26 Mar

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective


Germanwings crash: ‘co-pilot’s actions leave us speechless,’ says airline – live updates

The co-pilot of the Germanwings plane that crashed in the French Alps on Tuesday, killing 150 people, appears to have deliberately flown it into a mountain after locking the flight captain out of the cockpit.

During the last eight minutes of the flight, the co-pilot “voluntarily” carried out actions that led to the destruction of the aircraft, Brice Robin, a French public prosecutor, said at a press conference in Marseille.

Citing evidence from a cockpit voice recorder recovered from the Airbus A320, Robin outlined the last moments of the doomed plane in a chilling account of the actions of the co-pilot, whom he named as 28-year-old Andreas Lubitz………………..


Will Biden run against Clinton?

Will Biden run against Clinton? Photograph: Brian Snyder/Reuters

Joe Biden facing pressure to decide on presidential challenge to Hillary Clinton

‘Draft Biden’ political action committee has grown tenfold amid grassroots enthusiasm for a progressive challenge to the former secretary of state

Joe Biden may come under pressure to decide whether he will challenge Hillary Clinton for the White House sooner than anticipated, as liberal anxiety has prompted multiplying grassroots supporters to wonder if the vice-president might be knocked from his perch of studied neutrality and into a presidential bid.

A third-party political action committee urging Biden to challenge Clinton from the left in the smoldering controversy over her email arrangements has ballooned tenfold in the past week alone, the Guardian has learned, even as advisers close to the vice-president insist that he will wait and see about a 2016 run they say he is still “seriously considering”.

Hints that the Democratic search for alternatives to Clinton may be more heartfelt than previously thought – an earnest progressive case for an Al Gore candidacy emerged last week, and the email controversy has created air pockets in Clinton’s popularity ahead of her expected run – has some eyes wandering anew in the direction of the current White House.

Now, with Republican candidates launching formal campaigns and the Clinton machine not far behind, Biden supporters are for the first time displaying organizational structure: a Draft Biden web site last week that has gone from a list of 2,000 supporters to 20,000 backers nationwide, director Will Pierce told the Guardian………………..



Supreme court clears way for release of secret Prince Charles letters

Ruling overturns government attempt to block release of ‘black spider memos’ to ministers after decade-long battle between the Guardian and Whitehall

The UK supreme court has cleared the way for the publication of secret letters written by Prince Charles to British government ministers, declaring that an attempt by the state to keep them concealed was unlawful.

The verdict – the culmination of a 10-year legal fight by the Guardian – is a significant blow for the government, which has been battling to protect the Prince of Wales from scrutiny over his “particularly frank” interventions on public policy.

In 2012, Dominic Grieve, then attorney general, said the correspondence contained the prince’s “most deeply held personal views and beliefs” and disclosure might undermine his “position of political neutrality”, which he might not easily be able to recover when king.

The 27 letters were sent between Charles and ministers in seven government departments in 2004 and 2005. Five of the seven judges in the supreme court ruled in favour of the Guardian’s case to see the letters. The verdict was delivered on Thursday by Lord Neuberger, the president of the court.

The judges concluded that Grieve did not have the legal power to veto a freedom of information tribunal, which had decided the memos should be published.

In a statement read out in court one of the supreme court in Westminster, Neuberger said: “We dismiss the attorney general’s appeal and the decision of the upper tribunal that the advocacy correspondence should be disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act … stands.”

The prime minister and a spokeswoman for Charles said they were disappointed that the ruling had challenged the principle that senior members of the royal family were able to express their views to government confidentially.

The anti-monarchy campaign group Republic predicted that the eventual publication of the letters might swell republican support by revealing the royals “as a serious political force rather than as apolitical and harmless”…………………


ben affleck bill gates senate

Ben Affleck, left, actor, film-maker and founder of the Eastern Congo Initiative, testifies next to Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates before a Senate subcommittee. Photograph: Yuri Gripas/Reuters

Ben Affleck and Bill Gates push case for US foreign aid to Africa at Senate

The Batman star reported on his work with the coffee industry in eastern Congo while the Microsoft billionaire stressed the need to support African agriculture

Ben Affleck and Bill Gates testified before the Senate on Thursday, with the actor plugging his new Batman movie, joking about sitting next to “the greatest and most important philanthropist in the history of the world”, praising Starbucks – and describing how coffee could remake the economy of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

It was Affleck’s fourth time before the Senate. He had been summoned to discuss the importance of US foreign aid in Congo, where an organization he founded, the Eastern Congo Initiative, is trying to rebuild the country’s coffee industry.

Testifying alongside Affleck was Gates, the Microsoft founder and richest man in the world, whose Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has set a goal of helping to end African dependence on food imports within 15 years.

“Thanks for having me follow the greatest and most important philanthropist in the history of the world,” Affleck told the appropriations subcommittee panel. “I’m sure I’m going to come off great.”……………………….


martese johnson university of virginia

In this photo provided by Bryan Beaubrun, Martese Johnson is held down by an officer during his violent arrest on March in Charlottesville. Photograph: Bryan Beaubrun/AP

Supporters of UVA student Martese Johnson pack courtroom

  • Virginia governor orders retraining for law enforcement after student’s arrest

  • Johnson, 20, was left bloodied following detention in Charlottesville

Supporters of University of Virginia student Martese Johnson packed the district court in Charlottesville on Thursday morning for his first appearance to face charges since a violent arrest that left him bloodied a week ago.

More friends and supporters gathered outside to greet the 20-year-old as he arrived to make a very brief appearance in court, during which his next court date was set for 28 May.

Up to 150 supporters, dressed in black, crowded into Charlottesville general district court to bolster Johnson, according to a local report.

Prosecutors had indicated they would seek a delay in the case until the state police completed the investigation they are conducting into Johnson’s arrest at the request of Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe.

Johnson appeared at the courthouse in a dark suit and red tie and accompanied by his lawyer, Daniel Watkins. The injuries from his arrest in the early hours of last Wednesday were still visible, though much healed from their swollen and bruised appearance the day after he was detained and needed 10 stitches to his head as a result……………………


Other News & Analysis


Health workers outside a quarantine zone at a Red Cross facility in the town of Koidu, Sierra Leone in December.

Health workers outside a quarantine zone at a Red Cross facility in the town of Koidu, Sierra Leone in December. Photograph: Baz Ratner/Reuters

‘The worst of journalism': 200 writers and academics slam CBS coverage of Africa

An open letter accuses American broadcaster of rendering Africans ‘voiceless and all but invisible’ in its portrayal of the continent

Dear Mr Fager,

We, the undersigned, are writing to express our grave concern about the frequent and recurring misrepresentation of the African continent by 60 Minutes.

In a series of recent segments from the continent, 60 Minutes has managed, quite extraordinarily, to render people of black African ancestry voiceless and all but invisible.

Two of these segments were remarkably similar in their basic subject matter, featuring white people who have made it their mission to rescue African wildlife. In one case these were lions, and in another, apes. People of black African descent make no substantial appearance in either of these reports, and no sense whatsoever is given of the countries visited, South Africa and Gabon…………….

A spokesman for CBS responded, saying: “60 Minutes is proud of its coverage of Africa and has received considerable recognition for it. We have reached out to Mr French to invite him to discuss this further and we look forward to meeting with him.”

The third notable recent segment was a visit by your correspondent Lara Logan to Liberia to cover the Ebola epidemic in that country. In that broadcast, Africans were reduced to the role of silent victims. They constituted what might be called a scenery of misery: people whose thoughts, experiences and actions were treated as if totally without interest. Liberians were shown within easy speaking range of Logan, including some Liberians whom she spoke about, and yet not a single Liberian was quoted in any capacity……………………


Howard French, associate professor, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism

Fatin Abbas, Manhattanville College

Akin Adesokan, novelist and associate professor, Comparative Literature and Cinema and Film Studies, Indiana University Bloomington

Anthony Arnove, producer, “Dirty Wars”

Adam Ashforth, Department of Afroamerican and African Studies, University of Michiga

Continue Reading »

26 Mar

United States Wars, News and Casualties


White House exempts Syria airstrikes from tight standards on civilian deaths

Afghan girl

War  News

03/26/15 Iraq News:

03/25/15 KP: 3 soldiers martyred, 35 insurgents killed in separate military operations

03/25/15 KP: Taliban vow severe punishment for Farkhunda’s killers

03/25/15 AP: Afghan president expected to get warm welcome from Congress

03/25/15 TheIndependent: Thousands of Afghans march in protest against brutal mob killing of woman in Kabul

03/25/15 ToloNews: No American Soldier To Leave Afghanistan This Year

03/25/15 ToloNews: 6 Killed, 31 Injured in Kabul Suicide Bombing

03/25/15 Reuters: Loud explosion in Afghan capital Kabul-police

/25/15 Xinhua: 17 killed in clashes with IS militants in Iraq

03/25/15 NBCNews: U.S. Begins Airstrikes in Fight Against ISIS in Tikrit, Iraq

03/25/15 IraqiNews: 4 ISIL terrorists killed in Mosul


Coalition Deaths

Continue Reading »

25 Mar

Video Shows Cops Brutally Beating Unarmed Black Man In Michigan


‘I’m Lucky To Be Living': Video Shows Cops Brutally Beating Unarmed Black Man In Michigan

 |  By

The violent arrest of an African-American motorist by two white police officers in Inkster, Michigan, was caught on video and shows police brutally beating a man who claimed he did nothing wrong.

The Michigan State Police officers said they pulled over 57-year-old Floyd Dent for violating a traffic violation in January. The dashcam video, which was obtained by WDIV and released on Tuesday, shows Dent opening the door to his car only to be met by an officer who withdrew his gun and aimed it directly at him. Officers dragged Dent out of the vehicle, forced him face down to the ground and proceeded to place him in a chokehold.

“I’m lucky to be living. I think they was trying to kill me, especially when they had choked me,” Dent told WDIV. “I mean, I was on my last breath. I kept telling the officer, ‘Please, I can’t breathe.’”

According to police reports obtained by the TV station, the primary officer served 16 punches to Dent’s head, leaving his face bloody and body bruised. More officers arrived to the scene and attempted to place Dent in handcuffs. The video shows Dent attempting to cover his face to lessen the impact of the punches, while one officer uses a stun gun on him three times and a third tries to place him in handcuffs.

Police said they pulled Dent over for failing to make a complete halt at a stop sign, and later followed his Cadillac down the street through one of the state’s predominantly black neighborhoods.

Dent, who was unarmed and has no criminal record, said he was not intentionally trying to get away, and video shows him driving at the same speed while cops followed behind him. Dent said he did not immediately stop because he was unaware he did anything wrong — and he has maintained the same argument.

“When the overhead lights came on, I looked and said, ‘Wow, are they stopping me?’” Dent said. “So I just kept going until I realized that they were really stopping me.”

“The next thing I know, the officer runs up to me with his gun, you know, talking about blowing my head off,” Dent continued. “Then he grabbed me out of the car and started beating on me, you know. I just couldn’t believe it.”

Dent said he had his hands out after opening his car door. Officers said they did not see both hands and claim Dent yelled, “I’ll kill you.” However, there is no recorded audio from the incident, WDIV reported.

“You have six responding vehicles. Not one officer is equipped with a microphone to take down this alleged threat,” Dent’s attorney, Greg Rohl, told the local news station.

The primary officer claimed he was protecting himself, according to WDIV. Officers said that Dent, who later said he feared he would die as a result of the chokehold, resisted arrest and bit the officer in the arm, which resulted in the series of significant blows to Dent’s head. However, no photographs are available of the alleged bite marks and the officer did not seek medical attention, WDIV reported.

The incident led to a protest of around 50 demonstrators who rallied outside of the Detroit-area police department on Wednesday to speak out against this case of police brutality. The protest was led by the Rev. Charles Williams II, who called on officials to fire the officers involved.

“We will shut Inkster down until we get justice,” Williams said, according to The Associated Press.

Inkster Police Chief Vicki Yost addressed the crowd Wednesday and said the state police department is conducting an investigation into the case.

“I understand your concern,” Yost told Williams, according to the AP. “Again, we’re going to let the investigation play out … We’re going to act accordingly. We’re not hiding from this.”



 Motorist pulled from car, beaten by officers

INKSTER, Mich. (AP) — A pastor leading a protest Wednesday outside a Detroit-area police department threatened to shut down the city until white officers are fired for the bloody arrest of a black man who was pulled from his car and repeatedly punched in the head.

The march in Inkster came a day after TV station WDIV aired police dashcam video of the Jan. 28 arrest of Floyd Dent, 57. In it, an officer punches Dent many times in the head while another officer tries to handcuff the motorist, who is on the ground. Dent’s face and shirt were bloodied.

Police say Dent disregarded stop signs and refused to pull over, then resisted arrest and threatened them. They also say they found a bag of crack cocaine in his car.

Dent, who said he spent three days in the hospital with broken ribs, blood on his brain and other injuries, told reporters at a news conference that he was defending himself as an officer was “nearly choking me to death.”

“I wasn’t resisting arrest,” he said. “When someone is beating your face, you’re going to protect yourself.”

Hours earlier, Rev. Charles Williams II and about 50 protesters were told to leave the police department because they were blocking the door. Inkster Police Chief Vicki Yost met them outside and said Michigan State Police would investigate the arrest. She told The Associated Press the department also was conducting an internal probe.

“I understand your concern,” Yost told Williams. “Again, we’re going to let the investigation play out. … We’re going to act accordingly. We’re not hiding from this.”

Both Dent and Williams say the officers should be fired. Yost told The Associated Press that one is on “administrative duty” but declined to elaborate.

“We will shut Inkster down until we get justice,” said Williams, who added that the video “made me sick.”

In the police report released by defense attorney Greg Rohl, Inkster officer William Melendez wrote that he was patrolling for “narcotics activity” when he saw Dent’s Cadillac pull into a hotel parking lot. He wrote that Dent went into a hotel room for a few minutes, came out and pulled away.

Melendez said in the report that he turned on his lights after Dent failed to use a proper turn signal and disregarded a stop sign. He said Dent failed to stop for some distance. When Dent pulled over, Melendez said he approached the car with his weapon out and raised it when he thought Dent, who was unarmed, was reaching for a weapon.

An auxiliary officer pulled Dent to the ground and Melendez put the motorist in a hold and punched him in the face after Melendez said Dent bit him on the arm; Dent denies biting Melendez. Another officer used a stun gun three times to subdue Dent, the report said.

A judge has dismissed charges of fleeing and resisting police, but Dent still faces a drug charge. He says he was visiting a friend, and that the officers planted the drugs in his car. He also said he was tested at the hospital and was “clean” of alcohol or drugs.

In 2004, Melendez and seven other Detroit officers were acquitted of lying, falsifying reports and planting evidence. Federal prosecutors had accused him and another officer of being the “masterminds” of a conspiracy to “run roughshod over the civil rights of the victims.”

Inkster, population 25,000, is 73 percent black.

25 Mar

John Oliver, March Madness

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: The NCAA (HBO)



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