Category Archives: Law

EbolaWatch: Politics, drugs, warnings, grief

We begin with a notable absence, via the Associated Press:

At 1 month, US Ebola monitors finding no cases

For three weeks, Dr. John Fankhauser and his family lived in two RVs in a meadow in North Carolina, watching movies, playing cards and huddling around a fire pit — with no other campers around.

But their isolation was interrupted each morning by a visit from a public health nurse, who came to ask Fankhauser how he was feeling and to watch him take his temperature.

The doctor is one of the more than 2,600 people who have undergone the 21-day ritual ordered by the federal government to guard against cases of Ebola from entering the country from West Africa. Now, anyone who has traveled from four West African nations is monitored for three weeks for fever and other signs of the disease.

The program reaches the one-month mark on Thursday, and so far, it hasn’t found any cases of Ebola.

On to the medical front with Punch Nigeria:

China approves new Ebola prevention drugs

China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) has approved three home-grown Ebola test reagents to be used in prevention of the spread of the virus.

The three test reagent products are made by Daan Gene Co., Ltd of Sun Yat-Sen University, Shenzhen Puruikang and Shanghai ZJ Bio-Tech Co., Ltd respectively. The products will be reserved for contingency situations, said CFDA.

The statement did not detail how fast the reagent can diagnose the Ebola virus infection but according to a Friday report from China News Service, the product from Puruikang has high sensitivity and accuracy.

From Agence France-Presse, an etiological approach:

Research on bats could help develop drugs against Ebola

Program notes:

In Africa’s only biosafety level 4 laboratory, scientists have been carrying out experiments on bats to understand how virus like Ebola are being transmitted, and how some of them resist to it.

From the Associated Press, a beneficiary of tragedy:

Ebola scare boosts business for Ala company

The Ebola scare has subsided in the United States, at least temporarily, but an Alabama manufacturer is still trying to catch up with a glut of orders for gear to protect against the disease.

Located in north Alabama, the family-owned Kappler Inc. of Guntersville typically gets only a few orders annually for the type of suit needed by health workers who are in contact with Ebola patients.

That changed once the disease showed up in Texas, Kappler vice president of marketing Dennis Sanders said. Quickly, orders were flooding in for thousands of the company’s Provent 10,000 coverall.

“It happened, literally, overnight,” he said. “We took orders in a couple of days that exceeded the orders we’ve had on that particular product in two or three years.”

And from the Japan Times, more of the same:

ASDF on mission to deliver Ebola suits to West Africa

The government decided on Friday to deliver 20,000 protective suits to West Africa via the Air Self-Defense Force next week, part of a donation of 700,000 suits to help Ebola-hit countries in the region.

The delivery will mark the first time an SDF plane has been dispatched as part of the international effort to combat the deadly disease, which is ravaging the region.

“We will supply about 700,000 sets of protective gear, based on requests from Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Mali,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on Friday at his regular news conference.

A clarion call from the U.N. Press Center:

‘The world is on the side of those who are involved in this fight’ against Ebola – UN envoy

The top United Nations officials leading the fight against Ebola have made an appeal for people who possess skills that are “quite rare” to join the global effort, such as those who can provide patient care, undertake contact tracing and analyze how the outbreak is evolving in remote areas of the virus-affected countries, saying that “deploying more people to the districts is our highest priority.”

“These skills are quite rare in our world today because there are not thousands and thousands of people who are really experienced in Ebola and its management,” Dr. David Nabarro, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Envoy on Ebola, said in an interview with the Department of Public Information at the headquarters of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) in Accra, Ghana.

“And so what we’re doing is looking very hard for the best people in the world and encouraging them to come and work with the governments of the affected countries,” Dr. Nabarro said.

Dr. Nabarro gave the interview together with UNMEER chief Anthony Banbury, in the lead-up to the 1 December target set by the mission, which aims to try to get 70 per cent of the cases isolated and treated, and 70 per cent of the deceased safely buried within 60 days from the beginning of October to 1 December.

And the ghost at the banquet, via RFI:

Ebola Casts Shadow Over French-Speaking Countries’ Summit in Dakar

The Ebola epidemic is casting a shadow over the 15th summit of French-speaking nations in the Dakar this weekend. The Senegalese capital has been a hive of activity in the runup to the event.

The 15th Sommet de la Francophonie was planned to mark a turning point in the life of the organisation with the election of a new secretary general and the definition of a new agenda for women’s and youth empowerment.

But the Ebola epidemic in west Africa is set to change the dynamics of the summit. Senegal has nothing in common with some of the spendthrift leaders it will be hosting.

On to Guinea, first with a notable visit, via the Associated Press:

French president cheered in Ebola-stricken Guinea

French President Francois Hollande brought a message of hope to Guinea on Friday, where thousands of residents lined the roads while clapping, drumming and dancing to catch a glimpse of the first Western leader to visit a country hard hit by Ebola.

Guinean President Alpha Conde greeted his French counterpart at the airport and said that if Hollande could visit the country, then anybody could.

“There is hope,” said Hollande, “The hope of those who have been cured. The hope that we can control this epidemic … The very fact that hope exists.”

From the Associated Press again, problems on the ground:

Ebola aid dogged by coordination lags in Guinea

Eight months into West Africa’s Ebola outbreak, aid efforts in Guinea still suffer from poor coordination, hampering deployments of international support to help quell a virus that has killed more than 1,200 people in the former French colony, officials and medical aid providers say.

With such a deadly and panic-inspiring health emergency, any aid project was bound to face hurdles. Millions of dollars in aid from the U.S., Europe, China, the U.N. and elsewhere have poured into a relatively poor West African region known for instability and poor governance. A frenzied public reaction— widened by fears of infection following the evacuation of patients to the U.S. and Europe — has increased international pressure for quick action.

The often discombobulated effort hasn’t only been seen in Guinea. The region-wide response has been criticized as slow and organizationally complicated. But Guinea’s outbreak has attracted less attention because its cases have come in smaller, unpredictable waves in contrast to explosive surges in nearby Liberia and Sierra Leone.

And the Guardian covers a trial run:

15-minute Ebola test trialled in Guinea

  • Device can diagnose infection six times faster than methods currently used in west Africa

Trials of a device that can diagnose an Ebola infection within 15 minutes are about to start in Guinea.

The test, which can analyse blood or saliva samples, is six times faster than those being used in west Africa at the moment. Faster results mean those infected can be isolated more quickly and can receive earlier treatment, which may improve their chances of survival.

Dr Val Snewin, of the Wellcome Trust, which is funding the development and trials of the device, said: “A reliable 15-minute test that can confirm cases of Ebola would be a key tool for effective management of the Ebola outbreak, allowing patients to be identified, isolated and cared for as soon as possible. It not only gives patients a better chance of survival, but it prevents transmission of the virus to other people.

“This pilot study is particularly promising because researchers have considered how to make the test suitable for use in remote field hospitals, where resources – such as electricity and cold storage – are often in short supply.”

On to Sierra Leone with grim news from the New York Times:

Despite Aid Push, Ebola Is Raging in Sierra Leone

While health officials say they are making headway against the Ebola epidemic in neighboring Liberia, the disease is still raging in Sierra Leone, despite the big international push. In November alone, the World Health Organization has reported more than 1,800 new cases in this country, about three times as many as in Liberia, which until recently had been the center of the outbreak.

More than six weeks ago, international health officials conceded that they were overwhelmed in Sierra Leone and reluctantly announced a Plan B. Until enough hospital beds could be built here, they pledged to at least help families tend to their sick loved ones at home.

The health officials admitted Plan B was a major defeat, but said the approach would only be temporary and promised to supply basics like protective gloves, painkillers and rehydration salts.

A call provoked from the Guardian:

Boost Ebola aid to Sierra Leone, Justine Greening told

  • Open letter calls on international development secretary to increase response to outbreak to avoid ‘catastrophic loss of life’

Justine Greening, the international development secretary, has been warned by senior medical professionals that Sierra Leone risks “a public health disaster” worse than Ebola unless UK efforts to contain the virus are significantly stepped up.

In an open letter signed by 53 doctors, charity representatives and a former British diplomat, Greening is told the government needs to quickly review operations in Sierra Leone to avert further crisis.

The signatories warn that, unless a comprehensive response to the crisis is adopted, “health services will collapse entirely”, resulting in a “public health disaster that will eclipse the Ebola outbreak itself and provide the perfect incubator for further outbreaks”.

The Guardian has posted the full text and signatories here.

From StarAfrica, professional anxiety:

S/Leone: Junior doctors express concern over high deaths among colleagues

An umbrella body representing junior doctors in Sierra Leone has expressed concern over frequent cases of doctors getting infected with the Ebola virus and demanded action from the government to limit, if not stop it.The junior Doctors Association of Sierra Leone (JUDASIL) says the number of health care workers getting infected and dying of the disease has become “very alarming”, especially among their colleague doctors.

As at Friday, a total of nine local doctors have been infected with seven of them dead. The latest two are struggling for their lives.

Dr Geraldine George, President of JUDASIL, said Friday that while they have resigned to what they had signed for – treating the sick “they want to see the government also play its part in limiting the risk in getting medics infected.”

After the jump, Australian medics dispatched, a break for street vendors, a mayor’s plea for diligence, and a study launched on the outbreak’s gender-specific impacts, then on to Liberia and a medical warning, government sets a deadline for the outbreak’s end, school reopening pondered, a warning and praise from the African Union, a market shutdown over Ebola worries, long overdue pay of healthcare workers provokes a sit-down, Then onto Nigeria for the troubled plight of a fatality’s family. . . Continue reading

MexicoWatch: Protests, demands, politics, death

We open with a documentary from VICE News:

The Missing 43: Mexico’s Disappeared Students

Program notes:

On September 26, students from the Teachers College of Ayotzinapa in Mexico en route to a protest in Iguala were intercepted by police forces. In the ensuing clash, six students were fatally shot and 43 were abducted. Investigations over the following weeks led to the startling allegations that the police had acted at the behest of the local mayor, and had turned over the abducted students to members of the Guerreros Unidos cartel. All 43 students are now feared dead.

The case has come to represent the negative feeling of the Mexican public toward the state of justice and the rule of law in Mexico. The events have now galvanized the survivors of the attack and the disappeared students’ parents. Nationwide demonstrations have increased in intensity, and recently led to government buildings in the state of Guerrero to be set on fire.

VICE News travels to Guerrero, ground-zero for the protest movement that has erupted since the disappearance of the students. We meet with survivors of the Iguala police attack and parents of the missing students, accompany volunteer search parties, and watch as protests against the government and president reach boiling point.

Next, BBC News covers the latest desperate move from an embattled president:

Mexican president Pena Nieto to overhaul police

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has announced plans to overhaul the country’s municipal police forces after the disappearance of 43 students.

Mr Nieto said he would place all local police units under federal control.

He announced proposals for a series of constitutional reforms that would allow the country’s 1,800 municipal forces to be dissolved and taken over by state agencies.

The overhaul would begin in Mexico’s four most violent states, he added – Tamaulipas, Jalisco, Michoacan and Guerrero.

Reuters has a breakdown of the new police regime here.

A video report from teleSUR English reveals that the president may have already irrevocably tarnished his own once seemingly efullgent political star:

Senator in Mexico demands president’s resignation

Program notes:

Senator Layda Sansores called on the Mexican president, Enrique Peña Nieto, to resign from office. Commenting on the events on November 20th, when the Mexican police attacked demonstrators in Mexico City who were calling for justice for the families of the 43 missing students from Ayotzinapa, Sansores said: “Fear will transform into anger, and anger into the courage to continue fighting.”

From teleSUR, another demand:

Mexican Teachers, Artists Demand Release of Student Protesters

University teachers said that the accusations against the #20NovMx protestors were unfair and poorly made.

Teachers from Mexico’s National Autonomous University (UNAM) demanded Thursday that the country’s authorities release the 11 people arrested during the clashes between protestors and police after a march over the 43 missing Ayotzinapa students.

“Human rights organizations, press, and society have showed the brutality and violence of the police operation and the arbitrary detentions,” the teachers told reporters in a press conference, according to Mexican newspaper La Jornada.

“We do not like this way to drive the repressive forces, especially when officials provoke violations tohuman rights and freedom of expression,” they added.

Another voice weighs in, via the Latin American Herald Tribune:

AI Says 11 Detained Protesters Being “Unfairly Held” in Mexico

Eleven people who were arrested after a large-scale protest over the disappearance of 43 teacher trainees in southern Mexico are being “unfairly held” and should be released immediately unless further evidence is presented, London-based human rights group Amnesty International said Thursday.

The individuals who were detained earlier this month and remain in custody include Chilean citizen Lawrence Maxwell and three women.

The detainees, who have been charged with criminal association, mutiny and attempted homicide of a police officer based only on the testimony of the five police who arrested them, are being held at two remote high-security prisons and treated as “high-value criminals,” AI said, noting that a hearing on their case will take place on Saturday.

And a video report from TeleSUR English:

Mexican government ‘criminalizing’ the right to protest

Program notes:

Family and friends of 11 student activists illegally detained by Mexican authorities during the pacific November 20 march for solidarity with Ayotzinapa are demanding the immediate release of the detainees, who were sent to maximum security penitentiaries on charges of terrorism and murder.For many detainees, their only crime is having a social conscience. NGOs and social organizations consider the 11 jailed youth as political prisoners and demand their immediate release from the government of Enrique Pena Nieto. Clayton Conn has more for us from Mexico.

From the Guardian, the latest additions to the body count:

Mexico: eleven bodies found dumped in state where 43 students went missing

  • Grisly discovery came just hours before president set to announce series of measures to improve law and order in land grappling with daily violence

Eleven mutilated corpses, many of them decapitated, were found dumped by the roadside in southwest Mexico on Thursday in the same state where 43 trainee teachers were abducted and apparently massacred two months ago, local authorities said.

The grisly discovery came just hours before embattled President Enrique Pena Nieto was set to announce a series of measures to improve law and order in a land grappling with daily drug gang violence.

Some of the naked torsos of the corpses were burnt, photographs published by local media showed.

The attorney general’s office in the restive Guerrero state said the bodies were found in Chilapa, a municipality in the same region as the radical leftist college attended by the abducted students.

More from United Press International:

Mexican federal authorities take over investigation of new mass grave

The murders are most likely unrelated to the case of 43 students missing since September.

Mexican federal authorities took over an investigation Friday relating to 11 burned and decapitated bodies found near a rural road in the state of Guerrero.

The bodies, along with a message from the perpetrators, were found by local authorities Thursday. The sign read, “Here goes your trash” followed by expletives, and allegedly signed by a criminal gang.

Murder investigations are usually handled by state or local authorities, and in this case, Guerrero authorities began the investigation before it was formally taken over by federal officials. The bodies were then taken to Mexico City to be examined by forensic experts.

All 11 bodies were male. Guerrero investigators said “it’s worth pointing out that the bodies are missing their cephalic extremity, which were not placed in the immediate surroundings of the find.” The bodies were also partially incinerated.

Another casualty, via the Los Angeles Times:

Mexican activist who fed train-hopping immigrants is slain

A Mexican good Samaritan who dedicated his scarce resources to feeding Central American migrants passing by on La Bestia train was slain this week along with a friend who assisted him, fellow activists said Wednesday.

Adrian Rodriguez, who was featured in a Los Angeles Times article in June, was shot three times late Sunday afternoon as he visited his parents, receiving wounds to the head, chest and leg. He died immediately.

His friend, a Honduras native named Wilson, was shot five times and died the next morning, fellow activist Jorge Andrade said in an interview.

Gangs notoriously prey on migrants crossing Mexico, threatening, raping, extorting money from and even killing hundreds a year. People like Rodriguez, who for the last decade had trudged almost daily to the railroad tracks near his home, lugging bread, coffee, rice, beans and other supplies for migrants, work at great risk, Andrade said.

The killings in a broader context, via Borderland Beat:

President Peña Nieto moves to abolish municipal police….really Enrique?

Any BB reader knows what the world is yet to discover, that here at BB were have reported over 50 stories in the last year of  the Iguala region where hundreds of people have been taken, in groups of 10, 20, 30, entire families, school children, just regular citizens not remotely connected to criminality.   Kidnapped, and never seen again.  We have reported dozens of bodies discovered by citizens, and authorities, 32 in August, over 100 in the 6 months before the 43.

People near the landfill, who cut across the landfill,  as a short cut, reported finding 300 bodies in 2 years.  In that landfill alone.  They report that treading on the landfill area after dark is the kiss of death.  That is when the executions occur.  Gunshots heard….6-8-10 or more, pierce through the silence of the night.  And people know, in the morning corpses will be seen.  People say it is not every night, but regularly.

People, including the parents of the 43, say they reported the acts genocide to both the Calderon administration and  Peña administration.  They called on the PGR federal agency to conduct investigations, they pleaded with them.  They were told it was a state issue, a local issue.  But… pleaded the people, the state and local government are criminals, they are in collusion with the bad guys, they ARE the bad guys.   Yet, they were turned away.

And the killing continued.

I ask how is it that a town of only 120k population have hundreds of bodies discovered?  A resident wrote to me and said I was wrong, the numbers are over 1000.  At first I thought that was emotion doing the calculation,  I then did the math, and concede over 1000 is very feasible.

And from Al Jazeera America, a parallel phenomenon:

Turning Mexico’s kingpins into cartelitos

  • Drug trafficking organizations are rapidly splintering, but there?’s no end in sight to the violence

Bruce Bagley has a theory to explain the proliferation of drug gangs in Mexico. A University of Miami professor and an expert on drug trafficking in Latin America, he calls it the “cockroach effect.” Flick on the lights in a dirty kitchen and roaches may scatter. And if that kitchen is Mexico, they don’t just scurry behind stoves and under fridges; they burrow into small states and rural municipalities throughout the country.

Despite a history of collusion between criminal groups and local politicians, as seen in the case of the 43 missing students in Guerrero, Mexico’s federal government has for years focused efforts on taking down the country’s kingpins. This strategy has resulted in the arrests, extraditions and deaths of dozens of drug lords over the past decade but also unprecedented waves of violence. “Every time you knock off a capo,” Bagley said, “you run the risk of unleashing higher levels of violence.” Once the leader is removed, underlings compete for power, or rival groups try to seize territory. By cracking down on the kingpins, the Mexican government also risks clearing niches in which smaller, more regional criminal groups can flourish.

In the mid to late 2000s, there were six drug syndicates in Mexico — the Sinaloa Federation, Gulf cartel, Tijuana cartel, Juárez cartel, Zetas and Familia Michoacana. Today there are 45 active syndicates in Mexico, according to a September tally by the Mexican government, and Bagley said he has seen estimates as high as 80. These new splinter groups popping up like whack-a-moles around the country include the Guerreros Unidos, or United Warriors, the group believed responsible for the disappearance of the 43 normalistas in Mexico’s southwestern state of Guerrero in September.

And to close, another protest poster, this time from Humanos Mexicanos:

BLOG Mexart

Moyers & Company: Plutocracy’s long, dark shadow

From his PBS weekly PBS new talk show, former presidential press secretary turned journalist Bill Moyers offers an incisive look at the growing power of an increasingly wealthy plutocracy, a power that threatens the last vestiges of democratic governance.

From Moyers & Company:

Moyers & Company: The Long, Dark Shadows of Plutocracy

Program notes [the full transcript is here]:

Some people say inequality doesn’t matter. They are wrong. All we have to do to see its effects is to realize that all across America millions of people of ordinary means can’t afford decent housing.

As wealthy investors and buyers drive up real estate values, the middle class is being squeezed further and the working poor are being shoved deeper into squalor — in places as disparate as Silicon Valley and New York City.

This week Bill points to the changing skyline of Manhattan as the physical embodiment of how money and power impact the lives and neighborhoods of every day people. Soaring towers being built at the south end of Central Park, climbing higher than ever with apartments selling from $30 million to $90 million, are beginning to block the light on the park below. Many of the apartments are being sold at those sky high prices to the international super rich, many of whom will only live in Manhattan part-time – if at all — and often pay little or no city income or property taxes, thanks to the political clout of real estate developers.

“The real estate industry here in New York City is like the oil industry in Texas,” affordable housing advocate Jaron Benjamin says, “They outspend everybody… They often have a much better relationship with elected officials than everyday New Yorkers do.” Meanwhile, fewer and fewer middle and working class people can afford to live in New York City. As Benjamin puts it, “Forget about the Statue of Liberty. Forget about Ellis Island. Forget about the idea of everybody being welcome here in New York City. This will be a city only for rich people.”

InSecurityWatch: Protest, war, drones, hacks

Plus the showdown in Hong Kong and lots more. . .

We begin with the Los Angeles Times:

Protests over Ferguson shooting enter third day; arrests in St. Louis

Activists rushed into St. Louis City Hall on Wednesday to protest a grand jury decision not to indict a white police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man in nearby Ferguson as the region moved into its third day of demonstrations.

Hundreds of people demonstrated in front of the municipal building, shouting “Shame, Shame.” Some then entered the building and police, carrying riot shields, quickly responded.

As many as five people were arrested, officials said.

The Los Angeles Times again, with some numbers:

183 Ferguson protesters arrested in L.A., many more than in other cities

Los Angeles police arrested 183 protesters overnight Tuesday — a much larger number than in other major cities in the nation on the second night of protests over the grand jury decision in the Michael Brown shooting case.

Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck, at a news conference Wednesday morning, said he could not speak to what had occurred in other parts of the country but that the LAPD and CHP had been “extremely generous in allowing the expression of 1st Amendment activities.”

A bulk of the arrests occurred Tuesday night. Of the 183 held, 167 were arrested for disturbing the peace, 15 juveniles for violating curfew, and one person was taken into custody for alleged felony battery after throwing a frozen water bottle at a police officer’s head, Beck said.

And closer to Casa esnl, via the Oakland Tribune:

Ferguson protest: 92 arrests in Oakland during 2nd night of looting, vandalism

Merchants on Wednesday were mopping up after a second night of vandalism and looting in the wake of a Missouri grand jury’s decision not to indict a police officer in the shooting death of Ferguson teenager Michael Brown.

Tuesday night saw 300 march through downtown and North Oakland — vastly reduced from Monday’s estimated crowd of 2,000 — with protesters taking to the freeways two different times to block lanes.

Officials said officers arrested 92 people on Tuesday night, mostly on charges of obstruction and failure to disperse. Police had arrested 43 people the night before.

From BuzzFeed, across the Atlantic:

Ferguson Protest Brings Parts Of Central London To A Standstill

  • Hundreds of people marched through central London in solidarity with Michael Brown, who was shot dead by police in Ferguson

Hundreds of protestors congregated outside London’s US embassy in the early evening to protest about the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

Brown was shot dead by a police officer earlier this year. On Monday a grand jury decided that no charges would be brought against the officer involved.

Over 500 people were on the protest, which brought one of the capital’s main streets to a standstill.

A video report from RT:

London to Ferguson: Crowd protesting police racism tears down Parliament Square barriers

The McClatchy Washington Bureau makes connections:

Social media help take Ferguson protests national

“When you see people kneeling down on the highway, they’re trained to do that . . . it is just straight-up tactics from the civil rights movement,” James Peterson, director of Africana Studies at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., said in an interview Wednesday. “But social media certainly has been a great tool.”

Twitter, the popular micro-blogging service, has been engorged with Ferguson-related postings. Between Tuesday and Wednesday, 580,000 Tweets citing Ferguson were counted by the analytical service Topsy. One targeted hashtag, #BlackLivesMatter, was included in 72,000 Tweets in just one day.

Underscoring the reach of social media, prisoners at Boston’s South Bay Detention Facility held up signs reading “#BlackLivesMatter” to high-security windows. Other social media venues, such as Facebook, have likewise been aflame with Ferguson news and commentary. One page alone, called Justice for Mike Brown, had accumulated 43,934 “Likes” as of Wednesday.

Rounding out our Ferguson items, a graphic take from Jack Ohman, editorial cartoonist for the Sacramento Bee:

BLOG America

On to the war zones, now with Warthogs, via United Press International:

Air Force to deploy A-10s to combat Islamic State

  • “They’re going over there because there’s a need,” says the Air Force

A group of A-10 Thunderbolt fighter jets has arrived in the Middle East where they will be used to halt the spread of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

The A-10s, or Warthogs, are currently the center of Washington debate — senior defense officials want to retire the 283 remaining A-10s to save nearly $4 billion, while many feel such a move would cut off one of the military’s more powerful tools.

“They’re going over there because there’s a need … to be postured for a combat rescue mission,” Air Force spokeswoman Jennifer Cassidy explained to Stars and Stripes.

Although slow and low flying, A-10s can transport and deploy massive amounts of fire power to support combat troops on the ground. The planes have armored bellies to protect pilots from ground fire, and can be armed with a 30mm Gatling cannon and a variety of bombs, missiles and other explosives.

The Christian Science Monitor has the hush-hush:

Why US is mum on special ops raid that rescued hostages in Yemen

  • Eight hostages were brought to safety Tuesday after an intense firefight at the cave in remote eastern Yemen where the hostages were being held by Al Qaeda

There are two good reasons the cover-of-night, US-led commando raid that rescued eight Al Qaeda hostages in Yemen Tuesday received none of the fanfare and public back-slapping of previous successful counterterror operations.

One is obvious: No Americans were among the hostages – six Yemenis, one Saudi, and one Ethiopian – brought to safety after an intense firefight at the cave in remote eastern Yemen where the hostages were being held.

But the other explanation is that the Obama administration is very much interested in seeing the successful operation, which included both US and Yemeni forces, reinforce Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi. He is a stalwart US ally in the fight against Al Qaeda in the region, but his grasp on power has been repeatedly shaken over recent months.

Al Jazeera America covers the latest drone attacks:

US drone strike in Pakistan kills five suspected Taliban fighters

  • Strike follows critical report on number of innocent civilians killed in US drone strikes

A U.S. drone strike on Wednesday killed five suspected militants in northwest Pakistan, a government official said, as an anti-Taliban offensive by the Pakistani military grew in intensity. The deadly strike comes one day after a human rights group issued a report drawing international attention to the number of innocent lives claimed by U.S. drone strikes.

The drone strike on Wednesday targeted a house in Datta Khel near the Afghan border. Pakistani fighters in the area allegedly used the residence as a safe house.

“The Government of Pakistan condemns the drone strike that took place in the early hours of Wednesday, 26 November 2014 at Garga, north of Shawal in North Waziristan Agency,” the government said in a statement.

An update from the Express Tribune in Karachi:

Eight suspected militants killed in North Waziristan drone strike

Eight suspected militants were killed in latest US drone attack in border area of North Waziristan on Wednesday, security officials said.

“The drone fired two missiles, killing at least eight people and injuring two others,” a security official in the area told AFP via phone on condition of anonymity.

“There may be more dead bodies under the rubble,” he said.

The identity of those killed could not be determined immediately, however, few of them are believed to be foreign militants.

The same story as seen by Iran’s PressTV:

US drone attacks kill 11 people in Pakistan, Afghanistan

Program notes:

US assassination drone strikes in Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan have killed nearly a dozen people.

A drone attack killed eight people in Pakistan’s tribal region along the Afghan border. The unmanned aircraft fired two missiles at a compound in the town of Dattakhel in North Waziristan. Three Afghans lost their lives in a similar attack in Afghanistan’s Laghman province. The US military conducts deadly drone strikes in several Muslim countries including Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen. Washington says the air raids target militants, but a large number of civilians have been killed in the attacks.

Drone coverage from the domestic front from the Washington Post:

Near-collisions between drones, airliners surge, new FAA reports show

Pilots around the United States have reported a surge in near-collisions and other dangerous encounters with small drones in the past six months at a time when the Federal Aviation Administration is gradually opening the nation’s skies to remotely controlled aircraft, according to FAA records.

Since June 1, commercial airlines, private pilots and air-traffic controllers have alerted the FAA about at least 25 episodes in which small drones came within a few seconds or a few feet of crashing into much larger aircraft, the records show. Many of the close calls occurred during takeoffs and landings at the nation’s busiest airports, presenting a new threat to aviation safety after decades of steady improvement in air travel.

Many of the previously unreported incident reports — released Wednesday by the FAA in response to long-standing public-records requests from The Washington Post and other news organizations — occurred near New York and Washington.

The Hill clicks Undelete:

National Archives backs off plan to destroy CIA emails

The National Archives and Records Administration is taking a second look at the CIA’s proposal to delete its employees’ emails after they leave the agency.

The record-keeping agency “intends to reassess” the proposal to destroy old emails of all but 22 top officials at the spy agency, chief records officer Paul Wester wrote to the agency last week.
Citing concerns from top congressional overseers and transparency advocates, “we are concerned about the scope of the proposed schedule and the proposed retention periods,” Wester wrote in the letter, which was unearthed by the Federation of American Scientists’s project on government secrecy on Wednesday.

The National Archives had tentatively backed the agency’s proposal to destroy “non-senior” staffers’ emails three years after they leave the agency “or when no longer needed.” At the time, the records agency said that any important communications will likely exist in other formats, which will be catalogued for a permanent record.

The Intercept spins the spin:

The US/UK Campaign to Demonize Social Media Companies as Terrorist Allies

In May, 2013, a British Army soldier, Lee Rigby, was killed on a suburban London street by two Muslim British citizens, who said they were acting to avenge years of killings of innocent Muslims by the British military in, among other places, Afghanistan and Iraq. One of the attackers, Michael Adebolajo, had also been detained and tortured in 2010 in Kenya with the likely complicity of Her Majesty’s Government. The brutal attack on Rigby was instantly branded “terrorism” (despite its targeting of a soldier of a nation at war) and caused intense and virtually universal indignation in the UK.

In response, the British Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee resolved to investigate why the attack happened and whether it could have been prevented. Ensuring that nothing undesirable would occur, the investigation was led by the Committee’s chair, the long-time conservative government functionary Sir Malcolm Rifkind. Yesterday, Sir Malcolm’s Committee issued its findings in a 191-page report. It contains some highly predictable conclusions, but also some quite remarkable ones.

Predictably, the report, while offering some criticisms, completely cleared the British intelligence agencies of any responsibility for the attack. It concluded: “we do not consider that any of the Agencies’ errors, when taken individually, were significant enough to have affected the outcome,” and “we do not consider that, given what the Agencies knew at the time, they were in the position to prevent the murder.”

After the jump, the U.N. calls for releasing the CIA torture report, draconian new state security legislation in Old Blighty, France deprivatizes the phone tap, Google European breaking legal questions pondered, ap-tracking Twitter, Hookers in your cell phone, you annual cyberscam warning, China corporateers win disclosure in a U.S. court, Egypt sends children to prison for protesting, the death rattle of the Arab Spring in Cairo, Turkey clamps down on the Fourth Estate, the wrong song sends a Pakistani actress to price for decades, brutality allegations probed in Australian military academies,  Hong Kong police mass to block re-Occupation while some of the colleagues are busted for brutality, and tycoons seek their own Hong Kong asylum. . . Continue reading

MexicoWatch: Protest, politics, and posturing

And do see the previous post revealing yet another mass abduction of Mexico’s youth. . .

First, from Agence France-Presse, ongoing protest:

Mexico protest demand release of detained demonstrators

Program notes:

Hundreds of people protested in Mexico City on Tuesday, demanding the release of 11 demonstrators who were detained when marches last Thursday turned violent.

More on the latest protests from teleSUR:

Protests Shake Mexico as 2 Months Pass with No Sign of Students

  • Thousands protest peacefully for the missing 43 and the 11 students arrested last Thursday

Demonstrators took to the street across Mexico Wednesday to mark two months since 43 students of the Ayotzinapa Teacher Training College in the state Guerrero were disappeared by Iguala policemen.

At similar nationwide protests on November 20, federal authorities repressed protestors, arresting at least 11 students under circumstances that human right activists have called “unconstitutional.”

Wednesday’s protests also called for the release of the 11 students at the November 20 protests.

The accompanying video report from teleSUR English:

2-Month Anniversary of the Ayotzinapa Disappearances

Program notes:

Today marks two months since the Police in Guerrero, Mexico, killed six and disappeared 43 students from the Ayotzinapa teacher training college. The even has caused deep discontent and widespread social shockwaves across Mexico and the world. Clayton Conn has more.

And from the retro girl Tumblr, a remarkable image reconfiguration of an arrest from the 20 November protest in Mexico City:

BLOG Mexiarrest

Next, via Reuters, the latest scandal to surface uinvolving the now badly tarnished president, Enrique Pena Nieto:

Same firm, new house: Mexico leader’s conflict-of-interest storm grows

On Nov. 3, the government announced a Chinese-led consortium had won a no bid contract to build a $3.75 billion high-speed rail link in central Mexico.

Three days later, the government abruptly canceled the deal, just before a report by news site Aristegui Noticias showed that a subsidiary of Grupo Higa, a company that formed part of the consortium and had won various previous contracts, owned the luxury house of first lady Angelica Rivera.

Under public pressure, Rivera said she would give up the house. But neither she nor Pena Nieto have addressed the apparent conflict of interest stemming from the government’s business with Grupo Higa.

On Wednesday, Aristegui Noticias published a new story that said Pena Nieto used a different property belonging to another Grupo Higa subsidiary as an office when he was president-elect in 2012.

From the Washington Post, an opposition in disarray:

Mexico’s left faces problems as leader quits

Mexico’s left faces huge problems following the resignation of former presidential candidate Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, a pillar of progressive politics and son of the revered president who nationalized the oil industry.

In 1989, Cardenas founded the Democratic Revolution Party, known as the PRD. On Wednesday he said he is not only leaving the PRD, but party politics entirely.

“I think that, with this, my life in a party is over … I’m not going to any other political party,” Cardenas told the Radio Formula station, adding that he would continue to work on his favorite cause, reversing recent government reforms that opened the state-run oil sector to private investment and concessions.

PRD’s worst failure came when it allowed Jose Luis Abarca to run for mayor of the southern city of Iguala, in Guerrero state, on the PRD ticket.

Abarca was, in fact, aligned with a local drug gang and allegedly ordered the kidnapping of 43 students from a local teachers college. The drug gang then allegedly killed the students and incinerated their remains.

More on the political crisis from Reuters:

Sound and fury spurs political crisis in Mexico

Program notes:

Pena Nieto’s government is in the deepest crisis of his two year presidency marred by the apparent massacre of 43 students in Mexico. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.

And from VICE News, the opening words of text accompanying a must-see photo essay:

In Photos: The Ayotzinapa Normal School, Before and After the Disappearance of 43 Students

The experiences of life as a college student are as diverse as the personalities on campus.

At the all-male Raul Isidro Burgos Normal School in Ayotzinapa, in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero, the students lead lives that are entirely different from those of their peers elsewhere. Their day-to-day depends greatly on the volatility of the political and social reality that surrounds them.

The Missing 43: Mexico’s Disappeared Students. Watch part one of the VICE News documentary here.

In August 2013, I had the opportunity to spend three days at the school. I got to know the campus and the students, saw the murals of revolutionaries and fallen guerrilla leaders, and learned about the school’s history. I shared homemade mezcal with a group of normalistas, as the teaching students are known, while the graduating students prepared for a traditional, modest farewell ceremony.

More on the ongoing protests at Ayotzinapa itself from teleSUR:

Ayotzinapa: Guerrero Teachers, Students Protest at 2-Month Mark

  • Classmates of the disappeared 43 Ayotzinapa students, along with public school teachers, block highways in Guerrero state, protesting two months of what they call injustice

With two months since the disappearance of 43 students of the Ayotzinapa teacher’s training college, classmates, teachers and social organizations blocked a major highway connecting the Mexican capital to the resort beach city of Acapulco.

Members of the State Coordinator of Education Workers of Guerrero and ‘normalistas’ – as teacher training students are called – began blocking the Mexico-Acapulco Sun Highway in the late Wednesday morning, expressing the continued demand that the missing 43 students be returned alive.

The group reportedly stationed a trailer rig and buses to prevent the passage of motorists. Several other groups moved to various other points of the Guerrero state capital Chilpancingo.

From the Guardian, the growing count of the Disappeared:

Bringing up the bodies: Mexico’s missing students draw attention to 20,000 ‘vanished’ others

  • The shocking disappearance of 43 student teachers lifted the lid on the open secret of Mexico’s many others who’ve disappeared amid drug-fuelled violence

The disappearance and probable massacre of 43 student teachers after they were attacked and arrested by Iguala’s municipal police two months ago has focused world attention on the horror of Mexico’s drug violence – and the official corruption that allows much of it to happen.

A wave of protests triggered by the massacre put President Enrique Peña Nieto under acute political pressure.

But the incident has also lifted the lid on the open secret of Mexico’s many other disappeared: amid the drug-fuelled violence of recent years, some 20,000 people have simply vanished.

Relatives of the missing have largely remained silent for fear of retribution. Now, however, many have found new strength to denounce the terror imposed by criminal gangs – often in blatant collusion with state authorities.

And we close with an emerging meme via historianart, incorporating the 43 missing students from Ayotzinapa, the 11 students arrested and imprisoned during the 20 November protests in Mexico City, and the 30 missing high school students from Cocula revealed Wednesday by Agence France Presse [see the previous post]:

BLOG Meximeme

Breaking news: Another Mexican mass abduction

This time it’s high school students, and the abduction took place in July with parents intimidated into silence until now, according to France 24:

FRANCE 24 investigates new Mexico kidnapping case

The southern Mexican city of Cocula grabbed global headlines after being named by officials as the place where 43 students who went missing in September were likely murdered. Now FRANCE 24 has uncovered a new kidnapping case in the same town.

A witness to the latest kidnapping told FRANCE 24 that more than 30 high school students, including her teenage daughter, were rounded up in broad daylight on the last day of classes. It was July 7 – the children have not been heard from since.

During and after the abduction, the kidnappers told Cocula residents they would kill them if they spoke out. Terrified families did not report the incident to authorities or the media, until now.

Read the rest.

The accompanying FRANCE 24 English video:

FRANCE24 investigates new Mexico kidnapping case

Program notes:

The southern Mexican city of Cocula grabbed global headlines after being named by officials as the place where 43 students who went missing in September were likely murdered. Now FRANCE 24 has uncovered a new kidnapping case in the same town.

A witness to the kidnapping told FRANCE 24 that over 30 high school students, including her teenage daughter, were rounded up in broad daylight on the last day of classes. It was July 7 – the children have not been heard of since then.

Hong Kong cops evict Occupy encampment

One of the last remaining encampments of the Occupy Central movement in Hong Kong is being cleared by police today in the way of clearance actions Monday and Tuesday that resulted in scores of arrests and major pepper spray use.

The latest from Bloomberg News:

Hong Kong Police Begin Clearing Kowloon’s Nathan Road

Program notes:

Nov. 26: Hong Kong authorities clear barricades from one of the city’s most important roads. Bloomberg’s Rosalind Chin reports on “First Up.”

More from Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post:

Nathan Road cleared … for now

  • Thousands of police officers remain on standby in Mong Kok amid fears that some disgruntled protesters could return to re-occupy site

About 6,000 police officers will be assigned to the cleared streets and nearby areas in Mong Kok until Sunday to prevent a reoccupation by protesters angered by removal tactics yesterday.

Clashes erupted again in Mong Kok last night. From 10pm, hundreds of people made repeated attempts to reoccupy roads, hours after traffic on Nathan Road returned to normal following the two-month occupation by pro-democracy activists.

There was pushing and shoving between the crowd and police. One man was left with a bloodied head and several people were subdued and taken away. Police reinforcements were sent in and red flags were raised warning people not to charge.

A total of 148 protesters were arrested during the two-day operation in which the occupied area in nearby Argyle Street was reopened on Tuesday.