[News] All Around The World

A posting place for news from places around the globe, outside of the US/Europe.

Ramadan Mubarak to everybody who's observing it!

The First Urban Case of Ebola in the Congo Is a ‘Game Changer’

I wonder if we'll do the same insane two-step around Ebola this time or if we've learned our le.....

....we're gonna do the same hysterical two-step, aren't we?

The current Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo has thus far been confined to remote rural areas, but one case has now been confirmed in Mbandaka, a city of almost 1.2 million people. “We are moving to a new phase of the epidemic, and we are putting all the means in place to respond to it in a quick and effective way,” said Oly Ilunga, the DRC’s minster of health, on Wednesday evening.

The outbreak initially hit the northwestern town of Bikoro and a nearby village called Ikoko-Impenge that is 30 kilometers away. Both are small and hard to reach, especially in the current rainy season, when roads become pockmarked with gullies and potholes. Mbandaka’s larger population, and its location on the Congo River, provides new opportunities for the virus to spread. And, at around 150 kilometers from Bikoro, it significantly widens the area affected by the outbreak. “Confirmation of urban Ebola in DRC is a game changer,” Peter Salama, from the World Health Organization, tweeted. “The challenge just got much, much tougher.”

“It’s a big city,” says Patrick Mukadi, a lab director at the National Institute for Biomedical Research, or INRB, in Kinshasa. “There’s a lot of people passing through, and doing business with surrounding countries. There are regular flights between Mbandaka and Kinshasa [the capital city with a population of more than 11 million]. There are boats to Kinshasa, although it takes two weeks. We don’t know if the outbreak will be big, but it’s better to overestimate than underestimate in terms of the response.”

The outbreak only spread to a city after a rural origin—and that could make a huge difference. “Having that advanced warning meant that a lot of things were already put in place,” says Nicole Hoff from UCLA, who is currently in the Congo. “All the emergency operations that were being set up were in Mbandaka, since it’s the closest city to Bikoro. We’ve always discussed what would happen if Ebola made it to the city.”

The new case was confirmed in Wangata, one of three “health zones” in Mbandaka, and the closest to Bikoro. The newly confirmed patient was at a funeral in Bikoro before traveling to Mbandaka and attending a church service, according to Jessica Ilunga, a spokeperson for the ministry of health. The ministry has started tracing everyone who attended either the service or the funeral. The latter is particularly important: In Congolese traditions, friends and family members will touch, dress, hug, and even kiss the body of a loved one, providing routes for Ebola to spread. In this case, the deceased person was buried before they could be tested for Ebola.

This is the DRC’s ninth Ebola outbreak, and most of the others have hit remote areas. The last urban outbreak in the country happened in 1995, when the virus infected 317 people in the western city of Kikwit, and killed 245.

An urban case is always cause for concern, but it isn’t necessarily a disaster. Ebola is not an airborne disease. It can only spread through contact with infected bodily fluids, so effective hygiene and public health can still contain it in a densely populated area. During the DRC’s very first Ebola outbreak in 1976 (which was also the first one in the world), a sick nun was evacuated to a hospital in the megacity capital of Kinshasa, and even though nothing was known about the disease at the time, it didn’t spread. Similarly, in July 2014, Nigeria successfully controlled Ebola after it arrived in Lagos, Africa’s most heavily populated city; only 19 people were infected, and only eight died.

The latest figures from the WHO suggest that as of Tuesday, 44 potential cases of Ebola have been reported, including 40 in Bikoro and Ikoko, and 4 in Wangata. Of these, only 3 have been confirmed in laboratory tests: 2 in Bikoro and 1 in Wangata.

But new figures presented at a meeting on Thursday show that as of Wednesday, another suspected case has been identified in Bikoro, and 11 of the existing suspected cases have now been confirmed in lab tests. That gives a total of 45 cases across the whole outbreak, of which 14 have been lab-confirmed. The number of confirmed cases has gone up because a mobile lab is now up-and-running in Bikoro, rather than because the epidemic itself is progressing.

A Cleric’s Rise Is A “Crushing Reminder” For Some Iraq War Veterans

Nathan McClure served in Baghdad at the height of the Iraq War. When he was severely wounded in 2007, ending his military career in the US Army, it was thanks to a weapon called an EFP — or explosively formed penetrator — piercing his Humvee. The lethal roadside bomb killed and wounded hundreds of coalition troops — and was choice for a militia under the control of a man who’s now poised to be kingmaker in Iraq’s new government.

For those who were on the front lines battling Muqtada al-Sadr’s forces just over a decade ago, many of whom told BuzzFeed News they had distanced themselves from following developments in Iraq after they left, the return of one of America’s most deadly enemies to headlines is surreal.

The surprise victory of the 44-year-old Shiite cleric, whose militias led two uprisings against US troops during the bloodiest years of the occupation, has rattled some US veterans and reopened frustrations for others. While Sadr can’t become prime minister himself, his coalition became the frontrunner in Iraq’s parliamentary election May 12.

“It just rips the flooring right from underneath you, makes you feel like everything you did was worthless,” said McClure, who served at the peak of the US military’s “surge” with the 2-16 Infantry Battalion — a unit he drily describes as being “quite familiar with Sadr and his followers.”

“You cannot take war personally,” he said. “But I know for many this can open old wounds, the questions about what we were doing. What was it all for? What did we accomplish in the next 15 years that we didn’t accomplish in the first 45 days?”

For some, it has been hard to reconcile that the same man who at one point was “heavily hunted” by the US, whose face they had memorized, is now on top.

“The mission of the US forces is to kill or capture Muqtada al-Sadr,” Gen. John Abizaid, who headed US Central Command, said in 2004. “That's our mission.”

After the US-led invasion in 2003, Sadr, the son of a revered Shiite cleric killed during Saddam Hussein's rule for defying the regime, evolved from a young, little-known preacher to a “militia leader responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans and the scourge of American generals,” said Bill Russell Edmonds, who served as a US Army Special Forces officer in Iraq.

He was able to capitalize on anger at the US occupation to lead two insurgencies against American forces and incite sectarian violence against the Sunni population. Edmonds pointed out that as recently as 2016, Sadr declared that American troops fighting ISIS in Iraq were “open targets.”

“Now, he's reimagined himself once again; but what Americans should imagine were Sadr's bloodied hands on Black Sunday,” he told BuzzFeed News, referring to an ambush in Sadr City in 2004 that killed eight US soldiers and wounded more than 50 others. “When ISIS took Mosul, I felt pain and sorrow. When Iraqis chose Sadr, there were echoes of betrayal.”

NPR also did a piece for All things Considered addressing this.

That Buzzfeed article has a very strange tone to it. It reads like the Iraqi people are supposed to be glad we invaded and occupied their country, leading to the deaths of tens of thousands of people.

The NPR article at least seems to address that.

'Maduro would beat Jesus': Venezuelans lament rigged system as election looms

After denouncing Venezuela’s food shortages and hyperinflation in a speech ahead of Sunday’s presidential election, the opposition candidate, Henrí Falcón, sat in his campaign bus, sucking a throat lozenge – and chewing over his predicament.

Falcón ought to be the favorite. He’s up against Nicolás Maduro, the deeply unpopular and increasingly authoritarian president who is seeking another six-year term despite leading this oil-rich nation into its worst economic crisis in decades.

Yet Falcón is the underdog.

He’s resigned to the usual dirty tricks from the ruling Socialist Party, including the use of state food hand-outs to lure hungry people into voting for Maduro.

But what most infuriates him is friendly fire: Venezuela’s largest opposition parties are denouncing Falcón as a stooge for participating in an election they say will be a sham – and which they have vowed to boycott.

“This makes it a lot more complicated,” Falcón admits. “But we are going to take risks and follow the democratic path. Now is not the time for politicians to go into hiding.”

Falcón has been buoyed by polls that show him either ahead or within striking distance of Maduro. He also points to research showing that even on an unfair electoral playing field, it’s almost always better to participate than to stand down.

A 2009 study by the Brookings Institution of more than 100 electoral boycotts – from Afghanistan to Iraq to Peru – found that their goal of rendering elections illegitimate in the eyes of the world was rarely achieved. Instead, they left the boycotting parties in an even weaker state.

Javier Corrales, a Venezuela expert at Amherst College, says that Sunday’s election presents an extremely rare opportunity for voters to remove an autocrat through peaceful means. Surrendering to Maduro, he says, “is the biggest mistake I’ve seen the opposition make in a decade.”

The New York Times has a video report from the border with Colombia, while John Oliver also covered the crisis on Last Week Tonight.

The Men Who Terrorize Rio

SÃO PAULO, Brazil — More than two months have passed since the assassination of Marielle Franco, a human rights defender who was a member of Rio’s City Council. But the killing remains unsolved. The most probable hypothesis, according to Brazil’s public security minister, Raul Jungmann, is that local militias were behind her death.

Militias in Brazil are different from paramilitary groups in other countries. Their origins here can be traced back to the 1970s, the days of the military dictatorship, when off-duty police officers formed death squads to execute criminals and political opponents, according to José Cláudio Souza Alves, a sociologist who studies the groups.

In their current form, militias were established in Rio de Janeiro in the late ’90s and early 2000s, under the pretext that they were protecting residents from drug traffickers. Although more civilians are joining, the militias have been dominated by active-duty and retired police officers, who essentially assume control of suburban slums, or favelas, under the guise of defending them.

Once they have a foothold in the community, militia members extort money from residents and shopkeepers (in other words, they demand payments that are partly for protection against themselves). They also control local unlicensed public transportation, since city buses are scarce or nonexistent in remote areas. They offer illegal internet and television connections, charge commissions on real estate deals, and control the supply of gas and water. In the Gardênia Azul favela, for example, militia members collect money from street vendors and even popcorn carts.

It’s a kind of mafia, with Brazilian peculiarities.

Also, Maduro won, controversially.

Venezuelan leftist President Nicolás Maduro has easily won a second term, but his main rivals have refused to accept the results, calling the polling fraudulent — a view shared by the United States and many independent observers.

Venezuela's National Election Council, run by Maduro loyalists, said that with nearly 93 percent of polling stations reporting by Sunday, Maduro had won almost 68 percent of the vote, beating his nearest challenger, Henri Falcon, by almost 40 points.

"They underestimated me," said a triumphant Maduro to cheers from his supporters as fireworks sounded and confetti fell at the presidential palace in Caracas.

Maduro, 55, replaced Hugo Chavez when the longtime Venezuelan socialist died of cancer in 2013. Since then, Maduro has presided over a collapsing economy, hyperinflation, widespread hunger and a mass of refugees trying to escape the desperate conditions. The country has been further hit by falling oil exports and U.S. imposed sanctions.

Fewer than half of registered voters turned up at the polls, but the opposition, which has boycotted the election, said even that figure was inflated.

Those opposed to Maduro have long maintained that the election is fraudulent, not least because the opposition's most popular leaders — the ones with the best chance of unseating the president — were barred from running.

Feels weird dropping this here, but it's not specifically a "political" story, even though it's about a US territory.

Anyway:

Mortality in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria

BACKGROUND
Quantifying the effect of natural disasters on society is critical for recovery of public health services and infrastructure. The death toll can be difficult to assess in the aftermath of a major disaster. In September 2017, Hurricane Maria caused massive infrastructural damage to Puerto Rico, but its effect on mortality remains contentious. The official death count is 64.

METHODS
Using a representative, stratified sample, we surveyed 3299 randomly chosen households across Puerto Rico to produce an independent estimate of all-cause mortality after the hurricane. Respondents were asked about displacement, infrastructure loss, and causes of death. We calculated excess deaths by comparing our estimated post-hurricane mortality rate with official rates for the same period in 2016.

RESULTS
From the survey data, we estimated a mortality rate of 14.3 deaths (95% confidence interval [CI], 9.8 to 18.9) per 1000 persons from September 20 through December 31, 2017. This rate yielded a total of 4645 excess deaths during this period (95% CI, 793 to 8498), equivalent to a 62% increase in the mortality rate as compared with the same period in 2016. However, this number is likely to be an underestimate because of survivor bias. The mortality rate remained high through the end of December 2017, and one third of the deaths were attributed to delayed or interrupted health care. Hurricane-related migration was substantial.

CONCLUSIONS
This household-based survey suggests that the number of excess deaths related to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico is more than 70 times the official estimate.

Brazil faces calls for return to military dictatorship amid truckers' strike

Hundreds of truckers and their supporters had gathered at a gas station on a highway near São Paulo for a rally in support of a nationwide protest that has brought South America’s biggest economy to its knees.

But among the slogans and Brazilian flags were signs not usually seen at strike demonstrations: slung from a nearby overpass were banners calling for “military intervention”, a sign that this shutdown has taken on a political dimension all of its own.

As a nationwide truck strike reaches its 10th day, gas stations have finally begun to receive fuel deliveries and truckers have started drifting back to work – some unwillingly.

But hundreds of demonstrations have continued on highways across Brazil – and many of those still protesting are calling for a return to the rightwing dictatorship that ran Brazil for two sombre decades until 1985.

“We need help from the military to resolve our problems in Brasília, to remove the bandits from there and to put the house in order,” said one driver, Gabriel Berestov, 44.

What began as a nationwide truck strike over rising fuel prices has spiralled into a broader protest over a range of issues including Brazil’s healthcare, education, roads, increasing violence and political corruption.

Wouldn't the bandits be the truckers who have benefited from the government taking public tax money and subsidizing gas prices for them? I understand why they are upset, but it seems like taking the subsidy away is a good thing overall. I haven't read deeply about it though so someone correct me if I am missing something.

Well, here's some more writing on Brazil I came across today:

Brazil, Scared and Leaderless, Looks to the Military

SÃO PAULO - I arrived here on Sunday in the middle of the zombie apocalypse. Or so it seemed. A nationwide truckers’ strike was in its seventh day and 99 percent of São Paulo’s service stations had run out of gasoline. The roads of South America’s biggest city were deserted of cars and people, and the skies were a murky gray. The normally hellish drive from the airport, which often lasts two hours or more, took a disconcerting 23 minutes.

Up on Avenida Paulista, the city’s closest thing to a public square, things seemed more normal – at first. Huge crowds milled about, vendors were grilling beef and sausage, and girls in hot pink roller skates clomped by. A quadruple amputee was belting out the falsetto ending of Pearl Jam’s “Black” to an enthralled crowd. The sun was out now, and families sat at wooden tables with sweaty buckets of beer, laughing. Of course, I mused, Brazilians are going to make a party out of a bad situation. I bought a can of Skol and decided to join the fun.

Then I saw it. A huge banner, spanning the entire avenue, carried by a group of protesters:

“SUPPORT FOR THE TRUCK DRIVERS. MILITARY INTERVENTION! ARMED FORCES, URGENT!”

And that was the start of a week where I saw and heard things I never believed I would in Brazil.

The Brazil of mid-2018 is a frightened, leaderless, shockingly pessimistic country. It is a country where four years of scandal, violence and economic destruction have obliterated faith in not just President Michel Temer, not just the political class, but in democracy itself. It is a country where there will be elections in October, but most voters profess little faith in any of the candidates. Given that vacuum, many Brazilians – perhaps 40 percent of them, according to a new private poll circulating among worried politicians – believe the military should somehow act to restore order. Amid this week’s strike, the clamor became so loud that both Temer and a senior military official had to publicly deny the possibility of an imminent coup.

This was all unquestionably good news for the presidential candidate most identified with the armed forces, retired Army captain Jair Bolsonaro, who was already running first in polls. Many analysts expect him to rise further after this week’s events. It’s a red alert for anyone else – foreign investors and ordinary Brazilians alike – with the old-fashioned belief that healthy civilian institutions are the key to long-term prosperity, or who still hold out hope that Brazil’s economy and political outlook might finally stabilize this year.

113 Politicians Have Been Killed Ahead Of Mexico’s Election. There Are Still Two Weeks To Go.

MEXICO CITY — It has been a brutal electoral season, even by Mexico’s violent standards.

At least 113 candidates, pre-candidates, and current and former politicians have been killed and 300 more have suffered some form of aggression since September, according to Etellekt, a Mexico City–based public policy consultancy. Even the government’s tally — 34, which considers only candidates — pushes this particular death toll to nearly four per month.

Astonishing as these numbers are, they only tell part of the story: There are hundreds of candidates who have backed out of their races out of fear for their safety, and many others who have curbed their campaign activities. This poses a significant challenge to Mexico’s relatively young democracy, already crippled by systemic corruption and widespread impunity.

“Violence is altering the profile of candidates,” Alejandro Hope, a security analyst, told BuzzFeed News. “Who sticks around? The reckless and those who collude [with criminals].”

The attacks have been brazen. Last month, several commandos went around Ignacio Zaragoza, a town of less than 7,000 people about 200 miles southwest of El Paso, Texas, burning houses and cars belonging to several local candidates. They killed Liliana García, who was running for town councilor. In a video circulating on social media, a large plume of smoke is seen coming out of a building in broad daylight while a woman weeps in the background. In another, rapid gunfire is heard on an empty street.

Less than three weeks ago, Paula Gutiérrez Morales, a local leader of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, in a tiny community in Guerrero State, was shot inside a public bus in front of other passengers.

On Friday, Fernando Purón, a candidate for local congress, was shot while posing for a selfie in Piedras Negras, just west of Eagle Pass, Texas, after an election debate.

Representatives for two of the main political parties confirmed to BuzzFeed News that some of their strongest candidates have chosen to step away, leaving a vacuum that has been difficult to fill. About 600 people in total from the different parties have backed out of their races in recent months, according to Carlos Figueroa Ibarra, head of human rights at Morena, the political party leading presidential polls.

“We’ve had to register comrades that are perhaps less well-known,” said Ángel Ávila, spokesperson for the “For Mexico to the Front” coalition, whose presidential candidate, Ricardo Anaya, is second in most polls.

The Interior Ministry announced in April that it would again provide the presidential candidates with secret service and federal police agents, as it has in the last two elections. But the concern goes beyond the top tier. Last month, Interior Minister Alfonso Navarrete Prida said that the federal government is providing security to more than 30 candidates — six of them local.

Despite this, politicians feel more vulnerable than ever.

There's petty.... and then there's this:

Saudi Moves Forward With Plan to Turn Qatar Into Island

Saudi Arabia is moving forward with a plan to dig a canal that would physically enshrine its yearlong rift with Qatar by turning the emirate from a peninsula bordering the kingdom into an island, Saudi media reported on Tuesday.

Five international companies that specialize in digging canals have been invited to vie for the project, with bids closing on Monday and the winner to be chosen within 90 days, Makkah newspaper reported, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter. The canal should be completed within one year of work starting, it said. The report was also carried by Saudi-owned news channel Al Arabiya and shared on Twitter by Saudi royal court adviser Saud Al Qahtani.

The Saudi government’s Center for International Communication didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The government has never confirmed the plan, first reported in April.

The project, if it is carried out, would geographically extend Qatar’s isolation from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt after they cut trade and diplomatic ties with the emirate last year. The allies accused Qatar of supporting terrorism and meddling in their affairs, charges it denies.

In April, media reported that the channel would be 60 kilometers (37.5 miles) long and 200 meters (219 yards) wide, running the entire length of the strip of Saudi territory that borders Qatar. Part of the canal zone would be set aside for a planned nuclear waste facility, Al Riyadh newspaper reported, and Sabq online newspaper said the canal project could cost up to 2.8 billion riyals ($750 million).

Dont give Trump good ideas :O

Iran Is Changing, but Not in Ways Trump Thinks

TEHRAN — President Trump says his decision to leave the nuclear agreement is already having a huge impact on Iran. He is right, Iranians say, but for the wrong reasons.

Mr. Trump said this month that Iran is changing its behavior in the region, implying that its leaders had been chastened or cowed by the American move and were pulling back.

“They’re no longer looking so much to the Mediterranean,” he told reporters. “They’re no longer looking so much to what’s going on in Syria, what’s going on in Yemen and lots of other places. They’re a much different country over the last three months. Iran is not the same country that it was a few months ago. They’re a much, much different group of leaders.”

But analysts say there has been little or no change in Iran’s regional posture. The real impact to date has been on internal politics, with a repression on the slightest hints of dissent, and the economy, after the reimposition of sanctions.

A good economic and political process was underway in Iran,” said Mirzababa Motaharinezhad, a spokesman for Mardomsalary, a moderate political group. “Unfortunately, after Trump pulled out from the deal openness ended here and a crackdown on activists resumed.”

In the region, though, it seems to be business as usual. Last week an Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps commander, Hossein Salami, noted that Iran’s ally in Lebanon, Hezbollah, has 100,000 missiles ready to destroy Israel. In Syria, where Iran has played a crucial role in keeping President Bashar al-Assad in power, three Iranian soldiers were killed this month during battles. For the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Israel is still a “cancerous tumor” that must be removed.

“Trump has this illusion that because he left the nuclear agreement, we are forced to change our behavior in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine,” said Hossein Sheikholeslam, a special adviser to Iran’s foreign minister on regional issues. “No way we are doing that. If we ever change our policies, it will have nothing to do with Trump or anyone in the White House or elsewhere.”

Mexico’s Hardball Politics Get Even Harder as PRI Fights to Hold On to Power

MEXICO CITY — Wielding the power and resources of government, Mexico’s ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party has used some of the nation’s most important institutions in an attempt to change the course of next month’s presidential election, according to independent election observers and former party officials.

The nation’s attorney general, who is appointed by the president, has publicly accused one of the main opposition candidates of serious crimes without offering much evidence. Similarly, decisions by a special court overseeing the election, which was appointed by a PRI-dominated congress, have been roundly criticized.

Hardball tactics are nothing new in Mexican politics, but the PRI’s abuse of state institutions are a staggering escalation for a party in power.

Early last year, facing abysmal poll numbers and a strong opponent in the presidential race, the party was approached by the now-defunct firm Cambridge Analytica. It offered to help the PRI win, just as it said it had done for President Trump, according to a 57-page proposal the company drafted that was obtained by The New York Times.

The PRI reviewed the proposal for months, but eventually decided it didn’t need to pay millions of dollars to an outsider to wage a dirty campaign, according to three people familiar with the negotiations. The party could do that itself. But in a preview of the extreme measures the party was willing to take to secure its position, it paid Cambridge anyway so that the company would not work for anyone else, according to two people familiar with the negotiations.

The decision, made in the early months of 2017, was an informal start to what has, to some, been a period of misuse of government resources for electoral purposes.

Disenchanted Youth May Tip Mexican Election to López Obrador

MEXICO CITY — They came of age in Mexico’s young democracy but they have grown up in the midst of unremitting drug violence. They are the most highly educated voting bloc in Mexico’s history but face stagnant wages.

Above all, they are fed up with corruption and politics as usual and are ready to put the nation on a new, better course.

As Mexico gears up for a watershed election on July 1, with more than 3,000 positions at stake, one sector of the Mexican population could well determine the outcome: Mexico’s millennials and the subsequent Generation Z.

Nearly half of all eligible voters are younger than 39, and one of every five would be voting for the first time. It is an age group profoundly disenchanted with the political establishment and urgently seeking a moral leader to bring about real change.

“We keep thinking that an honest, heroic, caudillo-like figure will arrive one day and change it all for us,” said María Montoya, 21, referring to the leaders that emerged in the tumult of Mexico’s drive for independence. “I don’t.”

“We have gone out to the streets to protest, to demand change and answers about the thousands of disappeared people, the violence, and nothing changes,” added Ms. Montoya, an economics student in Mexico City who grew up in the violence-ridden state of Sinaloa. “It feels like we have no control left over our lives.”

Though many young Mexicans say they have not found the perfect changemaker among the current crop of presidential candidates, one appears poised to reap the benefits of their discontent: Andrés Manuel López Obrador, commonly known by his initials, AMLO.

According to several major opinion polls, between 41 and 47 percent of Mexicans between 18 and 29 intend to vote for Mr. López Obrador, 64, a former Mexico City mayor who is running for the presidency for the third time.

The war in the desert — Why the Sahara is terror's new front line

It is just before 15:00 on Saturday in Timbuktu and the intense desert heat has reached its peak.

Five years ago, Islamist occupiers were driven out of the historical town - but violent extremists have never been far away.

A few people are browsing through the silver jewellery and leatherwork at a small Tuareg curio market by the security checkpoint at the airport entrance.

It’s on the outskirts of town and both French troops and UN peacekeepers have set up what they call a “super-camp” there.

At this sleepy time of day, people are working inside their air-conditioned containers and all that can be heard is the low hum of generators.

Then, blaring sirens.

Everyone - whether inside the base or shopping at the market - knows immediately they have less than 30 seconds to reach a bunker.

The early warning sirens mean a mortar or rocket attack is incoming.

One of the shop owners, Amadou (not his real name) knows what to do - he rushes everyone at the market, including four American soldiers, into a small bunker nearby.

Twenty six people are crammed into the small space protected by sandbags - five of them young children.

Then comes the terrifying whistle and crash of mortars.

About a dozen cut through the hazy, sand-soaked sky, exploding in and around the super-camp next to the terminal.

Amadou can see the American soldiers are keen to get to their car and back inside the camp, but he tells them to wait for an all-clear. That saves their lives.

Troops at the first checkpoint are on high alert because of the mortar attack.

But two Malian military vehicles race up, apparently desperate to get inside. Their vehicles aren’t armoured and they are out in the open.

Neither stop to be searched as they swing around the sand-filled bollards at the gate and accelerate through the checkpoint.

From his hiding place in the bunker, Amadou hears the car and then the scream of “Allahu Akbar [God is greatest]”, just before a huge explosion a few metres away.

The first suicide bomber has detonated his explosives-laden vehicle at the first checkpoint, clearing the way for a second bomber to speed through.

The blast rumbles through the camp and the atmosphere inside the bunker changes dramatically.

The children start crying as gunfire erupts around them. But the Islamist fighters don’t know they are there.

Amadou can see people are about to flee the bunker in fear, but the US troops tell everyone to stay down and stay quiet. That saves their lives.

Further up the road, the second bomber accelerates towards French soldiers guarding their section of the camp and explodes right in front of them.

With the outer defences breached, jihadist foot soldiers in Malian military uniforms rush in - at least three of them wearing suicide vests - and so begins an intense battle.

The airport terminal building is almost destroyed.

For three hours, the attackers are repelled. For three hours, 26 people hide in a bunker - terrified they will be found and killed. The four American soldiers are armed only with pistols.

They radio for help but it is only after 18:00, as the Sun is setting, that the gunfire finally stops and a rescue party reaches them.

As everyone in the bunker is rushed inside the super-camp, Amadou sees the dead body of an attacker lying close to what is left of his store.

But then comes a third car bomb - again at the main gate - perhaps to help the surviving attackers retreat. A fourth unexploded car bomb is found later.

The attack is finally over.

One UN peacekeeper, from Burkino Faso, was killed and seven others were seriously injured. Seven French soldiers and two civilians were also badly hurt.

On the militant side, French forces said 15 had died.

The al-Qaeda-backed group JNIM (Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin) claimed responsibility for the most sophisticated attack so far on a military base in Mali.

Lopez Obrador has been elected President of Mexico. Economically he's likely to be a disaster, but if he is actually hinting at ending the War on Drugs in Mexico, his administration could be a huge positive for Mexico.

Disaster? He spent 6 years as mayor of Mexico City and didn’t destroy it economically...? From what I’m reading, he’s a pragmatist on economics.

Maybe he will be a disaster for the 1%s and thus hurt the magic unicorn trickle down economy :/

First death from the Russian nerve agent. Source of agent still hasn't been located. Local residents alarmed.

Woman poisoned with nerve agent Novichok dies, British police say

EU and Japan sign trade deal covering a third of the world's economy

The European Union and Japan signed a huge free trade deal on Tuesday that cuts or eliminates tariffs on nearly all goods.
The agreement covers 600 million people and almost a third of the global economy. It's also a major endorsement of a global trading system that is under increasing threat from protectionism.

It will remove tariffs on European exports such as cheese and wine. Japanese automakers and electronics firms will face fewer barriers in the European Union.

The dismantling of trade barriers stands in stark contrast to the approach taken by President Donald Trump, who has imposed tariffs on a range of foreign goods and is threatening more action.

Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, hailed the agreement as the "largest bilateral trade deal ever."

"Relations between the European Union and Japan have never been stronger," he said in a written statement. "Geographically, we are far apart. But politically and economically we could hardly be any closer."

Japan and the European Union traded roughly €129 billion ($152 billion) of goods last year, according to EU data.

I think we all knew China is a police state, but personally I did not know how bad it really was. This article is eye opening and makes you question WTF are big businesses doing getting into bed with a government that does things like this.

http://www.spiegel.de/international/...

A Surveillance State Unlike Any the World Has Ever Seen

In western China, Beijing is using the most modern means available to control its Uighur minority. Tens of thousands have disappeared into re-education camps. A journey to an eerily quiet region.

LeapingGnome wrote:

This article is eye opening and makes you question WTF are big businesses doing getting into bed with a government that does things like this.

Because they want access to 1.4 billion consumers in an economy that will be larger than the US's within a decade.

OG_slinger wrote:
LeapingGnome wrote:

This article is eye opening and makes you question WTF are big businesses doing getting into bed with a government that does things like this.

Because they want access to 1.4 billion consumers in an economy that will be larger than the US's within a decade.

Profits > Human Rights

If they want to lose control of their business sure. Plus then they have no leg to stand on when they try to defend their morality (Apple comes to mind).

Just when I thought the world couldn't get any more blatantly racist this week, an Australian senator proves me wrong.

Senator honours White Australia Policy in first speech and calls for 'final solution' on immigration

The Guardian Live: Fraser Anning: "The final solution to the immigration problem ... is a popular vote."

He has copped a resounding flogging in Parliament and the press, but the fact that this miscreant is ensconced in our upper house is, well... yeah..... Our conservatives are usually a bit better at hiding their stripes but the old guard are generally every bit as racist as the bottom of the barrel in any other anglo-dominant nation.

MPs condemn Fraser Anning for controversial maiden speech which called for a ban on Muslims

"The final solution to the immigration problem is of course a popular vote," he (Senator Anning) told Parliament.
When challenged this morning on the use of the term he told Channel Nine he "didn't even think about that funnily enough".
...
"That has nothing to do with 'the final solution', the thought police got onto that.
...
"It was never meant to denigrate the Jewish community, it is two words and if that offends anyone unfortunately that is the way it has to be.

Even Pauline Hanson has distanced herself from his comments. You know it's bad when you're saying something that even Hanson makes Nazi comparisons to. But he has Katters full support, so y'know...