Category Archives: Intolerance

InSecurityWatch: Terror, war, Mexico, Hong Kong


And lots more. . .

First up, from the Associated Press:

2 dead in shooting attack at Canada’s Parliament

A gunman with a scarf over his face killed a soldier standing guard at Canada’s war memorial Wednesday, then stormed Parliament in an attack that rocked the building with the boom of gunfire and forced lawmakers to barricade themselves in meeting rooms. The gunman was shot to death by the ceremonial sergeant-at-arms.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper called the rampage the second deadly terrorist attack on Canadian soil in three days. “This week’s events are a grim reminder that Canada is not immune to the types of terrorist attacks we have seen elsewhere,” Harper said.

He added: “We will not be intimidated. Canada will never be intimidated.”

Canada was already on alert at the time of the shooting rampage because of a deadly hit-and-run assault Monday against two Canadian soldiers by a man Harper described as an “ISIL-inspired terrorist.” ISIL is also known as Islamic State.

More from the Toronto Globe and Mail:

Federal sources have identified the suspected shooter as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a man in his early 30s who was known to Canadian authorities.

Sources told The Globe and Mail that he was recently designated a “high-risk traveller” by the Canadian government and that his passport had been seized – the same circumstances surrounding the case of Martin Rouleau-Couture, the Quebecker who was shot Monday after running down two Canadian Forces soldiers with his car.

Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau has a record in Quebec in the early 2000s for petty crimes such as possession of drugs, credit-card forgery and robbery. He was also charged with robbery in 2011 in Vancouver.

The soldier who was killed was identified as Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, according to his aunt. Cpl. Cirillo, who was a member of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, a regiment of Reserve Forces based in Hamilton, was training to join the Canada Border Services Agency, his aunt told The Globe and Mail.

On to the Mideast with Reuters:

Consumed by Islamic State, Iraq’s Anbar province a key battleground again

In recent weeks, the world has watched the battle to save Syria’s border town of Kobani from Islamic State. But the radical jihadists have for longer been engulfing another strategically more vital target – Iraq’s western Anbar province and its road to Baghdad.

The vast desert region – where Sunni tribes rose up in 2006 and 2007 to drive out al-Qaeda with the Americans – has throughout 2014 been parcelled up, city by military camp, before the Iraqi government and U.S. forces could act.

Now Anbar’s largest airbase Ain al-Asad, the Haditha Dam – a critical piece of infrastructure – and surrounding towns are encircled by Islamic State to the west from the Syrian border and to the east from militant-controlled sections of Ramadi.

Droning on with Old Blighty via the Guardian:

UK to fly military drones over Syria

  • Government says Reaper drones will be deployed soon to gather intelligence, but insists move is not a military intervention

Britain is to send military drones over Syria to gather intelligence in a move that will deepen its involvement in the campaign against Islamic State (Isis), Michael Fallon, the defence secretary, has revealed.

Downing Street insisted that the flights did not amount to military intervention and said there was a clear legal case for drone surveillance in Syria under the principles of “national and collective defence”.

The Reaper drones have already been active in Iraq, after parliament gave its approval for Britain to take part in air strikes against Isis. However, this will be the first time they will have ventured into Syrian territory, where David Cameron has not sought approval for military action because of fears it would be blocked by Labour and some within the prime minister’s own party.

From the London Daily Mail, that old-time religion:

ISIS releases sickening video clip showing Syrian woman being stoned to death by group of men – including her own father

  • Shocking footage understood to have been filmed in Syrian city of Hama
  • Cleric seen ranting at woman and accusing her of committing adultery
  • Woman told to be ‘content and happy’ at stoning as it is ordered by God
  • She pleads for her life before asking if her father could ever forgive her
  • He responds telling her not to call him father, then orders murder to begin
  • A man was also stoned to death for adultery in a separate incident

From the Guardian, before the fall:

Life inside Kobani before Isis attacked

Program notes:

New video footage filmed inside Kobani shows what life was like for the Kurdish civilians living there just a few days before Islamic State, or Isis, attacked the city.

In footage obtained by the Guardian, local journalist Moustafa Ghaleb records candid interviews with friends and family, as coalition air-strikes buzz overhead and the Isis advance prompts people to evacuate to the Turkish border.

From SciDev.Net, demanding science:

ISIS besieges universities but allows scientists’ return

Scores of students and professors have left Iraqi universities as the militants of the self-styled Islamic State (ISIS) continue to advance in Iraq and Syria — but now the group appears to want the researchers to come back.

“We grant all teachers … whose place of work or residence is within the caliphate [an Islamic state], a maximum period of ten days from the date of this statement to return and resume their work. If they fail to do so, their moveable and immovable property will be confiscated,” reads a leaflet, reportedly distributed by ISIS on 3 October.

Having captured large swathes of Syria and Iraq, in late June ISIS stated it had created a caliphate stretching from Aleppo in Syria to the province of Diyala in Iraq. The group has reportedly replaced the name ‘Republic of Iraq’ on some universities and research institutions with ‘Islamic State — Knowledge Bureau’.

And from MintiPress News, hints of a hidden hand:

Erdogan: The Man Pulling The Strings In A Middle Eastern Puppet Show

Turkey certainly didn’t invent ISIS, but the Turkish government under former Prime Minister, current President Erdogan has been stoking Islamic radicalism to further its own political goals — namely, the fall of Assad and the return of something reminiscent of the Ottomans

As noted by Veli Sirin in a report for the Gatestone Institute, “Turkey under a stronger Erdogan presidency may become more Islamic, more neo-Ottoman, and more directed to the East rather than the West.”

“Neo-Ottoman” and “Islamic” seem very much the order of the day when referring to Turkey and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s foreign agenda, which supported the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria, which later merged with the Nusra Front and ISIS — especially vis-a-vis the rise of ISIS in the greater Levant.

According to many, Erdogan’s alleged shadow games with ISIS represent little more than the manifestations of a desire to see rise a new Ottoman Empire, the impetus of which will be fed by ISIS crusaders. Egypt’s foreign ministry issued a statement in September, slamming Erdogan for his promotion of terror in the region. The statement read, “The Turkish President, who is keen to provoke chaos to sow divisions in the Middle East region through its support for groups and terrorist organizations … Whether political support or funding or accommodation in order to harm the interests of the peoples of the region to achieve personal ambitions for the Turkish president and revive illusions of the past.”

Even more damaging was the April publication of Seymour Hersh’s work, “The Red Line and the Rat Line,” in which the veteran journalist argues Turkey would have orchestrated the Ghouta sarin gas attack in order to drag the United States into a war.

The Christian Science Monitor points to the unseen obvious:

America’s Saudi problem in its anti-IS coalition

  • Saudi Arabia sentenced dissident Shiite cleric Nimr Baqir al-Nimr to death. That’s trouble for a strategy that rests on ending sectarianism in Iraq

Following two years in jail, most of that time in solitary confinement, Saudi Arabia sentenced dissident Shiite cleric Nimr Baqir al-Nimr to death [15 October] for leading demonstrations and “inciting sectarian strife.” Mr. Nimr’s predicament – and that of at least 5 other Shiite activists Saudi Arabia has sentenced to death this year – illustrates a problem for the US strategy for taking on the so-called Islamic State in Iraq.

The Obama administration believes that a non-sectarian government in Iraq is the key answer to the country’s problems. There’s little doubt that the Shiite dominated politics that emerged after the US invaded Iraq in 2003 has fueled support for IS among the country’s Sunni Arabs.

But with country’s like Saudi Arabia in the coalition the US is trying to build against IS, you have one of the greatest forces for sectarianism in the region. Nimr has long been an influential figure among Saudi Arabia’s repressed Shiite minority, who are concentrated in the country’s oil-rich east.

While the Washington Post covers a problem for the press:

New Afghan government investigates newspaper for ‘blasphemous article’

Top staffers at an Afghan newspaper are being investigated for blasphemy after the publication of an article that questioned whether Muslims should embrace the possibility that more than one God exists.

The investigation, apparently being led by intelligence and cultural affairs officials, came at the request of Afghanistan’s new president and chief executive officer.

Afghan officials stressed Wednesday that no arrests have been made.

More domestic blowback from the Associated Press:

FBI: Denver girls may have tried to join jihadis

The FBI said Tuesday that it’s investigating the possibility that three girls from the Denver area tried to travel to Syria to join Islamic State extremists.

An FBI spokeswoman says agents helped bring the girls back to Denver after stopping them in Germany. Spokeswoman Suzie Payne says they’re safe and have been reunited with their families.

She didn’t identify the girls or provided other details.

The announcement comes one month after 19-year-old Shannon Conley of Arvada, Colorado, pleaded guilty to charges that she conspired to help militants in Syria.

And in Germany, via CNN:

From Jewish football to jihad: German ISIS suspect faces jail

At first Alon Meyer thought it was a bad joke.

When Kreshnik Berisha, the first suspected member of ISIS to stand trial in Germany, was arrested upon his arrival back in Frankfurt in December after spending six months in Syria, youth team football coach Meyer was left shell-shocked.

The coach thought for a while and then it slowly sank in — this was the same boy who had once stood by his side and taken the field in the shirt of Makkabi Frankfurt, Germany’s largest Jewish sports club.

Meyer’s phone began to buzz with journalists trying to ask him whether he remembered Berisha, a 20-year-old born in Frankfurt to Kosovan parents.

And to toss another ingredient into the stew, this from BBC News:

Iraq Blackwater: US jury convicts four of 2007 killings

A US federal jury has found four Blackwater security guards guilty of killing 14 Iraqis in a square in Baghdad in 2007.

One former guard was found guilty of murder with three others guilty of voluntary manslaughter.

A further 17 Iraqis were injured as the private contractors opened fire to clear the way for a US convoy.

The shootings sparked international outrage and a debate over the role of defence contractors in warfare.

From intelNews, interesting:

Iran announces arrest of alleged spies at Bushehr nuclear plant

Senior Iranian government officials have announced the arrest of a group of alleged spies in Iran’s southwestern province of Bushehr, home to the country’s only nuclear energy plant. Iranian Intelligence Minister Seyed Mahmoud Alawi told the semi-official Fars News Agency on Tuesday that the spies had been “identified and sent to justice”.

Located along Iran’s coastal Persian Gulf region, the Bushehr nuclear power plant has a long history. Its construction initially began in the mid-1970s by German engineers. But work on the plant was halted in 1979, immediately following the Islamic Revolution. Iraqi forces repeatedly bombarded the site during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. But the government began to rebuild it in the 1990s with the help of Russian technicians.

In September of 2011, the Bushehr nuclear power plant was inaugurated in a widely publicized ceremony that was attended by several Russian officials, including Minister of Energy Sergei Shmatko. The completion of the facility made it the first civilian nuclear power plant anywhere in the Middle East

A spooky anti-Snowden valedictory from the Guardian:

Outgoing GCHQ boss defends agency activities after Snowden revelations

  • Sir Iain Lobban uses valedictory address to praise extraordinary job of staff with ‘mission of liberty, not erosion of it’

Sir Iain Lobban, the outgoing director of Britain’s eavesdropping agency GCHQ, has used his valedictory address to deliver a full-throated defence of its activities in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations.

In a speech referencing cryptographer Alan Turing and wartime codebreaking efforts, Lobban praised GCHQ staff as “ordinary people doing an extraordinary job”, and said his agency’s mission was “the protection of liberty, not the erosion of it”.

The usually secretive agency has been under unprecedented scrutiny since June 2013 when the Guardian and other news organisations revealed how it and its US counterpart, the NSA, were scooping up vast quantities of internet and phone traffic.

More from the London Telegraph:

GCHQ chief: Internet has become refuge for plotters

Sir Iain Lobban, the outgoing head of GCHQ, says that the idea the internet doesn’t need policing is a flawed ‘Utopian dream’ as he argues the security services need ‘strong capabilities’ to stop those who want to harm Britain

The Internet has become a refuge for the “worst aspects of human nature” and the security services are making huge sacrifices to protect the public from “plotters, proliferators and paedophiles”, the outgoing head of GCHQ has warned.

In his valedictory speech Sir Iain Lobban said that his staff are “ordinary people doing an extraordinary job” who have been “insulted time and again” by allegations that they carry out mass surveillance.

But he warned that the “Utopian dream” that the Internet should remain a “totally ungoverned space” is “flawed” and said that Britain needs “strong intelligence and cyber capabilities” to identify those who “would do us harm”.

Severance from Reuters:

Exclusive: Ex-spy chief’s private firm ends deal with U.S. official

Former National Security Agency director Keith Alexander has ended a deal with a senior U.S. intelligence official allowing the official to work part-time for his firm, an arrangement current and former officials said risked a conflict of interest.

Reuters reported on Friday that the U.S. National Security Agency had launched an internal review of the arrangement between NSA Chief Technical Officer Patrick Dowd and IronNet Cybersecurity Inc, which is led by Alexander, his former boss.

On Tuesday, Alexander said: “While we understand we did everything right, I think there’s still enough issues out there that create problems for Dr. Dowd, for NSA, for my company,” that it was best for him to terminate the deal.

U.S. intelligence officials past and present said the agreement risked a conflict of interest between sensitive government work and private business, and could be seen as giving favoritism to Alexander’s venture, even if the deal was approved by NSA lawyers and executives.

Vice News makes a telling point:

We Can’t Properly Debate Drone Casualties Without Knowing The Names of Those Killed

The most important question to ask of the Global War on Terror should be the most simple to answer. Instead, it is a perennial shadow cast over US counter-terror operations since 9/11.

We still don’t know, and still must ask: Who exactly is the enemy?

In 2001, the Authorization of Military Force Act told us that the enemy was whoever perpetrated the September 11 attacks and their affiliates. In 2013, President Barack Obama stated that this meant “al Qaeda, the Taliban, and its associated forces.” But associated forces was not defined. Administration officials told the New York Times that Obama’s method for counting combatants “in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone.” A Justice Department memo released this summer told us that US citizens, too, could be legitimate targets. Then, the Islamic State, a terror group actively disaffiliated with al Qaeda and the Taliban, were included as “the enemy.”

“The enemy,” then, is whomever gets targeted as the enemy. The validity and legality of these targets is debated post hoc, often after they are dead. A chilling illustration of this comes in the form of a new report from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a UK-based organization that tracks US drone usage and the victims of drone strikes. The Bureau’s Naming the Dead project makes clear quite how little we know about the casualties of these strikes, which stretch the notion of “targeted” beyond recognition.

The Washington Post gets testy:

Panetta clashed with CIA over memoir, tested agency review process

Former CIA director Leon E. Panetta clashed with the agency over the contents of his recently published memoir and allowed his publisher to begin editing and making copies of the book before he had received final approval from the CIA, according to former U.S. officials and others familiar with the project.

Panetta’s decision appears to have put him in violation of the secrecy agreement that all CIA employees are required to sign, and came amid a showdown with agency reviewers that could have derailed the release of the book this month, people involved in the matter said.

The memoir, which is almost unfailingly complimentary toward the spy service where he served as director from 2009 to 2011, was ultimately approved by the CIA’s Publications Review Board before it reached store shelves.

But preempting that panel — even temporarily — carried legal risks for both Panetta and his publisher. Other former CIA employees have been sued for breach of contract and forced to surrender proceeds from sales of books that ran afoul of CIA rules.

And from the Guardian, a resource chiller:

Russia prepares for ice-cold war with show of military force in the Arctic

  • Vladimir Putin sends troops and jets to oil- and gas-rich region also coveted by Canada, United States, Norway and Denmark

Yaya is a very small Arctic island, barely one metre above sea level and covering only 500 square metres. Russian pilots discovered it at the beginning of October. With the Admiral Vladimirsky research ship having confirmed its presence in the Laptev Sea, Yaya will soon be added to the map of the Arctic Ocean and will become part of Russian territory, the RIA Novosti state news agency announced. In its determination to defend its interests in this icy waste, Russia is no longer content to leave its mark, as it did in 2007 when it planted a Russian flag, in a titanium capsule, 4,200 metres below the north pole. Now it is engaging in large-scale militarisation of the Arctic, a vast area coveted by itself and its four neighbours: Canada, the United States, Norway and Denmark.

RIA Novosti says that former Soviet bases are being reactivated in response to renewed Nato interest in the region. According to the Russian authorities, the airstrip on Novaya Zemlya can now accommodate fighters and part of the North Fleet is establishing quarters there. A new military group will be formed in the far north consisting of two brigades, totalling 6,000 soldiers, deployed in the Murmansk area and then the Yamal-Nenets autonomous region. Radar and ground guidance systems are also planned for Franz Josef Land (part of Novaya Zemlya), Wrangel Island and at Cape Schmidt. The federal security service plans to increase the number of border guards on Russia’s northern perimeter.

During the recent Vostok 2014 full-scale military exercises – the biggest since the end of the Soviet Union – Russian troops carried out combat missions in the Arctic, using the Pantsir-S and Iskander-M weapon systems. Such moves may bring back the atmosphere of the cold war, when the region was the focus of US and Nato attention, as they were convinced that it would be a launchpad for nuclear strikes.

After the jump, Swedish sub anxieties and a declaration of force and purse strings opening, secret dealings in Germany, Germany arms deal secrecy, unfriending the Feebs, hacking Flash, an epidemic of cybercrime in Old Blighty, posting an award for those missing Mexican students amidst a massive manhunt and a mayor named as the instigator of the disappearances and a human rights chief’s ouster demanded, a Chilean Dirty War murder suspect busted, provocative bluster Down Under, a Malaysian jibe at Canberra, then on to Hong Kong and a frustrating meeting followed by charges and a threat plus a provocative protest, Beijing stakes an insular claim, Japan/South Korean feelers and posturing, agreements and dissent over American military bases on Japanese soil, Continue reading

Cornel West, others busted in Ferguson protests


From The Real News Network, a report on protests and arrests in Ferguson, Missouri, where demonstrators are demanding answers and action in the 9 August police killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager.

Among those arrested was Harvard professor and civil right s activist Dr. Cornel West, as NBC News reports:

Knocked Down: Cornel West Arrested During Ferguson Protests

Hundreds of protesters committed acts of civil disobedience throughout Ferguson, Missouri, on Monday as they launched another day of demonstrations over the August killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, by a police officer.

Cornel West, a prominent activist, was knocked over during a scuffle at the Ferguson Police Department and was later arrested. West was among the first to be led away, followed by other protesters.

From The Real News Network:

Cornel West, Faith Leaders And Activists Arrested As Ferguson October Continues

From the transcript:

JAISAL NOOR, TRNN PRODUCER: On Monday Oct 13, 20 demonstrators including Dr. Cornel West and other faith leaders and activist were arrested as they carried out civil disobedience at the Ferguson police station, after their demands to meet with local officials were denied.

This was the latest in renewed protests in Ferguson – demanding the arrest of Darren Wilson the officer who killed unarmed black Teen Michael Brown.

Dozens have been arrested in the latest wave of protests- that began on Friday as part of Ferguson October a national campaign to keep pressure on local, statewide and national authorities to take actions months after Brown’s killing.

PROTESTERS: [incompr.] Convict! Send that killer cop to jail!

MEGAN SHERMAN, TRNN PRODUCER: The first began in the morning at the office of prosecuting attorney Robert McCulloch, who was in charge of the investigation of Officer Wilson. Activists are demanding that McCulloch be taken off of the case, as they believe that his bias is in favor of law enforcement, because his father was an officer killed in the line of duty.

InSecurityWatch: War, spooks, cops, drones, zones


We begin with war underway from the Observer:

Kobani: time running out for hundreds of besieged civilians

  • UN warns of possible massacre if town falls after Isis takes control of government buildings

Islamic State (Isis) fighters are closing in on the centre of besieged Kobani, where the Kurdish militia have sworn that they will fight to the death, and hundreds of desperate civilians are trapped in streets rank with the smell of rotting bodies.

The extremist group is trying to cut off the city’s border crossing into Turkey, its last link to the outside world, and penetrate the western enclave where the Kurdish People’s Protection fighters (YPG) are most firmly entrenched. Those units stopped at least five suicide car bombs sent to blast through their last layers of defence in the past two days, activists and politicians inside the city said. But Isis is throwing fighters and ammunition at the exposed road to the border, and if that falls it would be a devastating blow to the Kurdish units.

“If they cut off the border, then everyone inside is going to die,” said activist and journalist Mustafa Abdi, who lived in Kobani until a week ago and edits the website kobanikurd.com.

Canadian boots headed for Mideast ground, from CBC News:

ISIS mission: Canadian advance team leaves for Kuwait next week

About 120 members of the Canadian Armed Forces will depart from Trenton, Ont., next week to join the fight against ISIS in Iraq, Defence Minister Rob Nicholson announced on Saturday.

Nicholson said the team will be preparing for the arrival of CF-18 fighter jets and other aircraft in the coalition campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

“The deployment of the Theatre Activation Team is a key step in arranging the initial preparations for the CAF units that will deploy in support of Operation IMPACT. Responsible for initiating the infrastructure support required in-theatre, this team plays an important role in support of our mission,” the minister said in a statement.

“The government continues to work with our allies to degrade the ISIL terrorist threat at home and abroad” he said.

More northern exposure from CBC News:

RCMP has intervened 28 times against people tied to foreign militant groups

  • Cases include people who have returned to Canada after working with groups abroad

CBC News has learned the RCMP has disrupted or intervened in 28 instances involving people who fall into its high-risk travel category. That includes people who have returned home after joining a government-designated terrorist group abroad and are intending to travel again, or people who are sympathizers in Canada and are about to travel abroad.

Intervention and disruption is a process the Mounties use as they gather evidence that may lead to future charges. It can include conducting interrogations, talking to family members, surveillance and even referring some cases to Passport Canada to have the suspect’s passport revoked.

The 28 cases CBC News has learned about all fall into the high-risk travel group and are being monitored closely by both the RCMP and CSIS.

CBC/Radio-Canada raises a question:

Did censoring a 9/11 report pave the way for ISIS?

A former U.S. senator and co-chair of the Joint Congressional Inquiry into the 9/11 attacks says the rise of ISIS could have been stemmed if 28 pages from the inquiry’s report had not been classified.

As co-chair, Bob Graham was one of the authors of the report, 28 pages of which have remained classified since it was published in 2002. At the time U.S. President George W. Bush said releasing the information posed a threat to national security.

Some who have had read the excised pages say they relate to Saudia Arabia’s support for the 9/11 hijackers. Graham says that Saudi Arabia has a long history of ideological and financial support for Wahhabism, a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam. ISIS ascribes to that interpretation.

“I believe that had the role of Saudi Arabia in 9/11 been disclosed by the release of the 28 pages and by the declassification of other information as to the Saudi role and support of the 9/11 hijackers that it would have made it much more difficult for Saudi Arabia to have continued that pattern of behaviour…and I think would have had a good chance of reigning in the activity that today Canada, the United States and other countries either are or are not considering going to war with,” said Graham in an interview with Brent Bambury host of Day 6 on CBC Radio.

Another leaker lurking, via the Guardian:

Second leaker in US intelligence, says Glenn Greenwald

  • Citizenfour, new film on spying whistleblower Edward Snowden, shows journalist Greenwald discussing other source

The investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald has found a second leaker inside the US intelligence agencies, according to a new documentary about Edward Snowden that premiered in New York on Friday night.

Towards the end of filmmaker Laura Poitras’s portrait of Snowden – titled Citizenfour, the label he used when he first contacted her – Greenwald is seen telling Snowden about a second source.

Snowden, at a meeting with Greenwald in Moscow, expresses surprise at the level of information apparently coming from this new source. Greenwald, fearing he will be overheard, writes the details on scraps of paper.

The specific information relates to the number of the people on the US government’s watchlist of people under surveillance as a potential threat or as a suspect. The figure is an astonishing 1.2 million.

Legal revelations, via The Hill:

Snowden: I’d ‘love’ to have a fair trial

Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden tried to negotiate with government officials about being able to stand trial for alleged crimes, he said in an interview with the New Yorker on Saturday.

“I had told the government again and again in negotiations if they’re prepared to offer an open trial, a fair trial, in the same way that Dan Ellsberg got, and I’m allowed to make my case before a jury, I would love to do so,” he said over a video feed. “But they declined.”

Ellsberg, who released the controversial Pentagon Papers in 1971 that detailed U.S. decision-making in Vietnam, essentially faced the same set of charges levied against Snowden. Ellsberg wrote in a May op-ed that even though his opportunity to speak at his own trial was limited, it would be even worse for Snowden.

Unraveling the net wth JapanToday:

States and corporations grab for reins of the Internet

As the U.S. steps back from overseeing the group entrusted to essentially run the Internet, states and corporations are grabbing for the reins.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has gone from being behind the scenes tending to the task of managing website addresses to being center stage in a play for power on the Internet.

“Governments want to exert control over the sweeping trans-national power of the Internet that is effecting their policies, politics, social fabric and/or their economic conditions,” ICANN chief executive Fadi Chehade told AFP just days before the group gathers in Los Angeles beginning Sunday to tackle an array of hot issues.

Google this, from the Japan Times:

After court loss, Google rethinks search results linking man to criminal group

Google Inc. has informed the man who successfully sued the U.S. Internet giant that it is considering complying with a Japanese court order to remove some online search results found to infringe on his privacy rights, his lawyer said Friday.

Google told the plaintiff Friday it wants to know which results should be erased as it looks into whether to heed the Tokyo District Court’s decision Thursday ordering that some of them be removed.

The man wanted 237 results removed as typing his name into Google brings up many articles hinting he may have been involved in a crime in the past. On Thursday the court ordered that 122 search results be deleted.

On to cops and robbers, first with filthy lucre from the Washington Post:

Asset seizures fuel police spending

Police agencies have used hundreds of millions of dollars taken from Americans under federal civil forfeiture law in recent years to buy guns, armored cars and electronic surveillance gear. They have also spent money on luxury vehicles, travel and a clown named Sparkles.

The details are contained in thousands of annual reports submitted by local and state agencies to the Justice Department’s Equitable Sharing Program, an initiative that allows local and state police to keep up to 80 percent of the assets they seize. The Washington Post obtained 43,000 of the reports dating from 2008 through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The documents offer a sweeping look at how police departments and drug task forces across the country are benefiting from laws that allow them to take cash and property without proving a crime has occurred. The law was meant to decimate drug organizations, but The Post found that it has been used as a routine source of funding for law enforcement at every level.

Protesting with the Guardian:

Thousands march through St Louis to condemn police shootings of teens

  • Demonstrators call for arrest of officers and end to profiling
  • Police chief meets with marchers as fragile peace holds

Thousands of people marched through downtown St Louis on Saturday, to demand the arrest of the white police officer who shot Michael Brown in Ferguson two months ago and to condemn racial profiling.

The organisers claimed the protest drew about 3,000 people – far fewer than they had predicted – from across the country as part of a “Weekend of Resistance” against police forces in many parts of the country that are seen to target people of colour in general and young African Americans in particular.

“We’re fighting for our lives,” a St Louis rapper, Tef Poe, told the crowd.

From the Guardian again, public and private:

Security firm involved in shooting of St Louis teen has history of lawsuits

  • Company that employed off-duty police officer who shot Vonderrit Myers Jr has paid out settlements over other incidents

The security company for which a St Louis police officer was working when he shot dead a black 18-year-old this week paid out tens of thousands of dollars to settle lawsuits over incidents involving other off-duty police officers working for it, according to the plaintiffs in those suits.

Vonderrit Myers Jr was killed on Wednesday evening by a 32-year-old city police officer who was working a shift as a security guard for GCI Security. St Louis police said that Myers shot three times at the officer, who has not been named, and that the officer fired repeatedly in response.

The shooting has drawn attention to the widespread practice of St Louis police officers working second jobs as private security guards. The officer who shot Myers was wearing his police uniform at the time, something permitted by the department. GCI alone was reported in 2012 to employ 168 police officers.

After the jump, more drone deaths in Pakistan and conflicting numbers, a deadlock in Hong Kong, blaming Uncle Sam, hints that is Macau may be next, shots traded across the Korean border, in Japan, Comfort Women have their say and a ruling party legislator retracts racist remarks. . . Continue reading

EbolaWatch: Alarms shriek, British worries, Africa


And much, much more as events accelerate ominously. . .

First, from the Guardian:

Ebola outbreak a threat to world peace, says UN security council

  • Group unanimously backs emergency resolution as UN secretary general calls for $1bn aid effort to tackle virus

The UN security council has called the Ebola outbreak “a threat to international peace and security” and urged the world to provide health experts, field hospitals and medical supplies.

A resolution adopted unanimously by the UN’s most powerful body at an emergency meeting with an unprecedented 130 countries as co-sponsors reflected the rising global concern at the outbreak.

It was only the second time that the security council has addressed a public health emergency, the first being the HIV/Aids pandemic.

The UN health chief, Dr Margaret Chan, said the “deadly and dreaded Ebola virus got ahead of us” and it was time to urgently catch up. “This is likely the greatest peacetime challenge that the United Nations and its agencies have ever faced,” she said.

The Guardian again, with context:

Ebola: government cuts to the WHO aided delays in dealing with outbreak

  • Health organisation suffered from global austerity, needs urgent overhaul and sounded the alarm too late, experts say

Cuts in government funding to the World Health Organisation contributed to critical delays in responding to the Ebola outbreak in west Africa, which allowed the epidemic to spin out of control, disease experts say.

The UK, US and other European governments reduced contributions to the organisation because of global austerity, and also failed to implement much-needed structural reforms, they said. The WHO needs urgent reform, if future global health crises are to be avoided.

The first cases of Ebola occurred in December last year in Guinea, but it was not until late March that the ministry of health notified the WHO of what the Africa regional office described as “a rapidly evolving outbreak of Ebola virus disease in forested areas of south eastern Guinea”. By that time, there had been just 49 cases and 29 deaths.

It took three months to confirm the outbreak because Guinea, having never had a case before, was totally unprepared. “First of all, nobody expected Ebola to pop up in west Africa – you only find what you are looking for,” said Prof Peter Piot, head of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. “Then, health information systems in Guinea are extremely poor, as they are in Liberia and Sierra Leone.”

And another alarm from BBC News:

Ebola is ‘entrenched and accelerating’ in West Africa

  • US public health director Thomas Frieden: “This is controllable and this was preventable”

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that Ebola is now entrenched in the capital cities of all three worst-affected countries and is accelerating in almost all settings.

WHO deputy head Bruce Aylward warned that the world’s response was not keeping up with the disease in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The three countries have appealed for more aid to help fight the disease.

The outbreak has killed more than 3,860 people, mainly in West Africa. More than 200 health workers are among the victims.

The Hill sounds another warning for the U.S.:

HHS: There may be more Ebola cases

More cases of the Ebola virus could be found in the United States, Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Sylvia Burwell warned Thursday.

“We had one case and I think there may be other cases, and I think we have to recognize that as a nation,” Burwell said at a news conference sponsored by the journal Health Affairs and the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Burwell said her agency supports the new airport procedures, but called exit screenings that are already happening in West African airports more crucial.

“The most important place with regard to taking care of screening is actually at the point of departure,” Burwell said. Those screenings have stopped at least 80 people from boarding flights, she said.

More from Reuters:

Fears grow in United States over Ebola’s spread outside West Africa

Fears are growing in the United States about Ebola with about 200 airline cabin cleaners walking off the job in New York and some lawmakers demanding the government ban travelers from the West African countries hit hardest by the virus.

“The nation is frightened, and people are frightened of this disease,” the U.S. cabinet secretary for health, Sylvia Burwell, said on Thursday, a day after the death in Texas of the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Burwell told a news conference that people were frightened because Ebola “has a very high mortality rate. They’re frightened because they need to learn and understand what the facts are about that disease.”

From the Associated Press a Latin American alarm sounds:

Hagel to discuss Ebola with South America leaders

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says that he will discuss the growing threat from the Ebola virus with Central and South American leaders when they meet in the coming days.

Hagel’s comments Thursday came amid concerns expressed by the top U.S. commander for Central and South America about the potential for the Ebola virus to spread into countries there.

U.S. Marine Gen. John Kelly earlier this week said some countries in the Western Hemisphere don’t have the capabilities to deal with Ebola. If there is an outbreak, he said people may try to flee into the United States.

Hagel says the world is getting more interconnected, and the virus can travel quickly, so military leaders must plan and prepare for any possibilities.

And from Want China Times, another shrieking alarm:

Ebola could hit China within three weeks without action: US experts

American experts warn that the lethal Ebola virus could reach China in three weeks and from there spread to Hong Kong and Macau, reports our Chinese-language sister paper Want Daily.

Taiwan’s Center for Disease Control said there have been no confirmed cases in China and Taiwan and it has been exchanging information with its foreign counterparts to contain the spread of the virus, the paper said.

The experts with the Northeast University in Boston made the report after cross referencing data between airline routes around the world and Ebola’s route of transmission. The virus could spread to Hong Kong and Macau quickly from China and the thousands of airliners entering and exiting the areas, which are major international transit terminals, if the two did not adopt any preventative measures.

And now, the first serious indication that the virus may have reached Britain, via the Guardian:

Briton dies in Macedonia of suspected Ebola – reports

  • If confirmed it would be the first death of a UK national from disease

Foreign Office officials are investigating reports that a British national has died in Macedonia of suspected Ebola.

If confirmed it would be the first death of a UK national from Ebola, although British nurse Will Pooley was cured of the virus last month.

The news came as Downing Street said enhanced screening for Ebola will be introduced at Heathrow and Gatwick airports and Eurostar terminals following advice from the chief medical officer.

The London Telegraph takes another approach:

Ebola crisis: disease may already be in Britain as man dies on business trip

  • The death of a businessman in Macedonia from suspected Ebola has led to fears that the disease may already be in Britain

Ebola may already be in Britain, it was feared on Thursday night, after a businessman who had travelled to Macedonia became the first Briton to die from the disease.

Macedonian officials confirmed that the 57-year-old, who has not been named, had been suffering from fever, vomiting and internal bleeding and that his condition had deteriorated rapidly.

“These are all symptoms of Ebola, which raises suspicions with this patient,” said Dr. Jovanka Kostovska of the health ministry’s commission for infectious diseases.

And the Independent:

Ebola: ‘British man dies of deadly virus in Macedonia and one other taken ill’

Officials are urgently investigating reports that a British man has died of Ebola in Macedonia and another has contracted the disease.

The Britons, who are believed to be friends, had travelled to the country from the London on 2 October, according to a spokesman for the Macedonian Foreign Ministry who confirmed the death.

The Macedonian authorities said the dead man was 57 and his friend is 72.

The patients had been staying at a hotel in the capital, Skopje, when they fell ill. The now-deceased man was admitted to the city’s Clinic for Infectious Diseases at around 3pm local, according to a Macedonian government official. He died around two hours later.

Finally, the London Daily Mail offers a comparatively subdued take:

Briton dies of suspected Ebola in Macedonia – despite NOT having been to Africa: Armed guards outside hotel after virus ‘claims first British victim’

  • The unnamed man is the first UK victim of Ebola, if disease is confirmed
  • The epidemic has killed 3,800 and infected at least 8,000 so far
  • Macedonian authorities confirmed the dead man’s nationality this evening
  • Health officials have also quarantined his friend, who has symptoms
  • The friend said the two travelled to Skopje directly from Britain
  • This raises the terrifying prospect that they contracted it in the UK
  • Paramedics and staff at Skopje hotel where men stayed also in quarantine

From thinkSPain, a report on the first European to catch the illness on the continent:

Ebola update: Teresa ‘critical’ as her organs start to fail

MADRID nurse Teresa Romero’s organs are failing and she is on an artificial breathing machine due to lung problems, reveals her brother.

José Ramón Romero Ramos says there is little hope and that her life is in ‘grave danger’.

“Is there a chance? It’s possible, but the doctor says there’s not much hope, it’s very complicated at the moment,” he told a Galicia TV station mid-afternoon today.

More from the Los Angeles Times:

More people quarantined after Ebola fears in Spain, officials say

Four more people have been placed under quarantine at a Madrid hospital as officials there try to stop the spread of Ebola beyond one confirmed case.

That case, a nursing assistant who was infected after helping care for 69-year-old Manuel Garcia Viejo, was the first known transmission of the disease outside of West Africa in the current outbreak.

The nursing assistant, identified in news reports as Teresa Romero Ramos, was diagnosed Monday and is being treated at the Carlos III Hospital in Madrid. Her husband has also been quarantined there.

In addition to Romero and her husband, one man and one woman, both nurses, were hospitalized Wednesday and are exhibiting “mild symptoms,” officials say. The nurses were part of the team that helped treat Viejo.

A video report from euronews:

Health of Spanish Ebola patient deteriorates

Program notes:

The health of the Spanish nurse being treated for Ebola has deteriorated, according to the Madrid hospital where she is being treated.

Another person, the doctor who first tended to her, has been placed in isolation bringing to seven the number of people in quarantine.

The patient, Teresa Romero, is the only one to have tested positive for the virus.

Authorities insist that the contamination was a result of human error.

From El País, isolation and outrage:

ER doctor who treated Ebola victim taken into isolation for monitoring

  • In his official report, Juan Manuel Parra complains that protective clothing was too small

When Spanish Ebola patient Teresa Romero was taken to her local hospital in Alcorcón on Monday, Doctor Juan Manuel Parra was in charge of her care. Before she was diagnosed with the virus and taken to the Carlos III Hospital, the 41-year-old was the sole person responsible for saving the life of the nursing assistant, who is the first person to be infected with the virus outside of West Africa.

rom 8am on Monday until after midnight the same day, the emergency room doctor took on the risk of dealing with a patient whose status got progressively worse, with symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting and chesty coughing.

Doctor Parra had to put on and remove his protective clothing as many as 13 times during the day, but it was not until 5pm that he donned the highest-level protective suit available in the hospital – a suit that, what’s more, was not his size, leaving his bare skin exposed.

“At all times the sleeves were too short,” the doctor wrote in a report. The document, to which EL PAÍS has had access, covers all of the events of those 16 hours and was sent to his superiors.

More from El País:

Nursing staff resign from their posts to avoid treating Ebola cases

  • Workers at Carlos III Hospital in Madrid argue safety measures are not adequate

Carlos III Hospital in Madrid, the health center where Ebola victim Teresa Romero is being treated, is having to draft in extra staff given that nurses are refusing to work with cases – or suspected cases – of the virus, claiming that safety conditions are not adequate.

A number of other patients are being monitored in the hospital after having come into contact with Romero, although none so far has been confirmed as having contracted the virus.

“There are members of staff who are canceling their contracts so that they don’t have to enter [rooms with Ebola cases],” explains Elvira González, provincial vice-secretary of the SAE nurses’ union.

Still more from the New York Times:

Spain Quarantines 3 More in Bid to Contain Ebola

The Spanish health authorities said Thursday that the condition of an auxiliary nurse infected by Ebola had worsened, three days after she became the first person to test positive for the disease in Europe.

The deterioration in the nurse’s condition came as the authorities announced that one more medical staff member had been quarantined, in addition to three others who were isolated overnight at the same hospital.

Altogether about 80 people are being monitored to see if they develop symptoms of Ebola as Spain seeks to prevent the virus from spreading. Seven people are now quarantined at the hospital, Carlos III, that Spain has designated to handle Ebola cases.

And from TheLocal.at, another virus, this one mental:

‘Increase in racism’ due to Ebola fear

The Austrian Red Cross is warning that black people are being unnecessarily stigmatised in Austria because of fears of an Ebola outbreak.

It points to anecdotal evidence such as black children being sent home from school if they have a cough, or neighbours panicking if a black person in their apartment block complains of a fever, according to Die Presse newspaper.

Gerry Foitik, an Austrian Red Cross rescue commander, said their fears are completely unfounded as the virus is transmitted by direct contact with infected blood, bodily fluids or organs, and people are only at risk of catching it if they have been in West Africa or had contact with someone who had Ebola. The incubation period can last from two days to three weeks.

More on the lack of urgency in the initial global response from Al Jazeera English:

Ebola-hit states say world response is slow

  • World Bank chief says “perhaps even Africa” is at risk, as more cases of infection are diagnosed worldwide

Leaders of West African nations plagued by Ebola said the deadly virus is outpacing the world’s response to it, jeapordising the future of “perhaps Africa.”

“Ladies and gentleman, unless we quickly contain and stop the Ebola epidemic, nothing less than the future of not only West Africa – but perhaps even Africa is at stake,” Jim Yong Kim, President of World Bank, said on Thursday at a meeting on the Ebola response.

“Our people are dying,’‘ Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma said on Thursday by videoconference at the meeting. Koroma said the world is not responding fast enough as doctors and nurses continue to die.

A Uganda-born doctor, John Taban Dada, died early on Thursday of Ebola at a treatment centre on the outskirts of Liberian capital, Monrovia. He is the fourth doctor to die in the West African country since the outbreak. Over ninety health workers, including nurses and physician’s assistants, were killed by the virus.

And from Associated Press, stating the need:

UN chief: 20 times more Ebola aid needed

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for a 20-fold surge in international aid to fight the outbreak. “For those who have yet to pledge, I say please do so soon,” Ban said. “This is an unforgiving disease.”

At the meeting here, President Alpha Conde of Guinea asked for money, supplies, medicine, equipment and training of health care workers.

“Our countries are in a very fragile situation,” Conde said through a translator. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia also appeared by videoconference to seek a rapid increase in aid.

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim praised pledges from the United States and the European Commission to evacuate health care workers who become infected while responding to the crisis in West Africa, to encourage doctors and nurses to risk their lives to help.

Here in the U.S., Congress finally loosens the purse strings, via the Associated Press:

Lawmakers approve $700 million to fight Ebola

The Republican chairmen of House panels that oversee the Pentagon signed off Thursday on an additional $700 million to pay for the military mission to help fight Africa’s deadly Ebola outbreak.

Thursday’s action by Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon and Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers would permit a total of $750 million in funds leftover for fighting in Afghanistan to be used to provide logistical help for health care workers in West Africa. The first $50 million was released last month.

The administration originally requested $1 billion to send up to 4,000 troops to Africa. In briefings this week, McKeon said Pentagon officials estimate $750 million would cover a six-month mission that would include airlifting personnel, medical supplies, protective suits and equipment such as tents to house Ebola victims and isolate people exposed to the virus.

And another comparison, via BBC News:

Ebola challenge ‘biggest since Aids’

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is unlike anything since the emergence of HIV/Aids, top US medical official Thomas Frieden has said.

A fast global response could ensure that it did not become “the next Aids,” the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.

Dr Frieden described Ebola as one of the biggest crises he had seen in his career. “I would say that in the 30 years I’ve been working in public health, the only thing like this has been Aids,” he said.

CBC News covers an advocate:

Ebola virus co-discoverer says ‘we have to push through’ on vaccine

  • Canada has been Ebola research ‘pioneer’ but could do more on the ground, says Dr. Peter Piot

The co-discoverer of the Ebola virus says researchers must “push through” with the full development of drugs and vaccines even after the last patient in the current outbreak “has survived or died” and attention has faded.

Dr. Peter Piot tells CBC’s Jeff Semple he initially thought the current outbreak would remain in a small town or rural area and come under control after a couple of months. He says he knew he was wrong in June, when three countries were affected and the disease was appearing in capital cities.

“You can contain small Ebola outbreaks by isolating the patients, giving them care, quarantining all the contacts,” he says. “You can do that in a small town or so. But at the scale of a whole country, that’s far more difficult.”

A companion video report from CBC News:

Dr. Peter Piot, Ebola co-discoverer

Program notes:

CBC’s Jeff Semple talks to the microbiologist about the Ebola epidemic.

The New York Times covers action in Europe:

European Leaders Scramble to Upgrade Response to Ebola Crisis

When the Ebola virus was first identified in March as the cause of a series of mysterious deaths in the remote forests of Guinea, Europe moved quickly to battle a disease that has now infected more than 7,000 Africans and already killed around half of those. It mobilized more money and health workers than the United States, China or anyone else for West Africa.

But, proud of its long record as the world’s biggest donor of humanitarian aid, Europe has since suffered a blow to its self-image of can-do generosity. Its own efforts to contain the lethal virus have been overshadowed  by President Obama’s announcement last month that he was sending  3,000 troops to West Africa to build hospitals and otherwise help in the fight against Ebola.

While a few left-wingers sneered at the American deployment as yet another example of Washington’s taste for military intervention — and praised Cuba for sending more than 100 doctors to West Africa — many European officials and politicians welcomed the move and wondered why what had been a European-led international effort to contain the virus had clearly not worked.

From the Guardian, following up on the nation’s most prominent fatality:

Quarantined family of Texas Ebola victim left to mourn in isolation

  • Vigil for Eric Duncan at Dallas church turns to memorial after news of his death, but family members forced to stay at home

It had been planned as a vigil, but the service quickly turned into a memorial once the news broke that Ebola had killed Eric Duncan, the virus’s first victim in the US.

Before his condition worsened and he died in a Dallas hospital at 7.51am local time on Wednesday, eight days after his diagnosis was confirmed, Duncan’s last words were spoken to a nurse from the bed in his isolation room: a request to see Karsiah, the son he last saw 16 years ago when the boy was three.

That final hope went unfulfilled. A student in San Angelo, 250 miles away, Karsiah was staying in Dallas and preparing to head to Texas Health Presbyterian hospital in the hope of seeing Duncan at about 9am when his mother called him to tell him his father had died.

The sense of disconnection and distance, even from relatives in the same city, was replicated at Wilshere Baptist church on Wednesday evening at a service that was mainly for Duncan’s close friends and family, but necessarily took place without them.

And they have questions, reports the London Telegraph:

Ebola victim in US’s family: why did white patients live while black patient died?

  • Dallas hospital denies allegations of racial discrimination in the treatment of Thomas Eric Duncan, the first first to die from the disease on US soil

The Dallas hospital that treated the Ebola patient who died this week tried to fend off accusations that it initially turned him away because he was a poor African immigrant without insurance.

An experimental drug called ZMapp, a cocktail of three antibodies that has been used on American patients infected with Ebola while in West Africa, was not used on Duncan because it was not available, the hospital said.

A serum transfusion used on an Ebola patient airlifted from West Africa to a hospital in Nebraska was not used on Duncan either because his blood type did not match the treatment.

From USA Today, costly containment:

Bill for cleanup of Ebola-tainted apartment: over $100K

Hazardous-cleanup companies get a lot of odd requests, but nothing prepared the crew at CG Environmental for this past week.

A 15-person team spent the weekend decontaminating the Dallas apartment where Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan, 42, had stayed since coming Sept. 20 to the United States from Liberia. Duncan was hospitalized Sept. 28 but started showing Ebola symptoms four days earlier; he died Wednesday.

“We were the first in, and we really had no clue what we were getting into,” employee Dan Lee said.

Texas anxiety allayed, via Sky News:

Ebola Scare: Tests Negative For Texas Deputy

  • Doctors say a deputy who entered the US ebola victim’s apartment is in good condition after being put in isolation out of caution

A sheriff’s deputy who entered the apartment where the US ebola victim was living does not have the deadly virus, health officials have said.

Michael Monnig remains in good condition a day after he was rushed by ambulance to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas out of an “abundance of caution”.

The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) confirmed on Thursday that Mr Monnig’s blood samples came back negative for ebola.

Preparations from the Guardian:

US hospitals sending actors with mock Ebola symptoms into emergency rooms

In wake of Dallas patient death, health providers across US are reinforcing and testing infection control procedures

Public hospitals in New York City are so concerned about Ebola, they’ve secretly been sending actors with mock symptoms into emergency rooms to test how well the triage staffs identify and isolate possible cases.

A small Ohio hospital has hung up signs imploring patients to let nurses know immediately if they have traveled recently to west Africa.

And across the US, one of the nation’s largest ambulance companies has put together step-by-step instructions for wrapping the interior of a rig with plastic sheeting.

More of the same across the pond, via the Guardian:

Ebola outbreak simulations to be tested in UK hospitals

  • Department of Health confirms weekend real-time response tests in unnamed hospitals in the north and south of England

War game-style simulations to test Britain’s ability to cope with an outbreak of Ebola will be staged this weekend in hospitals in the north and south of England.

Officials at the Department of Health are drawing up details of at least two simulations which will involve people posing as victims of the deadly virus to assess the real-time response of hospitals, the ambulance service and local authorities. The exercise will take place on either Saturday or Sunday and details of which hospitals will be chosen to handle the mock cases are being kept confidential to minimise disruption to the exercise, an official said.

They may include the Royal Free hospital in north London which has an isolation unit and a dedicated team of nurses, doctors and laboratory staff specialising in dealing with infectious diseases. The Royal Liverpool, Royal Hallamshire hospital in Sheffield and the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle upon Tyne also have infectious disease units that are expected to receive cases. Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has acknowledged that it was “entirely possible” Ebola could reach Britain.

And from Reuters, a plane old job action:

Airline cleanup crews walk off job in New York over Ebola concerns

About 200 airline cabin cleaners walked off the job at New York’s LaGuardia Airport on Thursday to protest what they say is insufficient protection from exposure to Ebola for workers whose jobs include cleaning up vomit and bathrooms.

Picket lines were set up overnight by non-unionized Air Serv cleaners outside Terminal D at LaGuardia for a one-day strike prompted by fears about the deadly virus, forcing airline crews to clean the planes themselves. Some signs read “Air Serv exposes us to vomit, blood and feces without protection” and “Air Serv puts worker safety at risk.”

The workers, who are trying to join Service Employees International Union, the largest service workers union in the United States, briefly left the strike line to attend an infectious disease training session organized by the union.

The Canadian Press watches the aerial borders:

Ebola screenings to take place at airports in 6 Canadian cities

  • Screenings, more staff for Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Halifax, Ottawa, Calgary

Canada will step up border screening to try to prevent an Ebola importation to this country, federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose says.

“Our government will be taking the additional step of taking targeted temperature screens,” she told the House of Commons on Wednesday, though she offered no detail about what that would mean or whether it would be only at airports or all border crossings.

The Canadian Press requested an interview with an official of the Public Health Agency of Canada to get clarification on Canada’s plans, but one was not granted. However, several hours after Ambrose made her remark in the Commons, the agency issued a press release providing some detail of what increased screening will look like.

The same, but closer to home from the Christian Science Monitor:

Ebola: Are US airport screenings more about controlling fear than disease?

A new poll found that more than half of Americans are worried about the possibility of an Ebola outbreak. On Thursday, cabin cleaners at LaGuardia Airport walked off the job, citing Ebola fears and concerns about not having proper equipment.

New Ebola screening procedures being put in place at US airports may be designed primarily to calm a jittery public, health officials say, given the low risk of an epidemic.

Health officials have emphasized that the risk of Americans’ contracting Ebola is extremely low – more difficult than catching the flu, experts say. The virus is not airborne and is passed on only through contact with the bodily fluids of those showing symptoms of the disease, making the risk of an epidemic breaking out in the US minuscule.

But a new poll found that more than half of Americans are worried about the possibility of an outbreak. And on Thursday, cabin cleaners at LaGuardia Airport in New York walked off the job, citing Ebola fears and concerns about unsanitary conditions on airplanes.

BBC News covers Britain’s efforts:

UK Ebola screening for arrivals from affected countries

The UK is to introduce “enhanced screening” for Ebola for arrivals from affected countries.

Downing Street said passengers arriving at Gatwick, Heathrow and on Eurostar would face questions and potentially a medical assessment.

Earlier ministers had ruled out screening, saying the UK was following World Health Organisation advice.

And from the London Telegraph:

How the UK will prepare Ebola screening

Program notes:

Defence secretary Michael Fallon and Ebola medical experts shed light on the UK’s strategy for keeping the virus out of the country

From The Hill, congressional panic as the Midterm election nears::

Dems call for Ebola flight ban

A growing number of Democrats are pressuring President Obama to ban flights to Ebola-ravaged countries despite repeated warnings from global health leaders that closing borders could accelerate the crisis.

A group of 27 lawmakers, including three Democrats, signed a letter Wednesday urging Obama to ignore health officials and immediately halt flights from the West African countries worst-affected by Ebola.

The lawmakers accused Obama of attempting to “pass the buck” onto organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO), which have advised against travel bans. Obama has said he would not ban travel unless the WHO reversed its position.

But as National Journal notes, some legislators are taking even more extreme stances:

These Politicians Want to Close the U.S.-Mexico Border Because of Ebola

Some lawmakers fear that the virus could enter through the country’s southern border

In a WIRC talk radio interview in August, Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Ind., referenced a conversation he had with Rep. Larry Buschon, R-Ind., in which the pair discussed their concerns that migrant children from South America could bring Ebola to the U.S. In a Tuesday debate with North Carolina Senate hopeful Kay Hagan, Rep. Thom Tillis attacked his opponent for her weak stance on undocumented immigrants. Tillis claimed that “we’ve got an Ebola outbreak, we have bad actors that can come across the border; we need to seal the border and secure it.”

Some lawmakers, like Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, have called for a ban on all travel from West African countries, where the Ebola outbreak is concentrated.

The CDC has repeatedly warned that closing off the U.S. borders won’t help. “I wish we could get to zero risk by sealing off the border,” CDC Director Tom Frieden told Fox News earlier this week. “But we can’t.”

From TheLocal.fr, a false alarm:

Suspected Ebola case near Paris a false alarm

UPDATED: A building belonging to French health authorities was cordoned off on the outskirts of Paris on Thursday after a suspected case of Ebola was reported. Around sixty people were effectively quarantined but authorities later confirmed it was a false alarm.

Ditto in Italy from TheLocal.it:

Suspected Ebola victim tests negative for virus

Italy’s health minister Beatrice Lorenzin on Thursday said that a 53-year-old doctor, who is currently being treated in Rome after coming into contact with a colleague infected with Ebola in Sierra Leone in September, has tested negative for the virus.

After the jump, the crisis accelerates in Africa, UN orders food aid for hard-hit countries, a suspected case in another African country, an African country steps up, tracing the course of infection, a continent on the tipping point, Guinea under stress, on to Liberia with American planes arriving, concern over a presidential big to suspend constitutional rights, elections suspended, orphans abandoned, a battle over bodies, and the Fourth Estate marks its fallen, then on to Sierra Leone and Swedish medics promised, the world’s leaders in public health emergencies are on the scene, a DJ wages his own war on the air as teachers closed school turn to the radio to conduct classes, the UN designates its Sierra Leone point man, the diaspora pitches in, and another form of trauma care pledged, Angola calls for vigilance, Another musician cops out, a soccer player heeds his team’s fears, Silicon Valley joins the fray, and good newqs for a Japanese drug maker. . . Continue reading

InSecurityWatch: War, Hacks, drones, & zones


First, from the Washington Post, bombs away:

Intensified U.S. airstrikes keep Kobane from falling to Islamic State militants

The U.S.-led coalition stepped up airstrikes around the Syrian border town of Kobane on Tuesday after Turkey appealed for help, enabling Kurdish fighters to reverse the advance of Islamic State militants for the first time since the extremists launched their assault about three weeks ago.

The strikes followed the request by Turkey for intensified U.S. efforts to prevent the predominantly Kurdish town, known as Ayn al-Arab in Arabic, from falling to the Islamic State, Turkish officials said. Turkey has lined up tanks and troops within view of the Syrian Kurdish fighters defending Kobane but has not sought to intervene — for a tangle of reasons bound up with its complicated relationship with Kurds and its doubts about the goals of the international coalition fighting the extremists.

Turkey insisted, however, that it does not want the town to fall, and a senior official said Ankara asked the United States on Monday to escalate strikes.

Sky News qualifies:

US Military Says Airstrikes Alone May Not Stop IS

  • Islamic State fighters could take control of more towns and villages despite an increase in coalition airstrikes, officials warn

Airstrikes alone may not be able to stop the advance of Islamic State fighters in Syria, US officials have warned.

Barack Obama met military commanders to discuss the campaign against IS in Syria and Iraq amid fears troops would be needed on the ground.

“Our strikes continue, alongside our partners. It remains a difficult mission,” the US President said. “As I’ve indicated from the start, this is not something that is going to be solved overnight.”

Al Jazeera English adds another complication:

Turkish-Kurdish relations threatened by ISIL

  • The stakes are high for Turkey if ISIL took over Kobane, say Turkish analysts

According to analysts, Turkey does not believe that ISIL poses such a major threat.

“ISIL is not Turkey’s concern,” said Soli Ozel, a Turkish political analyst and journalist. “It’s more interested in dealing with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Bashar al-Assad regime. Turkey considers this as an opportunity to accomplish its goal in the region: deal with its two major enemies, and ISIL is not one of them.”

Kobane is a strategically located town, covering a large swathe of land stretching from the Turkish border to Raqqa, the self-proclaimed capital of Syrian Kurdistan (aka Rojava) on the Euphrates river in Syria.

If Kobane falls entirely under ISIL control, it will not just mark another territorial gain for the group but the acquisition of a key border crossing. ISIL has already taken the industrial regions including Maqtala al-Jadida and Kani Arabane in eastern Kobani after violent clashes with Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) fighters. In Syria, ISIL has control over most cities along the Euphrates River, including Deir el-Zor, Raqqa and al-Aqim in Syria.

From Homeland Security News Wire, hmmmmm:

Four arrested in London in plot to behead people on city streets

Officers from the Metropolitan Police counterterrorism unit early yesterday arrested four young men in London over a suspected terrorist plot to grab people on the streets of London and behead them. One of the four arrested was said to have links to Syria and Islamic State (ISIS). Security analysts have said that ISIS would likely seek to retaliate against the United Kingdom in response to British fighter planes joining the U.S. and Arab states in bombing raids on ISIS targets in Iraq.

Officers from the Metropolitan Police counterterrorism unit early yesterday arrested four young men in London over a suspected terrorist plot to grab people on the streets of London and behead them. One of the four arrested was said to have links to Syria and Islamic State (ISIS).

Counter-terrorism officials said one of the four had access to weapons and, accordingly, the officers who raided his address were heavily armed. This one suspect was subdued by a Taser gun.

From the Associated Press, more bombs on their way:

Canadian Parliament authorizes air strikes in Iraq

  • Following a request from the U.S., Canada’s Parliament has voted to authorize airstrikes against the Islamic State militant group in Iraq

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party introduced the motion last week and it was debated this week. Harper has a majority of seats in Parliament so the vote was all but assured. The motion passed Tuesday 157-134.

The motion authorizes air strikes in Iraq for up to six months and explicitly states that no ground troops be used in combat operations.

While the Canadian Press covers Northern anxieties:

RCMP investigating dozens of suspected extremists who returned to Canada

Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney says the RCMP is investigating dozens of Canadians who have returned from fighting extremist wars overseas.

A recent federal report said the federal government knew of more than 130 individuals with Canadian connections who were abroad and suspected of supporting terror-related activities.

Blaney also told the Commons public safety committee Wednesday that the government will bring forward new measures to help monitor suspected terrorists, but he offered no details.

And the Washington Post looks South:

Tom Cotton: Terrorists collaborating with Mexican drug cartels to infiltrate Arkansas

There’s been a ton of chatter to the effect that Republicans are on offense against Democrats on immigration and national security alike. Yet to convert these issues into political gain, some Republicans apparently believe they need to go to extraordinary lengths to conflate terrorism and illegal immigration into one giant, terrifying, hydra-headed threat to the country.

Exhibit A: GOP Rep. Tom Cotton, who is running for Senate in Arkansas. The Congressman told a tele-town-hall meeting that the Islamic State is actively working with Mexican drug cartels who are looking to expand into the terrorism business — and that the groups, working in tandem, could infiltrate the country and attack people in Arkansas.

While the McClatchy Washington Bureau chills out:

No Islamic State fighters coming from Mexico, Homeland Security says

The Department of Homeland Security is trying to shoot down reports that terrorist fighters are operating in Mexico and that some already have been caught attempting to cross the United States’ southern border.

Homeland Security officials said Wednesday that there was no truth to reports that fighters affiliated with the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, have been apprehended on the border.

“The suggestion that individuals who have ties to ISIL have been apprehended at the southwest border is categorically false, and not supported by any credible intelligence or the facts on the ground,” Marsha Catron, DHS press secretary, said in a statement.

From RT, bringing the war home to Europe:

Pro-ISIS radicals with machetes, knives attack Kurds in Germany

Peaceful protests against IS in Syria and Iraq organized by Kurdish nationals in several German cities ended with serious clashes with pro-jihadist Muslims in Hamburg and Celle. Police had to request reinforcements to restore order.

Police in Hamburg, a port city of 1.8 million people, used water cannons, batons and pepper spray late Tuesday to disperse crowds of warring Kurds and pro-jihadist Muslims, armed with knives and brass-knuckles, following a protest against Islamic State militants who are attacking the Kurdish town of Kobani in Syria near the Turkish border.

In most of the cities, protests went off peacefully and were virtually trouble-free, but in Celle police failed to prevent clashes.

The first brawl between about 100 Kurds and Muslims on each side took place Monday, but police in Celle, a town of 71,000, with the help of colleagues from Hannover, Oldenburg and Wolfsburg, prevented serious clashes between the two groups.

On Tuesday, however, the two sides, armed with stones and bottles, attempted to break through police lines to attack each other.

intelNews covers a mystery:

Iran silent about deadly blast that ‘lit up sky’ near Tehran

The government of Iran is refusing to comment on a reported blast at a secretive military facility that some sources say “lit up the sky” last week. The blast is said to have taken place on Sunday night at the Parchin military complex, located approximately 20 miles southeast of Iranian capital Tehran.

The semi-official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported on Monday that the explosion had been caused by a “fire [that] broke out in an explosive materials production unit” east of Tehran, and that two people had died. Interestingly, however, the news agency did not specify the precise location of the blast, nor did it identify the “explosive materials production unit” in question. There was also no mention of the cause of the fire that allegedly resulted in the blast.

A few hours later, the Iranian-language news site SahamNews, which is politically linked to the Iranian opposition, claimed that the blast happened at Parchin and that it was a “massive explosion” that “lit up the evening sky” and caused windows to shatter as far as 9 miles away from the complex. It is worth noting that the blast was reported just hours after Israeli officials accused Iran of conducting nuclear implosion tests at a host of nuclear facilities, including Parchin.

From CBC News, covering up to the north:

Federal scientists muzzled by media policies, report suggests

  • Defence scores highest for openness, while Natural Resources Canada among lowest

Canadian government scientists face far more restrictions on talking to the media than their U.S. counterparts, a new analysis has found.

The study of media policies from 16 federal departments was released today by Evidence for Democracy, a non-profit group that advocates for evidence-based public policy. The group organized rallies across the country in support of federal scientists in 2013.

The analysis, led by Karen Magnuson-Ford, a researcher at Simon Fraser University who has a master’s degree in biology, found that all but one department performed worse than the average for U.S. government departments in similar analyses in 2008 and 2013.

Onto the world of spooks and hacks, first with The Hill:

Google chief on NSA: ‘We’re going to end up breaking the Internet’

The integrity of the Internet could be at risk if Congress does not act to rein in the National Security Agency, Google head Eric Schmidt warned on Wednesday.

Speaking alongside other tech executives and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) at a Silicon Valley event, Schmidt said the revelations about U.S. surveillance could prompt countries to wall off their networks.
“The simplest outcome: We’re going to end up breaking the Internet,” Schmidt said, “because what’s going to happen is governments will do bad laws of one kind or another, and eventually what’s going to happen is: ‘We’re going to have our own Internet in our own country, and we’re going to do it our way.’ “

“It is fundamentally about breaking the Internet,” echoed Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch. “The Internet is a medium without borders, and the notion that you would have to place data and data centers and the data itself [in a particular location] … is fundamentally at odds with the way the Internet is architectured.”

The Guardian covers the reality of Gitmo:

Guantánamo use of olive oil in force feedings ‘astonishing’, doctor tells court

  • Testimony on second day of court challenge to force feedings focuses on long-term health effects on detainees after procedure

The methods used by the US military to feed inmates in Guantánamo Bay against their will presents a long-term risk to their health, a federal court heard on Tuesday.

Steven Miles, a doctor and professor of medical ethics at the University of Minnesota, told a courtroom that lubricating the feeding tubes at Guantánamo, used on hunger-striking detainees, can cause a form of chronic inflammatory pneumonia, and questioned whether the force feeding was medically necessary.

The condition, resulting from olive oil reaching the lungs due to misplaced insertions, would be hard to detect by physicians for released or transferred detainees, as it might look on x-rays like tuberculosis or lung cancer, Miles testified, calling the olive oil lubrication “astonishing to me”.

“There’s simply no debate about this. All the medical literature I’ve found said the [lubrication] had to be water-soluble. One doesn’t have to make very many salads to know olive oil is not water soluble,” Miles said.

And Threatpost covers hacking at the money spot:

Tyupkin Malware Infects ATMs Worldwide

Criminals in Eastern Europe have evolved their attacks against automated teller machines, moving beyond solely targeting consumers with card skimmers that steal debit card numbers, to attacks against banks using malware that allows someone to remove money directly from an ATM without the need for a counterfeit or stolen card.

Researchers at Kaspersky Lab, in conjunction with Interpol, today said they have detected the Tyupkin malware on more than 50 machines; only ATMs from a particular manufacturer running a 32-bit version of Windows are impacted.

Most of the Tyupkin submissions to Virus Total are from Russia (20) with a limited number of samples (4) reported from the United States.

From Network World, hooking up:

Windows XP flaws help Russian ‘Qbot’ gang build 500,000 PC botnet

The Russian gang behind the obscure Qbot botnet have quietly built an impressive empire of 500,000 infected PCs by exploiting unpatched flaws in mainly US-based Windows XP and Windows 7 computers, researchers at security firm Proofpoint have discovered.

A year or two ago, what the Qbot (aka Qakbot) campaign has achieved in the roughly half dozen years the actors behind it have been operating would have been seen as a major concern. Recently, standards have gone up a notch.

These days Russian hackers are grabbing headlines for altogether more serious incursions such as the recently revealed attack on US bank JPMorgan Chase, and botnets sound like yesterday’s problem.

And then there’s spying of another sort, a Windows on your soul, perhaps. From TechWorm:

Microsoft’s Windows 10 has permission to watch your every move

As more and more users are jumping the queue to download the Windows 10 through the Windows Insider Program, almost all of them have forgotten to check the Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions users accept while downloading the Windows 10.  If you study the privacy policy you will be startled at the amount of freedom you are giving Microsoft to spy on you.

“Microsoft collects information about you, your devices, applications and networks, and your use of those devices, applications and networks. Examples of data we collect include your name, email address, preferences and interests; browsing, search and file history; phone call and SMS data; device configuration and sensor data; and application usage.”

The above stuff may or may not be used against any user and forms the standard of any privacy policy by any Applications maker but study a bit further and you may get more and more surprised.  In a way by accepting the Windows 10 Technical Preview installation you are giving Microsoft unhindered access to your behavioural habits

“We may collect information about your device and applications and use it for purposes such as determining or improving compatibility” and “use voice input features like speech-to-text, we may collect voice information and use it for purposes such as improving speech processing.”

More of the same from DeepLinks:

Adobe Spyware Reveals (Again) the Price of DRM: Your Privacy and Security

The publishing world may finally be facing its “rootkit scandal.” Two independent reports claim that Adobe’s e-book software, “Digital Editions,” logs every document readers add to their local “library,” tracks what happens with those files, and then sends those logs back to the mother-ship, over the Internet, in the clear. In other words, Adobe is not only tracking your reading habits, it’s making it really, really easy for others to do so as well.

And it’s all being done in the name of copyright enforcement. After all, the great “promise” of Digital Editions is that it can help publishers “securely distribute” and manage access to books.  Libraries, for example, encourage their patrons to use the software, because it helps them comply with the restrictions publishers impose on electronic lending.

How big is the problem? Not completely clear, but it could be pretty big. First, it appears Adobe is tracking more than many readers may realize, including information about self-published and purchased books. If the independent reports are correct, Adobe may be scanning your entire electronic library. Borrowing a copy of Moby Dick from your public library shouldn’t be a license to scan your cookbook collection.

After the jump, more on those student murders in Mexico including eyewitness accounts, pressure on government, and Uncle Sam’s own ties to the killers, death squad target Colombia reporters, Raging artillery and an exodus on the Indo/Pakistani border and a ceasefire demand from New Delhi, a protest fizzle in Hong Kong, Japanese/American military plans move forward and China reacts, while an Abe aide hints government will nullify the Comfort Women apology, another official act of historical revisionism, and the foreign press reacts to a government refusal to disavow racists, a Stalinist admission from Pyongyang, and Seoul arrests a Japanese reporter for lèse majesté. . . Continue reading

InSecurityWatch: War, spooks, hacks, Hong Kong


First up, parsing the words of war with the McClatchy Foreign Staff:

‘Boots in the air’: U.S. helicopters return to combat in Iraq for first time

The United States sent attack helicopters into combat against Islamic State targets west of Baghdad on Sunday, the first time low-flying Army aircraft have been committed to fighting in an engagement that the Obama administration has promised would not include “boots on the ground.”

The U.S. Central Command, in a statement about U.S. activities against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, provided few specifics about the helicopters. But they were likely AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, which were deployed to Baghdad International Airport in June to provide protection for U.S. military and diplomatic facilities.

Until Sunday, U.S. airstrikes in Iraq have been limited to fast-moving Air Force and Navy fighter aircraft and drones. But the use of the relatively slow-flying helicopters represents an escalation of American military involvement and is a sign that the security situation in Iraq’s Anbar province is deteriorating. Last week, the Islamic State militants overran numerous Iraqi bases and towns and were becoming a widespread presence in Abu Ghraib, the last major town outside of Baghdad’s western suburbs.

Al Jazeera America covers an advance:

ISIL raises flag near Syrian-Kurdish town of Kobani as fight continues

  • Defenders of Kobani deny that ISIL has overrun the strategically important town, but say they’re running low on supplies

Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters raised their black flag on a building on the eastern outskirts of the Syrian border town of Kobani on Monday after an assault of almost three weeks, though the town’s desperate Kurdish defenders said the assailants had not reached the city center.

An ISIL flag was visible from across the Turkish border atop a building close to the scene of some of the most intense clashes in recent days.

“ISIL have only planted a flag on one building on the eastern side of town,” said Ismail Eskin, a journalist in the town. “That is not inside the city, it’s on the eastern side. They are not inside the city. Intense clashes are continuing.”

And the latest from BBC News:

Kobane: Civilians flee IS street-to-street fighting

Islamic State (IS) militants have entered the key Syria-Turkey border town of Kobane and taken control of three districts after street-to-street fighting with Syrian Kurd defenders.

IS fighters entered the eastern districts on Monday, raising their black flag on buildings and hills.

Local officials said about 2,000 civilians fled to the Turkish border.

Taking Kobane, besieged for three weeks, would give IS control of a long stretch of the Syrian-Turkish border.

From the New York Times, would-be warriors:

Japanese Men Were Planning to Fight for ISIS, Police Say

The Tokyo police said Monday that they were investigating several Japanese men suspected of planning to go to Syria to fight for the jihadist group Islamic State. The police provided few details of the men, whom they described as university students in their 20s who were not actively attending classes.

They said one of the men, identified as a 26-year-old student at a university in Hokkaido, was recruited by the Islamic State via the Internet. The authorities said the men were the first Japanese suspected of wanting to join the Islamic State.

In Japan, engaging in war acts against a foreign government is a crime punishable by up to five years in prison.

The McClatchy Foreign Staff names a target:

Sources: U.S. air strikes in Syria targeted French agent who defected to al Qaida

A former French intelligence officer who defected to al Qaida was among the targets of the first wave of U.S. air strikes in Syria last month, according to people familiar with the defector’s movements and identity.

Two European intelligence officials described the former French officer as the highest ranking defector ever to go over to the terrorist group and called his defection one of the most dangerous developments in the West’s long confrontation with al Qaida.

The identity of the officer is a closely guarded secret. Two people, independently of one another, provided the same name, which McClatchy is withholding pending further confirmation. All of the sources agreed that a former French officer was one of the people targeted when the United States struck eight locations occupied by the Nusra Front, al Qaida’s Syrian affiliate. The former officer apparently survived the assault, which included strikes by 47 cruise missiles.

And the consequent denial from Punch Nigeria:

France denies report on al Qaeda defector agent

A French defense ministry source denied on Monday a US media report that a French intelligence officer had defected to al Qaeda’s branch in Syria and was being targeted for elimination by US air strikes, Reuters reports.

McClatchy DC, a Washington DC-based news web site, reported citing several European intelligence sources that the former French officer was the highest ranking defector to go over to al Qaeda and that coalition powers had failed to kill him in several air strikes.

“After checks this morning, we can assert that the information concerning supposed links between the jihadist cited by the press and French intelligence services is totally erroneous,” the French defense source said.

While the Christian Science Monitor covers desperation:

Syrian Kurds give women grenades in last-ditch defense against Islamic State

Islamic State forces are trying to oust the Kurdish defenders of Kobane, a Syrian town on the border with Turkey. News agencies have posted photographs showing the militants apparently raising their flag in the town, which Turkey had vowed to defend.

Fighting around Kobane is turning increasingly desperate, as the forces of the self-declared Islamic State threaten to overrun the Syrian border town’s Kurdish defenders.

Syrian Kurdish official Idris Nahsen told Agence France-Presse that IS forces are within a kilometer of the town to the south, but their latest attempt to advance had been repulsed by Kurdish forces. Although airstrikes by US-led coalition forces had helped slow the IS advance on Saturday, Mr. Nahsen said airstrikes alone would not be enough to break the siege on Kobane.

NBC News reports that the situation is becoming desperate in Kobane, where civilians of all ages are being recruited to help with the town’s defense.

While TheLocal.de covers assistance:

German soldiers begin training peshmerga

On the ground with Kurdish troops being trained in the use of new weapons by German soldiers in northern Iraq.

On a dusty firing range outside the Iraqi Kurdish capital of Arbil, peshmerga fighter Ardalan Aziz Hamad hefts his new German-made assault rifle and is clearly impressed.

“This is a good rifle,” Hamad says, under the watchful eye of instructors from the German army (Bundeswehr). “Its weight is good; it’s not too heavy.”

Hamad and 19 others are the first to be trained to handle new weapons provided by Berlin for the fightback against jihadists from the Islamic State (Isis) group, who have overrun much of northern Iraq.

From the Independent, parental anger:

Alan Henning: Murdered hostage’s brother condemns Government over ‘gagging’ of family

The brother of the murdered aid worker Alan Henning said his family were “gagged by the Government and the Foreign Office” and has called for David Cameron to put British troops on the ground in Syria and Iraq.

The British government believes the publicity of UK hostages raises their propaganda value and puts them in further danger. But Reg Henning refuted that stance and condemned the Government for preventing the family from speaking out about his brother’s capture.

“If we made more noise perhaps people down in London might have stood up and taken notice,” he said. “We’ve seen the campaign that Alan’s generated now, all the ribbons round Eccles and everything. If this was done six months ago it could have done more good.”

On to Pakistan with the Express Tribune:

US drone strike kills 8 in North Waziristan

At least eight people were killed and four got injured in a drone strike in North Waziristan late on Monday, Express News reported.

The unmanned aircraft fired two missiles at a house and a car in the Bari Mail area of Shawal in North Waziristan, killing eight people and injuring four others.

It was the fourth drone strike in last two weeks in the tribal belt. At least five people were killed and two injured in a similar attack in North Waziristan Agency on Sunday.

And from RT, Cold War 2.0 armaments:

Russia’s deployed nuclear capacity overtakes US for first time since 2000

Russia has 1,643 nuclear missiles ready to launch – one more than the US – according to an official State Department report. Both countries have been upgrading their active nuclear arsenals since the outbreak of the Ukrainian conflict.

The US report is based on official figures exchanged between the two countries as part of the New START disarmament treaty, and includes missiles deployed before September 1. The numbers show a significant increase from March, when data showed that Washington had a capacity of 1,585 payloads, and Moscow 1,512.

The current figures are in violation of the New START treaty, signed in 2010 by Barack Obama and then-President Dmitry Medvedev, during the short-lived reset in relations between the two states, which prescribe a limit of 1,550 deployed warheads.

SecurityWeek reveals online vulnerabilities:

Project SHINE Reveals Magnitude of Internet-connected Critical Control Systems

In a two-year study of information about critical control systems directly connected to the Internet, researchers found mining equipment, a surprising number of wind farms, a crematorium, water utilities, and several substations.

“The team had no idea of the scope, or magnitude, as to how extensive this issue was,” wrote Robert Radvanosky, owner and principal of Infracritical, one of the main researchers behind the project.

Project SHINE (so named after SHodan INtelligence Extraction) harvested data available about SCADA and industrial control system devices which appear to be directly connected to the Internet from April 2012 to January of this year. Custom search engine SHODAN contains a wealth of information, including the IP address of the device, geographic location (including latitude and longitude coordinates), owner, service port header information, firmware details, and available protocols. All the information was obtained from publicly available sources, which means the information is available for anyone motivated enough to look for it.

And the Independent covers allegations of digital criminality:

FBI’s James Comey accuses China of hacking into every major American company

FBI director James Comey has accused China of engaging in widespread corporate hacking in an attempt to steal trade secrets from America’s biggest companies.

Speaking on CBS, Mr Comey said Chinese hackers have repeatedly and deliberately targeted US firms in cyber-attacks that have cost American companies billions of dollars.

“There are two kinds of big companies in the United States,” he added. “There are those who’ve been hacked by the Chinese, and those who don’t know they’ve been hacked by the Chinese.”

From SecurityWeek, old school info theft:

AT&T Admits Insider Illegally Accessed Customer Data

AT&T is advising customers that a rogue employee illegally accessed their personal information.

In a breach notification letter sent to customers and the Vermont attorney general, AT&T explained the breach occurred in August. The employee responsible is no longer with the company.

According to the letter, the employee was able to view and may have accessed customer information ranging from social security numbers to driver’s license numbers. In addition, while accessing user accounts, the employee would have been able to view their Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI) without authorization. CPNI data is associated with services customers purchase from AT&T.

It is not clear how many customers were affected by the breach or if consumers in other states may have been involved.

Network World covers another hack attack:

Yahoo says attackers looking for Shellshock found a different bug

Yahoo said Monday it has fixed a bug that was mistaken for the Shellshock flaw, but no user data was affected.

Three of the company’s servers with APIs (application programming interfaces) that provide live streaming for its Sports service “had malicious code executed on them this weekend by attackers looking for vulnerable Shellshock servers,” wrote Alex Stamos, Yahoo’s chief information security officer.

Stamos wrote on the Hacker News website that the servers had been patched after the Shellshock vulnerability was disclosed.

Another snooping try gets a smackdown, via the Intercept:

New York Quickly Nixes Cellphone Tracking Devices in Phone Booths

New York City quickly announced it would get rid of devices that could turn phone booths into cellphone trackers after the program was revealed this morning.

A Buzzfeed investigation published today found that the city allowed 500 radio transmitters, called “beacons,” to be installed in pay phone booths, apparently thickly concentrated in lower and mid-Manhattan. A few hours later, the Mayor’s office said they would have them removed.

Though they could be woven into a location-aware advertising network, the beacons are there for maintenance notifications only and are not yet being used for commercial purposes, according to Titan, the firm that runs the advertising displays for thousands of city phone booths. There was no public announcement when the devices were installed.

From the Guardian, he knows where the bodies are buried:

Pentagon program delivered Humvee, rifle and kayak to Arkansas coroner

  • Controversial 1033 program puts military-grade gear in hands of state regulators as myriad as parks and gaming agencies

Doug Wortham used a Defense Department giveaway program for law enforcement to stock his office with an assault rifle, a handgun and a Humvee – even through the people in his custody are in no condition to put up a fight.

They’re dead.

Wortham is the Sharp County, Arkansas, coroner. He says the Humvee helps him navigate the rugged terrain of the Ozarks foothills, but he struggled to explain why he needs the surplus military weapons he acquired more than two years ago.

“I just wanted to protect myself,” he said.

A top spook named, via intelNews:

Britain’s MI6 appoints new director amidst mounting global crises

Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service (SIS, also known as MI6) has announced the appointment of a new director at a period that some see as the most critical for the agency since the end of the Cold War.

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office said in a brief statement on Saturday that Alex Younger will be replacing Sir John Sawers, who earlier this year announced he would be stepping down from the post. Prior to his appointment, Younger, 51, held the position of chief of global operations, which is considered the number two position at MI6. The Foreign Office statement described Younger as a “career SIS officer” who has worked for the agency since 1991, when he joined from the Scots Guards regiment of the British Army.

He holds an economics degree and has served with MI6 in the Middle East, Europe, and Afghanistan, where he represented the agency as its most senior officer in the country following the US-led military of 2001.

From the Guardian, a top cop laments:

UK snooping powers are too weak, says crime agency boss

  • Exclusive: National Crime Agency’s director general says he needs to persuade public to reduce digital freedoms

Britons must accept a greater loss of digital freedoms in return for greater safety from serious criminals and terrorists in the internet age, according to the country’s top law enforcement officer.

Keith Bristow, director general of the National Crime Agency, said in an interview with the Guardian that it would be necessary to win public consent for new powers to monitor data about emails and phone calls.

Warning that the biggest threats to public safety are migrating to the internet and that crime fighters are scrambling to keep up, the NCA boss said he accepted he had not done a good enough job explaining to the public why the greater powers were necessary.

After the jump, the latest on those Mexican graves believed to hold the bodies of missing college student protesters, a presidential promise, police named as suspects, and a larger picture of violence in a troubled state, shots fired at a Mexican reporter and his family, on to Asia and tensions mount between Russian and Japanese aircraft, Japan makes a provocative Comfort Women move, and the prime minister dismisses state secrets law critics, on to China with a claim of stealthy success and the latest from Hong Kong, including flagging enthusiasm, a partial withdrawal, growing indications of talks to come, and Christian activists in the forefront. . . Continue reading

Two authors on American Black radical voices


Two authors have just penned books on on African Americans who challenged a racist and imperialistic status quo to call for broader vision of humanity incorporating the aspirations of the nation’s poorest and least powerful.

Here are two interviews, the first from Democracy Now! and the second from RT America’s Breaking the Set.

First, from Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez interview Princeton University Professor Cornel West about his latest book, Black Prophetic Fire:

Black Prophetic Fire: Cornel West on the Revolutionary Legacy of Leading African-American Voices 

Program notes:

The renowned scholar, author and activist Dr. Cornel West, joins us to discuss his latest book, “Black Prophetic Fire.” West engages in conversation with the German scholar and thinker Christa Buschendorf about six revolutionary African-American leaders: Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Du Bois, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ella Baker, Malcolm X and Ida B. Wells. Even as the United States is led by its first black president, West says he is fearful that we may be “witnessing the death of black prophetic fire in our time.”

Next, from Breaking the Set, an episode in which Abby Martin interviews journalist and broadcaster Tavis Smiley, author of Death of a King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Final Year. Also featured is an interview with Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mohandas K. [Mahatma] Gandhi, about his new book, Legacy of Love: My Education in the Path of Nonviolence, about the impact of the Indian freedom activist’s legacy on his own life:

MLK & Gandhi: The Uncomfortable Truths History Books Won’t Touch

Program notes:

EPISODE BREAKDOWN: On this episode of Breaking the Set, Abby Martin speaks with television host Tavis Smiley, discussing his book ‘Death of a King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.s’ Final Year’ which explores aspects of Dr. King’s life that have been whitewashed and back-paged in US history books. Abby then highlights the need to reflect on the message of Mahatma Gandhi to apply non-violence in current world conflicts, and speaks with the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, Arun Gandhi, about how his book ‘Legacy of Love’ which outlines the most important lessons learned from his grandfather’s mission of peace.