Category - Newswire

UDA re-emerges amid Northern Ireland’s power-sharing crisis

Statement from loyalist terror group says it ‘won’t be leaving’ as talks continue to save devolution after crisis sparked by alleged IRA killing.

The Guardian, By Henry McDonald, October 6

The loyalist terror group the Ulster Defence Association is still in existence and refuses to dissolve, it has announced.

At one time it was the largest loyalist paramilitary organisation, with thousands of members across Northern Ireland. It has now said it has no intention of disappearing.

The UDA statement comes as political parties represented in the Stormont assembly continue talks aimed at saving power sharing in the region. At the heart of the latest crisis destabilising devolution are allegations of ongoing paramilitary activity – most notably claims that the Provisional IRA still exists and was responsible for murdering ex-member Kevin McGuigan in August.

The UDA’s intervention will further complicate negotiations between unionist and nationalist parties, chaired by the British and Irish governments. A report drawn up by three government-appointed security, legal and academic experts is to be released this month, which will rule on the status of the IRA and other paramilitary organisations.

Possible U.S. airstrike hits Doctors Without Borders hospital in Afghanistan; at least 19 dead

Washington Post, By Tim Craig, October 3

Kabul – U.S. forces may have mistakenly bombed a hospital in northern Afghanistan on Saturday, killing at least 19 people, including three children, in an incident that will likely raise new questions about the scope of American involvement in the country’s 14-year war.

In a statement, Doctors Without Borders said an airstrike “partially destroyed” its trauma hospital in Kunduz, where the Afghan military has been trying to drive Taliban fighters from the city.

The airstrike killed at least 12 Doctors Without Borders staff members, the group said. Three children were also reportedly killed. At least 37 other people were seriously injured, including 19 staff members and 18 patients and caretakers. Officials warned the death toll could rise as dozens of people remain unaccounted for.

“This attack is abhorrent and a grave violation of International Humanitarian Law,” Meinie Nicolai, the group’s president, said in a statement.

Nicolai called for an independent investigation into the incident: “We demand total transparency from Coalition forces. We cannot accept that this horrific loss of life will simply be dismissed as ‘collateral damage.’”

Under a Farmer’s Field: A Woolly Mammoth in Michigan

New York Times, By Nicholas St. Fleur, October 2

Buried beneath a Michigan farmer’s soy field were the butchered remains of a woolly mammoth. Paleontologists think that the skull, tusks, jaws and other parts that they uncovered on Thursday were stored there by early humans in a primitive fridge more than 10,000 years ago.

Last Monday James Bristle, the farmer, came across what he thought was a fence post while digging in his yard, only to discover that it was actually a rib, according to The Ann Arbor News. He contacted researchers from the University of Michigan to investigate, and together they unearthed the prehistoric beast.

Daniel Fisher, a paleontologist who led the dig, said the mammoth most likely roamed the area 11,700 to 15,000 years ago, and was around 40 years old when it died.

In addition to the skull and tusks, the team also recovered vertebrae, a pelvis, shoulder blade pieces and one kneecap. Missing from the find were most of the mammoth’s fore and hind limbs, which the team presumed were either buried elsewhere or had already been eaten.

Mexicans to March to Commemorate Ayotzinapa and Tlatelolco 1968

This year marks the 47th anniversary of the government massacre of students in the Tlatelolco Plaza in Mexico City in 1968.

Telesurv, October 2

Thousands of Mexicans will march in the capital of Mexico City Friday to commemorate the anniversary of the 1968 massacre of students by the state in Tlatelolco Plaza, in the heart of the capital.

This year’s march will hold special significance as the march will again remember the 43 forcibly disappeared students from the Ayotzinapa teacher-training college and because the Mexico City police carried out unprecedented exercises simulating disturbances as if they expected violence to erupt this Friday.

Their disappearance, in the southern state of Guerrero on Sept. 26-27, 2014, happened as the students were gathering funds in order to participate in the commemoration of the 1968 massacre [Wikipedia] in Mexico City.

Student massacre demonstration turns violent in Mexico

Clashes have erupted between protesters and police in Mexico after thousands of people took to the streets of the capital to commemorate the 47th anniversary of a student massacre in the South American country.

PressTV, October 3

According to Mexican officials, the Friday demonstration in the capital Mexico City turned violent when about 300 “anarchists” lobbed stones and firebombs at the police guarding the National Palace, which is home to the country’s President Enrique Pena Nieto.

Officials said police responded by firing tear gas, and that the violence lasted for around one hour.

The organizers of the rallies called for restraint from both sides.

In a similar protest in the southern city of Oaxaca, 52 masked youths were arrested for offenses, including vandalizing shops and banks, according to local authorities.


This year’s rallies drew more than 15,000 people in the capital alone.

Twitter: #2DeOctubreNoSeOlvida (Do Not Forget October 2nd).

US News & World Report: Thousands march in Mexico City to mark 1-year anniversary of 43 students’ disappearance
BBC: Thousands march to remember Mexico’s missing students

NASA to hold urgent press conference to announce major science finding from Mars

News.Com.Au, By Matthew Dunn, September 28

Speculation that NASA’s Curiosity Rover has found life on Mars has been thrown into overdrive with the space agency announcing an urgent press conference.

In a press release, NASA said it would be holding a conference to detail “a major science finding from the agency’s ongoing exploration of Mars”.

This is not the first time NASA has used a press conference to announce a groundbreaking discovery, with the space agency doing the same earlier this year to reveal it had discovered the Earth-like planet Kepler-452b.

Jim Green, director of planetary science at NASA, and Michael Meyer, lead scientist for the Mars Exploration Program, will be leading the announcement.

Ceasefire broken in northwestern Syria

Rebels shell Fuaa after they say government forces dropped barrel bombs nearby, just a day after truce declared in area.

Al Jazeera, September 27

A ceasefire in northwest Syria, part of a wider deal that included cessation of hostilities in the area, as well as in a town near the Lebanese border, has been broken after just one day, according to an activist monitoring group.

Shells apparently fired by rebel fighters hit the village of Fuaa in the province of Idlib on Saturday, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has said, after rebels blamed government forces for violating the ceasefire by dropping barrel bombs on an area nearby.

Warring sides, including Hezbollah, had agreed on Friday a ceasefire in Fuaa and next-door Kafraya, two villages held by pro-government forces and besieged by rebels, as well as in the town of Zabadani near the Lebanese border, where fighters are holed up and surrounded by government forces.

But shelling of Fuaa resumed, the observatory said, with no immediate casualties reported.

Catalonia vote: Pro-independence parties win elections

BBC, September 27

Pro-independence parties in Spain’s Catalonia region have won an absolute majority in regional elections, near complete results show.

With more than 90% of the votes counted, the main separatist alliance and a smaller party won 72 seats in the 135-seat regional parliament.

They said earlier a majority would allow them to declare independence from Spain unilaterally within 18 months.

The central government in Madrid has pledged to block such moves in court.

Think Police Can’t Use Illegally Obtained Evidence Against You? Think Again.

Thanks to the Roberts Court, there’s no penalty for ignoring a key 4th Amendment protection.

The Nation, By Paul Butler, September 24

Hudson v. Michigan (2006) is one in a series of cases in which
 the Roberts Court has blessed police officers with extraordinary power. This power authorizes cops to engage in the kind of violent and undemocratic policing that make places like Ferguson and Baltimore look less like American cities and more like the outposts of some totalitarian regime.

The scandal, it turns out, is not bad-apple cops. The scandal is that the conservative justices on the Roberts Court have provided the legal framework for black lives not to matter to the police.

The Constitution be damned: This was apparently the perspective of a Detroit police officer named Jamal Good, who admitted that he routinely violated the long-standing requirement that police “knock and announce” their presence before entering a home. Good found that the Fourth Amendment—with its pesky insistence that searches be reasonable—limited his ability to obtain evidence, so he simply ignored it.

Usually, the Supreme Court decides whether there has been a violation of the Constitution. In Hudson, the Court faced a different question: When a cop admits that he has broken the rules, should there be any meaningful sanction? The issue was whether the classic remedy for Fourth Amendment violations—the “exclusionary rule,” which renders evidence collected through unconstitutional means inadmissible in criminal court—applies to the knock-and-announce rule. In a 5–4 decision, the Court held that it does not.

Speaker John Boehner to resign from Congress

USA Today, By Deirdre Shesgreen & Cooper Allen, September 25

Washington — In a shocking announcement, John Boehner told his GOP colleagues he will step down as House speaker and resign his Ohio congressional seat on Oct. 30.

The speaker had planned to serve only through the end of last year. But he changed his plans after former congressman. Eric Cantor, then Boehner’s deputy, lost in a primary in one of the biggest upsets of the 2014 cycle. That changed Boehner’s calculation.

House Speaker John Boehner to resign at end of October

Washington Post, By Mike DeBonis & Paul Kane, September 25

House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), faced with a constant conservative rebellion, told Republicans Friday morning that he will resign at the end of October, according to aides and lawmakers in a closed-door meeting.

The resignation will end a nearly five-year reign as speaker, allowing House Republicans to approve a short-term government funding bill that will avert a shutdown of federal agencies. Boehner’s hold on the speaker’s gavel had grown increasingly unsteady amid threats from more than 30 Republicans that they would force a no-confidence vote in his speaker’s position, which would have forced him to rely on Democratic votes in order to remain in charge.

Boehner, who capped his career with Thursday’s address by Pope Francis, met with a handful of the most conservative Republicans after the papal address to lay out the plan to fund the government. But those rebels continued to agitate and threaten to force a vote at sometime in the near future to vacate his speakership.

A believer in the institution, Boehner decided to walk away on his own terms rather than relying on Democratic support or becoming the first speaker to lose the gavel midterm.

His likely successor is House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calf.), [Wikipedia] the No. 2 GOP leader who has been in office less than 10 years. McCarthy has widespread support in the Republican Conference but many believe he lacks the political and tactical gravitas to be a force in the House.

The Wikipedia article for Kevin McCarthy has a section “Political Positions”:

In 2010 McCarthy signed a pledge sponsored by Americans for Prosperity promising to vote against any Global Warming legislation that would raise taxes.

McCarthy does not support renewing the charter of the Export-Import Bank of the U.S., as he expects the private sector to take over the role.

McCarthy is pro-life and has received a 100% rating from the National Right to Life Committee. He has voted against ObamaCare, to ban abortions, to stop taxpayer funding of abortion and has also voted repeatedly to defund ObamaCare and repeal it.

U.S. State Department “Welcomes” News That Saudi Arabia Will Head U.N. Human Rights Panel

The Intercept, By Glenn Greenwald, September 23

Last week’s announcement that Saudi Arabia — easily one of the world’s most brutally repressive regimes — was chosen to head a U.N. Human Rights Council panel provoked indignation around the world. That reaction was triggered for obvious reasons. Not only has Saudi Arabia executed more than 100 people already this year, mostly by beheading (a rate of 1 execution every two days), and not only is it serially flogging dissidents, but it is reaching new levels of tyrannical depravity as it is about to behead and then crucify the 21-year-old son of a prominent regime critic, Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, who was convicted at the age of 17 of engaging in demonstrations against the government.

Most of the world may be horrified at the selection of Saudi Arabia to head a key U.N. human rights panel, but the U.S. State Department most certainly is not. Quite the contrary: its officials seem quite pleased about the news. At a State Department briefing yesterday afternoon, Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner was questioned by the invaluable Matt Lee of AP, and this is the exchange that resulted:

QUESTION: Change topic? Saudi Arabia.

MR. TONER: Saudi Arabia.


QUESTION: Well, how about a reaction to them heading the council?

MR. TONER: Again, I don’t have any comment, don’t have any reaction to it. I mean, frankly, it’s — we would welcome it. We’re close allies. If we —