April 26, 2009

Swine Flu Spreads

Over 80 people have died in Mexico and it is estimated that over 1400 people have been infected with a new strain of swine flu.

The Mexican government cancelled all mass services as well as sporting events and prison visitations to try and halt the spread of the virus, the Pioneer Press reports.

Cases have been found as far away as New Zealand and over 20 cases have been found in New York, California, Kansas and Ohio.

The U.S. declared a public health emergency in order to ship around 12 million doses of anti-flu medication from a federal stockpile to the infected states, however the Star Tribune reports that the 20 infected people are recovering rapidly.

April 19, 2009

North Dakota Journalist Convicted of Spying in Iran

Roxana Saberi, the American journalist who was imprisoned in Iran, has been convicted of spying and sentenced to eight years in prison, the Star Tribune reports .

The verdict marks the first time Iran has found an American journalist guilty of spying, according to the Pioneer Press.

Saberi, 31, appeared before a closed Iranian court Monday, and was sentenced Tuesday in a quick one-day trial. Her parents, who had flown to Iran in an effort to help their daughter, were not allowed to be present during the trial.

President Obama said that he is “deeply disappointed” about the conviction, and the United States has called the accusation baseless and demanded her release.

Saberi, a Fargo, North Dakota native, had lived in Iran for six years and was planning on returning home this year. She had been working on a book about Iranian culture. She had been arrested in January for working without press credentials, but Monday the government leveled much more serious charges on her.

April 9, 2009

UK Anti-Terrorism Officer Resigns

A leading member of Britain's anti-terrorism team resigned Thursday, a day after he was photographed with a document that disclosed sensitive information regarding an extensive counter-terror investigation, Reuters reports.

Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick resigned Thursday, a day after he was photographed with a document listing the names of a dozen suspected terrorists who were about to be arrested.

The gaff prompted British police to stage a highly unusual daytime raid on several locations, arresting 12 people. Reuters reports that 10 of the suspects were Pakistani nationals in Britain on student visas and one was a British citizen.

The document was titled “Briefing Note: Operation Pathway”, and was marked “secret.” The document described the operation and listed several of the suspects by name.
In a statement Thursday, Quick announced his resignation.

"I have today offered my resignation in the knowledge that my action could have compromised a major counterterrorism operation," Quick said in a statement, according to CNN. "I deeply regret the disruption caused to colleagues undertaking the operation and remain grateful for the way in which they adapted quickly and professionally to a revised time scale."

April 5, 2009

U.S. Accused of Spying on China, Russia

Russian television accused the United States of spying on Russia and China after turning its last airbase in Central Asia into a state-of-the-art surveillance center, Reuters reports.

The base, located in Kyrgyzstan, was used to send supplies to U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Kyrgyzstan ordered the United States to close the base in February, after it had received a $2 billion stimulus package from Russia.

The accusation was aired on Rossiya television, widely regarded as the official station in Russia, and was shown just as U.S. and Kyrgz officials had resumed dialogue over the base’s future.

The documentary says that the base now spies on countries all over the world.

"This station can eavesdrop the whole world -- every fax, every e-mailed letter. Every call from a mobile or landline phone is being recorded and processed. Billions of messages are being intercepted”

U.S. officials called the claims ridiculous

March 29, 2009

New Cyberspy Network Uncovered

Canadian researchers have found that over 1,300 computers in 103 countries have been infected by a electronic spying operation. Computers are from hundreds of government and private offices around the world, including ones belonging to the Dalai Lama.

In a report issued Sunday, Canadian think-tank Sec-Dev Group said that computers at NATO, embassies, and governments are infected with the software that allows the attacker to gain complete control of them, the NY Times reports.

The researchers have named the network GhostNet. It can not only search the computer but see or hear the people using it, CNN reports.

“GhostNet is capable of taking full control of infected computers, including searching and downloading specific files and covertly operating attached devices, including microphones and web cameras,” the report says.

The investigation started out of suspicions that the Dalai Lama’s offices had been infected. His staff had sent a foreign diplomat an e-mail invitation to meet with the leader but before the Dalai Lama’s people could follow up with a phone call, the diplomats office was contacted by the Chinese government and cautioned not to go ahead with the meeting, the report says.

The report warns that although almost all of the computers operating the virus originate in China, there isn’t enough evidence to determine if the Chinese government is involved with the program.

"Chinese cyber espionage is a major global concern ... [b]ut attributing all Chinese malware to deliberate or targeted intelligence gathering operations by the Chinese state is wrong and misleading," the Canadian report states.

March 14, 2009

Three Men Arrested in Connection With British Soldiers Killing

Three men were arrested in connection with the killing of two British soldiers in Northern Ireland, a spokesperson for the Northern Ireland police told CNN Saturday.

The three men, ages 41,32, and 21, have been taken to the police service’s Serious Crime Suite in Antrim, Reuters reports. The shooting has raised fears of a return to the violence which Northern Ireland suffered until the Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1998, a period known as The Troubles in which over 3,000 people were killed.

Two days after the soldiers were shot, a police officer was shot and killed while responding to a call in Craigavon.

The Continuity IRA, another splinter group, has claimed responsibility for the newest killing while politicians from both sides of the spectrum have condemned the attacks, calling them “wicked and murderous.”

March 8, 2009

Two British Soldiers Murdered In Northern Ireland

The dissident republican group Real IRA claimed responsibility Sunday for the execution-style killing of two British soldiers in Northern Ireland Saturday night, Reuters reports.

The attack, which was one of the worst since the 1998, happened at the British military base in Massereene, in County Antrim. The soldiers were shot as pizzas were delivered to their base, Detective Chief Superintendent Derek Williamson told CNN Sunday. Two other soldiers and two pizza delivery men were also wounded, their injuries are considered serious.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called the attack “evil and cowardly,” saying that “the whole country is shocked and outraged.”

Gerry Adams, leader of Sinn Fein, the former political faction of the IRA, condemned the killings as “wrong and counterproductive.”

"Last night's attack was an attack on the peace process," he told CNN. "Those responsible have no support, no strategy to achieve a united Ireland. Their intention is to bring British soldiers back on to the streets. They want to destroy the progress of recent times and to plunge Ireland back into conflict.”

The soldiers, both described as in their early 20s, were scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan soon, they were the first British soldiers to be killed on Irish soil in over 12 years.

March 1, 2009

Iran Not Close To Developing Nuclear Weapons, According to Gates.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced on Sunday that Iran is not close to having a nuclear weapon.

Gates’ comments came after Adm. Mike Mullen, head of the U.S. military Joint Chiefs of Staff, told CNN’s “State of the Union” that he thought Iran had enough material to make a nuclear bomb.

The United States suspects Iran of using its nuclear program to try and assemble an atomic bomb, but the Iranian government says that their program is purely for the generation of electricity.

President Barack Obama’s administration has called Iran’s nuclear program an urgent problem that the international community needs to address, Reuters reports.

Gates said that the challenge with this situation is finding a balance between sanctions to pressure Iran to halt its nuclear program and incentives for active engagement with the U.S. and Europe.

February 22, 2009

Mine Blast Kills 74 in China

An explosion in a coal mine killed 74 workers in Shanxi province on Sunday. (CNN)

The Xinhua news agency said that 436 miners were working underground when the blast occurred at the Tunlan mine near Taiyuan, the capital of the northern province.

Most survivors were quickly brought to the surface but around 60 miners were trapped underground. Rescuers told Reuters that some of the trapped miners contacted their families via mobile phones.

Xinhua said that 114 miners were sent to the hospital and five are in critical condition.

"The focus of our effort has shifted from searching and rescue to medical treatment," provincial Communist Party committee chief Zhang Baoshun told Xinhua

The explosion happened just a day after senior provincial officials held a meeting about mine safety where they pledged to try and put an end to fatal mining accidents.

February 8, 2009

Search for Nazi War Criminal May Not Be Finished

One of the world's most wanted Nazi war criminals may still be alive.
Officials at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem reject claims by German television network ZDF and the New York Times that Albert Heim (aka Dr. Death), died in Cairo due to intestinal cancer in 1992.
The Center told Reuters that there was no solid evidence of Heim's death nor any remains to reinforce the statement.
Efraim Zuroff, director of the Israel office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told Reuters that he had “no doubt? Heim had lived in Egypt.
“But the question is whether he died in Egypt? We have serious doubts about that,? Zuroff said.
Heim is considered the most wanted surviving perpetrator of the Nazi Genocide that killed 6 million Jews. He is accused of killing hundreds of inmates at the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria by injection of gasoline, petrol or water directly into the heart.
Heim's son, Ruediger Heim, told CNN that his father fled Germany and through France, Spain and Morocco ended up in Egypt.
Reudiger Heim also said that he had visited his father in Cairo several times, including once he had learned of his terminal illness.
However, Joachim Riedel, deputy head of the Ludwigsburg investigation agency, has his doubts regarding Reudiger Heim's testimony.
“I'm not yet convinced about these results,? Riedel told Reuters. “It's possible that someone is trying to give investigators the runaround or throw us off the track.?
People who knew Heim after he converted to Islam in Cairo considered him a nice man who kept to himself.
“He was a man of good deeds,? Abu Ahmed, a hotel worker who knew Heim by his changed name, Tarek Farid Hussein, told Reuters. “He helped needy people.?

February 1, 2009

Koreas Edge Closer to Conflict

North Korea and South Korea are closer than ever to resuming armed confrontation.
Sunday Kim Jong-il's regime tore up the non-aggression pact the two states had signed in 1991, saying “There is neither way to improve (relations) nor hope to bring them on track.? The Telegraph reports.
North Korea's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea blamed South Korea for bringing the two countries to the edge of war.
Reuters reports that the communist party newspaper stated that “The policy of confrontation with the DPRK (North Korea) pursued by the (South Korean) group is ... the very source of military conflicts and war between the North and the South,?
The states are still considered at war due to the fact that the conflict in 1950-1953 did not end in a peace treaty but a cease fire.
The two countries have more than a million combined troops near their shared border as well as 28,000 American troops deployed to defend South Korea.
North Korea has threatened to demolish the Southern government, which is led by President Lee Myung-Bak, numerous times over the past few months.
South Korea has mostly ignored these threats, and as Bruce Klingner, an expert on Korean affairs at the Heritage Foundation in Washington said, "North Korea's escalating threats do not indicate major hostilities are imminent, however they could easily presage another round of tactical naval confrontations.?
Kim Jong-il is confident of his people's willingness to go to war, telling Reuters that “the (North) Korean people are ready to flatten even a mountain and empty even a sea at one go when called for by the Party."