Sunday, 25 January 2015

When Women Become Terrorists - NYTimes.com

When Women Become Terrorists - NYTimes.com

SINCE the terror attacks in Paris two weeks ago, the French police have been on the hunt for Hayat Boumeddiene, the partner of Amedy Coulibaly, one of the slain gunmen. She is now suspected to be in Syria. Some news reports speculate that Ms. Boumeddiene, 26, may have been “the more radical of the two.” Yet one of the first questions that French authorities intend to ask her is, they say, “if she did this under influence, if she did it by ideology, if she did it to aid and abet.”
While much will be made in the coming months of France’s intelligence failures, the West’s inability to appreciate the role that women play in terror should come under the highest scrutiny. Take the role of women in the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS or ISIL. While the group oppresses many women, many also flock to its ranks. Roughly 10 percent of its Western recruits are female, often lured by their peers through social media and instant messaging. The percentage is much higher in France: An estimated 63 of the 350 French nationals believed to be with the group are women, or just under 20 percent.
This story is both a new one and an old one. Women have long been involved in terror of all stripes, from female neo-Nazis in Europe to Chechen “black widow” suicide bombers...

LRA Rebel, Set for War Crimes Trial, Was a Child Soldier - ABC News

LRA Rebel, Set for War Crimes Trial, Was a Child Soldier - ABC News

Lord's Resistance Army commander Dominic Ongwen, who arrived Wednesday in The Hague to stand trial at the International Criminal Court, is remembered by his grandmother as a victim himself, having been kidnapped as a boy by the LRA and turned into a child soldier.

Ongwen's grandmother Anna Angeeyo, 80, told Uganda's Daily Monitor newspaper that she last saw him in 1990 as "an innocent and quiet" boy "who liked digging." Ongwen was abducted by the LRA as he came back from a primary school in northern Uganda, she said.
While in the custody of the Ugandan army last week, Ongwen was videotaped describing his experiences with the LRA and its top commander, Joseph Kony, a wanted war criminal. The video, shot by the Ugandan military, was obtained by The Associated Press...

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Is this the beginning of the end for the Ebola outbreak in West Africa? | GlobalPost

Is this the beginning of the end for the Ebola outbreak in West Africa? | GlobalPost

Schools reopened in Guinea this week, just as Mali became the region’s latest country to be declared Ebola-free by the World Health Organization, following Nigeria and Senegal.The two developments are signs that life is slowly returning to normal as West Africa recovers from the world’s worst-ever Ebola epidemic.

It is far from over yet. But there is, at last, hope that the end of the outbreak may be within sight.

There have been 21,614 cases of Ebola in this epidemic, and 8,594 deaths, according to the latest WHO figures. But crucially, the number of new cases is declining in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the countries worst affected.

Last week Sierra Leone and Guinea both recorded their lowest weekly totals of confirmed cases since August, while Liberia had its lowest weekly total since June.

Dr. Tom Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, has said he is “confident” the outbreak can be ended, provided “nothing unexpected happens.”...

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

U.S.-built Ebola treatment centers in Liberia are nearly empty as outbreak fades - The Washington Post

U.S.-built Ebola treatment centers in Liberia are nearly empty as outbreak fades - The Washington Post

Near the hillside shelter where dozens of men and women died of Ebola, a row of green U.S. military tents sit atop a vast expanse of imported gravel. The generators hum; chlorinated water churns in brand-new containers; surveillance cameras send a live feed to a large-screen television.There’s only one thing missing from this state-of-the-art Ebola treatment center: Ebola patients.

The U.S. military sent about 3,000 troops to West Africa to build centers like this one in recent months. They were intended as a crucial safeguard against an epidemic that flared in unpredictable, deadly waves. But as the outbreak fades in Liberia, it has become clear that the disease had already drastically subsided before the first American centers were completed. Several of the U.S.-built units haven’t seen a single patient infected with Ebola.

It now appears that the alarming epidemiological predictions that in large part prompted the U.S. aid effort here were far too bleak. Although future flare-ups of the disease are possible, the near-empty Ebola centers tell the story of an aggressive American military and civilian response that occurred too late to help the bulk of the more than 8,300 Liberians who became infected. Last week, even as international aid organizations built yet more Ebola centers, there was an average of less than one new case reported in Liberia per day...

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Will the world's hungry benefit from falling oil prices? - TRFN | Reuters

Will the world's hungry benefit from falling oil prices? - TRFN | Reuters

ROME, Jan 12 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A slump in global oil prices has brought cheaper food to many of the world's poorest, but from the slums of Manila to the fields of Malawi, the benefits are not universal.

Globally, 805 million people still face chronic hunger, according to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation. While the poorest in cities may see a reduction in food bills, those in rural areas, not integrated into world food markets, may not.

The price of oil dropped by half last year, the second-biggest annual decline ever, hitting a five-and-a half-year low. Oil prices have a knock-on effect on the price of food, which fell for a third straight year in 2014.

"For many poor people who spend a lot of their budget on food, this is good news," said Shenggen Fan, director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute. "There is a high correlation between oil and food prices."...

Monday, 12 January 2015

Is the War Crimes Court Still Relevant? - NYTimes.com

Is the War Crimes Court Still Relevant? - NYTimes.com

UNITED NATIONS — Fatou Bensouda, chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court, is about to face her toughest trial yet: to demonstrate that the court has enough muscle to tackle the gravest human rights cases, even if it means confronting the world’s most powerful countries.
Since its inception in 2002, the court has been laden with a growing pile of cases, defiant government authorities, and a United Nations Security Council that has called for investigations but done little to advance them. The court has convicted a tiny fraction of those it has charged. Many more have eluded arrest altogether, and the prosecutor has battled charges of bias against African leaders — a charge that Ms. Bensouda, a Gambian, has strenuously rebutted.
Ms. Bensouda, who assumed her job in June 2012, has had to acknowledge her own limitations in recent months. In December, she announced that she would “hibernate” the genocide case against Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, because she had been unable to secure his arrest. The same month, she said she would drop charges against Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, for his role in the violence that swept the country following the 2007 elections, citing his government’s lack of cooperation with her office.
The year ahead brings far more formidable challenges and with them the opportunity to assert the relevance of the court.
The Palestinian situation is no doubt the most politically delicate item on her agenda. Palestine joined the I.C.C. last week, and authorized the prosecutor to scrutinize alleged crimes committed on Palestinian land since last June, before the last Gaza conflict began. Israel and its principal ally, the United States, have forcefully criticized the Palestinian move, and even a preliminary inquiry by her office is likely to face a pushback, including from Washington.
Additionally, Ms. Bensouda has said she is looking into allegations of torture by American soldiers in Afghanistan. There’s a chance, albeit slim, that she could go further and open an official investigation...

I am Charlie, but I am Baga too: On Nigeria’s forgotten massacre | Daily Maverick

I am Charlie, but I am Baga too: On Nigeria’s forgotten massacre | Daily Maverick

There are massacres and there are massacres. The Paris massacre was tragic, but it was hardly the worst thing that happened last week. Not even close.

For that, we must head to Nigeria, and to the town of Baga – or at least to the spot on the map where Baga once stood, because there’s not much left of it now.

Reports of the massacre there are necessarily hazy; the nearest journalists are hundreds of kilometres away (even there, they are not particularly safe), and information comes almost exclusively from traumatised refugees and unreliable government sources.

Still, enough facts have emerged to know that something terrible happened here; something apocalyptic.

Baga is in north-eastern Nigeria, on the border with Cameroon. It is no stranger to massacres. In April 2013, nearly 200 people, mostly civilians, were slaughtered by the Nigerian armed forces in a military offensive designed to push out Boko Haram. This, however, was just a teaser. A taste of the horror that was to come.

Over the course of five days, beginning on Saturday last week, Boko Haram fighters entered the city with Nigerian soldiers fleeing before them, and destroyed it and anybody that was too slow in escaping – men, women, children. “The whole town was on fire,” said one eyewitness, while others speak of roads lined with corpses. The body count varies, but Amnesty International puts it at over 2,000 deaths – or the rough equivalent of 133 Charlie Hebdo attacks...

Saturday, 10 January 2015

I Am Not Charlie Hebdo - NYTimes.com

I Am Not Charlie Hebdo - NYTimes.com

The journalists at Charlie Hebdo are now rightly being celebrated as martyrs on behalf of freedom of expression, but let’s face it: If they had tried to publish their satirical newspaper on any American university campus over the last two decades it wouldn’t have lasted 30 seconds. Student and faculty groups would have accused them of hate speech. The administration would have cut financing and shut them down.
Public reaction to the attack in Paris has revealed that there are a lot of people who are quick to lionize those who offend the views of Islamist terrorists in France but who are a lot less tolerant toward those who offend their own views at home...

‘Charlie Hebdo, Before the Massacre’ - NYTimes.com

‘Charlie Hebdo, Before the Massacre’ - NYTimes.com

In February 2006 the editors of the French magazine Charlie Hebdo met to discuss a matter of what turned out to be deadly consequence: Would they publish a satirical image of Muhammad on their cover? We were making a documentary about Jean Cabut, known as Cabu, one of the most famous cartoonists in France. So we were there, filming his conversation with his colleagues as they chose the cover. The issue that came out of this meeting — with a Cabu cartoon on the cover and the images they discussed here — turned out to be one of the most popular in the magazine’s history. Almost nine years later, gunmen stormed this very meeting and killed 10 editors and cartoonists, including three of the people in this film: Cabu, Bernard Verlhac (known as Tignous) and Georges Wolinski...

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

BBC - Future - How to design the fighter cockpit of tomorrow

BBC - Future - How to design the fighter cockpit of tomorrow

If you think your office needs a lick of paint and some new furniture, spare a thought for fighter pilots. Those who fly fighter aircraft like the F-16 or the Tornado are still, in effect, working in a 1970s office - because that's when those aircraft were originally designed.

It takes a very long time to build a new fighter jet. Lockheed Martin's F-22 Raptor is currently the only supersonic stealth fighter in active service ‒ but when the contract for the first prototype was signed in 1986, Apple's top-of-the-range Macintosh Plus computer had a mere 1Mb memory and no hard drive. The F-22 carried out its first combat mission on 22 September this year – three days after Apple released the iPhone 6. Technology has transformed in those intervening 28 years, and nothing dates faster than yesterday’s vision of the future.

Today’s aircraft designers must guess what the world of 40 years’ time might look like – a task that even the innovators in Silicon Valley might baulk at. "At the moment, I'm looking at stuff out to at least 2040," says Mark Bowman, chief test pilot for BAE Systems at Warton, Lancashire...

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Four dead in Kentucky plane crash, girl, 7, survives: police

Four dead in Kentucky plane crash, girl, 7, survives: police

A small plane crashed in Kentucky late Friday, killing the pilot and three other passengers, while a seven-year-old girl apparently survived and wandered from the wreckage to find help, state police said.
The plane went down in a heavily wooded area of Lyon County, about 115 miles northwest of Nashville, Kentucky State Police said.
Authorities received a 911 call from a resident in the area who said a 7-year-old girl "had walked to his home reporting that she had been involved in a plane crash," state police said in a statement posted on Facebook.
"The juvenile was in distress and was transported to a local hospital for non-life threatening injuries," the statement said.
Rescue crews fanned out to look for the plane and discovered its wreckage in a wooded area, police said. Four people on-board were killed, among them the pilot, they said....

Friday, 26 December 2014

U.N. Set to Cut Force in Darfur as Fighting Rises - NYTimes.com

U.N. Set to Cut Force in Darfur as Fighting Rises - NYTimes.com

UNITED NATIONS — Under intense pressure from the government of Sudan, the United Nations is planning to shrink its floundering peacekeeping force in Darfur, even though renewed fighting there has chased more people from their homes this year than during any other in the past decade.
The withdrawal plans come right after the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, announced that she had decided to suspend the genocide case against Sudan’s president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, because world powers have done nothing to secure his arrest.
The twin retrenchments are emblematic of the limits of international attention at a time when Darfur has been overshadowed by newer crises and conflicts around the world, from the civil wars in Syria and South Sudan to the Ebola epidemic...