Archive for the News Category

Horrifyingly Powerful Mudslide In Japan Tears Down Trees In An Instant

Posted in News with tags on July 12, 2014 by 2eyeswatching

Post 3470   Donate Button 1    George Dvorsky   http://io9.com/horrifyingly-powerful-mudslide-in-japan-tears-down-tree-1603507091

Horrifyingly Powerful Mudslide In Japan Tears Down Trees In An InstantHorrifyingly Powerful Mudslide In Japan Tears Down Trees In An Instant

Typhoon Neoguri slammed through Japan yesterday bringing widespread flooding. A closed circuit camera captured this jaw-dropping footage of a debris flow that levelled trees as if they were matchsticks.

The storm has left several people dead and a ton of damage in its wake. More than 500 houses in several prefectures were flooded due to the typhoon and heavy rain. Some 490,000 households have been urged to seek shelter.

Horrifyingly Powerful Mudslide In Japan Tears Down Trees In An Instant

(Japan Times)

More about this unfolding event here and here.

Heartbreaking Photos of Children Who Are Risking Everything to Reach the United States

Posted in News with tags on June 16, 2014 by 2eyeswatching

Post 3375

Heartbreaking Photos of Children Who Are Risking Everything to Reach the United States

Michelle Frankfurter tells the stories of these young migrants and also those of the thousands who jump aboard “the death train”

smithsonian.com
June 11, 2014                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

michelle frank a seasoned professional with exceptional operational …

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Why would a 53-year-old award-winning photojournalist with a successful wedding photography business leave the comfort of home and take risks that would endanger her life and well-being? A humanitarian crisis that has led to 47,000 unaccompanied children to be apprehended by U.S. border security in just the past eight months. Michelle Frankfurter has turned her concern and her camera to document the dangerous journey many young, aspiring immigrants from throughout Mexico and Central America take to better their lives and escape the extreme poverty of their home countries.

 

                                                                                                  A sleeping kid in the canal zone that straddles the border of Tijuana and San Diego. This area is called El Bordo (the Edge), the name aptly represents where the people are in their lives. (Michelle Frankfurter) 

 

 

For eight years, Frankfurter has accompanied youths on freight trains, commonly referred to as the “death train” or la bestia because so many travelers do not survive the trip. Originating in the southern Mexico town of Arriaga, the migrants, many of whom have illegally entered Mexico from countries further south such as Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala, take various freight routes that lead to the border towns of Cuidad Juarez, Tijuana, Laredo, Piedras Negras and Nogales. Those who board in Arriaga, can simply clamor aboard up ladders while the train is in the station and sit on top of the train. This is where Frankfurter would begin her trips. Further along the way the train must be boarded while in motion. Many people slip, lose their grasp and fall under the train. Others fall asleep while underway and fall off the train. Sometimes criminal organizations like the Zetas try to extort money from the migrants at various points along the trip and push them off the train if they don’t pay.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         A Salvadoran migrant feeds her infant son at the Casa de la Misericordia migrant shelter in the Arriaga in July, 2010. (Michelle Frankfurter)

 

Frankfurter, who once described this project as part of her “amazing midlife crisis”, has created a collection of startlingly beautiful and empathetic images of families and children, some as young as 9 years old, traveling alone. She sees her subjects as brave, resilient and inspiring and is producing a book of these images called Destino, which can be translated as either “destination” or “destiny.”

 

Inspired by the epic tales of Cormac McCarthy and other authors, Frankfurter has been photographing in Mexico for years. In 2009, her interest was piqued by Sonia Nasario’s Enrique’s Journey, the story of the Central American wave of immigrants from the view of one child.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This 17-year-old Honduran boy, photographed in Tenosique, is an example of the phenomenon known as the surge; he was traveling alone, had no money and knew no one in the United States. He said his cousin showed up drunk and hacked off his arm because his sister had killed the cousin’s dog. (Michelle Frankfurter)

 

 

“The economy was still limping along and I didn’t have much work booked,” says Frankfurter. “I found myself having the time, a vegetable bin filled with film, some frequent flyer mileage, and my camera ready. Beginning this project, I felt like I was falling in love. It was the right time, right place and right reason. I felt I was meant to tell this story.”

 

I spoke with Frankfurter in-depth about her experiences on the train.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Guatemalans sleeping near the track in Lecheria, an industrial zone, in Mexico City in July, 2010. A migrant shelter used to stand here, but it was was closed when neighbors threatened violence. (Michelle Frankfurter)

 

 

On the books she had been reading:

 

“I was infatuated with these scrappy underdog protagonists. I grew up reading epic adventure tales and the migrants I met fit this role; they were anti-heroes, rough around the edges but brave and heroic.”

 

On why she took on the task:

 

“It was a job for perhaps someone half my age. But I also felt that everything I had done prior to this prepared me for this project. I feel a connection to the Latin American people. I had spent time as a reporter in Nicaragua working for Reuters when I was in my 20s. In a way I became another character in the adventure story, and I added some moments of levity to the journey just by the improbability of being with them. Somehow I made them laugh; I alleviated some difficult situations, we shared a culturally fluid moment. I was very familiar with the culture, the music, the food the language, and so in a way, I fit right in, and in a way I stood out as quite different.”                                                                                                                        This is a group of Central American migrants on the first leg of the journey, starting in Arriaga, Mexico, about 160 miles from the Guatemalan border in July, 2010. (Michelle Frankfurter)

 

 

On the challenges these migrants face:

 

“The worse thing I experienced myself was riding in the rain for 13 hours. Everyone was afraid that the train would derail, the tracks are old and not in good condition and derailment is common. Last year, there was a derailment in Tabasco that killed eight or nine people”

 

“I felt I had a responsibility to collect their stories, be a witness to their lives and experiences. Overwhelmingly I got the sense that, even in their own countries they were insignificant, overlooked, not valued. When in Mexico, it’s even worse for the Central American immigrants, they are hounded and despised. They are sometimes kidnapped, raped, tortured or extorted. Local people demonstrate to close the shelters for the migrants and the hours they can stay in the shelters are often limited to 24 hours, rain or shine. When and if they to make it to the United States, it’s no bed of roses for them here either.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Francisco is a Salvadoran traveling with his sister. He told everyone that the woman was his wife because he felt that afforded more protection for her. (Michelle Frankfurter)

On re-connecting with some of her subjects:

 

“I recently connected on Facebook with a family and found out that they settled in Renosa (Mexico), they gave up on getting to the U.S., at least for now.”

 

“I met one person in a shelter in a central Mexico; later he had lost everything along the way except for my business card. He showed up on my front lawn in Maryland one day. He had no family in the U.S., it was when the recession was at it’s deepest and there was no work. I helped him and he helped me. I taped his stories for the record, and I found him a place to stay.He shared some of the horrors of his experience. Once he and a group of migrants in a boxcar almost asphyxiated when a fire they made for warmth got out of control and consumed the oxygen in the car. Other times the migrants could barely walk they were so stiff from a long and dangerous exposure to cold.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Migrants ride between boxcars on a northbound cargo train through the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca in February, 2011. Traveling in small groups is considered safer and attracts less attention from police or criminal gangs. (Michelle Frankfurter)

 

 

On how she stayed safe during her journeys:

 

“I stayed in shelters along the train line and when I had a good group, I asked to go along. In the shelters people live dormitory style, it’s a bit like college, sharing stories and thoughts about life, the future.  We are social animals, people like to listen and share life stories.  We’d sit on Blanca’s bed and share “la cosas de la vida.” When I traveled with a group, we were a bonded group. People form coalitions based on mutual needs. And friendships are formed quickly because the circumstances are so intense. My decision to travel alone, not to take a fixer or travel with anyone but the migrants was a good one. People opened up to me more, related to me more, we were doing this thing together. They realized I was interested in their lives, I cared and I identified with them. They were happy to have me along, I was welcome.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   A Guatemalan woman holds her 6-month-old baby; she also has 2 other boys and is fleeing an abusive marriage. Her sister lives in California and she hopes for her sister’s help in getting across the border. Taken in Arriaga, January, 2014. (Michelle Frankfurter)

 

 

On how to solve the crisis:

 

“The United States can’t fix all these things, the responsibility for fixing lies with the countries [such as Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador] themselves, but we can help. And we should because indirectly we do bear responsibility. Our society uses and is interested in cheap labor, and cheap products, this is our relationship with these countries for years, so in a way we are conflicted about changing that system. Global corporations take advantage of the fact that there is little or no regulation, lots of cheap labor and no protections for workers on top of that. Then if circumstances change, on a whim companies will move and destabilize an entire area. Then people have no option but to migrate, with factories closed there are no other options. Add to the mix, criminal organizations selling drugs, guns, trafficking humans and wildlife, and you can understand why people need to leave.”

                                                                                               A view of the Tijuana – San Diego border fence as seen from the Mexican side of the border in August, 2010. (Michelle Frankfurter)


This mural is painted on the wall of the La 72 Refugio Para Personas Migrantes migrant shelter in the border town of Tenosique in the southern Mexican state of Tabasco. It illustrates the cargo train route crisscrossing Mexico. The map includes a legend indicating locations of migrant shelter, sites of extortion, regions where kidnappings and assaults occur, U.S. border fence, and a demographic breakdown of the various cartels and the regions they control. (Michelle Frankfurter)

Sailors held by Somali pirates escape after 4 years

Posted in News with tags on June 10, 2014 by 2eyeswatching

Post 3347

Sailors held by Somali pirates escape after 4 years

AFP 

 

Nairobi (AFP) – Eleven sailors mostly from Asia held hostage for almost four years by Somali pirates escaped their captors and are safe in Kenya, mediators who helped secure their freedom said Saturday.

The sailors, who had been held in dire conditions and suffered beatings and torture, included seven men from Bangladesh, one Indian, one Iranian, and two from Sri Lanka.

John Steed, a former British army colonel who has spent years helping negotiate their release, said the men had “sneaked out a window” to escape their captors.

“It is great news that they are at least free… given what they have been through, they are all in good health,” Steed told AFP after arriving safely in Kenya with the men on a special flight from Somalia.

After escaping through a window from their pirate prison, the men were rescued by security forces from the northern Somali Galmadug region, Steed added.

Their boat, the Malaysian-flagged container ship MV Albedo was captured in November 2010 but sank in rough seas last July.

During their captivity, one Indian colleague was shot by the pirates in an argument, and four others from Sri Lanka drowned.

Seven other Pakistani crew members were released in 2012 after a businessman paid their ransom, but those remaining could not afford the hefty demands of the pirates.

“The crew members and their families have suffered unimaginable distress,” United Nations special envoy to Somalia Nicholas Kay said in a statement.

“The crew underwent the trauma of piracy, their ship sinking, and then being held ashore in very difficult conditions.”

- 38 hostages remain -

The United Nations said they had been handed over to its care, and “will be repatriated to their home countries over the coming days.”

The sailors, like 38 others from different boats who remain captive, were abandoned by their ship’s owner whose willingness to pay to free them sank along with their boat.

“While we have seen a significant reduction in piracy off the coast of Somalia in recent years, I remain deeply concerned that 38 other crew members are still being held hostage,” Kay added.

Pirate attacks off Somalia have been slashed in recent years, with international fleets patrolling the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean, as well as armed guards being posted aboard many vessels.

At their peak in January 2011, Somali pirates held 736 hostages and 32 boats, some onshore and others on their vessels.

“I call on those who continue to detain these crew members to release them without further delay so they can rejoin their families and loved ones,” Kay said.

On Thursday, three Kenyan aid workers held hostage by pirates in northern Somalia for close to two years were also freed unharmed.

The two men and a woman had been travelling in a convoy guarded by armed police, were seized by gunmen in ambush in the Galkayo area of the northern autonomous Puntland region of Somalia in July 2012.

All three Kenyans were flown back to Nairobi Saturday along with the sailors, and were welcomed at the airport by emotional families who embraced the aid workers, several in tears, Steed said.

Foreign special forces have launched raids to rescue their nationals, including one in 2012 by US elite commandos who swooped in by helicopter to free two aid workers held for three months.

Those left behind come largely from nations without the capabilities or desire to send in troops to rescue impoverished fishermen.

Boy tied to bus stop highlights struggle for disabled Indians

Posted in News with tags on May 26, 2014 by 2eyeswatching

Post 3303

Boy tied to bus stop highlights struggle for disabled Indians

AFP 

 

Mumbai (AFP) – The nine-year-old boy dressed in blue lay listlessly on the pavement in the scorching Mumbai summer afternoon, his ankle tethered with rope to a bus stop, unheeded by pedestrians strolling past.

 

Lakhan Kale cannot hear or speak and suffers from cerebral palsy and epilepsy, so his grandmother and carer tied him up to keep him safe while she went to work, selling toys and flower garlands on the city’s roadsides.

 

“What else can I do? He can’t talk, so how will he tell anyone if he gets lost?” said homeless Sakhubai Kale, 66, who raised Lakhan on the street by the bus stop shaded by the hanging roots of a banyan tree.

 

Lakhan’s father died several years ago and his mother walked out on the family, his grandmother told AFP.

 

A photograph of him tied up appeared in a local newspaper this week, sparking concerns among charities and the police, and he has since been taken into care at a government-run institution.

But activists say his plight on the streets comes as little surprise in India, where those with disabilities face daily stigma and discrimination and a lack of facilities to assist them.

 

Kale said Lakhan “tends to wander off” and that there was no one else to stop him walking into traffic while she and her 12-year-old granddaughter, Rekha, were out making a living.

 

At night she would tie him to her own leg as they slept on the pavement so she would know if he tried to walk away.

“I am a single old woman. Nobody paid attention to me until the newspaper report,” she said.

“He was in a special school, but they sent him back.”

Social worker Meena Mutha has since managed to place Lakhan in a state-run south Mumbai home, which takes in a range of needy children from the disabled to the destitute.

“Residental homes are very, very few. There’s a major need for the government to do something, a social responsibility to provide residential centres for children like Lakhan,” said Mutha, a trustee at the Manav Foundation helping people with mental illness.

She said government-run centres that put together children with different needs did not always have the range of facilities required.

 

“They don’t have the infrastructure, the staff,” said Mutha. Conversely, non-government organisations “have expertise, but not the space,” she said, highlighting the squeeze on land in the densely-packed city.

Across India, the 40 to 60 million people with disabilities often face similar struggles to get the help they need, activists say.

“There’s no collective responsibility. You have a disabled child, you look after it,” said Varsha Hooja, chief executive at ADAPT, another charity working with disabled young adults and children.

- No state support -

Hooja said she had seen other cases of parents locking up children with disabilities while they go to work.

“The state gives no support,” she said.

A long-awaited bill was introduced into the Indian parliament in February aiming to give disabled people equal rights — including access to education, employment and legal redress against discrimination — but it has yet to be passed.

Lawyer Rajive Raturi was on the committee that began drafting the bill five years ago, and said the Congress party-led government which has just lost power had pushed through a “complete dilution” of the original, especially on sections regarding women and children with disabilities.

Raturi, who handles disability cases at the Human Rights Law Network, said he hoped the new parliament elected this month, dominated by incoming prime minister Narendra Modi’s right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party, would “listen to the stakeholders and then make a decision”.

“We can’t change attitudes with an act but if the bill has the right provisions, people will think twice,” he said.

Back by the Mumbai bus stop, Kale squatted on the pavement drinking chai and eating bread on the morning after bidding a tearful goodbye to her grandson.

She was hopeful she would get to see him regularly once she acquired an official identity card that would allow her to visit the centre.

“I am very happy,” she said. “What else would I want other than for him to be looked after?”

 

Woman Beaten to Death After Being Accused of Witchcraft on Facebook

Posted in News with tags on May 14, 2014 by 2eyeswatching

Post 3260

Woman Beaten to Death After Being Accused of Witchcraft on Facebook

Annalee Newitz  http://io9.com/woman-beaten-to-death-after-being-accused-of-witchcraft-1575347280

Woman Beaten to Death After Being Accused of Witchcraft on Facebook

At last Facebook has brought us back to the middle ages, just as we knew it would. A woman in the Brazilian city Guarujá, near São Paolo, was beaten to death last week after Facebook rumors circulated that she was a witch.

A local news outlet, Guarujá Alerta, posted a rumor on its Facebook page that Fabiane Maria de Jesus was kidnapping children for black magic rituals. They included a picture of the woman, who was subsequently beaten to death by people who had read about her online. One of them even filmed the beating (you can see the video here — but be warned that it is very disturbing).

De Jesus was a housewife in her early thirties, and police say she has no criminal record and has not ever been reported for kidnapping. Guarujá Alerta has taken down the post about her from their Facebook page, but page administrators told the Brazilian newspaper Folha de São Paulo that they were merely passing along the story as a “rumor” and that they couldn’t be held responsible.

This is just an extreme example of how the social relationships made possible online are in many ways the same as the old ones. Rumors on Facebook can result in a lynching — just the way rumors in villages resulted in lynchings during the Inquisition. If you’re still convinced that social media will create a more beautiful and egalitarian future for humanity, just remember that the wisdom of crowds sometimes ends in the  wisdom of crowds sometimes ends in the public beating of an innocent woman for witchcraft.

Read more in Folha de São Paolo

President Obama Asked to Block BBC Show ‘Top Gear’ That Allegedly Used Racist Term

Posted in News with tags on May 6, 2014 by 2eyeswatching

Post 3235    https://tv.yahoo.com/news/barack-obama-asked-block-bbc-show-top-gear-112959964.html

President Obama Asked to Block BBC Show ‘Top Gear’ That Allegedly Used Racist Term

Variety 

 

LONDON — President Obama has been asked to consider blocking broadcast in the U.S. of BBCmotoring show “Top Gear” after its star, Jeremy Clarkson, was accused of allegedly using racist language.

A firm of lawyers, Equal Justice, is to write to Obama and the ambassadors of more than 200 countries in which “Top Gear” airs to ask them to consider the evidence, and then decide if the series should continue to be broadcast in their countries, the Guardian has reported.

The firm was referring to footage from the show in which the nursery rhyme “eeny, meeny, miny, mo” was recited, and in which it has been alleged the n-word was used. The footage was not broadcast, but the Daily Mirror has put the footage on its website. Clarkson claims he mumbled something that sounds like the offending word, but not the word itself.

Lawrence Davies, director of Equal Justice, said: “Clarkson claimed he ‘did everything in my power to make sure that that version did not appear in the program that was transmitted’ … The obvious thing that any non-racist would have done is to not use the rhyme at all or failing that to simply substitute another word such as ‘tiger’ in the take. There was never any need to mumble the N-word repeatedly.”

Davies added that the BBC should have sacked Clarkson and his team for alleged “gross misconduct,” but won’t because “they are making money out of the show.”

It is not the first time the show has been accused of using racist language.

Equal Justice repped Indian-born actress Somi Guha when she filed a complaint to the BBC about “Top Gear” after Clarkson used the word “slope” when referring to an Asian man.

 

The firm also repped Iris de la Torre, who complained about the use of racial stereotypes in an episode about Mexican vehicles.

 

 

US Treasury sounds alarm over student loans

Posted in News with tags on April 30, 2014 by 2eyeswatching

Post 32

US Treasury sounds alarm over student loans

AFP 

People walk on the Columbia University campus on July 1, 2013 in New York City (AFP Photo/Mario Tama)

Washington (AFP) – Deputy US Treasury Secretary Sarah Bloom Raskin sounded the alarm Tuesday on student loans in the US, where the number of people defaulting is on the rise.

At least 40 million people have taken out a student loan, Raskin said, and by the time students graduate, the average amount of loans is $30,000, and they will spend ten years or more repaying.

And many never manage to repay them at all, Raskin said during a speech at the University of Maryland.

“While delinquency rates on many other types of debt have fallen in recent years, delinquencies on student loan debt are rising,” said the Treasury Department number two, noting that some seven million Americans had defaulted on their student loans.

At the end of 2013, the total amount of US student loans approached $1.1 trillion, well above the total amount of credit card debt in the country.

And the percentage of students graduating with debt is on the rise — 60 percent of graduates in 2012, compared to just 30 percent in 1993.

“These numbers are daunting; to what extent should we be concerned?” Raskin asked, emphasizing that such figures could have an impact on the rate of economic growth in the country.

Late payments and defaulting on student loans could later hinder the borrower from being able to get other loans, including mortgages and car loans.

Number of Students Graduating With Debt Rises

And sometimes, she said, defaulting on a student loan could hinder a candidate from getting a job, because employers often check credit history and consider past problems to be a sign of irresponsibility.

The large majority of student loans in the United States are financed by the federal government, but distributed by agents or private banks.

Raskin, who left the Federal Reserve to join the Treasury Department last month, called on these lenders to make it easier to modify payment plans for borrowers who find themselves struggling to meet their obligations.

Harsh Reality Break: 234 Girls Kidnapped from Physics Test

Posted in News with tags on April 30, 2014 by 2eyeswatching

Post 3212

Harsh Reality Break: 234 Girls Kidnapped from Physics Test     

Mika McKinnon http://space.io9.com/harsh-reality-break-234-girls-kidnapped-from-physics-t-1568087455/+rtgonzalez

Harsh Reality Break: 234 Girls Kidnapped from Physics Test

Over 200 students were abducted from this school in Chibok, Nigeria. 234 are still missing. Haruna Umar/AP    Warning: this is a horrible story. 234 young women were abducted from a physics test in Nigeria, specifically to keep them from getting an education. Nothing is being done to find them. Collective public outrage is the only tool that can possibly get a search started.

The students were loaded into a truck at gunpoint, and taken into the forest. It is assumed that the kidnappers were Boko Haram, an extremist group whose name means, “Western education is sinful.” The idea of allowing girls to get an education, and, worse, yet, a science education, is everything they hate. They have a local history of doing crazy, horrible things, like assassinating clerics who criticize their extremism, bombing schools, murdering students, and kidnapping girls to use as sex slaves. At the time of the kidnapping, every other school in the area was shut down due to security concerns, but this school was kept open specifically to take final exams, with over 100 taking a physics test. Their parents say that if they’d done well on their exams, many of the women were hoping to pursue higher education.

Tearful mothers of the kidnapped schoolgirls at a meeting in Borno state. Picture: ReutersTearful mothers of the kidnapped schoolgirls at a meeting in Borno state. Picture: Reuter   (  http://www.scotsman.com/news/world/attempt-to-find-200-kidnapped-nigerian-girls-1-3390231)                                                                                                                                                           sThe world has a lot of terrible, horrible things happening in it, but this is insane, crazy, and heart-breaking. I’m a female scientist in Canada, where the Montreal Massacre is an annual reminder of the power of hatred, sexism, and violence in limiting women’s access to education. I’m a geophysicist who ran a field crew in Africa, working in a camp directly next to a school and hiring locals who told me about their dreams for the future. I know this first-hand: education is a powerful tool for reshaping the world, and making this a better, cooler, more interesting place to live. This shit cannot be tolerated.

I don’t usually have much faith in clicking-for-activism, but publicly declaring outrage is the only tool we have to get a search started. These girls can’t even count on their own government to look for them. As Rebecca Watson writes:

The Nigerian government is doing less than nothing – at one point they announced that the girls had been found and rescued, but the parents revealed that was a lie. The parents are spending their own money to hire motorcycles and cars to trek into the forest, and coming back empty-handed.

So, snuggled between stories of awesome science and bad-ass science fiction, here’s my harsh break to reality. Raise awareness for this story. Sign the Change.org petition demanding the Nigerian government start an actual, real search. This news is downright stale — the kidnapping occurred over a week ago on April 15th — so if you’re only hearing about it now, turn around and slap your news-provider for ignoring it. Ask your local paper or TV news station why they aren’t covering the story when kidnapping 234 students out of exams anywhere in Europe or North America would elicit screaming headlines and constant coverage. If you’re on Twitter, spread awareness with the hashtags helpthegirls andbringbackourdaughters.

Maybe it will do nothing. But maybe, with enough pressure and outrage and collective public demands into how the fuck 234 girls can be taken from their classroom, we’ll cause enough embarrassment to get a real search started.

Update: The Discussion thread is pretty intense, so here’s some highlights:

  1. If you have a browser-extension that forces HTTPS-only, the link to the petition won’t work.
  2. sugabelly, a southern Nigerian, provides local context hereherehere, and other sub-threads in the same region of the page. sugabelly started a new thread on the class-warfare aspects of this situation here.
  3. mazzzystarrrs and southern Nigerian ciwrites give historical context on the 1966 civil war here and here.
  4. wcullen, a former UN combat solider, provides context as to why the UN hasn’t gotten involved here and heremazzystarrs has recommendations for effectively contacting your local UN office here.
  5. mazzystarrrs is trying to brainstorm additional action-measures for building pressure besides the petition to the Nigerian government (which is copied to the United Nations)here.
  6. A lot of people are pointing out that after this long, a happy resolution is highly unlikely. Although exact numbers are difficult to verify, out of the parent-created list of 234 missing students, the school reports up to 43 girls managed to escape into the forest and are home. Historically, Boko Haram keeps kidnapped women alive as “servants” so the young women may be alive.
  7. It’s a FAQ why I don’t list variant-of-extremist, so I answer that here.
  8. The petition had under 4,000 signatures at the time of initial publication. At the time of this update, fewer than 10% of people who read this article have signed.

FBI Raids Real ‘Indiana Jones’ Home

Posted in News with tags on April 7, 2014 by 2eyeswatching

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FBI Raids Real ‘Indiana Jones’ Home

A powerful new virus is infecting computers in Ukraine

Posted in News with tags on March 12, 2014 by 2eyeswatching

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A powerful new virus is infecting computers in Ukraine

http://io9.com/a-powerful-new-virus-is-infecting-computers-in-ukraine-1540610770

George Dvorsky

A powerful new virus is infecting computers in Ukraine

It’s called “Snake” and it’s being compared to another alleged state-run virus, Stuxnet. And yes, all evidence points to Russia.

According to British-based BAE systems, dozens of computer networks have been infected with the virus, which sometimes goes by the name Ouroboros (named after the serpent in Greek mythology). It works by giving remote attackers ”full remote access to the compromised system.” It has stealth qualities, including the ability to stay inactive for a number of days.

The cyber weapon has been increasingly used since the beginning of the year, before the overthrow of president Viktor Yanukovych. Security experts are comparing it to Stuxnet, the malware that disrupted Iran’s nuclear facilities in 2010. More from AFP:

Although its origins are unclear, its developers appear to operate it in the same timezone as Moscow — GMT plus four hours — and some Russian text is embedded into the code, BAE says. BAE has identified 14 cases of Snake in Ukraine since the start of 2014, compared to eight cases in the whole of 2013. In all there have been 32 reported cases in Ukraine since 2010, out of 56 worldwide. “Our report shows that a technically sophisticated and well-organised group has been developing and using these tools for the last eight years,” said David Garfield, the managing director of cyber security at BAE Systems Applied Intelligence. “There is some evidence that links these tools to previous breaches connected to Russian threat actors but it is not possible to say exactly who is behind this campaign.”

A powerful new virus is infecting computers in Ukraine

The problem with releasing sophisticated viruses like these is containability. Take Stuxnet, for example, which was recently detected in a Russian nuclear power plant. It’s conceivable that the viruses, once unleashed, might damage other computers and systems in unpredictable and undesirable ways. I think the self-eating snake metaphor in this case is quite apt.

Image: gudron/Shutterstock;Designua/Shutterstock.

AFP ]

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