Category Archives: Politics

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.

InSecurityWatch: Cops, war, spooks, hacks, zones


Plus a major crackdown on Hong Kong Occupy encampments after the jump.

We begin with American domestic security via the Associated Press:

Brown family blasts prosecutor’s handling of case

Attorneys for Michael Brown’s family on Tuesday vowed to push for federal charges against the Ferguson police officer who killed the unarmed 18-year-old, and they renewed their calls for peace following a night of violent protests in which several businesses were burned to the ground.

The attorneys said the grand jury process was rigged from the start to clear Officer Darren Wilson in the Aug. 9 shooting death of Brown. And they criticized everything from the types of evidence St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch presented to the jury to the way it was presented and the timing of the grand jury’s decision. They also said they hope that a federal civil rights investigation will result in charges against Wilson.

“We said from the very beginning that the decision of this grand jury was going to be the direct reflection of the presentation of the evidence by the prosecutor’s office,” said attorney Anthony Gray, who suggested McCulloch presented some testimony, including from witnesses who did not see the shooting, to discredit the process.

A notable observation, from the U.N. News Center:

UN rights chief concerned over ‘disproportionate’ killings of African-Americans by US police

The decision by a Grand Jury in Missouri to absolve a police officer for the fatal shooting of an African-American teenager has spotlighted broader concerns about institutionalized discrimination across the United States, the top United Nations human rights official said today.

“I am deeply concerned at the disproportionate number of young African Americans who die in encounters with police officers, as well as the disproportionate number of African Americans in US prisons and the disproportionate number of African Americans on Death Row,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, in a statement issued by his office in Geneva this morning.

“It is clear that, at least among some sectors of the population, there is a deep and festering lack of confidence in the fairness of the justice and law enforcement systems,” Mr. Zeid continued. “I urge the US authorities to conduct in-depth examinations into how race-related issues are affecting law enforcement and the administration of justice, both at the federal and state levels.”

Another voice weighs in, via the Guardian:

French justice minister denounces US police killings after Ferguson decision

  • Christian Taubira tweets Bob Marley lyric ‘Kill them before they grow’ and references killings of Trayvon Martin and Tamir Rice

France’s black justice minister Christiane Taubira has waded into the conflict over racially charged killings in the US, quoting reggae legend Bob Marley on Twitter to express her anger.

“Kill them before they grow,” the minister tweeted, citing Marley who sang the phrase in his 1973 hit song I Shot the Sheriff.

Taubira’s tweet came as riots erupted in the suburb of Ferguson outside St Louis after a grand jury chose not to press charges against a white officer who shot dead black teen Michael Brown in what he said was self-defence.

From the Oakland Tribune, Monday night’s totals:

Ferguson protests: Oakland mops up after 47 arrests, several officers injured

The city was cleaning up Tuesday after hundreds of protesters took to the streets, vandalizing several stores, setting fires and attacking police following a grand jury decision not to indict a white officer in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, a black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri.

Most of the damage took place in Old Oakland along Broadway and three police officers were injured, including one who was hit in the face with a brick, police spokeswoman Johnna Watson said.

At a Tuesday afternoon news conference, city officials said they were disappointed that protesters had not remained peaceful all night, but praised the conduct of police in the face of hostile crowds.

And they were back out again Tuesday night, blocking a freeway again.

Another demonstration, this one in Germany, via TheLocal.de:

Anti-refugee demo reveals xenophobia

German media were almost united this weekend in condemning demonstrations against refugee housing in the Berlin suburb of Marzahn-Hellersdorf – but can far-right sentiment ever really be overcome?

Left-wing newspaper taz noted the argument of conservative Berlin politicians that ordinary people’s concerns had been hijacked by extremists, but couldn’t agree that they were unknowingly instrumentalized.

“It’s questionable whether this, without the involvement of the organized far-right, would have led to the weekly aggressive marches,” the paper argued.

It also noted that the people at the heart of the demonstrations, from those running Facebook pages to speakers, all have close links to the far-right scene, including the National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD).

MintPress News covers a story to chill your spine:

How the Pentagon’s Skynet Would Automate War

Due to technological revolutions outside its control, the Department of Defense (DoD) anticipates the dawn of a bold new era of automated war within just 15 years. By then, they believe, wars could be fought entirely using intelligent robotic systems armed with advanced weapons.

Pentagon officials are worried that the US military is losing its edge compared to competitors like China, and are willing to explore almost anything to stay on top—including creating watered-down versions of the Terminator.

Due to technological revolutions outside its control, the Department of Defense (DoD) anticipates the dawn of a bold new era of automated war within just 15 years. By then, they believe, wars could be fought entirely using intelligent robotic systems armed with advanced weapons.

Last week, US defense secretary Chuck Hagel announced the ‘Defense Innovation Initiative’—a sweeping plan to identify and develop cutting edge technology breakthroughs “over the next three to five years and beyond” to maintain global US “military-technological superiority.” Areas to be covered by the DoD programme include robotics, autonomous systems, miniaturization, Big Data and advanced manufacturing, including 3D printing.

On to the military hot zone with the McClatchy Foreign Staff:

Key provincial capital in Iraq may be about to fall to Islamic State

Islamic State fighters on Tuesday penetrated to the core of Ramadi, the provincial capital of Iraq’s largest province, prompting local security officials to warn that the city was on the verge of falling to the extremists. Such a gain would be the Islamic State’s most significant victory in months.

Officials said that extremist fighters were only tens of yards away from entering the main government compound.

“The governorate building has been nearly cut off,” said a Baghdad security official in direct contact with the operations command for Anbar, the province where Ramadi lies. The official said that Islamic State forces had cut roads to the Iraqi Army’s 8th Division base to the west and the road to Habaniyya airbase to the east. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters.

And not so far away, via the New York Times:

As Bombing Toll Rises, Afghan Villagers Direct Anger at Government

Three years ago, villagers from the dusty Afghan district of Yahya Khel, near the Pakistani border, rose up against the Taliban, driving the insurgents away. They say they did it on their own, winning themselves a degree of security that felt tolerable.

Late Sunday afternoon, the insurgents exacted a horrific revenge. At a volleyball tournament here that drew teams and spectators from surrounding districts, a suicide bomber detonated his explosives just as fans were converging on the players to celebrate.

By Monday, the death toll had climbed to 61, according to the district governor, Musa Jan. Many were children. Some families were burying not just one member, but two.

Amid their grief, the men of Yahya Khel, a district in Paktika Province, were naturally angry at the insurgents who had sent the suicide bomber. But they were also critical of a national government they felt had offered them little over the past three years.

Getting censorious, via the London Telegraph:

Facebook ‘could have prevented Lee Rigby murder’

  • Facebook has been named as the internet company which failed to pass on crucial information that could have stopped the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby

Facebook failed to pass on information that could have prevented the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby and is a “safe haven for terrorists”, a report has concluded.

Michael Adebowale used the social networking site to express his “intent to murder a soldier in the most graphic and emotive manner” five months before the 2013 Woolwich attack.

The report found that Facebook had not been aware of that specific exchange.

However, Parliament’s intelligence and security committee discovered that Facebook had previously shut down Adebowale’s accounts on the site because he had discussed terrorism, but failed to relay concerns to the security services.

Rigby, 25, was run over and butchered by Adebowale and Michael Adebolajo outside Woolwich barracks in south-east London on May 22 last year.

War by other means, from TechWeek Europe:

Egyptian Cyber Group Attacks ISIS

  • The ‘Egyptian Cyber Army’ has joined those attacking the Islamic State’s online activities

A group of Egyptian nationalists has joined those attacking the online operations of the “Islamic State”, also known as ISIS, last week replacing a message from ISIS’ leader with a recording of a popular song.

The transcript of the message was replaced with an image recalling the Egyptian national flag, and a message in Arabic reading “Egyptian Cyber Army”.

ISIS has previously been attacked online by American and Iranian hackers, the Syrian Electronic Army and the hacktivist group Anonymous.

The New York Times covers a hack attack north of the border:

Hacker Disrupts Government Websites in Canada

Since Friday, people turning to the websites of Canada’s Parliament, its Supreme Court, the city of Ottawa and the Ottawa and Toronto police forces have been occasionally greeted by a gyrating, anthropomorphic banana or, more frequently, an error message.

The disruptions were prompted by a hacker or a small group of hackers supporting the cause of an Ottawa teenager who was charged last spring with making hoax telephone calls throughout North America. The calls led the police in a number of provinces and states to send out tactical squads in response to supposed emergencies, a practice known as swatting.

Using the name Aerith, with slight variations, the hacker claimed responsibility for the website disruptions in emails and a posting online. The sender claimed to be affiliated with the shadowy online collective Anonymous. When asked by email how many people were involved, Aerith, who said that he or she was in Brazil, replied, “We act as a group.”

Conceivably connected? Via CBC News:

Canada Revenue Agency privacy breach leaks prominent Canadians’ tax details

  • Business leaders, art collectors, authors and politicians among more than 200 on agency’s list of donors

Detailed tax information about the private lives of hundreds of Canadians — many of them rich and famous — was sent to CBC News by Canada’s tax agency in a major privacy breach.

The highly confidential details, including home addresses of taxpayers and the value of tax credits they were granted, are contained in a copy of a Canada Revenue Agency spreadsheet covering the years 2008 to 2013.

The 18 pages include information on donations made by such Canadian luminaries as author Margaret Atwood, former prime minister Jean Chrétien, grocery magnate Frank Sobey, cartoonist Lynn Johnston, pollster Allan Gregg, financier Stephen Bronfman, former CBC executive Richard Stursberg, Olympics chief Richard Pound and many others.

And video report on the leak from The National:

Revenue Canada privacy breach leaks prominent Canadians’ tax details

Program notes:

Detailed tax information about the private lives of hundreds of Canadians — many of them rich and famous — was sent to CBC News by Canada’s tax agency in a major privacy breach.

After the jump, major Hollywood hacks, perilous Flash-ing, the Chinese Google memory hole expands, France keeps Russian carriers in Ukrainian limbo, Colombian rebels release a pair but a general’s still Farced, the Brazilian cops’ growing civilian body count, on to Asia and allegations of torture in a Myanmar journalist’s death, a Korean naval drill provokes a Japanese rebuke, a Hong Kong Occupy crackdown — including a travel ban on its leaders, a censorious judgement from Beijing, followed by another round of arrests, China blows off criticism of its artificial island bases in contested waters, and Chinese ships cross the line. . . Continue reading

EnviroWatch: Health, coal, cowboys, oil, nukes


Plus endangered spies and lots more.

We begin with neglect via the McClatchy Washington Bureau:

70 percent of Americans with HIV don’t have virus under control, study finds

Amid ongoing fears of an Ebola outbreak in the United States, Americans got a grim reminder on Tuesday about the ongoing public health threat posed by another deadly virus: HIV.

Seventy percent of Americans who have HIV do not have the disease in check, and many of them are no longer receiving treatment, according to a study published Tuesday.

The study found that of 1.2 million people who were living with HIV in the United States in 2011, fewer than three in 10 had the virus under control. Twenty percent had never even been diagnosed. And about 66 percent of those who had been diagnosed were no longer in care.

From TheLocal.no, an unwanted discovery:

Deadly Enterovirus D68 found in Norway

Cases of the potentially deadly enterovirus D68 has been found in Norway, it was revealed on Tuesday.

The virus, which can cause paralysis and is without cure, and there is no cure, has been found in a few cases affecting Norwegians, informed the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (Nasjonalt Folkehelseinstitutt – FHI).

Senior physician of the Division of Infectious Disease Control at FHI, Trude Arnesen, said to NTB: “Enteroviruses are spread from excrement via hands to food, and also by coughing. Good hand and coughing hygiene will reduce the chance of infection.”

From the London Daily Mail, oops:

Bombshell report reveals a TYPO may have led 5,565 nuclear waste drums to be packed with wrong kitty litter that caused Los Alamos plutonium leak debacle

  • The New Mexico facility switched from a clay-based to a plant-based litter, which caused a drum to leak in February
  • A report from the Santa Fe New Mexican out last week details the bumbling–including an order for the wrong litter–predating the leak
  • The barrels containing the organic litter are also mislabled and say they contain inorganic litter
  • Sixteen of the barrels are believed to contain the other chemical elements that led Waste Drum 68660 to basically become a bomb

A tiny typographical error may have been what led to a plutonium waste barrel packed at Los Alamos National Laboratory to explode, leak through the ground and contaminate 22 workers early this year, says a new report.

An order to use the wrong type of kitty litter in the barrels is the likely culprit and thousands of other barrels were packed with it.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reported last week the unbelievable bumbling that made a minor mixup into a massive problem at America’s only permanent nuclear waste dump.

From Xinhua, dam-nation:

China to accelerate water projects

China will step up work on major water conservation projects, especially in rural areas and central and western regions.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said on Monday that governments should accelerate 172 water conservation programs that have strong economic and social importance, during a visit to the Ministry of Water Resources (MWR).

Li prioritized central and western regions to address regional water issues, which included diversion projects, reservoirs and irrigation.

It will not only conserve water but attract investment, boost employment, improve incomes of rural dwellers, bolster industry and even stabilize the economic growth, Li said.

All projects, both under construction or still at the discussion stage, should be quickened in a bid to provide a sustainable driving force for growth.

An urban air airing from Global Times:

China’s haze directly linked to gaseous pollutants from traffic, industrial emissions: study

Severe air pollution in Beijing and other Chinese cities might be directly related to gaseous pollutants rather than particles emitted from urban transportation and regional industry, researchers from China and the United States said Monday.

Photochemical oxidation of gaseous pollutants, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SO2), is primarily responsible for the formation of a large amount of fine particulate matter (PM), called secondary particles, during China’s severe haze pollution events, the researchers said.

The contribution from primary emissions and regional transport of PM, known as primary particles, is small, they reported in the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Another cost of coal from Shanghai Daily:

24 killed in coal mine fire in NE China

A coal mine fire killed 24 workers and injured 52 others in northeast China’s Liaoning Province early Wednesday, the state-owned Liaoning Fuxin Coal Corporation told Xinhua.

The fire occurred in a coal mine under Hengda Coal, a subsidiary of Fuxin Coal, a major coal producer in the province.

Fuxin Coal said the rescue has been over and all the injured workers have been hospitalized.

From Homeland Security News Wire, an environmental impact assessment:

California’s transportation infrastructure ability to withstand a major earthquake questioned

A significant number of bridges and elevated roadways lie above or close to active fault lines, and Californians often wonder how the state’s towering interchanges and freeway network would perform during a major earthquake.The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has spent over $13 billion in the last forty years to reinforce vulnerable bridges and interchanges. Caltrans officials note that during a major earthquake, freeways are likely to sustain significant damage, but engineers feel confident that freeways will not collapse.

Californians often wonder how the state’s towering interchanges and freeway network would perform during a major earthquake. A significant number of bridges and elevated roadways lie above or close to active fault lines. “You see it looming, and as you get closer, it just gets taller and taller,” said Noel Vasquez of Whittier, as he eyes the Harbor Freeway before connecting with the 105 freeway. “You drive by and you think, ‘Man, I’d hate for that thing to break.’”

During the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, a double-decked portion of interstate 880 crumbled in Oakland, killing forty-two people. The 1971 magnitude 6.7 San Fernando temblor destroyed ramps linking the 5 and 14 freeways in the Newhall Pass interchange. After reopening two years later, the interchange collapse during the 1994 Northridge quake.

From Deutsche Welle, a much-needed preservation effort:

South Africa: Saving the Cape Parrots

Program notes:

There are only a thousand or so Cape parrots left. The species is in danger of extinction. The Cape Parrot Project wants to ensure its future.

Action at a distance, via Reuters:

In wake of China rejections, GMO seed makers limit U.S. launches

China’s barriers to imports of some U.S. genetically modified crops are disrupting seed companies’ plans for new product launches and keeping at least one variety out of the U.S. market altogether.

Two of the world’s biggest seed makers, Syngenta AG and Dow AgroSciences, are responding with tightly controlled U.S. launches of new GMO seeds, telling farmers where they can plant new corn and soybean varieties and how can the use them. Bayer CropScience told Reuters it has decided to keep a new soybean variety on hold until it receives Chinese import approval.

Beijing is taking longer than in the past to approve new GMO crops, and Chinese ports in November 2013 began rejecting U.S. imports saying they were tainted with a GMO Syngenta corn variety, called Agrisure Viptera, approved in the United States, but not in China.

The developments constrain launches of new GMO seeds by raising concerns that harvests of unapproved varieties could be accidentally shipped to the world’s fastest-growing corn market and denied entry there. It also casts doubt over the future of companies’ heavy investments in research of crop technology.

From the New York Times, Republican reaction anticipated:

Obama to Introduce Sweeping New Controls on Ozone Emissions

The Obama administration is expected to release on Wednesday a contentious and long-delayed environmental regulation to curb emissions of ozone, a smog-causing pollutant linked to asthma, heart disease and premature death.

The sweeping regulation, which would aim at smog from power plants and factories across the country, particularly in the Midwest, would be the latest in a series of Environmental Protection Agency controls on air pollution that wafts from smokestacks and tailpipes. Such regulations, released under the authority of the Clean Air Act, have become a hallmark of President Obama’s administration.

Environmentalists and public health advocates have praised the E.P.A. rules as a powerful environmental legacy. Republicans, manufacturers and the fossil fuel industry have sharply criticized them as an example of costly government overreach.

After the jump, tar sands oil boom leads to Canadian cowboy shortage, a Canadian pipeline protest, the bill for British air pollution, banking on a coal funding cutoff Down Under, Big Coal and Big Power await the ruling of a mercurial court, then on to Fukushimapocalypse Now!, first with the latest measure to stop of escape of radioactive water, then on to British nuclear power woes, plus a massive Vietnamese haul of dead endangered turtles. . . Continue reading

EbolaWatch: Devastation, aid, labor, & politics


We begin today’s compendium with a stunning graphic from the World Bank, revealing the extent of the devastation the disease has wrought to one country’s working class:

BLOG Ebola jobless

From the News in Monrovia, Liberia, critical context:

‘Dumpsite Food’ Eaters

Residents of a community outside Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, known as ‘Own your Own’ are said to be surviving on food from dump sites in the county.

The area is where Arcelormittal and other concession companies are operating. These companies dispose spoiled foods in the dump sites just opposite the Ebola Treatment Unit constructed by the United States Government.

Some of the citizens and residents who spoke to our reporter said the dump site has been their source for food for the past seven years.

Our reporter who recently returned from the county said most of the citizens using the dump site for survival are women and children.

Meanwhile, returning American sailors smile through quarantine, via the McClatchy Washington Bureau:

Seabees’ morale high despite long Ebola quarantine, congressman says

There were no hugs or handshakes just in case Ebola germs lurked, but Rep. Steven Palazzo found 15 Navy Seabees from Mississippi in “good spirits” Friday as they waited out a 21-day isolation period at Virginia’s Langley Air Force Base after a seven-week stint building treatment facilities in disease-ravaged Liberia.

“Everybody had a smile on his face,” Palazzo said.

The Seabees “were nowhere near any of the Ebola victims or the medical personnel that were treating them” while working in Monrovia and even had “limited involvement” with Liberians in the community who had been found free of the disease, he said.

While Reuters covers critical quarantine questions:

US quarantine moves hurting Ebola response in Africa -Harvard

Moves by some U.S. states to isolate medical workers returning from fighting Ebola in West Africa could worsen the global health crisis by discouraging badly needed new volunteers, according to health experts at Harvard University.

Ebola has killed more than 5,450 people in West Africa since March in the disease’s worst outbreak on record, striking hardest in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, which are among the world’s least developed countries.

“By far and away what is needed most in West Africa are care providers who can help,” Paul Biddinger, director of the Harvard School of Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program, said during a panel discussion about the disease on Tuesday.

But “because of a fear of stigma, of being involuntarily quarantined … people don’t want to necessarily subject themselves to this, and that is tragic.”

From Agence France-Presse, a video about a video:

African celebrities in Ebola campaign video

Program notes:

African celebrities have called for action against Ebola in a video produced by the ONE Campaign.

Next, a warning from the United Nations Development Program:

Ebola crisis may result in more hunger: UNDP study

Wild price swings caused by the Ebola health crisis are making it more difficult for households to feed themselves and make a stable living, according to a new study by the UN development programme.

“Border closures, movement restrictions and a slowdown in farming activity are shaking food  markets badly,” said Ayodele Odusola, Chief Economist at the Regional Bureau for Africa of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

“This could have a disastrous impact on households, both because farmers are unable to make a living and because families are finding very different prices on the local market from one day to the next. People living in rural and remote areas are feeling the impact of reduced purchasing power more than their urban counterparts,” he added.

Since the onset of the Ebola crisis, buying power went down by 20 percent in Sierra Leone and by more than 25 percent in Liberia. The study also found rural communities were worst affected, due to more expensive transport costs and dependency on declining farming incomes.  Reduced traffic has been observed in more than two-thirds of Liberia’s counties, for instance.

As a result, in October, Monrovians paid $17.5 for 25 kilograms of rice, while people in the Southeast paid $21.3 for the same quantity. Because Liberia and Sierra Leone depend on Guinea for food imports, their situation is particularly serious.

PCWorld covers another development:

Ebola speeds up educators’ embrace of tech in Sierra Leone, Liberia

The deadly Ebola outbreak has sparked some creative thinking among academic institutions and private education initiatives determined to reach out to students who have been hunkering down for months in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Faced with a raging epidemic, the University of Sierra Leone plans to upload lecture notes on its website, send learning material through email and engage students through social media platforms like Whatsapp and Facebook. The 2014/2015 session, which should have begun Oct. 1, was postponed due to the Ebola outbreak.

Sierra Leone is one of the countries worst hit by the disease, which has already claimed over 5,000 lives in West Africa. Just last week, Sierra Leone recorded 435 new confirmed cases of Ebola and 110 confirmed deaths.

On to Mali with the Associated Press:

Mali confirms eighth Ebola case

Mali has confirmed a new case of Ebola, bringing to eight the number of people who have fallen ill with the deadly disease in the West African country.

A government statement issued Monday night said the patient had been placed in a treatment center.

All of Mali’s Ebola cases can be traced back to a 70-year-old imam who was brought to the country from Guinea, where the epidemic first began.

Six of Mali’s eight Ebola patients have died. The government said Saturday that another patient who tested positive was also receiving treatment and had been isolated.

From Voice of America’s TV2Africa, a video report on the course of the disease in Mali:

Mali Ebola

Program notes:

Almost a month after a 70-year-old Guinean Imam sought treatment at a clinic in Bamako, Mali is scrambling to stop a potential outbreak. Five people have died so far. A sixth related Ebola case was confirmed Saturday. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.

On to Liberia, first with FrontPageAfrica and another campaign launched:

Initiative Spearheads Setting up of Ebola Force on Reducing Denial

UNDP /Ministry of Health Community Based Initiative in the West Point Community District #4, has organized a meeting with the elder Council, the new Commissioner and the youth of West Point.

The meeting was part of efforts by Active Case Finders and Contact Tracers of West Point to facilitate the establishment of an Ebola Task Force to help mitigate the resurging denial of the Ebola Virus, stigma, and hiding of the sick.

An earlier meeting held with the elder council indicated that the people of West Point were hiding their sick because it was popularly believed that those who went to the ETUs never came back to their families. As a way of dispelling this belief, Active Case Finders providing services in the Community, identified 12 survivors from the West Point Community and presented them to the elder council.

The Inquirer covers a return:

Catholic Hosp. Reopens

The St. Joseph Catholic Hospital yesterday opened its doors to the public following months of closure as a result of the deadly Ebola virus outbreak which victimized a number of medical staff and missionaries.

The hospital’s re-opening was attended by a number of international Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs), the Catholic Church in Liberia and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.

The Human Resources Manager of the hospital, Mr. Joel N. Williams said the hospital attended to 23 patients yesterday but did not admit any because the reopening process will be carried out on a gradual basis.

Mr. Williams said the hospital is beginning its operations on a gradual basis by first reopening its Maternity ward with eight beds which will be increased on a weekly basis with the sponsorship of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

From the NewDawn, laying down the law:

MoH issues Ebola regulations

The Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare has set up anti-Ebola regulations to govern all citizens irrespective of status or affiliation.

Outgoing Health Minister, Dr. Walter T. Gwenigale, has mandated that all video clubs, night clubs or restaurants should have chlorinated water placed at the entrances of those businesses for hands washing, and everyone’s temperature should be taken, stressing that anyone with 37.5 degree Celsius should be denied entrance and considered an Ebola suspect.

Minister Gwenigale has also instructed that vehicles in Liberia should continue to carry three persons at the back seat until Ebola is eradicated here. He said no community should allow visitors from various counties, especially when the person is sick, adding that if any community has such case, it should be reported to community leaders, who will immediately inform health authorities.

From FrontPageAfrica, another hot zone:

Ebola Hotspot: Rural Rivercess Towns Ravaged by Virus Outbreak

Deplorable roads, lack of food and adequate awareness are massive challenges affecting efforts to contain the deadly Ebola virus that has killed more than 13 persons in Kinkayah Chiefdom, Nyorwein Administrative District in Rivercess County.

Residents in the area where authorities of the county have quarantined since the virus surfaced killing 13 people told FrontPage Africa they desperately need food in other to have the quarantine remain in force and at the same time support efforts to contain the virus in the area.

“Since the outbreak on October 21, the people abandon their farms and the whole chiefdom is being quarantine and there’s no food for them,” Augustus T. Yarpah, Speaker of the County Traditional council told FPA. He said MSF is doing well for the quarantine communities by giving treatment to people who are sick, but one of the problems is the lack of food for people in the whole of Kinkayah (Kayah for short) chiefdom especially in Gozohn Town.

After the jump, more from Liberia, including an instance of either irrationality or crime, good news from one region, quarantine for a banker, and the World Bank boosts its emergency funds to Monrovia, then on to Sierra Leone and quarantine regulation, emergency workers stage a gruesome job action and retribution follows, Nigerian medics head to Freetown, the extra burden faced by disabled students, and a crucial diagnosis is made. . . Continue reading

MexicoWatch: Bodies, politics, prison, & protests


Today’s post begins and ends with bodies, first in the form of a teleSUR English report on the latest DNA results from mass graves found in the region where the 43 missing college students disappeared:

Mexico: Forensic experts haven’t found remains of Ayotzinapa students

Program notes:

In Mexico, the Argentine team of forensic experts issued a statement in which it reported having identified the bodies of three people from an unmarked grave. However, none of those bodies belong to the students of the Ayotzinapa Rural Teacher Training College who are reported missing since September 26.

From teleSUR, motivation:

Mexican Students Want President to Resign, and Stability

Students respond to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto after he said that protests are seeking to “destabilize” his government. They say, actually they want stability.

A group of graduate students from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) released a video Tuesday in response to recent statements by President Enrique Peña Nieto, who claimed that behind the protests to demand justice for the disappearance of 43 students of Ayotzinapa are groups trying to destabilize his government.

“They say that students want to destabilize the country. No Enrique, we want to stabilize the country,” said one of the students in a four-minute video that was uploaded on the YouTube channel of the UNAM General Assembly of Graduate Students.

They also added that this is a response to the president’s threats to use police force to repress social protests.

Reuters covers hints of a draconian crackdown to come:

Mexico’s embattled government poised to unveil law and order measures

Following mass protests in Mexico over the apparent massacre of 43 trainee teachers two months ago, the government will unveil measures this week designed to improve policing and fix a failing justice system, lawmakers said on Tuesday.

Senate leader Miguel Barbosa of the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution said the measures would focus on issues like streamlining the chain of command in the police as well as improving the penal system and access to justice.

The government would present the plans on Thursday, Barbosa said in an interview with Mexican radio.

Ricardo Pacheco, a lawmaker in the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party who heads the justice committee in the lower house of Congress, said the plan was to give the state greater powers to combat organized crime and violence.

More from the Latin American Herald Tribune:

Missing Case Forces Mexican President to Make “Important Announcement”

With the missing students crisis getting out of hand and due to the resulting embarrassment in the international arena, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto is to make an “important announcement” about the restoration of legality in the country, a senior government official has announced.

“The president will have to take decisions on what has not worked, on what has to be replaced and changed. He will make an important announcement this same week,” Government Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio said Monday.

However, he did not provide further details about the announcement but said that it would be made by Thursday, and would deal with areas where there are concerns, especially regarding municipalities.

Allegations raised, via the Guardian:

Mexican authorities accused of persecuting peaceful protesters

  • Eleven demonstrators charged with attempted murder and riot after mass protest in capital over disappearance of 43 students

Human rights groups have accused Mexican authorities of using arbitrary detentions, trumped-up charges and excessive force in an attempt to quell a mass protest movement unleashed by the disappearance and presumed murder of 43 students.

The complaints centre on the indictment for attempted murder, criminal association and rioting of 11 protesters who were arrested after masked youths clashed with police in the central Zócalo square, following a huge and mostly peaceful march through the capital last Thursday.

Supporters of the 11 accused insist that they had nothing to do with the violence, alleging that several of the detainees were arrested later, during an aggressive police operation to disperse the crowd.

More from teleSUR:

Mexico’s Human Rights Chief Investigating Protest Arrests

The president of Mexico’s National Commission of Human Rights said the agency will investigate claims of police abuse during detentions at the #NOV20 protest.

The president of Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission (CNDH), Luis Raul Gonzalez Perez, said the agency is opening an investigation into the arrests and possible excessive use of police force during a protest November 20 in Mexico City’s Zocalo Square calling for the return alive of the disappeared 43 Ayotzinapa students.

“We are opening the relevant investigation, from the beginning we had staff in the Attorney General’s office as well as staff in the different high security prisons. Staff have been with those detained we have given them a medical review,” he said.

The country’s newly-minted ombudsman, who has been in office for a little over 10 days, made his comments in an interview after giving the opening address to the “Truth and Justice Commissions: Lessons Learned for a Post Ayotzinapa Mexico” forum held at the Mexico City campus of the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education.

Continuing protests, again via teleSUR:

Hundreds March for #20NovMx Protest Detainees

  • The lawyer of the student detainees accused the government of committing state terrorism

Mexican society has gained a new reason to protest peacefully: the 11 students who were arrested by police last Thursday, accused with various serious charges after participating in the #20NovMx protest for the missing 43.

Hundreds of people marched on Tuesday from the Independence Angel to the Zocalo Square in Mexico City, to demand the national government release the detainees, who are being accused of terrorism and attempted murder, among other charges.

The demonstrators, mostly students, assert that their mates were illegally arrested on the night of November 20, when both local and federal riot police agents dispersed a peaceful demonstration in Zocalo square that was interrupted by a few people in balalcavas or bandanas who threw molotov bombs at the police.

And from teleSUR yet again:

Mexico: 11 Ayotzinapa Protesters Arrested Are Denied Bail

The eleven individuals arrested after the march of November 20 on Mexico city are charged with serious offenses, although the state’s evidence against them is blurry

The eleven detainees on the Mexico city central Zocalo square incidents after November 20 demonstration for the missing Ayotzinapa students were debriefed on Monday at the 17 district court of the southeastern state of Veracruz and denied bail due to the charges against them, considered as serious offenses: attempted homicide.

On November 29 the period for clearing their legal situation ends, that’s why the eleven indicted people asked for an extension of the constitutional term. Two separate NGOs denounced that the arrested were mistreated, tortured and charged without evidence of their misdemeanors.

The detainees complained to Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) for alleged acts of physical violence and mistreatment during their transport to the Republic’s General Attorney (PGR) facilities and later to Federal Prisons, where they remain held.

From Reuters, aiding and abetting:

Mired in crisis, Mexican president aided by discredited opposition

The leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD, has campaigned against human rights abuses in the past but its reputation is in tatters because the Iguala mayor who allegedly ordered the students’ abduction was one if its own.

And the horrific events – the government says the drug gang apparently killed all of the students and incinerated their bodies – unfolded in Guerrero state, which the PRD governs.

Mexico’s most successful leftist, former PRD leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has also been sidelined in the uproar because of ties between Morena, the party he formed after leaving the PRD, and the same mayor.

On the right, the National Action Party (PAN), is hamstrung by bitter infighting, allegations that senior lawmakers peddled favors in exchange for illegal payments, and accusations by supporters that it sold out to Pena Nieto in Congress.

In short, the whole political class is in disrepute, said Ernesto Ruffo, an independent-minded PAN Senator.

And the McClatchy Foreign Staff covers a credibility chasm:

Few believe Mexico’s first lady made enough as TV star to pay for mansion

Mexico’s first lady, soap opera star Angelica Rivera, is back in the spotlight. But rather than receiving public adulation, she’s the subject of ridicule.

A poll released over the weekend found that three-quarters of Mexicans think Rivera isn’t telling the truth about how much she earned during her television career and how she paid for a $7 million mansion that’s at the heart of a political scandal enveloping her husband, President Enrique Pena Nieto.

Among those scoffing at Rivera are fellow television actors, who contend she never pulled in the kind of money she claims.

Political analysts and columnists say the attention on Rivera, whose fame soared with a hit 2007 soap opera, was designed to take the heat off Pena Nieto himself.

From Frontera NorteSur, solidarity at the border:

Ayotzinapa Protests: Report from Ciudad Juarez

On a day when the world protested state violence against the Mexican students of the Ayotzinapa rural teachers college, Ciudad Juarez was no exception.

In the big border city across from El Paso, Texas, the November 20 protest- timed to coincide with the official holiday anniversary of the 1910 Mexican Revolution- produced multiple street protests, the seizure of a highway toll booth, a brief blockade of the Santa Fe Bridge connecting Juarez with El Paso, and poetry brigades.  A large multi-media event was staged at the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juarez (UACJ), where normal activities were suspended for November 20 so students and staff could take a public stand on the human rights crisis gripping their nation.

Hundreds of students, teachers, union activists and community members got involved in local events organized for what became known as N20.  In virtually unprecedented fashion, some Mexican cities canceled the official November 20 annual parades due to government fears of the mounting protests, but the one in Ciudad Juarez proceeded as scheduled- albeit with the addition of protesters who managed to squeeze their way into the end of the parade, according to Diana Solis, UACJ student and member of the activist University Assembly.

“The people are participating. Many people came out to support,” Solis said. “This is unstoppable. The government is worried.”

And from Al Jazeera America, other violence:

Violence against women soars in Mexico

  • Abductions, rapes and murders of women are higher than ever, as UN calls for end to femicide

Violence against women must stop, United Nations chief Ban Ki-Moon said Tuesday — the International Day to End Violence Against Women — as it was reported that 14 of the 25 countries with the highest rates of femicide are located in Latin America.

In Mexico, over a dozen female torture victims echoed Ban’s alarm. Members of the group “Break the Silence,” which aims at raise awareness of what it calls the government’s systematic use of sexual violence, said that despite countless cases, there have only been two federal convictions for torture of women in the country’s history, Mexican news website Animal Politico reported.

The numbers of abductions, rapes, and murders of women are higher in Mexico than ever before, with an average of seven women killed violently every day, according to local media. In July, U.N. special rapporteur on violence against women, Rashida Manjoo, said that Mexican women suffer from multiple and intersecting forms of violence, ranging from militarization as part of the so-called war on drugs, to impunity among security forces, to impediments to women seeking access to justice.

And to close, a body count from teleSUR:

Over 500 Bodies Found in Guerrero Mass Graves so Far

  • So far, up to 500 bodies have been found in mass graves in the state of Guerrero alone

Tomaz Zeron, head of the Criminal Investigation Agency, said that the forensic experts are continuing their work at the mass graves siates located by Guerrero’s Union of Commoners and Organizations (Upoeg). On Monday, Zeron told press that two graves were analyzed and one of them was determined to contain a corpse, dated back from more than a year ago.

Also on Monday, Upoeg stated that so far, up to 500 bodies have been found in the state of Guerrero alone. In a press conference, the group’s spokesperson, Bruno Placido, a spokesman for the group, said his organization has been issuing warnings since 2013, however the PGR only began to act well after the disappearance of the Ayotzinapa students began to garner global attention.

In the Mexican southwestern state of Guerrero, the Republic’s General Attorney (PGR) recieves every report from the Upoeg on a new mass grave, investigating them as separate cases from those connected to the incidents of September 26, when 43 students from the Ayotzinapa Teacher’s Training School were disappeared after being abducted by local police and handed over to a local criminal organization.

History, cultural arrogance, and two images


We’ll begin with two images, the first a screencap of the home page of Public Radio International’s The World, and linking to this story:

BLOG Pee story

We used the capture image rather than text from the story for the simply reason that the headlines on the home page capture the critical issue: India portrayed in a way that enables cultural stereotypes to snap unconsciously into place, namely a vision of India as semi-primitive in a way endangering women. And to a certain extent that is true, expressed in the numbers of women killed or burned in attacks acid and kerosene and other burning fuels.

Come to think of it, though, America’s own record toward women isn’t anything to write home about either, what with the Cosby thing and the unfolding University of Virginia scandal.

At least we got lots of free toilets, with women having their separate facilities, right?

Well, as anyone knows, finding a place to pee isn’t all tht easy in most downtowns, where truly public toilets are non-existent and most retailers reserve their facilities for paying customers — making them pay toilets in all but name.

But pay potties in publicly owned facilities are outlawed here in California, unlike when we first came to live in the Golden State back in 1968 [although privately owned business in private building can and sometimes do charge].

In those days, toilets in public buildings often cost a quarter [equivalent to more than a dollar today], we recall the stall wall scrawl of a commode we sat down to enjoy at San Francisco International Airport way back when:

Here I sit
All broken-hearted
Paid a quarter
And just farted

But that would end in 1974, which brings us to our second image, a screencap of an Associated Press image in the Oakland Museum of California collection:

BLOG Eu smash

The woman with the sledgehammer was State Assemblymember March Fong Eu, taking down a toilet on the steps of the California Capitol on 26 April 1969 as she launched what would become a five-year campaign to win the abolition of pay stalls [men invariably peed for free in urinal troughs, while women had no such option, a point that particularly irked Eu].

The legislator’s colorfully campaign kept her in the news and her Oakland constituents kept sending her back to Sacramento, where she kept introducing her free john bills until she won in 1974, the same year Californian’s elected her Secretary of State — an office she held for the next two decades.

So while millions of women in India live where there are no toilets at all, when it comes to pay toilets in public buildings, they’re only four decades behind California.

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