Aug 04 2013

Six In The Morning

On Sunday

Western embassies shut amid security alert

US and many European countries close embassies mostly in Middle East after worldwide alert by US and Interpol.

Last Modified: 04 Aug 2013 05:30

The United States has temporarily closed 21 embassies and consulates in mostly Muslim countries, and several European states have shut embassies in Yemen over fears al-Qaeda was planning to launch attacks.

The US closed its faciilites on Sunday, after saying it had information that al-Qaeda and its allies may increase efforts to attack Western interests this month.

The closures came as Interpol issued a global security alert after hundreds of militants were set free in prison breaks linked to the al-Qaeda terror network, and suicide bombers killed nine near the Indian consulate in the Afghan city of Jalalabad.

Sunday’s Headlines:

Afghanistan: Taliban backers win £100m in US contracts

Extent of NSA’s use of military bases in Germany remains murky

Locals divided as Nauru camp is rebuilt after $60m rampage

Thousands rally in support of embattled Tunisia government

Freedom of information in Venezuela: How hard is it to collect data?


Afghanistan: Taliban backers win £100m in US contracts

 Washington politicians demand tighter controls to stop cash for reconstruction from going to supporters of Afghan insurgency


The US government has awarded more than $150m (£98m) in contracts to companies and individuals in Afghanistan that are known to support the Taliban, according to a US spending watchdog.

Multimillion dollar contracts have been given over the past five years to 43 companies working in construction, logistics, road building and IT that have links to the insurgents.

 Extent of NSA’s use of military bases in Germany remains murky



More than 20 years after the end of the Cold War, the US still has several military bases in Germany. Experts think that they could play a key role for the NSA’s activities.

“German law applies on German soil and anyone operating here needs to adhere to it,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said at a news conference before the summer recess. Merkel made the comment in connection with alleged US intelligence activities in Germany.

After Merkel had gone off on holiday, UK daily The Guardian published fresh revelations on the NSA software XKeyscore. The article showed a graphic that pointed to data being mined by US intelligence from servers in Germany rather than just from servers based in the US.

Locals divided as Nauru camp is rebuilt after $60m rampage

August 4, 2013

Daniel Flitton

Senior Correspondent

The big machines are hungry for scrap, loading massive dump trucks with the twisted and burnt metal wreck that a little over a fortnight ago was housing for 650 people.

The riot at Topside, Nauru’s main asylum seeker camp, is said to have caused $60 million of damage to the Australian-taxpayer funded site – by far the worst riot in immigration detention.

The rampage shocked locals and sent the government of this tiny nation into a panic. An emergency text message was sent to every phone on the island on the Friday evening, calling for all able-bodied men to help quell the 120 rioters.

Thousands rally in support of embattled Tunisia government

04 AUG 2013 07:32 REUTERS

 Tens of thousands of Tunisians came out in a show of force for the country’s Islamist-led government on Saturday.

Supporters of the ruling Ennahda party crowded into Kasbah Square next to the prime minister’s office in the capital, Tunis. Ennahda officials said more than 150 000 attended. Fireworks flashed overhead and red Tunisian flags fluttered over a sea of demonstrators.

“No to coups, yes to elections,” the crowd shouted, in a reference to the army-backed ouster of Egypt’s elected Islamist president last month.

The secular opposition is stepping up efforts to oust the transition government in the North African country. At the same time, security forces are struggling to fight off a spike in attacks by radical Islamist militants, whom the moderate Islamist Ennahda has condemned as terrorists.

Freedom of information in Venezuela: How hard is it to collect data?

Unlike many countries where national statistics agencies make household surveys public, Venezuelan researchers find even the most basic data is restricted.

 By David Smilde, WOLA

Dr. Anitza Freitez is Professor of Demography and Director of the Economic and Social Sciences Institute at the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello. I recently sat down with her to talk about a little discussed aspect of transparency and freedom of information: the access policy researchers have to public information.

There is a lot of discussion these days regarding the importance of freedom of information in a functioning democracy. But that discussion usually focuses on budgets, yearly reports, financial accounts, and who has influence on governmental decisions. What is at issue with respect to policy research?