Category Archives: Hypocrisy

MexicoWatch: Forensics, protests, and rage


With the latest on the apparent massacre of college students in Mexico and the ensuing political and social turmoil.

First, Reuters covers forensics:

Austrian forensic experts may shed light on Mexico massacre

Austrian forensics experts who helped solve the mystery of Russia’s murdered imperial family could soon shed light on the apparent massacre of 43 Mexican students through analysis of the tiniest of DNA fragments from badly burned remains.

The bodies of students abducted by corrupt police in Mexico six weeks ago were apparently burnt to ashes by drug gang members in an attempt to destroy the evidence.

Mexican authorities have said they would send the remains to Innsbruck’s Medical University for DNA identification.

Al Jazeera America covers directed anger:

Mexico leader travels to Asia amid unrest over apparent student massacre

  • Peña Nieto faces increased calls to resign as another presidential scandal began to emerge over the weekend

Protestors condemned Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on Sunday for flying to Beijing for an economic conference amid nationwide demonstrations over the apparent massacre of 43 missing students, saying the Mexican leader is more concerned with business interests than dealing with the gang violence that has led to Mexico’s biggest crisis in decades.

Peña Nieto had earlier criticized protests in the Mexican capital that saw demonstrators set fire to the doors of Mexico City’s National Palace. It was the culmination of protests on Saturday in which thousands of Mexicans took to the streets in response to the missing students.

“It’s unacceptable that someone should try to use this tragedy to justify violence,” Peña Nieto told reporters in Anchorage, Alaska, while en route to China for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit. “You can’t demand justice while acting with violence.”

And from Reuters, the obtusely implacable:

Defiant Mexican attorney general says would repeat massacre gaffe

Despite sparking outrage by saying he had “had enough” when grilled by reporters over the abduction and apparent massacre of 43 trainee teachers, Mexico’s attorney general was unrepentant on Monday and said he would do it all again.

Jesus Murillo tried to cut short a news conference on Friday evening, arching his eyebrows with the aside “Ya me canse”, or “I’ve had enough”.

His words quickly went viral on social media, and protesters painted the hashtag #YaMeCanse … de miedo (I’ve had enough … of fear) on the gates to his office.

Next, a video report on parallel events from Agence France-Presse:

Mexico protesters hit the road over student massacre

Program notes:

Students in Mexico protest on a highway in response to Attorney General’s statement that the 43 missing students were killed and their bodies burnt.

More from the Latin American Herald Tribune:

Protesters Briefly Occupy Airport in Mexican Pacific Resort City

Hundreds of students, teachers and relatives of the 43 education students who disappeared in September in the city of Iguala took over the airport in this Mexican Pacific resort city for several hours on Monday.

The demonstrators plan to keep the airport closed for at least “three hours” during which time “no one is going to enter or leave” the facility, Felipe de la Cruz, a spokesman for the relatives of the missing Ayotzinapa Rural Normal School students, said at around 11:00 a.m., when the group entered the terminal.

They ended the occupation about 3½ hours later.

The protesters, the majority of them with their faces covered, wrote “We Are All Ayotzinapa” and “Peña Nieto, murderer” on the walls inside the terminal, a reference to President Enrique Peña Nieto, who is attending a trade summit in China.

And a PressTV report on the action:

Mexican protesters block access to airport

Program notes:

A group of Mexicans have blocked access to an airport in the south of the country to express their anger over the case of 43 missing students who were abducted.

Thousands of protesters marched toward Acapulco international airport, with the parents of the students leading the demonstration. A spokesman for the families of the missing students said they would prevent access to the international airport for three hours. Security officials say clashes also broke out between riot police and masked protesters before they reached the airport which left at least 11 police officers injured. Earlier, the authorities announced that suspected gang members confessed to killing the 43 students, incinerating their remains, and tossing them in a river after corrupt police handed them over to them.

InSecurityWatch: Hacks, war, spooks, zones


Belated by exhaustion [16-hour blogging days taking a toll], but here tis. . .

First, from the Intercept, oh joy:

Hackers Could Decide Who Controls Congress Thanks to Alaska’s Terrible Internet Ballots

When Alaska voters go to the polls tomorrow to help decide whether the U.S. Senate will remain in Democratic control, thousands will do so electronically, using Alaska’s first-in-the-nation internet voting system. And according to internet security experts, including the former top cybersecurity official for the Department of Homeland Security, that system is a security nightmare that threatens to put control of the U.S. Congress in the hands of foreign or domestic hackers.

Any registered Alaska voter can obtain an electronic ballot, mark it on their computers using a web-based interface, save the ballot as a PDF, and return it to their county elections department through what the state calls “a dedicated secure data center behind a layer of redundant firewalls under constant physical and application monitoring to ensure the security of the system, voter privacy, and election integrity.”

That sounds great, but even the state acknowledges in an online disclaimer that things could go awry, warning that “when returning the ballot through the secure online voting solution, your are voluntarily waving [sic] your right to a secret ballot and are assuming the risk that a faulty transmission may occur.”

On to the war of the day, via the Toronto Globe and Mail:

Canadian warplanes launch air strikes against Islamic State militants

Canada has made its mark on the battlefield in Iraq with CF-18 warplanes dropping their first bombs in this country’s combat mission there.

Canadian fighter jets attacked Islamic State militant targets near the city of Fallujah on Sunday, Ottawa said.

It’s not clear how much damage the CF-18s caused. The military says it requires two days, until Tuesday, before it can tell Canadians what was achieved.

More from CBC News:

Canada’s forces face daunting mission against ISIS in Iraq

  • If mission remains an air war, it will neither be quick, nor easy to destroy ISIS

Canada has pitched its tent with the US-led coalition against ISIS, the radical Sunni Muslim militant group which has seized large parts of Iraq and Syria, terrorizing—and often executing—those in its way. Its aim is to topple the governments of both of those countries to create one huge Islamic state that is stricter in its interpretation of the Koran than either Afghanistan’s Taliban or Saudi Arabia next door. The coalition’s aim is to destroy it.

That will neither be quick, nor easy. It may not even be possible.

The coalition itself is awkward. It mostly consists of the United States, with some Arab countries offering token help against ISIS in Syria, and some western countries—Canada, Britain, Australia, France and others—helping in Iraq.

Canada shares its Kuwait base with U.S. forces, but the American military Central Command doesn’t seem to have noticed that Canadian planes have arrived. As recently as Sunday, news releases listing coalition activities and members left out any reference to Canada.

From the Guardian, more blowback:

Muslim leader shot outside Sydney prayer hall by alleged Isis supporters

  • Rasoul Al Mousawi to undergo surgery after he was shot in the face outside an Islamic centre in Greenacre just hours after threats allegedly made

A Shia Muslim community leader will undergo surgery after being shot in the face with pellets outside a Sydney religious hall, which witnesses say was targeted by supporters of Islamic State hours earlier.

Rasoul Al Mousawi, 47, was standing outside the building in Greenacre in Sydney south-west around 1.15am on Monday morning when a number of pellets were fired.

Police said Al Mousawi sustained wounds to his head and shoulder and is expected to undergo surgery, but his injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.

From McClatchy Washington Bureau, a serious setback:

Slaughter of Anbar tribesmen shows weakness in U.S. plan to beat Islamic State

Exhausted, hungry and low on ammunition, al Goud and hundreds of his tribesmen ceased firing on Oct. 22 in return for a pledge from the Islamic State that civilians wouldn’t be harmed. They then set out on a 15-hour overnight drive through the desert, leaving behind families and associates and nursing another in a long list of Sunni tribal grievances that are hindering reconciliation with the Shiite-led government and threatening to derail President Barack Obama’s plan to crush the Islamic State.

“They did nothing for us,” al Goud said in an interview last week in a rented house in Baghdad. “It’s all killing and disaster.”

A week later, the Islamic State executed more than 40 Albu Nimr captives on a Hit street and drove thousands of Albu Nimr civilians into the desert, where hundreds have been slaughtered – more than 400 by Monday. Tribal leaders’ calls for help from the Iraqi army and for U.S. airstrikes again went unanswered.

But good news for a very few from RT:

Head Hunters: ISIS offers top oil jobs for ‘ideologically suitable’ engineers

Program notes:

ISIS jihadists have a job offer for a professional to manage the seized refineries. Reports have emerged that Islamic State is scouring North Africa for a suitable candidate to oversee production. In return, the jihadists are offering over 200-thousand dollars a year. But for that, the right candidate will have to be a skilled industry professional – devoted to Islamic State’s ideology.

And not so good news for other, also from RT:

ISIS introduces ‘price scheme’ for selling enslaved women and girls

Islamic State has set fixed prices to sell Yazidi and Christian women who have been abducted by members of the militant group, Iraqi media have reported. The barbaric tariffs range from around $40 for older women to $170 for children.

The group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, says they will execute anyone who violates the controls, which have been implemented. $43 is the price for a Yazidi or Christian women who is aged between 40 and 50. For those aged between 20 and 30, the price is $86. The sickening trend continues, with girls falling into the 10 to 20 age group being sold for $129 and children up to the age of nine, commanding the highest prices of $172 or 200,000 dinars.

The document states that there has not been so much interest in purchasing slaves recently. “The market to sell women and spoils of war has been experiencing a significant decrease, which has adversely affected ISIS revenue and financing of the Mujahideen,” said the document, which was obtained by the website IraqiNews.com.

The document also says that no individual is allowed to buy more than three slaves. However there are no exceptions for foreigners, such as those from Turkey, Syria and the Gulf States.

While the Independent examines origins:

Camp Bucca: The US prison that became the birthplace of Isis

In March 2009, in a wind-swept sliver of Iraq, a sense of uncertainty befell the southern town of Garma, home to one of the Iraq War’s most notorious prisons. The sprawling detention center called Camp Bucca, which had detained some of the Iraq War’s most radical jihadists along the Kuwait border, had just freed hundreds of inhabitants. Families rejoiced, anxiously awaiting their sons, brothers and fathers who had been lost to Bucca for years. But a local official fretted.

“These men weren’t planting flowers in a garden,” police chief Saad Abbas Mahmoud told The Washington Post’s Anthony Shadid, estimating 90 percent of the freed prisoners would soon resume fighting. “They weren’t strolling down the street. This problem is both big and dangerous. And regrettably, the Iraqi government and the authorities don’t know how big the problem has become.”

Mahmoud’s assessment of Camp Bucca, which funneled 100,000 detainees through its barracks and closed months later, would prove prescient. The camp now represents an opening chapter in the history of Islamic State — many of its leaders, including Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, were incarcerated and likely met there. According to former prison commanders, analysts and soldiers, Camp Bucca provided a unique setting for both prisoner radicalization and inmate collaboration — and was formative in the development today’s most potent jihadist force.

Screens going up from BuzzFeed:

U.S. To Tighten Screening Of Europeans And Australians Amid Concerns Of Islamist Militants

Additional security measures will be imposed for millions of travelers from countries that do not require U.S. visas due to the rising threat of Islamic militants with Western passports.

The Department of Homeland Security will introduce heightened screening measures for travelers from Europe, Australia, and other countries exempt from U.S. visas on Monday due to growing number of Islamist militants in Syria with Western passports, the Washington Post reported.

According to the new rule, travelers who do not need visas to enter the U.S. will need to provide detailed information to authorities before boarding a flight to the country. Usually such travelers undergo lighter security.

And from RT, add fuel to fire:

Afghan police sell arms to Taliban ‘to feed families’ as wages go unpaid for months – report

The Afghan police service has been forced to sell its arms to the Taliban, as officers have not received wages for months. Some have even joined the insurgents, local Khaama Press newspaper reported.

The local police in Ghazni, Logar, and Maidan Wardak provinces say they have not been paid for three months and do not have money to feed their families.

“We have turned to begging for bread,” Mohmad Ajan, who had fought the Taliban insurgents for the last two years in Maidan Wardak, told Khaama Press. He added that the policemen face “hunger, thirst and the cold.”

Many officers reportedly say they have no other choice but to sell their personal arms and ammunition. The buyers are usually local people – but sometimes they are Taliban militants. It has also been reported that some of the policemen have joined the militants.

While the Los Angeles Times sounds a familiar theme:

U.S. Muslim leaders say FBI pressuring people to become informants

Muslim leaders nationwide say the FBI is pressuring some Islamic community members and religious leaders to spy on fellow Muslims as part of a government effort to combat extremist recruiting in the U.S.

The campaign has intensified in recent weeks, with mosques in California, Texas, Minnesota, Ohio, Florida and other states reporting unannounced visits by FBI agents, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization.

In a nationwide alert, the group urged mosque and community leaders to seek the advice of an attorney if they are approached by the FBI for questioning. They worried that the civil rights of numerous imams were being violated as the religious leaders were asked to meet with FBI agents, who then pressed them to inform on members of their congregations.

On to Cold War 2.0 from News Corp Australia:

Russian military flights sending message they are ‘great power’: NATO leader

RUSSIA’S recent military flights into European airspace are meant to demonstrate to the West that the country is a “great power,” NATO’s supreme allied commander said on Monday.

Although there has been an increase in Russian air activity over Europe during the past year, last week marked the first time Moscow had sent in larger formations of warplanes, General Philip Breedlove told reporters.

“My opinion is they’re messaging us. They’re messaging us that they are a great power,” Breedlove said.

Moscow wanted to show it can exert influence on the alliance’s calculations, he said.

The London Telegraph looks at the other cyberwar:

Britain’s spy chief says US tech firms aid terrorism

New GCHQ director Richard Hannigan accuses some Silicon Valley companies of becoming ‘the command and control networks of choice’ for terrorists

Technology giants such as Facebook and Twitter have become “the command and control networks of choice” for terrorists and criminals but are “in denial” about the scale of the problem, the new head of GCHQ has said.

Robert Hannigan said that Isil terrorists in Syria and Iraq have “embraced the web” and are using it to intimidate people and inspire “would-be jihadis” from all over the World to join them.

He urged the companies to work more closely with the security services, arguing that it is time for them to confront “some uncomfortable truths” and that privacy is not an “absolute right”.

He suggested that unless US technology companies co-operate, new laws will be needed to ensure that intelligence agencies are able to track and pursue terrorists.

The Independent takes a different tack:

GCHQ head demands internet firms open up to intelligence services, claiming privacy is not an absolute right

The new head of Britian’s GCHQ intelligence agency has demanded that internet firms open themselves up to intelligence services, and has claimed that privacy is not an absolute right.

Accusing internet companies of being “in denial” of the role they play in terrorism, Robert Hannigan said they had become the “command-and-control networks of choice” for a new generation of criminals and extremists, such as the militant group Isis which has swept across Iraq and Syria and is well known for its use of online propaganda.

Citing the group which calls itself the Islamic State (IS), Hannigan said it did not show the beheadings of hostages including British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning in recent videos as proof of extremists’ increasing expertise in online propaganda.

“By self-censoring they can stay just the right side of the rules of social media sites, capitalising on western freedom of expression,” he said.

More from the Guardian:

Former NSA lawyer: the cyberwar is between tech firms and the US government

  • Stewart Baker said that Apple and Google could be restricting their business in markets like China and Russia by encrypting user data

The battle over encryption of consumer internet users’ data has pitched US technology companies against the US government itself, former NSA general counsel Stewart Baker said on Tuesday.

Speaking at Web Summit in Dublin, Baker claimed that moves by Google and Apple and others to encrypt user data was more hostile to western intelligence gathering than to surveillance by China or Russia.

“The state department has funded some of these tools, such as Tor, which has been used in Arab Spring revolutions or to get past the Chinese firewall, but these crypto wars are mainly being fought between the American government and American companies,” he said, in conversation with Guardian special projects editor James Ball.

And a rebuff from the Independent:

Tech giants reject GCHQ boss Robert Hannigan’s call for deal with government

  • Organisation representing major technology companies including Apple criticise comments by the new director of government listening post

A technology industry group which represents Silicon Valley giants including Apple, Microsoft and Google has insisted there will be no “new deal” with the Government to tackle web extremism.

Robert Hannigan – the new director of GCHQ, the government listening post – had earlier called for a pact between “democratic governments and technology companies in the area of protecting our citizens”.

But the head of a leading industry group tech UK representing 860 companies employing more than half a million people in Britain rejected the idea and said any new moves should instead be based on a “clear and transparent legal framework”.

Julian David, chief executive officer of techUK, also said Mr Hannigan was “wrong” to claim IT companies were in denial about misuse of social media and other technology by Isil terrorists and other extremists.

From the Guardian, most peculiar, in light of the above:

Apple users raise privacy concerns after hard-drive files uploaded to servers

  • Line between devices and cloud services fades as online storage allows users to switch without losing data

After security researcher Jeffrey Paul upgraded the operating system on his MacBook Pro last week, he discovered that several of his personal files had found a new home – on the cloud. The computer had saved the files, which Paul thought resided only on his own encrypted hard drive, to a remote server that Apple controls.

“This is unacceptable,” thundered Paul, an American based in Berlin, on his personal blog a few days later. “Apple has taken local files on my computer not stored in iCloud and silently and without my permission uploaded them to their servers – across all applications, Apple and otherwise.”

He was not alone in either his frustration or surprise. Johns Hopkins University cryptographer Matthew Green tweeted his dismay after realising that some private notes had found their way to iCloud. Bruce Schneier, another prominent cryptography expert, wrote a blog post calling the automatic saving function “both dangerous and poorly documented” by Apple.

The criticism was all the more notable because its target, Apple, had just enjoyed weeks of applause within the computer security community for releasing a bold new form of smartphone encryption capable of thwarting government searches – even when police have warrants. Yet here was an awkward flip side: police still can gain access to files stored on cloud services, and Apple seemed determined to migrate more and more data to them.

And from the Washington Post, more corporate cyberstalking:

Verizon, AT&T tracking their users with ‘supercookies’

Verizon and AT&T have been quietly tracking the Internet activity of more than 100 million cellular customers with what critics have dubbed “supercookies” — markers so powerful that it’s difficult for even savvy users to escape them.

The technology has allowed the companies to monitor which sites their customers visit, cataloging their tastes and interests. Consumers cannot erase these supercookies or evade them by using browser settings, such as the “private” or “incognito” modes that are popular among users wary of corporate or government surveillance.

Verizon and AT&T say they have taken steps to alert their customers to the tracking and to protect customer privacy as the companies develop programs intended to help advertisers hone their pitches based on individual Internet behavior. But as word has spread about the supercookies in recent days, privacy advocates have reacted with alarm, saying the tracking could expose user Internet behavior to a wide range of outsiders — including intelligence services — and may also violate federal telecommunications and wiretapping laws.

And another techie turmoil from the Guardian:

Six types of killer use Facebook to commit crimes, says study

  • Criminologists identify murderer profiles who use networking site but emphasise technology itself is inherently safe

Researchers at Birmingham City University have identified six types of killer who use Facebook to commit crimes, in the first-ever study on how the social networking site can affect criminal behaviour.

Dr Elizabeth Yardley and Prof David Wilson, from the university’s centre of applied criminology, analysed cases of murder in which the site had been reported as a significant factor. They found 48 examples from across the world, including that of Wayne Forrester, an HGV driver, who killed his wife Emma in 2008 after reading her Facebook posts in which she claimed that they had separated and she wanted to meet other men.

They identified the types of killer as: reactor, informer, antagonist, fantasist, predator and imposter.

intelNews covers a work-around:

Brazil builds direct Internet cable to Europe to avoid US spying

The government of Brazil is to construct a transatlantic cable across the Atlantic Ocean in order to avoid having its Internet traffic to and from Europe intercepted by American intelligence agencies. According to reports, the fiber-optic cable will stretch for 3,500 miles from the northeastern Brazilian city of Fortaleza to the Portuguese capital Lisbon.

It will cost the Brazilian government in excess of US$185 million, but it will allow the country’s existing Internet traffic to and from Europe to travel without going through cables owned by American service providers. According to Brazilian officials, the construction of the cable is among several steps announced by the Brazilian government aimed at disassociating its communications infrastructure from American companies.

The move follows revelations made last year by American defector Edward Snowden that the US National Security Agency specifically targeted Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s personal communications as part of its intelligence-collection efforts targeting Brazil.

The South China Morning Post covers another:

China to launch hack-proof quantum communication network in 2016

China will complete and put into service the world’s longest quantum communication network stretching 2,000km from Beijing to Shanghai by 2016, say scientists leading the project.

The quantum network is considered “unhackable” and will provide the most secure encryption technology to users.

By 2030, the Chinese network would be extended worldwide, Xinhua reported.

China is the first major power to come up with a detailed schedule to put the technology into extensive, large-scale use. The South China Morning Post earlier reported that Beijing would launch the world’s first quantum communication satellite in 2016.

From TechWeekEurope, help wanted:

Why The UK Desperately Needs 200,000 IT Security Specialists

  • Businesses must take urgent measures to protect themselves from growing cyber crime threat, cyber security recruiter warns

The UK’s lack of available talent with the right cyber security skills presents a very real danger to British businesses, according to a London-based cyber security specialist recruiter.

Responding to recent reports by EY and the office of the Minister for Universities and Science, Cornucopia IT Resourcing, warned that the unless the deficit in the number of available cyber security professionals is addressed, British businesses will remain the target of cyber attacks.
Security breach

Accordingly, 93% of large companies and 87% of SMEs have suffered at least one security breach in the last 12 months, at an average cost of £450k-850k and £35k-65k respectively, according to the Department for Business Innovation and Skills.

This has fuelled a demand for cyber security experts which the industry is struggling to meet.

While this headline from RT makes us wonder how the NSA, GCHQ, et al might use the tech involved:

Anti-depression app: Smartphones to analyze mental health through speech

If you are one of more than 350 million people globally who suffer from depression, then scientists are working for a new smartphone app for you that will detect when you’re having a tough time through speech analysis.

Researchers from the University of Maryland are seeking to develop an app based on their scientific finding that claim that as patients’ feelings of depression worsen, certain vocal features change in their voice.

Acoustician Carol Espy-Wilson and her colleagues have discovered that patients’ vocal patterns change as feelings of depression worsen.

“Their emotions are all over the place during this time, and that’s when they’re really at risk for depression. We have to reach out and figure out a way to help kids in that stage,” she said in a press release.

After the jump, American nuclear tests, more Air Force firings of nuclear commanders, nude-selfie-stealing Cal copper clapped in irons, a latter-day Berlin Wall protest, Mexican mayor suspected in college student protests busted with his wife as parents stand tall, a look at the unique college at the eye of the storm, and another Mexican police commander is slain, disproportionate punishment in Israel, religious slayings in Pakistan, on to China and a Japanese gambit rebuffed, a laser anti-drone defense locked and loaded, and major diplomatic moves toward Pakistan and Indonesia, a chemical warfare munitions destroying facility readied, and the latest from Hong Kong, on to Japan and jet-fueled anxiety, naval anxieties at Chinese naval encroachment plus lesser worries from Chinese poachers, the Philippines lust for closer military ties with Tokyo, and a famous author confront his country’s hysterical historical hypocrisies, Kim wants tourists [just not ones from Ebolaland], and the bloody plight of the Fourth Estate. . . Continue reading

‘Christian’ America in one easy lesson


From the Independent:

Ninety-year-old man faces jail for giving food to homeless people

A 90-year-old man is facing up to 60 days in jail for feeding the needy due to a new law that bans people in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, from meal-sharing with the public.

Arnold Abbott risks being fined $500 and spending time in prison after police officers apprehended him while he was handing out meals to homeless people in a park on Sunday.

He was arrested and charged along with two ministers from the Sanctuary Church, which prepares hundreds of meals to dish out every week in their kitchen, while onlookers shouted to officers “shame on you!”

Mr Abbott said: “One of police officers came over and said ‘Drop that plate right now,’ as if I was carrying a weapon.”

He added: “These are the poorest of the poor, they have nothing, they don’t have a roof over their heads. How do you turn them away?”

To those very Christian Floridians, we would only remind you of some words from that Personage who gave your faith its name. From Matthew 25: 35-40, a key section of that bedrock of Christianity, the Sermon on the Mount:

For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

InSecurityWatch: War, fear, cops, threats


We begin with the latest from the war of the moment, via the Los Angeles Times:

Islamic State executes scores of fellow Sunni Muslims

Islamic State forces have carried out another mass killing of civilians in western Iraq, officials said Saturday – the systematic executions of at least 50 fellow Sunni Muslim men and women belonging to a tribe that has defied the extremist militants.

Amid a months-long onslaught by the Islamic State, Iraq is growing ever more violent. The United Nations mission in Baghdad reported Saturday that at least 1,273 Iraqis had been killed in October, about two-thirds of them civilians.

In the latest grisly episode, members of the Albu Nimr tribe were lined up by the militants and shot dead late Friday in the village of Ras al-Maaa, in Anbar province, according to Naim Al-Kaood, an Albu Nimr tribal leader. He spoke to the Iraqi broadcaster Al-Sumariyah.

The Observer sees light at the end of the tunnel:

Uprising could trigger Isis undoing, says study

  • Former counter-terror head at MI6 says Islamic State’s biggest challenge will be controlling dissent

A large-scale uprising from people living under the totalitarian regime of Islamic State (Isis) is the most likely trigger that will lead to the undoing of the self-declared caliphate, according to an authoritative report into the jihadi group by the former head of counter-terrorism at MI6.

A detailed appraisal of the organisation, obtained by the Observer, says that, although Isis has performed strategically well so far, its biggest challenge will be controlling dissent and coping with the difficulties of administration in the vast territory it governs.

The report by Richard Barrett, who headed the UN’s al-Qaida and Taliban monitoring team and helped establish the UN’s working group on terrorism, is one of the most comprehensive portraits yet of the group and examines its genesis, revenue streams and cohort of foreign fighters along with its ambitions.

And from RT, a look at one ISIS fighter:

Face to Face with ISIS: RT speaks to jihadists in Lebanon (Exclusive)

Program notes:

Mass executions, kidnappings and beheadings are just some of the atrocities committed by Islamic State, as the bloodthirsty jihadists try to establish a caliphate across large areas of Syria and Iraq. The group has also killed a number of Western journalists.

CBC News admonishes:

ISIS warning given to U.K. travellers by government

Britain has taken the unusual step of issuing a general terror warning to all U.K. travelers overseas because of fears that they could be targeted by Islamic State group terrorists seeking revenge for coalition actions in the Middle East.

The Foreign Office normally offers travel warnings for individual countries. The government, for example, already warns against travel to Syria, where the Islamic State group has seized territory.

But the Foreign Office updated travel advice pages Friday to reflect a generalized threat of terrorism globally.

“There is considered to be a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against U.K. interests and British nationals from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria,” the Foreign Office said in a statement. “You should be vigilant at this time.”.

And from the Marine Corps Times via USA Today, a little paper goes a long way:

Possible ISIL leaflets found near Quantico Marine base

Officials have launched an investigation into leaflets found near Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., that “may or may not be associated with the terrorist organization known as the Islamic State.”

Quantico is a major Marine Corps installation that includes several important units and commands, such as Training and Education Command, Manpower and Reserve Affairs, and Marine Helicopter Squadron 1, which transports President Barack Obama in Marine One and tests experimental aircraft. The base is also close to the FBI Academy.

A government employee came upon seven leaflets Wednesday afternoon while running through the town of Quantico, base spokesman Maj. Andrew J. Bormann told Marine Corps Times on Friday. The leaflets have a reversed image of the Islamic State group’s flag and writing in Arabic that is translated as “We are here from Mexico and came by train,” Bormann said in an email.

From the Washington Post, diminshed expectations:

Pentagon’s plans for a spy service to rival the CIA have been pared back

The Pentagon has scaled back its plan to assemble an overseas spy service that could have rivaled the CIA in size, backing away from a project that faced opposition from lawmakers who questioned its purpose and cost, current and former U.S. officials said.

Under the revised blueprint, the Defense Intelligence Agency will train and deploy up to 500 undercover officers, roughly half the size of the espionage network envisioned two years ago when the formation of the Defense Clandestine Service was announced.

The previous plan called for moving as many as 1,000 undercover case officers overseas to work alongside the CIA and the U.S. military’s Joint Special Operations Command on counterterrorism missions and other targets of broad national security concern.

From the New York Times, a person of interest:

Former U.S. Envoy to Moscow Says Russians Are Still Spying on Him

During two years as ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul was constantly followed, harassed and demonized on state television. But though Mr. McFaul has left government service and returned home, the spying on him doesn’t seem to have stopped.

Mr. McFaul, who finished his tour as President Obama’s envoy in Moscow in February just as the clash over Ukraine was escalating, told an audience here on Friday that he believed that Russian agents were tapping his telephone as well as that of his wife, Donna Norton. He said his suspicions were confirmed recently when Ms. Norton’s boss at her nonprofit advocacy group, MomsRising, tried to reach her. “She called my wife’s cellphone and a Russian answered it,” said Mr. McFaul, who has returned to Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., where he is a professor.

What remained unclear, he added, was whether that was a glitch that accidentally exposed the spying or an intentional act to send him a warning. “Were they sloppy?” he asked during a talk at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics. “Or was that a shot across the bow to say, ‘We know you’re in Palo Alto and we’re still around’?”

And from the Washington Post, questions are raised:

Probe of FBI agent leads to release of convicted drug dealers from prison

An investigation into possible misconduct by an FBI agent has forced authorities to quietly release at least a dozen convicts serving prison sentences for distributing drugs in the District and its suburbs, according to law enforcement officials, court documents and defense attorneys.

In addition, several suspects awaiting trial on drug charges and a man convicted but not yet sentenced have also been freed. Officials said more cases- that could involve the agent are under scrutiny, including one involving 21 defendants.

None of the suspects or felons have had their charges dropped or convictions overturned. Most are on home detention in what many of their attorneys describe as a holding pattern, awaiting the outcome of the investigation into the agent, who was assigned to a D.C. police task force.

The New York Times covers an agreement:

Albuquerque Agrees to Changes on Use of Force

The Justice Department has reached a settlement with the City of Albuquerque over excessive use of force by the Police Department.

Under an agreement announced Friday, an independent monitor will be installed to oversee reforms at the department for at least two years, and the department will adopt new policies aiming to ease conflict with citizens.

The Justice Department in April found a pattern of excessive force in the Albuquerque Police Department, after a string of shootings in which 23 people were killed and 14 others wounded over four years, an usually high number for a city of about 550,000 people.

Under the agreement, the Police Department will undertake a host of sweeping changes, many of them designed to reduce the use of force. Officers will be trained to handle people who are mentally unstable; the way that the department investigates shootings involving officers will be changed; and officers will be required to wear body cameras to record many interactions with the public.

From the Daily Dot, oops:

Dashcam captures two Austin police officers joking about rape

The Austin Police Department is launching an investigation into a dashcam video showing on-duty officers joking about rape.

Austin attorney Drew Gibbs made the video public after acquiring the footage during a routine car crash investigation. The footage, which is from May, shows two police officers, later reported to be Officer Mark Lyttle and Officer Michael Castillo. They appear to be sarcastically discussing what would happen if the police force “rode out” for a week.

After speculating that the crime rate would drop and “the world would be at peace for a week” if the cops did their ride-out, the conversation turns. One officer suggests that they’d simply “turn a blind eye” to crimes being reported. “I want to report a robbery! You probably deserved it,” the first officer jokes.

The video itself, posted by Austin’s Finest:

“They can’t unrape you.” – Austin’s Finest

Program notes:

Two Austin PD officers yucking it up about what bad asses they are while investigating a fender bender collision, until the appearance of an attractive female. One officer then blows his whistle at the female and says to his fellow officer, “Go ahead. Call the cops. They can’t unrape you.”

The critical moments after the officers started joking about not responding crime calls, transcribed by KXAN television:

Officer 1: Either that, or, you’d think that because we’d turn a blind eye towards everything.
Officer 2: Or that.
Officer 1: (Expletive) who cares.
Officer 2: Or that. It could be that.
Officer 1: I want to report a robbery! You probably deserved it.

Officer 1: Look at that girl over there.
Officer 2: (blows whistle) Go ahead and call the cops. They can’t unrape you. (laughter)
Officer 1: You didn’t turn your camera off, did you?
Officer 2: They can’t unrape you

Pursuing the exploltable with the Yomiuri Shimbun:

‘Bug hunters’ wanted by security firms

A vulnerability reward program, in which information technology companies pay bounties to good-willed engineers who find flaws in their computer programs, is attracting attention as a new defensive measure against cyber-attacks.

Vulnerabilities caused by computer bugs and other problems tend to become security loopholes that can be misused in cyber-attacks. Information on them is said to be traded at high prices among hackers.

Vulnerability reward programs attempt to encourage the identification of bugs with the help of good-willed outsiders, allowing the bugs to be fixed before potential cyber-attackers become aware of them. But, it is not yet clear whether such reward programs will flourish within the culture of Japanese companies, which tend to dislike the disclosure of vulnerabilities in their computer programs and may even consider efforts to find them as criminal.

From TheLocal.it, an offer they thought they couldn’t refuse:

Italy president: Mafia tried to blackmail state

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano told a trial in which state officials are accused of making a secret deal with the Mafia that mobsters carried out bombings in the 1990s to coerce the government, a transcript released Friday showed.

Napolitano, who is not accused of playing a role in the alleged deal, gave evidence Tuesday as prosecutors attempt to unearth fresh evidence on mob bombings two decades ago which killed 21 people including two top anti-Mafia judges.

According to a transcript of the hearing released by the president’s office, he told prosecutor Nino Di Matteo the attacks were a form of “extortion or outright pressure aimed at destabilizing the entire system, on the premise that there there might be disarray among state authorities”.

InSecurity in Mexico from Punch Nigeria:

Seven kidnapped triathletes freed in Mexico

Seven triathletes kidnapped while training in Mexico City have been released, a spokesman for the National Security Commission said on Saturday, amid reports of a ransom payment.

The Director of the Police Anti-abduction Unit, Renato Heredia, made this known to newsmen in Mexico.

“The four women and three men were freed after negotiations over an unspecified ransom were successful. Another man captured at the same time managed to escape and contact police,” Heredia said.

He said the group was seized on Thursday in a wood in Ajusco, a southern part of the Mexican capital, after completing a training session on their bicycles.

Opposition from CCTV News:

China strongly opposes US arms sales to Taiwan

China has urged the United States and Italy not to go forward with a proposed arms deal with Taiwan, saying the people of China and its government “have always been firmly opposed” to such arms sales.

Hong Lei, the spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry reiterates that “China is resolutely opposed to any foreign countries selling weapons to Taiwan and any form of exchange or cooperation in military technology. We demand that the relevant countries respect China’s core interests, abide by the One China principle, and take concrete action to support the peaceful development of Cross-Strait relations and the reunification of China.”

The strong Chinese statement comes after reports that the US company Lockheed-Martin and the Italian company Intermarine have signed a deal to help build six minesweepers in Taiwan.

And from the Japan Times, abominable intransigence:

The uncomfortable truth about ‘comfort women’

In recent weeks, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his chief Cabinet secretary have accused the Asahi Shimbun of “shaming Japan.” In August, the newspaper retracted articles based on the testimony of a Japanese solider, Masao Yoshida, who claimed to have rounded up “comfort women.”

Comfort women is a euphemism for the females serving as prostitutes to the Japanese military during World War II. The conservative press, led by the ultranationalist Sankei Shimbun and the Yomiuri Shimbun, seized upon the Asahi’s partial retraction of past reporting as absolute proof that the government had no role in coercing women into working as prostitutes.

The right-wing argument seems to work like this: If there are 1,000 pieces of evidence and one or two of them are wrong, they’re all wrong by extension.

By this logic, the Japanese military wasn’t involved in sexual slavery and no women were victimized — in short, that all women testifying to their deplorable experience are money-grubbing whores.

After the Asahi retraction, Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party issued a statement demanding that newspapers worldwide correct their mistaken reports — which, they seemed to imply, was based solely on Yoshida’s testimony. The LDP has also pledged to conduct an investigation into the comfort women issue.

EbolaWatch: Numbers, panic, law, & Africa


Always Africa, the latest headlines from the hot zone press — including gay-blaming — after the jump. . .

First, the latest numbers from Reuters:

Ebola death toll rises, fewer cases in Guinea than thought – WHO

The Ebola epidemic has killed 4,951 people out of 13,567 infected in eight countries, the World Health Organisation said on Friday, slightly revising downwards its figures for cases mainly due to “suspected cases in Guinea being discarded”.

The toll reflects a rise of 31 deaths since the United Nations agency reported its previous figures on Wednesday, while the number of overall cases fell by 136.

“Of the eight Guinean and Liberian districts that share a border with Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), only one in Guinea is yet to report a confirmed or probable case of Ebola virus disease,” the WHO warned in the statement.

The epidemiological curve from the European Centre of Disease Prevention and Control [click on the image to enlarge]:

BLOG Ebola curve

And from intelNews, an Ebolahobic Islamaphobe’s worst nightmare:

Are militant groups interested in weaponizing Ebola?

Does the Ebola epidemic present militant groups, such as the Islamic State or al-Qaeda, with the opportunity to weaponize viruses and direct them against Western targets? Earlier this month, United States Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson dismissed in strong terms the possibility that Ebola would be used by Islamic State militants to attack American targets.

Speaking to the Association of the United States Army, Johnson acknowledged that the Islamic State is a “very, very dangerous terrorist organization”, but added that his Department had seen “no specific credible evidence that [the Islamic State] is attempting to use any sort of disease or virus to attack” the US.

A few days earlier, however, Forbes magazine had quoted Al Shimkus, Professor of National Security Affairs at the US Naval War College, as saying that the Ebola outbreak presented Islamist groups with the opportunity to use a low-tech bioterrorist weapon “to attempt to wreak strategic global infection”. Shimkus added that a group like the Islamic State wouldn’t even have to weaponize the virus’ it could “simply use human carriers to intentionally infect themselves in West Africa, then disseminate the deadly virus via the world’s air transportation system”, he said.

On Wednesday, a senior Spanish official told a parliamentary committee in Madrid that the government of Spain was “taking seriously” discussions in Internet forums linked to the Islamic State about using biological weapons against the West.

From Military Times via USA Today, militarizing the domestic response:

U.S. military to train more Ebola response teams

The U.S. military will train more medical personnel to respond to domestic cases of Ebola should they occur, a senior Defense Department official said Thursday.

Plans are under way to form more military Ebola medical response teams similar to the 30-member group that completed training this week at San Antonio Military Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

The official said the Pentagon is anticipating a request from the Health and Human Services Department for more medical personnel who would respond on short notice to civilian medical facilities should they need help treating Ebola patients.

And from Voice of America, as predicted in yesterday’s EbolaWatch:

Lawmaker Blasts US Participation in Cuba Ebola Meeting

One of Washington’s most vocal opponents of the Castro brothers’ regime in Cuba has blasted the U.S. decision to attend an Ebola conference in Havana this week.

Representative Mario Diaz-Balart called the participation of a mid-level official from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the two-day multinational meeting “a disgrace.”

The United States has no official diplomatic relationship with the Communist island nation.

Dr. Nelson Arboleda, Director of CDC’s Guatemala office and Regional Programs, represented the CDC at the conference that ended Thursday.

“It’s been a very rich technical experience in which we’ve learned all the different plans of all the different countries and that helps us, as a bloc, identify the needed areas to be better prepared in our region,” said Arboleda.

From the Los Angeles Times, cool on the coast:

Most voters not worried about Ebola threat in California

Despite an onslaught of news bulletins and some missteps in the nation’s response, a majority of California voters are unfazed by the Ebola threat and confident government officials and medical workers are prepared to handle outbreaks, a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll has found.

Nearly 70% of respondents in the statewide survey indicated they weren’t particularly concerned about encountering the deadly virus.

Thirty percent of registered voters said they were very or somewhat worried that they or someone in their family would be exposed to the virus. Those fears were most pronounced among Latinos, nearly half of whom said they were at least somewhat worried about Ebola exposure, the poll found.

At the same time, more than half of all respondents said they had a great deal or a fair amount of confidence that local, state and federal officials will be able to deal with Ebola, with nearly 70% expressing similar faith in local hospitals and doctors.

A legal rebuff from the New York Times:

Maine Judge Rejects Ebola Quarantine for Nurse

Less than a day after restricting the movements of a nurse who treated Ebola victims in West Africa, a judge in Maine has lifted the measures, rejecting arguments by the State of Maine that a quarantine was necessary to protect the public.

Within an hour of the decision, state troopers who had been parked outside the nurse’s house for days had left.

The order, signed on Friday by Judge Charles C. LaVerdiere, the chief judge for the Maine District Courts who serves in Kennebec and Somerset counties, said the nurse, Kaci Hickox, “currently does not show symptoms of Ebola and is therefore not infectious.”

The order requires Ms. Hickox to submit to daily monitoring for symptoms, to coordinate her travel with state health officials, and to notify them immediately if symptoms appear. Ms. Hickox has agreed to follow the requirements.

One key detail from the Guardian:

Maine nurse can leave home but must maintain 3ft distance from others, court rules

  • State obtains temporary court order forcing Kaci Hickox to follow CDC’s Ebola guidelines, but Hickox will not be subject to home quarantine

The predictable from Reuters:

Judge’s rejection of nurse quarantine ‘unfortunate’: Maine governor

Maine Governor Paul LePage said on Friday it was unfortunate that a judge rejected the state’s attempts to impose a strict quarantine on an American nurse who treated Ebola patients in West Africa, but said he will abide by the ruling.

The ruling appeared to end a stand-off between the state and the nurse, Kaci Hickox, who had defied officials by leaving her house and going for a bike ride.

“The judge has eased restrictions with this ruling. And I believe it is unfortunate,” LePage said in a statement. “However, the state will abide by law.”

And an exercise in self-control from the Associated Press:

US Ambassador Says She’s Monitoring for Ebola

The U.S. ambassador who just returned from the three West African countries worst hit by Ebola said Friday she’s self-monitoring for the virus like anyone else.

Samantha Power, the envoy to the United Nations, has been openly critical of the quarantine restrictions that some U.S. states have struggled to put in place as fear spreads over the worst outbreak of the disease in history.

She described herself as “low-risk” and said she had not gone into Ebola treatment units while visiting Liberia, Sierra Leona and Guinea. Now, following federal guidelines, she checks her temperature and calls health authorities twice a day. She also didn’t hesitate to shake hands Friday.

Another exercise in exclusion from the London Telegraph:

Ebola: Oxford academic banned from US conference

  • Piero Olliaro told he will be confined to New Orleans hotel room

An Oxford academic has had to pull out of a conference on Ebola and tropical diseases in New Orleans after being told he would be confined to his hotel room.

Piero Olliaro, a visiting fellow at Lincoln College, Oxford, was due to present several papers on research he had been doing on malaria and river blindness.

But Dr Olliaro, who is a senior figure at the World Health Organisation Special Programme Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, has fallen foul of Louisiana’s strict quarantine rules.

He is one of around a dozen experts who have had to withdraw from the conference – the world’s biggest on tropical diseases – because of Louisiana’s strict quarantine rules.

A Spanish patient’s lament from El País:

Ebola nursing assistant: “I don’t want any interviews, I want my dog back!”

  • Teresa Romero speaks on the phone with her husband about their euthanized pet

Thursday was a day of tears and rage for Teresa Romero, the Spanish nursing assistant who became the first Ebola transmission case outside Africa.

The first cause for anger is her dog, Excalibur, which was put down while she remained in intensive care at Carlos III Hospital in Madrid. Romero found out what had happened several days ago from her husband, Javier Limón, who was himself kept in isolation for 21 days because of the risk that he might have contracted the virus through contact with her.

Romero remains isolated at the hospital despite being officially free of Ebola after a second blood test came in negative for the virus. But one last test is being conducted before she is transferred to an ordinary ward to recover from the damage wrought by the virus, especially to her lungs.

Exclusionary excess from the Associated Press:

Ashes from Ebola victim’s apartment in limbo

It took a crew 38 hours to clear out the Dallas apartment where Thomas Eric Duncan was staying before he was diagnosed Sept. 30 with Ebola. Hazmat suit-clad workers piled shoes, carpets, mattresses, bed sheets, clothes and kids’ backpacks into 140 55-gallon drums. Only a few items were salvaged: a computer hard drive, legal documents, family photos, an old Bible belonging to Duncan’s grandmother.

The drums were packed, decontaminated and then carted away by Cleaning Guys environmental services employees. The contents were incinerated. But nearly a month later, the ashes sit in limbo at a facility in Port Arthur, Texas, according to Veolia North America, the company that owns the facility, as Louisiana officials fight to keep it out of a landfill there.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says incinerated Ebola waste poses no danger, Louisiana officials earlier this month asked a judge to block Duncan’s waste from entering the state, saying they wanted to determine for themselves that it was not dangerous. On Friday, state officials announced that Veolia has agreed to keep the ash out of the state’s landfill.

Another exclusionary exercise from the Canadian Press:

Canada won’t issue visas to residents of countries battling Ebola

Canada is following in Australia’s footsteps and is suspending visa applications for residents and nationals of the West African countries battling Ebola.

The federal government signalled it would stop issuing visas in the worker, student or visitor class and will not issue any pending permanent residency visas for people from those countries either. Any applications already in the system will also not be processed at this time.

The change, which goes into effect immediately, was announced Friday in the Canada Gazette.

A counterblast from BBC News:

UN chief defends returning Ebola aid workers

  • UN chief Ban Ki-moon says aid workers dealing with the Ebola crisis are “exceptional people”

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has said discrimination against aid workers who return home from the Ebola crisis in West Africa is “unacceptable”.

Strict quarantine rules are hampering aid efforts when more health workers are needed in order to deal with the crisis, he told BBC News in Nairobi.

International efforts have been insufficient but are now “catching up”, the UN secretary general added. “We have been really trying to mobilise in a massive way,” he said.

Japanese sharing from the Mainichi:

Gov’t to release flight info in cases of suspected Ebola infections

The government will release the flight information of any passengers suspected of being infected with the Ebola virus, under a new policy announced on Oct. 31.

Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Akihiro Ota told reporters that under the new information dissemination policy, the government would be allowed to announce the flight number and the number of fellow passengers of those arriving in Japan suspected of being infected with Ebola. The person’s age bracket, gender and where they stayed during their trip could also be released.

Ota pointed out that information disclosure is a serious issue as airport staff and airline passengers are concerned about the spread of Ebola. The government would decide the timing of the announcement. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry will release the government’s final decision on the policy as early as next week.

The Diplomat mulls motivation:

South Korea’s Ebola Response

  • Are plans to send a team to two of the most afflicted countries in Africa driven by humanitarian or political motives?

Sub-Saharan Africa is increasingly within the political and economic sights of South Korean government strategy, a strategy designed to bring some measure of stability to South Korea’s fragile food and fuel supplies. Thus, the decision to send a medical team comprising civilian volunteers and military medics recruited by the Ministry of National Defense to help fight the devastating Ebola outbreak in western Africa could legitimately be viewed as something more than a response to an international plea for help. Rather, despite concerns for the team’s safety, it enhances the Park administration’s push to establish itself as a viable development partner for Africa over China or even North Korea.

This enhancement is arguably more pressing given the response by some sectors of the South Korean citizenry to the Ebola outbreak. It is also a useful offset to concern over the involvement of South Korean ships engaging in illegal fishing, which has driven a perception that South Korean engagement in the region is far from benevolent. According to a recent report, illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing has become a serious economic impediment in the region, with South Korea “increasingly being implicated as a lead villain in the growing controversy … (including) its role in dubious fishing policies in waters in East Africa and off the coast of Puntland.”

Designs for a Chinese screen from CCTV News:

Beijing holds drills to detect travelers with Ebola

On Thursday, Beijing authorities held an Ebola preparedness drill in which a subject had to be identified and quarantined in the quickest, safest manner. Thursday’s scenario involved an individual passing through the Beijing International Airport while being suspected of having the Ebola virus.

The subject was immediately quarantined and transferred to a designated hospital equipped with special facilities to treat and secure the suspected Ebola patient and the medical staff taking care of him/her.  According to procedure, following a preliminary check, the details of the case were reported to China’s disease control department.  Samples were taken and the patient continued to undergo monitoring.

Authorities say that the drill was performed to further familiarize hospitals with the procedures necessary for treating suspected Ebola cases that could show up at a hospital at any time.

And the accompanying video report:

Beijing holds drills to detect travelers with Ebola

Program notes:

On Thursday, Beijing authorities held an Ebola preparedness drill in which a subject had to be identified and quarantined in the quickest, safest manner. Thursday’s scenario involved an individual passing through the Beijing International Airport while being suspected of having the Ebola virus.

After the jump, it’s on to Africa, first with a new pledge from China, charges of failure to aid, an anti-exclusion plea from Nigeria, on to Liberia and a a new facility opens and challenges the Aussies, superpowered survivors, presidential confidence expounded while others take a less confident view of her, a video look at a burial detail, an official cremation espousal, and, finally, scapegoating gays from the pulpit. . . Continue reading

Quote of the day: Obama’s transparency fail


From Erik Wemple, writing in the Washington Post:

At some point, a compendium of condemnations against the Obama administration’s record of media transparency (actually, opacity) must be assembled. Notable quotations in this vein come from former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson, who said, “It is the most secretive White House that I have ever been involved in covering”; New York Times reporter James Risen, who said, “I think Obama hates the press”; and CBS News’s Bob Schieffer, who said, “This administration exercises more control than George W. Bush’s did, and his before that.”

USA Today Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page has added a sharper edge to this set of knives. Speaking Saturday at a White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) seminar, Page called the current White House not only “more restrictive” but also “more dangerous” to the press than any other in history, a clear reference to the Obama administration’s leak investigations and its naming of Fox News’s James Rosen as a possible “co-conspirator” in a violation of the Espionage Act.

The WHCA convened the event both to strategize over how to open up the byways of the self-proclaimed most transparent administration in history, as well as to compare war stories on the many ways in which it is not.

Peter Baker, the veteran Washington reporter from the New York Times, provided perhaps the best instance of White House-administered madness. In covering a breaking story recently, Baker received a note from a White House handler indicating that President Obama had been briefed on the matter in question.

That information came to Baker “on background.” The gist: Not from me — a meeting has occurred..

Quote of the day: Inequality and Ebola


From Nissim Mannathukkaren of Dalhousie University’s international relations faculty in Halifax, Nova Scotia, writing in The Hindu:

Inequalities are at the heart of the Ebola crisis. Ebolas are produced in a world in which the United States spends $8,362 annually per person on health while Eritrea (Africa) spends $12. It is the same world in which the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries which constitute a mere 18 per cent of the world’s population spend 84 per cent of the total money spent on health in the world. Thus, unsurprisingly, 95 per cent of tuberculosis deaths and 99 per cent of maternal mortality are in the developing world.

And these inequalities are not only between the developed and the developing worlds, but also exist within the developed world as the health indicators of African Americans and indigenous people in North America show. In the city of London, it is estimated that while travelling on the tube eastwards from Westminster, each tube station signifies the loss of approximately one year of life expectancy.

It is not an accident that Ebola’s epicentre is in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. They are some of the poorest countries in the world with a history of wars and conflicts, and of collapsing or dysfunctional health systems. Liberia has only 51 doctors to serve 4.2 million people and Sierra Leone, 136 for six million.

Inequalities mark every step of the current outbreak. Questions are being asked about the initial tardy hospital treatment given to Duncan and whether his race and class had anything to do with it — here was an African man without medical insurance seeking emergency medical help in the most privatised and corporatised medical system in the West. That his nine-day treatment cost $5,00,000 (Rs.3 crore) should tell us something about the state of global health care.

When American missionaries Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol were infected with Ebola in Liberia, the American government had them airlifted — isolated in an “aeromedical biological containment system” — and had them successfully treated in the U.S. Contrast this with the 22-year-old Liberian woman and nurse-in-training, Fatu Kekula, who was forced to look after four of her Ebola-stricken family members at home using trash bags as protective gear after hospitals turned her away.