Category Archives: Europe

InSecurityWatch: Spies, war, threats, terror


First up, via the London Telegraph, opportunity knocks:

GCHQ employs more than 100 dyslexic and dyspraxic spies

  • The British intelligence agency uses dyslexics’ ability to analyse complex information in a ‘dispassionate, logical and analytical’ in the fight against terror

While many people with dyslexia struggle with reading or writing, they are often extremely skilled at deciphering facts from patterns or events.

IT specialist Matt, 35, chairman of the dyslexic and dyspraxic support community at GCHQ, told The Sunday Times: “What people don’t realise is that people with neuro diversity usually have a ‘spikyskills’ profile, which means that certain skill areas will be below par and others may be well above,” he said.

“My reading might be slower than some individuals and maybe my spelling is appalling, and my handwriting definitely is … but if you look at the positive side, my 3D spacial-perception awareness and creativity is in the top 1% of my peer group.”

From the Christian Science Monitor, hints of escalations ahead:

Obama vows to strike Syrian regime if US jets attacking IS are targeted

The Obama administration said it would destroy Syria’s air defenses if they fire on US planes attacking Islamic State militants inside Syria. The White House says it won’t coordinate airstrikes with Damascus.

The Obama administration has threatened to destroy the Syrian government’s air defenses if US warplanes flying missions to attack militants in Syria are targeted over the country’s air space.

The public threat is an example of the difficult waters Mr. Obama is wading into with his plan to “destroy” the self-styled Islamic State, which is fighting to unseat Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The White House insists that its effort will neither help Mr. Assad nor involve his cooperation, more than three years into Syria’s civil war.

Syrian war-planes and helicopters are already flying missions against IS and other rebel groups, and without coordination between Syrian and US forces, the risk of accidental engagements is high.

Reuters covers an exodus:

Islamic State closes in on Syrian town, refugees flood into Turkey

Islamic State militants tightened their noose on a northern Syrian border town on Sunday as the United Nations said the number of Syrian Kurds fleeing into neighbouring Turkey may have topped 100,000 and was likely to go much higher.

Residents fleeing the frontier town of Ayn al-Arab, known in Kurdish as Kobani, and its surrounding villages said the militants were executing people of all ages in the areas they had seized to create a climate of fear and slavish obedience.

Kurdish politicians in Turkey renewed their appeal to young people in the country’s mainly Kurdish southeast to head to Kobani to help their ethnic kin push back Islamic State, which has seized swathes of Iraq and Syria in recent months and proclaimed a caliphate in the heart of the Middle East.

Deutsche Welle covers a consequence:

Security clashes with Kurds on Turkey-Syria border

Turkish troops have fired water cannon and tear gas at Kurdish demonstrators during clashes on the Turkey-Syria border. Some 70,000 Syrians fleeing the “Islamic State” have now crossed into Turkey, the UN says.

Kurds on the Turkey-Syrian border came under fire from water cannon and tear gas during clashes with Turkish security forces on Sunday. Turkish troops were attempting to disperse crowds of Kurds, which had gathered in support of fellow Kurds fleeing an “Islamic State” (IS) offensive across the border from Syria.

The clashes took place at a barbed wire border fence just five kilometers from the town of Ayn al-Arab, where Kurdish fighters are holding off jihadists.

Hundreds of young demonstrators responded by hurling rocks at security forces. Police said security forces had been trying to prevent Kurdish fighters entering Syria, but local television reported that Kurds had been trying to take aid into Syria.

An ex-spook’s reservation with the Observer:

UK urged to avoid direct military action in Syria

  • Former MI6 intelligence director Nigel Inkster warns against joining military action that could anger Assad allies

Nigel Inkster, a former deputy head of MI6, said that, although empowering rebel forces was sensible, the UK should not be tempted to join any potential military action in Syria which would antagonise the allies of President Bashar al-Assad, such as Russia. Britain has not ruled out air strikes in Iraq or Syria, but it has said targeting Isis positions in Syria would be complicated.

Inkster said: “Military activity that takes place in Iraq will take place with the consent of the Iraqi government. In the case of Syria, that is not the case … any such activity would technically be an act of war.

“You can be confident that Assad’s allies would be very quick to make this point. But from a military perspective the logic of such an engagement is inevitable because ultimately Syria is where this force needs to be defeated. The emphasis has to be on local actors, enabling local Syrian actors. They had some success previously [against Isis] but then they had logistical problems, running out of equipment just at the point Isis was acquiring new supplies.”

Another force has joined the fight against ISIS, Anonymous. The first half of this France 24 segment features an interview with one of the campaign’s organization’s [the other half is about the new iPhone, sorry]:

Anonymous Vs ISIS

Program notes:

This week #TECH24 brings you an EXCLUSIVE interview with Anonymous on why (and how) the collective decided to join the fight against the ‘Islamic State’ Group. Also in this edition: a test of the new iPhone6 and iPhone6 Plus.

ISIS continued its own war on the media report, with Sky News covering the latest barrage:

IS Releases Gruesome Full-Length Film

  • The 55-minute film, which uses special effects, graphics and slow-motion replays, shows captives digging their own graves

The propaganda war being waged by Islamic State militants has intensified, with the release of a full-length documentary-style film entitled Flames of War: Fighting Has Just Begun.

The 55-minute video uploaded to the internet celebrates the campaign in Iraq and Syria and shows captured Syrian soldiers digging their own graves before being shot dead.

A masked IS fighter with a North American accent addresses the camera and claims to be in a captured army base. “We’re here with the soldiers of Bashar, you can see them now digging their own graves where they were stationed,” he says.

More from Canada’s National Post:

ISIS urges jihadists to attack Canadians: ‘You will not feel secure in your bedrooms’

The spokesman for the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham called for attacks on Canadians on Sunday in an apparent attempt to deter members of the military alliance that has formed to challenge the terrorist group.

In a 42-minute audio speech, Abu Muhammad Al-Adnani urged ISIS supporters to kill Canadians, Americans, Australians, French and other Europeans, regardless of whether they were civilians or members of the military.

“Rely upon Allah, and kill him in any manner or way however it may be. Do not ask for anyone’s advice and do not seek anyone’s verdict. Kill the disbeliever whether he is civilian or military, for they have the same ruling,” he said.

 

And the New York Times covers a certain mistrust:

Suspicions Run Deep in Iraq That C.I.A. and the Islamic State Are United

The United States has conducted an escalating campaign of deadly airstrikes against the extremists of the Islamic State for more than a month. But that appears to have done little to tamp down the conspiracy theories still circulating from the streets of Baghdad to the highest levels of Iraqi government that the C.I.A. is secretly behind the same extremists that it is now attacking.

“We know about who made Daesh,” said Bahaa al-Araji, a deputy prime minister, using an Arabic shorthand for the Islamic State on Saturday at a demonstration called by the Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr to warn against the possible deployment of American ground troops. Mr. Sadr publicly blamed the C.I.A. for creating the Islamic State in a speech last week, and interviews suggested that most of the few thousand people at the demonstration, including dozens of members of Parliament, subscribed to the same theory. (Mr. Sadr is considered close to Iran, and the theory is popular there as well.)

When an American journalist asked Mr. Araji to clarify if he blamed the C.I.A. for the Islamic State, he retreated: “I don’t know. I am one of the poor people,” he said, speaking fluent English and quickly stepping back toward the open door of a chauffeur-driven SUV. “But we fear very much. Thank you!”

From the Register, eavesdropping expectations across The Pond:

New UK.gov DATA SLURPING diplomat to push US telcos to share more subscriber info

  • When a DRIP becomes a flood

The British government has appointed a senior diplomat who will act as a go-between on overseas data access jurisdiction issues, to push communication providers – particularly those based in the US – to share more information with UK spooks.

The new post, created by Prime Minister David Cameron, comes after Whitehall pushed what it said was “emergency legislation” through Parliament in July this year.

At the time, Cameron convinced MPs that the rushed Data Retention and Investigatory Powers (DRIP) Act was needed to “preserve” surveillance tactics used by intelligence agencies and police forces in the UK.

From CBC News, the leaks continue:

Nude celebrity photo leak: More images posted to online forums

  • Leak appears connected to dozens of photos uploaded in early September

More nude photographs of celebrities were leaked online Saturday in what appears to be the second release of material from a hacker who posted intimate images of dozens of celebrities on an internet forum earlier this month.

Among the victims of the most recent leak were reality television star Kim Kardashian, actor Vanessa Hudgens and U.S. national women’s soccer team goalie Hope Solo. Previously unreleased photos of celebrities included in the last leak, such as Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence and The Big Bang Theory star Kaley Cuoco, were posted as well.

According to multiple media outlets, the images first appeared Saturday morning on the site 4Chan, and were also posted by users on Reddit, but were quickly deleted by site administrators.

And then there’s Texas, where King Leer reigns supreme. From Vice News:

Court Ruling Makes Taking Pictures Up Women’s Skirts Legal in Texas

The highest criminal court in Texas reversed a state law this week that prevented people from taking pictures up women’s skirts in public.

The law, which banned  “improper photography or visual recording,” with the “intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person,” was deemed an unconstitutional violation of First Amendment rights to free speech and individual thought.

The act of secretly capturing lurid photography, usually aimed up women’s skirts, is commonly known as “upskirting,” and the photos are sometimes called “creepshots.” Whatever the term used to describe it, the practice is now legal in the Lone Star State after an 8-1 ruling by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

After the jump, paramilitarizing police under investigation, an old school data takedown in Indonesia, Game of Zones trade consequences, a Sino/Iranian naval exercise, and an anti-American base protest in Japan. . . Continue reading

EbolaWatch: Lockdowns and street sweepers


We begin with two video reports, first from the London Telegraph:

God help us: a day on duty with Liberia’s doctors fighting Ebola

Program notes:

Liberia’s exhausted doctors are struggling to cope with the number of Ebola cases, which has far outstripped the capacity of the country’s war-ravaged health service.

Nearly half the patients admitted to Liberia’s JFK Ebola clinic in Monrovia die. A grim statistic by normal clinic standards, it is considerably better than the 70-90 per cent rates reported at the start of the outbreak, thanks to more people coming forward in the early stages of symptoms.

While treatment is simply a matter of keeping patients fed and hydrated in the hope that they fight the virus off, clinics like this are overwhelmed by demand. In this 35-bed facility, doctors are currently treating 69 people. Half of them are on the floor.

“There isn’t even adequate corridor space for us to walk between them. But if we turn them back into the community, they will infect other people,” says Dr J Soka Moses, the hospital’s clinical director.

Of the 2,200 Ebola deaths across West Africa so far, 40 per cent have been in Liberia. Aid agencies warn that up to 20,000 West Africans could have the virus by the end of the year.

On Tuesday, Washington announced it would be sending 3,000 US troops to Liberia in coming weeks to boost the medical effort.

Video by Will Wintercross

Next, from the American government’s Voice of America comes grim prognostication:

Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Program notes:

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA’s Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.

On to a countrywide lockdown with the Associated Press:

Sierra Leone reaches final day of Ebola lockdown

Frustrated residents complained of food shortages in some neighborhoods of Sierra Leone’s capital on Sunday as the country reached the third and final day of a sweeping, unprecedented lockdown designed to combat the deadly Ebola disease, volunteers said.

While most residents welcomed teams of health care workers and volunteers bearing information about the disease, rumors persisted in pockets of the city that poisoned soap was being distributed, suggesting that public education campaigns had not been entirely successful.

The streets of the capital, Freetown, were again mostly deserted on Sunday in compliance with a government order for the country’s 6 million residents to stay in their homes.

And as the lockdown neared the end of its third day, Sky News had numbers to report:

Ebola Lockdown: 92 Bodies Found In Sierra Leone

  • A three-day lockdown in Sierra Leone to combat the ebola epidemic leads to the identification of dozens of new infections

Ninety-two bodies and at least 56 new infections have been discovered in Sierra Leone during a nationwide ebola lockdown.

The three-day lockdown came into effect on Friday and is aimed at stemming the worst ebola epidemic on record. The country’s six million residents have been ordered to stay indoors as volunteers circulate to educate people about the outbreak and isolate the sick.

Stephen Gaojia, head of the Emergency Operations Centre which leads the ebola response, said the lockdown is likely to be extended. “There is a very strong possibility it will be extended,” Mr Gaojia said.

But some questions remain about whether or not the lockdown continues, since the Associated Press is reporting that it’s over

Sierra Leone concludes nationwide Ebola lockdown

Frustrated residents complained of food shortages in some neighborhoods of Sierra Leone’s capital on Sunday as the country reached the third and final day of a sweeping, unprecedented lockdown designed to combat the deadly Ebola disease, volunteers said.

While most residents welcomed teams of health care workers and volunteers bearing information about the disease, rumors persisted in pockets of the city that poisoned soap was being distributed, suggesting that public education campaigns had not been entirely successful.

The streets of the capital, Freetown, were again mostly deserted on Sunday in compliance with a government order for the country’s 6 million residents to stay in their homes.

And Star Africa News offers advice:

Sierra Leone official urges another lockdown

The deputy head of a Sierra Leone government agency responsible for attitudinal change Sunday called for another round of national lockdown to deal with the Ebola epidemic.Ms Nanette Thomas, Coordinator of the Attitudinal and Behavioral Change (ABC) Secretariat, who is second in command in the office, said another round of a nationwide shutdown will help build on the
shortfall of the September 19 – 21 exercise.

A number of people have complained about the slow response to emerging issues, including burial of dead bodies discovered during the last two days.

There were also reports of delays in response to the emergency 117 call to collect sick people.

A video report on the lockdown from CCTV Africa:

More Ebola Victims Discovered following Sierra Leone’s 3 day Lockdown

Program notes:

The third and last day of lockdown is under way in Sierra Leone. Thousands of health workers are going door to door to educate people about Ebola and hand out soap. The lockdown’s also been put in place so new victims can be identified, and it looks like it’s yielding results. CCTV’s Susan Mwongeli reports

And from Star Africa News, another unfortunate consequence:

There is absolutely no price stability in Sierra Leone, a sorry legacy of the destructive civil war. But the Ebola epidemic has taken it to new heights.

The government’s defence has always been that the country is operating a liberal economy and so it cannot regulate prices, leaving businessman to go for the kill.

Commodities as common as pepper have increased in prices by 300 percent within the last few months. The price for a small cup of pepper used to be Le2000 ($0.4). Now it fetches for as high as Le 10, 000 ($2) a cup.

The lowest quality rice that used to cost Le 130, 000 ($30) per 50Kg bag, now costs Le160, 000 ($37). Higher qualities of rice cost as much as Le 300000 ($70).

On a regional level, officials of the 16-member Economic Community Of West African States are rethinking their strategy for handling the outbreak, reports Punch Nigeria:

ECOWAS seeks fresh approach to tackle Ebola

The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Kadre Desire Ouedraogo, has called for a fresh approach to deal with the spread of the Ebola disease.

In line with this approach, he cautioned member states against taking unilateral actions capable of thwarting regional efforts to contain the spread of the disease.

Ouedraogo gave the warning at a dinner with media representatives, in Abuja, on Friday night.

From the Washington Informer, more concerns:

Ebola Weakens Already Fragile Nations

As the Ebola virus decimates their beloved country, Liberian ambassador to the United States Jeremiah C. Sulunteh and Marion Parker Cassell Nelson watch with horror and growing concern.

Since March, the tiny West African country has emerged as ground zero for Ebola, with the vast majority of cases and fatalities occurring there. According to the World Health Organization, the outbreak has infected more than 4,900 West Africans and killed 2,400.

Over the last several days, WHO senior officials have warned that the virus will continue to spread exponentially in Liberia, as thousands of new cases are expected to come to light over the next three weeks.

“Some time in March, the government was able to discover Ebola that we understand started in Guinea,” said Sulunteh during a Sept. 13 interview. “With porous borders, Ebola spread to Lofa County. Liberian people were still in a state of denial. A lot of people took it for granted, didn’t take it seriously.”

An unusual front line regiment honored, from Punch Nigeria:

LASG commends street sweepers for Ebola containment

The Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, says the government was able to contain the Ebola Virus Disease as a result of the high standard of environmental sanitation in the state.

Fashola, who spoke on Saturday at the Onikan Stadium, Lagos, added that the result was due to the contribution of the state’s street sweepers who had been keeping the state clean in the last six years.

The governor, at the 6th Annual Training Workshop for Street Sweepers, noted that the state had no previous experience of what to do with EVD in an urban centre as all other experiences had happened in rural areas.

He said, “But you (street sweepers) were our first line of defence for our Ebola resistance. You are our sanitation ambassadors and this is the work you have continued to do.

“But for the high standard of environmental sanitation that you have helped us to achieve over the last six years, the battle to contain Ebola would have been more difficult. As of midnight on Thursday, September 18, 2014, Lagos became Ebola-free.”

Punch Nigeria again, with school bells silenced:

Ebola: No school resumption today in Lagos, 14 other states

Pupils in at least 15 states in the country will not return to their classrooms today as directed by the Federal Government.

This is because in most of the states, teachers are insisting that safety measures must be put in place to protect them and their pupils from contracting the deadly Ebola Virus Disease.

In some of the states like Lagos and Ogun, the governments opted not to comply with the September 22 date until necessary Ebola safety kits were put in place in their schools. Also, the gates of the 104 Unity Schools in the country will be shut from today as their teachers commence an industrial action.

The other states where normal academic activities will not resume   are Rivers, Oyo, Ekiti, Osun, Benue, Niger, Zamfara, Adamawa, Kano, Kwara, Kogi, Akwa Ibom and Ebonyi states.

Teachers in Lagos will be on duty today but pupils will remain at home until October 8.

And from Punch Nigeria again, vigilance:

Ebola: All eyes on borders, ports

Two months after the late index case, Mr. Patrick Sawyer sneaked into Nigeria, the last patient has been discharged from the Infectious Disease Hospital, Lagos, and the cameras are clicking away. Cheering news that more secondary contacts of the index case are also being discharged from surveillance has given Nigeria a little reprieve. However, stakeholders are warning that eternal vigilance is mandatory if the nightmare is not to happen again.

Only last week, the World Health Organisation reported 700 new cases from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. The development has raised concerns from stakeholders who have opined that it is not time yet to shout eureka.

Speaking at a recent media parley, the Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, said the country could not afford to be complacent as long as a single case of the disease existed in any part of the world.

Reuters covers another European evacuated:

Spain to repatriate from Sierra Leone priest diagnosed with Ebola

Spain on Sunday sent a military plane to Sierra Leone to repatriate a Spanish Catholic priest working in the African country who has tested positive for the Ebola virus, the government said.

Spain’s health ministry said in a statement that Manuel Garcia Viejo, a member of the Hospital Order of San Juan de Dios, worked in the Western city of Lunsar.

He is the second Spanish priest to be diagnosed with Ebola after Miguel Pajares, also a member of San Juan de Dios, who died last month after being brought back to Spain from Liberia.

And from DutchNews.nl, good news/bad news for another European:

Dutch ebola doctor actually has malaria

One of the two doctors brought back to the Netherlands after coming into connect with ebola patients in Sierra Leone actually has malaria, a spokesman for the public health institute RIVM said on Sunday.

‘The doctor was admitted to hospital with a temperature on Saturday evening – which is a sign of both ebola and malaria,’ the spokesman said. ‘Tests have shown he has malaria.’

The two doctors worked for the Lion Heart Foundation at a hospital in Sierra Leone. They arrived back in the Netherlands a week ago.

Want China Times offers diagnostic assistance:

Portable Ebola testing kits developed in China

A Chinese health researcher said on Friday that China has successfully produced portable kits to help with Ebola virus testing.

The kits use a diagnostic method based on viral RNA detection. They will be easier to use compared to lab testing, according to Li Dexin, a research fellow of the National Institute for Viral Disease Control and Prevention under the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Chinese researchers have worked with France’s Pasteur Institute and conducted tests on the product, which has the ability to test for the Ebola virus through viral RNA, antigen and antibody detection methods and will be used in Sierra Leone.

And the Guardian covers social adjustment:

‘Ebola makes you a risk to yourself: touching your face can infect you’

As Sierra Leoneans endure a lockdown to contain the virus, Monica Mark reports from Freetown on her own anxiety visiting hospitals and villages, and the key role of charities in fighting the epidemic

In a country where more than 500 have died after six months of Ebola – which is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids – the “no touching” rule has become the norm. At the beginning of my 10-day trip to Sierra Leone, I went to shake a friend’s hand. He threw himself back against the wall with a panic that would have been comical if not for the fear on his face. Such reactions soon became as routine as having my temperature taken at road checkpoints and washing my hands in buckets of chlorinated water found everywhere.

I had only one more lapse. On my third day I was at the Médecins Sans Frontières treatment centre with my sister Katie, a documentary film-maker who was accompanying me, when I reached out to tuck a wisp of her hair that had come loose. The act was so natural, I didn’t even think about it. Suddenly a medic yelled across the field hospital: “No touching!”

The paranoia that seized me then didn’t leave until I returned home. Unlike other hostile situations I’ve covered over five years in west Africa – riots, wars and natural disasters – in this case people I cared about were the enemy. Ebola makes you a risk even to yourself: touching your eyes, nose or mouth can infect you. Now a stranger in a hospital was hugging me.

Finally, from Star Africa News, hopeful news in an isolated outbreak:

Ebola epidemic losing potency – DRC gov’t

The Ebola epidemic plaguing Djera, in the Equateur province northwest of the Democratic Republic of Congo is on the verge of being contained, government spokesman Lambert Mende claimed.Speaking after Saturday’s cabinet meeting held in Kinshasa under the leadership of President Joseph Kabila, Mr. Mende said some success has been registered by the Congolese government and its partners to contain the epidemic where it was first detected 1200 km from the capital with a reduced infection rate.

Over the past ten days, no new cases of Ebola have been detected in Djera, Mende noted.

DR Congo has recorded 40 deaths since the Ebola outbreak in the area as of September 17, he added.

Quote of the day: On the eurocratic elites


From  Antonis Karakousis, writing in the Athenian paper To Vima:

Europe is being governed by an army of political officers and well-educated bureaucrats, with a similar political direction and almost common culture.

They are paid well, live the life of Riley in Brussels, Strasbourg, Frankfurt and elsewhere, they have deified neoliberalism and tend to resemble bank and multinational business group executives who felt like little kings before the bubble burst, believing that the groups they served belonged to them rather than shareholders.

Dominated by the riches, self-indulgent life and unique power, the European elite feels that Europe belongs to them, forgetting that it belongs to its people and that this cycle only exists to serve them. The distortion is obvious, apparent to the naked eye.

This is apparent from the uniform fatwas that they occasionally issue, which do not take into consideration the peculiarities or special circumstances of each country. In many cases, hidden behind the thick and complicated lines, are malicious and lawless pursuits, which subvert the European ideal.

Read the rest.

InSecurityWatch: War, warnings, spooks, cops


We open with more evidence of Cold War 2.0 from the Los Angeles Times:

NATO nuclear drawdown now seems unlikely

Last summer in Berlin, President Obama called for “bold reductions” in U.S. and Russian tactical nuclear weapons to ease the risk of annihilation in Europe.

Obama was referring to the roughly 200 B61 nuclear bombs that the U.S. has deployed in five NATO nations stretching from the Netherlands to Turkey — as well as an even larger Russian arsenal estimated at 2,000 tactical weapons.

But since last summer, that hopeful outlook has evaporated. Russia’s incursions into Ukraine and nuclear threats made by Russian President Vladimir Putin have killed any chance that the U.S. would withdraw its tactical nuclear weapons any time soon.

“Withdrawing our relatively few weapons would be the absolute wrong signal at this moment,” said James Stavridis, the retired U.S. admiral who served as NATO chief until 2013 and is now dean of the Fletcher School of international affairs at Tufts University.

While those with the missiles have woes of their own, via the San Diego Union-Tribune:

Executive officer of USS Cowpens relieved of duties

The Navy announced Friday that the executive officer of the San Diego-based USS Cowpens has been relieved of his duties, the third member of the ship’s leadership team to be ousted in 2014.

Cmdr. Armando Ramirez lost his position on the guided-missile cruiser on Sept. 18 due to an “alcohol-related incident,” the Navy said in a statement.

On June 10, the Navy ousted the ship’s commanding officer, Capt. Gregory W. Gombert, and Master Chief Petty Officer Gabriel J. Keeton, the ship’s command master chief. The reason given at the time was poor ship conditions.

The 567-foot Cowpens, nicknamed Mighty Moo, returned to San Diego in April from a seven-month deployment to the Western Pacific.

A Navy investigation made public in August said that during the middle of the deployment, Gombert retreated to his cabin for several weeks for a health-related seclusion, and that he had an improper relationship with the cruiser’s acting executive officer.

From the horrific to the ludicrous with the Guardian:

‘Terror doodles’ prompt removal of Australian man from Tiger flight

  • Interior designer, 28, wrote ‘Terrorismadeup’ in notebook
  • Australian government set to introduce new terror powers

An Australian man claimed he was taken off a commercial flight on Saturday after doodles he was making in a notebook were deemed to represent a terrorist threat.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Tiger Airways staff escorted Oliver Buckworth, a 28-year-old Melbourne-based interior designer, from a flight bound for the Gold Coast after a passenger reported the doodles.

Australian Federal Police said they had “responded to a request for assistance” from Tiger Airways. The Herald said it had seen a page of the notebook in question, which contained the sentence: “In a land of melting ice-creams, sandy feet and fluffy bears, how could anyone be fearful of terrorism.”

BBC News covers mass flight:

Syria crisis: 66,000 ‘flee Islamic State’ into Turkey

Some 66,000 refugees – mainly Syrian Kurds – have crossed into Turkey in 24 hours, officials say, as Islamic State militants advance in northern Syria.

Turkey opened its border on Friday to Syrians fleeing the Kurdish town of Kobane in fear of an IS attack.

The UN refugee agency said it was boosting relief efforts as hundreds of thousands more could cross the border.

While the Associated Press covers curious flight:

Turkish hostages freed, but questions linger

Turkish authorities say they have freed 49 hostages from one of the world’s most ruthless militant groups without firing a shot, paying a ransom or offering a quid pro quo.

But as the well-dressed men and women captured by the Islamic State group more than three months ago clasped their families Saturday on the tarmac of the Turkish capital’s airport, experts had doubts about the government’s story.

The official explanation “sounds a bit too good to be true,” said Sinan Ulgen, a former Turkish diplomat who chairs the Istanbul-based Centre for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies. “There are some very legitimate and unanswered questions about how this happened.”

More from the McClatchy Foreign Staff:

Islamic State releases 49 hostages to Turkey

The 49 were taken hostage at the Turkish mission in Mosul, Iraq, the day the city fell to the Islamic State. They were held in or near Mosul during their entire 101 days of captivity, Turkish officials told McClatchy, then driven into Syria Friday night, where they released early Saturday morning in Tal Abyad, a border town.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu broke off a trip to Azerbaijan and flew to Sanliurfa in southern Turkey to greet the hostages, who arrived at the airport in two buses with the window curtains drawn.

The hostages, who included consul general Ozturk Yilmaz, other diplomats, their spouses, two infants, as well as special forces soldiers, appeared in remarkably good condition when they arrived at Sanliurfa airport _ the men in jackets and ties and the women in freshly pressed dresses. Most of the men had grown beards, but all were well-groomed.

Terrorism woes in Malaysia via Channel NewsAsia Singapore:

PM Lee highlights IS, rising nationalism in Asia as international concerns

At a dialogue session on Saturday (Sep 20), Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the Islamic State militant group in the Middle East and rising nationalism in Asia as key worries on the international front

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has outlined two key worries on the international front – the Islamic State (IS) militant group in the Middle East, and rising nationalism in Asia which could upset the conditions for growth in the region. He was speaking at a dialogue session at “The Singapore Summit” on Saturday (Sep 20) at the Shangri-La Hotel.

Singapore has yet to decide on how it can support the US-led effort against IS in the Middle East. Responding to questions at a dialogue, Mr Lee said there is no solution to the IS problem in terms of taking them out or putting military forces on the ground.

“You can’t really change fundamentally the texture of the society and the people there and when you are gone, the problem will come back. So that is a very difficult problem in the Middle East,” he said.

From the McClatchy Washington Bureau, spooky apprehensions:

German lawmakers remain concerned about U.S. spying

German lawmakers who took part in an international intelligence forum this week left the country disappointed that members of the U.S. Congress were not more receptive to their concerns about U.S. spying on European allies.

The German lawmakers were among more than 100 members of parliaments and ambassadors from 24 nations who took part in a closed-door three-day intelligence security forum held at the Library of Congress. The goal was to address allies concerns about U.S. surveillance and discuss shared objectives in light of growing threat from groups such as the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.

A range of opinions were expressed and most appeared to agree the dialog was a positive step. The British lawmakers were most appreciative of the U.S. role in aiding Europe, according to attendees. The Germans and Austrians pressed the hardest on U.S. spying. Delegates from Georgia, Latvia, Moldova were concerned about dangers surrounding the Ukraine and Russia.

And from the Washington Post, business as usual:

DHS headquarters project faces more cost overruns, missed deadlines, GAO says

The construction of a massive new headquarters for the Department of Homeland Security, already more than $1.5 billion over budget and 11 years behind schedule, may face even more overruns and missed deadlines because the government has still not developed reliable cost estimates, federal auditors said Friday.

In a report to Congress, the Government Accountability Office said DHS and the General Services Administration should consider alternatives to the plan to locate the headquarters complex on the grounds of St. Elizabeths Hospital, a onetime psychiatric facility with a panoramic view of the District. The project, billed as critical for national security and the revitalization of Southeast Washington, calls for renovating dozens of historic buildings, but it has been starved of funds and only one new structure has opened.

“Creating reliable cost and schedule estimates for the headquarters consolidation project should be an integral part of DHS and GSA efforts to reassess the project,’‘ the report said. “Without this information . . . the project risks potential cost overruns, missed deadlines, and performance shortfalls.’‘

After the jump, Portland police racism, police protest via gridiron disruption in St Louis, aid for the Wizard of Wikileaks, angry farmers disrupt French security, Indian media insecurity, ancient wounds rankle in Korea, Sino/Indian border and oceanic tensions heat up, and a curious worry on the shores of San Frnacisco Bay. . . Continue reading

EconoWatch: Whales, climate, fires, nukes


A relatively small collection today, starting with another sort of environmental woe from Newswise:

Living in a Disadvantaged Neighborhood Worsens Musculoskeletal Pain Outcomes After Trauma Exposure

Individuals living in disadvantaged neighborhoods have worse musculoskeletal pain outcomes over time after stressful events such as motor vehicle collision than individuals from higher socioeconomic status neighborhoods, even after accounting for individual characteristics such as age, sex, income, education, and employment status.

These were the findings of a multi-site research study led by Samuel McLean, MD, MPH, associate professor of anesthesiology and emergency medicine at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. The results of the study were published online by the journal Pain.

“We all like to believe that we are immune to the circumstances of our environment,” said Dr. McLean. “These results suggest that when it comes to chronic musculoskeletal pain development after traumatic/stressful events, th

The Asahi Shimbun covers Japanese chutzpah:

Whale meat now on the menu at LDP’s headquarters

Ruling party advocates of whaling tucked into whale meat curry at a restaurant inside the party’s headquarters in Tokyo on Sept. 19 to thumb their noses at the International Whaling Commission.

The IWC on Sept. 18 adopted a resolution calling on Japan to postpone its resumption of “research” whaling in the Antarctic Ocean to 2016 or later.

The restaurant added whale curry to the menu at the request of Toshihiro Nikai, who heads the Liberal Democratic Party’s General Council. He is from Wakayama Prefecture, the cradle of Japan’s whaling industry.

From the Guardian, all hat, no cattle:

US will not commit to climate change aid for poor nations at UN summit

  • Rich countries pledged to find $100bn a year by 2020, but so far only Germany has made a significant contribution

Barack Obama will not be pledging any cash to a near-empty fund for poor countries at a United Nations summit on climate change next week, the UN special climate change envoy said on Friday.

The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, has challenged the 125 world leaders attending the 23 September summit to make “bold pledges” to the fund, intended to help poor countries cope with climate change.

The UN has been pressing rich countries to come up with pledges of between $10bn and $15bn.

Agence France-Presse covers climate action in India:

Climate change rally held in India ahead of UN summit

Program notes:

Some 125 world leaders are expected to commit to action on climate change at a UN summit Tuesday called to inject momentum in struggling efforts to tackle global warming.

From the Los Angeles Times, Golden State aflame:

King fire burns more than 80,000 acres in Northern California

The massive King fire in Northern California has now burned more than 80,000 acres, according to CalFire.

The fire, in the forest east of Sacramento, has forced the evacuation of more than 2,800 people since it ignited last Saturday. It is now 10% contained.

More than 7,600 firefighters continue to battle nine major wildfires in California, most of them in the northern part of the state. But officials consider the King fire the most dangerous after it doubled in size overnight Wednesday to about 114 square miles, becoming California’s second largest wildfire this year in a matter of hours.

From the Guardian, Aussie ruling party arrogance [whale meat, anyone?]:

Green groups accused of trashing Queensland’s reputation overseas

  • State environment minister claims the main aim of conservation groups is to shut down Queensland’s resource industry

Queensland’s environment minister has accused conservation groups of “trashing” the state’s reputation overseas.

Andrew Powell, who is responsible for protecting Queensland’s natural assets, has gone to Paris for talks with Unesco over the status of the Great Barrier Reef.

Unesco has given Australia until February to show that it is properly managing the reef. If it’s not satisfied the reef could be listed as a World Heritage site “in danger”.

On to Fukushimapocalypse Now!, sending the fox to guard the henhouse, via the Mainichi:

New regulator vows to secure independence of nuclear safety body

Satoru Tanaka, who became a commissioner of Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority on Friday, vowed to proceed with safety screenings of nuclear facilities with independence, brushing off criticism he has close ties with nuclear power companies.

Tanaka has come under fire for receiving payments and donations in the past from bodies including one linked to Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the disaster-hit Fukushima Daiichi plant. Critics say the regulator’s fairness and independence could be compromised with his addition to the NRA decision-making panel.

A former chairman of the Atomic Energy Society of Japan, Tanaka said at a press conference he will do his job “on the basis of science and technology” and he will show that stance through “my language and behavior.”

NHK WORLD covers a setback:

Completion of nuclear fuel plant to be delayed

The operator of a spent nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in northeastern Japan is expected to postpone completion of the plant by about 18 months due to the ongoing government screening.

NHK learned that Japan Nuclear Fuel Limited is making final adjustments to a plan to delay completion from October to early 2016.

The plant in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, has been undergoing screening by the Nuclear Regulation Authority since January. Regulators are trying to determine whether the facility meets new requirements for nuclear plants introduced after the 2011 disaster in Fukushima.

But regulators say they have not been able to conduct screening. They say documents submitted by the operator are insufficient.

From the Asahi Shimbun, a vote in opposition:

Tochigi town passes water-protection ordinance to block nuclear waste plans

A town in Tochigi Prefecture has found a novel way to block the construction of a final disposal site for radioactive waste from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis by passing an ordinance that will protect its natural resources.

The ordinance, passed unanimously by the Shioya town assembly on Sept. 19, will protect an area that includes local springs, as well as mountain forest that was designated by the Environment Ministry as a candidate for the final disposal facility.

The ministry plans to use the site to store designated waste which contains more than 8,000 becquerels of radioactivity per kilogram.

From the Los Angeles Times, nuclear woes on this side of the Pacific:

Energy Dept. faces major hurdles to reopen New Mexico nuclear dump

The Energy Department has identified 7,000 steps needed to reopen its badly damaged nuclear waste dump in New Mexico, but cannot say how long it will take or how much it will cost.

The agency was expected to release a written recovery plan Thursday, but instead provided a few details about the plan, which awaits formal approval by the department.

Outside experts say that the dump will probably not reopen until well after the start of 2016 and that the cost of the accident will approach $1 billion.

Although they didn’t talk about the cost, Energy Department officials reiterated at a briefing in Carlsbad, N.M., on Thursday that there was “strong support” in Congress for putting up the unspecified amount of money required to restart the plant. A Senate aide declined a request by the Los Angeles Times earlier this month for details about the cost negotiations.

More from the Carlsbad Current-Argus:

LANL identifies second nuclear waste drum like container that was breached at WIPP

Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists have identified another nuclear waste drum similar to the drum that caused the February’s radiation leak at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

Terry Wallace Jr., the LANL WIPP recovery leader and principal associate director for global security, testified that the chemical reaction was likely caused by a discarded glovebox glove on Tuesday in front of the New Mexico Legislature’s Radioactive and Hazardous Materials Committee in Carlsbad.

Because scientists have not been able to re-create the chemical reaction, Wallace said he was unsure about the future of the second drum that currently sits underground in Panel 6 at WIPP.

From the Mainichi, ancient fallout heats up:

‘Missing’ documents reveal 1954 U.S. H-bomb test affected 556 more ships

Recently released government documents reveal that the crews of 556 Japanese ships were tested for radiation exposure in the wake of the United States’ 1954 hydrogen bomb tests around the Bikini Atoll — one of which irradiated the crew of the Daigo Fukuryumaru tuna boat from Shizuoka Prefecture.

The records were released by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare on Sept. 19 in accordance with the Access to Government Information Act, following a freedom-of-information request by a citizens group in Kochi Prefecture known as the Pacific Ocean Nuclear Disaster Assistance Center and other organizations.

According to representatives from the group and the health ministry, the national and local governments conducted the testing between March and December 1954 on fishing and cargo ship crews from a total of five Japanese ports that had been in waters affected by the U.S. nuclear test in the central Pacific.

And we close on an upbeat Latin note from Agence France-Presse:

New music with recycled instruments at Colombia fest

Program notes:

Jars, bottles, caps and even a pizza box, recovered from the trash, were the elements used by four musical groups at the “RSFEST2014 Sonorities Recycling Festival”, in Colombian city of Cali.

EbolaWatch: Tragedy continues, aid promised


But it is the scale of the aid that still remains the problem, given the lack of adequate funding from the U.S. and other industrialized nations for the World Health Organization.

We begin with another video clip from Liberia, hardest hit of the countries, via FrontPageAfrica:

FPA WEB TV: Unlucky 7

Program notes:

A family of seven, showing symptoms of the deadly Ebola virus arrive at the Medecins Sans Frontieres treatment facility Friday looking to get in and get treated, what they met was rejection, the latest in a series of Liberians coping with Ebola but joining a long waiting list, finding it difficult to get in.

The Washington Post covers anther complication:

With Ebola crippling the health system, Liberians die of routine medical problems

While the terrifying spread of Ebola has captured the world’s attention, it also has produced a lesser-known crisis: the near-collapse of the already fragile health-care system here, a development that may be as dangerous — for now — as the virus for the average Liberian.

Western experts said that people here are dying of preventable or treatable conditions such as malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia and the effects of high blood pressure and diabetes, such as strokes. Where services do exist, Ebola has complicated the effort to provide them by stoking fear among health-care workers, who sometimes turn away sick people or women in labor if they can’t determine whether the patient is infected. And some people, health-care workers said, will not seek care, fearful that they will become infected with Ebola at a clinic or hospital.

“If you stub your toe now in Monrovia, you’ll have a hard time getting care, let alone having a heart attack or malaria,” said Sheldon Yett, the Liberia country representative for UNICEF. “It’s a tremendous threat to children and a tremendous threat to families.”

The latest from the World Health Organization:

WHO welcomes decision to establish United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response

Nearly six months after the first case of Ebola in West Africa was reported to the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations (UN) General Assembly and the Security Council have approved resolutions creating the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) to contain the ongoing outbreak which has sickened more than 5,500 people and killed over 2,500.

“This is not just a public health crisis. This is a social crisis, a humanitarian crisis, an economic crisis and a threat to national security well beyond the outbreak zones,” said Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General, to the UN Security Council on Thursday. “For these reasons, Mr Secretary-General and I are calling for a UN-wide initiative that draws together all the assets of all relevant UN agencies.”

This is the first time in history that the UN has created a mission for a public health emergency. The Mission will bring together the vast resources of the UN agencies, funds and programmes, to reinforce WHO’s technical expertise and experience in disease outbreaks.

While WHO plays a central role in leading the public health efforts for this response, the support of other UN agencies is essential to deal with the social, economic, development and security challenges that are affecting these countries and the region.

From Al Jazeera English, another plea:

Sierra Leone seeks assistance to fight Ebola

  • Doctors say they are in desperate need of health workers and medical supplies.

Sierra Leone continues its efforts for the second day to halt the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, but doctors say they are in desperate need of health workers and medical supplies.

Thousands of workers join together to visit every single household in the country to educate people about the virus, while they also intend on isolating the sick.

Volunteers plan on placing stickers on each household they have visited, and any one suspected of being infected with the virus will be sent to an isolation ward in the capital Freetown.

Meanwhile, independent observers have voiced concerns over the quality of advice being given out, deeming the shutdown a “mixed success” in the Western Area, the region that includes the capital Freetown.

Star Africa News has the latest on the Sierra Leone lockdown:

S/Leone streets deserted amidst lockdown

The streets of Freetown and other cities across Sierra Leone have been deserted after the first day of a three-day curfew to allow health teams clear away contaminated bodies and identify possible cases of the deadly Ebola virus.By the morning of Saturday, the Sierra Leonean capital appeared like a ghost town as people and cars stay off the streets and markets after days spent stocking up on food and other basic essentials.

The road around Freetown’s landmark cotton tree, which is the busiest part of the city looked desolate as millions of the city’s residents and commuters heed the call to stay in their homes from September 19 to 21.

The lockdown has been characterized by a heavy security presence with the police manning roadblocks while health volunteers continue to conduct house-to-house visits in their designated areas to conduct Ebola tests on residents and identify those afflicted by the disease.

More from CBC News:

Ebola outbreak: Burial team attacked in Sierra Leone amid 3-day lockdown

  • Likely the largest lockdown in recent history, WHO says

Health workers in Sierra Leone have come under attack while trying to bury the bodies of five Ebola victims east of the capital, a police official said.

Sgt. Edward Momoh Brima Lahai said there was a confrontation Saturday between a group of youths and the burial team in the Waterloo district.

A witness told state television the burial team initially had to abandon the five bodies in the street and flee. Lahai said the burial was successfully completed after police reinforcements arrived.

CCTV Africa covers the lockdown:

Ebola: Sierra Leone Lockdown Mixed Reactions

Program notes:

Streets in the capital of Sierra Leone are deserted, as the country continues it’s three-day lockdown to check the spread of Ebola virus. Although the majority of Sierra Leoneans are cooperating, some have fled to neighbouring Guinea in fear of being taken into isolation. Maria Galang reports

From TheLocal.fr, a belated assistance:

France plan air lifts to help fight Ebola

France and Germany will send military transport planes to West Africa to help efforts to contain the Ebola epidemic, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and military officials said on Friday.

Merkel said Germany “will establish airlifts from Dakar (Senegal) from where deliveries can be made to all three countries, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea”.

She said Berlin would also supply a mobile clinic and could train medical personnel.

Government ministries were still discussing the details of the mission, she said, adding that “it’s currently not a question of money, but of capacity and logistics”.

More help from Bloomberg:

747 Filled With Supplies Helps on Ebola, But Only So Much

Aid organization Direct Relief had 100 tons of gloves, masks, medicines and gowns stockpiled in a California warehouse. Doctors fighting Ebola were calling from West Africa desperate for supplies.

Getting it there was the challenge. With airlines halting flights and borders closing to stop the disease from spreading, the nonprofit took matters into its own hands, chartering a Boeing 747 that’s leaving New York today for Sierra Leone and Liberia. It’ll figure out how to pay the $500,000 bill later.

“Sometimes we need to do the work, then hope the financial support follows,” Chief Executive Officer Thomas Tighe said.

From Sky News, Britain make a plea to its own National Health Service:

NHS Staff Asked To Help Africa’s Ebola Fight

The Department of Health’s Chief Medical Officer writes to NHS staff to encourage them to volunteer to help with the deadly virus.

NHS staff are being encouraged to volunteer to help with the deadly ebola virus outbreak which is continuing to spread across West Africa.

The Department of Health’s chief medical officer Professor Dame Sally Davies said doctors, nurses and paramedics are among the medical staff who are needed to help contribute towards efforts to tackle the crisis.

In a letter to health service staff, Dame Sally says those who wish to help should contact the UK International Emergency Medical Register, set up to respond to large-scale international emergencies.

Star Africa News covers a desperate measure:

EU Condemns isolation of Ebola-hit countries

The European Union (EU) said on Saturday that it would rather the world help isolate the Ebola virus disease rather than isolate the affected countries.The Deputy Director-General, Directorate-General Development and Cooperation of EuropeAid (DEVCO), Marcus Conaro, said this is the time to demonstrate international partnership by giving all the help rather than sitting to witness the death of more people.

According to a presidential statement issued Saturday, the EU official made the observation when he paid a courtesy call on President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Friday at her office in the
capital Monrovia.

Mr. Conaro said the EU, as a long time and a strong partner, will continue to support Liberia in its fight against Ebola as well as its post-Ebola recovery.

From Agence France-Presse, another resource mobilized:

Traditional leaders join fight against Ebola in Liberia

Program notes:

Traditional, religious and local government Leaders are being trained in Liberia to enable them to take control of the fight against the deadly Ebola virus.

From Star Africa News, border controls enforced:

Seven arrested over Ebola on C/d’Ivoire-Guinea border

Seven people attempting to enter Cote d’Ivoire through the bush from Guinea have been arrested by the national gendarmerie in Madinani, about 709km northwest, APA can report, quoting security sources in Abidjan.Those arrested thought they had circumvented the security measures to enforce the closure of the Ivorian border with Ebola-hit countries after by entering Cote d’Ivoire through the bush, sources said.

“Fortunately, they were arrested Thursday by security forces in Madinani,” the sources added. They have been identified as Zonon Souley, Ngnampa Alassane, Sauré Boukary, Sauré Moussa, Sauré Issa, Zonon Idrissa and Sauré Amadou.

The seven were taken to Odienné, Madinani’s capital by Warrant Officer, Gérémie Kouamé, the town’s chief gendarmerie.

And from BBC News, an adjustment:

Ebola outbreak: How Liberia lost its handshake

Families and communities have been devastated by the deaths caused by West Africa’s Ebola outbreak. But the disease also has consequences for the region’s way of life, and in particular their traditional greetings.

One of the things the people of West Africa are very good at is greeting each other. In most of the region’s countries it would be positively rude to exchange a passing, British-style “Hello, how are you?” and walk on.

In West Africa the normal thing to do would be to stop, reach out one hand, or even two, shake warmly and then embrace. This is followed by much backslapping, more handshaking on points of agreement and even the odd high five.

It’s what children do, it’s what men do, it’s what elderly ladies do.

Well, not any more. Ebola is spread by contact with bodily fluids, so these days people shun contact with others – including handshakes.

Pacific Standard cautions:

Why Science Won’t Defeat Ebola

  • While science will certainly help, winning the battle against Ebola is a social challenge

Ebola is different. It’s unusually deadly and extremely rare. That combination makes it difficult to develop and test safe and effective treatments. That there are even experimental Ebola drugs available during this current, record-breaking outbreak is a lucky coincidence; researchers have worked on their development for decades, despite Ebola’s historically small threat.

In fast, scientists have been interested in treatments for Ebola since it was first discovered in 1976. But because Ebola is so rare, and conventional methods to control it are generally effective, the virus is easily overshadowed by much larger public health threats in Africa. Between 1976 and 2012, there were fewer than 3,000 cases and 1,600 deaths caused by Ebola outbreaks. Compare this with the 5,000 deaths caused by African meningitis in just one year, the half-million or more malaria deaths annually, or the nearly 25 million Africans infected by HIV, and Ebola seems much less threatening. If we care about saving lives, then medical research to develop effective vaccines for HIV and meningitis or to combat the difficult problem of drug-resistant malaria should clearly take higher priority than Ebola treatments.

On the other hand, as we’re seeing now, Ebola outbreaks can quickly get out of control and wreak havoc on fragile economies and social institutions in developing countries. Without an effective response, the number of cases could swell to tens of thousands within a month. Because of Ebola’s pandemic potential, the U.S. boosted funding for research on the virus in 2002 as part of its effort to prepare for bioterrorism. With this funding, researchers have developed several candidate drugs and vaccines over the past decade, but these are only just now reaching the point where human clinical trials can even be considered. The most promising drug, the ZMapp antibody cocktail, was just recently shown to be effective in monkeys. ZMapp is the latest version of a drug that has been in development for years; previous versions weren’t nearly as effective as the current one.

To close, from Radio Africa, a famous Liberian theatrical troupe provides Ebola education in their own unique style:

Cultural performance by the Flomo Theater Cultural Troupe.

Program note:

Flomo theater cultural troupe dramatize the severity of the deadly Ebola virus.

InSecurityWatch: Spooks, cops, wars, feints


We begin with the utterly outrageous via Motherboard:

The Navy Routinely Spies on Citizens Then Helps the Police Prosecute Them

It’s not just the NSA: A Federal Appeals Court has just noted a disturbing and “extraordinary” trend of the Navy conducting mass surveillance on American civilians, and then using what they find to help local law enforcement prosecute criminals.

In this specific case, a Navy Criminal Investigative Service agent in George scanned the computers of every civilian in Washington state who happened to be using the decentralized Gnutella peer-to-peer network, looking for child pornography. The agent, Steve Logan, found child porn on a computer owned by a man named Michael Dreyer.

Logan then passed his evidence on to local law enforcement, who arrested and eventually convicted Dreyer, who was sentenced to 18 years in prison. The US Ninth Circuit of Appeals ruled that this was a massive overstep of military authority, a disturbing trend, and a blatant violation of the Posse Comitatus Act, a law that prohibits the military from conducting investigations on civilians.

The government argued that it conducted the surveillance on the off chance that it caught a military member violating the law and suggested that it has this authority in any state with a military base.

From the Associated Press, serious Snowden blowback [or so they would have us believe]:

AP EXCLUSIVE: CIA halts spying in Europe

The CIA has curbed spying on friendly governments in Western Europe in response to the furor over a German caught selling secrets to the United States and the Edward Snowden revelations of classified information held by the National Security Agency, according to current and former U.S. officials.

The pause in decades of espionage, which remains partially in effect, was designed to give CIA officers time to examine whether they were being careful enough and to evaluate whether spying on allies is worth running the risk of discovery, said a U.S. official who has been briefed on the situation.

Under the stand-down order, case officers in Europe largely have been forbidden from undertaking “unilateral operations” such as meeting with sources they have recruited within allied governments. Such clandestine meetings are the bedrock of spying.

From the London Daily Mail, ah yes, those folks:

‘He is endowed with a certain lethal gentleness': The inappropriate remarks made by CIA supervisors during performance reviews declassified after decades

  • Comments were made by CIA supervisors during appraisals in the 1980s
  • Feature misused vocabulary, odd phrases and inadvertent connotations
  • Include: ‘He is endowed with a certain lethal gentleness’, ‘I both like and dislike this officer’ and ‘Although unmarried she has growth potential’
  • Quotes among hundreds of documents declassified by agency yesterday

And from Gizmodo, Old Spook ties?:

Larry Ellison’s Oracle Started As a CIA Project

Yesterday, Vox somehow managed to write an entire article about the history of Oracle and its founder Larry Ellison without mentioning the CIA even once. Which is pretty astounding, given the fact that Oracle takes its name from a 1977 CIA project codename. And that the CIA was Oracle’s first customer.

Vox simply says that Oracle was founded in “the late 1970s” and “sells a line of software products that help large and medium-sized companies manage their operations.” All of which is true! But as the article continues, it somehow ignores the fact that Oracle has always been a significant player in the national security industry. And that its founder would not have made his billions without helping to build the tools of our modern surveillance state.

“Recognizing the potential demand for a commercial database product, [Ellison] founded the company that became Oracle in 1977,” Vox writes, conspicuously omitting the whole “because CIA wanted a relational database” part of the history.

From BuzzFeed, the revolving door moves to the bedroom:

Wife: NSA Official. Husband: Exec At Firm Seeming To Do Or Seek Business With NSA

  • NSA: It’s secret.

A large government contracting firm that appears to be doing or seeking business with the National Security Agency employs the spouse of one of the most powerful officials at the agency, according to corporate records, press releases, and company websites. But the NSA has declined to address whether there is a potential conflict of interest or to disclose any information about contracts or the official’s financial holdings.

The spouse, for years, has also had an intelligence technology company incorporated at the couple’s suburban residence in Maryland.

The NSA official, Teresa H. Shea, is director of the Signals Intelligence Directorate, which means she oversees electronic eavesdropping for intelligence purposes. She’s held that crucial position since 2010. SIGINT, as it is called, is the bread and butter of NSA espionage operations, and it includes intercepting and decoding phone calls, whether cellular or landline; radio communications; and internet traffic. Shea’s directorate was involved in the controversial domestic surveillance program, much of which was revealed by Edward Snowden.

As for Shea’s husband, James, he is currently a vice president at DRS Signal Solutions, part of DRS Technologies, a major American defense contracting company owned by the Italian defense giant Finmeccanica. On his LinkedIn page, he boasts of his “core focus” in “SIGINT systems,” and cites his employer, DRS, for its work in “signals intelligence, cyber, and commercial test and measurement applications.”

Next, a new feint in Cold War 2.0 from the London Telegraph:

US sends jets to intercept Russian aircraft

  • American and Canadian jets scrambled after six Russian aircraft entered the US’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ)

On Wednesday, six Russian aircraft entered the United States’ air defense identification zone (ADIZ), an area beyond sovereign U.S. airspace, according to a statement from NORAD, a US and Canadian aerospace command, and US Northern Command (NORTHCOM).

In response, “two Alaskan-based F-22 fighter jets acting under the authority of NORAD identified and intercepted two Russian IL-78 refueling tankers, two Russian Mig-31 fighter jets and two Russian Bear long-range bombers in the ADIZ, west of Alaska,” the statement said.

On Thursday, Canadian fighter jets intercepted two Russian Bear long-range bombers in the Canadian ADIZ.

From the Guardian, when your secrets aren’t your secrets:

California judge rules against privacy advocate and protects police secrecy

  • Man loses bid to access to police license plate records in case with repercussions on surveillance and government databases

A California judge’s initial ruling against a tech entrepreneur, who seeks access to records kept secret in government databases detailing the comings and goings of millions of cars in the San Diego area, via license plate scans, was the second legal setback within a month for privacy advocates.

The tentative decision issued Thursday upheld the right of authorities to block the public from viewing information collected on their vehicles, by way of vast networks that rely on cameras mounted on stoplights and police cars.

The rapidly expanding systems and their growing databases have been the subject of a larger debate pitting privacy rights against public safety concerns in a new frontier over high-tech surveillance. A Los Angeles judge ruled in August that city police and sheriff’s departments don’t have to disclose records from the 3m plates they scan each week.

From Reuters, piling on political fortunes at home plunge:

French jets strike in Iraq, expanding U.S.-led campaign against Islamic State

French jets struck a suspected Islamic State target in Iraq for the first time on Friday, expanding a U.S.-led military campaign against militants who have seized a third of the country and also control large parts of neighboring Syria.

President Francois Hollande said Rafale jets hit “a logistics depot of the terrorists” near the city of Mosul, which has been held by Islamic State for more than three months. It promised more operations in coming days.

The French military action, which follows U.S. air strikes in northern Iraq and near the capital Baghdad, appeared to win qualified endorsement from Iraq’s top Shi’ite leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

From the Associated Press, indeed:

Islamic State plot in Australia raises questions

The Islamic State plot to carry out random beheadings in Sydney alleged by police is a simple and barbaric scheme that has shaken Australians. But terrorism experts on Friday questioned whether the ruthless movement had the capacity or inclination to sustain a terror campaign so far from the Middle East.

Some terrorism experts saw the plot as a potential shift in Islamic State’s focus from creating an Islamic caliphate in the Middle East. Others, including Professor of International Relations and Security Studies at Murdoch University, Samuel Makinda, said it is more likely a symptom of policy confusion within a disparate group.

“If you have people coming in from different backgrounds from all these countries, when it comes to policy making, they’re going to fight each other, they’re going to kill each other,” Makinda said.

“On ISIS, I see no direct threat to Australia or to any other country at the moment except those in the Middle East,” he added.

Channel NewsAsia Singapore covers political theater:

Australia terror crackdown sees armed police in parliament

Australia deployed armed police inside parliament on Friday (Sep 19) in the face of extremist threats, ramping up an anti-terror crackdown after foiling a plot by Islamic State militants to carry out gruesome “demonstration executions” in the country.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott called an emergency meeting of his national security committee after urging Australians not to be intimidated by murderous plots, including beheadings. “All levels of government will do whatever we humanely can to keep our community safe,” he told a press conference. “The best way for people to respond to the threat of terror is to go about their normal lives,” Abbott said. “Terrorists want to scare us out of being ourselves. There will be armed federal police in and around our national parliament at all times.”

The prime minister has refused to link the latest threats against Australia to the nation’s role in fighting the Islamic State organisation in Iraq. He refuses to use the word “state” and brands the group a “death cult”.

From the Guardian, applying stick to hornet’s nest:

Anti-Islam ad campaign to run on New York City buses and subways

  • Blogger paid $100,000 to place ads, one of which was rejected by MTA on grounds it could ‘incite or provoke violence’

Controversial blogger and activist Pamela Geller has paid $100,000 to place advertisements on New York City buses and in subway stations that feature anti-Islamic messages and images including one of James Foley, the American journalist beheaded by Isis in August.

The campaign, which is being funded by Geller’s advocacy group, the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AMDI), features six posters including the one that features Foley. All the posters carry messages critical of Islam. One features a picture of Adolf Hitler.

This is not the first time Geller’s organisation has used posters on New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority’s ad space to court controversy. In 2012, her organisation paid for posters to appear in ten New York subway stations.

After the jump, spawning a boom for drones, tanks-but-no-tanks at San Diego schools, killing on a Pakistani campus, troubling ghosts from the Korean/Japanese past, and troubling memories of a bloody British hand in Asia. . . Continue reading