Category Archives: Intolerance

InSecurityWatch: Cops, rage, hacks, spies, zones


We begin with the obvious from United Press International:

No charges for Ferguson officer in death of Michael Brown

  • The officer could have faced one of five charges ranging from first-degree murder to involuntary manslaughter

A grand jury decided Monday not to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of unarmed black teen Michael Brown in August.

St. Louis County, Mo., prosecutor Robert McCulloch announced the 12-member grand jury made its decision after two days of deliberation.

“They determined that no probable cause exists to file any charge against Officer Wilson,” McCulloch said.

The announcement was made at 9:25 p.m. as crowds gathered outside the Ferguson Police Department, at McCulloch’s offices in the county seat of Clayton and on West Flourisant Street, where Brown died.

The New York Times covers the inevitable:

From Plains to Both Coasts, Fury Boils Over

Months of anger and frustration, in the end, led only to more anger and frustration.

There were smoke bombs, tear gas and random gunshots. But in Ferguson, the aftermath of the shooting death of Michael Brown was almost as bitter and hollow as his killing itself.

Brien Redmon, 31, stood in the cold watching a burning police car and sporadic looting after the announcement that there would be no indictments for Mr. Brown’s death at 18.

“This is not about vandalizing,” he said. “This is about fighting a police organization that doesn’t care about the lives they serve.”

More from Al Jazeera America:

Gunfire and flames after officer cleared in Ferguson teen’s shooting death

Police, protesters clash in Ferguson after grand jury does not not indict white policeman who killed unarmed black teen

[W]ithin minutes of the announcement, crowds began pouring into Ferguson streets to protest the decision. Some taunted police, shattered windows and vandalized cars. As many as 15 gunshots were also heard, though it’s unclear whether they came from law enforcement authorities or protesters.  Officers released smoke and pepper spray to disperse the gatherings. The storefront glass of at least two businesses were also broken on South Florissant Road. Fires erupted.

Well before the grand jury decision was announced, hundreds of protesters were already massed near the Ferguson police department. Shortly after McCulloch said Wilson would not be indicted, police streamed out of the station wearing riot helmets, and carrying batons and shields. Some of the protesters began throwing plastic bottles at the officer. Police fired what differing reports have described as either smoke or tear gas.

Thousands of protesters also gathered in downtown Manhattan, where they marched from Union Square to Times Square.

Closer to home with the San Francisco Chronicle:

Ferguson ruling sparks Oakland protest that shuts down freeway

Sorrow and anger over the decision by a grand jury in Missouri not to indict a white police officer in the killing of an unarmed black man sent demonstrators into the streets in the Bay Area, with hundreds of people shutting down Interstate 580 in Oakland for hours.

From Oakland and Berkeley to San Francisco and San Jose, crowds massed to denounce the lack of criminal charges in the shooting in Ferguson, Mo., marching and chanting slogans against what they considered racial injustice. Civic leaders echoed President Obama’s call for peaceful demonstrations, but the mood of the crowds gave the gatherings the air of a tinderbox.

The most tense and disruptive action unfolded in Oakland, where hundreds of protesters marched downtown, blocking intersections before surging onto I-580 via the Lakeshore Avenue offramp around 8 p.m. There they played cat-and-mouse with police for hours, stopping traffic in both directions before being forced off the freeway by lines of officers in riot gear.

Another California story, via the Los Angeles Times:

Michael Brown protesters scatter as LAPD uses nonlethal

Demonstrators protesting the killing of Michael Brown were dispersed shortly near downtown Los Angeles after midnight Tuesday by Los Angeles police officers using non-lethal projectiles.

The demonstrators, who at one point numbered more than 300, marched across Los Angeles on Monday night, briefly closing the 110 Freeway as they protested a Missouri grand jury’s decision not to indict a police officer in the controversial shooting of the black teenager.

The main group marched to USC and then towards the Staples Center, where confrontations with police grew  tense. A group of protesters pushed at a fence that blocked off a hill that led to the 110 Freeway and knocked it over. People streamed over the fallen gate and climbed onto the freeway and sat down, shutting down traffic on the freeway. About 150 protesters gathered on the road and chanted “No justice, no peace. No racist police!”

And before the verdict, an abysmal quotation, from teleSUR:

St. Louis Cop Association: It’s Like ‘Night Before Christmas’

The head of the St. Louis County Police Officers’ Association has been criticized for comparing the situation to Christmas.

While many observers have warned the situation Monday is tense in St Louis County ahead of the widely anticipated grand jury decision on police officer Darren Wilson, one man thinks a little differently.

“It’s just like the night before Christmas,” said St. Louis County Police Officers’ Association president, Gabe Crocker.

“We all get a little excited, we all get a little impatient, and so on, and so forth,” Crocker told CNN.

On to another “police action” also generating outrage, via the Guardian:

41 men targeted but 1,147 people killed: US drone strikes – the facts on the ground

  • New analysis of data conducted by human rights group Reprieve shared with the Guardian, raises questions about accuracy of intelligence guiding ‘precise’ strikes

A new analysis of the data available to the public about drone strikes, conducted by the human-rights group Reprieve, indicates that even when operators target specific individuals – the most focused effort of what Barack Obama calls “targeted killing” – they kill vastly more people than their targets, often needing to strike multiple times. Attempts to kill 41 men resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1,147 people, as of 24 November.

Reprieve, sifting through reports compiled by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, examined cases in which specific people were targeted by drones multiple times. Their data, shared with the Guardian, raises questions about the accuracy of US intelligence guiding strikes that US officials describe using words like “clinical” and “precise.”

The analysis is a partial estimate of the damage wrought by Obama’s favored weapon of war, a tool he and his administration describe as far more precise than more familiar instruments of land or air power.

“Drone strikes have been sold to the American public on the claim that they’re ‘precise’. But they are only as precise as the intelligence that feeds them. There is nothing precise about intelligence that results in the deaths of 28 unknown people, including women and children, for every ‘bad guy’ the US goes after,” said Reprieve’s Jennifer Gibson, who spearheaded the group’s study.

From the Los Angeles Times, the deplorable:

Jordan sending refugees back into Syria, Human Rights Watch says

Jordan has sent Syrian refugees, including wounded civilians and unaccompanied minors, back across the border in violation of international responsibilities, Human Rights Watch said Monday.

The New York-based monitor issued a statement accusing Jordan of ignoring long-accepted principles forbidding governments from returning people back to areas where their lives may be in danger.

There was no immediate response from officials in Jordan, now home to more than 600,000 Syrian refugees.

And from South China Morning Post, we always like a pun in the headline:

It’s time to chuck Hagel: Obama pressures Pentagon chief into stepping down

  • Pentagon chief resigns under pressure, paving way for first female defence secretary

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel is stepping down under pressure from President Barack Obama’s Cabinet, senior administration officials said, following a tenure in which he has struggled to break through the White House’s insular foreign policy team.

Hagel is the first senior Obama adviser to leave the administration following the sweeping losses for Obama’s party in the midterm elections. It comes as the president’s national security team has been battered by multiple foreign policy crises, include the rise of Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.

At a White House ceremony Obama said Hagel had been an “exemplary” defence secretary, adding: “Last month, Chuck came to me to discuss the final quarter of my presidency and determined that, having guided the department through this transition, it was an appropriate time for him to complete his service.”

From New York Times, delayed again:

U.S. and Allies Extend Iran Nuclear Talks by 7 Months

A yearlong effort to reach an enduring accord with Iran to dismantle large parts of its nuclear infrastructure fell short on Monday, forcing the United States and its allies to declare a seven-month extension, but with no clear indication of how they plan to bridge fundamental differences.

In a news conference hours before a deadline on Monday night, Secretary of State John Kerry said a series of “new ideas surfaced” in the last several days of talks. He added that “we would be fools to walk away,” because a temporary agreement curbing Iran’s program would remain in place while negotiations continued. In return, Iran will receive another $5 billion in sanctions relief, enabling it to recover money frozen abroad — something that is likely to add to the threat of new sanctions from the newly-elected Republican Congress.

But the fundamental problem remained: Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has yet to signal that he is prepared to make the kind of far-reaching cuts in Iran’s enrichment capability that would be required to seal an accord. And it is unclear that his view will change before a March 1 deadline for reaching a political agreement, the first phase in the seven-month extension.

From the Guardian, Chuckie’s missives:

Prince Charles letters: minister’s veto of publication was lawful, court told

  • Supreme court hears QC James Eadie open the government’s latest effort in its nine-year campaign to keep the letters secret

The prince has gained a reputation for writing private letters to government ministers promoting his views. The letters have been called “black spider memos” because of his scrawled handwriting.?

At issue in the supreme court hearing are 27 letters exchanged between the heir to the throne and ministers in seven Whitehall departments between September 2004 and April 2005.?

Three judges in a freedom of information tribunal ruled in 2012 that the letters should be disclosed, on the basis that the public was entitled to know how and when the prince sought to influence government.?

Grieve, however, used his power of veto to overrule the tribunal, arguing that publication would seriously damage Charles’s future role as king. He said the letters had to be kept secret to preserve the prince’s political neutrality.?

From the Guardian again, the past returns to haunt:

Amnesty urges Ireland to reopen hooded men case against UK

  • European court of human rights cleared UK of torture in 1978 but recent film alleges some evidence was withheld

Amnesty International has challenged the Irish government to take the UK back to the European court of human rights (ECHR) over the British security forces’ alleged torture of suspects during the Troubles.

The court ruled in 1978 that five interrogation techniques used on 14 men who were detained without trial in the early 1970s constituted inhuman and degrading treatment but not torture.

The techniques included hooding suspects, putting them into stress positions, sleep deprivation, food and water deprivation and the use of white noise. The 14 became known as the hooded men.

In June this year an RTE documentary alleged that the UK withheld evidence from the court, which Amnesty argues may have affected the outcome of the case. It also called on the UK to launch an independent investigation.

While Network World looks an panopticon enhancements coming:

UK plans to introduce new Web snooping law

A U.K. counterterrorism bill would require ISPs to retain IP addresses in order to identify individual users of Internet services.

The proposed law is meant to bridge a “capabilities gap” that authorities face when trying to obtain communications data, said U.K. Home Secretary Theresa May, who introduced the bill, in a speech on Monday.

The measures will build on emergency legislation that the U.K. introduced during the summer, May said, who added that “it is not a knee-jerk response to a sudden perceived threat.”

From Network World, closer to home panopticon posturning closer to home:

NSA privacy director defends agency’s surveillance

The U.S. National Security Agency’s surveillance programs are legal and under close scrutiny by other parts of the government, the agency’s internal privacy watchdog said Monday in an online Q&A.

NSA surveillance and data collection programs conform to the U.S. Constitution, Rebecca Richards, the agency’s first civil liberties and privacy director, wrote during an hour-plus Q&A on Tumblr.

The NSA operates under rules that “ensure that its activities fall within the parameters of the Constitution,” Richards wrote when asked why she believes the surveillance programs are constitutional.

Techdirt captures contradiction:

NSA Chief Warns Of Pending Cyberattack… Which He Wants To Make Easier With Backdoors

  • from the ridiculous dept

NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers has often seemed somewhat more reasonable than his predecessor, but he’s still not above spewing FUD. The latest is that, last week, he pulled out the favorite of surveillance state supporters everywhere: the pending cyberpocalypse, in which hackers take down the economy. Prepare for the “dramatic cyberattack” that is inevitably on the way:

The director of the National Security Agency issued a warning Thursday about cyberthreats emerging from other countries against networks running critical U.S. infrastructure systems.

Adm. Michael Rogers said he expects a major cyberattack against the U.S. in the next decade. “It’s only a matter of the ‘when,’ not the ‘if,’ that we are going to see something dramatic,” he said.

Of course, as venture capitalist/entrepreneur Marc Andreessen pointed out in response, the best way to stop that from happening would be to not require that software have backdoors that can easily be hacked.

After the jump, the Dutch get aggressive over privacy protection, Uncle Sam linked to the latest complex malware, malware in your E-cigs, more complications for the kidnapped Colombian general, incendiary institutionalized Israeli discrimination draws nigh, Pakistan’s nuclear program accelerates, Thai editor jailed for lèse majesté, cops prepare for Hong Kong Occupy eviction, Beijing ups the surveillance ante, Predictions of heightened tension in the insular Game fo Zones, hints of a Chinese supersonic drone, rising tensions over basing on a growing Chinese island with U.S. objections spurned, South Korea stages a challenge to a Japanese island claim, a clue as to some of what the island game is about, more criticism of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s militarization push, and a lawsuit over French nuclear tests in the Pacific. . . Continue reading

InSecurityWatch: Threats, war, cops, hacks, Asia


We begin with the New York Times:

Governor Activates Missouri National Guard

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

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

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

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

And then there’s this from the Independent:

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

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

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

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

From the Los Angeles Times:

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

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

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

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

Nordic suspicions from TheLocal.se:

Isis sleeper cells suspected in Sweden

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

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

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

From Homeland Security News Wire:

Terror financiers operate freely in Qatar: U.S.

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

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

Qatar has been doing so in two ways.

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

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

Notable, from the Los Angeles Times:

Putin vows to protect Ukraine separatists from defeat

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

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

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

A shotgun wedding from Taiwan’s Want China Times:

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

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

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

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

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

Police in California and Texas Test Networked Guns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More penal despicability, via the Miami Herald:

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

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

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

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

Bobby despicability, via the London Telegraph:

A million crimes reported by public left out of police figures

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

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

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

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

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

From Network World, a criminal marketing twist:

New ransomware CoinVault allows users to decrypt one file for free

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

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

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

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

SecurityWeek covers more criminal despicability:

Research Finds 1 Percent of Online Ads Malicious

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

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

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

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

InSecurityWatch: War, crime, hacks, cops, zones


First, via the Guardian, one of those responsible warns of collapse:

David Cameron warns that second global crash is looming

  • PM says ‘red warning lights are flashing’ against a backdrop of instability and uncertainty, as G20 summit draws to a close

David Cameron has issued a stark message that “red warning lights are flashing on the dashboard of the global economy” in the same way as when the financial crash brought the world to its knees six years ago.

Writing in the Guardian at the close of the G20 summit in Brisbane, Cameron says there is now “a dangerous backdrop of instability and uncertainty” that presents a real risk to the UK recovery, adding that the eurozone slowdown is already having an impact on British exports and manufacturing.

His warning comes days after the Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, claimed a spectre of stagnation was haunting Europe. The International Monetary Fund managing director, Christine Lagarde, expressed fears in Brisbane that a diet of high debt, low growth and unemployment may yet become “the new normal in Europe”.

From the Guardian again, boots ahoy:

Western combat troops may be needed to defeat Isis, says Lord Dannatt

  • Former army chief says west may have to ‘think the unthinkable’ and engage forces on ground to counter Islamic State

British combat troops could be required to fight in Iraq and Syria to eradicate the threat posed by Islamic State (Isis), a former army chief has said.

Lord Dannatt said western leaders might have to “think the unthinkable” and send in troops if the combination of air strikes and local forces was unable to counter the jihadis.

The former chief of the general staff said the British government should think again about whether to join in air strikes against Isis targets in Syria, but that ultimately bombing missions may not be enough.

From the New York Times, fanning flames:

U.S. Believes ISIS Video Shows Peter Kassig, American Hostage, After Beheading

The Islamic State released a video Sunday showing a black-clad executioner standing over the severed head of a man it identified as the American aid worker Peter Kassig, a former Army Ranger who disappeared over a year ago at a checkpoint in northeastern Syria while delivering medical supplies.

In recent days, American intelligence agencies received strong indications that the Islamic State had killed Mr. Kassig. But without a body or other corroborating evidence, officials could not be certain.

After the video was released and intelligence analysts were able to conduct an initial assessment, one senior American official said Sunday that the government was increasingly convinced that the video was authentic and that Mr. Kassig was dead.

While Al Jazeera English spun differently:

ISIL beheads Syria troops and US aid worker

  • US confirms footage showing killing of at least 12 Syrian military officers and US aid worker Peter Kassig is authentic

The US has said a video circulated online showing members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group beheading several Syrian soldiers and US aid worker Peter Kassig is authentic.

The footage, released and confirmed by Washington on Sunday, showed the beheading of at least 12 people whom ISIL said were pilots and officers in Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s military.

From Reuters, more fuel for flames:

Lieberman tells German Foreign Minister no limits on East Jerusalem settlements

Rebuffing international criticism, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told his German counterpart point-blank on Sunday that Israel will not stop building homes for Jews in East Jerusalem.

His remarks were likely to compound Western frustration over Israeli settlement policy on occupied land that Palestinians seek for a state.

“We won’t accept any limitations on building in Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem,” Lieberman told a joint news conference with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

The Associated Press covers business as usual:

Prosecutors troubled by extent of military fraud

In a period when the nation has spent freely to support wars on multiple fronts, prosecutors have found plentiful targets: defendants who bill for services they do not provide, those who steer lucrative contracts to select business partners and those who use bribes to game a vast military enterprise.

Despite numerous cases that have produced long prison sentences, the problems have continued abroad and at home with a frequency that law enforcement officials consider troubling.

“The schemes we see really run the gamut from relatively small bribes paid to somebody in Afghanistan to hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of contracts being steered in the direction of a favored company who’s paying bribes,” Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell, head of the Justice Department’s criminal division, said in an interview.

In the past few months alone, four retired and one active-duty Army National Guard officials were charged in a complex bribery and kickback scheme involving the awarding of contracts for marketing and promotional materials. A trucking company driver pleaded guilty to bribing military base employees in Georgia to obtain freight shipments — often weapons which required satellite tracking — to transport to the West Coast.

A Foggy Bottom shutdown, via the Guardian:

State Department shuts down email system after suspected hacker attack

  • ‘Activity of concern’ occurred at same time as attack on White House
  • Entire unclassified email system closed to repair possible damage

The State Department has taken the unprecedented step of shutting down its entire unclassified email system as technicians repair possible damage from a suspected hacker attack.

A senior department official said Sunday that “activity of concern” was detected in the system around the same time as a previously reported incident that targeted the White House computer network. That incident was made public in late October, but there was no indication then that the State Department had been affected. Since then, a number of agencies, including the US Postal Service and the National Weather Service, have reported attacks.

The official said none of the State Department’s classified systems were affected. However, the official said the department shut down its worldwide email late on Friday as part of a scheduled outage of some of its internet-linked systems to make security improvements to its main unclassified computer network. The official was not authorised to speak about the matter by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.

So you thought you were keeping secret? From the Stack:

81% of Tor users can be de-anonymised by analysing router information, research indicates

Research undertaken between 2008 and 2014 suggests that more than 81% of Tor clients can be ‘de-anonymised’ – their originating IP addresses revealed – by exploiting the ‘Netflow’ technology that Cisco has built into its router protocols, and similar traffic analysis software running by default in the hardware of other manufacturers.

Professor Sambuddho Chakravarty, a former researcher at Columbia University’s Network Security Lab and now researching Network Anonymity and Privacy at the Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology in Delhi, has co-published a series of papers over the last six years outlining the attack vector, and claims a 100% ‘decloaking’ success rate under laboratory conditions, and 81.4% in the actual wilds of the Tor network.

When iGnorance isn’t bliss, via PandoDaily:

Apple downplays Masque Attack, but don’t be fooled: It’s a problem

It’s true that there isn’t much more Apple can do to protect consumers from Masque Attack. Its software already warns them against installing third-party applications, and tells people when they’re trying to launch software from an untrusted developer for the first time. Masque Attack is only a problem because some people might be too stupid not to use third-party apps anyway.

But that doesn’t mean that the feature doesn’t make people vulnerable to attack, like some have argued. Apple could at least make it easier for people to remove information from their smartphones, like it should have done already, or limit third-party downloads to consumers who enable the feature on their own. Not knowing how to fix a problem isn’t an excuse for not at least trying to solve it.

To repeat the ribcage metaphor: there are obvious advantages to the design we have now, and it seems like it’s worked out for us in the past. But that doesn’t mean someone wouldn’t wish their bodies were a little different when something slides through their ribs — the same idea applies to users whose personal data was stolen because they mistakenly used masquerading malware.

From Salon, compromising:

Google’s secret NSA alliance: The terrifying deals between Silicon Valley and the security state

  • Inside the high-level, complicated deals — and the rise of a virtually unchecked surveillance power

Google took a risk forming an alliance with the NSA. The company’s corporate motto, “Don’t be evil,” would seem at odds with the work of a covert surveillance and cyber warfare agency. But Google got useful information in return for its cooperation. Shortly after the China revelation, the government gave Sergey Brin, Google’s cofounder, a temporary security clearance that allowed him to attend a classified briefing about the campaign against his company. Government analysts had concluded that the intrusion was directed by a unit of the People’s Liberation Army. This was the most specific information Google could obtain about the source of the intrusion. It could help Google fortify its systems, block traffic from certain Internet addresses, and make a more informed decision about whether it wanted to do business in China at all. Google’s executives might pooh-pooh the NSA’s “secret sauce.” But when the company found itself under attack, it turned to Fort Meade for help.

Up in the air, junior birdmen, via the Verge:

Drones over US soil: the calm before the swarm

An explosion of advanced flying vehicles is about to hit the skies, but regulation lags way behind technology

The Federal Aviation Administration expects there to be more than 30,000 UAVs over our skies by the year 2020 doing work for private companies and law enforcement. Add in the the number of highly advanced vehicles being flown by hobbyists, and that number gets much higher. “I would guess there are already forty or fifty thousand aircraft in the hands of civilians capable of autonomous flight,” says Chris Anderson, the former editor of Wired, who recently left the magazine to focus full time on his drone company, 3D Robotics, and community, DIY Drones. “That’s far more than our best estimates of what the military has, and the number is going to grow rapidly over the next few years.”

How have things changed so fast? “10 years ago, drones were military industrial technology, extremely expensive and some of it classified,” says Anderson. “What happened over the last decade is that the revolution in your pocket, has made that technology so cheap, and easy, and ubiquitous that regular people could do it.”

Once-rare components like accelerometers, magnetometers, gyroscopes, and GPS trackers have all been driven down in cost by the explosion of mobile devices. “A lot of the technologies to pilot a drone used to be covered under what’s called export control, which is to say they were regulated as military technology,” explains Anderson. That meant you couldn’t simply order these technologies online or find them at your local hobby shop. “But there is a provision in the export control laws that exempts public domain.” In other words, once all these parts became readily available in the smartphones you could pick up at Best Buy, they were no longer banned for civilian use. “Because the stuff became so easy and so cheap, suddenly regular people could do the stuff only defense contractors could do before.”

From the New York Times, junior G-men:

More Federal Agencies Are Using Undercover Operations

The federal government has significantly expanded undercover operations in recent years, with officers from at least 40 agencies posing as business people, welfare recipients, political protesters and even doctors or ministers to ferret out wrongdoing, records and interviews show.

At the Supreme Court, small teams of undercover officers dress as students at large demonstrations outside the courthouse and join the protests to look for suspicious activity, according to officials familiar with the practice.

At the Internal Revenue Service, dozens of undercover agents chase suspected tax evaders worldwide, by posing as tax preparers, accountants drug dealers or yacht buyers and more, court records show.

At the Agriculture Department, more than 100 undercover agents pose as food stamp recipients at thousands of neighborhood stores to spot suspicious vendors and fraud, officials said.

After the jump, killer cops in Brazil, looking at it from Putin’s angle, Egyptian students face a military court over campus protests, environmentalists versus Big Oil in a Congo park, hints that Obama nears an Iranian nuclear deal, another alliance forms to challenge Russia, Hong Kong cops preapre to evict Occupy encampments, Jaspanese election deals setback to Obama/Abe, the dynamic duo draws closer nonetheless while the Okinawa deal grows more elusive, while Obama and Abe partner with the Aussies against China. . . Continue reading

InSecurityWatch: War, spooks, cops, hacks, more


A lot more.

First, from Al Jazeera English:

UN: ISIL committing war crimes in Syria

Massacres, beheadings, torture, sexual enslavement and forced pregnancy being carried out by group, investigators say.

Fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) are committing war crimes and crimes against humanity on a large scale in areas under the group’s control in Syria, UN investigators say.

In its first report focused squarely on acts by ISIL, the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria presented on Friday a horrifying picture of what life is like in areas controlled by the group, including massacres, beheadings, torture, sexual enslavement and forced pregnancy.

“The commanders of ISIS have acted wilfully, perpetrating these war crimes and crimes against humanity with clear intent of attacking persons with awareness of their civilian or ‘hors de combat’ (non-combat) status,” the report said, using an alternate acronym for ISIL.

“They are individually criminally responsible for these crimes.”

The view from Canada, via CBC News:

Inside ISIS: Calgary man’s picture found in documents revealing underbelly of extremist group

  • CBC is first North American broadcaster to view secret files obtained by German TV from Iraqi forces

The face of a Calgary man who drove a bomb-laden car into an Iraqi military base outside Baghdad last November, killing 46 people, appears amid a treasure trove of documents and videos that lay bare the bureaucratic underbelly of ISIS.

The documents and videos provide a new weapon for coalition forces fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Coalition forces obtained the documents, videos and 160 USB keys after Iraqi special forces hunted and killed the group’s top commander, Abu Abdul-Rahman al-Bilawi, in early June.

Collateral damage from the New York Times:

Strikes by U.S. Blunt ISIS but Anger Civilians

American airstrikes on the Syrian city of Raqqa, the vaunted capital of the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliphate, have scattered its fighters and disrupted the harsh system they had imposed, residents and visitors there say. But they see no gratitude toward the United States.

Rather, they suggested in interviews, many people are angry at the Americans. Food and fuel prices in Raqqa have soared, power blackouts have prevailed, and order is now threatened by a vacuum of any authority.

For all their violence and intolerance toward disbelievers, the fighters of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, at least functioned as a government, providing basic services and some semblance of stability.

And about that ISIS social infrastructure. . .from Deutsche Welle:

Documents reveal extensive bureaucratic structures in Islamic State

IS has set up a complex bureaucratic infrastructure that includes health care and social benefits in territories it has seized. Secret documents obtained by German media outlets shed light on the group’s inner workings.

Documents obtained by German public radio and television broadcasters NDR and WDR along with German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung detail the complex bureaucratic system set up by the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) terrorist group.

The documents, which the reporters were allowed to peruse and copy in some cases, give extensive insight into the bureaucratic infrastructure IS has implemented in areas captured in Iraq and Syria. Among other things, they detail a complex health care and pension system, marriage benefits along with financial benefits to widows or wives of IS fighters captured in combat.

The report released on Friday points to IS’ seeing itself as more than just a militia: the jihad group fighting to install a caliphate in much of the Middle East sees itself as an actual state. Not only does the group have enough income – believed to be mostly from oil sales and ransom money – but it also has the bureaucratic infrastructure needed to run a caliphate.

More from Süddeutsche Zeitung itself:

‘Islamic State’: A Bureaucracy of Terror

  • Süddeutsche Zeitung, NDR and WDR examine confidential documents of the ‘Islamic State’

The terrorist organization ‘Islamic State’ (IS) has already begun building an extensive government structure. Internal IS documents examined by German public radio and television broadcasters NDR and WDR, and Germany’s leading broadsheet newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung detail IS’s extensive bureaucratic system. The documents (which the reporters were shown and in some cases able to copy) shed light on IS’s framework for health insurance, marriage benefits and support for the families of IS fighters who are killed or taken as prisoners.

The documents also contain extensive lists of names of fighters, detailed weapons purchases and the personnel records of suicide bombers. In a sort of index, IS leaders list “martyrs” who have been reassigned to suicide bomb missions. Most names on the list are accompanied by a phone number of a family member or friend who can be notified later. The documents show that many IS volunteers were assigned to suicide missions within just a week of their arrival in Iraq.

The documents provide an unprecedented insight into the radical Islamist organization that has seized territory in Syria and Iraq. The material analyzed dates from 2013 through early 2014 and relates almost exclusively to IS activity in Iraq. According to the Iraqi government, the documents were saved to memory sticks and hard drives which were obtained in a raid at high-ranking IS leader Abdul Rahman al-Bilawi’s hideout on June 5, 2014. At the time, al-Bilawi was second in command within IS and operated as ‘minister of war’, according to Iraqi sources. The UK’s Guardian newspaper reported on the documents in June. Since then the Iraqi government has made some of the documents available to NDR, WDR and Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Still more from the Guardian:

Isis to mint own Islamic dinar coins in gold, silver and copper

  • Islamic State to produce own currency for use in self-declared caliphate – as soon as it can locate a mint and enough metal

It has gathered its fortune through the tools of modern finance, but now Islamic State (Isis) aims to mint its own coins.

The move is reportedly the brain child of the Isis leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who has personally overseen the design of gold, silver and copper coins of the Islamic dinar to be used in his self-declared caliphate – as soon as the terror group can locate a mint and enough precious metals.

Isis has released designs of the coins and a breakdown of denominations. It claims the currency will free Muslims from a financial order that has “enslaved and impoverished” them. But it isn’t totally eschewing the mainstream economy, acknowledging that each coin’s worth will reflect the metal’s value on commodities markets.

Seeking a disconnect with the McClatchy Washington Bureau:

In Australia, Obama looks for help cutting cash flow to Islamic State

President Barack Obama arrived in Australia on Saturday looking for help on one of the most difficult tasks in the fight against the Islamic State: cutting off the millions of dollars flowing to one of the world’s best-funded terrorist organizations.

Obama made some progress in previous stops this week in China and Myanmar (formerly Burma).

In China, Obama and his counterpart, President Xi Jinping, agreed to work together on “cracking down on terrorist funding networks.” In Myanmar, the 18 leaders of the East Asia Summit reaffirmed in a statement their support to help combat the Islamic State, including its financing.

From the Associated Press, troubles:

West-backed Syria rebels shaken on multiple fronts

During a key battle in the rugged mountains of a northern province earlier this month, U.S.-backed Syrian rebels collapsed before an assault by al-Qaida fighters. Some surrendered their weapons. Others outright defected to the militants.

A detailed account of the battle in Idlib, from a series of interviews with opposition activists by The Associated Press, underscores how the moderate rebels that Washington is trying to boost to fight the Islamic State group are instead hemorrhaging on multiple fronts.

They face an escalated assault by Islamic extremists, which activists say are increasingly working together to eliminate them. At the same time, a string of assassinations has targeted some of their most powerful commanders.

“This is the end of the Free Syrian Army,” said Alaa al-Deen, an opposition activist in Idlib, referring to Western-backed rebel groups. “It’s the beginning of an Islamic emirate.”

From Reuters, cockeyed optimist?:

U.S. military chief says battle with IS starting to turn

The United States’ top military officer told American troops on a surprise visit to Baghdad on Saturday that the momentum in the battle with Islamic State was “starting to turn”, but predicted a drawn-out campaign lasting several years.

General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was visiting Iraq for the first time since President Barack Obama responded to Islamic State advances this summer by ordering troops back into a country they left in 2011.

Hours earlier, an Iraqi army colonel said security forces appeared close to retaking the country’s biggest refinery at Baiji, which has been under siege for months by Islamic State militants.

From the Washington Post, well, gollleeee:

U.S. weighs expanded CIA training, arming of Syrian allies struggling against Assad

The Obama administration has been weighing plans to escalate the CIA’s role in arming and training fighters in Syria, a move aimed at accelerating covert U.S. support to moderate rebel factions while the Pentagon is preparing to establish its own training bases, U.S. officials said.

The proposed CIA buildup would expand a clandestine mission that has grown substantially over the past year, U.S. officials said. The agency now vets and trains about 400 fighters each month — as many as are expected to be trained by the Pentagon when its program reaches full strength late next year.

The prospect of expanding the CIA program was on the agenda of a meeting of senior national security officials at the White House last week. A White House spokesman declined to comment on the meeting or to address whether officials had reached a decision on the matter.

Meanwhile. . .from Xinhua, the Spring has sprung:

Death toll in Libya’s Benghazi clashes rises to 356

Another 16 people were killed in violent clashes between Libyan army and Islamic militants in the eastern city of Benghazi on Sunday, adding the total death toll to 356, sources said.

“The center has received 16 dead bodies killed in clashes and random shooting on Sunday,” a medical source in Benghazi medical center said.

The Libyan army, reinforced by gunmen loyal to retired Major- General Khalifa Haftar, has been waging a street war against Islamic militants in Libya’s second city Benghazi since mid- October, in an attempt to regain control of the city, which fell into the hands of Islamists last July.

Rebooting the big bang, from the Los Angeles Times:

Major overhaul of nuclear force planned to improve security and morale

Stung by a series of scandals in the nation’s nuclear force, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced plans Friday to overhaul its management, calling for billions of dollars to upgrade equipment, improve training, increase oversight and address security lapses and poor morale.

Speaking at the Pentagon and later in this snow-dusted base that is home to a fleet of B-52 bombers and missiles with nuclear warheads, Hagel said that sweeping changes were needed to address problems that could undermine the safety, security and effectiveness of the nation’s nuclear arsenal.

Disclosures of cheating on tests, drug use, violations of security rules and lax supervision have rocked the Pentagon’s nuclear force over the last two years. The Air Force has fired at least two nuclear commanders and disciplined others.

More from the Guardian:

US nuclear force reviews find security flaws and poor leadership

  • Defence secretary, Chuck Hagel, to order major changes and billions in extra funding to improve management of arsenal

The reviews – one by Pentagon officials and the other by outside experts – concluded that the structure of US nuclear forces was so incoherent that it could not be properly managed in its current form, and that this explained why top-level officials were often unaware of problems below them.

The officials said the reviews found a “disconnect” between what nuclear force leaders said and what they delivered to lower-level troops who executed the missions in the field.

To illustrate the extent of decay in the intercontinental ballistic missile force, the reviews found that maintenance crews used to have access to only one set of tools required to tighten bolts on the warhead end of the Minuteman III missile, and that this toolset was being used by crews at all three ICBM bases, in North Dakota, Wyoming and Montana. They had to share it via Federal Express delivery, the officials said. The crews now had one tool set at each base.

The reviews also found that a combination of problems amounted to fundamental flaws rather than random or periodic slip-ups, the officials said. The nuclear forces were currently meeting the demands of the mission but were finding it increasingly difficult to cope.

From the New York Times shrinks, self-shrinking:

Psychologists to Review Role in Detainee Interrogations

The nation’s largest organization of psychologists will conduct an independent review into whether it colluded with or supported the government’s use of torture in the interrogation of prisoners during the Bush administration.

The American Psychological Association said in a statement released late Wednesday that its board had named David H. Hoffman, a Chicago lawyer, to conduct the review.

For years, questions about the role of American psychologists and behavioral scientists in the development and implementation of the Bush-era interrogation program have been raised by human rights advocates as well as by critics within the psychological profession itself. Psychologists were involved in developing the enhanced interrogation techniques used on terrorism suspects by the Central Intelligence Agency. Later, a number of psychologists, in the military and in the intelligence community, were involved in carrying out and monitoring interrogations.

Intrusive neighbors, from VICE News:

More Drones on US Borders Create Privacy Concerns for Its Neighbors

The US will soon launch widespread drone surveillance on its border with Canada, after blanketing half its border with Mexico with the unmanned aerial vehicles in place of border patrol agents.

But the drones — which officials told VICE News cost $10 million each and take high-resolution videos while soaring over remote areas — violate people’s right to privacy and will further “militarize” the line between the US and Canada, analysts told VICE News.

“This creates a virtual wall between the countries,” Don Alper, the director of Western Washington University’s Center for Canadian-American Relations and Border Policy Research Institute, told VICE News. “It doesn’t make sense to me. There are other ways of security, like close cooperation between Canadian and American enforcement — and they already do cooperate really well.”

Ditto, via Reuters:

Sweden says has proof of foreign submarine intrusion in October

Sweden has proof that a small foreign submarine was operating illegally in its waters last month, its top military officer said on Friday after a mysterious episode that triggered the country’s biggest military mobilization since the Cold War.

More than 200 troops, stealth ships and helicopters scoured Baltic waters off the capital Stockholm in October after reports of foreign “underwater activity”, but without finding or bringing to the surface any submarine.

“The military can confirm that a small U-boat breached Sweden’s territorial waters. We can exclude all alternative explanations,” the head of Sweden’s armed forces, General Sverker Goransson, told a news conference.

After the jump, Washington deploys its naval ray guns, Germany’s costly deployment, a post-Snowden Humint preference, spy versus spy in Israel, apprehension in Ferguson, a Border Patrol backshooter named, a polygraphic cheating teacher busted, Marvel’s warriors recruited by Spanish cops, British cyberbullying soars, malware targets Europe’s governments, China busts malware makers, Spain moving on Palestinian recognition, Israeli issues lifetime ban on humanitarian surgeon, cultural hubris from the Turkish president, a Pakistani denial of a Washington allegation, kiss-ins challenge Indian moral police, the unspeakable spoken in Myanmar, on to Hong Kong and Occupy leaders rebuffed, Obama voices a challenge to China, China complains of U.S. spy flights, China announces streaming media bans, China shows off drones and rockets, Xi wants tighter Aussie ties and a maritime code of conduct, Japan sides with Washington as it continues retooling remilitarization, adopting a new anti-terror law, Okinawa’s likely next governor opposes U.S. base relocation, plus enhancing enhancement for enhancements. . . Continue reading

MexicoWatch: Fear, hope, despair, rage, protest


We begin with an interview with one of the survivors of the 26 September attack in Iguala, Mexico, leading to the abduction and disappearance of 43 students from the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ College of Ayotzinapa. From Emergencia MX:

Testimony of a student from Ayotzinapa rural school. Survivor of the attack from Mexican police.

Program notes:

The original interview and video was made by “43″ voices.

EmergenciaMX has retaken their material with the purpose of subtitling it.

Next, the other shoe drops, via BuzzFeed:

Mexican Mayor Charged In Disappearance And Death Of Dozens Of Students

  • The former mayor of Iguala, Jose Luis Abarca, has been charged with the aggravated murder of six people, as well as the attempted murder of others

The attorney general’s office in the Mexican state of Guerrero announced Thursday they have formally charged the former mayor of Iguala in connection with the deaths and disappearance of dozens of students in September.

Jose Luis Abarca was charged with “aggravated homicide against six people” as well as with the “attempted murder of others,” prosecutors said in a statement on their website announcing the formal detention order.

The 43 students, who belonged to a teacher training college, disappeared Sept. 26 following a confrontation with local police in which six students died.

From editorial cartoonist Carlos Latuff; a caricature of the murderous mayor and his spouse:

BLOG Latuff

From the Washington Post, another face of tragedy:

Parents of missing Mexican students cling to hope

Maria Telumbre knows fire. She spends her days making tortillas over hot coals, and experience tells her a small goat takes at least four hours to cook. So she refuses to believe the government’s explanation that gang thugs incinerated her son and 42 other missing college students in a giant pyre in less than a day, leaving almost nothing to identify the dead.

The discovery of charred teeth and bone fragments offer Telumbre no more proof of her son’s death than the many graves unearthed in Guerrero state since the students disappeared Sept. 26. She simply does not accept that the ashes belong to her 19-year-old son and his classmates.

“How is it possible that in 15 hours they burned so many boys, put them in a bag and threw them into the river?” Telumbre says. “This is impossible. As parents, we don’t believe it’s them.”

A video report on the parents from Reuters:

Parents of missing students criticize Mexico search efforts

Program notes:

Parents of the missing 43 students cast doubt on search efforts to find their sons after a meeting with authorities in the restive state of Guerrero. Nathan Frandino reports.

A political conundrum, via Reuters:

Mexican police play havoc with president’s security pledge

Restoring order to a country torn apart by drug violence was Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto’s first promise when he took power two years ago, but corruption and police brutality have handed him the biggest crisis of his rule.

Local police abducted 43 trainee teachers in the southwestern city of Iguala on Sept. 26 and handed them over to a drug gang. The gang almost certainly murdered them and torched their bodies, the government says.

The case, still not closed, has infuriated Mexicans and highlights the scale of the challenge that Pena Nieto faces in trying to end shocking violence and impunity.

“What we’re seeing are the results of many years of deterioration, complacency and denial by successive governments,” said Eduardo Olmos, a former mayor of the northern city of Torreon, who purged all but one of its 1,000-strong police force in 2010 when it was infiltrated by the Zetas drug gang.

Similarly, from Slate:

Mexico’s Breaking Point

This is not the first, biggest, or most gruesome mass disappearance during Mexico’s past eight years of brutal drug violence. More than 106,000 have died in what government data term “executions,” “confrontations,” and “homicide-aggressions” since former President Felipe Calderon informally declared his war on drugs in 2006. But the tragedy of Ayotzinapa is different. Rarely has the collusion between local authorities and the cartels been so obvious and the consequences so dire. Unsurprisingly, the events surrounding the case have captivated Mexico and the international community for weeks.

Since coming to power in 2012, President Enrique Peña Nieto has sought to keep his focus on economic growth rather than the violence that the country has become known for internationally. In the aftermath of this incident, Peña Nieto’s approval ratings have sunk to the lowest point of his presidency amid criticism of the government’s sluggish response. He has decried the incident as “outrageous, painful, and unacceptable” but human rights groups say his short statements about the case have been vague and lacking in specific plans for action. He has also been criticized for taking more than a month to meet with the families of victims and for traveling to the APEC summit in China this week as the crisis simmered. Calls for his resignation are getting louder and more widespread.

From the time the war on drugs started, and its massive, hemorrhaging failure became apparent, there have been protests, marches, and calls for action. This time around, the protests’ significance has moved beyond a dull weariness and discontent to raw expressions of pain. This has happened in part because of who the victims are, students from a poor rural town and a university with a strong tradition of activism for social justice (and a strong tradition of having this activism criminalized by the government). This reputation appears to be why the mayor sent police forces to detain them in the first place. According to Mexican media, citing documents from the investigation, José Luis Abarca ordered the police to “teach them a lesson.”

Borderland Beat covers more blowback:

Australia was no reprieve for EPN from the Ayotzinapa students controversy

The G20 summit was held in Australia this year.

The Group of Twenty (G20) as it is known by, is an economic summit is comprised of  19 countries plus the European Union.  President Barack Obama and Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto are two of this years attendees.

If President Pena thought he would be afforded relief  from the hotseat he and his administration find themselves on,  stemming from the normalistas killings….well he was in for a  surprise.

Australia’s Mexican community have been peacefully demonstrating against EPN’s participation in the G20 summit, rather than his choosing to stay in Mexico and working for a solution in  the Iguala student massacres.

And from Mexico News Daily, the parents again:

Ayotzinapa caravan rolls out from Tixtla

  • Parents wish to spread the message that their children are still alive

Three caravans of buses are rolling out across the country this week as part of an effort by the families of the missing students of Ayotzinapa to tell the country they believe their children are still alive.

The first caravan — three buses carrying family members and classmates of the missing students — departed yesterday on a 1,700-kilometer journey from the Ayotzinapa teacher training college in Tixtla, Guerrero, heading north.

The objective is to inform the public about the tragic events of September 26 and 27 in Iguala, Guerrero, when their sons were taken and six people were killed, presumably on the orders of the town’s mayor.

More from Mexico Voices:

Mexico’s Iguala Crisis: Ayotzinapa Students Shift from Violent Protests to Informative Caravans

After five days of violent protests, teachers and students of Guerrero, Michoacán, Oaxaca, Chiapas and Mexico City changed the direction of their demonstrations to performing peaceful, informative protests. Relatives of the disappeared normal school students and members of the Student Federation of Socialist Peasants of Mexico are setting out across the country in caravans and asking people to support locating the disappeared normal school students.

The first caravan took the name “Julio César Ramírez Pontes” and left the Ayotzinapa Normal School at about 11:00 a.m., headed toward Chihuahua. It will tour the states of Zacatecas, Jalisco and Michoacán. The second caravan, named “Daniel Solis” in memory of a student who died in the attack in Iguala last September 26, departed at 4:00 p.m., setting out for the states of Oaxaca, Chiapas, Morelos and Tlaxcala. The third caravan will visit seven municipalities in Guerrero, including Acapulco. It is expected that the three contingents will meet in Mexico City at the end of their tours.

And more from teleSUR:

Ayotzinapa Families to Meet with Zapatistas

Family members of the 43 missing students from the Ayotzinapa rural college, who are meeting with the EZLN and the Good Government Council in Chiapas, say that students’ disappearance “is not an isolated incident.”

After a 20-hour trek, the “Daniel Solis Gallardo” convoy –  named after one of the three Ayotzinapa rural college students killed on September 26 by police and hitmen – arrived yesterday in Chiapas, where they were received by thousands of supporters.

Family members announced that they will meet Saturday with members of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), where there will hold a press conference. From there, they proceeded to the Integrative Center of Indigenous Community Development (Cideci by its Spanish acronym) at the University of the Earth in the state’s capital,  San Cristobal de las Casas.

Meanwhile, protests continued in Guerrero. From PressTV:

Mexican protesters call for justice in Chilpancingo

Program notes:

Thousands of demonstrators angered by police corruption and the massacre of 43 students by cartel gangsters, have flooded the streets of Mexico calling for justice.

Mobs of protestors wielding sticks, pipes and stolen riot gear from police marched through Chilpancingo, the capital of the failed state of Guerrero on Friday. The students, who were all trainee teachers, went missing from the drug-infested state, after they planned to crash the politically ambitious mayor’s wife speech back in September. The protesters carried images of the missing male students. Authorities say they were abducted by the now dissmissed police force and handed over to a drug cartel. Three gang members admitted to slaughtered them and incinerated their corpses. Protests have rocked a number of Mexican cities this week, with the Guerrero state congress set ablaze on Tuesday in the escalating demonstrations.

One impact, via NTDTV:

Acapulco Tourism Feels Chill Over Wave of Mexico Violence

Program notes:

Thousands of tourists cancel hotel reservations on holiday weekend because of ongoing violence in Guerrero state.

Closer to Casa esnl in the San Francisco Bay Area [and belated] via Mission Local:

Protest This Saturday for Disappeared Students in Ayotzinapa, Mexico

It is the event that has captured international headlines and captivated much of the world for the last two months: the disappearance of 43 students from rural Guerrero, Mexico. They were taken by local police, turned to a local gang and are presumed murdered. If that wasn’t enough, the governments timid response has reached a boiling point and there are now daily protests throughout Mexico demanding their return.

Mexico attorney general Murillo karam offered some details during the press conference last week: the bodies were left to burn for 15 hours and then tossed to a nearby river. Massive protests have ensued in Mexico City and abroad.

This Saturday, several Bay Area organizations have put together a march that will begin at noon at 24th and Mission to march and protest against the Mexican government response to what’s happened in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero.

And here’s a video of the march as it happened today via Mexican Monitor:

Ayotzinapa Solidarity Protest in San Francisco

Program notes:

Some 500 people marched from 24th and Mission streets in San Francisco’s Mission District in solidarity with the 43 missing students in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, Mexico. 43 students went missing, and are presumed dead, in Iguala, on September 26. The timid reaction by the government and frustrations with a corruption, extreme violence have lead to daily protests throughout the Mexico. In San Francisco, Calif. many people with connection to Mexico or immigrants themselves, took to the streets on Saturday to demand that the president, Enrique Peña Nieto step down.

From up the road from Casa esnl in Berkeley, a solidarity gathering earlier this week at the University of California [in Spanish] via vlogger edwin rodriguez:

UC Berkeley con Ayotzinapa

Program notes:

Across the countries, not just colleges, but cities have been mobilizing around this. We’ve already held a small vigil on campus, but now its time to start mobilizing for the 20th of November. This is the date people across Mexico plan on mobilizing towards the capital and the date international solidarity is to be displayed.

So to those 43, to the 6 who have already been killed by this unlawful act of governance, by the injustice committed by Jose Luis Abarca and his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda, by their party the PRD.

We Will Continue Standing In Solidarity Until Justice Is Served.

Another gathering today in Sydney, Australia, via vlogger integramedia3d:

Apoyo a Ayotzinapa Sydney Australia

Next, from VICE News, a criticism of the mood north of the border:

Americans Support Mexico’s Anti-Government Protests — As Long as They Stay in Mexico

Since the beginning of the decade, we have become accustomed to the optics of unrest and revolution. Tunisia, Egypt, Ukraine, Venezuela, Brazil — and to a degree, Ferguson, Missouri. The context and struggles may share some resonance, but they’re not interchangeable. I can list these sites of unrest in abstraction only because that is how Western media consumers receive them — contiguous images of tear gas, fire, lines of riot cops, chanting crowds, furious crowds, surging crowds, bleeding, and weeping.

Civil unrest has a consistent visual language across continents and political contexts. What is not consistent, however, are the standards by which Americans evaluate political dissent as justifiable or insupportable. The righteous eruption of protest in Mexico over the massacre of 43 normalista students is the latest instance to draw out a particular American tendency when it comes to watching unrest from afar; a NIMBY attitude to revolution.

If Americans believe the fury in Mexico right now is justified, they are equally obligated to push for a swift end to the war on drugs at home. Yes, there are arguments to continue US drug prohibition, but none of them trump the proliferation of mass slaughter in Mexico. Corruption and state-sanctioned violence there is very much in Americans’ backyard — and Americans should not distance themselves from the struggle against it.

And from the Associated Press, a reminder of other apparently state-sanctioned violence in Guerrero:

Kidnapped Ugandan priest’s remains ID’d in Mexico

The remains of a Ugandan priest kidnapped more than six months ago have been found in a mass grave in southern Mexico, Roman Catholic authorities said Friday.

Father John Ssenyondo, 55, was among 13 bodies in a clandestine grave discovered Nov. 2 in the town of Ocotitlan, said Victor Aguilar, vicar of the Chilpancingo-Chilapa diocese in the southern state of Guerrero.

Dental records were used to identify the priest, who was born Dec. 25, 1958, in Masaka, Uganda. He came to the diocese about five years ago.

Aguilar said Ssenyondo, a member of the Combonian order, was abducted April 30 in the town of Santa Cruz after saying Mass, when a group of people in an SUV intercepted his car.

InSecurityWatch: War, cops, hacks, hate


And so much else.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Islamic State: ‘Baghdadi message’ issued by jihadists

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

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

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

Ancillary action, via BBC News:

Egypt sailors missing after navy ship attacked in Med

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

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

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

Gettin’ spooky, from the Guardian:

Race to revive NSA surveillance curbs before Congress handover

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

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

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

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

The London Telegraph covers cellular spooks aloft:

US using fake cellphone towers on planes to gather data

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

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

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

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

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

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

Controlling the Surveillance State

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

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

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

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

Nuclear cowboys reined in, from International Business Times:

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

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

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

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

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

Drones over the border with BBC News:

US-Mexico border ‘patrolled by drones’

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

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

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

And Amazon drones launched, from the Guardian:

Amazon to begin testing same-day delivery drones in Cambridge

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

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

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

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

Old-fashioned spookery, from intelNews:

Lithuania charges state employee with spying for Belarus, Russia

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

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

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

TheLocal.es covers a continuing coverup:

Spain scraps plan to declassify military files

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

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

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

BuzzFeed starts our “cops behaing badly” segment:

Secret Service Agent Chatting On Cell Phone Missed White House Intruder

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

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

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

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

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

Ex-Maryland police officer sentenced for shooting handcuffed suspect

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

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

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

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

From euronews, a Parisian police protest:

Schools barricaded in Paris in anger over alleged police brutality

Program notes:

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

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

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

And from the Independent, prosecutorial misbehavin’:

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

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

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

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

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

EbolaWatch: Numbers, Mali, fear, cautions


We open with the latest official Ebola numbers — now topping 5,000 — from the World Health Organization:

BLOG Ebolg numbrs

Next, the latest outbreak continues, via the Sydney Morning Herald:

Ebola in Mali: Nurse dies after sick imam from Guinea was never tested for virus

Authorities in Mali have quarantined dozens of people at the home of a 25-year-old nurse who died from Ebola in the capital, Bamako, and at the clinic where he treated an imam from Guinea who died with Ebola-like symptoms.

The imam from the border town of Kouremale was never tested for the disease and his body was washed in Mali and returned to Guinea for burial without precautions against the virus.

Two aid workers said that another person who lived in the house where the imam stayed in Bamako had died this week and was buried without being tested.

A doctor at the Pasteur Clinic where the nurse worked – one of Bamako’s top medical centres – is also suspected to have contracted Ebola.

More from the New York Times:

The first case in the new outbreak was a 70-year-old religious figure, a grand imam, who fell ill in Guinea and traveled to Mali for better treatment at a major private clinic in Bamako, Mali’s capital.

He died there on Oct. 27, and because of his importance, his body was washed at a large Bamako mosque before being returned to Guinea for burial.

But the Pasteur Clinic, where he was treated, failed to diagnose Ebola as the underlying cause of the kidney failure it was treating him for. According to a World Health Organization description of the case, numerous tests were performed, but not one for Ebola.

It was only realized how infectious he was after a nurse at the clinic fell ill and died, and when the chief W.H.O. representative in Mali heard from his counterparts in Guinea that the imam’s family members were dying.

And a video report from Reuters filed earlier in the day:

Quarantines in Mali after Ebola claims second life

Program notes:

Ninety people have been quarantined in Mali following the death of a second person from Ebola. Gavino Garay reports.

From the New York Times, a crisis of needs:

U.N. Seeks a More Nimble Response to Ebola in Africa

A shortage of international health workers and delays in building Ebola treatment clinics in West Africa are forcing the United Nations to change course in fighting the virus, and to call for smaller and more mobile treatment units that make greater use of local staff — and in turn require more money.

The shift comes eight months after the Ebola outbreak in West Africa was first identified. The virus is waning in some places and growing stronger elsewhere, and the international response so far has been unable to get the outbreak under control.

The most prominent international efforts have so far been focused on building large treatment centers. But by the time they are completed, they may not be where they are most needed.

An effort to combat domestic collateral damage, via Public Radio International:

A new hotline fights Ebola-related stigma against African immigrants

There are no more Ebola cases in the United States, but that doesn’t mean the fear is gone. New immigrants from Africa are facing harassment and discrimination because of fears surrounding the Ebola virus.

So a Bronx-based non-profit organization for African immigrants has launched a hotline to help. The group’s new website, AfricanDefense.org, encourages African immigrants to write or call in with their stories. The organization is collecting and sharing cases of discrimination and harassment to help raise awareness about the problem.

“We’ve heard a range of stories, both from the immigrants we are working with here in New York and … from all across the country,” says Amaha Kassa, executive director for African Communities Together.

And from Voice of America, American medical boots on the ground:

US Opens Ebola Treatment Unit in Liberia

The United States has opened the first of several Ebola treatment units it is building in Liberia.

The new clinic opened Monday in Tubmanburg, about 60 kilometers north of the Liberian capital, Monrovia. A U.S. Agency for International Development statement said up to 17 such units will be constructed in Liberia, including three that will be operated by the International Organization for Migration.

According to the World Health Organization, the number of people infected with Ebola appears to be decreasing in Monrovia, but more cases are being detected in other areas of the West African country.

From Foreign Policy, cutting back:

DoD Sending Fewer Troops to Liberia to Battle Ebola

The military will scale back its Ebola operation in Liberia, citing recent success in stopping the spread of the disease as a second Ebola outbreak was detected in neighboring Mali.

Speaking at the Pentagon Wednesday afternoon, Army Maj. Gen. Gary Volesky said that the Defense Department will now dispatch 3,000, instead of the authorized 4,000, troops to Liberia as part of the Obama administration’s response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Volesky said fewer troops were needed because contractors already in Liberia can lighten the Pentagon’s load. The 3,000 troops are expected arrive in Liberia by December.

The Associated Press covers a plea:

Ebola workers ask Congress for help

A top U.S. official outlined plans Wednesday for clinical trials of a possible Ebola vaccine in West Africa, as the global response to the outbreak took on added urgency with the disclosure of a new cluster of cases in Mali and reports that the death toll had surpassed 5,000.

Two studies of a U.S.-developed vaccine will begin in Liberia and Sierra Leone by January and if they go well, “we could know by the middle of 2015 whether or not we have an effective vaccine,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, infectious disease chief at the National Institutes of Health, told the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The confirmation of long-anticipated vaccine studies came as the Senate panel began evaluating the Obama administration’s request for $6.2 billion in emergency aid to fight Ebola.

“These resources are essential to stop the outbreak in Africa, and protect us,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A settlement from the Los Angeles Times:

Family of Texas Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan settles with hospital

Relatives of Thomas Eric Duncan announced Wednesday that they had settled all legal claims against the Dallas hospital where the Liberian man was treated and died of Ebola last month.

They said the agreement with Texas Health Presbyterian of Dallas and all others involved in treating Duncan, 42, includes a settlement with his parents and four children — ages 12, 18, 19 and 22 — as well as creating a charitable foundation to improve Ebola treatment in Africa.

The hospital released a statement noting the matter had been “amicably resolved.”

The parties did not disclose the amount of the settlement, although the family’s attorney said the amount was comparable to what could have been obtained through a civil suit alleging gross negligence.

Thomson Reuters Foundation finds fault:

Half of G20 countries have failed to deliver in fight against Ebola – Oxfam

Nine of the world’s top 20 biggest economies have failed to deliver adequate support in the global fight against the Ebola outbreak that has killed more than 5,000 people in West Africa, Oxfam said on Wednesday.

Despite urgent calls for assistance, Argentina, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have made no contribution at all, while Brazil, India, Mexico, Russia and France should be doing more, the charity said in a statement.

Of the G20, the United States, Britain and the European Union have shouldered most responsibility, and need to convince other countries to do more at the G20 summit in Brisbane, Australia this weekend.

A parallel plea from the Associated Press:

UN’s Ban calls on Asia to step up Ebola fight

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Asian countries on Wednesday to step up their efforts in the global fight against Ebola.

He noted that Asia has more than half the world’s population. While it has not recorded any Ebola cases, experts worry that border control measures and other preparations are insufficient and that Asian countries should be doing more to fight the viral outbreak in West African nations.

Ban spoke in Myanmar’s capital, where world leaders are gathering for summits touching on security, health and economic issues.

He urged governments to help fill huge gaps in funding, equipment and medical personnel trying to stop the spread of Ebola.

From the Guardian, even worse:

Ebola: for-profit disaster capitalists are already out looking to make money from misery

  • NGOs with months of front line exposure were shunned in favour of a private company which was awarded a $20m contract to run an ebola response in Sierra Leone

The horror of ebola in West Africa has taken thousands of lives and spread fear around the world. This fact, coupled with ignorance and misinformation, has created the perfect storm. The risk is real, but you wouldn’t know the full picture from watching last weekend’s American 60 Minutes. Lara Logan’s report took her to Liberia, but it did not include any black African voices. It was as if colonialism never died, and the life-saving Americans were the only barrier between calm and chaos.

Meanwhile in Australia, last week’s news that private company Aspen Medical was awarded a $20m contract to run an ebola response in Sierra Leone was given surprisingly little scrutiny. Federal health minister Peter Dutton praised the company’s record and claimed that the firm was chosen because “they’ve got the capacity and the logistical capacity to deliver very quickly what governments want on the ground.” He played the patriotism card –“Aspen is an Australian company” – and said that Aspen “will have this up and running efficiently, effectively, saving lives.”

Non-government organisations with months of front line exposure in battling ebola were shunned for a corporation that won’t face any freedom of information requests because it’s a private entity. We have to take it on trust that taxpayer dollars will be spent appropriately. With former senior politicians and civil servants on Aspen’s board (a typical feature of companies that succeed in winning government contracts globally) financial benefits and political knowledge for the company are assured.

Raising questions with the Associated Press:

Ebola drug testing sparks ethics debate

Health officials are scrambling to begin human testing of a handful of experimental drugs for Ebola. But the effort has sparked an ethical debate over how to study unproven medicines amid an outbreak that has killed nearly 5,000.

U.S. officials say the studies must include one critical feature of traditional medical testing: a control group of patients who do not receive the drugs.

But many European and African authorities argue that withholding drugs from study participants is unethical, given that the current outbreak kills between 50 and 80 percent percent of those infected in West Africa, according to Doctors Without Borders. They favor alternative studies in which every patient receives drug therapy.

The split in testing philosophies means different researchers may wind up testing the same drugs using different approaches.

Another quarantine, via the Associated Press:

Island quarantine for Filipino troops from Liberia

More than 130 Filipino soldiers and police returned from peacekeeping duties in Liberia on Wednesday and immediately headed to an island quarantine as a precaution against the Ebola virus.

Although they passed rigid U.N. Ebola screening before they left the West African nation, they will still spend another 21 days on Caballo Island at the mouth of Manila Bay, the military said.

The troops arrived on a chartered flight but were not allowed to meet with relatives. The families applauded as they watched a video of arrival ceremonies at an air base from inside the Philippine air force museum building.

And from China Daily, prepared:

Nation’s rapid Ebola response ‘could prevent an outbreak’

Many of the lessons China learned during the SARS outbreak in the early 2000s have subsequently been applied to the management of infectious diseases such as the ongoing Ebola outbreak, despite the low probability of the disease becoming widespread in the country, according to Bernhard Schwartlander, the World Health Organization’s representative in China.

China’s response to SARS and Ebola has focused on preventing outbreaks, slowing infection rates, arranging treatment programs, and preparing the health services to respond effectively, Schwartlander told China Daily.

“The 2003 experience of SARS in China changed the way in which information was shared and communicated, and quick, transparent, accurate information is one of the key tools that can be used to address an outbreak and avoid miscommunication and panic,” he stressed.

After the jump, on to Africa and a call for quarantine, soccer match Ebolaphobia defense, Angolan Ebola fears covered, the Gambia welcomes West Africans, comics to the educational rescue, on to Sierra Leone and burial alarms sounding, healthcare workers stage a walkout, and another doctor falls victim, on to Liberia and another flareup, critical disease trackers angered over missing paychecks, the latest bed count, the African Union sends in more medics, and a dam delayed. . . Continue reading