Category Archives: Uncategorized

MexicoWatch: A very slow news day indeed

Only two items, despite an intense search.

First, another image, this one from A photographic experiment. By Chico Sanchez:

100% Mexican - 100% mexicano. Drawing demanding justice for the 43 students missing from Ayotzinapa - Dibujo demandando justicia para los 43 estudiantes desaparecidos de Ayotzinapa

100% Mexican – 100% mexicano. Drawing demanding justice for the 43 students missing from Ayotzinapa – Dibujo demandando justicia para los 43 estudiantes desaparecidos de Ayotzinapa

And our lone reporting entry, from a very exhaustive and exhaustive summary of what is known about that bloody night in Ayotzinapa from Borderland Beat:

Guerreros Unidos and Los Rojos conflict-Scientists reject account of students incineration at dump

To those that followed the case, especially those who have long followed the criminal activity in Guerrero and Iguala, you are not surprised at the mistrust of the government, from the victims’ families and friends. They have rejected the ‘official’ version, offered in testimonies of suspects (link here)  previously arrested for involvement in the attacks.

The mayor, his wife, the municipal police, and Guerreros Unidos, are reported to be at the core of the crime.  While details lack clarity, there is little doubt that the aforementioned parties were involved.  Within 8 hours after the last attack, on social media, residents begin throwing suspicion and accusations straight at the mayor’s office. This stems from a history of abuse, disappearances and corruption accusations.

Both the mayor and his wife threatened Arturo Hernandez, a social activist, the day before he and 7 others were kidnapped off the highway.  Witnesses who managed to escape, gave sworn testimony they witnessed the mayor personally raise his AK47, shoot and kill Hernandez.  Just before shooting him in the head he said to Hernandez,  “You fucked with me, now I will take pleasure in killing you”.

In the testimony of suspects in the case, they contend Mayor Abarca was advised by the G.U. plaza chief, that  bus passengers were infiltrated by members of the Los Rojos.  This is said to be the basis of the initial order by the mayor to take the passengers into custody and interrogate them.  The information was erroneous, there were no cartel members in the group of students.  If the GU plaza chief guessed that the students were Los Rojos or otherwise has not been determine.  But that is how the massacre began.

Chart of the day: Environmental differences

From a report on the Americans’ political priorities for 2015 from the Pew Research Center [PDF]:


Apologies for lack of posting. . .

We’ve had a touch of fever. . .

Chart of the day: The growing political divide

From the Pew Research Center:

BLOG Pol poll

InSecurityWatch: Hostages, cops, hacks, zones

And a lot more.

We begin with the breaking story from News Corp Australia with an estimate that police say is significantly exaggerated:

A man is holding several people hostage at Martin Place cafe

  • ARMED men are holding 40 to 50 people hostage at a cafe in Martin Place in Sydney.

There are reports that two gunman have taken hostages, some of which are standing with their hands up at the windows in the popular Lindt chocolate shop, which has two or three entrances. There is also a black and white flag being held up in a window. It is believed to be the Black Standard, a jihadist flag.

Lindt Australia CEO Steve Loane told he believes there are 40 to 50 people inside the cafe, including customers and staff.

A 2GB spokesman confirmed to that sources had informed them that the gunman claimed there are devices all over the city and they wanted to speak to the Prime Minister live on radio. However, 2GB radio host Ray Hadley said on air that the gunman had made no demands, but told police he had complete control over the city.

An update as we edit from News Corp Australia’s liveblog:

HOSTAGES have emerged from the Lindt Cafe in central Sydney where they have been held by a gunman since just before 10am this morning.

Five people have now left the cafe which has been at the centre of a hostage crisis that has paralysed central Sydney and shocked Australia.

Their escape comes after NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn confirmed hostage negotiators were now speaking directly with the gunman.

“Police negotiators have had contact and will continue to have contact,” she said.

Two female Lindt employees ran from the building just before 5pm. Three other hostages, all men, ran from the cafe earlier this afternoon and are now speaking with police.

An earlier video report from RT:

Islamist militants take hostages in Sydney café, display black jihadist flag

Program notes:

A police operation is underway at a café in the Australian city of Sydney, where hostages are being held by unknown attackers and a black jihadist flag can be seen.

And some background via the London Daily Mail:

Martin Place was at centre of ‘alleged terror plot by Islamic extremists which police foiled earlier this year’

  • A terrorist act in Martin Place was allegedly the plan of accused Sydney man, Omarjan Azari
  • Azari allegedly planned a public beheading in Martin Place
  • Police say Azari planned a terrorist act by phone with Australian terrorist in Syria Mohammad Ali Baryalei
  • The act involved selecting a random member of the public, beheading them and covering the body in an Islamic flag

The alleged terror plot, mentioned in a conversation between Australian terrorism recruiter in Syria, Mohammad Ali Baryalei and Azari, involved selecting a member of the public at random, beheading them and then covering their body in an Islamic flag.

Azari was arrested on September 18 and charged with preparing for an act of terrorism. Police took him into custody at his parents’ home in a series of raids on September 18.

According to court documents, police intercepted a phone call between Azari and Baryalei – who is alleged to have recruited half of the 60 Australians fighting in the Middle East – two days before the raid.

Another continent, another subjecting making lots of folks insecure, via the Guardian:

Greece election: EU finance chief flies into Athens as Grexit fears mount

  • Leftwing leader Alexis Tsipras cries foul over ‘fearmongering and interference’ from Brussels ahead of presidential election

The EU’s finance commissioner, Pierre Moscovici, flies into Athens on Monday amid mounting political uncertainty following the Greek government’s abrupt decision to bring forward the presidential elections.

The Frenchman’s visit comes as the country’s radical-left opposition leader, Alexis Tsipras, steps up claims that Greece is being subjected to a campaign of “frenetic fear-mongering” not only by its Prime Minister Antonis Samaras but senior European officials ahead of this week’s ballot, the first of three polls.

“An operation of terror, of lies, is underway,” the leader of Syriza told supporters on Sunday. “An operation whose only aim is to sow terror among the Greek people and MPs, and to thrust the country ever deeper into the poverty and uncertainty of the memorandum,” he said referring to the EU-IMF-sponsored rescue programme to keep the debt-stricken economy afloat.

Tsipras was speaking after government leaders reiterated fears that Greece could be forced to exit the eurozone if parliament failed to elect a new head of state by 29 December. Should the ruling alliance lose the three-round race, the Greek constitution demands that general elections are called, a vote Tsipras’s party is tipped to win. “Everything is hanging by a thread … and if it is cut, it could lead the country to absolute catastrophe,” said the deputy premier, Evangelos Venizelos, whose centre-left Pasok party is junior partner in Athens’ two-party coalition.

Domestic discontent in the U.S. from the New York Times:

25,000 March in New York to Protest Police Violence

More than 25,000 people marched through Manhattan on Saturday, police officials said, in the largest protest in New York City since a grand jury declined this month to indict an officer in the death of an unarmed black man on Staten Island.

Just before 2 p.m. they began spilling out of Washington Square Park, and after an hour and a half, the park still had not emptied. Walking north toward 34th Street, the protesters filled the cold air by chanting “I can’t breathe,” the last words of Eric Garner, the Staten Island man, who died from a chokehold after an officer dragged him to the ground on a hot day in July.

The protest, which at times stretched for over a mile, highlighted growing anger nationwide over recent police deaths, including that of Mr. Garner, 43, who officers accused of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes.

Though the march was largely peaceful, after it had run its scheduled course, some demonstrators continued on over the Brooklyn Bridge, where two officers were assaulted, the police said. They were recovering in the hospital. The police also said they found a bag of hammers on the bridge.

Southern California protest from the Los Angeles Times:

Protesters block Hollywood intersection, burn flag; four arrested

Protesters blocked a tourist-filled Hollywood intersection Saturday afternoon and burned an American flag as part of nationwide marches protesting recent police killings of unarmed black men.

Four activists who were part of the crowd, three female and one male, were arrested for failing to disperse, said Sgt. Chuck Slater of the Los Angeles Police Department. Officers declared the crowd an unlawful assembly about 4:15 p.m. and ordered demonstrators to disperse.

The arrests came after dozens of protesters staged a “die-in” at the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue, lying down in the street for a few minutes. Police with helmets and batons forced the crowd out of the street.

And closer to Casa esnl, via the San Francisco Chronicle:

Thousands in S.F., Oakland join Millions March protests

National anger at the killing of unarmed African American men by police officers translated Saturday afternoon to the sight of thousands of people marching in San Francisco and Oakland.

The crowds here were passionate but peaceful, and at times almost festive, as marchers moved together, then rallied on the steps of public buildings. There were speeches calling for a sustained effort to push for improved racial conditions in the United States.

After nightfall, central Oakland again was the scene of confrontations between police and demonstrators, with at least 45 arrests and scattered vandalism. Windows were broken at several locations, including a Whole Foods Market and a Radio Shack. At least two small fires were set, one to a U.S. flag so that the flames showed FTP, the initials of the group that called for the evening protest.

Even closer to home, via the Los Angeles Times:

UC Berkeley police investigate ‘disturbing’ effigies found on campus

UC Berkeley police are investigating the hanging of “disturbing” effigies near campus landmarks, a school spokeswoman said Saturday.

Two effigies were discovered hanging from Sather Gate shortly after 9 a.m. and a third was found near the campanile, according to spokeswoman Claire Holmes.

Police seized two of the life-sized cardboard cutouts from the gate as evidence and are asking for people with information about them to contact law enforcement, Holmes said.

At least one of the effigies depicts a black man and is stamped with the words “I can’t breathe” – a refrain among protesters at the anti-police brutality demonstrations that have roiled the campus this week.

Detectives are trying to determine the intent of the effigies, Holmes said.

One of the effigies from a Tweet of a cell phone snap posted by Rev. Michael McBride of Way Christian Center and co-director of Intervarsity’s Black Campus Ministries at Cal:

BLOG Lynch

The second Sather Gate effigy via Rev. McBride’s Instagram account:

BLOG Lynch 2

The figures are those of a mother and son, Laura and Lawrence Nelson, a mother and son lynched by an Oklahoma mob on 25 May 1911. The photo of Laura Nelson is the only image known to survive of 150 African American women known to have been victims of lynch mobs. Many photos survive the 3,300 African American males killed by lynchers.

We haven’t found a description of a third effigy found elsewhere on campus.

BuzzFeed News covers more police misbehavior:

San Jose Police Are Reviewing An Officer’s Behavior After His Threatening Tweet To Protesters

  • “By the way if anyone feels they can’t breathe or their lives matter I’ll be at the movies tonight, off duty, carrying my gun,” Officer Phillip White tweeted.

A police officer in San Jose, California, who tweeted a threatening message to protesters demonstrating against police killings is having his behavior “reviewed,” police have told BuzzFeed News.

“By the way if anyone feels they can’t breathe or their lives matter I’ll be at the movies tonight, off duty, carrying my gun,” Officer Phillip White tweeted on Saturday night.

Demonstrators have used the last words of Eric Garner, “I can’t breathe,” as a rallying cry during protests against police killings. The hashtag #BlackLivesMatter has also been used by the movement online.

White also vowed to use his “God given and law appointed right and duty to kill” if he or his family were threatened.

And from Al Jazeera America, a committee of vigilance lite:

In Ferguson, Oath Keepers draw both suspicion and gratitude

  • The group, made up mostly of military and law enforcement, said it is protecting shops, but some fear other motives

Two days after mass protests swept Ferguson, with looters smashing through the glass storefront of the dentistry that 59-year-old Marilyn Crider manages, she arrived early to the office on Nov. 26 and was greeted by a pair of unexpected guests.

They wore military fatigues and had two rifles leaning against the wall next to them. “I think they said something like, ‘And you are?’ and I said, ‘I work here. Who are you?’” Crider said.

The men called themselves Oath Keepers and said one of the dentists had given them a key. They had been guarding the building the night before.

Since Nov. 25, members of the group — many of them armed — have been patrolling rooftops and sidewalks in the St. Louis suburb. Oath Keepers, regarded by some as a militia — although they reject that characterization — is made up of current and former members of the military, law enforcement and fire departments and other first responders from around the country. It has billed itself locally as an volunteer security force bent on protecting small businesses, residents and the rights of peaceful protesters in the wake of violence after a grand jury decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the Aug. 9 shooting of unarmed black teen Michael Brown. The group says there are about 35,000 members nationwide.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that tracks extremist and hate groups in the U.S., listed the Oath Keepers as an active “patriot” group in 2013. Ryan Lenz, senior writer for the center, says Oath Keepers is an anti-government group but not a hate group. It is largely motivated by fears that an overzealous government will disregard the U.S. Constitution and strip citizens’ rights, he said.

After the jump, its on to Germany and rising extremism on the right and a dramatic public counterprotest, on to the torture report with Cheney still a Dick, mainstream media avoidance of the T-word,  John Yoo surprises, a still-defiant senator takes his leave while an ex-spook points a knowing finger at Nancy Pelosi, putting the question to putting the question, another cry of alarm from a top spook, a Romanian ex-spook cops to a CIA secret prison on his turf, British legislators call of U.S. Senators to disclose London’s torture ties, Chelsea Manning’s Welsh kin says he was tortured, a never-delivered apology, and violent protests end in departure of Haiti’s prime minister, the U.S. Navy tests a shark-like underwater drone and navy women submariners spied on in showers by concealed cameras installed by male shipmates, Sony hackers announce more presents to come, Anymous hacks Swedish government sites over Pirate Bay takedown, a very expense Amazon software woe, Turkish raids end in arrests of cops and the jailing of a magazine’s staff, the plight of anti-ISIS Iraqi Sunni tribes, On to Israel, where Netanyahu stands firm on occupation while Washington refuses to commit on U.N. Palestinian state vote,   Sierra Leone journalists charge the BBC with exploitation, deplorable ultra-Hindu politics in India, Hong Kong Occupy activists voice Orwellian fears as they lay out plans for a shift in focus, tensions rise between Washington and Beijing over island claims, Hanoi and Manila play off Beijing over boundary claims, Shinzo Abe’s party gains 2/3 control of both houses and ensures continuing militarization and historical revanchism. . .

Echoes of German history, via

Police see rise in far right extremism: report

German police have noted a significant rise in far-right extremism and attacks targeting foreigners, a news report said Sunday, amid national debate about a new Islamophobic movement.

The trend is seen as a backlash against a sharp increase in refugees arriving in Germany, Europe’s biggest economy and top destination for asylum-seekers and other migrants.

“We’re seeing a significant nationwide increase in xenophobic offences,” Federal Criminal Police Office chief Holger Muench told an interior ministers conference last week, the Welt am Sonntag reported, citing participants.

The opposition mobilizes, via Deutsche Welle:

Thousands march in Cologne to protest xenophobia

The western German city of Cologne has seen thousands march in a peaceful demonstration against xenophobia and right-wing extremism. The demonstration comes amid worries of rising anti-immigration sentiment in Germany.

Around 15,000 people marched through Cologne on Sunday afternoon to promote tolerance and open-mindedness, under the motto: “You are Cologne – no Nazis here.” The gathering was organized largely in reaction to a recent rise in demonstrations by right-wing groups within Germany.

Some groups, such as the PEGIDA movement, have organized angry protests in cities like Dresden and Düsseldorf to voice their fears over Islamic radicalism. PEGIDA specifically protests against the “Islamization” of Europe.

It also follows a suspected arson attack in Bavaria on buildings intended to house asylum seekers, which police suspect was the work of the far-right. German Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned that attack.

And on to the torture report with Cheney still a Dick, from the New York Times:

Backing C.I.A. Tactics, Cheney Ramps Up Criticism of Senate Torture Report

Dick Cheney, who as vice president was a powerful sponsor of the brutal interrogation tactics used on detainees suspected of being linked to Al Qaeda, on Sunday escalated his counterattack on the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report, which found that the C.I.A.’s now-defunct program violated American values, was incompetently run and produced no useful intelligence that could not have been obtained in other ways.

“I would do it again in a minute,” Mr. Cheney said in a spirited, emotional appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” He denied that waterboarding and related interrogation tactics were torture, noting that three of the last four attorneys general had agreed with his view.

“Torture is what the Al Qaeda terrorists did to 3,000 Americans on 9/11,” Mr. Cheney said. “There is no comparison between that and what we did with respect to enhanced interrogation.”

The Washington Post headline offered a different emphasis, though it too avoided the T word:

A defiant Dick Cheney defends CIA’s brutal interrogation program

A defiant former vice president Dick Cheney ceded no ground Sunday in his defense of the United States’ brutal interrogation of terrorist suspects, saying he is confident that the program protected American lives.

Yoo mildly suprises, via Al Jazeera America:

Author of interrogation memo says CIA maybe went too far

Comments come as former Vice President Dick Cheney reiterates support for interrogation tactics, say ‘I’d do it again’

As former Vice President Dick Cheney argued on Sunday that the CIA’s aggressive interrogation of terrorism suspects did not amount to torture, the man who provided the legal rationale for the program said that in some cases it had perhaps gone too far.

Former Justice Department lawyer John Yoo said the sleep deprivation, rectal feeding and other harsh treatment outlined in a U.S. Senate report last week could violate anti-torture laws.

“If these things happened as they’re described in the report … they were not supposed to be done. And the people who did those are at risk legally because they were acting outside their orders,” Yoo said on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS.”

Defeated but still defiant, via the New York Times:

On Torture Report, Colorado’s Udall Leaves Subtlety at Door on the Way Out

To Senator Mark Udall, the Central Intelligence Agency’s effort to mislead the public about its brutal interrogation program is not a thing of the past.

Mr. Udall, a Colorado Democrat who pressed his case against the agency even as he packed up his office after his re-election defeat last month, sees the agency’s strong effort to rebut the findings of the Senate’s report on the torture of terrorism suspects as proof the intelligence community has not learned from its mistakes.

“We did all these things and had the opportunity over the last six years to come clean, and the C.I.A. just fought tooth and nail to prevent that from happening,” Mr. Udall said in an interview after the stinging attack he delivered on the Senate floor against the intelligence community and the White House. “Now we are doing the same thing today that we did six or eight or 10 years ago by denying this happened.”

The Hill adds a sensational new angle:

Former CIA official: Pelosi knew about harsh interrogation tactics

Jose Rodriguez, the former senior Central Intelligence Agency official who led the agency’s interrogation program under President George W. Bush, said on Sunday that House Democratic leaders knew about harsh tactics and did not object.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the former ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, did not urge CIA to curtail practices that Democrats are now condemning as torture, Rodriguez said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“I remember very clearly briefing Nancy Pelosi in September of 2002,” he said.

“We briefed her specifically on the use of the enhanced interrogation techniques on Abu Zubaydah,” he added, referring to an organizer of the 9/11 attacks who was waterboarded 83 times in one month. “I briefed her on all the techniques.”

Putting the question to putting the question, via the Associated Press:

CIA report revives legal debate on interrogation

The release last week of a Senate report cataloging years of such interrogation tactics has revived debate about legal opinions since discredited and withdrawn and about the decision to not prosecute the program’s architects or officers who used the methods. Civil rights groups in the United States and abroad are renewing calls to prosecute those who relied on techniques that President Barack Obama has called torture.

“How can we seriously use the phrase ‘rule of law’ if crimes of this magnitude go uninvestigated and unprosecuted?” said Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union.

The Justice Department, which spent years looking into the matter, says it lacks sufficient evidence to convict anyone and found no new information in the report. It also is far from clear that any international case could be brought.

Department officials said they will not revisit their 2012 decision to close the investigation, citing among other challenges the passage of time and the difficulty of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that crimes were committed, especially in light of government memos that gave interrogators extraordinary latitude.

“Our inquiry was limited to a determination of whether prosecutable offenses were committed. Importantly, our investigation was not intended to answer the broader questions regarding the propriety of the examined conduct,” the department said in a statement after the report was released.

Another cry of alarm from a top spook, from CBC News:

CIA torture report: Interrogation chief Jose Rodriquez warns of fall-out

  • Head of agency’s clandestine service says the Senate report ‘throws the CIA under this bus.’

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on coercive tactics betrays intelligence officials and will erode their trust in future presidential administrations, a former CIA official who oversaw the agency’s enhanced interrogation program said Sunday.

Jose Rodriguez, who headed the agency’s counterterrorism section and its clandestine service, said that the Senate report “throws the CIA under this bus.” He predicted that intelligence officials would be undercut by “second-guessing” from the White House and Congress and warned that allied nations that have co-operated with U.S. intelligence in the past might reassess their aid.

Rodriguez, who authored a memoir of his CIA years, said Sunday the use of enhanced interrogations under his purview was “one of the most thoroughly reviewed covert action programs in the history of the agency.” He raised concerns that “leaders at the agency are going to wonder whether the authorities that they receive from the president will last longer than one election phase.”

A Romanian ex-spook cops to a CIA secret prison on his turf, via the Guardian:

Romanian ex-spy chief acknowledges CIA had ‘black prisons’ in country

  • Ioan Talpes, who led SIE agency, says Bucharest cooperated but ‘took no interest’ in sites as country was trying to join Nato

A top official from Romania has for the first time confirmed that the CIA had “at least” one prison in the country.

Ioan Talpes, the former head of the country’s intelligence service said the CIA had “centres” in Romania, including a transit camp or compound, where prisoners were kept before being moved to other locations. He is the first Romanian official to confirm the information in the CIA torture report last week, which stated the existence of at least one “black site” in which prisoners were held and probably tortured.

Successive governments have spent years denying the rumours, even after last week’s US Senate report said there had been a CIA prison in Romania.

Talpes said the transit camp was set up following detailed discussions with Romanian authorities. He told Germany’s Spiegel Online there was one, possibly two locations in the country in which “it is probably that people were imprisoned, and treated in an inhumane manner” between 2003 and 2006.

British legislators call of U.S. Senators to disclose London’s torture ties, via the Observer:

Come clean on British links to CIA torture, MPs tell US Senate

  • Malcolm Rifkind to demand unredacted report on Britain’s role in CIA’s abduction and torture programme

The head of the powerful Commons intelligence and security committee is demanding that the US hand over its archive of material documenting Britain’s role in the CIA’s abduction and torture programme developed in the wake of the 9/11 attack.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind, chair of the parliamentary inquiry into the complicity of British intelligence agencies in the US programme, has told the Observer that British MPs would seek the intelligence relating to the UK that was redacted from last week’s explosive Senate report, which concluded that the CIA repeatedly lied over its brutal but ineffective interrogation techniques.

The move comes amid escalating pressure on the government not to extend an agreement allowing the US to use the British Overseas Territory of Diego Garcia as a military base until its true role in the CIA’s extraordinary rendition has been established.

Confidential talks on whether Britain should allow the US to continue using the territory in the Indian Ocean were due to start this month. But concerns about its possible use as a CIA “black site” to jail prisoners facing torture have prompted calls for the government to think again.

And here’s what Rikfind, a former foreign secretary, had to say to BBC 1 [with the cynical take in the program notes from vlogger liarpoliticians]:

MarrShow: Malcolm Rifkind attempts torture whitewash

Program notes:

Police state apologist Malcolm Rifkind on his distraction politics to pretend there will be a full investigation into the British government aiding and abbetting CIA in torturing people, and the secret state kidnapping by the British / Americans.

Recorded from BBC1 HD, Andrew Marr Show, 14 December 2014.

From Media Wales, Chelsea Manning’s Welsh kin says he was tortured:

WikiLeaks: Chelsea Manning was tortured using shamed CIA techniques, her Welsh relatives claim

  • Chelsea Manning’s relatives have spoken out to raise awareness of the jailed whistleblower’s plight

Welsh relatives of jailed Chelsea Manning have claimed she was tortured by US authorities – using some of the shamed CIA techniques exposed in a damning report made public this week.

They spoke out as calls grow for an inquiry into what the British authorities knew about the extent of the use of barbaric interrogation techniques used by US interrogators.

Welsh relatives of Manning – who attended Tasker Milward school in Pembrokeshire for four years – have told Wales on Sunday how she was subjected to the humiliation of being stripped naked and kept in solitary confinement.

From the McClatchy Foreign Staff, abominable behavior:

Yet no apology: CIA’s mistaken detention destroyed German man’s life

Khalid al Masri is a broken man today. A decade after the CIA snatched him by mistake, flew him half way around the world in secret, and questioned him as part of its detention and interrogation program, he’s yet to recover.

He’s abandoned his home. He no longer is part of the lives of his wife or children. Friends can’t find him. His attorneys can’t find him. German foreign intelligence will say only that he’s “somewhere in a western-leaning Arab nation.”

When his Ulm attorney and confidant Manfred Gnjidic last saw him, he was broke, unkempt, paranoid and completely alone. He’d been arrested twice and sent once to a psychiatric ward, once to jail. He was in deep need of psychological counseling but with no hope of the extensive help he needed.

Masri’s case is one of the 26 instances detailed in the Senate Intelligence Committee report where the CIA snared someone in its web of secret dungeons by mistake, realized its error after weeks or months of mistreatment and questioning, then let them go. But the report, made public Tuesday, does not recount what that mistake meant to al Masri’s life.

Violent protests end in departure of Haiti’s prime minister, from BBC News:

Haiti’s Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe resigns after protests

Haiti’s prime minister has resigned, after violent anti-government protests over delayed elections.

“I am leaving the post of prime minister this evening with a feeling of accomplishment,” Laurent Lamothe said in a televised address.

Protesters had called for President Michel Martelly and Mr Lamothe to resign.

Mr Martelly was to have called polls in 2011, but they were postponed in a stalemate over electoral law.

From United Press International, anchors away:

The U.S. Navy is testing an underwater drone that resembles a shark

The U.S. Navy has been testing a GhostSwimmer unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story (JEBLC-FS).

The tests were finished on Dec. 11, and more tests are planned for the future. They refer to it as a “science-fiction-turned-reality” project in a statement. It’s part of Silent NEMO, a project aimed at examining the possible uses of underwater drones.

In recent weeks, the device has been gathering data on tides, wakes, currents and weather conditions.

“GhostSwimmer will allow the Navy to have success during more types of missions while keeping divers and Sailors safe,” said Michael Rufo, director of Boston Engineering’s Advanced Systems Group.

That’s one navy vessel that won’t have the problem covered in a second UPI story:

12 Navy sailors implicated in submarine shower spying scandal

  • The Pentagon said the latest report won’t alter their plans to include women on submarine operations

The Navy has issued a new report confirming the involvement of 12 sailors and petty officers in watching a series of secretly recorded videos taken over a period of ten months of fellow female shipmates undressing and showering. Only one of the men is accused of recording the videos.

“This was not 11 guys, each with different [cameras],” an anonymous source told the Navy Times. “It was really one guy doing the videography piece and then sharing it with other people.”

The Naval Times first broke the story in early December, a day before the Defense Department was scheduled to release its annual report of sexual assault in the military. The latest report, obtained by the Naval Times, marks the completion of the investigation by the submarine’s command chain. The report was delivered to top Naval commanders in Pentagon.

It’s not clear how many women were filmed, but the reports suggests three or four were involved — some of the first women to be integrated into the previously all-male environment of submarines. Female officers began serving on subs in 2011, while enlisted women are set to begin serving on subs this month.

The hack of year, from PCWorld:

Sony hackers release more data, promise ‘Christmas gift’

A further dump of Sony Pictures corporate secrets appears to have been put on the Internet over the weekend, with hackers warning of more to come.

A message pointing to 5 gigabytes of data was posted to the Pastebin website and signed by GOP. Thats presumably the same “Guardians of Peace” group or person that claimed responsibility for the Sony Pictures hack.

“We are preparing for you a Christmas gift,” said the message. The gift will be larger quantities of data. And it will be more interesting. The gift will surely give you much more pleasure and put Sony Pictures into the worst state.

The message asked Sony to send an email to one of five anonymous addresses “to tell us what you want in our Christmas gift.”

Another notable hack from RT:

Anonymous hacks Swedish govt emails over seizure of Pirate Bay servers

Swedish government email accounts have been hacked by the Anonymous hacktivist group, in response to last week’s seizure of The Pirate Bay servers by Swedish police.

The group also claimed to have hacked into the government email accounts of Israel, India, Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico.

The hacktivist group also left a message at the end of the leak: “Warning: Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year to all!! Bye :*”

This is not the first time Swedish entities have been hacked following The Pirate Bay raid. On Friday, Swedish internet giant Telia was attacked, The Local reported.

A very expensive Amazon software woe, via the Independent:

Amazon 1p glitch: Software error sees hundreds of items sold for fractions of their value

A software error on the Amazon website has seen hundreds of items sold for just 1p, potentially costing retailers hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The glitch affected prices between 7pm and 8pm on Friday, and involved firms who use the tool RepricerExpress.

On its website, the software company promises to “auto-optimise” prices on behalf of retailers, allowing them to “sell more and keep listings competitive 24/7 without constant attention”.

The error is thought largely to have affected small, independent companies, who have expressed fears that they could be put out of business if they are made to honour the 1p sales.

Turkish repressive takedowns from the New York Times:

Turkish Police Officers and Media Workers Are Detained in Roundup

The Turkish police detained at least 24 police officers and media workers in raids on Sunday morning, days after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signaled a new campaign against supporters of an influential Muslim cleric whom he has accused of attempting to overthrow his government.

Eight other people were on a list of suspects accused of “using pressure, intimidation, threats,” a “smear campaign” and “fabrication of evidence” to claim the power of state as members of an illegal organization, the semiofficial press agency Anadolu reported. Mr. Erdogan has said that they are part of a parallel structure within the state that is intended by the cleric, Fethullah Gulen, to oust him from power.

Some members of the media were also charged with “fabricating charges and evidence” in their productions to support a 2009 investigation into an alleged fundamentalist organization, the report said.

Mr. Gulen lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania and is believed to have many followers and sympathizers in important positions in the Turkish police and judiciary.

More from BuzzFeed News:

Turkish Police Have Raided A Newspaper Critical Of The Government And Arrested Its Editor

  • Crowds surrounded the building that houses Zaman newspaper chanting “free press cannot be silenced”

Turkish police have arrested at least 23 people during raids on a newspaper and TV station seen as critical of the government, including the paper’s editor-in-chief, Ekrem Dumanli.

Those arrested are accused of forming an illegal organization supporting U.S.-based moderate Islamic cleric, Fethullah Gulen, who is a strong critic of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to the BBC. Journalists, producers, scriptwriters and a police chief in eastern Turkey were all detained by counter-terrorism police officers.

The plight of anti-ISIS Iraqi Sunni tribes, via the Christian Science Monitor:

In Iraq, Sunni tribes pay heavy toll for joining fight against Islamic State

  • Leaders of Sunni tribes in Iraq who have joined the battle against the Islamic State say jihadist sleeper cells in their tribes are undermining their ability to fight back

As Sunni tribes have been forced to choose sides – pro-IS or anti-IS, with many shades of gray in between – new divisions have brought accumulating blood feuds and a scale of slaughter in Anbar Province that is tearing at Iraq’s Sunni social fabric like never before.

Local leaders say IS intimidation is undermining the ability of any tribe to fight back, by using sleeper cells and systematic cleansing of anti-IS figures within the tribe.

The result is that IS is proving much more difficult for the tribes to take on than was Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) , whom home-grown Sunni groups fought during the Sunni “Awakening” of 2006-2008 with support from the US.

On to Israel, where Netanyahu stands firm on occupation, via the Guardian:

Binyamin Netanyahu says Israel will resist timetable to end occupation

  • Prime minister to discuss Palestinian state plans with John Kerry in Rome
  • Avigdor Lieberman: US ‘not eager’ to use UN veto on Palestinian statehood

The Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has said he will tell the US secretary of state, John Kerry, that Israel will rebuff any moves at the United Nations to set a timeframe for a withdrawal from territory Palestinians seek for their state.

The State Department has said the two men will meet in Rome on Monday to discuss various proposals for a Palestinian state that are circulating at the United Nations.

Kerry will then meet the Palestinian chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, and a delegation of Arab foreign ministers in London on Tuesday, who will urge the United States not to use its UN security council veto to block the proposals, Palestinian officials said.

As Washington dithers, via Reuters:

Washington undecided on U.N. resolution for Palestinian state

Israel said it hoped the United States would veto any moves at the United Nations to set a time frame for its withdrawal from territory Palestinians seek for a state, but a senior U.S. official said it was too early to say.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Rome on Monday to discuss various proposals for a Palestinian state that are circulating at the United Nations.

Later on Monday, Kerry will travel to Paris for talks with European counterparts and then on to London to meet Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat and a delegation from the Arab League, who will urge the United States not to use its U.N. Security Council veto to block the proposals.

Sierra Leone journalists charge the BBC with exploitation, via StarAfrica:

BBC under fire in S/Leone

The BBC Media Action, the international development arm of the British broadcasting giant, is under fire in Sierra Leone for apparently reneging on its promise to help the country’s fledgling media.

The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists in a statement seen by APA on Sunday accused the organization of crippling the local media by hiring the country’s journalists instead of developing them as it had promised.

The BBC Media Action works on the premise that it will develop the local media through training and supply of equipment to local radio stations, the SLAJ statement said.

SLAJ is also unhappy that the British media development body sidelines it in terms of its programs in providing training for local journalists.

From BBC News, deplorable ultra-Hindu politics in India:

India MP Sakshi Maharaj sorry for praising Gandhi killer

An MP from India’s governing party has apologised in parliament a day after he praised the killer of independence leader Mahatma Gandhi as a “patriot”.

But Sakshi Maharaj of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) used his apology to attack the opposition Congress Party, fuelling further outrage.

Earlier this month another BJP MP sparked outrage by using offensive language to describe non-Hindus.

Gandhi was assassinated in 1948 by Nathuram Godse, a hard-line Hindu. Godse, who was executed for the murder, resented Gandhi’s calls for Hindus and Muslims to unite.

From the Guardian, Hong Kong Occupy activists voice Orwellian fears:

Hong Kong activists fear they are being monitored by Beijing

  • Security experts are convinced that Chinese authorities are spying on pro-democracy protesters

Soon after he was elected as a student union leader, Lester Shum found an unnerving warning in his email inbox: “We believe state-sponsored attackers may be attempting to compromise your account or computer,” the message read.

His phone calls have become filled with echoes and garbled talk. Some of his friends in Cantonese-speaking Hong Kong were convinced that the mainland was listening. “There are voices,” Shum said, “of people who are speaking Mandarin.”

Many activists in the region have long assumed that Beijing keeps tabs on them. But the members of a new generation – who have grown up sharing every hope and feeling via the internet – are realising that they may be monitored. And they are coming under increased scrutiny both online and on the streets of the city, because of the Umbrella Movement.

From South China Morning Post, refocusing:

Occupy groups to start ‘non-cooperation movement’ as follow-up to mass protests

Students and civic groups are launching a “non-cooperation movement” – urging people to delay paying their public-housing rent and to pay tax bills in small and symbolic amounts – as an offshoot of the Occupy prodemocracy protests.

Alex Chow Yong-kang, secretary general of the Federation of Students, said yesterday the actions were legal and busy workers unable to join previous protests could take part.

“Occupy is taking on different forms. While the government has no timetable for universal suffrage, we do have a timetable to fight for it and challenge the legitimacy of the government,” Chow said.

Tensions rise between Washington and Beijing over island claims, from Want China Times:

US S China Sea report rejects China’s nine-dash line claim

A report published by the US Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs on Dec. 5 on the territorial disputes over the South China Sea is an attempt by the US to maintain its interests in Asia under the pretense of analyzing Southeast Asian countries’ claims in the region according to Duowei News, a US-based Chinese political news website.

The report rejected the nine-dash line that China uses to demarcate its territory in the region, and which it has submitted to the UN. The report said that the line is not consistent with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or the International Law of the Sea and that the historical and legal evidence that China claims supports its sovereignty over the waters also did not comply with specific articles of the convention which “ban countries from overriding one another’s rights to Exclusive Economic Zones and continental shelves based on “history-based” maritime claims.

The news website said the report suggests that the US has directly and indirectly taken sides with Indonesia and the Philippines that submitted their objections to China’s claims to the UN, although Washington has officially taken a neutral stance on the disputes.

Praising a gambit in the Game of Zones, via Reuters:

Vietnam’s sea dispute arbitration case vs China promotes peace: Manila

Vietnam has helped ensure peace in the South China Sea dispute with Beijing by following the Philippines in seeking U.N. arbitration, Manila said, despite the fact that Beijing has refused to take part.

Beijing claims almost the entire energy-rich South China Sea but Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan also have claims. Only Brunei has not occupied and garrisoned territory in the potential flashpoint in the region.

Vietnam on Thursday submitted its position to a UN arbitration tribunal initiated by the Philippines over the festering dispute. China called on Vietnam to respect its sovereignty and has refused UN arbitration.

“The Vietnamese position is helpful in terms of promoting the rule of law and in finding peaceful and nonviolent solutions to the South China Sea claims based on international law,” the Philippine Foreign Ministry said.

And in Japan Shinzo Abe’s party wins 2/3 control of both houses, via the Asahi Shimbun:

Abe’s ruling coalition captures two-thirds majority in Lower House election

The ruling coalition led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe captured a two-thirds majority in the Dec. 14 Lower House election, giving his administration the power to push legislation through the Diet.

Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party and junior coalition partner Komeito won 326 seats, more than the 317 seats that constitute a two-thirds majority.

Such a majority will allow the Abe administration to pass bills into law through a second vote in the Lower House should the Upper House vote down that legislation.

And from Reuters, notable:

Abe’s coalition secures big Japan election win with record low turnout

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s coalition cruised to a big election win on Sunday, ensuring he will stick to reflationary economic policies and a muscular security stance, but record low turnout pointed to broad dissatisfaction with his performance.

NHK public TV said Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party and junior partner the Komeito party were assured more than the 317 seats in the 475-member lower house required to maintain a two-thirds “super-majority” that smoothes parliamentary business.

But the LDP was set to fall slightly short of the 295 it held before the poll, NHK figures showed.

Mr: Fish: The documentary


Yep, there’s a documentary in progress about esnl’s favorite cartoonist — the guy who takes “transgressive” as a mere way station on his relentless crusade to expose hypocrisy, iniquity, and inequity.

As he writes on his priapically perspicacious blog, Clowncrack:

With Thanksgiving looming and scarcely a month before the white Republican Jesus tumbles minty clean and blue-eyed from his mother’s stinky surprise to insist that everybody on the planet blush at the same exact shit that he and his super uptight conservative dad blush at or else, the crowdfunding campaign to finish the ferociously wise yet foul-mouthed and nudity-riddled documentary by Pablo Bryant, Mr. Fish: Cartooning from the Deep End, has just been launched!

Go here to find out more details and mull over the tasty incentives to contribute.  Unfortunately, the chance to watch me drink sea monkeys from your father’s rubber hip boot while standing in your mother’s tub in my underpants has been replaced with the chance to have dinner with me and the director.  Apparently, there are PETA rules against consuming sea monkeys that are still alive and I don’t have a spatula small enough to comply with their bullshit rules.  Onward!  And dig the film!

Here’s a clip about the project from producer Pablo Bryant, who is raising money to fund it via an Indiegogo campaign:

Mr. Fish: At Your Service

A self-portrait by esnl’s cartoonist laureate, via Clowncrack, Mr. Fish’s blog of quaquaversal quidnunckery: