Official: 7 U.N. peacekeepers killed in Sudan attack
AP at USAToday
Gunmen ambushed a United Nations peacekeeping team Saturday in Sudan's western region of Darfur, killing seven and wounding another 17 in the deadliest ever attack single attack on the international force in the country.
The assault included sustained heavy fire from machine guns and possibly rocket-propelled grenades, targeting the force some 25 kilometers (15 miles) west of the town of Khor Abeche, U.N. forces spokesman Chris Cycmanick said. Reinforcements later arrived to rescue the wounded, which included two female police advisers, the force said in a statement.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the assault. Cycmanick declined to give the nationalities of those killed and wounded in the attack.
USA Today thinks a "related story" is Kate's last public appearance before birthing.
Online leaker exposes Mugabe's secrets
Jane Flanagan, The Age
President Robert Mugabe has offered a $US300,000 reward to anyone who can unmask an anonymous whistleblower behind a string of leaks about alleged Zimbabwean government assassination plots, corruption and plans to rig this month's election.
The well-informed mole, who calls himself "Baba Jukwa" and appears to be operating from within the heart of the regime, began posting revelations on a Facebook page four months ago.
Under the nation's sweeping security laws, it is an offence to undermine the authority of the president.
The page has been viewed more than a million times and he has amassed more than 239,000 followers, with hundreds of responses and shares to every update. Efforts to track down the mole have so far failed. His postings have accused government ministers of corruption and senior police chiefs of brutality, publishing their private mobile telephone numbers.
Reassuring government statements about 89-year-old Mr Mugabe's health have been contradicted regularly, so infuriating the president that he offered the reward for exposing the mole - details of which were revealed by Baba Jukwa.
Determined attempts by senior Zanu-PF party officials to persuade Facebook to close the page failed and the president has now reportedly appealed to friends in the Chinese government for technical support to censor the site and identify its user.
Mugabe seeking help from the Chinese. Noted. Although I hear that if others start tagging everything on someone's FB page with "porn", FB will ban that person.
China new route to smuggle fake currency into India
Deeptiman Tiwary, TNN, Times of India
Days after a consignment of fake Indian currency notes (FICN) worth Rs 37 lakh coming from China was apprehended in Delhi, another consignment of comparable value from the same country has now been seized on the Indo-Nepal border. This is the first time evidence of FICN being routed from China has been found and the development has caused much concern in the security establishment as China was not used as a fake currency channel till now.
Agencies suspect that the well-established drug cartels in China and Pakistan spy agency ISI's influence in that country's Xinjiang province are being used to push FICN into India. The development poses a tough challenge as Indian agencies have little network in China to stem this rot.
Based on information provided by Indian intelligence agencies, authorities in Nepal on June 24 arrested one Ranjit Jha from Birganj (a city on the Indo-Nepal border) while receiving a consignment of Rs 30 lakh in fake currency. The notes were hidden in electronic dolls, piano and a cradle imported from Hong Kong.
Sources said the consignment was actually coming from Pakistan and Hong Kong was the transit point from where it landed in Nepal through Thai Airways. It was headed to Motihari in Bihar.
Spy novelists couldn't make this up. Nearly 3 billion people, 3 major religions, some corporate & religious extremists in 3 countries.
Senate committee to be briefed on foreign climbers' killing
Amir Wasim, Dawn.com
The Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan is meeting here on Monday (today) to receive a briefing on the killing last month of foreign tourists at the base of Nanga Parbat and the progress so far made in the investigations.
Talking to Dawn here on Sunday, the chairman of the committee, ANP's Haji Muhammad Adeel, said the panel had invited the former inspector-general of police (IGP) and former chief secretary of Gilgit-Baltistan to hear their points of view on the terrorists' attack that gave a bad name to the country.
Besides receiving briefing on the incident from the senior officials of the GB, the chairman said the committee members would also like to know about the impact of the incident on tourism in Gilgit-Baltistan.
The committee, according to the agenda, will also receive a briefing on prevailing "water crisis in Gilgit, its reasons and steps taken by the GB government to resolve the problem".
You can have tourism, or you can have religious extremists acting hatefully. Rinse, repeat. Note: this is not isolated to Pakistan, by any means.
After the Flood: Life in Germany's Disaster Zone
As soon as the first aerial pictures came out, it was clear this was a catastrophe of historic proportions. Entire swaths of land were under water, with only treetops and roofs visible, but no streets, train tracks, or people.
Between May 26 and June 2 of this year, 22.76 trillion liters (6.01 trillion US gallons) of rain fell in Germany, an amount equal to roughly half the volume of Lake Constance, which makes up a section of Germany's southern border. This was also 3 million liters (800,000 gallons) more than the rains that preceded the so-called "flood of the century" in 2002 along the Elbe River, which devastated Dresden and other cities. The Chiemgau region of Bavaria received 275 liters of rain per square meter (about 7 gallons per square foot) within a 48-hour period -- more than normally falls in that area during the entire month of June.
Oddly, the driest part of Germany in June was Saxony-Anhalt -- the same eastern state that was particularly badly affected by the flooding. Emergency response teams worked there for four weeks, not wrapping up their work until July 2. A state of emergency was in effect during the same period for the area around the city of Stendal, where the Elbe River breached a dike and flooded several villages, affecting hundreds of thousands of people. Many lost their homes, their possessions and livelihood. Farmers will have no harvest this year and cities and towns have a great deal of infrastructure to rebuild, including the high-speed rail link between Berlin and Hanover that connects the German capital with important cities like Frankfurt and Cologne.
This links to a multi-media slide show thing.
Nine militants killed in drone, air force strikes in Pakistan
Jibran Ahmad, Mail & Guardian
At least nine suspected militants, including two foreigners, have been killed in Pakistan's lawless tribal region in a US drone strike and a separate Pakistan military operation, security officials said on Sunday.
Pakistan has seen a spate of militant attacks since Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took office last month, putting pressure on his team to act more aggressively to curb the insurgency.
Missile strikes by unmanned US aircraft have inflicted the most damage against Taliban fighters in the mountainous areas straddling the Afghan border in past years, sometimes with heavy civilian casualties.
In the third such attack since Sharif came to power, two suspected militants riding a motorcycle were struck by missiles in the Mir Ali area of North Waziristan on Saturday night, one official said.
"The two men, probably Arab nationals, were passing through Mosaki village when the drone fired two missiles and hit them," said the official.
Their identities were not clear. Another security source said they were foreign militants of Turkmen origin.
Still drone attacks? Is this CIA or military?
Argentina litigation with hedge funds; 'US could end siding with Buenos Aires' says Washington Post
"A 10-year legal and lobbying battle that pits a prominent Republican campaign donor against the government of Argentina has drawn the attention of the Obama administration, which may end up siding with Argentina," the piece written by Tom Hamburger and Carol D. Leonnig affirms.
The Washington Post adds that the US Justice Department had already supported Argentina in its million-dollar battle with hedge funds NML
commanded by US billionaire Paul Singer and Aurelius which, unlike 93% of Argentina's creditors, refused to enter the country's debt swap in 2005 and 2010.
The Obama administration must decide whether to back a foreign government against a group of U.S. hedge funds and other investors who bought Argentine debt, some of which was purchased at a steep discount after the country defaulted in 2002. Argentina says that if the case goes against the country, the investors stand to gain more than one billion dollars in profits.
This story also looks like it came out of a novel, or should be in one.
My parents were right-wing extremists
Claire Conner, Salon.com
Excerpted from "Wrapped in the Flag: A Personal History of America's Radical Right"
My parents had gotten their views about African Americans and the civil rights movement from Robert Welch, an old Southern boy [and co-founder of the John Birch Society]. He'd always thought the Negroes had it good in the United States, a view he explained in a pamphlet published in the early 1960s, Two Revolutions at Once.
In it, Welch claimed that "educational opportunities [for Negroes] have tremendously improved" with "some states [in the South] spending as much as fifty percent of their total school budget on Negro schools, while deriving only fifteen percent ... from taxes paid by the Negro population." He claimed that job opportunities for the Negro had "markedly increased despite a determined undercover effort by the Communists to prevent this trend." This assertion was unproven, but that didn't stop Welch from repeating it. Welch even believed that "separate but equal" had been "gaining substance in the matter of equality and losing rigidity in the matter of separateness."
In 1963, Welch was still insisting that "separate but equal" was "surely but slowly breaking down, with regard to public facilities, wherever Negroes earned the right by sanitation, education, and a sense of responsibility, to share such facilities."
As jarring as these words are today, they worked well for the John Birch Society in the 1960s - so well that, by 1965, JBS could boast more than one hundred chapters in Birmingham, Alabama, and its surrounding suburbs. The New York Times reported that "the society is capitalizing on white supremacy sentiment, as well as on a general social, religious and political conservatism in the south."
As a Birch kid, I wasn't a bit surprised. The JBS had been fighting the civil rights movement since its founding, and the events of 1962 and 1963 added even more grist to their racist mill.
This is your history lesson, connect-some-dots example, and sorry about Salon's popups.
Stand Your Ground and the Zimmerman Verdict
Dan Gelber, blog
In 2005 the Florida Legislature fundamentally changed the analysis used by juries to assign blame in these cases. When the legislature passed the Stand Your Ground law it changed the rules of engagement. It eliminated the duty to avoid the danger and it eliminated any duty to retreat.
If the Trayvon Martin killing was tried prior to the Stand Your Ground law being passed, the jury would have been told that self-defense was not available to Zimmerman unless he had used every reasonable means to avoid the danger. The jury would have been told that even if they believed Zimmerman had been attacked wrongfully by Trayvon, he could not use deadly force if he could have safely retreated or run away.
In this case, did Zimmerman use "every reasonable means within his power...to avoid the danger" or did he follow Trayvon despite admonitions that he did not need to?
Notwithstanding the forensics that Zimmerman suffered injury, could he have safely run away, or retreated from an unarmed teenager?
The jury did not get to analyze the case in these terms because the law of Florida after Stand Your Ground eliminated the duty to avoid the danger and the duty to retreat.
The Fight to Protect Voting Rights in Texas
Theresa Riley at Bill Moyers.com
During the 2011 redistricting map case, state lawyers unsuccessfully argued that the 2011 map was nothing more than a partisan power grab that had nothing to do with race. The fact of the matter is that in Texas - and in many other Southern states - partisan politics has everything to do with race. Since 1965, Thomas Edsall writes in The New York Times, the number of black representatives in southern statehouses "has grown from fewer than five to 313, all but a handful as Democrats." But during those same 40 years, Southern whites defected from the Democratic Party in huge numbers. And in 2012 - with the addition of Arkansas after 138 years of Democratic rule - the GOP has gained control of all 11 statehouses in the former Confederacy.
For the moment, things in Texas "remain highly unsettled." The San Antonio Express-News editorial board put it that way in a recent op-ed in which they also characterized Attorney General Greg Abbott's rush to push through the state's voter ID law as "unseemly." The state has asked the courts to dismiss the cases brought last week, but both three-judge panels appear to be considering the challenges seriously.
As Texas Redistricting blogger and Dallas attorney Michael Li told Star-Telegram reporter Mike Norman, "There's no question this is new territory for everyone."
If you're interested in following the events in Texas, we recommend Li's excellent blog and Rick Hasen's Election Law Blog for updates on the redistricting cases.
Weber County commissioner: Libraries 'don't need to be Taj Mahals'
By Cathy McKitrick| The Salt Lake Tribune
In June, Weber County voters OK'd a $45 million bond to upgrade and expand the county's cadre of public libraries.
According to longtime Library Director Lynnda Wangsgard, bond supporters were buying into the vision of libraries as community space where people of all ages can gather, gain new insights and connect with one another.
However, at least one of the county's three commissioners hopes to scale back the scope and cost of the plan that Wangsgard said has been three years in the making.
"I'm hoping to spend quite a bit less," said Commissioner Matt Bell, who took office in January. "Libraries need to be nice, they need to be adequate, but they don't need to be Taj Mahals."
Where was this dumb-ass commissioner when the bond issue was written, campaigned for, and voted upon? They are the worst kind of sore loser, sticking their nose in AFTER the voters approved this. And this is a pointed remark against Salt Lake City's utterly beautiful Main Library, which was a Library of the Year, and is having its 10th anniversary soon.
PETA Wants Your Kids to Protest Lagoon
Renee Estrada, City Weekly
Lagoon-it's what fun is. But, according to PETA, it's also where animal abuse happens. The animal-rights group has organized a protest specifically for kids Saturday.
According to Jordon Kasteler, who's organizing the protest, "Lagoon has received 18 citations from the USDA for violating the animal-welfare act, and some of the citations involve failure to provide adequate care, filthy enclosures, untrained employees and staff."
USDA last cited Lagoon in September 2011, for an "indirect" non-compliance issue. According to the report, two leopards were treated for having three-plus ascarids each. After treatment, the leopards were not given subsequent fecal tests to "ensure that the ascarids were successfully eradicated." Lagoon hasn't had any violations since.
Those leopards live relatively near my former in-laws.
This is crossposted from the orange.