Author Archives: richardbrenneman

InsecurityWatch: Hyper, hacks, terror, bluster


We begin with the hyperbolic, via the Guardian:

US intelligence chief warns Congress of danger of failing to renew Patriot Act

  • Congress must accept responsibility if ‘untoward incident’ occurs
  • James Clapper also discusses Syria, Russia and North Korea

If Congress fails to renew a controversial provision of the Patriot Act by June, the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, says opponents of the bill on Capitol Hill should bear the blame if an otherwise preventable terrorist attack happens afterwards.

In a question-and answer-session at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, Clapper reiterated his support for renewing Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows the FBI and NSA to collect domestic phone records in bulk, is set to expire on 1 June. He expressed this support strongly and pointed a finger at opponents of the legislation on Capitol Hill. Clapper, America’s top-ranking intelligence official, said if Congress decides not to renew the legislation and an “untoward incident” occurs as a result, he hopes “everyone involved in that decision assumes responsibility” and doesn’t just blame the intelligence community.

However, Clapper did indicate his support for the reforms proposed to Section 215 by Senator Patrick Leahy last year, which shift responsibility for retaining phone records to individual phone companies from the FBI. This proposal failed to receive the needed supermajority in the Senate for a final vote in 2014 on a near party-line vote where 41 Republicans and one Democrat opposed it.

From the Intercept, cognitive dissonance:

Bush White House’s Repeated Torture Denials Led CIA Torturers to Seek Repeated Reassurances

The Bush administration was so adamant in its public statements against torture that CIA officials repeatedly sought reassurances that the White House officials who had given them permission to torture in the first place hadn’t changed their minds.

In a July 29, 2003, White House meeting that included Vice President Dick Cheney and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, CIA Director George Tenet went so far as to ask the White House “to cease stating that US Government practices were ‘humane’.” He was assured they would.

The memo describing that meeting is one of several documents that were unclassified last year but apparently escaped widespread notice until now. Georgetown Law Professor David Cole called attention to the trove of documents on the Just Security blog.

The documents were apparently posted in December at ciasavedlives.com, a website formed by a group of former senior intelligence officials to rebut the newly released Senate report that documented the horrors that CIA officers inflicted upon detainees and the lies about those tactics’ effectiveness that they told their superiors, would-be overseers and the public.

VICE News reminds:

Violence Caused by Far-Right Extremists Has Surpassed That Caused by Domestic Jihadists, Study Says

Since the September 11 attacks, the notion of terrorism has looked somewhat one-dimensional in United States public discourse, with the majority of Americans coming to think of political violence as the acts of organized, foreign groups — from al Qaeda in the early 2000s to Islamic State (IS) today.

This frequently one-dimensional understanding in the US of terrorism has led both the public and law enforcement to overlook a very different kind of homegrown threat — one posed by antigovernment radicals, white supremacists, and other domestic and far-right ideologues.

In both cases — radical Islamism and far right extremism — a majority of terrorist attacks on US soil have been at the hands of individual “lone wolves” acting outside established groups. But violence caused by far right extremism has surpassed that caused by domestic “jihadis,” according to a study published last month by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

From the Los Angeles Times, no comment needed:

‘Jihadi John’ suspect took anger management classes, says teacher

The British-educated Muslim man now believed to be the notorious Islamic State killer “Jihadi John” reportedly took anger management classes as a student.

A teacher at Mohammed Emwazi’s high school told the BBC he used to get into fights as a teenager and had difficulty keeping his emotions in check.

“We would find that he would get very angry and worked up and it would take him a long time to calm himself down,” the teacher said, speaking on condition of anonymity for security sake, according to the BBC. “We did a lot of work as a school to help him with his anger and to control his emotions and it seemed to work.”

From the London Daily Mail, conclusion about biased cops behaving badly:

‘Racially biased’ Ferguson police sent emails laughing at black people and ticketed African Americans to make money before Michael Brown shooting, Justice Department report to reveal

  • Justice Department report due to be released later this week
  • Will find some white officials targeted black people in Ferguson, Missouri
  • Traffic tickets were used to boost police department’s coffers, officials say
  • Will also feature a racist joke circulated by officers via email
  • Expected to say attitude was ‘avoidable’ and created racial tension
  • Reached a climax when Michael Brown was fatally shot in August 2014

From the Associated Press, Attica! Attica!:

3 Attica guards plead guilty as assault trial about to begin

Three Attica prison guards charged with beating a jewelry thief until bones in his face and legs broke in 2011 pleaded guilty Monday in an agreement that will spare them jail time.

Keith Swack, Sean Warner and Matthew Rademacher admitted to misdemeanor charges of official misconduct as jury selection was about to begin for their trial in Wyoming County Court.

The guards, who had been suspended without pay since 2011, were given conditional discharges and agreed to resign.

“This is the first time in New York state history that a correction officer has been prosecuted and pleaded guilty to committing an unauthorized violent act to an inmate while on duty,” Wyoming County District Attorney Donald O’Geen said at a news conference.

A corporate media hack in Canada, via SecurityWeek:

Rogers Says Hackers Accessed Small Number of Business Accounts

A hacker group called TeamHans has leaked hundreds of megabytes of data allegedly stolen from the systems of Canadian communications and media company Rogers.

According to DataBreaches.net, the attackers leaked sensitive corporate information such as contracts, emails, documents, and even VPN data. TeamHans said it gained access to the information on February 20 after tricking support staff into changing the password for an employee’s email account.

The information found in the targeted employee’s email account led TeamHans to an online tool used by Rogers to manage contracts.

Hackable Microsoftness from SecurityWeek:

Internet Explorer Exploit Added to Angler Kit: FireEye

Hackers have modified an exploit for a vulnerability in Internet Explorer fixed last October and added it to a notorious exploit kit.

The vulnerability is a use-after-free issue patched in MS14-056, which fixed a total of 14 IE bugs altogether. According to FireEye Staff Research Scientist Dan Caselden, the exploit has been added to the Angler exploit kit. Angler is often associated with exploits for Internet Explorer, Adobe Flash Player and Microsoft Silverlight.

“The Angler Exploit Kit (EK) recently implemented a modified version of k33nteam’s exploit targeting the same patched vulnerability,” Caselden blogged. “This is interesting because it is the first instance we’ve seen of an attack in the wild targeting IE deployments that are using Microsoft’s new MEMPROTECT mitigations. It shows that exploit authors are still interested in attacking IE.”

MEMPROTECT (Memory Protector) was introduced by Microsoft in July to make it difficult for hackers to execute use-after-free attacks. While the mitigations are not unbeatable, they increased the difficulty for exploit authors developing new IE exploits as evidenced by the absence of new IE exploits discovered in the wild, Caselden blogged.

Beheadings and burnings as bad fund-raising PR, via the London Telegraph:

Donations dry up for Islamic State, says US spy chief

  • Brutal beheadings have shocked Middle East and many donors have withdrawn support

Donations to Islamic State jihadists have dramatically declined in the wake of brutal executions by the group that have shocked public opinion in the Middle East, the chief of US intelligence said Monday.

“I think there is change afoot in the Mideast,” said James Clapper, director of national intelligence, referring to perceptions of the IS group in the region.

“It’s not going to occur overnight. But I think these brutalities, publicized brutalities by ISIL (IS), beheadings, immolation and the like, have really had a galvanising effect even in the Mideast,” Clapper said at an event in New York organized by the Council on Foreign Relations.

As a result, donations to the extremists in Islamic countries were dropping off, according to Clapper. “There’s been a big decline,” he said.

From the New York Times, Clintonism at work:

Hillary Clinton Used Personal Email at State Dept., Possibly Breaking Rules

Hillary Rodham Clinton exclusively used a personal email account to conduct government business as secretary of state, State Department officials said, and may have violated federal requirements that officials’ correspondence be retained as part of the agency’s record.

Mrs. Clinton did not have a government email address during her four-year tenure at the State Department. Her aides took no actions to have her personal emails preserved on department servers at the time, as required by the Federal Records Act.

It was only two months ago, in response to a new State Department effort to comply with federal record-keeping practices, that Mrs. Clinton’s advisers reviewed tens of thousands of pages of her personal emails and decided which ones to turn over to the State Department. All told, 55,000 pages of emails were given to the department. Mrs. Clinton stepped down from the secretary’s post in early 2013.

After the jump, Isis threatens Twitter over blocks, the battle for Tikrit commences, more Aussie troops on the way, Saudi terrorist prisons a suite deal, Pakistan stages an Afghan mass expulsion, an ominous North Korean hint to Washington’s master spy, Pyongyang fires off demonstrative missiles, A Red Army military crackdown, Shinzo Abe spells out a Japanese foreign military agenda, and allegations of massive U.S. military rapes in Germany as World War II drew to a close. . . Continue reading

Chart of the day II: Direct U.S. Israeli financial aid


BLOG Israel

From Reuters, based on U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel [PDF], an April, 2014 report from the Congressional research Service, which notes:

From 1966 through 1970, average aid per year increased to about $102 million and military loans increased to about 47% of the total. In 1971, the United States provided Israel with military loans of $545 million, up from $30 million in 1970. Also in 1971, Congress first designated a specific amount of aid for Israel in legislation (an “earmark”). Economic assistance changed from project aid, such as support for agricultural development work, to a Commodity Import Program (CIP) for the purchase of U.S. goods. In effect, the United States stepped in to fill the role that France had relinquished when French President Charles de Gaulle refused to supply Israel with military hardware to protest its preemptive launch of the Six Day War in June 1967. Israel became the largest recipient of U.S. foreign assistance in 1974, and has only been superseded at various times by Iraq and Afghanistan in the past decade because of short-term U.S. aid aimed at building those countries’ indigenous security capabilities. From 1971 to the present, U.S. aid to Israel has averaged over $2.6 billion per year, two-thirds of which has been military assistance.

EnviroWatch: Vaccines, toxins, fracking, nukes


We begin with a vaccine crackdown, via the Mainichi:

Pakistan police arrest parents refusing kids’ polio vaccine

Hundreds of parents in northwest Pakistan were arrested and jailed on charges of endangering public security after refusing to give their children polio vaccinations, officials said Monday.

Parents targeted by police starting this past weekend were not arrested if they agreed to vaccinate their children, said Shakirullah Khan, a senior police officer in Peshawar.

Feroz Shah, a spokesman for the district administration in Peshawar, capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, said 471 people were jailed in the city and surrounding villages under government orders.

From Al Jazeera America, accommodation:

Most doctors agree to alter kids’ vaccine schedules

  • Physicians give in to parents’ wishes in order to build trust with families, study finds

Pediatricians are facing increasing pressure from parents to delay vaccinating their children — and most of them are complying despite concerns that they are putting the children at risk for contracting preventable illnesses such as measles and whooping cough, according to a study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

In a national survey of 534 pediatricians and family doctors sent out via email and mail in 2012, 93 percent of the doctors reported that the parents of children under age 2 asked them to spread out or delay the child’s vaccination schedule. And 21 percent of the doctors reported that at least 10 percent of the parents asked to delay the vaccine schedule, according to the survey conducted by Children’s Hospital Colorado, the University of Colorado and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Most doctors said they agreed to do so, even though 87 percent of them thought that delaying the vaccine schedule was putting the children in danger of catching a vaccine-preventable illness. They complied either “often” or “always” 37 percent of the time and “sometimes” 37 percent of the time, while 26 percent of the doctors said they did so “rarely.”

Tallying up another outbreak, via Outbreak News Today:

Malaysia dengue death toll up to 62

With 25,000 cases of dengue fever reported in Malaysia during the first two months of 2015, the country appears on a trajectory to see more cases than last year’s 100,000.

In addition, the Malaysia Health Ministry has put the death toll due to dengue at 62, up eight in less than a week.

In 2013, Malaysia reported 79 fatalities, while last year, at least 189 deaths were counted.

Selangor continues to report the most cases in the country at nearly 15,000, or six out of 10 cases nationwide.

From Science, a reasonable move:

Escape of dangerous bacterium leads to halt of risky studies at Tulane

The apparent escape from a high-security lab of a dangerous bacterium that led federal officials last month to suspend research on certain high-risk pathogens at Tulane University has left questions about an ongoing investigation of the incident and broader risks.

According to a lengthy 1 March news article in USA Today, two rhesus macaques at the Tulane National Primate Research Center in Covington, Louisiana, that fell ill in early November later tested positive for infection with Burkholderia pseudomallei, which is found naturally in soil and water in Southeast Asia and northern Australia. Center researchers had been working with rodents on a vaccine for the bacterium, which can cause a sometimes serious illness called melioidosis in animals and people. The two macaques, which later had to be euthanized, and two other rhesus macaques that tested positive for the bacterium may have been exposed while being treated at the center’s hospital.

Adding to concerns, a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) investigator who visited the site in late January fell seriously ill a day later and tested positive for Burkholderia pseudomallei. It is not clear whether the investigator, who has since recovered, was infected at Tulane or earlier during travel abroad, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced in February. The agency said it had suspended all studies at the center involving select agents, a list of dangerous viruses, bacteria, and toxins that are tightly regulated. That includes about 10 projects, USA Today reports.

Science covers a call for more:

More environmental action needed, European agency says

The latest big-picture analysis of the state of the environment in Europe finds that although the continent is making progress in energy efficiency, it is falling short in protecting biodiversity and natural resources. In some areas, the financial recession led to improvements in trends, but the gains may be short-lived, the report warns.

Every 5 years since 1995, the European Environment Agency provides a broad assessment of status and trends. The refrain is familiar to Andrew Jordan, an environmental policy analyst at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom. “They’ve continuously said the same thing: We’re not moving as rapidly toward sustainable development as we should.”

Among the bad news:

  • Biodiversity is still declining: 60% of protected species have a conservation status that is unfavorable.
  • 91% of fish stocks assessed in the Mediterranean Sea were overfished in 2014.
  • Air pollution leads to 400,000 premature deaths annually.

From the Ecologist, meat hunger devastates Chinese ecology:

Meat boom propels China’s ecosystems into total collapse

  • China’s farming boom has massively increased food production, writes John Dearing – especially of meat. But it has come at a massive cost: the wholesale pollution and destruction of core ecosystems.

China’s push for more intense farming has kept its city dwellers well-fed and helped lift millions of rural workers out of poverty. But it has come at a cost.

Ecosystems in what should be one of the country’s most fertile region have already been badly damaged – some beyond repair – and the consequences will be felt across the world.

This is part of a long-running trade-off between rising levels of food production and a deteriorating environment, revealed in recent research I conducted with colleagues from China and the UK.

After the jump, mapping global pesticide runoff, a battle against Amazonian forest destruction, climatic causation for war in Syria, an offshore drilling vote in Southern California, Venezuelan anti-fracking campaigners target the U.S., the Dutch government issues a fracking apology, on to Fukushimapocalypose Now!, starting with evacuee return reluctance, uncertainty haunts restart plans for another nuke plant, Another city vows to eschew nuclear power, and a deadly Africna nuclear legacy lingers on. . . Continue reading

EbolaWatch: Numbers, a conclave, measures, pols


First, the latest case counts form the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

BLOG Ebola

Next, a conference commencing, via the Liberian Observer:

EU Conference on Ebola Affected Countries Begins Today

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and her delegation will today participate in a major conference, organized by the European Union (EU) in Brussels, Belgium to discuss the way forward in the economic and social recovery of countries affected by the deadly Ebola virus.

President Sirleaf, according to a statement from the European Union, will serve as a spokesperson on behalf of the three Mano River Union countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Presidents and Ministers of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Togo as well as representatives of the African Union Commission, the UN, the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) and the European Union will all be attending.

The Conference is taking place at the historic Egmont Palace in Brussels, and will be attended by Queen Mathilde .

A video report from CCTV Africa:

Rebuilding Ebola-Hit States

Program notes:

Governments and international organizations are due to meet on Tuesday to work out how to rebuild three West African nations whose economies have been shattered by Ebola. The number of newly detected cases of Ebola virus infection has been dropping sharply in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia in recent weeks. But the three countries are still reeling from the impact of the outbreak

From the Los Angeles Times, a reckoning:

Isolation can take emotional toll on volunteers at risk of Ebola

Medical workers and their reentry into everyday American life became a concern last fall after two Dallas nurses and a New York physician volunteer fell ill following close contact with Ebola patients.

Some officials called for mandatory quarantines for returning medical workers. Others wondered whether such restrictions would stigmatize volunteers and discourage them from heading to Africa, where they were sorely needed to stop the spread of Ebola. In a report released Thursday, a presidential bioethics panel cited such concerns and urged public health organizations to “employ the least restrictive means necessary” based on scientific evidence.

In Los Angeles and throughout the U.S., state and local health departments, using U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines as a starting point, are responsible for deciding how to monitor travelers coming from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Imposing varying levels of restriction, staff members track anyone who may have been exposed to Ebola, keeping tabs on them throughout the virus’ 21-day incubation period and looking out for fevers and other symptoms of illness.

The Associated Press reports a return:

Ebola survivor leaves US after recovery to return to Africa

An American missionary who survived the Ebola virus is returning to the West African country where she was infected last year.

A spokesman for the North Carolina-based charity SIM said Monday that Nancy Writebol is returning to Liberia with her husband. SIM spokesman George Salloum says David Writebol is taking over as the charity’s country director.

He says the Charlotte couple are due to arrive in Liberia in a couple of weeks after attending a conference in Thailand.

Nancy Writebol last summer became the second American infected with the Ebola virus while working at a hospital SIM supports in the Liberian capital of Monrovia.

From the Guardian, a message:

Ebola epidemic is ‘wake-up call’ for investment in universal healthcare

Improving health systems in three Ebola-hit African countries would have cost a third of relief effort there, says new Save the Children report

Up to 30 countries are vulnerable to an Ebola-style epidemic, unless the world sits up and helps get urgent investment into universal healthcare, a report (pdf) has found.

Improving the health systems in the three Ebola-hit African nations would have helped to prevent the epidemic and cost a third of the relief effort, says Save the Children in a new investigation of the epidemic that has claimed more than 9,500 lives.

It found that £2.8bn had been spent on aid, compared with the £1bn it would have cost to improve basic healthcare in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

On to Liberia and some good news from the News:

Liberia: No Ebola Case for Seven Days

The Liberian Government acting spokesperson says for more than seven days Liberia has not reported a single confirmed case of Ebola.

Acting Information Minister Isaac Jackson said statistics emanating from the Incidence Management System (IMS), showed that there are 116 Ebola contacts, 98 of which are in Montserrado and 18 in Margibi counties, while all of the 19 ETUs in the country only have two confirmed Ebola patients.

“Grand Cape Mount County has completed two incubation periods without a new Ebola case, which means that all counties, except Montserrado and Margibi, have gone 42 days or more without a confirmed Ebola case,” Jackson quoted the IMS report

A quarantined hospital cleared, via FrontPageAfrica:

Quarantined S.D. Cooper Hospital Declared Ebola Free

Over 33 workers – local, international and other employees of one of Liberia’s renowned private health facilities, the Seventh Day Adventist Cooper Hospital who were quarantined after a woman treated at the hospital was diagnosed of Ebola were released on Saturday after successfully completing 21 days confinement.

Amanda Blad, a lady was treated at the hospital but soon afterward she was diagnosed with the deadly virus, prompting fear and resulting in the imposition of quarantine as a preventive measure against further spread of the Ebola virus which is now on the decline in Liberia.

Amanda was treated at the hospital for infection where she was believed to have interacted with several other people exposing local and international health workers to the EVD. Those quarantined for 21 days were set free by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW), Centers for Disease Control and the Administration of the hospital.

After the jump, Liberia tightens the borders, Ebola as an enduring problem, conflicting views on a vaccine trials, on to Sierra Leone and an admonition, a mixed message, blood export reassurance, and medicine men versus Ebola in Guinea, plus North Korea eases Ebolaphobic measures. . . Continue reading

MexicoWatch: Investigations, murders, & pols


We begin with an investigation, via teleSUR English:

Independent Ayotzinapa investigation begins

Program notes:

The 5-member Inter-American Commission on Human Rights will begin an independent analysis of the disappearance of the 43 Ayotzinapa students, meeting with family members and lawyers as a first step. Clayton Conn reports from Mexico City for teleSUR

From Mexico News Daily, one investigation challenges another:

Fire experts confirm Ayotzinapa findings

  • They dispute UNAM physicist’s claims regarding the fuel required

How much fuel — such as wood and tires — does it take to turn 43 bodies to ash?

Of the doubts that have been sown over the official version of what took place on the night of September 26 in Iguala and Cocula, Guerrero, the most credible is that concerning the incineration of the 43 bodies of the missing students of Ayotzinapa.

A physicist at the National Autonomous University (UNAM) has disputed the official findings, claiming that the fire would have required 33 tonnes of four-inch-diameter tree trunks — or 995 tires — to achieve the required temperature of 900 degrees C for a sufficient length of time to completely burn the bodies.

But the newspaper Milenio reports today it has consulted two international experts in the behavior of fire and its effects on the human body. One of the them, American forensic anthropologist Elayne Juniper Pope, has actually conducted experiments on bodies, burning them on the surface of the ground and inside excavated pits.

The verdict: yes, it would be possible to incinerate that number of bodies within 24 hours and without the volume of fuel suggested by researcher Jorge Antonio Montemayor of UNAM. Pope said subcutaneous body fat alone is a fuel source that can feed a fire for hours.

From VICE News, and not surprising:

Human Rights Crisis Threatens to Overshadow Mexican President Peña Nieto’s Visit to UK

Mexico’s beleaguered President Enrique Peña Nieto touched down in London on Monday for a three-day state visit intended to strengthen trade and cultural ties between Mexico and the United Kingdom.

Peña Nieto has been lauded on the international stage for passing an array of market-friendly reforms and jailing some of Mexico’s top drug lords, including Servando “La Tuta” Gomez, the head of the Knights Templar cartel, who was captured on Friday after an eight-month manhunt.

However, his image has been tarred by recent corruption scandals and the likely massacre of 43 teachers college students last September, which caused the United Nations to condemn Mexico’s record on forced disappearances last month.

Murders, via teleSUR:

14 New Murders in Town Where 43 Mexican Students Disappeared

  • The fresh bloodbath took place over 72 hours.

Bloodshed has returned to the Mexican town of Iguala, where 14 murders took place in less than 72 hours last week.

In the the same town where 43 students were kidnapped by police after protesting in September last year, more than a dozen people were killed in the space of a few days last week.

The scope of victims in the town in the ultra-violent state of Guerrero was broad and apparently indiscriminate: a pregnant woman stabbed to death; a doctor gunned down; an official killed outside his home; two young men killed in plain view in the middle of the town.

More murders from Borderland Beat:

Dozens of Catholic Priests murdered by Organized Crime during Calderon-Peña Administrations

The fact that Mexico is one of the most dangerous places on earth for reporters is well known, what is far less written about is the violence perpetrated against  Catholic Priests.

Mexico is officially now the most dangerous place on earth for Catholic Priests.  While long in the top group of most dangerous places for priests, Mexico is now its leader.  For the sixth consecutive year, Mexico tops the list in murders and disappearances of Catholic priests in Latin America.

What must be established, murders and kidnappings of priests receive little attention outside regional reporting hubs.  It is a perplexing, how a story of dozens of  priests being murdered by cartels during  2 administrations goes unrecognized, or for example, a story  about 5 priests being killed in November–December of 2013 in Tamaulipas and Veracruz,  is but a tiny blip on the media radar.

And some controversy, via teleSUR:

Controversy Hovers Over Mexico’s New Attorney General

  • Arely Gomez is set to take the country’s highest law enforcement post, yet her connections to a private media company is shadowing her credentials.

Gomez is the sister of a vice president of media giant, Televisa, a company that owns more than 70 percent of Mexico’s television market.

In recent years Televisa has been accused of playing an influential role in Mexican politics. During the 2012 presidential campaign, the company was accused of giving favorable coverage and airtime to then candidate Peña Nieto. Meanwhile the president’s wife, First Lady Angelica Rivera, is a former soap opera actress who worked on Televisa productions.

Arely Gomez’s appointment will be voted upon by the entire Senate Tuesday.

More controversy, via the Latin American Herald Tribune:

Former Mexico City Mayor Quits PRD

Former Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard has resigned from the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD.

The former mayor said in a letter to PRD chairman Carlos Navarrete that was posted on Twitter this weekend that his successor, Miguel Angel Mancera, had blocked his efforts to run for the presidency and the PRD had moved too close to the governing Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI.

Ebrard, who served as the Mexican capital’s mayor from 2006 to 2012, said his resignation was final and “irrevocable.”

“The progressive alignment of the party’s leadership with (Mexican President) Enrique Peña Nieto” and the PRI “is incompatible with the political objectives and duties of the Mexican left,” Ebrard said.

And our graphic of the day, featuring the names of Aytozinapa students, via Puro Pinche:

BLOG Ayotz

John Oliver takes on failing U.S. infrastructure


Yep,  John Oliver takes on the nation’s rapidly aging bridges, dams, and highways, along with the singular unwillingness of the nation’s political elite to repair them and stave off the threat of potential disaster.

And he does it with the help of an all-star cast, including Edward Norton, Vincent D’Onfrio, Steve Buscemi, Dan Hedaya, and more.

From HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Infrastructure

Program notes:

America’s crumbling infrastructure: It’s not a sexy problem, but it is a scary one.

Chart of the day: Global warming causation


Who is more likely to belief humans play a role, via the Pew Research Center:

Global warm