency collects telephone data in its domestic spying program.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., filed a motion Wednesday to end debate on the USA Freedom Act, a measure authored by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy, D-Vt., that would essentially end the agency’s bulk collection of so-called metadata.

Broad searches, either through a particular service provider or by a broad geographic region or zip code, would be stopped under the bill, Leahy said in an outline of the bill. The government wouldn’t be able to collect all information relating to a particular service provider or broad geographic region under the bill.

From the Guardian, silent but deadly:

Watch out: the US government wants to pass new spying laws behind your back

  • Dangerous cybersecurity legislation would allow Google and Facebook to hand over even more of your information to the NSA and FBI

Now, as the post-election lame-duck session opens on Wednesday in Washington, the Senate might try to sneak through a “cybersecurity” bill that would, as the ACLU puts it, “create a massive loophole in our existing privacy laws”. The vague and ambiguous law would essentially allow companies like Google and Facebook to hand over even more of your personal information to the US government, all of which could ultimately end up in the hands of the NSA and the FBI.

The House already passed a version of this bill earlier in the year, and the White House, despite vowing to veto earlier versions, told reporters an “information sharing” cybersecurity bill was on its list of priorities for the lame-duck session (while NSA reform is not).

Senate intelligence committee chair Dianne Feinstein says she’s willing to make privacy compromises to get the bill to the floor, but did not elaborate – at all – on what those were. And given the sleazy tactics of House permanent select intelligence committee member Mike Rogers in pretending he had the support of privacy groups when the House passed its version of the bill, it’s hard to take anything the intelligence committees say in the area of privacy on good faith.

The Register Googles irony:

Who will save Europe’s privacy from the NSA? Oh God … it’s Google

  • Sucking up everyone’s data? That’s our freakin’ job!

A Google lawyer says Europeans spied on by the NSA should get the same rights as Americans – such as the right to sue the US government for privacy invasions.

David Drummond, chief legal officer for the information-harvesting monster (Google), published a blog post on Wednesday titled “It’s time to extend the US Privacy Act to EU citizens.”

The European Commission has been calling for such a move ever since ex-NSA techie Edward Snowden blew the lid off Uncle Sam’s global internet spying last year. New Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova is in Washington this week to try to negotiate such a deal.

According to Drummond, who was in Brussels last week as part of Google’s “right to be forgotten” roadshow, there is an “urgent need for surveillance reform” to repair severely damaged relations between the US and Europe.

From the Intercept, hush money:

Secret Cash Pays for U.S. Drone Mistakes

A Yemeni family was paid $100,000 for the death of relatives in a U.S. drone strike in 2012, according to a remarkable story yesterday from Yahoo News. Faisal bin Ali Jaber, a 56-year-old who works at Yemen’s environmental agency, has been on a mission to find out why his innocent nephew and brother-in-law were killed in a strike that also took out three suspected militants. He made it to Washington D.C. last fall, he told journalist Michael Isikoff, where he met with two White House national security aides. They listened, but said little in response.

Then, this summer, Jaber was given a bag of “freshly minted” bills by a Yemeni security official. The money, he was told, came from the U.S. government.

Jaber’s account adds to the piecemeal picture of how the U.S. responds to wrongful deaths in the remote air war in Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia. In Afghanistan, the military has set up systems to pay cash to the families of civilians it kills or injures. But when it comes to drone strikes, the administration has been far less open about if and when it compensates civilian casualties.

Hacking above the cloud with the Washington Post:

Chinese hack U.S. weather systems, satellite network

Hackers from China breached the federal weather network recently, forcing cybersecurity teams to seal off data vital to disaster planning, aviation, shipping and scores of other crucial uses, officials said.

The intrusion occurred in late September but officials gave no indication that they had a problem until Oct. 20, according to three people familiar with the hack and the subsequent reaction by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA, which includes the National Weather Service. Even then, NOAA did not say its systems were compromised.

Officials also said that the agency did not notify the proper authorities when it learned of the attack.

From Nextgov, a story with implications for the far-sighted:

DHS Drafts Blueprints for Self-Repairing Networks as Hacks Mount

The Department of Homeland Security is working with industry to automate cyber defenses inside the government, which will ensure operations continue during and after hack attacks, DHS officials said Wednesday.

Enterprise Automated Security Environment, or EASE, could give rise to something like a self-repairing network, Philip Quade, chief operating officer of National Security Agency’s information assurance directorate, told Nextgov last week.

Hacks are inevitable, many security professionals say. Resiliency is the key to preventing the attackers from finding sensitive information or disrupting activities, they add.

So what’s a couple of decades, right? From CBC News:

Microsoft patches ‘significant vulnerability’ in Windows

  • 19-year-old bug lets attacker remotely take over Windows computers

Microsoft Corp issued patches on Tuesday to fix a bug in its Windows operating system that remained undiscovered for 19 years.

The bug, which is present in every version of Microsoft Windows from Windows 95 onward, allows an attacker to remotely take over and control a computer.

IBM Corp’s cybersecurity research team discovered the bug in May, describing it as a “significant vulnerability” in the operating system.

“The buggy code is at least 19 years old and has been remotely exploitable for the past 18 years,” IBM X-Force research team said in its blog on Tuesday.

Cops behaving badly in the Big Easy, from the New York Times:

New Orleans Special Crimes Detectives Routinely Ignored Cases, Report Says

An scathing report on a New Orleans Police Department unit has found that in nearly 1,300 sex crime-related calls fielded by fives detectives over a three-year period, 86 percent showed no record of having been investigated beyond an initial report, with the substantial majority being simply classified as miscellaneous.

The report, compiled by the city’s Office of Inspector General, examined every call that came to the five detectives, in the police department’s special victims unit, between 2011 and 2013. During that time, 1,290 calls for service were assigned to these detectives, who are not named in the report. In only 450 cases did the detectives fill out an initial report, and in 271 of those cases, no further reports were made at all.

Michael Harrison, who was permanently appointed as the city’s new police superintendent last month, said in a news conference that the five detectives and their supervisors had been assigned to other departments and that the department’s public integrity bureau was investigating the officers’ actions and re-examining their caseload. He suggested that some of what the detectives did might go beyond neglect of duty to potential criminal action, such as the altering official paperwork to make it appear that work had been done.

More of the same, this time in Old Blighty, via BBC News:

Police handling of child abuse intelligence to be investigated

Three police forces face an inquiry over alleged failures to act on tip offs about potential paedophiles.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) will examine how Essex, North Wales and North Yorkshire handled information from Canadian police passed to the UK in 2012.

Around 2,000 names were sent by Toronto Police to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP).

The three forces referred themselves to the IPCC for investigation.

And from United Press International, oops:

Police mistakenly shoot 911 caller thinking he was gunman

Police in Washington state mistakenly shot a good samaritan who reported suspicious activity on Halloween, thinking he was the gunman they were chasing.

The police mistook him for 59-year-old John Kendall, who allegedly shot his neighbor Abigail Mounce in the face and the drove to the woods where he shot himself in the head. The man who found the car reported it to police and remained at the scene.

The VPD officers reportedly did not know the person who called 911 was there and fired on him, shooting him in the leg.

After the jump, Google battles a Memory Hole mandate, hard times intolerance in Rome, major kidnapping arrests in Mexico, FARC apologies for tribal murders, Israeli cops arrested for killing Palestinian teens, U.S. swabbies attacked in Turkey. Azerbijanis shoot down an Armenian chopper, Nigerian anger at American munitions restraints, on to Hong Kong and more violence at the Occupy camp as the courts refuse to halt a potential eviction, the to Japan and a fatal protest of resurgent militarism and strong political opposition to a military base move. . . Continue reading

InSecurityWatch: Class, war, hacks, & zones


Onward, first with the single greatest global security threat from Al Jazeera America:

Global inequality is a rising concern for elites

  • The worldwide wealth gap is the World Economic Forum’s trend to watch for 2015

Income inequality is now the number one global concern, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF) — an assessment supported by research suggesting even economic elites now fret over the impact on society of the growing wealth divide.

In an annual WEF report released last week, United Nations adviser Amina Mohamed warns that income inequality can have pervasive social and political consequences. The deepening gap between rich and poor, she writes, “reduces the sustainability of economic growth [and] weakens social cohesion and security.”

That perceived threat to social stability may be why income inequality has steadily climbed the WEF’s list of priorities with each new edition of it annual economic assessment. In its 2011 report, the WEF listed inequality as “the most underestimated” global trend. By last year’s edition, it had climbed to second place.

Al-Monitor covers hands across the divide:

Iraqi Shiites join Sunnis to fight Islamic State

Shiite authorities have assumed a prominent role in calming the situation and preventing their followers from having violent reactions that may have dire consequences. Iraq’s prominent Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, along with his spokesmen, has repeatedly said, “Sunnis are ourselves, not only our brothers.” Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Hussein Ismail al-Sadr regularly receives Sunni tribesmen and clerics from different parts of Iraq, an important step in the prevention of sectarian conflict between Sunnis and Shiites.

IS did not only target Shiites to drag them into attacking Sunnis, but also suppressed moderate Sunnis to rid the internal front from moderate perspectives and from those who coexist with Shiites. The group deals severely with Sunni tribes that preserve or seek to preserve good ties with Shiites. The Oct. 20 execution of several members of the Bou Nemr tribe in Anbar province is a prominent example. The group has killed 238 men from the tribe and a mass grave of 250 tribesmen was recently found.

These actions have resulted in adverse reactions that were not the group’s objective. The Sunnis sought help from the Shiites to get rid of the group. In an interview with Al-Hurra on Oct. 29, Bou Nemr leader and parliament member Ghazi al-Gaood called on Shiite leaders, particularly Muqtada al-Sadr and the head of the Badr Organization, Hadi Al-Amiri, to oppose the destruction of his tribe by this group. He said they were facing a genocide at the hands of a barbaric group that had no religious, moral or humane principles, and therefore they welcomed any force that could assist them, even if this meant resorting to help from Israel.

Ignorance, intentional or otherwise, via the Guardian:

Libyan former CIA detainees say US torture inquiry never interviewed them

US government preparing to defend its record on torture before UN panel, but fresh accusation reopens controversy over 2012 decision by prosecutor not to bring charges against anyone involved in CIA abuse

As the US government prepares to defend its record on torture before a United Nations panel, five Libyan men once held without charge by the CIA say the main criminal investigation into allegations of detainee abuse never even interviewed them.

The Libyans’ accusation reopens controversy over the 2012 pre-election decision by the prosecutor in the case not to bring charges against anyone involved in CIA abuse – an episode the US State Department has held up as an example of its diligence in complying with international torture obligations.

On Wednesday, a United Nations committee in Geneva is scheduled to hear a US delegation outline recent measures Washington has taken to combat torture. It will be the first update the US has provided to the committee since 2006, when the CIA still operated its off-the-books “black site” prisons. Human rights campaigners who have seen the Obama administration repeatedly decline to deliver justice for US torture victims consider it a belated chance at ending what they consider to be impunity.

Among the committee’s requested submissions, issued in 2010, is a description of steps the US has taken to ensure torture claims against it are “promptly, impartially and thoroughly investigated”. The committee specifically asked for a status update about the Justice Department’s since-concluded torture inquiry.

From the Intercept, inquiring minds want to know:

What Happened to the Humanitarians Who Wanted to Save Libyans With Bombs and Drones?

Almost without exception, war advocates justified NATO’s military action in Libya on the ground that it was driven not primarily by strategic or resource objectives but by altruism. The New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof wrote: “Libya is a reminder that sometimes it is possible to use military tools to advance humanitarian causes.” Former Obama official Anne-Marie Slaughter argued that intervention was a matter of upholding “universal values,” which itself advanced America’s strategic goals. In justifying the war to Americans (more than a week after it started), President Obama decreed: “Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different.”

But “turning a blind eye” to the ongoing – and now far worse – atrocities in Libya is exactly what the U.S., its war allies, and most of the humanitarian war advocates are now doing. Indeed, after the bombing stopped, war proponents maintained interest in the Libyan people just long enough to boast of their great prescience and to insist on their vindication. Slaughter took her grand victory lap in a Financial Times op-ed headlined “Why Libya sceptics were proved badly wrong,” Dismissing those who were telling her that “it is too early to tell” and that “in a year, or a decade, Libya could disintegrate into tribal conflict or Islamist insurgency, or split apart or lurch from one strongman to another,” she insisted that nothing could possibly be worse than letting Gaddafi remain in power. Thus: “Libya proves the west can make those choices wisely after all.”

Kristof similarly took his moment in the sun to celebrate his own rightness, visiting Tripoli in August and then announcing that Americans were regarded by grateful Libyans as heroes. While carefully larding up his column with all sorts of caveats about how things could still go terribly wrong, he nonetheless trumpeted that “this was a rare military intervention for humanitarian reasons, and it has succeeded” and that “on rare occasions military force can advance human rights. Libya has so far been a model of such an intervention.” When Gaddafi’s defeat was imminent, the White-House-supporting Think Progress blog exploited the resulting emotions (exactly as the GOP did when Saddam was captured) to taunt the Republicans: “Does John Boehner still believe U.S. military operations in Libya are illegal?” – as though killing Gaddafi somehow excused the waging of this war in the face of Congressional rejection of its authorization, let alone guaranteed a better outcome for Libyans.

Speaking of Libya. . .via BBC News:

Libya violence: Activists beheaded in Derna

Three young activists have been found beheaded in Derna, in eastern Libya.

The three, who had relayed information about the city through social media, had been kidnapped earlier this month.

Several Islamist groups are competing for control of the city, with some militants recently declaring allegiance to Islamic State.

Libya has been in a state of flux since Col Gaddafi was overthrown in 2011, with disparate tribes, militias and political factions fighting for power.

The Guardian covers a curious decision:

UK drops security claim blocking Pakistani’s lawsuit over ‘torture’

Government abandons argument that UK-US intelligence ties preclude letting Yunus Rahmatullah sue for damages

The UK government has abandoned its long-standing claim that relations with Washington would suffer if a Pakistani citizen who claims he was tortured by British and American troops was allowed to sue for damages in court.

Yunus Rahmatullah says he was tortured over a 10-year period after being captured by British special forces in Iraq and handed over to US troops in 2004. He was released by the US without charge in May.

The British government made the concession as a former American ambassador roundly dismissed the government’s case.

From the Express Tribune, an all-too-familiar story in Pakistan:

Drone strike kills six in North Waziristan

At least six suspected militants were killed, and three others were injured in a US drone attack in the Datta Khel area of North Waziristan on Tuesday evening.

Initial reports suggest that the drone fired two missiles on a vehicle and a residential compound. As a result of the strikes, the vehicle and a portion of a house were destroyed.

The identities of the killed have not been ascertained as yet, but local tribesmen claim that the killed were local and foreign militants.

Pakistan routinely protests against US drone strikes, which have been targeting militants in the tribal areas since 2004, saying they violate its sovereignty and are counterproductive in the fight against terror.

But most analysts believe the resumption of the drone programme after it was suspended at the start of the year — reportedly to give Pakistan space for negotiations with the Taliban — is evidence of collusion between the two countries.

Skynet alert, via the New York Times:

Fearing Bombs That Can Pick Whom to Kill

Warfare is increasingly guided by software. Today, armed drones can be operated by remote pilots peering into video screens thousands of miles from the battlefield. But now, some scientists say, arms makers have crossed into troubling territory: They are developing weapons that rely on artificial intelligence, not human instruction, to decide what to target and whom to kill.

As these weapons become smarter and nimbler, critics fear they will become increasingly difficult for humans to control — or to defend against. And while pinpoint accuracy could save civilian lives, critics fear weapons without human oversight could make war more likely, as easy as flipping a switch.

Britain, Israel and Norway are already deploying missiles and drones that carry out attacks against enemy radar, tanks or ships without direct human control. After launch, so-called autonomous weapons rely on artificial intelligence and sensors to select targets and to initiate an attack.

Cold War 2.0, via TheLocal.no:

Russian super-jets seen flying near Norway

Photo evidence of a new Russian fighter jet caught flying just outside Finnmark in North Norway were released by Norwegian security forces on Tuesday.

The images were taken by Norwegian air defence personnel at the end of October, but capture the might of the new aircraft technology Russian has at its disposal and threat to security posed by the re-emerging superpower state.

The images showed two of the new Russian Su-34 fighter jets, never before been seen flying in and around North Europe. The series of pictures were taken on October 29th this year, outside the coast of Finnmark, reported VG.

And the old reliable honey trap, via intelNews:

UK report warns about sexual entrapment by foreign spies

A leaked report issued by military authorities in the United Kingdom cautions British officials to be aware of attempts by Chinese and Russian intelligence services to compromise them using sexual entrapment.

The London-based Sunday Times newspaper said it had acquired a copy of the document, entitled Manual of Security, authored by the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence for use by senior officials. The manual warns that foreign intelligence services are known to employ sexual entrapment or romantic attachment as a means of compromising their targets.

The document singles out the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) and the Chinese Ministry of State Security as two adversary agencies that are known to employ sexual entrapment on a regular basis.

From the Intercept, dirty deeds scrutinized:

EU Scrutinizes Spyware Exports To Sketchy Regimes

The European Union will start paying closer attention to sales of invasive surveillance software, which has previously flowed from European companies to countries with questionable human rights records.

Under new EU rules issued recently, certain kinds of monitoring software will require a license to export. Those license applications would provide more transparency about where the software is going, and could potentially allow governments to block unsavory sales.

As The Intercept has reported, companies like Milan-based Hacking Team or FinFisher, of Munich, sell to countries where authorities appear to have used the software to spy on dissidents and the press. Hacking Team implants have been discovered on the devices of Moroccan and Ethiopian journalists, while leaked FinFisher documents showed that activists and political opposition members in Bahrain had been targeted.

German hacking the official sort, via RT:

German intelligence to monitor overseas social networks

Germany’s foreign intelligence agency plans to spend hundreds of millions of euros on surveillance technology designed to monitor foreign social networks, local media reported, citing a confidential document.

The Federal Intelligence Service (BND) will spend €28 million, in 2015 alone, on its Strategic Technical Initiative (SIT), the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper reported.

According to a confidential report seen by the newspaper, the agency asked the Bundestag’s Budget Committee for a total of €300 million ($375 million) for the SIT program between 2015 and 2020.

The BND plans to set up an early warning system for cyber attacks, the report said.

The Diplomat covers cyberspooks:

Cyber Espionage and US-China Relations

Program notes:

Cyber issues are increasingly at the forefront of the U.S.-China relationship. The Obama administration places great emphasis on stopping cyber attacks on U.S. commercial interests while China decries the cyber espionage revealed in the Edward Snowden leaks. Dr. James Lewis, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, joins The Diplomat to talk about China’s (and America’s) cyber espionage activities, policy options for Washington, and what progress has been made so far.

From Nextgov, a win:

Federal Judge Says Public Has a Right to Know About FBI’s Facial Recognition Database

A federal judge has ruled that the FBI’s futuristic facial-recognition database is deserving of scrutiny from open-government advocates because of the size and scope of the surveillance technology.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan said the bureau’s Next Generation Identification program represents a “significant public interest” due to concerns regarding its potential impact on privacy rights and should be subject to rigorous transparency oversight.

“There can be little dispute that the general public has a genuine, tangible interest in a system designed to store and manipulate significant quantities of its own biometric data, particularly given the great numbers of people from whom such data will be gathered,” Chutkan wrote in an opinion released late Wednesday.

After the jump, Flash vulnerabilities redux, a South Korean hacker’s confession, seeking goose sauce for the hacked gander, malware downloads for your iPhone, NGOs and rights activists targeted by malware, the ongoing corrupt police assets seizure regime, more protests in Mexico over those slaughtered students, killer cops in Brazil, a provocative Russian nuclear move in Iran, on to Hong Kong, first with a greenlight for cops to clear away Occupy protesters [who are preparing to surrender] and an Obama denial, China strengthens its economic alliance, mixed signals between Washington and Beijing, China wows with a new stealth fighter as it seeks a greater Afghan role, and Japan asks for a hotline with Beijing, plus the new LGBT/African American/Jewish friendly Klan. . . Continue reading

InSecurityWatch: Spies, laws, peepers, drones


And much, much more. . .

We begin with the genome-incorporating corporate panopticon from the Asahi Shimbun:

Yahoo offers DNA tests, expects growth in gene-based advertising

Advertisements tailored to individuals’ genetic makeup have moved closer to reality with the start of a DNA testing service by Yahoo Japan Corp.

The service, which began Nov. 7, analyzes 290 genetic aspects of saliva samples–from the risk of such illnesses as lung cancer and stroke to physical traits, including a tendency toward obesity and alcohol-tolerance levels.

The service costs 49,800 yen ($430), including tax. Users can also receive advice from doctors and nutritionists, for an additional charge.

In June, the company revised its regulations on the protection of personal information to allow for the use of DNA analysis results in advertising.

From the Boston Globe, an inescapable conclusion:

Vote all you want. The secret government won’t change.

  • The people we elect aren’t the ones calling the shots, says Tufts University’s Michael Glennon

Why did the face in the Oval Office change but the policies remain the same? Critics tend to focus on Obama himself, a leader who perhaps has shifted with politics to take a harder line. But Tufts University political scientist Michael J. Glennon has a more pessimistic answer: Obama couldn’t have changed policies much even if he tried.

Though it’s a bedrock American principle that citizens can steer their own government by electing new officials, Glennon suggests that in practice, much of our government no longer works that way. In a new book, “National Security and Double Government,” he catalogs the ways that the defense and national security apparatus is effectively self-governing, with virtually no accountability, transparency, or checks and balances of any kind. He uses the term “double government”: There’s the one we elect, and then there’s the one behind it, steering huge swaths of policy almost unchecked. Elected officials end up serving as mere cover for the real decisions made by the bureaucracy.

Glennon’s critique sounds like an outsider’s take, even a radical one. In fact, he is the quintessential insider: He was legal counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a consultant to various congressional committees, as well as to the State Department. “National Security and Double Government” comes favorably blurbed by former members of the Defense Department, State Department, White House, and even the CIA. And he’s not a conspiracy theorist: Rather, he sees the problem as one of “smart, hard-working, public-spirited people acting in good faith who are responding to systemic incentives”—without any meaningful oversight to rein them in.

Reuters covers signs of overstretch:

As Obama visits Asia, old alliances face new strains in face of China’s influence

In November 2011, with the Arab Spring uprisings in full tilt and Europe rocked by a debt crisis, President Barack Obama flew to Asia to promote a shift of America’s military, diplomatic and business assets to the region. His then Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, declared in the same year that the 21st century would be “America’s Pacific century”.

Fast-forward to today: as Obama flies to Asia on Sunday, Washington’s “pivot” to the region is becoming more visible. It includes deployment of American Marines in Darwin, Australia, stepped up U.S. naval visits to the Philippines and many more joint drills with that nation’s armed forces, as well as the lifting of a ban on lethal weapons sales to Vietnam.

But just as Washington seeks to expand American interests in Asia as a counterpoint to China’s growing influence, some U.S. partners have shown less willingness to challenge Beijing. That may mean China will have a freer hand to assert its authority in the resource-rich South China Sea, where its territorial claims overlap those of Taiwan and four Southeast Asian countries.

The drubbing Obama’s Democrats took in this week’s mid-term elections, defeats that were blamed by many on his leadership, will hardly strengthen his position in discussions with China or with allies in the region. Obama will have less room for maneuver on foreign policy now he has a Republican-controlled Senate to deal with, and the political focus in Washington is already starting to turn to the 2016 presidential election.

More of the same, also via Reuters:

Unclear if China ready to sign IT agreement: WTO chief

China is part of “intensive” talks on a global trade pact regarding information technology products, the World Trade Organization’s chief said on Saturday, but it is unclear if a deal will be made at a meeting of Asia-Pacific leaders underway in Beijing.

The United States and other countries have been hopeful that China would sign on to the Information Technology Agreement (ITA), which requires signatories to eliminate duties on some IT products, during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit that ends on Tuesday.

Washington has blamed China, the world’s biggest exporter of IT products, for derailing talks on an update to the 16 year old WTO pact on technology trade by asking for too many exemptions.

On to the war of the moment/clash of cultures/blowback via the New York Times:

U.S. Airstrikes in Iraq Target ISIS Leaders

An airstrike by a United States-led coalition hit a gathering of leaders of the Islamic State jihadist group in northwestern Iraq on Saturday, and Iraqi officials said they believed that a number of top militants had been killed.

Two Iraqi officials said that at least one strike had targeted a meeting near the town of Qaim, which is in Anbar Province, just across the border from the Syrian town of Bukamal. The area is in the desert heartland of the territory the group has seized for its self-declared caliphate.

Both officials said that the strikes had killed many militants from the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, including two of its regional governors. Rumors also swirled that the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, had been at the meeting and was either wounded or killed. The officials said they had no confirmed information about Mr. Baghdadi’s presence at the meeting.

From the McClatchy Foreign Staff, strange bedfellows:

Sunni tribes join Shiite militias in battle for Iraqi town, a rare show of sectarian unity

Sunni Muslim tribesmen, Shiite militia fighters and Iraqi security forces set out Saturday to recapture a key city in Anbar province and stop Islamic State atrocities against a local tribe in an extraordinary coalition that could stir sectarian tensions or potentially serve as a model for future cooperation against the militants.

The operation to liberate Hit, about 90 miles west of Baghdad, could reshape the situation in Anbar in a way that would impact the mission of U.S. troops who are being deployed to the province from among the additional 1,500 U.S. military advisers the Pentagon said it is sending to Iraq at the end of the year.

“This is a dramatic change,” said Hisham al Hashimi, a prominent Iraqi defense analyst. “We have the Sunni Arab tribes fighting hand in hand with the Shiites.”

And from BBC News, another inescapable conclusion:

Ex-USSR leader Gorbachev: World on brink of new Cold War

The world is on the brink of a new Cold War, and trust should be restored by dialogue with Russia, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has said.

At an event to mark the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on Sunday, Mr Gorbachev said the West had “succumbed to triumphalism”.

He expressed alarm about recent Middle Eastern and European conflicts.

Along the same lines, via the New York Times:

As Russia Draws Closer to China, U.S. Faces a New Challenge

Mr. Obama is returning to Asia as Russia pulls closer to China, presenting a profound challenge to the United States and Europe. Estranged from the West over Ukraine, Mr. Putin will also be in Beijing this week as he seeks economic and political support, trying to upend the international order by fashioning a coalition to resist what both countries view as American arrogance.

Whether that is more for show than for real has set off a vigorous debate in Washington, where some government officials and international specialists dismiss the prospect of a more meaningful alliance between Russia and China because of the fundamental differences between the countries. But others said the Obama administration should take the threat seriously as Moscow pursues energy, financing and military deals with Beijing.

“We are more and more interested in the region that is next to us in Asia,” said Sergei I. Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to Washington. “They are good partners to us.” He added that a recent natural gas deal between Moscow and Beijing was a taste of the future. “It’s just the beginning,” he said, “and you will see more and more projects between us and China.”

The ante, via the Los Angeles Times:

Aging nuclear arsenal grows ever more costly

The nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile has shrunk by 85% since its Cold War peak half a century ago, but the Energy Department is spending nine times more on each weapon that remains. The nuclear arsenal will cost $8.3 billion this fiscal year, up 30% over the last decade.

The source of some of those costs: skyrocketing profits for contractors, increased security costs for vulnerable facilities and massive investments in projects that were later canceled or postponed.

“We are not getting enough for what we are spending, and we are spending more than what we need,” said Roger Logan, a senior nuclear scientist who retired in 2007 from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. “The whole system has failed us.”

The Defense Department’s fleet of submarines, bombers and land-based missiles is also facing obsolescence and will have to be replaced over the next two decades, raising the prospect of further multibillion-dollar cost escalations.

On to drones, first with a partnership from MercoPress:

Anglo-French defence co-operation contract to develop unmanned combat air systems

  • A set of defence co-operation contracts, worth £120 million, for the early phase of a joint development of Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) between the UK and French governments have been awarded in Paris. A UCAS capability would, by the 2030′s, be able to undertake sustained surveillance, mark targets, gather intelligence, deter adversaries and carry out strikes in hostile territory.

The contracts will underpin a two-year Future Combat Air System (FCAS) Feasibility Phase program and will involve six industry partners exploring concepts and options for the potential collaborative acquisition of a UCAS in the future.

The contracts award was jointly announced by Bernard Gray, the Ministry of Defence’s Chief of Defence Materiel and his counterpart, Laurent Collet-Billon, head of the French Directorate General of Armaments.

Mr Gray said that the development of Unmanned Combat Air Systems is of vital importance to the UK and France, “which have the most capable and experienced armed forces in Europe and well-established defence industrial bases”.

On a parallel track with Want China Times:

US must act soon to counter China droning on

Because the United States only allows its unmanned aerial vehicles to be exported to the United Kingdom, American experts fear that China will eventually dominate the global drone market, Washington’s National Interest magazine reports.

The Zhuihai Air Show held in Southern China every two years has attracted the attention of aviation experts from around the world. Beijing invested huge amounts of resources to improve the nation’s drone technology. With those drones displayed in Zhuhai, China seems to be ready to challenge the status quo of global arms control as it begins to catch up to its competition in the overseas market of unmanned aerial vehicles.

Following a report which indicated that China is cooperating with the Algerian military in developing unmanned aerial vehicles, Saudi Arabia announced that it purchased an undisclosed number of Wing Loong drones from China on May.

From the McClatchy Washington Bureau, the very curious:

Judge orders Obama to explain rejection of Chinese bid to buy Oregon wind farms on national security grounds

President Barack Obama and a secretive government committee that vets foreign purchases of American companies must explain to a Chinese-owned firm why they rejected its bid to buy Oregon wind farms, under a new order by a federal judge.

The unprecedented ruling by Amy Berman Jackson, a U.S. judge for the District of Columbia who was nominated by Obama, also requires him to justify withholding any information from the Chinese on grounds of executive privilege, a legal principle that presidents going back to George Washington have claimed.

Jackson’s order was issued under a July mandate from the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled then that Obama had violated the constitutional due process rights of Chinese-owned Ralls Corp. in his September 2012 directive voiding its purchase of an Oregon wind-farm conglomerate.

MercoPress goes undercover:

Former US soccer leader Blazer spied on FIFA as an FBI informant

  • Chuck Blazer, once the most powerful man in US soccer, was an FBI informant used to spy on Fifa, the New York Daily News reports. Blazer, who is now suffering from cancer, secretly recorded conversations with officials he arranged to meet at his London hotel during the 2012 Olympics, the report said.

Union-busting at Scotland Yard, via the Guardian:

Police ‘covered up’ links with union blacklisting

  • Leaked minutes show senior officer met group targeting union activists

Scotland Yard has been accused of seeking to cover up its involvement in the blacklisting of more than 3,200 construction workers following the emergence of minutes of a meeting between a senior officer in its anti-extremism unit and the organisation running the list.

The leaked document proves that as late as 2008 a detective chief inspector in the National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit (Netcu) briefed members of the Consulting Association, the secretive organisation that ran the blacklist keeping people out of work for decades. The association, which had a database of 3,213 names on which it held information, was raided and closed in 2009 by the Information Commissioner’s Office, but not before it destroyed the professional and personal lives of thousands of workers, according to those on the list.

A committee of MPs holding an inquiry into its activities heard evidence that at least two of those blacklisted committed suicide as a result. In 2012 the Information Commissioner’s Office told an employment tribunal that it believed information held in the files was from the police or security services.

From the London Daily Mail, peek-a-boo!:

Is this creepy website live-streaming YOUR living room? 73,000 webcams now viewable to anyone because their owners haven’t set a password

  • Website insecam.com running footage from more than 73,000 cameras
  • A total of 11,000 cameras in the United States are able to be viewed
  • There are 2,422 cameras in the UK which are also providing a live feed
  • Cameras which have not had their factory passwords changed are accessible
  • Users can view businesses, factories, building sites and private homes
  • The site states: ‘you can see into bedrooms of all countries of the world’
  • Easy to stop – just change the password on the camera

A creepy website has collected streaming footage from more than 73,000 cameras around the globe that are connected to the internet, because the owners haven’t changed their default passwords, making them accessible to virtually anyone.

Insecam claims to feature feeds from IP cameras all over the world with more than 11,000 in the U.S. and 2,400 in the UK alone.

Some of the shots are harmless with fly-on-the-wall views of stores, offices and parking lots, but there are also far more personal areas covered by the cameras, with living rooms and bedrooms featured prominently.

From Want China Times, the mal-adroit:

Apple blocks malware targeting Chinese iPhone user

Apple said they have blocked the malware hidden in apps of third-party app stores in China which aim to access information from Chinese iPhone users, Tencent’s online tech news outlet reports.

The malware, dubbed WireLurker, was brought to light by a Silicon Valley-based cyber security company Palo Alto Networks in a report published on Nov. 6. When users downloaded the apps from the third-party app stores in China and installed the apps on their Mac computers, the malware hidden in the apps stole user information from any iOS device, including the iPhone and the iPad, when it was connected to the computer with a USB.

iPhones are relatively safe from malware given the strong firewall protection Apple uses for the phones. Apps that aren’t developed by Apple have to be authorized first and users can only download from Apple’s app store. WireLurker is the first malware capable of invading privacy on iPhones and other iOS devices and it poses a big threat to Chinese Apple users, the tech outlet said.

And from Channel 4 News in Britain, selling you out:

eBay for credit card fraudsters: Thousands of details up for sale

Program notes:

How safe is your money? We’ve discovered that the credit card details of thousands of Britons are being offered for sale on the internet.

After the jump, hard times intolerance in Sweden and Austria, Israel lobby tanks British Labor Party funding, a Chavez ally charged with cartel links, Brazil prepares for war to defend the Amazon, an Israeli Arab general strike over a police shooting, military press censorship proposed in Egypt, protesters seize a Libyan oil port, new anti-gay laws in Uganda, a rare admission by India’s army in deaths of teens, arrested Americans feed by Pyongyang, discouraging words for Hong Kong Occupy activists, Abe confirms a summit in Beijing, Chinese media proclaim a win while China moves forward on a regional economic zone, and echoes from a battle a century past haunt the Beijing/Tokyo axis. . . Continue reading

EbolaWatch: Numbers, money, science, Africa


With the emphasis on coverage from African media.

We begin with that rare bit of news from the lighter side, via the London Telegraph:

Ebola not spread by zombies, says minister

  • International Development Minister Desmond Swayne tells the Commons a constituent believed zombies were responsible for the escalation of ebola

International Development Minister Desmond Swayne has dismissed concerns that Ebola is spread by zombies.

The Tory front-bencher told the Commons he had to enlighten a constituent who believed zombies were responsible for the escalation of the killer virus.

But Mr Swayne noted the “irony” of Ebola is that people are capable of causing infection when they are dead.

More new on the bright side from Voice of America:

Officials: Number of New Ebola Cases in W. Africa Declining

The good news from West Africa began trickling in last week.

The Ebola coordinator at the Guinean Health Ministry said Tuesday in Paris that the numbers of new cases are declining in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

Guinean Health Ministry official Aboubakar Sidiki Diakite said, “The figures are declining because the number of confirmed cases that we had in health care centers, the number also of suspected cases that we had in health care centers, these figures are starting to decline – not in a very significant way, but we realize that these figures are decreasing.”

In Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, a United Nations official in charge of emergency Ebola response confirmed there has been a significant improvement in the fight against the deadly disease.

According to Wednesday’s World Health Organization Ebola Response Roadmap Situation Report [PDF], 13,015 people have contracted Ebola, of whom 4808 have died.

Two contrasting graphics [click on them to enlarge] illustrate the report’s good news and bad. First, the hopeful Bell Curves in Liberia and its capital, Monrovia:

BLOG Liberia

While the ongoing misery continues to accelerate in Sierra Leone and its capital, Freetown:

BLOG Sierra leone

From BBC News, a deplorable lack:

Ebola outbreak: UN ‘lacks resources’ to fight deadly virus

The head of the UN mission charged with fighting Ebola in West Africa has told the BBC he does not yet have the resources necessary to defeat it.

Tony Banbury said more help was urgently needed, despite significant contributions from the UK, China, Cuba and the US.

But he was hopeful of achieving the target of 70% bed space for new cases and 70% safe burials by December.

The confirmed death toll is now 4,818, says the World Health Organization. The numbers are down since the WHO previously reported figures last Friday, as it says it has changed the way the figures are collated.

But it said in the countries worst affected by the outbreak – Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea – transmission remained “persistent and widespread, particularly in the capital cities”.

Putting politicians on the spot with before the congressional red shift, via the New York Times:

Obama to Ask Congress for $6 Billion to Fight Ebola

President Obama is asking Congress for just over $6 billion in emergency funding to combat Ebola in West Africa and protect Americans from the virus in the United States, an administration official said Wednesday.

The request comes just after the midterm congressional elections on Tuesday in which Republicans took control of the Senate, dealing devastating losses to Democrats across the country and a rebuke to Mr. Obama that will complicate his efforts to advance his agenda.

The White House described the proposal as a chance for collaboration between the president and Capitol Hill.

And a question from National Journal:

Is Ebola Funding One Thing the White House and Congress Can Agree On?

  • With a new $6 billion request to Congress, the administration sure hopes so

Tensions are high between the White House and Congress following Tuesday’s elections, but the Obama administration is confident it’s found one area where Democrats and Republicans can still work together: fighting Ebola.

In a huge scale-up in funding requests, the administration is asking Congress for $6.18 billion in emergency funding for the federal government’s Ebola response efforts. And administration officials remain optimistic that a deal will be worked out—fast.

“It’s clear to us thus far that this is being taken seriously as an emergency,” said Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan on Thursday. “We’ve been pleased so far with the engagement seen on both sides of the aisle.”

AJ+, Al Jazeera America’s new YouTube channel, covers another sad reality:

Why Pharmaceutical Companies Are Ignoring Tropical Diseases Like Ebola

Program notes:

Only 1% of medicines developed in the last 40 years were made to fight tropical diseases. Ethan Guillen, from Universities Allied for Essential Medicines, explains why it’s no mistake that these diseases have been neglected.

The run for the cure with the Associated Press:

US officials unveil plan to test Ebola drugs

The quest for an Ebola treatment is picking up speed. Federal officials have unveiled a plan to test multiple drugs at once, in an umbrella study with a single comparison group to give fast answers on what works.

“This is novel for us” and is an approach pioneered by cancer researchers, said Dr. Luciana Borio, head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Ebola response. “We need to learn what helps and what hurts” and speed treatments to patients, she said.

She outlined the plan Wednesday at an American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene conference in New Orleans. Thousands of scientists have crowded into day and late-night sessions on Ebola, which has killed 5,000 West Africans this year.

One promising entrant from NBC News:

Nose Spray Ebola Vaccine Protects Monkeys

A needle-free Ebola vaccine protects monkeys 100 percent of the time from the virus, even a year after they’ve been vaccinated, researchers reported Monday.

The vaccine uses a common cold virus genetically engineered to carry a tiny piece of Ebola DNA. Sprayed up the nose, it saved all nine monkeys tested for infection.

But now the research is dead in the water without funding, Maria Croyle of the University of Texas at Austin’s College of Pharmacy said.

“Now we are at the crossroads, trying to figure out where to get the funding and resources to continue,” Croyle told NBC News.

A Spanish healer healed, via El País:

“I don’t know what went wrong, or if anything went wrong”

  • Nursing assistant who contracted Ebola speaks after doctors discharge her
  • Medical team admits they can’t pinpoint what cured Teresa Romero

The Spanish nursing assistant who became the first person outside of West Africa to contract Ebola appeared before the press on Wednesday morning after being discharged from hospital. After more than a month of treatment, Teresa Romero has been given the definitive all-clear by her medical team.

An emotional but at all times in control Romero appeared before a press scrum at Carlos III Hospital in Madrid, where she spent nearly the whole of October in isolation. Also present at the press conference was her husband Javier Limón.

“I’m here to give you my thanks, but I’m still very weak,” Romero said, before reading a statement in which she thanked her doctors, her family and the public for their messages and letters of support.

“I don’t know what went wrong,” she said in reference to her infection. “I don’t even know if something did go wrong. All I know is that I’m not bitter and I’m not blaming anyone.”

From CBC News’s The National, deplorable and deplored:

World Health Organization condemns Canada’s freeze on visas from Ebola affected countries

Program notes:

WHO demanded Canada justify the move that few other nations have made.

Profit potential from Want China Times:

Ebola outbreak sends demand for protective gear rocketing

As China sends more aid to Ebola-plagued West Africa, medical equipment suppliers are rushing to meet the soaring global demand for protective products.

Protective gear such as coveralls, gloves and goggles are essential supplies in the battle against the deadly virus, with Chinese suppliers seeing a wave of orders from concerned countries.

Gao Yan, a sales manager of Crown Name Disposable Hygiene Products, based in Hubei province, said since the outbreak of the epidemic, the firm has received an influx of inquiries on orders. “People are calling from everywhere, asking whether we have anything in stock,” Gao told Xinhua at the Canton Fair, the country’s largest trade event.

Aid money, via the Associated Press:

Ebola countries to get $450 million in financing

A new private sector initiative announced Wednesday will provide at least $450 million in commercial financing to the three West African countries hardest hit by Ebola to promote trade, investment and employment.

The International Finance Corporation, which is part of the World Bank Group, announced that the package will include $250 million in rapid response projects and at least $200 million in investment projects to support the economic recovery of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea after the Ebola outbreak is controlled.

The announcement coincides with the U.N. Development Program’s release of a study on the socio-economic impact of the outbreak, which found that the governments of the three countries need $328 million to be able to function at pre-crisis levels. The study said the shortfalls are caused by increased spending to tackle Ebola and the slowdown of economic activity in fields such as tourism, mining and trade.

More aid, via Reuters:

EU scheme commits $350 mln for research on Ebola vaccines, tests

The Europe Union and drugmakers pledged on Thursday to invest 280 million euros ($350 million) in Ebola research, with the lion’s share going to the testing and manufacture of potential vaccines.

The funding will go to projects backed by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), a public-private scheme jointly paid for by the European Commission and the pharmaceuticals industry.

Reuters reported on Oct. 22 that an IMI investment of around 200 million euros was pending. Since then, further discussions have been held about the resources needed for various projects and the amount has been increased.

The final document setting out the plans commits the European Commission to giving as much as 140 million euros, with companies providing an equivalent amount in staff time, goods and services.

Aid by the Like from the Star in Nairobi, Kenya:

Facebook launches Ebola charity donation button

Facebook Inc said users would now have option to donate directly to various Ebola relief charities through a button at the top of their News Feeds.

Facebook users can donate to three charities – International Medical Corps, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and Save the Children – starting today, the company said on its website on Thursday. (http://bit.ly/1pqeRUq)

The social media company is also donating 100 terminals to provide internet and voice-calling access for aid workers to Ebola-hit areas such as Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Help from above via SciDev.Net:

Space agency alliance joins the struggle against Ebola

An international collaboration of space agencies that provides free satellite imagery and data to assist disaster responses is now supporting efforts to control the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa.

When the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters was activated on 9 October it was the first time it had been triggered in response to a disease outbreak.

The charter has previously only been activated to help map areas in response to natural disasters such as typhoons.

In the Ebola context, satellite data could assist attempts to find out where the virus originated and help produce maps useful for coordinating medical responses.

Japanese precautions from the Asahi Shimbun:

Ministries move to quell fears over Ebola with new policy

To avoid creating public hysteria over the spread of the Ebola virus, information on arriving passengers suspected to be carriers of the deadly disease will be promptly disclosed.

The health and land ministries decided on the policy change following a case late last month in which a passenger arrived in Tokyo showing signs of fever, but later tested negative.

The ministries said Nov. 4 they will immediately release information on potential victims of the virus, including age bracket, gender and specific symptoms, as well as the air carrier and flight number of the aircraft the individual used.

Previously, the government would only disclose such information after a passenger was confirmed to be infected.

And from News Corp Australia, barely horrified:

Ebola scare on nudist beach as refugees turn up on Canary Islands with fever

HOLIDAYING nudists on a Spanish beach fled when a boatload of sick refugees from Africa decided to make a surprise visit.

Local media reports the migrants were kept huddled together while Red Cross workers cordoned off the area and began taking temperatures while wearing protective gear.

A number of the 17 men and two women showed signs of fever including one who had a temperature of 40 degrees. Some said they were from Guinea and Sierra Leone – both Ebola hotspots.

After a few hours, the authorities used a dump truck to collect the group from Maspalomas beach and take them away to a holding centre, which angered some locals. None of the refugees tested positive for the deadly virus, but four were taken to hospital with other health issues.

Replacement at the top from the New York Times:

Amid Ebola Disaster, WHO Picks New Africa Chief

With nearly 5,000 dead of Ebola in West Africa, the World Health Organization elected a new director Wednesday of its Africa office, which has been accused of bungling the response to the outbreak in its early stages.

The new chief, Matshidiso Moeti, is a doctor from Botswana and a WHO veteran who stepped down as deputy director for Africa in March, the same month the crisis was announced.

The results of the five-candidate election were made public at a meeting of the U.N. agency in Benin and came amid the worst outbreak of the dreaded disease ever seen.

And a plea from the Vanguard in Lagos, Nigeria:

W.Africa urges tourists to keep visiting despite Ebola

West African tourist chiefs urged travellers on Wednesday not to boycott their region because of the Ebola crisis, insisting that the epidemic was only affecting three countries in a vast continent.

“Africa is not a country, Africa is a continent,” said Ola Wright, the chief executive of West Africa Tourism, warning that fear over Ebola in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone was having a damaging impact on neighbouring countries.

The deadly virus has brought an abrupt and indefinite halt to international tourism in those three affected countries, where almost 5,000 people have died in the outbreak.

But tourism has been affected across the region and even in east and southern Africa, which are thousands of miles (kilometres) away and have not reported Ebola cases.

After the jump, West Africa mobilizes regional defenses and names a coordinator, an educational campaign in Mali, then on to Sierra Leone where things are getting worse, a chief cries for help, new treatment centers open, Australia finally vows to send medical help to staff a new British-built treatment center [but there’s less to the vow than meets the eye or ear], presidential pleas for help and food, disturbing allegations, and a crackdown on the press amidst hints of a coming crackdown, thence onward to Liberia with the press also under siege, America opens a new treatment center for sick medical workers only, China prepares to build a treatment center, life begins to return to normal as clubbing rebounds — but beach goers are threatened with “severe floggings,” U.S. medics to treat Ebola patients directly, food aid stolen, major public awareness campaigns underway, a deplorable lack of infrastructure, and a plea for investors to return, on to Guinea and advice ignored, thence to Nigeria and reassurance aplenty. . .
Continue reading